12 video SEO tips to help improve your search rankings

video SEO

Video content has skyrocketed over the past few years, and therefore it’s time to examine how adding SEO to your videos can impact rankings.

Video is everywhere and this is both a blessing and a curse, especially if you’re trying to stand out from the rest of the crowd at the top of search engine results pages. So consider the following video SEO tips to help put you ahead of the competition…

1) Add value

As common as it may sound, your content should be relevant to your audience, adding value that will convince the users to dedicate the right time to watch your video. The more quality videos, the bigger the chances to serve as an authority, build a trusting relationship with your audience and increase the conversions.

2) Host video to your own domain

If you are creating video content to improve the ranking of your site, then you need to host the video to your own domain, in order to ensure that search engines don’t direct the traffic to another site.

Let’s say for example that you prefer to upload the video on YouTube and add a link back to your site in the description. This may be a good idea if you’re trying to expand your reach, but in terms of SEO, search engines will crawl the Youtube video first, rather than your site.

Moreover, it may be a good idea to create a new page for each video, as Google mentions that this makes the indexing easier.

3) Create interactive content

How about adding the necessary interactive elements to your videos to activate the viewers? Whether it’s the actual content, an annotation, or the caption, there are many ways that you can “gamify” a video to make it more interactive and engaging, helping grab the users’ attention.

You can even split the video into shorter clips, allowing your viewers to pick which one they prefer to watch, a strategy which has been implemented in many successful campaigns.

4) Create relevant metadata

Your video should provide the necessary details to help search engines index it and according to Google, the title, the description and the thumbnail are the most important pieces of information.

Metadata offers more details about the video title, the description, the length of the video and its file name.

Video title has to be short and concise, while the description may provide more details and keywords, boosting the ranking of your content.

Last but not least, make sure the file name of your video is relevant, instead of a generic one like “video415.mph”, as this is another way to describe your content for search engines.

Here’s more advice on how to optimise video for YouTube.

5) Optimise with keywords

Keyword research may also occur in video SEO and it may help you discover the most relevant content for your target audience. Is there a particular keyword, or phrase that could lead to better results? What’s the best way to describe your video?

Feel free to experiment with different keywords and always remember to create descriptive, but also legible content, helping both your audience, but also the search engines.

6) Focus on the thumbnail

The video’s thumbnail is among the first things that users will notice and it might affect their decision whether they’ll actually click on the video.

How about picking a thumbnail that is clear and relevant to the content of your video?

7) Make “shareable” content

It’s not just about creating an interactive video, it’s also about producing content that your audience will appreciate.

“Shareable” content is unique, creative and adds value for its target audience, making the sharing easier and the reach bigger.

It’s the quality of your content that will make your video stand out from the rest, and a clear call-to-action may also affect your site’s authority, with new links and mentions.

8) Add a video transcript

A full video transcript is the written version of your video and it can be very useful if it also includes the right use of keywords, helping search engines learn more about your content.

You can either include a transcript to the audio portion of your video, or you may also add it to the description box, along with the HTML of the page. This not only helps search engines to discover your content, but also the readers who may prefer an overview of your video.

9) Create a video sitemap

A video sitemap provides all the necessary data about your video’s content and it provides the details the search engines need to get a clearer picture of its context.

A video’s sitemap is another way to present the video’s title, description, subject, duration and it may even provide more specific details, like an indication of the country restrictions, any expiration dates, platform restrictions or live streams.

It serves as an extension to your site’s general sitemap and although it may often be overlooked in video SEO, it is an important step to help your video’s ranking.

10) Repurpose video

There are many ways to use an existing video and this may extend its “lifespan” and its reach.

For example, you may create a 10-minute video on your site, offering tips about video SEO. Your goal is to push this page to the rankings and increase the awareness and the traffic to your site.

Instead of simply promoting the particular page, which you should do anyway, you may also upload a preview of this video to your Facebook page for example, leading your audience to your site for more details.

Moreover, you can create an infographic, a slideshow, or shorter videos, all leading to the main source of content: your site.

It is a great opportunity to reach a wider audience and promote your main content, helping them discover your page in the most interesting and relevant way.

11) Allow embedding of your video

If users want to embed your video to their site, or their blog, it means that they like it enough to include it on their page. This is already a win for your content and it may lead to a boosted page ranking on SERPs.

Thus, make it easy for your audience to embed your video, as you’re earning more inbound links to help your SEO efforts.

12) Share on social media

Don’t be afraid to promote your content as much as possible to all the relevant channels, as this is the best way to spread word about it and reach the right audience.

This may lead to more viewers, new links, bigger traffic and of course, better positioning on SERPs.

Feel free to reach the right people that may find your content interesting, or even to use your network to promote it accordingly. Even paid promotion may be useful, if you think that this can contribute to your goals.

Social authority cannot be overlooked and in fact, it may be a great way to boost your video’s SEO efforts.

Takeaway

There are numerous ways to apply search optimisation for your video content, but it all comes down to quality once again, as the starting point for your strategy.

It’s the actual content that will grab the audience’s attention and its optimisation can ensure that you are rewarded for your dedication with a higher position on SERPs.

Once you are creating relevant content of high quality, then it’s time to start applying the above tips to get your message noticed, both by users and search engines.

Google to penalize annoying mobile interstitials

annoying interstitials

Last year, Google unleashed Mobilegeddon on the world in an effort to make the web more accessible by favoring mobile-friendly sites in the mobile SERPs.

Now, Google is upping the ante by taking aim at sites that use intrusive interstitials.

Starting January 10, 2017, Google will update its algorithm so that sites “where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.”

In a post on the Official Google Webmaster Central blog, Google Product Manager Doantam Phan provided examples of techniques that Google isn’t a fan of:

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

Some common techniques won’t be penalized. These include legal notices, login dialogs on password-protected sites, and banners that don’t take up too much screen real estate and can be dismissed easily.

Reactions show rift between users and publishers

Not surprisingly, many cheered Google’s announcement, hoping that it will help bring about an end to tactics that frequently annoy end users.

But not everyone is thrilled. Rafat Ali, the founder of travel news site Skift, remarked on Twitter that “Now Google wants to define how publishers run our audience acquisition strategies. Will hurt email newsletters most.”

While he noted that the popup his site uses to invites readers to sign up for an email newsletter doesn’t appear on the first page a reader visits and therefore believes “we’re insulated for most part,” he also had some choice words for Google.

Now Google wants to define how publishers run our audience acquisition strategies. Will hurt email newsletters most. https://t.co/ZWXzws0Veq

— Rafat Ali (@rafat) August 23, 2016

Obviously, publishers will want to monitor Google’s update carefully, lest they find themselves penalized.

But Google’s Phan noted that “this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals that are used in ranking” and added, “the intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”

That suggests the penalty might not be significant, or won’t affect some publishers as much as others, so publishers will need to wait until next year to see how this update pans out.

Voice UI and intelligent assistants: trends to watch out for next

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Earlier this year, a report from Consumer Intelligence Research partners (CIRP) pegged the sales of Amazon’s Echo at more than 3 million units.

Echo of course uses Amazon’s cloud based AI “Alexa” to answer questions, play music/games, control smart devices including home automation systems and of course re-order products off Amazon.

More importantly, awareness of this device and others like it continues to accelerate.

In fact, according to CIRP, awareness of Echo more than doubled though the course of last year from 20% in March 2015 to more than 50% by year’s end.

While an aggressive and memorable ad effort featuring Alec Baldwin, Dan Marino, and Missy Elliot may have contributed to Echo’s increasing awareness and popularity, its value proposition, robust and growing functionality and perceived promise are ushering in a new era – the AI, Machine Learning and voice UI era.

Here are a few trends and predictions to look for as we prepare for this exciting wave which will most certainly become ever more present in our everyday lives and tasks.

Trends in intelligent assistants

Listening to Amazon’s Charles Kindel at the Eniac M1 Summit confirms, Amazon has big plans for its cloud based omnipresent AI technology.

Those plans include how this intelligent assistant can be integrated into and can interact with other IOT devices and services be it your smart phone/watch/home, gaming/music systems and even cars, as is the case with Ford SYNC.

Clearly Amazon believes Echo and “Alexa” is so much more than just a product, it’s a framework and platform that will be open to a growing number of outside developers.

Expect tens of thousands of developers to jump on the bandwagon in the coming years as they look to integrate Alexa into their own products as this technology moves quickly into the mainstream.

But don’t be fooled, Amazon won’t be alone and it’s not the only game in town.

Both Apple with its Siri, Microsoft with its Cortana and Google with the Google Assistant and Google Home offering will compete aggressively here, particularly given their dominance on the mobile/smartphone OS front.

cortana

Given that advantage and footprint, it will be particularly interesting to see how Amazon will explore ways in which Alexa can be more deeply integrated into Apple, Google and Microsoft powered smartphones.

It should also not come as a big surprise if Amazon looks to both acquire and build solutions to support the continued adoption of its intelligent assistant Alexa.

The company’s strong track record to continually experiment and innovate remains part of its culture. Bigger and bigger successes, such as AWS and Echo/Alexa, will only fuel bigger bets and experiments, and rest assured, Alexa-related investments and innovations are forthcoming.

Finally, because these voice UI’s and intelligent assistants continually listen for key words and are collecting more and more info about its users to be helpful, privacy concerns have arisen.

Hopes and fears

While each company has assured users the data is not stored or shared, the always listening and learning capabilities can be unsettling.

Look for greater notice, data access and controls to be integrated into all solutions as our intelligent assistants become an increasing part of our lives.

We are on the threshold of a new era lead by AI, NL and machine learning and the emergence of the voice UI somewhat depicted in the Spike Jonze movie HER is yet another step closer to reality.

Seven strategies for building a thriving community around your blog

Blogging_Darren Rowse_ProBlogger_600

The secret to creating an outstanding blog is to cultivate a strong community of fans that helps generate new traffic.

In this post, I will lay out some tips to creating a bustling community around a blog. I’ll also share tips on monitoring community growth and how to use it to your advantage.

Why should you create a community around your blog?

Here are the benefits to having a community of bloggers or readers around your blog.

  • A large number of readers encourages social shares which in turn can generate more traffic to your site.
  • Comments left by fans helps to position the blog as an ‘authority blog’.
  • A community is social proof and can help attract leads.
  • By nurturing true relationships with your readers this increases the chances of them linking back to your valuable posts. This adds to SEO value.
  • Interaction with a large number of readers increases the time spent on a single page, which is also valuable for SEO.
  • A strong fan base will recommend you to their own communities.
  • How to build a community around your blog

    1. Build it on a single powerful idea

    If you speak in a crowd, nobody will listen to you, but if you are talking to a group of like-minded people, they will applaud you. It is the same with blogging. Blogs focused on a specific topic are generally more successful.

    Writing blog posts on one topic (say, sports) for a week and another (like astronomy) for the next week will drive your readers away. They will find it difficult to connect with you.

    Make sure your blog is about something you are passionate about. Passion spreads like a wildfire, and is a powerful emotion to connect your idea to the right audience. This helps to cultivate an audience who knows what you feel and understands what you write.

    This very sense of being connected will build the foundation of your community.

    Problogger’s Darren Rowse has successfully evolved his blog problogger.net because he is focused on one single idea – blogging.

    Rowse never tries to merge it with his other passion, photography and has a separate blog for this. The second blog too has a large community around it but with a very different audience set.

    2. Make them feel comfortable

    Lectures are boring and so are one-sided blogs. Nobody likes to read a blog that rants about its success and strategies and does not include the readers in it. Such blogs eventually die out.

    If you want people to be active in your community you have to make them comfortable and feel at home. Here’s how…

    a) Be personal

    Nothing connects more with your readers than being personal. Being personal doesn’t mean sharing private details, it means writing as though you are communicating.

    Make your tone humanized. Tell stories related to the post. Use words like we, you and me so that it comes across as if you are talking directly to your reader.

    b) Be approachable

    Give your readers the privilege to reach out to you as and when they want. This will invoke a sense of being heard. You can also encourage your subscribers to speak to you via email.

    For example, Noah Kagan, the man behind Appsumo, encourages his subscribers to speak about their experiences with him.

    Blogging_Noah Kagen_OkDork_About_600

    This creates an emotional bond with his subscribers and helps to grow his community.

    Blogging_Noah Kagen_OkDork_Tell me_600

    3. Include your audience in your blogs

    After your audience is comfortable interacting with you and your blog, make them feel more included by creating a strategy to weave your readers into every thread of your blog. Here’s how:

    a) Ask readers to comment

    After writing a blog post, encourage your readers to take part in it. Ask them for solutions about the problem you address in your post.

    People like to be seen as a source of knowledge. Give them this chance by asking them how they would solve the issue being discussed in your blog.

    b) Quiz people

    Quizzes are smart and fun ways to keep your readers hooked to your community. According to OkDork, eight out of the top 10 most shared content in 2015 were quizzes. The increased share count is also a factor that people love your content, which pushes the blogs popularity even higher.

    This is because people love to share things that boost their own credentials and identity.

    For example, this marketing buzzwords quiz on the ClickZ website has been a top trending post for the past two weeks. (Have you taken it yet?)

    Blogging_ClickZ_SEW_Marketing Buzzwords Quiz_400

    4. Brew an ongoing challenge

    An ongoing challenge, like this 30 days to powerful blogging, is a good example of how to use a challenge to build a community around your blog.

    Blogging_Sarkemedia_30 day challenge_600

    Challenges are great because all the members of it have the same pain point. They have similar issues and similar goals. Through this, they develop an emotional bond.

    In the end, you are solving a common problem for your readers with your own challenge.

    5. Offer value

    One of the biggest problems in community building is expecting too much from the community. You need to add value to the community by offering solutions to your followers.

    Your community members are more likely to recommend you if you offer something that is valuable.

    You can do this by:

    1. Writing in-depth posts on your blog. You do not want your readers to go to a second blog for solutions to the same problem.

    2. Giving exclusive industry insights. Social Media Examiner uses a weekly post to display all the noteworthy social media news and reviews of new social media tools launched that week.

    Blogging_Social media examiner_news feed_600

    This helps the reader to save time.

    3. Giving a blog backlink can be the best way to tell your fellow bloggers and influencers that you care for them. This way you can use influencer marketing in your blog community building. But beware, only link to articles that are high quality and useful to your blog readers. Linking unrelated posts and low-quality ones will do more harm than good.

    6. Monitor ROI and lever your connections

    You should always measure your efforts in a campaign and see if you are working in an effective way. A good place to start is measuring conversions and the number of people you were able to connect with.

    You can also track your strategies to see what worked and what did not. If social media isn’t your thing, try an organic traffic method. You can also try email lists to communicate with your community members.

    7. How to use your community power

    There is no harm in benefitting from your community. This holds true for so long as you are providing them with value. Do this by:

  • If you are writing a great problem-solving post, there is no harm to suggest an affiliate product to your audience that you think will help them.
  • You can also develop a product that you can upsell to your community after you’ve impressed them with your work.
  • If none of these applies, ask your audience to spread the word about your blog, share your posts and recommend you to their own community.
  • Over to you

    A thriving community is always a proof of a great valuable blog. The most popular blogs already use this hack to increase their readership and ranks. With the above tips, I am sure you can build a community around your blog and use it to increase your traffic and sales.

    If you have any questions around anything I have discussed today, feel free to get in touch by commenting in the comments section below! I would love to hear from you.

    Please note: this is an abridged version of an original post published on our sister site ClickZ: How to build a community around your blog.

    Understanding how users, not algorithms, search online will help your SEO

    google

    Studying how end users, not algorithms, search for solutions online can help improve your SEO efforts.

    Coming from a background in neuroscience, I’m still learning about the technical side of search engine optimization.

    I know a little about the terminology thanks to an array of online communities and experts like my ConsumerAffairs colleague and SEO expert, Jessica Sanford.

    I’ve read the Google Search Quality Rating Guidelines from cover to cover and understand more about the content and signals Google looks for to signify quality websites.

    I know what’s at stake when it comes to the impact of SEO…

    User behaviour on the first SERP

    Around 84% of all clicks on search engine results pages (SERPs) go to the ads and results above the fourth organic result. Of those, more than 32% go to the first organic result, with the second result claiming fewer than 12% and click through rates (CTR) decreasing dramatically from there.

    Dropping from the first to the second or third spot on SERPs can have a tremendous impact on revenue, leaving businesses scrambling to find the cause.

    And just so you know ConsumerAffairs has skin in this game—more than 80% of the traffic to ConsumerAffairs comes from organic search.

    What I’m still not sold on is the obsession we seem to have with figuring out and gaming Google’s well-guarded search algorithm.

    What we get wrong about Google

    Entire companies have been built (and have subsequently crumbled) around exploitable quirks in Google’s algorithms—stuffing pages full of keywords at the cost of making sense, gathering backlinks through less-than-honest methods, etc.—and it seems like every time Matt Cutts says something into a microphone it lights up the blogosphere with 1,000-word posts dissecting every word.

    The reason this focus on figuring out how Google calculates SERP rankings feels wrong to me is that, for all of our effort, we forget about one thing that Google never seems to: the user.

    Moz co-founder Rand Fishkin wrote about this disconnect as early as 2007:

    “We need to realize that search engines are a tool—a resource driven by intent… The search box is fundamentally different than a visit to a bookmark…it’s unique from a click on the “stumble” button…or a visit to your favorite blog—searches have a direct intent behind them; the user wants to find something.”

    One of the reasons Google has been so wildly successful (Google owns more than 65% of the organic search market, with its closest competitor, Bing, controlling around 33%) is that it never seems to lose track of this fact.

    Google’s goal, as a business, is to understand exactly what search users are looking for and to provide the most accurate answer to their questions.

    A screenshot of Google search results for 'Isaac Newton', which show Wikipedia as the top search result, but also display a brief biography drawn from Wikipedia on the right hand side, giving information on his occupation, birth and death dates, and influences.

    In his study on the search giant, John Battelle described Google’s goal to become a “database of intentions” able to understand your “desires, needs, wants and preferences.”

    Google pursues this goal maniacally, and I would wager that having to serve SERPs with more than the exact item you’re looking for (which would be shown as a single link) is probably a mark of shame as it strives to make perfect predictions.

    With Google’s intentions so clear, it baffles me that so many companies are still focused on figuring out the algorithm rather than creating quality content designed to answer audience members’ questions.

    And yet, here we are, with brands poised to spend $65 billion on SEO in 2016, much of which, according to Foxtail Marketing CEO Mike Templeman, will be wasted on efforts that are either fruitless and will eventually be penalized by Google’s engineers.

    Defining search engine intent and values of queries for your business

    There have been some earlier attempts by search engine experts to provide a taxonomy of search engine intent (SEI). Fishkin segmented queries into four groups of intent:

    • Navigational queries – Consumers use organic search as a white pages, to navigate to a particular site when they don’t necessarily know the URL.
    • Informational queries – Queries focused on finding specific information, whether local weather, the street address of the best ice cream parlor in town or in which films Meg Ryan appeared with Tom Hanks.
    • Commercial investigation queries – Focused primarily on research for future purchases, finding the best brand of scuba goggles or the best cat food for cats with eczema.
    • Transactional queries – Searches aimed directly at making a purchase, branded queries or queries that meet an immediate need (where is the best fried catfish restaurant in this neighborhood).

    Although the first two types of queries could be important to your business, the last two are queries with high purchase intent—meaning the most likely to end with consumers handing over their credit card numbers—which makes aiming the content of your site and your Adwords campaigns to rank for these queries very important.

    How does one figure out the relevant search queries with high intent?

    Based on traffic or average cost per click (CPC), based on what previous competitors use for keywords (via SEMrush or Spyfu), or based on budget limitations that force you into pursuing only low-volume long tailed keywords?

    My proposed solution, although it seems simplistic, is to ask end users what their search queries would be based on certain intentions (so they make the keyword list for you) and in asking what they think is a “fair price” (internal reference price) for the item that they are trying to find.

    With that intentional information plus the traffic/costs information you have for those search queries, you can decide if those keywords are worth going after based on making a profit or loss with the fair price they have in mind.

    That’s what I think would be efficient. But talk is cheap and I suppose, being a data scientist, I should probably have some numbers to backup my claims. What I have collected is far from definitive, but it does provide a nice pilot to give you a feel for applying search engine intentions (SEI) to your SEO practices.

    Studying search engine intent

    After a screening process which included a battery of questions testing basic SEO knowledge, I was left with 57 participants who completed the survey and “failed” the SEO test.

    I wanted to study participants who failed the test (which included the question “what does SEO stand for?”) because I wanted to results that represented the average consumer, rather than those who work tirelessly to understand how to get their page to rank higher in SERPs.

    I gave participants the following task: Below are some scenarios that I want you to imagine yourself in (even if you don’t have a kid or a pet in real life). In the two spaces provided for each scenario, I want you to answer the following:

  • Exactly what would you type into a search engine to find it?
  • What do you believe would be a fair price* for the item/service?
  • With that task in mind, I gave participants 20 intentions to provide answers to, from needing to buy a new washing machine to wanting to buy gold as an investment.

    We then used Google Adwords and Bing Ads keyword planners to look up the traffic, estimated clicks and estimated cost per click for every search query our participants came up with. We calculated the profit/loss for each search query based on the following equation:

    Profit/Loss = [Fair Price x Daily Clicks x Assumed Click to Sale Rate] – [Daily Clicks x Average CPC]

    What we learned about search engine intent

    1) Click-to-sale rate determines if you should use Google Adwords or Bing Ads for your PPC campaigns

    One particularly interesting conclusion I teased out of this data set was how click-to-sale rate is critical for determining if you should run your paid campaigns on Google Adwords, Bing Ads, both or neither.

    For low-converting verticals, Bing will routinely lead to more profit than Adwords (which will usually be a net loss). But, when the click-to-sale rate gets closer to 10%, Adwords is clearly the more profitable platform.

    The big caveat is that even at a 10% click-to-sale rate, there are still categories that net a loss on one or both platforms.

    2) Organic search is more profitable than PPC

    I used paid advertising metrics to help valuate what these search queries are worth in the organic search context of SEO.

    If we extrapolate these numbers based on our internal data, the profits from the organic would be much higher than what is stated in these sheets, and this is an important point.

    Wordstream gives a good list of high-intent keywords in two categories: buy now keywords, and product keywords. Buy now keywords which include queries like:

    • Buy
    • Discount(s)
    • Deal(s)
    • Coupon(s)
    • Free shipping

    These are typically expensive campaigns to run in Adwords and difficult to rank for in organic search. Product keywords include comparison queries like:

    • Affordable
    • Best
    • Cheapest
    • Comparison
    • Review
    • Top

    These keywords, although highly competitive and difficult to rank for on your own, present a unique opportunity.

    As marketing manager Danica Jones wrote in a recent post on Search Engine Watch, third-party review sites rank high for coveted root and consumer-focused queries, so using these listings to present a positive and transparent brand experience is one of the most cost-effective ways to climb the ranks and increase SERP (search engine results page) real estate quicker than more traditional SEO efforts.

    Investing in third-party listings can be more cost effective than running pay-per-click advertising for high-intent keywords.

    And while an ad may reach the right person at the wrong time, consumers who use review sites are by and large using review websites to actively research before a purchase (70% according to an internal survey we conducted).

    Conclusion

    There is still so much that can be taken from this study, and our team wanted to share it with peers in the spirit of focusing more on our end users and less on algorithms.

    We want to empower you to run similar studies for your relevant verticals (where you can collect thousands of responses to intentions).

    Ultimately this method could prove helpful for the individual needs and focus of your own company. Study the end user’s intentions and stop spending an outsized amount of time trying figure out search engine algorithms.

    This is the real focus of Google’s efforts to perfect their search engine, and if the experts are focusing on the end user, we should probably follow suit.

    One-third of UK internet users have taken a ‘digital detox’

    ofcom digital detox chart

    The 2016 Communications Market Report from Ofcom has shed some fresh light on the latest behavioural trends of UK consumers and how they are connecting with traditional and digital media.

    As expected, this latest offering is a comprehensive digest which draws on a range of primary and secondary research looking at – among other things – our TV viewing habits, how we use our mobile phones and how we’re going online.

    But it is the section dedicated to digital detoxing which is generating headlines.

    Much has been written about the yearning for, and challenge of, spending time away from the digital environment.

    Michael Harris’ The End Of Absence is a good read on the subject and I spotted the seemingly less academic How to Unplug guide on a shelf in Debenhams just a couple of days ago.

    Even a cursory search online provides a stream of organisations (digitaldetox.org, digitaldetoxing.com, itstimetologoff.com etc.) who offer advice as well as specially disconnected getaways for the digitally addicted.

    But to date, little hard data looking at how broad populations are making moves to reintroduce analogue activity time into their increasingly digital lives has been published. So this latest Ofcom data will no doubt please the detox assistants and commentators alike.

    A third of UK netizens have taken a digital detox

    The key trend among UK internet users is that a sizeable proportion are making a conscious decision to allocate time for offline pursuits in their lives.

    More than 30% say they have taken time away from digital at least once in the past year. 11% say they have taken a digital detox as recently as during the past week.

    Intriguingly, it’s the UK’s most connected demographic – 16-24 year olds – who are most likely to make moves to spend time offline. More than 50% of internet users in this age group have purposefully disconnected in the past year according to the research.

    A third say they’d never want to detox

    The flipside of this data is that around a third of UK internet users stubbornly insist that they “would definitely not like to do a digital detox.”

    users who don't want to digital detox

    This leaves a further third, a kind of middle-ground of the connected UK population, who appear at least intrigued by the prospect of a period without using their phones, tablets and computers.

    Most of these admit they “might like to” give digital detoxing a go, while 10% of UK internet users say they “would like to do a digital detox” but have not yet found the opportunity to take the plunge.

    Why consumers are changing their habits

    Perhaps some of the more surprising takeaways from the research are the fairly mundane reasons UK internet users are giving for choosing to take time away from the digital world.

    The most common reason cited was simply “to spend more time doing other things,” according to 44% of detoxers. 38% said they wanted “to spend more time talking to friends and family.”

    Notions of reconnecting with the natural world or trying to live healthier lives were not mentioned, despite digital detox websites being fairly keen to appeal to such desires.

    How consumers are detoxing

    Precisely how UK consumers are re-injecting offline time into their digital lives will be of particular interest to the aforementioned detox-assisting companies offering holidays and retreats from the over-connected world.

    16% of UK internet users say they have chosen to go “on holiday to a destination with no internet access”, while 9% have opted to venture “to a place with no connectivity at all”.

    digital detox on holiday

    But a vast majority of those detoxing are implementing more everyday strategies.

    Setting specific rules which keep certain times free from digital intrusions is the key way to disconnect, with 36% simply forcing themselves to refrain from looking at their phones and/or tablets during mealtimes. One in ten also agree that they consciously regulate how much time they spend online.

    Are we benefitting from digital detoxing?

    The good news for those planning a detox and those who are trying to promote the need for taking time away from digital is that Ofcom finds UK consumers who have detoxed have a very positive response to such activities.

    how did users find the experience

    More than 30% of digital detoxers said they “felt more productive” and/or “got more useful things done.” Nearly 20% “found it liberating.” And around 25% said they “enjoyed life more.”

    Such responses will be keenly noted by the detoxing companies promising ways ‘to discover new ways to look at the world, each other and ourselves’ and giving ‘people the permission to pause, reflect and reconnect with what’s most important to them.’ I’m also reminded of the summing up in Harris’ The End Of Absence in which he writes:

    “There are no ten steps to living a healthy digital life; there is no totalizing theory, no maxim, with which we can armor ourselves. Nor is digital abstinence the answer, absolute refusal being just another kind of dependence, after all… What do real problems, big problems, call for? Experimentation and play. Ask yourself what might come from all those silences you’ve been filling up. Experiment. Live a little. And remember that fear of absence is the surest sign that absence is direly needed.”

    This latest Ofcom data certainly signposts an increasing hunger among the UK population to re-inject some offline time into their online lives.

    Negative responses to digital detoxing were visible too, if fewer in number. But ultimately, it is good to see that the means to engage in offline time is within our reach even if we’re seeing digital and connected technology still managing to become increasingly entwined with our lifestyles.

    Six steps for an effective B2B content marketing strategy

    content marketing metrics

    There is an increasing demand for content among marketers, but how can you ensure that your content marketing strategy is effective?

    It’s impressive that 88% of B2B marketers use content marketing this year, but only 30% of them rate their efforts as effective.

    How do you bridge such a big gap then between the planning and the implementation and what makes your content marketing successful?

    LinkedIn Marketing Solutions has created a six-step guide on how to develop, create, and measure a B2B content marketing strategy that actually works, in order to help marketers improve their skills.

    Analysing a B2B content marketing strategy in six steps:

    1) Develop your strategy

    The first step to a successful content marketing plan is to develop a strategy and write down your goals even before you start creating the content.

    As every stage of content marketing has different objectives, there should also be a clear distinction of the goals and the expectations.

    A mission statement may help you establish your goals from the stage of awareness up to the engagement.

    For example, in the stage of awareness the metrics focus on brand recall, increasing reach, visits to the site, clicks on social media and emails, while as the plan moves through the stage of engagement, the focus of the metrics moves towards sales, leads, the cost per lead, the loyalty, or the number of returning visitors.

    After all, a documented content strategy serves as the go-to point when you need a reminder on what your next type of content should be, helping you keep track of the right metrics at each stage.

    2) Identify your buyers

    A great content marketing strategy starts by taking into consideration its audience, understanding the expectations it has to meet.

    It may be a good idea to answer these questions first:

    • Do you know your target audience?
    • What do they expect from your content?
    • How should you interact with them?
    • How do they interact with each other?
    • What motivates them for their buying decisions?

    Moreover, it may be useful to create buyer personas, a sample of your target audience that will help you personalise your content marketing strategy.

    Building personas doesn’t have to be a complicated (or time consuming) process, as you can focus on the most important traits of your typical customers, while you can also consult your sales team, your social audience, or your email subscribers to get a better understanding of the audience.

    3) Identify topics

    It’s not always easy to come up with a consistent flow of creative ideas, but an analysis of your target audience, the success of your existing content, or a closer look at your analytics may help for numerous content ideas.

    The first tip is to think like your target audience, in order to be able to produce the right content for each stage.

    • What would your audience like to read?
    • What topics are useful for each stage of the purchase path?
    • Does your content answer the right questions?
    • Are your topics aligned with your company’s wider strategy?

    You may get many useful answers by asking the right questions and both your co-workers, your audience and many online tools may be extremely helpful.

    identify topics content marketing

    4) Create content

    Once you have analysed your audience and have identified the best ideas, it’s time to proceed to the actual creation of the content.

    A great content is a combination of value, relevance and visual appeal, along with proper formatting and length, depending on the stage of your content marketing strategy, your audience and the expectations.

    It is also important to prepare a good mix of content, including blog posts, videos, infographics, ebooks, visual quotes, GIFs, white papers, podcasts, in order to ensure that your audience maintains its interest in exploring your new content.

    In fact, experimentation with new content types may lead to surprisingly good results, which may even make you reconsider your content strategy, adding new creative directions that may turn out to be more effective.

    content marketing - writing content

    As LinkedIn suggests, make sure that every piece of content serves at least one of the following functions:

    • Solves a problem
    • Facilitates a purchase decision
    • Adds SEO value
    • Offers a fresh perspective to a popular topic

    5) Amplify your content

    By the time you have created your content, it’s time to spread a word about it and examine all the possible ways you can amplify it.

    Promotion can be both organic and paid and it may include among others:

    • SEO
    • Social Media
    • Email marketing
    • Influencer marketing
    • Boosted social posts
    • Paid advertising
    • Targeted audience
    • Employee promotion

    Every type of promotion aims to help you reach a wider audience, while still maintaining the desired relevance. From basic search optimisation up to paid promotion, relevance and contextual promotion increase the chances of engagement, loyalty, purchasing and retention, helping build brand awareness and affinity in the most natural way.

    6) Analyse and Optimise

    A content marketing strategy should ensure that its content matures through time, always being aligned with the goals and the KPIs that are set at each stage.

    Now it’s the time to measure the performance of your content marketing strategy and whether it meets the goals and the metrics that you’ve set at the first stage.

    It is quite easy to forget the initial goals and the reasons you’ve set them for each stage of your strategy, but this may also be misleading for the results of your efforts.

    For example, if you create an ebook to gain subscribers and generate leads, but notice that it ultimately brings a great number of social mentions, without gaining the desired leads, then your efforts cannot be considered successful, at least not in the stage that you were hoping them to be.

    This may be due to:

    • wrong set goals
    • wrong distribution
    • wrong audience

    and it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy to align your expectations with the results of your content marketing efforts.

    Takeaway

    B2B content marketing is not more complicated than any other content effort, providing that it is performed by following a series of steps, in order to ensure that you follow the right path to achieve the desired results.

    After all, successful content marketing is able to transform the random content creation to an effective results-driven strategy that meets your audience’s needs, leading to the desired ROI for your business.

    Online-to-offline search value is exploding with ‘near me’ searches

    near me_google insights

    A few months ago I carried out a deep dive to see how much a single keyword can matter. The focus was on the keyword “best.”

    I thought I would take some time to look into another keyword phrase that seems to be growing exponentially, especially as mobile search volume eclipses desktop.

    That phrase is “near me.”

    Below is the Google Insights trend for that phrase over the last decade. It shows the amount of growth that roughly mirrors smartphone penetration.

    This is a really interesting consumer behavior because it conflicts many brands’ focus on driving online sales versus helping them find local purchase points.

    Brands have been thinking that consumers don’t want to transact locally, which is a bit counterintuitive. Certain market segments present better online retail opportunities, sure, but this isn’t an absolute truth.

    When looking at a wide set of data that doesn’t include restaurants or other things that will never be bought/sold online, you can find proof that consumers haven’t really changed their buying preferences, but instead have changed the way they seek data and expect to find information.

    To dig deeper, I pulled all searches that included the term “near,” including searches with “nearby,” “nearest,” etc. The data set I looked at included more than 70 million impressions and 7 million clicks in total.

    So the data is fairly representative. (For context, there were twice as many desktop searches than mobile searches overall, but filtering to focus only on “near me” searches tells a much different story.)

    Here are two trends I found looking at “near me” search data and the action you should be taking

    near me clicks and impressions

    1) Users have different expectations when they search for “near me” terms

    The data shows that mobile search volume for “near me” is 565% higher than desktop with a 30% higher CTR (300% higher on desktop).

    As you might expect, search volume on mobile for “near me” terms are significantly higher. This is obvious, but reinforces the fact that consumers have different expectations on what information they want to find. Instead of a product catalog they want hours and directions, for instance.

    Action: think through your mobile ad experiences and how they might differ from the information you provide on a desktop experience. This includes ad extensions you might use and landing page information.

    2) Competition for “near me” terms is high and expensive even though consumers don’t convert online

    So now we know that volume for these terms is growing and is significant, but what are advertisers getting for these terms?

    Well it turns out they are paying 30% more for “near me” searches compared to searches with other terms, even though our data showed literally ZERO conversions for “near me” terms.

    near me cpcs

    How can that be? Why would advertisers be willing to pay more for terms that don’t convert!!?!!?!

    The answer is simple, they do have value for brands. It might not be in the traditional online ROI sense, but helping a consumer at the moment they are searching for your products and “near YOU” is critical. Especially when you can provide consumers with info about inventory, and other location extensions that help consumers find your products and services.

    Action: Challenge your internal measurement of mobile searches and terms that may not have a high online conversion rate, but you know inherently help your consumers have a better experience with your brand.

    For example: of the people who click on “near me” terms, how many go into a store? Using your in-store conversion rate and average order size you can connect “near me” search results with real revenue and estimate ROI using one assumption that can be validated from Google and Facebook’s offline conversion estimates.

    While online conversions are the easiest to track, they are NOT the only value to an online ad

    This is a really important concept that has been very difficult for some advertisers.

    The fact that brands are willing to pay two times the price for these keywords indicates that brands are finding value in them. This might not be from the traditional online search, but from a find a store visit or a click-to-call action.

    Understanding the value of online-to-offline conversions is vital for brands, but is often lost given the drug that is online ROI.

    Digital media has lost the battle for non-trackable credit for sales that TV and other offline mediums have enjoyed for years. It’s time to change that.

    Challenge your internal metrics. Think about the consumer experience. Understand what helps them extract value from your ad. And look for ways to truly help consumers versus trying to get them to do something that helps you achieve your online sales goals.

    The world is changing around us and digital will be a huge part of it. It’s time brands and advertisers challenge themselves to change their approach as well.

    Why are enterprise companies missing out on search?

    A bar chart showing the top challenges with search marketing experienced by enterprises. At the top is proving return on investment, experienced by 18%, followed by finding a reliable agency or consultant (14%), upfront costs (13%), managing demand marketing platforms (13%), technical skill (13%), keeping up with best practices (10%), finding tools and solutions to meet needs (10%) and content creation (9%). Below the graph is a note reading "Percent of respondents involved in search engine marketing, N=215".

    SEO and search marketing are a vital part of any marketing strategy, linking together channels like social media, content marketing and offline advertising.

    But a survey into the marketing channels used by large enterprises has found that 91% don’t prioritise search at all.

    The research, carried out by B2B research firm Clutch and digital agency R2integrated (R2i) among 500 U.S. enterprise companies, found that only 5% of companies surveyed consider paid search ads to be a top priority marketing channel in the next 6-12 months, while only 4% are prioritising organic SEO.

    Enterprises which don’t prioritise search in their marketing strategy are missing out on customer demand, as customers will often pull out their phones or go online to search for a brand after hearing about them on TV, by email or on social media. In any multichannel brand marketing strategy, search tends to be the glue that holds it all together.

    So why are enterprises failing to give search the proper emphasis in their marketing, and what can be done about it?

    Measurement and metrics

    The enterprises surveyed by Clutch and R2i gave various reasons for why search isn’t a priority in their marketing strategy.

    Among the respondents who are involved in search marketing, the top challenge was proving ROI from search marketing (cited by 18%).

    Other challenges preventing enterprise marketers from making full use of search included technical skill (13%) and keeping up with best practices (10%).

    Kara Alcamo, Vice President of Digital Activation at R2integrated, agrees that it is difficult to “prove” ROI from SEO and search marketing, as there are so many different factors that can lead a buyer to take the next step.

    “For example, did someone fill out a form because they saw a paid search ad, or was that paid search ad the last step in a series of brand interactions that included seeing a print ad, reading sponsored content, and seeing the brand at an event? More than likely, that paid search ad is not the sole contributor to a person’s decision to convert, but we aren’t able to track every granular interaction a person has with the brand.

    That said, the first step is to ensure you’re tracking what you can, that those data sets are integrated, which will allow you to create an attribution model. This really should be a cross-department initiative, not limited to search or even to paid media.”

    Many enterprises are also falling down when it comes to tracking the right metrics. When asked about the most important metric for SEO success, the most common response (cited by 28% of respondents who are involved in search marketing) was traffic volume.

    Second was leads and conversions (cited by 23%), followed by onsite engagement (19%), keyword rankings (16%), and impressions, awareness and sentiment (15%).

    It is tempting to look at traffic as the best indicator of SEO success, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. If you’re getting a lot of visitors to your website, but hardly any conversions from them, then is your search marketing really doing its job?

    Similarly, having a high keyword ranking might be meaningless on its own. As Krista LaRiviere points out in her piece on why conversions, not rankings, matter, a better-performing keyword is one which delivers traffic and conversions, not just one that appears higher up the SERP. One can lead to the other, of course – but it’s not a given.

    With that said, tracking conversions from search isn’t always easy. The easiest way to track lead generation and conversion from search, says Kara Alcamo, is to ensure you’re tracking form conversions on your website…

    “The more complicated method involves multi-touch, multi-channel campaign tracking in which you’ve put together an attribution model and are attributing ROI and conversions back to search even when they’re not last-click.”

    If you use Google AdWords for search marketing, you can also use it to track conversions, including across devices.

    Knowing which metrics to track and measure is crucial to proving the ROI for SEO and search marketing. And being able to make a strong marketing case for search is the first step to seeing more companies focusing on this fundamental area of marketing.

    An integrated approach

    As it is, Clutch and R2i found that less than half of the enterprises they surveyed (47%) carry out search engine optimisation, making it only the 9th most used marketing channel, behind such channels as print, direct mail and events.

    Paid search advertising is even more under-utilised, used by only 40% of enterprises and coming 12th out of a list of the 15 marketing channels most used by enterprises.

    A bar chart showing the marketing channels most used by enterprise companies. The most popular is website (84%), then social media (78%), print (65%), email (60%), television (57%), direct mail (54%), events (53%) and display ads (53%). To the right of the graph is a box-out listing channels which received less than 50 percentage points. At the top is search engine optimization with 47%, highlighted with a red box. Next is public relations (46%) and then radio (46%) followed by paid search ads with 40%, also highlighted by a red box. Last come mobile advertising at 38%, mobile app (37%) and content marketing (36%).

    I asked Alcamo if this attitude could possibly be a result of enterprises not viewing SEO as a “marketing channel.” Do enough companies think of search as part of marketing, or do they view it as a separate area of technical wizardry that doesn’t concern marketing? Alcamo replied:

    “SEO itself has changed so much that there isn’t a lot of “pure” SEO anymore. It’s a channel in the sense that you should have a dedicated expert who is focused on improving performance in organic search results, but its identity is inextricably linked with other “channels”.

    A robust SEO strategy could include integrated efforts across IT, social, content, PR, and media. So I can see how it can be tough to draw the line between SEO and other channels.”

    Alcamo believes that taking an integrated, inter-departmental approach to SEO is the best way to keep on top of the changing search industry and get the most out of your marketing efforts.

    “I think even enterprises who understand the importance can have trouble executing on SEO strategies which require the involvement of many different departments.

    I would look at your SEO resource as a consultant who should be involved in many efforts across departments, in addition to handling pure SEO. They aren’t going to dictate the information architecture of your new website, for example, but by bringing them in to review the IA before you move into development, you’ll ensure you aren’t missing any content that’s necessary to maintain or improve organic performance, and essentially save yourself more work and stress down the line.”

    How to maximise PR outreach for site visibility in organic search

    app blacklist

    How can you earn those coveted links and mentions in news and media sites that generate an incredible influx in domain authority?

    When combining SEO, PR, and content marketing, you create a winning formula for increased organic visibility, brand awareness, and social amplification.

    In this article, we’ll go through the steps required to create a cohesive strategy that integrates SEO and PR and maximizes the reach and outcome of both.

    1. Research & ideation

    When determining the content that will resonate most with editors, journalists, and consumers, make sure you research and have as much data as possible at your disposal:

    • Who are your buyer personas?
    • What are the different stages of the buying cycle for your particular products and services?
    • Include psychographic research and data. What do they love? What are their pain points?
    • What are the keywords that each of those buyer personas typing in at each state of the buying funnel?
    • What keywords and articles are your competitors targeting to reach your target audience? With SEMrush, you can identify keywords your competitors are ranking for and traffic trends.
    • What questions are your target consumers posting on sites like quora or forums related to your products or services?
    • What content related to your industry is getting the most social amplification? Use Buzzsumo to search for related keywords, competitor contents, and set up alerts for your most relevant keywords
    • What holidays, awareness months, or special days are relevant to your audience?
    • What stories have broken that are relevant for your target audience? Trendjacking is a MUST when you are working with public relations teams.

    Unless you’ve taken time to perform extensive research and have comprehensive data to work with, your entire amplification strategy may fail as it will not capture the interest of the journalists, bloggers, and influencers that you are trying to reach.

    Segmenting audiences and crafting your editorial calendar to target each of these segments will increase the likelihood of earning media coverage.

    2. Content creation

    Once all of your research is completed, you have to wrap it all together into an editorial calendar. Your social, content, and press editorial calendar should be synced with each other.

    If PR has identified a topic that is of interest to a journalist, this concept can be used by the content marketing team to create content for the blog, infographics, explainer videos, and social media posts. These visual assets can then be sent to the media using a press release and direct media outreach.

    A 2012 study by PR Newswire found that press releases with photos garnered twice as many views as text alone. Infographics, data visualizations, live or animated videos, and reports or case studies are powerful assets used by PR teams which can be spearheaded and created by the SEO /Content Marketing team.

    Whatever format you choose to use, avoid the one-and-done mentality. A survey can be used to create an infographic, which can then be turned into an animated video, which can then be shared on a blog post and used for outreach.

    For our client, Teensafe, a smartphone monitoring app, we created an infographic titled the 2016 App Blacklist for Teens:

    The infographic was sent out through a press release, and PR followed up with different media outlets. As a result, Redbookmag picked up the topic, creating their own post in response:

    redbook webpage

    At the ideation stage, both teams worked together to come up with the concept for the infographic. Once the infographic was created, the work done with PR made it possible for the piece to be placed on this, and other media websites, generating powerful links, brand awareness, and traffic.

    3. PR & influencer outreach

    For PR, it’s important to have different content assets to use when pitching different media outlets. Some editors will resonate well with playful infographics, while others may respond to a report announcing the release of new data, while yet others may be happy to share videos.

    Targeting each outlet & editor with the most relevant asset is half the battle.

    Complement the media outreach with an influencer and blogger outreach campaign. To do so, use the media hits already acquired by PR.

    In the example above, you can then use that link to Redbook Mag in the pitch email that you send to bloggers. Name dropping will get your bloggers to notice and want to jump on the bandwagon!

    To create your influencer and blogger outreach list, use google search operators to find people who have talked about relevant topics. You can also use a tool like PressRush to help you identify the best editors or influencers to reach out to. Once again, Buzzsumo is also invaluable at this stage.

    US news webpage

    For Homeselfe, an energy efficiency app, we created a report about 10 ways that individuals can save energy and reduce utility bills. US News ran with it, featuring Homeselfe as one of those 10 ways to save money on utility bills.

    4. Social Amplification

    Every media hit should be used to help you gain others, establish brand credibility, and for social amplification.

    Each media hit should be shared on all your social channels multiple times. Of course, you should @mention the media outlet that shared, and use that as an opportunity to deepen the connection with that journalist or influencer.

    Write a blog post on your site including a screen grab of the media hit, and share that post on your social channels as well, multiple times. MissingLettr can be used to craft various tweets for each blog post, making sure that media hit is continuously shared with your audience.

    Finally, consider creating an Facebook ad campaign with your media hits. One campaign could be targeted at your buyer personas, while another could be targeted at editors of relevant magazines and newspapers.

    By placing your media hits in front of other editors, you are planting seeds to let them know that you are newsworthy, and when your PR team reaches out to them with a direct pitch, they’ll be more likely to accept.

    teensafe facebook post

    Above is an example of a post that was advertised to an audience of parents. With less than $250 dollars, we generated 6500 post engagements, each at less than 5 cents.

    fb engagement

    Even though the traffic wasn’t sent directly to the client’s site, this strategy resulted in brand awareness and several members of the other site’s audience reaching out to Teensafe.

    Getting started

    You don’t need to have a PR team on board to earn powerful media hits. If you have a strong content marketing campaign in place, start reaching out to the media and sharing your content assets.

    Earning media mentions is worth the effort, and with a strategic approach, you’ll be sure to earn those coveted placements!