Social media: look before you leap


Social media puts your message in front of your audience instantly. With millions of active users and real time engagement, social is a great tool to distribute, engage and communicate.

But it comes at a cost.

If updates are misconstrued or perceived to be negative, you have very little control over the knock-on effects. There have already been some laughable social media fails which have gone viral for all the wrong reasons.

In this post we cover how you can mitigate this risk and ensure your audience get the most out of social media to make it work for you.

The common blunders

Every company’s social media account is in the public eye, it’s one of the first places people will go to investigate you as an individual and as a corporate brand, and first impressions here are everything. From your profile to your posts, new visitors will investigate your social media footprint.

These are some common mistakes on social media that are easily avoidable:

  • Hashtag fails: using the wrong hashtag can be a mistake, but jumping on trends without context will confuse or even offend other social media users.
  • Broken links: we’re all guilty of this one, but getting a 404 after clicking on a link on social media is incredibly annoying. Sometimes when scheduling a post, a space gets left out between the link and the text surrounding it which will break the link, so watch out.
  • Competitor content: this seem like a no brainer, but it happens all the time. Promoting competitors content positions them as thought leaders, not you – so go lightly on the retweets or shares.
  • Poor profile: sounds simple. Make your profile killer with a top quality image, header and description.

All of these negatives aside, social media is still a fantastic place for your company (and your team) to make connections and identify prospects.

Plan, process, professionalism

Social media works most effectively when there is a detailed process followed meticulously behind the scenes. The process should document responsibilities for scheduled content, responses to conversations and ensure that all content is proofread before it is shared.

Individuals understandably want control over their own accounts. By giving the right social media training and process your team can start to make social work for them. This also gives you the chance to effectively communicate the business’s social media expectations.

After all, if they’re tweeting or sharing from their personal accounts, they’re still representing your company.


Don’t get me wrong I love automation, heck I’m a lazy millennial. To truly engage we need to step away from automation. This puts the power back in your hands to have conversations and build relationships with people that matter, automated trash will move away from that.

With automation you can schedule posts weeks or even months in advanced. This can be incredibly dangerous as content may not be appropriate or relevant then and could end up offending people. Some large organisations have seen the effects of this with Tesco tweeting about hitting the hay in the middle of the horsemeat scandal.

Even outside of social media automation fails happen daily, this email from Ryanair was put live after the referendum result which was clearly hoping for a different result!

Automation is incredibly handy, but scheduled messages need to be checked before they go live. A documented social media process will also prevent such mistakes happening to you.

Audience research

I may be the first person you’ve heard say this, but social media isn’t for everyone, and to keep all the plates spinning takes a lot of time and effort for any marketing team.

Focus your attention on the platforms that bring you the most reward and research how to be as effective as possible through these channels. This can be one or two key social networks to start with, and if you need to expand to other social networks you can.

Think about where your audience are most active, how easy the implementation will be and what sort of content and engagement you need. This will lead on to key digital metrics within social media to measure ongoing to prove success.

Social media is a great place for you and your team to spend time. With the right research, strategy and processes in place you will build the foundations of a clean social footprint and ultimately make the right first impression as well as deliver the results you’re looking for.

Have you had any interactions with companies you’ve been impressed by? I’d love to hear from you.

You can tweet Jason @jj_stockwell or connect with him on LinkedIn.

This article was originally published on the Modern blog and and is reprinted with permission.

Five ways to use local SEO even when you don’t have a physical premise

answer the public

How can a business stand out in local SEO with no physical premise? Is it even possible?

Local search is very competitive and it becomes even more of a challenge to compete with other businesses when yours has no physical premise.

Sam Nemzer from Distilled shared with us some useful tips at MozTalk on how to use local SEO for a business with no local pack.

Here are the five tactics that Sam Nemzer suggests:

1) Put user-focused content on category pages

A category page should focus on content and the more you add, the better for the SERPs. In order to add content, you can:

  • Pull in third party data to immediately gain access to useful and relevant content (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Wikipedia, Google Maps, Ticketmaster, TripAdvisor, etc)
  • Use proprietary data that may be helpful for your business (this also makes it easier to obtain featured snippets)
  • Find questions to answer. Sam Nemzer suggested the tool “Answer the Public”, a free visual keyword research that allows you to find the right questions for the specific keywords you want to use.

By the time you’ve found the answers from the particular keywords, it’s time to answer different questions on your own:

“How can you use this content on your site?”

“Is this still relevant to your business?”

“Have I relied too much on auto-generated content?

Remember, Google is not keen on pages that focus on automatically generated content, so make sure you don’t overuse it.

2) Get the level of granularity right

It’s important to start by researching your analytics data, to understand what gets traffic and how you can increase the content on your site.

Have a closer look at the keywords and see what people search in your industry.

Not every site needs the same details and the example below shows how property listings differentiate from job sites.

Finally, it may be useful to analyse your keyword data and ask yourself: “Do you need location pages at all?”

How can your business benefit from them? By the time you’re able to answer this question, you’re ready to continue to more practical tips.

3) Sidestep local packs by targeting high in the funnel

In order to avoid the high competition, it may be useful to avoid focusing on the most popular local packs and find the right content gaps to exploit.

How about aiming for different targeting where there’s less competition and more opportunities to stand out?

Retargeting may be useful to reduce CPC, but this also means that the conversion may not be immediate, although this also means that you can build recognition and serve as a knowledge provider in your industry.

4) Use structured data to stand out

Structured data refers to the type of data that provides information through a database and structured data markup may associate a description with its property.

Whether it’s a recipe, an article, a video, or an event, markup helps search engines crawl the content to display it appropriately to the users.

structured dataThis may massively improve the ranking in SERPs and you can test your structured data with Google’s Data Structure Testing Tool.

5) Make the most of Intelligent Personal Assistants

If local packs don’t seem to be effective for your business, there’s the option of having people come straight to your app and personal assistants can be really useful in this case.

Siri, Cortana and Google Now are changing the way people search through their mobile devices and this may be the right time to focus on this field in order to beat the competition in the most relevant context.

For example, Google Now allows any app to be integrated and Apple also announced that it will follow this direction, which brings an exciting opportunity for a business looking to be displayed in the right search results.

Key tips

Sam Nemzer sums up his talk with the following useful tips:

  • Find API data to pull into category pages
  • Find out how people are searching by location
  • Find content gaps to exploit
  • Add structured data
  • Integrate your app (or start the process of building one)
  • IMG_9813

    This was a useful reminder on how local SEO can help any business and most importantly, how a business can go beyond local SEO and think outside the box in order to reach the right audience.

    Keep these tips handy next time you’re ready to analyse your audiences and seek for the best ways to reach higher on the SERPs to promote your business.

    Should you use a hamburger icon on your mobile menu?


    The three-line ‘hamburger’ menu icon receives a lot of vitriol. It is variously described as “controversial”, “notorious” etc. but it is rapidly becoming the de facto symbol to open a navigational menu on a mobile website.

    So perhaps it is time to learn to live with it and make it better.

    The hamburger was created in 1980 by Norm Cox, for the Xerox “Star” personal workstation, the world’s first graphical user interface.

    Norm Cox, principal of interaction/experience design consultancy, Cox&Hall, tells ClickZ:

    “Since someone “discovered”, a few years ago, that I had designed the hamburger menu, I’ve had countless questions, speaking invitations, interviews and inquiries… and read numerous articles and blogs regarding the (somewhat fabricated) controversy over its use.

    In a way, I find it amusing that a simple widget like this has gotten so much attention, generated so much discussion, and gotten so many “experts” bloviating about the reasoning for its good/bad or right/wrong attributes.

    I will simply say this about the hamburger widget. It is merely another widget in a designer’s arsenal of tools that s/he can use… well… or poorly. It has no inherent goodness/badness, or rightness/wrongness, except in the context of how it’s applied by the designer.”

    This column will look at mobile menu best practice, including:

    • How to make the hamburger icon more recognizable, e.g. by adding or substituting the word MENU.
    • Supplementing, or replacing the hamburger menu, with visible navigational tabs and buttons.
    • Research that suggests what works better.
    • Importance of doing your own user testing and A/B testing.

    The subsequent column will look more closely at the design and user experience (UX) aspects, including:

    • Making the menu and navigational buttons standout. Type, size, color and placement of buttons.
    • Navigational discipline; taking a logical approach to size, number and names of menu items.
    • Different types of mobile menu, such as off-canvas and overlay.

    The image below shows the mobile sites for top six search results for “hamburger icon” on the world’s most popular search engine. Five out of six of these headlines appear on sites that use a site-wide hamburger icon.

    Three stories are negative. Two of negative stories: the BBC’s “Three lines mystify most people” and TechCrunch’s “Kill the hamburger button” sit, somewhat embarrassingly, below a hamburger.

    Not only have the TechCrunch/AOL developers ignored the recommendations of its writers on the “devil” hamburger on mobile web (and app) they have also introduced a second unlabeled icon – a rocket – to denote a hidden menu of ‘most popular’ stories.

    Menu/hamburger on mobile web, iOS apps and Android apps is different.

    Critics of the hamburger icon report (and re-report) a number of internal studies by companies that noticed a deterioration in use of the menu when they switched the menu style used by their apps or website to a hamburger icon and vice versa when switching away.

    Only one of these studies is mobile web:

    • James Foster (2014) discovered through A/B testing on found that 20% more mobile visitors to would click the “MENU”, over “hamburger icon”.
    • However, on closer inspection, the menu click-through rates on Caffeineinformer seem unusually low (see Moovweb stats below for benchmarks). The click-through rates of 1.2% for “MENU” and 1% for the “hamburger icon”. This suggests that the test should be hidden menu v visible navigational links, e.g. search database, rather than the nomenclature of the menu button itself.
    • Today, doesn’t use MENU or Hamburger on the homepage, just search and the call to action: Explore Caffeine Database. On all other pages it uses MENU and a search icon.

    The other studies commonly cited are for native apps (maybe just iOS): Zeebox (2014); Polar (2015), and Redbooth (2015). These studies suggested that menus hidden behind a hamburger icon received less engagement than visible navigational tabs.

    Notably, Redbooth was an iOS app study; Zeebox and Polar may also have been, but neither app exists anymore.

    So while these native app studies appear to be compelling, it does not follow that the behavior of iOS app users is applicable to mobile web. Nor does it follow that it applies to Android apps either.

    As Redbooth notes: “Apple discourages [the hamburger’s] use”, and Zeebox notes: “The side menu has become fashionable on Android but not yet taken off on iPhone”.

    The importance of doing your own tests

    However compelling other people’s findings about their own sites/apps appear, they should not dictate how you design/redesign you website.

    As demonstrated below in the Moovweb research, engagement levels of the hamburger/menu vary massively by industry.

    The key lesson to learn is not that the hamburger is good or bad, or that hidden menus are good or bad, but that it is important to run your own tests.

    • Conduct user tests: onsite and remote.
    • Use A/B testing – show two different groups of web visitors different versions of your menu e.g. hamburger v MENU. (The beauty of web over apps, is that you don’t need anyone’s permission to test and modify).
    • Use heatmaps – to study how people interact with menus and navigation.

    Learn more about mobile user testing.

    The truth about Facebook and the hamburger icon.

    Critics of the hamburger also like to cite Facebook’s 2013 decision to drop the hamburger icon in favor of a bottom tab bar as vindication.


    • This change only happened on the iOS app.
    • The hamburger is still present on the iOS app on the bottom tab bar, albeit embellished with a MORE label.
    • Three years later the and the Facebook Android app still proudly sport the unlabeled hamburger icon.
    • What does that tell you? a) Native iOS is different to mobile web and native Android; or b) The results of the changes on iOS didn’t encourage Facebook to follow up with either mobile web or Android.


    Proper research

    Despite the immense importance of navigation on the mobile/responsive web, lack of conformity and the bitter debate that the hamburger encourages among design/UX professionals, it is amazing that there haven’t been more studies of menu use across multiple sites.

    While not massive, there are two studies that are essential reading:

    • Moovweb (April 2015) – studied interaction with the hamburger-based menu.
    • Nielsen Norman Group/WhatUsersDo (June 2016) – studied user the different interaction rates between part-visible and hidden menus on web and mobile web.

    Good burger/bad burger

    Moovweb studied 50 sites that used its mobile/responsive commerce platform and made two interesting findings:

  • 20% of mobile site users interact with the hamburger menu, making it the fourth most tapped button on site, behind select product (30%); homepage navigational menu (30%); and search (27%).
  • Hamburger menu engagement varied massively by vertical: apparel and accessories (26%); jewelry (21%); home & garden (21%); auto & construction (7%); content (2%).
  • moovweb_hamburger_engage_cz26

    Then working with one unnamed mobile travel site, Moovweb ran a test to compare engagement rate with an unlabeled hamburger icon and one that was labeled.

    The results were striking. The engagement rate for the unlabeled menu icon was 10.8%; while labeled one received 17.3%; which is a 61% improvement.

    Hamburger + MENU or MENU – hamburger?

    While adding a MENU is the most common label to enhance the hamburger, there are variations, as seen above the BBC uses a SECTIONS label, while Facebook (only on the iOS app) uses MORE.

    The question is: if you are going to add MENU to your hamburger icon, then why bother with the hamburger at all?

    Jason Grigsby, co-founder, of Portland, Oregon-based mobile web development agency, Cloud Four, tells ClickZ.

    “When people criticize the hamburger, e.g.Luke Wroblewski, they’re referring to the fact that the icon itself doesn’t convey enough meaning. People get confused by it.

    So the argument is to avoid using the hamburger icon and instead use the word ‘menu’ or similar so people know what the hell you’re going on about.”

    The new design of the Cloud Four site uses a MENU button, with a menu that slides down from the top.

    The navigation menu, as Grigsby points out, is a whole different matter… and one we will be dealing with in detail in the next column.


    Hidden menus: nice clean design or “out of sight, out of mind”?

    To hamburger or not to hamburger… is only part of the question.

    The other side of this debate concerns the whole nature of the menu, the fact that all the options are invisible unless the user taps the hamburger icon/menu button.

    The clever thing that Luke Wroblewski pointed out is “out of sight, out of mind. This has become a rallying cry again the hidden menu and the poor old hamburger icon that has come to symbolize the hidden menu.

    To date evidence to prove this theory is largely anecdotal, and based on apps such as Zeebox, Redbooth and Polar, (Wroblewski being one of these developers).

    That’s what makes the recent Nielsen Norman Group/WhatUsersDo research so welcome: it’s web based, spread over six sites, with real users (179 of them), and its real research conducted by expert UX testers.

    The research asked people to complete a task on the various responsive sites on desktop and mobile and studied whether people engaged better with/found it easy with:

    • Hidden navigation – where they had to tap a hamburger or equivalent)
    • Combo navigation – combination of hidden menu a visible navigational buttons, when required to.
    • Visible navigation – only desktop sites; no mobile sites with visible navigation (only) were tested, which is a shame.

    The key findings for mobile users were:

    • People used menus considerably more on mobile than desktops
    • People were 1.5 times more likely to use combo navigation (86%) than hidden (57%).
    • More found it easier to discover content that interested them with combo (85%) than hidden (64%)
    • Task took longer with hidden (70 seconds), than combo (61 seconds).


    Nielsen Norman makes the following recommendations for mobile sites:

    • If your site has four or fewer top-level navigation links, display them as visible links.
    • If your site has more than four top-level navigation links, the only reasonable solution is to hide some of these [behind a menu button].
    • Support the hamburger with methods such as in-page links to important information on your site.

    Combo approach

    Returning to the image above of the top six top ranking sites for “hamburger icon”. Three out of five that use a hamburger, use the unlabeled icon alone for navigation and one (TechCrunch) even uses an additional unlabeled rocket.

    The BBC is the only one that adopts a combo approach to navigation. It has visible tabs for NEWS, SPORT and MORE (which is a menu) in addition to the Hamburger/Sections button.

    Interestingly on older/smaller smartphone these three options are reduced to one MENU button.

    A great example of the combo is Summit Metro Parks, which uses a labelled hamburger menu and four labelled buttons for key activities.

    Mike D’Agruma, lead front-end developer, Evolve Creative Group, a web design agency in Akron, OH, USA, explains why he likes the Summit Metro Parks site.

    “The hamburger/menu icon is at the top of the home screen. It has clear visual separation via color, size and treatment from surrounding content. Not only does it use of iconography, but includes a text descriptions. There is no assumption about that the user will recognize and know how to use the icon.

    There are additional types of navigation competing for attention on the page. As well as the hamburger/MENU, there is a rotator/carousel with a clear call-to-action on each slide to help funnel users where the site wants them to go. Then there is a second-tier page navigation of highly visible and labelled buttons.”

    The science of navigation

    A really useful way to think about menus and navigation is to stop worrying about them and start thinking about what users actually want to do and make it really easy for people to do it.

    If people are on a certain page there is a strong probability that they will want to do a finite number of things next. If these are not on the page, put them on visible call-to-action buttons, image links, text links etc.

    Things that people might want to do, but are lower down the hierarchy of probable tasks can be placed in the menu.

    The expert on this is Steven Hoober, president of 4ourth Mobile, who is recognized for his work on mobile touch-screen interfaces. He explains:

    “The important thing is to stop thinking about navigation and site structure and think about what the user wants to do. They have priorities, which I call primary, secondary and tertiary actions:

    • The primary actions should be addressed by the content in the center section of the page.
    • The secondary actions are the thing that the user is most likely to want to do next. These should be addressed by visible and easily reached call-to-action buttons on the periphery of the page on the top navigation or adjacent to the primary content.
    • The tertiary actions are the other things that users might want, but are less likely to be priorities. This is where your hamburger menu comes in.”

    Hoober’s article on Why it’s totally okay to use a hamburger icon is essential reading.

    The hamburger and the hamburger debate is here to stay.

    Some people will continue to hate it. This from Nick Babich, editor of UX planet:

    “To my mind, Hamburger is a bad option both for mobile and for desktop.”

    And some will defend it. Phil Reay, head of insights, SessionCam, a tool for monitoring web customer behavior:

    “Until a better solution to the hamburger menu is designed, our experience suggests that this catch all approach provides the best user experience for customers.”

    The next column will look more closely at the design and user experience (UX) aspects of menus and navigation.

    Read the report here: DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 1: Planning

    Are you paying enough attention to reviews in your local SEO?

    The logo for reputation management company ReviewJump: the word "review" in purple sans serif font with a star over the I, next to the word "jump" in grey cursive font with a purple speech bubble outline behind it.

    Sponsored content in collaboration with ReviewJump. Views expressed in this article are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect SEW’s opinions.

    Customer reviews are an important contributing factor to local search rankings. But Brodie Tyler, founder of ReviewJump, believes that they aren’t given enough emphasis – by businesses or the SEO community.

    The business of reputation management has changed drastically with the advent of the internet.

    The BrightLocal Local Customer Review Survey 2015 found that 92% of customers will read online reviews to determine whether a local business is a good one, and that 80% of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

    “Pre-internet, you used to ask around, ask your friends and family for recommendations, and that was basically your reputation. Now, with the internet, everything’s public. You can’t hide anything. Customers can leave you a review without your control,” says Tyler.

    “So yes, things have changed drastically over the years, and that’s why you have to invest in it and pay more attention to it. Whether you like it or not, you have an online reputation. It’s just a matter of whether or not you’re going to do something about it.”

    A direct correlation with ranking

    Tyler founded ReviewJump, a web app that makes it easy for businesses to solicit customer reviews and to deal with negative feedback before it reaches the review stage, because he saw a niche in the market for businesses to directly control their online reputation.

    “I come from the agency world, and ReviewJump was born out of my frustration at not being able to control the number of reviews our clients were obtaining,” he says. “I could control just about everything else – their link building, their on-site optimization; we can even control their content marketing. One thing I didn’t have was the right tool for helping our clients get more reviews.”

    “Reviews have a direct correlation on where you rank in the local search results,” adds Tyler. “I know that because I did the research myself, personally.”

    Tyler individually analyzed 22,000 local business listings on Google and Yelp in order to prove his own theory about the impact of reviews on local SEO rankings. “This was prior to launching ReviewJump, and I was in search of validation for reinvesting in our reputation management software; that’s why I was doing this research.”

    He found that the top three local search results on Google, also known as the ‘three-pack’ of local search, have an average of 472% more reviews than those in the fourth, fifth and sixth positions.

    The research showed that 66% of the time, the first three local search results had more reviews than the second three. And 63% of the time, the local listing with the most reviews overall would be ranked in the top three results.

    Source: ReviewJump

    The importance of online reputation

    In spite of the persuasive SEO argument in favor of reviews, Tyler believes online reputation management isn’t valued as much as it should be.

    “In my experience, a very small percentage [of companies] are actually doing anything about it,” he said. “Which I think can offer them a competitive advantage. If only a small percentage are paying attention to their reviews and online reputation, including yourself, that can give you an advantage.”

    In its local search ranking factors for 2015, Moz ranked review signals – which encompasses review quantity, velocity and diversity – seventh out of a total of eight overall ranking factors, crediting it with an 8.4% influence on local search ranking. But Tyler believes this undervalues the importance of reviews to local SEO.

    “I think that’s not accurate; I think that’s too low. I’ve done the research on that,” he says. “Maybe there needs to be more research into reviews as an overall ranking factor, or maybe it hasn’t been publicized enough.”

    overall ranking factorsSource: Moz

    ReviewJump have seen the benefits of an increased number of reviews for their own clients. “There’s a medical spa in Arizona, Vitality Med Spa. They’ve been in business for years, but they only had a dozen or so reviews before they started with us. And in the last three weeks alone, they’ve gotten 33 new reviews in one location.

    “That’s an increase of about 400%, all of them either four or five stars.” And, crucially, the spa is also ranking at number one in the three-pack of local search results.

    Another client, a chain of boutique hotels, has enjoyed an increase of 335% more reviews each month since starting with ReviewJump. And one of the company’s earliest clients, Modern Dental, was ranked tenth in the local SERPs shortly after it came on board with ReviewJump, but is now showing up in the three-pack.

    A Google search screenshot showing Modern Dental in the third position in the 'local map pack', with 68 reviews and an average rating of 4.7 stars.

    If Tyler could give one tip to companies looking to improve their online reputation management, it would be to understand that their reputation truly does affect their revenue. “You’re in business to make money. And I believe that people are missing out by not giving their online reputation the credence it deserves.

    “The more reviews you have, the higher you’re going to rank, the more traffic you’re going to get, the more phone calls you’re going to get, the more customers you’re going to sell to.”

    Sponsored content in collaboration with ReviewJump. Views expressed in this article are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect SEW’s opinions.

    For more information on ReviewJump and to take a tour of the software, visit the ReviewJump website.

    Google brings programmatic to native ads

    NYT flexframe ad

    Programmatic, while still the source of much confusion, is a now a huge part of the digital advertising ecosystem.

    In fact, according to eMarketer, this year, two-thirds of digital display ad spend in the United States will be programmatic.

    Because of the demand for programmatic, popular online services like Spotify are embracing programmatic ad offerings, and companies are now working to extend programmatic concepts to traditional offline channels, like direct mail.

    Last week, at its DoubleClick Leadership Summit, Google announced that DoubleClick publishers can make all or some of their web and app native ad inventory available through DoubleClick, and advertisers can purchase that inventory programmatically through DoubleClick Bid Manager.

    Several months ago, Google launched programmatic native ads for publishers and advertisers that already had a direct relationship. The New York Times was one of the publishers participating in the initial launch. Its Frame Flex offering for mobile increased click-through rates 40 to 50% over standard 300×250 ad units.

    DoubleClick native programmatic asks advertisers to supply creative components, such as headline and body text, and DoubleClick automatically formats the content for the publisher’s site and the device the viewer is using. The native ad units come in two flavors: a traditional banner slot and a responsive fluid ad slot.

    Google says that more than 200 publishers are signed up to offer programmatic native ads through DoubleClick.

    Is this really poor man’s native?

    While programmatic has the potential to help advertisers and publishers scale their use of native ads, it remains to be seen whether programmatic native will deliver the same experience and results as non-programmatic native.

    Native ads increasingly generate a sizable portion of ad revenue for numerous high-profile publishers, and to capitalize fully on the native ad opportunity, a number of them have built internal teams to help their advertisers develop campaigns centered around native ads. Because they are more tightly integrated with the user experience, the native ads typically come at a premium cost.

    As The New York Times recently detailed, “the resulting arrangements are more client-agency than advertiser-publisher.” According to the Financial Times’ Chief Commercial Officer, Jon Slade, “We have the basic building blocks of a full-service agency.”

    Native ads that are purchased programmatically might resemble the kinds of ads publishers are crafting as far as formatting is concerned, but there’s an argument to be made that they aren’t the same thing because they’re not crafted for a specific site and audience.

    If publishers and advertisers embrace programmatic native offerings like DoubleClick’s in the name of scale, publishers might introduce unwanted commoditization to the native space, and advertisers might find that they ultimately don’t get the results they expect.

    Quiz: How well do you know these 25 SEO acronyms?

    SEO, SEM, PPC, CTR, HTML, HTTP, IP… even for the most seasoned digital marketing professionals, the world of SEO can be a daunting, jargon-filled place.

    But all you need is a little time, some practice, a small amount of revising, and before you know it you’ll be firing off terms like CSS, SSL and CPC with absolute confidence.

    To help reach that high level of brilliance, we’ve devised this multiple choice quiz filled with 25 SEO acronyms, which will truly test your digital marketing mettle.

    Good luck, and let us know your scores in the comments below!

    If you need comprehensive help and guidance in developing any of your digital skills, subscribe to ClickZ Intelligence and download one of our market-leading reports.

    17 useful search marketing stats from Merkle’s Q2 2016 report

    mens suits serp

    This morning, Merkle released their quarterly Direct Marketing Report, ahead of Google’s own Q2 earnings announcement and it makes for a bumper stat-filled reading.

    Of particular note are the revelations that:

    • Google search spending growth has slowed to 22% as CPCs fall 9%
    • Desktop PLA growth rate jumps while mobile growth is strong but slowing
    • Shopping Ads traffic from Google image search and Yahoo surges
    • Google’s expanded text ads have had only a modest impact

    The report covers the latest trends in paid search, organic search, social media, display advertising, and comparison shopping engines, so let’s cherry-pick some of the highlights…

    Paid Search

    • Advertiser spending on Google paid search grew 22% Y/Y in Q2 2016, a slight deceleration from 25% growth in Q1.
    • Click growth increased slightly to 34%, but CPCs fell 9%.
    • Spending growth for Google text ads slowed to 10% Y/Y as CPC growth for brand keywords fell from 10% in Q1 to 0% in Q2.
    • Google Shopping Ad spending growth rose to 43% as an influx of partner traffic bolstered total click volume.
    • Combined spending on Bing Ads and Yahoo Gemini search ads fell 17% Y/Y as click declines continued to worsen.
    • Bing Product Ad spending fell for the first time since the format’s launch, likely the result of Yahoo moving to show more Google PLAs.
    • Phones and tablets produced 53% of all paid search clicks in Q2, the same rate as a quarter earlier, but up 12 points from a year earlier. Google’s share of clicks from mobile increased slightly to just over 57%

    Organic Search & Social

    • Organic search visits fell 7% Y/Y in Q2, down from 11% Y/Y growth a year earlier, as organic listings face increased competition from paid search ads, particularly on mobile.
    • Mobile’s share of organic search visits rose to 46%, but that still lags behind the 53% of paid search clicks that mobile produces, as well as the 47% share that mobile produced for organic search a year ago.
    • Google produced 86% of all organic search visits in the US and 90% of mobile organic search visits.
    • Google’s share of mobile organic search has increased by nearly two points in the past year.
    • Social media sites accounted for 2.8% of site visits in Q2 2016, with Facebook producing 63% of all site visits driven by social media.

    Comparison Shopping Engines

    • The eBay Commerce Network commanded a majority of advertisers’ comparison shopping engine (CSE) spending for the first time in Q2. Along with Connexity, the two dominant CSE platforms accounted for 97% of all CSE ad spending.
    • Advertiser revenue produced by eBay Commerce Network and Connexity listings grew by 33% and 23% Y/Y respectively; however, the two platforms combined for less than 10% of the revenue produced by Google Shopping Ads, among advertisers participating in all three platforms.

    Display Advertising

    • Total display advertising spending grew 62% Y/Y, driven by very strong results from Facebook, where Merkle advertisers increased their investment by 121% Y/Y.
    • Retargeting accounted for 62% of all display spending in Q2.
    • The Google Display Network (GDN) also delivered spending growth, with advertisers seeing its share of total Google ad spending increase to 12%.

    Verizon acquires Yahoo’s operating business for $4.8 billion

    eMarketer_Net_US_Digital_Ad_Revenues_by_Company_2014-2018_205487 (1) (1)

    Verizon has agreed to acquire Yahoo’s operating business in a $4.8 billion cash deal, sealing the fate of one of the internet’s pioneering giants.

    Under the deal Verizon will amalgamate Yahoo’s search, email, video, mobile, digital and advertising assets with it’s AOL entity. Verizon acquired AOL in a $4.4 billion deal last year to enhance its programmatic offerings.

    The current deal does not include Yahoo’s shares in the Alibaba Group Holdings, or its shares in Yahoo Japan. These assets, along with other minority investments will continue to be held by Yahoo under a new, yet to be announced name. This will become a registered, publicly traded investment company.

    “Yahoo is a company that has changed the world, and will continue to do so through this combination with Verizon and AOL,” said Marissa Mayer, chief executive officer, Yahoo.

    In an open letter to Yahoo fans, Mayer said the sale was not only an important step in Yahoo’s plan to free up shareholder value, but a great opportunity for it to build further distribution and accelerate its work in mobile, video, native advertising, and social.

    “As one of the largest wireless and cable companies in the world, Verizon opens the door to extensive distribution opportunities. With more than 100 million wireless customers, a shared view of the importance of mobile and video ad tech, a deep content focus through AOL, Verizon brings clear synergies to the table,” she said.

    Mayer added that Yahoo’s products and brand would be central to achieving Verizon’s ambitious goal of growing its global audience to 2 billion users and reaching $20 billion in revenue from its mobile-media business by 2020.

    “Joining forces with AOL and Verizon will help us achieve tremendous scale on mobile. Imagine the distribution challenges we will solve, the scale we will achieve, the products we will build, and the advertisers we will reach now with Mavens – it’s incredibly compelling,” Mayer said.

    Mavens (mobile, video, native and social) has been a core pillar of Yahoo’s revival strategy since it was launched in 2011. In 2015, Yahoo’s Mavens business was worth $1.6 billion of GAAP revenue.

    Verizon is the United States’ biggest wireless telecommunications company and its acquisition of Yahoo demonstrates its intentions to push ahead into the mobile and Internet spaces. A Verizon-AOL-Yahoo union could in theory provide a third credible player in the online ad space behind Google and Facebook, as forecast by eMarketer in the graphic below.

    *Source: eMarketer

    Yahoo claims it has a global audience of more than 1 billion monthly active users, including 600 million monthly active mobile users. Its email services globally have approximately 225 million monthly active users. AOL says its mobile advertising network also has a reach of roughly 600 million users. Combine this data with that of Verizon’s more than 100 million wireless subscribers and the company has an even stronger offering to take to advertisers.

    From a content point of view, Yahoo’s popular news, finance and sports platforms will be added to AOL’s media assets, which include The Huffington Post and TechCrunch.

    Yahoo will continue to operate independently pending regulatory approval of the deal, which is expected to be completed by early 2017. Marni Walden, EVP and president, product innovation and new businesses organization, Verizon, will lead the integration of the AOL-Yahoo business, although Mayer is expected to stay on until the transaction is finalized.

    “Our mission at AOL is to build brands people love, and we will continue to invest in and grow them. Yahoo has been a long-time investor in premium content and created some of the most beloved consumer brands in key categories like sports, news and finance,” said Tim Armstrong, chief executive officer, AOL.

    “We have enormous respect for what Yahoo has accomplished: this transaction is about unleashing Yahoo’s full potential, building upon our collective synergies, and strengthening and accelerating that growth. Combining Verizon, AOL and Yahoo will create a new powerful competitive rival in mobile media, and an open, scaled alternative offering for advertisers and publishers,” he said.

    Yahoo was founded in 1994 by Stanford University students Jerry Yang and David Filo. During the ’90s it diversified from a search directory into a web portal incorporating email, search and real-time media.

    *Featured image: Yahoo / Flickr

    What the evolution of search can teach marketers about digital transformation


    For years, search engines have proved themselves as the gateway to the web, an entry point to the content of webpages people wanted to read.

    However people don’t want to just read anymore, they want to publish, play, share, watch and exchange.

    The way they search has evolved too: they have gone from asking “what” to asking “why” and “how to.”

    At Bing we have seen a three-fold growth of queries starting with “Why” compared to “What” queries, which tells us people are no longer looking for information… They are looking for answers.

    These expectations have increased with the rise of modern experiences like Cortana. This personal assistant makes sense of our search history, our personal preferences, our location, the instructions we give her vocally, to identify what is the most relevant information to action upon, right here, right now… And sometimes without having to even ask her explicitly.

    To address these new expectations, it is critical to evolve the way search is considered.

    The internet has become a connective fabric between entities such as People, Places or Things and as a result, search has developed machine learning capabilities to start making sense of the world in which we live. The final layer is artificial intelligence which has stitched together the fabric to the model, and can start taking us to new possibilities like recognising faces and even feeling, or predicting the future.

    Consumers today offer brands numerous different signals through their behaviour online.

    Historically, marketers needed to understand the variant meaning in words, for example when a consumer typed in “Chicago”, they may have been looking for the Musical, the Band or a trip to the City. Patterns were gathered but what do they actually mean in the consumer’s head?

    chicago bing search

    Through the explosion of social networks, a new set of signals have emerged, where people can express their feelings and their personality. As a result, a bunch of connections between people for a variety of reasons are now in scope. Bing was one of the first to understand those connections with its Facebook partnership, which combined both relevancy and individualisation.

    Devices have then changed the game. Through smartphone democratisation, on top of “what” and “who”, brands are now offered the context of “where”. Consumers now holding the ability to search in their back pockets adds immense potential to what someone could mean.

    The same me can search for “coffee” in the street to look for a cuppa, and use the same word at my desk to help my son with his exposé on coffee harvesting. Same me, same word, but different geospatial context and therefore intent.

    Online and offline customer experiences are producing even greater amounts of data for which we now have the computing power required to stitch, but also to analyse and interpret.

    By bringing these data sets to the cloud, unaltered or pre-filtered, pooling them in a data lake for instance, we can then plug them into the advanced machine learning capabilities we have sharpened in search to identify the true commonalities and uniqueness of the individuals without compromising on timing.

    By taking into consideration the growing amount of signals, and with the computing power behind our machine learning and artificial intelligence, we are now capable to not only understand but even anticipate what people truly want.

    What does that mean for brands? It allows them to use search experiences that are truly personal and relevant.

    Marketing transformation. At last.

    What happened to search as a service is currently transpiring across the entire digital industry. It is putting back the customer at the centre of everything.

    Great marketing starts with the customer and as modern marketers, we need to recognize that every customer is unique. They are technologically savvier than ever and are connecting with brands across a number of channels, with the expectation of a personal connection and an understanding of their distinctive needs and desires.

    Marketers can now innovate more than ever and bring marketing to its essence: people.

    Thanks to technology platforms and search at the heart of these, we can understand customers changing needs and connect with customers across different devices, at home or on the go.

    The customer experience is now at the centre of the business strategy and marketers are responsible for infusing a customer-centric culture into their organisation.

    To do this, marketers need to connect with customers along every step of the customer journey, collecting and responding to information to deliver campaigns that resonate. They need to drive the innovative digital and physical campaigns that inspire customers and turn them into loyal brand advocates.

    Unlocking the power of search will be the fuel to that fire.

    Cedric Chambaz is the Head of Marketing, Europe at Bing Ads and a contributor to Search Engine Watch.

    Facebook vs Snapchat: which is the better channel for your brand?

    facebook vs snapchat

    It’s been a great year for Snapchat and it’s no surprise that Facebook is eyeing up many of its most successful features.

    At the same time, Snapchat is moving away from ephemeral content and beginning to engage in a stronger battle against the most popular social network in the world than we first thought.

    Will there be a clear winner?

    Round 1: Audience

    We may not have all the stats to compare side by side the audience for both platforms, but Facebook is certainly winning with its 1.65 billion monthly active users. There’s no social platform yet that can beat this number, while Snapchat only informs us for now that it counts over 100 million daily users.

    Winner: Facebook

    Round 2: Youth appeal

    Snapchat got popular for its impressive appeal to the younger audience, starting as a fun and instant form of communication among teenagers. Although it has evolved since then, it is still attractive for the audience aged 13-24, as it forms 60% of its audience.

    What’s more, Snapchat announced that it reaches 41% of all 18 to 34 year olds in the United States on any given day.

    Facebook may be the most popular social network, but it seems to lose its appeal to the younger audience, and this is mostly attributed to the significant rise of the older generations.

    There has been a 46% growth of new Facebook profiles from 2012 to 2015 for the ages of 45-54, while a decline of 25% has been noted at the same period for the new Facebook profiles of people aged 13-17 in US.

    Teenagers and young adults start facing a new reality when more family members join Facebook, which means they gradually lose their interest and head to new platforms to freely express themselves.

    This doesn’t mean that it’s easy to abandon the most popular social network, but there’s a tendency of reduced shared content, especially among the younger audience, who prefers to use Instagram and Snapchat.

    Winner: Snapchat

    Round 3: Ephemerality

    This is probably the most obvious win for Snapchat, as its main focus is on the power of ephemeral content and the urgency it creates to check the platform daily, in order to catch up with the latest content, before it disappears.

    Snaps last for just 24 hours, which means that FOMO (fear of missing out) can become more intense, especially once you start adding more friends (and celebrities).

    Facebook seems to be fascinated lately with the idea of ephemeral content and that’s why it announced the launch of secret conversations on Messenger, a feature that will introduce encrypted messages with a timer to control the when they will be visible to the recipient.

    Winner: Snapchat

    Round 4: Engagement

    Snapchat has managed to create impressive engagement with ephemeral content, but it’s still not easy to beat Facebook, which has turned into a daily routine for a great number of its users.

    According to eMarketer, US adults spend an average of 22 minutes a day on Facebook, while it is projected that they will be spending 23 minutes a day by 2018. Engagement may be high and it’s certainly attributed to the mobile domination, but its growth may not be enough in the coming years.

    Facebook engagement

    Snapchat has observed that 54% of its its users engage with the app daily, while the average iOS user in US spends an average of 18 minutes on Snapchat during the day, which means that there is an indication that the battle of engagement will become even more competitive soon.

    Winner: Facebook

    Round 5: Authenticity

    You don’t have to like (or even understand) Snapchat to admit that it brought a new type of content to social media, with its explosive growth being attributed to the combination of ephemerality, creativity, simplicity and visual content.

    The idea of vertical video has proven to be successful (and effective for brands), while filters turned out to be a fresh use of branded promotion.

    It wouldn’t be fair to omit Facebook’s own authenticity back when it started, but as it’s heading to a more mature status, we’ll give this round to Snapchat and its attempt to beat the odds of success at a surprisingly fast rate.

    Winner: Snapchat

    Round 6: Fun

    I may sound like a millennial (sorry Christopher), but I personally don’t find Facebook fun anymore. It may be informative, it may be creative from time to time, it’s certainly addictive, but it’s not as fun as it used to be.

    gatorade snapchat successOn the other hand, Snapchat is trying hard to be taken seriously, as it is still known as the platform that may turn you into a dog, or swap your face with Leonardo DiCaprio. Lenses have turned out to be very popular for Snapchat and their constant update creates a habit of trying out the new ones, again, for the sake of (useless) fun.

    However, this changed when brands joined the game of sponsored lenses, which made them more interesting from a business perspective.

    For example, Gatorade created a sponsored lens during Super Bowl and it led to 60 million plays in total, 165 million views and an increase of 8 points in purchase intent.

    Winner: Snapchat

    Round 7: Branded content

    Facebook Pages have formed the idea of branded content in social media and they have been imitated by many platforms. It’s an organised way to distribute content by encouraging users to stay up-to-date with a brand’s news, while Facebook offers several tools to boost this experience.

    However, the platform’s monetisation has reduced the reach of organic posts, which means that nothing comes for free anymore and thus, Facebook Pages are not as effective as they used to be, at least not without paying for advertising.

    On the other hand, Snapchat wanted to revolutionise the idea of branded content, by encouraging a new format of visual content which focuses on the engagement with the user, ensuring that the reach is not missed through a customised feed that hides the content you’ve liked.

    This doesn’t mean that all brands are ready yet to experiment with Snapchat and this may be attributed to the lack of options regarding the distribution and the measurement of the content, which is certainly something that we’d love to see in the future.

    Both platforms have their advantages and their disadvantages when it comes to branded content, but Facebook is certainly a winner, mainly due to its established status, the flexibility and its insights.

    Winner: Facebook

    Round 8: Video

    This is probably the biggest battle between Facebook and Snapchat and it’s also the most interesting one.

    Snapchat counts 10 billion daily video views and Facebook counted 8 daily billion views in November, and both platforms try hard to succeed in this field, as this may be the battle that will crown the ultimate winner.

    Video content is on the rise and it’s not expected to stop anytime soon, and both Facebook and Snapchat have their own advantages and disadvantages on its creation and distribution.

    Facebook is favouring video content on the users’ news feeds and this has led to an increase of native video content among brands in the platform. In fact, according to Quintly, brands prefer native videos over links to other videos as they have 4 times the interaction rate compared to Youtube, Vimeo, or other sources.

    What’s more, Facebook has launched the idea of Facebook 360 videos, in an attempt to succeed with another popular trend.

    Snapchat on the other hand is definitely ambitious enough to compete with Facebook’s plans with video content, especially when taking into consideration the fact that in Q1 2015 it counted just 2 billion daily video views, reaching more than 10 billion daily views in just a year!

    This sign of explosive growth cannot stay unnoticed and that’s why there is an attempt to keep up with its fast growth by offering more features and options for brands that join the platform.

    Vertical video along with mobile power make a great combination for appealing and engaging video content, while Live videos have turned into a big deal for Snapchat, hoping to use its curation skills to maintain the engagement with users, but also to attract more brands to trust it.

    Facebook is currently the winner in this round, but it wasn’t as easy as it thought it would be and that’s why it should not rest upon its laurels.

    Winner: Facebook

    Round 9: Instant communication

    Snapchat started as a fun platform of instant communication between teenagers and that’s how it became popular with its ephemeral content, its simplicity and its mysterious appeal.

    Facebook started as a platform that connected people all over the world, although the concept of communication changed over the years as it focused more on content and its monetisation. However, the launch of Messenger was a great move for Facebook, as it brought the best features of all the communication apps into one platform, counting now more than 1 billion users.

    Both Snapchat and Facebook have benefited from their appealing instant communication in their own way, the first by creating a strong engagement rate which helped it grow, the second by expanding its features to interesting paths that we keep exploring.

    This battle will be a tie, as both of them have their own advantages on why we use them for our communication.

    Winner: TIE

    Round 9.5 : Chatbots

    Instant communication in terms of business opportunities is already changing on Facebook Messenger with the introduction of chatbots, the pre-programmed messages that allow users to stay informed from their favourite brands and pages regarding a new release, a sale, or an event.

    This could be the big step for Messenger in ecommerce and further business opportunities, and as there are more than 11,000 bots in Messenger, we are expecting great things from this feature.

    Thus, this battle goes to Facebook.

    chatbot facebook

    Winner: Facebook

    Round 10: Advertising

    This is an unfair battle, as Facebook is already established in advertising, offering numerous options for brands to promote their products. There has been a 50% increase in Facebook’s active advertisers in a year, counting now 3 million advertised businesses in Q1 2016.

    Mobile advertising has turned out to be extremely effective, as it accounted for 79% of the company’s revenue of Q1 2016.

    From a brand’s perspective, Facebook’s advertising tools can help an ad reach the right audience, while the introduction of Canvas led to more creative formats that may be more appealing to users.

    On the other hand, Snapchat is yet at an early stage of its advertising growth, but its ROI is still impressive.

    It has noted that its Snap Ads have a 5x higher CTR compared to other platforms, while vertical mobile video content leads to 9x bigger completion rate comparing to horizontal videos.

    Snapchat is focusing on 3Vs, video, vertical and views, to promote its advertising concept and it promises to offer more metrics soon to help brands measure the ads’ performance more effectively.

    Still, this was an easy victory for Facebook.

    Winner: Facebook


    Facebook may be the winner among the two, but 2016 was Snapchat’s big year, so we’re still curious on how the future will develop for both platforms.

    The fact that Snapchat managed to become a serious competitor for Facebook in certain areas in just a couple of years is an indication that we cannot ignore its potential, as its growth is expected to continue.

    According to eMarketer, Snapchat is expected to surpass Twitter and Pinterest in US users this year, reaching 58.6 million users with a growth of 27.2%, while it will keep building its audience until 2020 to further close its gaps with Facebook.

    snapchat growth

    Even if it’s not enough to ever beat Facebook, it is still impressive to monitor its success and it is offering us many useful lessons on how a platform can take advantage of its best features to build an audience and grow with consistent engagement and creative content.