Worldwide mobile internet use surpasses desktop for the first time ever

internet_usage_2009_2016_ww

It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for.

All us mobile-first proponents have been sat patiently rubbing our hands and saying “you’ll see, just you wait and see!” to anyone within hearing distance – but now we have the proof. Mobile internet use is now more popular than desktop the whole world over.

To be honest, it was an easy prediction to make. Earlier in the year Google stated that mobile searches had already surpassed desktop in 10 countries including the US and Japan. And mobile ad spend has been dominate over desktop since March. So the following research shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

StatCounter Global Stats has found that mobile and tablet devices accounted for 51.3% of internet usage worldwide in October compared to 48.7% by desktop.

Although don’t get to excited, as there is a huge difference from country to country, with the US and UK still lagging behind other territories.

In the UK, desktop users account 55.6% of the online population, compared to 44.4% on mobile device. In the US the gap is even more pronounced (58% desktop vs 42% mobile) – however looking at the graphs below, it may not be long before the balance is tipped.

UK:

uk

USA:

usa stats

Despite desktop still clinging on in western countries, it’s the rest of the world that has seen mobile truly dominate. India for example has over 75% internet usage through its mobile devices. In Japan it’s over 76%, and in China mobile accounts over 54% of internet use.

As the research reminds us, it’s a stark warning to post-Brexit Britain that businesses looking to trade outside of the EU will need to ensure their own mobile presence is fully optimised. And if that wasn’t enough, Google of course considers mobile-friendliness as a very important ranking factor.

If you need help optimising your website, we have a thorough mobile friendly checklist written by Rebecca Sentence that will help.

How to get started with online reputation management

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-14-18-59

Online reputation is important for every business and social media has only escalated the need. But how can you filter the noise to maintain a positive reputation?

As social media usage increases and people feel more comfortable expressing their opinions through all the platforms, online reputation management becomes even more crucial for every business trying to promote its services.

It is estimated that consumers are 92% more likely to trust their peers over a brand when considering a new purchase, which means that online reputation may bring a customer closer to your business.

Online reputation management is the process a business follows to analyse and monitor all its relevant mentions and reviews that take place on the web. It is helpful to keep track of the sentiment around your business, as this may offer useful insights on how to improve your digital strategy.

For example, it may be useful to establish a positive online presence, as 86% of people hesitate to purchase a product from a business with negative reviews. Would you risk losing potential customers over your online reputation?

Image: TalkWalker

Here are five basic steps to consider when starting with online reputation management.

1. Assess your current reputation

Start by analysing the existing online reputation for your business. What are the first results in search engines? What are people saying in social media and blogs?

This is the stage to collect all the information that will offer you a better understanding of how others view your business.

It’s not just about performing a search, it may also extend to the analysis of previous campaigns, hashtags, existing content, social handles, and anything that exists on the web and is relevant to your business.

Are all the details correct? Do the employees support your online reputation? Are there are any changes that need to be highlighted to your online presence?

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-13-41-12

Image: TalkWalker

2. Identify changes needed

It’s useful to create a positive reputation before you come across a negative issue. If the business already has an online presence, it may be a good idea to filter out the noise and examine the first changes you need to make.

For example, how about “hiding” all the mentions that are not relevant or useful enough to be linked to your business? Is there a recurring mention that you’d like to remove?

Moreover, you can even set personalised filters to help you highlight the most relevant results for your business.

Social listening tools may take you to the next step of this process, by offering you valuable insights on your brand’s reputation and how this can be improved.

3. Determine what works best

Once the monitoring and the research is complete, it’s time to decide on the best sources to include in your online reputation strategy. Which platforms work better for an improved online reputation for your business?

Do you need to create more content? Should you switch the existing focus of your marketing efforts to enhance your online reputation? This is another step that you listen and learn until you’re able to understand the most effective ways that could impact the management of your online reputation.

You may start with an initial decision on the platforms to focus on and if you still feel that you’re not targeting the right audience, you can always experiment with different areas of interest.

Social media, online press, blogs, and forums indicate the endless opportunities you may test until you find the perfect way to craft the strategy for your online reputation.

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-13-40-41

Image: TalkWalker

4. Create a reputation strategy

Your online reputation strategy should include the content, the platforms, the opportunities for expanded reach, but also all the ways you can involve the community in the enhancement of your online presence.

Fresh content can help you update your SERPs, which may push down any negative content, or simply allow you to promote the latest content you’re creating about your business. This is always useful when trying to prove that your business has a consistent and valuable online presence.

Moreover, it’s important to claim and update local listings, or involve Yelp and Google Business to ensure that your business is properly represented, offering updated information in every platform.

Your customers can serve as the best promotion for your online reputation and it’s always a good idea to ask them for reviews and testimonials. There needs to be the right timing to ask for them and a reward may also encourage them to spend time on them. How about creating a campaign to encourage new reviews?

Once you have the reviews, feel free to share them and include them in your content marketing strategy, showing that you value your customers and you highlight their genuine and (hopefully) positive reviews.

In case of a negative review, you should never delete it, as it proves that you are not afraid of everyone’s opinion, but on the contrary, you are listening to all your customers and you’re ready to improve the customer experience.

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-14-42-00

5. Start building

There should be a constant process in the creation and the management of your online reputation, from new content, to updated information to the listing sites and the encouragement of new reviews.

Once you’re active in monitoring your brand’s presence, you’re already prepared to deal with any new situation that may need your attention. It’s always helpful being proactive and brand listening, even with an automated process that may notify you for new mentions, can facilitate this process.

You can also blend online reputation management with customer service, competitor analysis and crisis management, to create a complete strategy on how to deal with any event. This will help you have a great overview on anything that involves your brand’s online presence, offering the right insights on how you can improve your relationship with your customers.

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-14-36-13

Image: TalkWalker

All you need to start your new online venture: 10 tools & 10 useful resources

Bustaname

Are you starting a new online business? It’s always overwhelming! Here’s your ultimate resource list to help.

Maybe you have had an idea for a profitable venture for a while, but are only now diving in? Good news!

There are quite a few excellent tools and resources out there to help you along the way. From the first steps to the last, these 20 links are must-clicks for the modern small business mogul.

Online launch tools

1. Bustaname

One of the oldest tools I am still using as of today, Bustaname lets you check the domain availability on the fly. It’s great for the brand name inspiration! I believe I was using that tool to come up with my very first domain name seosmarty.com

2. Knowem

Knowem

Knowem is the tool to check any time you are looking for the brand name for your business. It will show how many social media sites have your name registered. Don’t go with the name that’s not available on major social media networks!

This will cause constant confusion and misunderstanding! Use the platform to lock your chosen brand name across the board too.

3. Serpstat

Serpstat is multi-purpose online marketing platforms with lots of great features but its competitive research functionality is what you are going to find particularly useful at the launch. Keep it handy! You can see the list of your future competitors:

Serpstat

You can compare two or more domains side-by-side:

Serpstat compare

You dig deep into any of your competitors to research its rankings, strongest pages, advertising tactics and more.

4. BuzzSumo

Another competitive research tool, BuzzSumo will open your eyes on your competitors’ content and social media marketing tactics. You can search your competitors’ most popular content by using site: command. You can also compare your competitors’ Facebook pages.

BuzzSumo

You can also set up email alerts to be notified when any of your competitors are mentioned online.

5. Netpeak Spider

Netpeak Spider

No matter how much you invest into building and testing, the new website is always full of errors. Protect your new visitors’ user experience by crawling your site again and again. Netpeak Spider will go through your site never missing a page, signalling any SEO or usability errors.

It will also create a XML Sitemap for you to submit to Google Search Console.

6. Mailchimp

Mailchimp

I am listing the easiest email marketing platform, Mailchimp, here. But you can use any of the alternatives. The main thing here, set it up prior to launch to collect some leads to market to on the big day.

7. Launch Rock

launchrock

Speaking of collecting leads prior to the launch, Launch Rock will let you create a beautiful pre-launch page and the whole process will take you minutes!

8. Whatagraph

Whatagraph

Launching a website can be overwhelming! Chances are, you won’t have time to dig deep into your referrals for weeks and months after the launch. Set up Whatagraph to send you daily traffic reports with important insights for you not to miss anything.

9. Insightly

Don’t you wish you could find a simple, easy to use CRM that had all the tools you needed? Well, Insightly is just that. But is has an added bonus that really sweetens the deal… it’s free. Manage all of your business needs, have a reliable CRM handy that is usable for up to two people, and never pay a dime for it.

Insightly

It is guaranteed free for life. Need access for more users, or some of the extra fancy features? They have affordable plans that start at only $12 per month, per user. Even their enterprise pricing is ridiculous…only $99 per month, per user. Making them one of the most affordable CRM’s in the industry.

10. Shopify Free Business Tools

Shopify Free Business Tools

Shopify is probably one of the best shopping cart and ecommerce super stars available to the average joe. But if you are just looking for some tools to get things going, you may want to check out their free features first.

They have a logo maker, slogan generator, business name generator, wholesale product search, pay stub generator, QR code generator, and that is just to start.

My favorite thing about the Shopify Free Business Tools is that they cover both physical and digital business needs. So you can get a physical barcode to put on a label, but you can also get a bunch of templates for emailed invoices. So brick and mortar, or purely online, they cover your needs without spending a single penny. And we all know how important it is to save money.

Online launch resources

  • r/SmallBusiness: Reddit is a pretty solid resource for just about anything. There aren’t many sites out there where you can find an entire forum dedicated to Minions placed over famous quotes in history, and personal finance advice that will help you create an entire diversified portfolio on a college student’s budget. r/SmallBusiness is a great subreddit dedicated to people who are experienced, or just starting out. They share advice, ideas, help promote one another, and even form alliances they never would have discovered had they not met on the site. They also regularly post the best and latest news in the Small Business category.
  • r/Entrepreneur: Another Reddit favorite, this one is less about running a single business, and more about the people who choose to start them. You can meet up with other entrepreneurs who have been where you are standing, and who are far beyond that spot. You can also offer your own advice to people who have less experience than you. This is a subreddit that is all about networking, however. Think of it as LinkedIn, but about a thousand times more useful.
  • r/Startups: Do you consider your venture more in the vein of a startup than a traditional business? Have no fear, r/Startups is here. Some extremely successful apps have been launched while the founders chatted on this board. It is a great place to get feedback, find out the tricks of the trade, and even get the 411 on angel investors. More than one venture capitalist has trolled this board for investment opportunities, believe it or not.
  • How To Start An LLC: An LLC is almost always going to be your best bet when registering a new business. It puts a wall between your business and your personal assets, protecting you from lawsuits, bankruptcy, and other threats to your livelihood. But filing one can feel overwhelming and more than a bit complicated. This website will take you through, step by step, and tell you everything you need to know about forming a Limited Liability Company. It will also explain how you can file separate LLCs for different business entities, such as your real estate. It is incredibly helpful, and easier to follow than any other guide I have found. Be sure to check out their business tools, including a course, and a business plan generator.
  • Creating a Blog by Neil Patel: A very minimal, down-to-earth guide on starting a blog for a newbie with very easy steps to follow. It includes finding a domain, using a hosting, installing plugins and the theme.
  • SurveyLegend: What better source of information than customers, or potential customers? Tap into this valuable resource by creating surveys from your mobile device or browser. Ask customers what you could be doing better. Find out what your audience wants. Get ideas for future products. Discover why someone has chosen to unsubscribe from your mailing list. All using this super quick survey creation tool from anywhere.
  • The Small Business Blog: Get relevant advice and breaking news about the small business industry from this awesome blog. When I first discovered this site I wasn’t impressed; who designed the blog, a teenage Angelfire user circa 2003? But digging a bit deeper, I gave the questionable design choices a pass. This site is chock full of some of the best news and articles on running a small business. The navigation is a bit wonky, but it is worth doing a bit of searching for the content alone.
  • Small Biz Trends: Do you know what trends are currently overtaking the small business world? If you follow this blog, you are going to find out. Read the latest news, read extensive articles and tutorials, find out what the big guys are doing that the little guys can emulate, watch awesome videos, and a lot more. They cover everything from management, to social, to finance. This is a definite RSS feed must.
  • Free Management Ebooks: Having a great idea for an online venture doesn’t mean you have the business skills to back it up. These ebooks are free, and cover just about everything related to management. Learn to run a team, a project, or a company.
  • Social Media Examiner: Want regular, updated information on social media and content marketing topics? Social Media Examiner is a popular, awesome blog that acts as a resource for all things online marketing. They often review new tools, give advice on the hottest new tricks for promotion, and have an annual conference that is worth checking out. Plus, they have a podcast. I personally love listening to it while I am at the gym, making my workouts work for my business, as well as my body. They, like so many others, have an email newsletter. It is one of the few I would highly recommend, as it contains some exclusive content you won’t find on the site.
  • Do you have any tools that belong on this list? Let us know in the comments!

    Three reasons you might not need Google AMP after all

    Lightning icon, vector

    Mobile devices currently account for more than half of all internet use on a global level, and yet, many websites are still not mobile-friendly.

    Even those that are designed to look good on smaller screens still run the risk of loading slowly as a result of poor image optimization or heavy reliance on JavaScript and other large files.

    Smartphones have less powerful hardware and network connections than desktop and laptop devices, and Google wants to be sure that the websites they refer people to meet user expectations.

    The data shows that 40% of people abandon websites that take more than three seconds to load. AMP, which is short for Accelerated Mobile Pages, is Google’s answer.

    How does AMP work?

    AMP works by limiting the types of elements that web publishers can use, to ensure the pages can be downloaded and displayed quickly. Google’s servers then cache the web’s AMP-powered pages, and they pre-render in the background while people are still perusing their search results, to further help minimize page rendering times.

    Using this protocol, pages cannot become too bloated with tracking scripts and ads. By controlling the amount of JavaScript and only allowing limited HTML and CSS, Google says they can load websites up to 85% faster.

    Do you actually need AMP?

    What Google won’t tell you, of course, is that you may not actually need AMP to maximize your site’s speed. The company has too much riding on the success of the AMP initiative to admit that it’s redundant – at best – in many situations.

    In fact, if you’ve already been doing everything you can to improve your site’s mobile loading speed, then implementing AMP may involve more disadvantages for you than advantages.

    Does your site have a lot of pages that aren’t articles? Do you depend on third-party tools for lead capture or audience tracking? Do you monetize your site using an ad engine that isn’t among the relatively few supported by AMP?

    If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then when it comes to maximizing speed, you’re probably better off using your own knowhow and infrastructure, as opposed to Google’s. There are even mobile-oriented website building tools, such as Duda, that can do everything AMP does, but without many of the disadvantages.

    Here are three situations in which AMP isn’t for you:

    1) You’re already using a content delivery network (CDN)

    When you use a CDN to host your image files and other content, your audience queries are routed to the networked server that’s physically closest to each site visitor.

    Many CDNs also use smart file caching rules, sophisticated session routing optimization algorithms, purging of unused files and built-in image compression to minimize load times. This is extremely effective for speeding sites up, in many cases reducing latency by up to 50%.

    Even if you don’t feel the need to invest in a CDN, though, there’s a lot you can do on your own to minimize the bandwidth demands of your images and code.

    You can implement “lazy loading,” or deferred loading of images, so that your audience can begin reading your content before each image appears on the page. In addition, tools like CompressJPEG or CompressPNG can dramatically reduce your image file sizes.

    With these solutions in place, you can feel good about sidestepping AMP.

    2) You’ve already adjusted the code on the mobile version of your site

    Mobile-friendliness is about much more than designing for smaller screens. One of the ways AMP minimizes page load times is by disabling plugins and other JavaScript assets. This ensures that there isn’t much code that needs to download to the visitor’s web browser before the page is viewable.

    But you don’t need AMP to disable your most sluggish mobile-unfriendly plugins and other JavaScript-powered components.

    If you’re working in WordPress, then this isn’t actually so hard to set up. All you need to do is adjust your theme’s functions.php file to include some “dequeue” commands by adding a code snippet along the lines of:

    if(wp_is_mobile()){

    wp_dequeue_script( ‘cufon_handle’ );

    }

    This particular function will determine if the visitor is on a mobile device, and if so, will disable the Cufon plugin, a useful font replacement tool.

    Add additional versions of this code to account for all the plugins and scripts you want to disable. Keep in mind, though, that in order to dequeue a script, it must first be enqueued. If it is not, this solution will have no effect.

    3) Your site’s mobile version only has a single CSS reference

    Style sheets, as powered by CSS files, are generally relatively small, but if you have several of them, then your audience’s devices will need to query your servers for each one separately.

    Often, it’s the query volume, rather than the weight of the files, that can slow down content loads.

    The solution is to consolidate all of your style sheets into one master CSS resource. To get started with this, set your website code to reference an external CSS file called from your CDN, rather than placing the CSS in-line through all the pages on the website. Then, use a tool like CSS Minify to clean up your CSS file before hosting it on your CDN.

    In this sense, CSS files are similar to images. They should be consolidated, compressed, minified and hosted via a CDN. With all this in place, you’ll kill code bloat and unlock faster load times, once again negating the need for AMP.

    To AMP or Not to AMP?

    If you’re already doing everything you can to reduce the number and sizes of resources required to load your content, then your pages might be as fast as they ever will be.

    However, speed isn’t to be taken too lightly. As long ago as 2012 – before the dominance of the mobile web, mind you – Amazon estimated that each second of added load time per page costs the ecommerce giant some $1.6 billion in annual sales.

    If you’re struggling to get your page load times down to within four or so seconds, which is where it should be for the optimal user experience, then you may want to consider using AMP.

    At this time, Google doesn’t officially consider AMP implementations to be a ranking signal, although some websites have started to see lower click-through rates since AMP pages have started aggregating in mobile SERPs. Carefully consider the costs and benefits of using AMP for mobile speed before you dive in – you may be giving up more than you need to.

    Is Amazon the go-to search engine this holiday season?

    bloomreach amazon stats

    Almost everyone knows that the overwhelming majority (93%) of online experiences begin with a search engine, but when you’re looking to finish off your holiday shopping list, what search engine do you go to? Amazon or Google?

    In 2012, a Forrester report found that 30% of all online shoppers start research products at Amazon. Wordtracker even went so far as to say that “Amazon has not only topped Google as the number one shopping search engine, but has attracted droves of individual and corporate sellers to its marketplace.”

    Apparently, not much has changed since that time.

    A recent study at the start of peak season for ecommerce has revealed that online retailer Amazon has taken a huge lead and become the first place consumers go to find products.

    The study, run by personalization platform company BloomReach and Survata found that approximately 55% of customers use Amazon before any other site when searching for products online. This was the second annual “State of Amazon” study.

    While the company’s gains are impressive, it’s nothing short of what consumers and researchers have come to expect from the retail giant.

    In 2015, Amazon surpassed Wal-Mart as the most valuable retailer in the US, and its numbers only continue to grow. In the past, many more people would first turn to a search engine such as Google, but the number of services that Amazon offers puts the company at a distinct advantage for the coming holiday season.

    The study

    BloomReach’s second annual “State of Amazon” study surveyed 2,000 U.S. consumers over the 2016 Labor Day weekend and revealed surprising results. While 55% of consumers reported going to Amazon before any other retailer, search engines and other retailers lost equal ground, pulling in only 28% and 16% of consumers, respectively.

    The company’s lead has only increased since BloomReach’s inaugural “State of Amazon” study, conducted in 2015. BloomReach conducted a similar study in April, which revealed that Amazon already possessed 53% of consumers’ first product search.

    As it turns out, Amazon is involved in nearly all online shopping experiences. In fact, approximately 90% of consumers will conduct a search on Amazon even if the product they want is on another retailer’s site.

    bloomreach amazon stats

    “Amazon continues to be the first destination when consumers want to find a product, driven largely by a perceived superior end-to-end experience,” said Jason Seeba, BloomReach head of marketing. “Online shopping is all about relevance and convenience, and comparison shopping has never been easier – especially with mobile growth.”

    The retailers

    Amazon’s grip on the public doesn’t stop at general shopping, either. With the holiday season creeping upon us, the online retailer is expected to be the first destination for almost all online holiday shopping. Approximately 94% of consumers reported plans to complete their holiday shopping on Amazon, as well.

    While retailers are feeling the pinch of Amazon’s incredibly high consumer numbers, that doesn’t mean they’re entirely knocked out of the game. In fact, a majority of survey respondents said that other retailers were better at tailoring their websites and product recommendations.

    Roughly one in five respondents reported that quality was their biggest concern while shopping at Amazon. It’s relatively easy to buy some objects, but others face a high rate of counterfeit complaints.

    In fact, the biggest complaints came from customers who used Amazon’s relatively new “marketplace” feature. In an effort to compete with Etsy, another online retailer, Amazon created a third-party space for consumers to interact in much the same way they do on Etsy.

    However, the growing artisan community came into Q3 2016 with a strong lead over Amazon’s Marketplace.

    Wal-Mart

    Amazon may have some fierce competition online from the Etsy artisan community, but other retailers are struggling with their ecommerce for the holiday season.

    Wal-Mart in particular is making a big push to expand their online presence as holiday season creeps ever closer.

    However, investors are still looking for proof that the payoff will be worth all of the time and money in the end. The company stated that it plans to spend approximately $11 billion in its next fiscal year on ecommerce initiatives while still focusing on remodeling its stores.

    walmart_exterior

    Wal-Mart, while its ecommerce spending might be alarming, isn’t new to this type of investment. In fact, its US online sales are second only to Amazon, the company it’s currently attempting to surpass.

    As one of the most successful brick-and-mortar franchises in the nation, Wal-Mart certainly doesn’t have anything to fear as far as holiday sales go. The biggest issue for the company is whether its investors will see the current ecommerce spending necessary to compete with Amazon.

    The shoppers

    Whether it’s brick-and-mortar retail shopping or it begins on a search engine, holiday creep has arrived. In fact, by the time Labor Day rolled around this year, nearly half of American parents had already started their holiday shopping.

    Retailers like Macy’s and Best Buy have already started their holiday advertising campaigns, even going so far as to deck out their stores in red and white holiday garb.

    According to data from last year’s Rubicon survey, only 42% of parents had started their holiday shopping by September. This year marks a significant increase in their data, although other studies reveal that Rubicon’s numbers may run a bit high.

    According to a CreditCards.com report from 2015, only about 14% of American consumers had started thier holiday shopping by September. However, their most recent survey showed the same upward trend in those consumers choosing to shop earlier in the year.

    American parents are expected to spend approximately $1,711 during the 2016 holidays, according to Rubicon. And as the BloomReach survey suggests, most of them will be headed to search engines and Amazon for their initial searches.

    According to the BloomReach “State of Amazon” study, when holiday shoppers have an idea of what they want, 59% will start on Amazon and 24% will start on a search engine. However, even a Google search is likely to direct consumers to Amazon before any other retailer.

    Amazon’s presence in the e-commerce community hasn’t gone unnoticed by consumers, either. In fact, one in five consumers revealed they were concerned about the company’s dominance relative to other retail outlets.

    In conclusion

    Amazon, while a powerhouse in the ecommerce community, still has a few issues of its own to work out. For one, its artisan-only Marketplace doesn’t offer the kind of authenticity and service that sites like Etsy do. Consumers are not only concerned with counterfeit products, but with the company’s dominance over the online community.

    Nevertheless, the company hasn’t pushed search engines or other retailers completely out of the holiday shopping game. A good chunk of consumers still turn to search engines before they conduct an Amazon search, although most search engines direct them to Amazon before other retailers.

    Holiday shopping season has arrived, and although Amazon has its faults, 53% of consumers still report having left another website in favor of Amazon. This year’s holiday shopping trends just may mark a huge milestone for the company.

    Publishers are struggling with AMP page monetization

    Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative has gained significant traction in the past 12 months, and high-profile publishers such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Hearst are among the many companies that have adopted AMP.

    According to a DoubleClick study conducted earlier this year that looked at various performance metrics of AMP pages across 150 publisher sites, the majority of publishers using AMP saw increased eCPMs.

    But now, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that many publishers using AMP are seeing their AMP pages generate substantially less revenue than their non-AMP mobile pages. According to the Journal, “Multiple publishers said an AMP pageview currently generates around half as much revenue as a pageview on their full mobile websites.”

    One of the reasons for the lower revenue is likely that while AMP supports around 75 different ad providers, including many of the largest, there are fewer types of ad units available.

    “AMP pages rely heavily on standardized banner ad units, and don’t allow publishers to sell highly-customized ad units, sponsorships or pop-up ads as they might on their own properties,” The Wall Street Journal’s Jack Marshall explained.

    Those ad units that AMP doesn’t support might make it easier for publishers to maximize their revenue, but some of them, particularly pop-ups, are the very ad units that degrade user experience.

    For now, Google is satisfied with AMP’s ad capabilities and Richard Gingras, Google’s VP of news, suggests that some publishers are seeing lower ad revenue on their AMP pages because they’re not taking full advantage of AMP’s ad capabilities. That said, he acknowledged that AMP is in its early stages.

    “We want to drive the ecosystem forward, but obviously these things don’t happen overnight,” Gringas stated. “The objective of AMP is to have it drive more revenue for publishers than non-AMP pages. We’re not there yet.”

    AMP is probably the future, regardless of revenue considerations

    Despite the fact that Google is aware that some publishers adopting AMP are generating less revenue as a result, it will likely have time to improve AMP’s capabilities. That’s because publishers by and large seem prepared to stick by AMP, even if it’s costing them money in the short term.

    One reason for this is that AMP traffic is growing. According to CNN chief product officer Alex Wellen, 20% of CNN’s search traffic now goes to the news outlet’s AMP pages, and AMP traffic has increased by 80% in the past two months.

    The other reason publishers are giving AMP the benefit of the doubt is that they strongly suspect Google will favor AMP pages in a big way going forward. As one publisher put it, “Publishers who are not using AMP will probably be penalized.”

    Even if that doesn’t come to pass, the expectation that Google will increasingly favor AMP pages over non-AMP pages will probably remain a powerful motivator for publishers to adopt it regardless of revenue considerations.

    Complete guide to keyword research for SEO

    Line concept for search engine optimization

    Keywords are the backbone of SEO.

    They represent all the phrases which you type into Google search box when surfing the net. Having this in mind, you can quickly establish that SEO is a user-oriented profession.

    In fact, expert’s proficiency can be measured by their ability to discover trending keywords and rank for them. In other words, SEOs ability to perform keyword research.

    Similarly to any commercial products, there are two main things that should concern us – the strength of our competition and the demand for a certain keyword.

    By using SEO terminology, we can say that two main factors of keyword research are:

    • Search Volume (number of monthly searches)
    • Keyword Difficulty (competitiveness of a keyword)

    Unfortunately, unlike a classic economy where everything is quantifiable, things get a bit troublesome in the world of SEO. We usually rely on stats provided by the Google Keyword Planner tool which is based on PPC (pay per click) or paid search. It is really hard to establish the real state of things and it usually comes down to approximation.

    But, we will discuss that later on in the article so stay tuned. For now, let’s start with the basics.

    What type of keywords should I pursue?

    There are two types of keywords that you should consider during your keyword research:

    • Those that can bring you profit (so called “money” or commercial keywords)
    • Those that can bring you traffic and links (also known as informative keywords)

    Most websites exist so they could make a profit. In the majority of the cases, the products are directly sold through the website and shipped all over the country/world. This is why it is necessary to rank for keywords that will lure potential customers to your website and increase your sales.

    Whenever you create some content, you have to consider your potential clients. What kind of a keyword will they use when searching for a product? These phrases will usually include descriptive words such as buy, cheap, affordable, etc.. They will help your customer pinpoint just the thing they need.

    Unfortunately, as keywords become more commercially oriented, they will also become more competitive. For example, phrases with “buy” and “cheap” in them are among hardest ones to rank on the Internet.

    Nevertheless, you still have to try and rank for them as they are the best way for you to remain profitable. On the other hand, you can search for keywords that will attract additional traffic.

    Why would I do that, you might ask?

    Simply put, unless you have enormous amount of money to spend on an aggressive marketing pay-per-click campaign (such as the one performed by Amazon), you will have to build your website from the ground up which will ultimately bring a lot of organic traffic.

    You will require more links and shares to get to that point and the best way to get them it by writing about things that will interest larger audience. Here, I am not only referring to potential clients but also news websites, popular blogs within your niche and industry experts.

    Let’s use this example. You are selling tractors. One of the first articles which you posted on your blog is about different types of tractors. Naturally, you are trying to promote your own tractors by linking to your product pages. If the piece is awesome, you might get several links and a nice bunch of shares.

    As an alternative, you can create an awesome article about new agricultural measures. It may elaborate something that everybody is talking about and ultimately, it will give your website a lot of buzz.

    The drawback of this second method is that your website won’t be making any profit. Yes, there will be a lot of visitors on your website but this will not be commercial audience. When it comes to selling your tractors, the conversion rate will be minimal. However, this is a good initial step towards building your brand and online presence.

    For short-term goals, money keywords should be prioritized. For long-term, you need both types. Bear in mind, no matter what you do, you will have to use commercial keywords as a way to keep your website afloat.

    Structure of a keyword

    The structure and length of a keyword is one of the crucial things that are directly correlated to its difficulty and volume.

    As I previously mentioned, there are certain types of keywords that are significantly more difficult to rank for. On the other hand, there are those that constantly have high or low volume or may even fluctuate. A Good example is “Summer Olympics”.

    Length of a keyword is another factor that is important for volume and difficulty. As you can presume, volume becomes lower for longer keywords and vice versa. Based on their length, we can differentiate three types of keywords:

    • Short-tail keywords (1 to 2 words)
    • Medium-tail keywords (3 to 4 words)
    • Long-tail keywords (longer than 4)

    When it comes to structure, we can differentiate:

    • Head (main word or a phrase which is the centerpiece of the search)
    • Modifier (a word which can be substituted for other words in order to change a single aspect of the keywords meaning)
    • Tail (all other words used to describe or explain our query)

    Short-tail keywords are the simplest formation. They only have a head word. Generally speaking, it is nearly impossible to rank for such a phrase due to extensive competition. However, they do bring an enormous traffic.

    Medium-tail keywords are just the thing we are looking for. As you can presume, 3 to 4 word phrases are extremely sought after. They definitely do not have the same volume as short-tail keywords but with them, you stand a chance of ranking.

    Long-tail keywords are longer phrases than four words. Even though they are really easy to rank for, they are often neglected due to their low volume. However, long tails can also be quite powerful when you rank for a lot of them at the same time.

    Basically, when you perform research, you should focus on phrases that have medium volume and low or medium difficulty (thus medium-tail keywords). But, there is a catch. Keyword research doesn’t stop when you find such a phrase. Instead, you need to focus on those medium-tail keywords that are performing better than the rest.

    If a keyword has lower volume, it needs to compensate by being easier to rank for. On the flipside, if it has medium difficulty, it needs to have higher search volume to justify the effort.

    lying books in a stack

    Finding keyword ideas

    In order to do keyword research properly, we need a lot of initial ideas that will lead us during the process. Based on the previous chapters, you somewhat understand what is required from you. Now, let’s find a way to detect all those phrases that can have a positive impact on our sales.

    It is usually recommended that you start from your main product or service which you are offering. Commercial keyword research is much more limited. You already know what you have to focus on and you will do everything to optimize around that phrase. On the other hand, if you wish to boost website’s stats, you are able to create different content.

    Always have in mind that besides your own industry, you can also tap into niche markets. They include all the topics that are somewhat related to you but are not exactly what you are offering. We can call them shoulder niches.

    How to find keywords

    Let’s review all the tools and approaches you can us to get keyword ideas:

    1) Google auto-suggest and searches related to

    Google itself is a keyword suggestion tool. For example, when you start typing in a phrase the search engine will start completing your sentences, giving you 10 suggestions as you go.

    google search

    At the same time, on the bottom of every page there will be “Searches related to” section. Here, Google will give you eight additional suggestions that are closely related to your topic.

    However, due to its limitations, the biggest search engine can only be used as a way to get basic understanding of the topic. Nevertheless, it is a solid starting point.

    2) Wikipedia

    Oftentimes when we look for something on the internet, we turn to Wikipedia as a source of extensive knowledge. Even though there are better sources for particular topics, this website is still considered as the best and most comprehensive encyclopedia.

    By entering your main keyword in its search engine, you will get a page with a description. Here, in the table of content, you can get other relevant topics and sub-categories.

    Most of these sub-categories are really extensive and they can be used as source to additional research. We refer to them as shoulder niches or niches that are in some way related to our own niche.

    3) Quora, Yahoo! Answers and forums

    For some time now, Quora and Yahoo! Answers have been the two best places for finding answers to all your questions. Nevertheless, every industry has its own forums that are recognized as good source of information.

    quora

    Now, here is the general idea. If someone has already looked for something on forums, there is a high chance they will use the same (or similar) phrase in Google search bar. By using these platforms, you can easily learn what are the trending topics, what are people interested in and subsequently, what is going to bring most traffic to your website.

    BoardReader.com is a forum search engine that can be extremely useful when it comes to collecting keyword ideas from forums and online boards. Simply enter your keyword in its search box and you’ll be given lots of keyword ideas directly from forums which you won’t be able to find anywhere else.

    4) Google Trends and Google Correlate

    As I mentioned, search volume for keywords is not static. It fluctuates. If you are an SEO expert, you should recognize rising and falling trends and act accordingly. This is why many experts like to use Google Trends as the initial point of their research.

    If the number of searches per keyword is rising, this means that we have a chance of creating awesome content before the topic becomes too popular and hard to rank for. Furthermore, Google Trends can show you from where the majority of the traffic is coming from and give you some additional keyword ideas.

    google trends explore

    Google Correlate is part of Google Trends. It uses as a scale of 1 to -1 to show you the level of correlation between your starting keyword and all the other phrases. To rephrase, it shows the search patterns where some keywords are likely to rise or fall together with your main keyword.

    5) Google Keyword Planner

    Google Keyword Planner is one of the most commonly mentioned tools when it comes to keyword suggestions and there is a good reason for it. This tool is based on AdWords system where search engine is able to calculate volume, competitiveness and price for each keyword.

    keyword-planner

    Unfortunately, when it comes to volume and competition, it is based on paid search not the organic one. As of late, Google focused on using it primarily for PPC. So, unless you invest some money in paid campaign, you cannot get good results.

    Nevertheless, it is still a good tool for getting keyword ideas. First, you need to access “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas” option.

    Then, you are interested in two things:

    • Ad group ideas (suggested keywords are categorized into potential ad groups)
    • Keyword ideas (a list with keywords that are closely related to your main keyword)

    Although you can only use keyword ideas, I strongly recommend that you also use Ad group ideas. It will widen the scope of your search a lot.

    For example, if you use “cat food” keyword, you will instantly get several suggested phrases consisting of both “cat” and “food”. They will have volume, suggested bid, competition and other stats. However, if you use Ad group ideas before Keyword ideas, you can get a list with all the other related groups of keywords such as “cat toys” and “pet food”.

    As you see with Ad group ideas you not only get suggestions based on your main keyword but also semantically related words and phrases that your competition might not even know they exist.

    6) Keyword Shitter

    This rather simplistic keyword suggestions tool is considered as one of the most comprehensive tools of its kind on the internet. Besides the fact that it is easy to use, it provides amazing results.

    All you have to do is type in a keyword and this program will give you a huge list of suggestions. To refine search, you can use positive and negative filters that will include or exclude certain word or phrase.

    This tool needs some time to retrieve all the results but it is more than worth it. Word of caution – after a while it will start giving unrelated results. Because of it, you will have to be careful when assessing them.

    After your list is complete just head back to Google Keyword Planner, copy-paste the list of results Keyword Shitter got you add the most lucrative keywords to your list.

    7) io

    Another great free SEO tool on our list, Keyword.io is pretty solid when it comes to extracting keyword from various sources. You can use Google, Bing, YouTube, Amazon and other search engines and add suggestions to your list.

    For example, you can add several suggestions from Google and then start browsing Bing and add several suggestions from Bing. What makes this tool so special is the fact that it doesn’t only give you words to add before and after your main keyword, but it does this for every letter in the alphabet.

    For example, if your main word is “organic food”, Keyword.io will give you ideas like “best organic food” or “organic food delivery” for every letter from A to Z.

    At the end of the process, you can export all these results to use later on in Google Keyword Planner of some other tool of your choice.

    8) SEMRush

    When it comes to reverse engineering your competitors’ SEO, SEMRush is definitely the tool which you always have to have in your arsenal. Its unique advantage lies is its ability to show very accurate organic and PPC data for almost every website.

    This great program can be used to spy on your competition and check out their keywords (among other things). Just enter the URL of your main competitors in SEMRush and see exactly where their organic traffic is coming from.

    It will give you pretty accurate data allowing you to copy the strategy of your competition. SEMRush shows all the ranking keywords of a website and their current positions in Google together with the percentage of traffic they bring and many other useful stats. It is a great way to get some fresh keyword ideas that no other tool can show you.

    Assessing the keywords and your competition

    You probably have an extensive list of results in front of you by now. That’s great!

    Now, you need to examine all of them and find just the right keyword that has greatest potential.

    education book with science icons

    If I wrote this article a couple of months ago, I would definitely suggest using Google Keyword Planner. Due to the significant changes that Keyword Planner undertook, it is no longer an option that’s free for everyone. Google wanted to place emphasis on PPC users that spend money on AdWords . As an organic user, you won’t get the full scope of things.

    But, there are other tools which can be used. During this part of research, you have to determine search volume and keyword difficulty of a keyword. You also need to see how much work it will take to reach top rankings in Google which can be done by analyzing the links of your competitors as well as the strength of their websites.

    How to use your keyword research tools

    Some things can be done quickly and painlessly without having to invest a cent. But, during this stage, it is recommended to invest some money in tools.

    Have in mind that you are able to perform the entire research without spending any money. But, for optimal results, you might consider getting some of the keyword research tools from the list.

    Now, let’s see what kind of programs you need.

    1) io – assessing keyword volume

    Maybe Google Keyword Planner changed but Keywordtool.io hasn’t. The tool is based on the same data which can be found in Google Keyword Planner. In fact, it extracts all the info from it. So, even though Keyword Planner is no longer an option, you have a suitable replacement.

    It provides three basic types of data:

    • Volume (total number of monthly searches in Google)
    • CPC (cost-per-click or the amount of money that bidders pay for that particular keyword)
    • AdWords Competition (number of people bidding for that keyword)

    Although this data is based on PPC, it does show us how competitive and popular a keyword is. Be cautious though because this is only an approximation. It doesn’t show the real state of organic traffic.

    Similarly to Keyword Shitter, you have a positive and negative filter which allows you to include or exclude certain words to your liking. On top of that, you can further filter your search by looking for data either in Google, YouTube, Bing, Amazon or App Store. As you can presume, Keywordtool.io is also good for getting new keyword ideas.

    2) Moz Keyword Explorer – assessing keyword difficulty

    Next step of the process is determining the difficulty of your keyword. Although Keywordtool.io is great at accessing the volume, it doesn’t evaluate keyword difficulty. Instead, you should use Moz Keyword Explorer. This tool is by far the best way to assess how difficult a keyword is.

    The three basic stats that this tool provides are:

    • Difficulty (how difficult it is to rank higher than the articles which are already ranking)
    • Opportunity (estimated organic click-through-rate)
    • Potential (combination of previous scores)

    Together with the previously mentioned tool, Keyword Explorer can help us understand what to expect from a keyword. Its algorithms that assess difficulty are quite precise and I would full-heartedly recommend them.

    The fact that this is a freemium tool makes it that much better. Just register an account with Moz and you’ll get five free searches per day.

    Besides this basic data, it also shows you other keyword suggestions, SERP analysis and keyword mentions. It is a very practical way to analyze the first page of results and check your competition.

    moz keyword planner

    3) MozBar – Assessing domain authority

    MozBar is something that every blogger should have regardless of whether they are performing keyword research or not.

    This nifty extension is completely free and you can get it through Google Web Store. It shows you the PA and DA (page and domain authority of websites).

    Whenever you search for a keyword in Google, you will get a list of all the top competitors. With this extension, you can see page and domain authority score of each one of the top 10 ranking websites without having to click on every page individually.

    With that, we come to our next point.

    4) Manually checking the first page

    People tend to forget that the process of keyword research isn’t exclusively based on tool usage. Human factor also plays a role as you go to the first page of results and check all the competitors with your own eyes (also known as eyeballing).

    No matter what you do, I always suggest that you start by checking keyword’s volume and difficulty. It is a necessity that will save you a lot of time later on. But, the numbers can only tell you so much. You need to eyeball each result on the first page and check all the competitors yourself.

    Are there too many authoritative websites on page one? Do these results have extensive, high quality articles? If so, there is a slim chance of ranking.

    On the other hand, if you notice a lot of sites with low PA and DA scores, forum results, pages on free blog platforms like wordpress.com or blogspot, it may indicate that the search is lacking quality sources.

    By creating your own high quality long article, you can easily beat the competition and rank on page one. Don’t forget to build links as you go too which takes us to the last tool.

    5) Ahrefs – Assessing links’ power and quantity

    For now, everything seems ok. You have assessed the stats and your competition doesn’t look too stiff. Awesome! But, there is another, last step of the way. You need to check top 10 competitors’ backlinks.

    Links still remain the most impactful ranking factor. That being said, you always have to check the links of other pages and see if you can beat that score. I would recommend using Ahrefs as the best tool for this particular purpose.

    Ahrefs is pretty quick to notice new backlinks. On top of that, it is rather precise when doing so. The biggest issue with this tool is the price. But, if you are serious about keyword research, it is better if you get it.

    Without assessing the links of your main competitors, you can never know whether you can actually rank for a keyword. Getting links can especially be problematic for brand new websites. As a result, all your efforts may be in vein.

    There are two things that need to be considered:

    • Quantity of the links
    • Quality of the links

    When it comes to backlinks, more is not always better. One link from a highly authoritative website can easily trump dozens coming from weaker blogs.

    Again, it’s all based on free assessment. If a website has a certain number of links that doesn’t necessarily mean that we need the same number to overtake him. There are numerous additional ranking factors that have some impact. But, if the first few results have around 100 links each with average DA over 50, it can tell us where we stand and if the keyword is too difficult to penetrate.

    Conclusion

    SEO is not an exact science. It has never been. At best, it can be called a profession of educated guesses. Same goes with keyword research. But, similarly to other professions that are rather intangible (such as stock trading) we need a starting point which can reduce the risk of failure. In the end, there is no point in randomly selecting keywords, right?

    Keyword research is a process that can be costly. At the same time, if you know the tools, you will be able to perform it for a much lower price. With this detailed guide, I hope you’ve got some basic understanding what can work and what is a complete waste of time. Let me know in the comments below.

    Mobile paid search has increased by 134% since last year: stats

    screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-21-52-11

    There has been an increase of 20% in the YoY growth of Google search ad spending in Q3 2016, while paid search mobile phone spend has increased by 134% from the past year.

    This is according to Merkle’s Q3 Digital Marketing Report, which covers the latest trends in paid search, social media, display, and organic search.

    Here are some more useful stats on all the changes that occurred in the past year.

    Paid Search

    • Google search ad spending grew 20% YoY in Q3 2016, although it’s down from the 22% growth a quarter earlier. Click volume grew 28%, while CPCs fell 6%.

    • Google Shopping (PLA) spending grew 36% YoY on a 59% increase in clicks. Google text ad spending rose 9% on 11% higher clicks.
    • Bing Ads and Yahoo Gemini combined search ad spending fell 14% YoY in Q3 2016, compared to a 17% decline in Q2. Bing Product Ad spending declined 12%, while Gemini’s share of click volume across both platforms remained flat at 17%.
    • Total paid search phone spending increased 134% YoY, while both tablet and desktop spending fell 4%. Phones and tablets combined to generate 62% of Google search ad clicks, which is a 5% increase from Q2. Desktop CPCs rose 8% YoY in Q3 2016, while tablet CPCs were flat.

    Organic Search & Social

    • Total organic search visits fell 5% YoY in Q3 2016, although still an improvement from a 7% decline in Q2. Phone organic search visits increased 9% YoY, the first quarterly increase in 2016, while desktop visits fell 7% .

    screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-21-57-24

    • Google organic search visits fell 1% YoY as the search engine’s efforts to increase the monetization of its mobile search results continues to depress organic volume. Yahoo organic visits fell 21% YoY, while Bing visits fell 2%.
    • Mobile devices produced 48% of organic search visits, up from 46% in Q2, but still below the 57% of paid search clicks that took place on mobile devices.

    screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-22-04-01

    • Facebook dominated social visits, producing 61% of all site visits generated on social media sites in Q3 2016, which combined to produce 4% of mobile site visits.

    screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-22-04-47

    Comparison Shopping Engines

    • The eBay Commerce Network’s share of total comparison shopping engine (CSE) spending continued to climb, reaching 65% in Q3 2016. Niche CSEs account for 6% of spending, while eBay’s main rival in this space, Connexity, has seen its share fall to 29%.

    screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-22-07-46

    • Mobile devices produced just 16% of CSE clicks in Q3 2016, similar to the rate observed in Q2, but well below the over 60% rate for Google Shopping.

    Display Advertising

    • Total display and paid social advertising spending rose 46% YoY in Q3 2016, with Facebook dominating with a 63% YoY increase. Facebook CPCs continued to decline YoY, although the average CPM rose 38%.

    screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-22-05-24

    • The Google Display Network (GDN) accounted for 8% of advertisers’ total Google advertising investment, a small decline from a year earlier.
    • Facebook advertising spend was up 63% in YoY in Q3, which accounts for one of the highest rates of growth of the past years.

    screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-22-06-11

    For more information check out Merkle’s Q3 Digital Marketing Report.

    Interview: can you forecast SEO? Sastry Rachakonda says you can

    A photograph of a Macbook sitting on a table, with the A.L.P.S platform visible on its screen, open to the Opportunity Tool.

    In the world of search engine optimisation, there are a wealth of tools which produce analytics and SEO reports after changes have been made to your site.

    But what if you could predict how your site’s ranking would change before you’d made any alterations –and see the impact on traffic, ROI and more?

    Sounds too good to be true, right? But ALPS, a new platform from iQuanti, sets out to do exactly that.

    ALPS, which stands for Analytics Led Platform for Search, is a “best-in-class analytically driven platform”, in the words of CEO Sastry Rachakonda. The platform “allows you to set your SEO strategy with a deep understanding of your competition as well as your business.”

    The aim of the platform’s predictive capabilities is to let SEOs understand exactly what impact a certain change to their site would have, before they invest the money and time in making it. But it also gives an in-depth insight into exactly what competitor websites are doing with their SEO, allowing users to adapt their strategy accordingly.

    So how does this tool actually work, and how accurate is it really? I asked CEO Sastry Rachakonda for some insight.

    A gap in the market

    As you might imagine, a platform like ALPS is built on an in-depth knowledge of SEO, a lot of data, and a lot of research.

    “I used to be a marketer in large Fortune 500 companies,” explains Rachakonda. “Having looked at the SEO space from the other side, I found there were a lot of gaps in the existing tools, and that was pretty much the genesis of ALPS.”

    Existing SEO platforms have a good level of analytics and reporting, says Rachakonda, but as of yet, nothing predictive.

    Building a tool like ALPS practically required Rachakonda and his team to build their own search engine – or at least to understand how the theory behind them works. They plumbed the industry research and patents available – including a number filed by Google – in order to understand the factors that go into making a search engine.

    “At the core of ALPS is a desire to get a deeper understanding of how the algorithms work,” explains Rachakonda.

    Image by iQuanti

    Using this knowledge, they were able to build a model which could simulate how a search engine would respond to various changes on a website, and alter the site ranking accordingly.

    The ALPS tool uses 105 different factors to model search rankings and predict SEO. While this might sound pretty complex, Google is rumoured to use between 150 and 180. Of course, Google has a lot of internal data at its fingertips which outside parties could never hope to replicate, much of it accumulated over decades of learning and tweaking. But iQuanti did its best with the information that was available, and while some of it was purchased, a surprising amount is publicly available for anyone to use.

    ALPS aims to replicate Google’s search algorithms as closely as possible, but it works for other search engines as well.

    “We looked at Google primarily because that has the most volume, but the variables remain the same,” says Rachakonda. “There isn’t a dramatic difference between search engines. In our roadmap, we are looking at tweaking it to come up with a secondary model that will more accurately replicate Bing’s search engine ranking.”

    While the platform obviously can’t match Google one hundred percent, it comes pretty close, says Rachakonda – and it’s the most extensively-researched and modelled tool of its kind. “Is it perfect? No, but I would say this is the most far-reaching effort in that direction, and we have been successful in driving results.”

    From art to science

    At the core of ALPS is its scoring engine: the higher your score, the better your SEO. The ‘ALPS score’ is made up of four components: on-page, off-page, social and technical SEO. The platform also gives you your Google search ranking for a particular keyword – users can choose the keywords they want to target when they onboard with the platform.

    You can then compare your SEO score in various areas with competitors who rank above and below you for the same keyword, see what they’re doing better than you (such as having better on-page SEO), and use the tool’s predictive function to forecast how altering different parts of your site will affect your score.

    Image by iQuanti

    Of course, SEO nowadays isn’t just a keyword game, and a lot of the factors that are now key to SEO rankings are more subjective and difficult to quantify – like content quality. So how does ALPS account for changes to something like the quality of your site’s content?

    Ajay Rama, Senior Vice President of Product at iQuanti, explains,

    “There are two aspects to content quality that we look at: A, if the page is relevant and meeting the primary purpose it was meant to serve; and B, whether the content is from an authoritative or trustworthy source.

    “Our algorithm analyses the purpose by looking at the mix of terms that are being used and not just exact word combinations. It looks at synonyms and topically similar words. It also looks at whether the links that the site is getting are provided in the same context as the page content, and then assigns a relevancy score to it.

    “To determine the trustworthiness of a site, we look at the nature of links that the content has, and whether they are from trusted sources or domains.”

    ALPS also has a dedicated section for mobile SEO, which looks at how pages and keywords rank differently in mobile search compared to desktop.

    Another feature that many SEOs would find handy is its ability to account for Google penalties for something like failing to nofollow ‘freebie’ links by bloggers. So you can simulate the impact of disavowing various links on your site, and then watch your ranking respond accordingly.

    A pair of hands hovering above a large white crystal ball, which is surrounded by black cloth.

    Why has there been so little development in the predictive SEO space? | Image by nvodicka, available via CC0

    The ability to simulate how changes to your SEO will affect your ranking before you make them is obviously incredibly handy in the search industry. So why aren’t more companies doing this?

    I asked Rachakonda why he thinks there has been so little development in the realm of predictive SEO.

    “It requires a combination of strong, data-driven folks, engineering, as well as strong marketers – typically, a lot of tools come from very strong engineering companies, but I think that there is a strong overlay of marketing and data science that you need [for SEO],” he replied.

    “SEO is a bit of an art. A lot of times, the investment in paid search is much more than in SEO, because of how predictable paid search is. And we hope that we can transform the industry with this tool, by making SEO a lot more predictable and results-driven.

    “Could others do it? Obviously – but this is the first, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are followers. This is a space that is really ripe for innovation, and for really making data work a lot more. This is one of those corners of digital marketing that is still very much an art, not as much a science, and hopefully this tool will take a big step towards making this a lot more of a science.”

    Five most important search marketing news stories of the week

    1-1-edit

    Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from around the world of search marketing and beyond.

    This week, good news for YouTubers but bad news for Vine stars and anyone who wants a bit of privacy.

    Twitter kills Vine

    Sad news for those with short attention spans, Twitter is killing off Vine, the six second video app it purchased a couple of years ago.

    According to a statement, despite discontinuing the app in the coming months, your Vines will still be available.

    “You’ll be able to access and download your Vines. We’ll be keeping the website online because we think it’s important to still be able to watch all the incredible Vines that have been made. You will be notified before we make any changes to the app or website.”

    On the plus side, Twitter’s been far more entertaining for the last 24 hours than normal. Enjoy it while it lasts.

    Bing Ads reveal the most searched Halloween costumes

    According to the latest research from Bing Ads, adults are more interested in performing Halloween searches than teenagers, although that may change as teenagers have even less to do on the internet now (see above).

    Here’s some more spooky insight:

    • 32% of the searches were made from people aged 35-49 and 28% of them were made from people aged 50-64. This is probably the reason why 72% of the searches occurred on PCs, with just 14% of them taking place on both tablet and mobile devices.
    • Teens aged 13 to 17 are 473% more likely to search for Pokémon, compared to young adults aged 18 to 24.
    • Young adults aged 18 to 24 are 8% more likely to search for Little Mermaid than Deadpool.
    • Adults aged 25 to 34 are 10% more likely to search for Deadpool than Little Mermaid.
    • Adults aged 35 to 49 are 242% more likely to search for Harry Potter, at least compared to 25-34-year-olds.
    • Baby Boomers and Gen Xers aged 50 to 64 are 8% more likely to search for Alice in Wonderland than Pokémon.
    • Older Baby Boomers aged over 65 are both likely to search for Five Nights at Freddy’s and Deadpool.

    No word as to why nobody in the US dresses as anything remotely terrifying during Halloween. Come on, zombie-up that Little Mermaid costume just for this year!

    Google comes under fire for its privacy policy change

    As reported this week by Al Robert, Google made a change to its privacy policy that’s now drawing criticism from privacy proponents.

    As detailed by ProPublica, Google “quietly erased [the] last privacy line in the sand” by allowing for data it collects on its services to be combined with DoubleClick.

    Previously, Google’s privacy policy read:

    “We will not combine DoubleClick cookie information with personally identifiable information unless we have your opt-in consent.”

    That was replaced with:

    “Depending on your account settings, your activity on other sites and apps may be associated with your personal information in order to improve Google’s services and the ads delivered by Google.”

    According to ProPublica’s Julia Angwin, “The practical result of the change is that the DoubleClick ads that follow people around on the web may now be customized to them based on your name and other information Google knows about you. It also means that Google could now, if it wished to, build a complete portrait of a user by name, based on everything they write in email, every website they visit and the searches they conduct.”

    By default, all users who create a Google account post-privacy policy change are opted in to data sharing and must opt out if they don’t want their data shared. Those who already have accounts must opt in.

    Bing Ads provides all new campaign creation workflow

    Bing Ads has unveiled an all new campaign creation workflow designed to help you optimise search campaigns on its network.

    Here’s a brief guide to the new features:

    Establish a business goal to guide your campaign’s creation

    You can select a marketing goal for your new campaign, which will be used to recommend different features or different defaults to launch your campaigns. Regardless of which goal you choose, your campaign will still have access to all features.

    Copy campaign settings & target specific locations

    You can now quickly copy the campaign settings from an existing campaign. You can also set up the locations where you want your ads to appear.

    Target the right searchers with tailored keyword recommendations

    Bing Ads now offers improved keyword suggestions to help you target the right search results. These suggestions can even be based on a URL from your website. For each suggestion, Bing Ads will show how popular, how costly, and how competitive each keyword is.

    YouTube rolls out ‘end screens’ for every user

    YouTube has announced a new feature that lets you add a thumbnail overlay to the end of your videos, called an end screen.

    This is described as a “new mobile-friendly tool that lets you engage viewers right as your video finishes and encourages them to watch more on their devices.”

    mobile_desktop-jamie-oliver

    For the last 5-20 seconds of your video, you can add a thumbnail overlay that tells viewers to watch other videos, subscribe to your channel, visit collaborators’ channels, and more.

    This is apparently easier to use than its current desk-top only tool, Annotations.

    And to end the round-up, let’s finish with an appropriate end screen of our own.

    mortal-kombat