Tag Archive | "2015"

The 2015 Moz Annual Report: All the Facts and Then Some

Posted by SarahBird

Longstanding insomnia sufferers, rejoice! My Moz 2015 Annual Report is here. Check out 2012, 2013, and 2014 if you’re a glutton for punishment.

So much happens in a year — fantastic and terrible things — distilling it into one blog post is my annual albatross.

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Here’s me agonizing over what to write. It’s not always good to be king.

Alright. Enough wallowing in self pity.

Here’s how I’m organizing this post so you can jump around to whatever strikes your fancy:

Part 1: tl;dr 2015 was a strengthening year!

Part 2: Two 2015 strategic shifts

Part 3: Two invisible achievements

Part 4: The tough stuff

Part 5: Inside Moz HQ

Part 6: Performance (metrics vomit)

Part 7: The Series C and looking ahead

[Part 1]

tl;dr: 2015 was a strengthening year!

2015 was a strengthening year. We grew customers, revenue, and product offerings. We also began some major tech investments that will continue to pay off in the years ahead.

With all the product launches comes increased opportunity in 2016, and also increased complexity. In the year ahead, you’ll see Moz delivering much more personalized onboarding, re-working the brand to accommodate our product families, changing up our customer acquisition flow, and investing in technologies and practices to speed up product development.

[Part 2]

Two 2015 major strategic shifts

First, instead of a one-size-fits-all product, we’re offering many crafted customer experiences.

The most visible strategic change is the move away from cramming every feature into one product; instead, we’re offering products designed to help specific kinds of customers with their particular needs. Our community and customers are diverse. The solutions we offer should be too.

We started 2015 with Moz Pro, Moz Local and our API business. We’re ending the year with two new products under out belt, Moz Content and Followerwonk. Pro will continue to evolve in 2016 to focus on professional SEOs. Moz Local just launched a major upgrade to its offering, making it the most useful way to manage your local SEO. Content marketers will love Moz Content’s new features. And social fanatics will enjoy analyzing their followers and fans with Followerwonk.

Why did we back away from all-in-one? Well. We discovered that adding more features into a product isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s just more. We heard from customers that they valued certain parts of the product that solved their problem, but weren’t interested in the others.

More simply, we built one product that many different kinds of customers could get a little benefit from. Instead, we want to build many products that customers get a lot out of. Even more simply, we won’t give each of our customers identical plates of food with lots of small bites, only 30% of which each enjoys. We’re giving everyone a big plate of their favorite food. Yum.

Second, people sometimes really want to talk to other people. And that’s good.

We’ve also relaxed our religious fervor about keeping humans out of the sales and onboarding process. We prided ourselves for years on dogmatically proclaiming that only bad products need human intervention. “The product should sell itself and be obvious to use,” we insisted.

We [I] clung to this belief in the face of overwhelming feedback from our customers that they would love to have more interaction with Mozzers.

I’m finally ready to let go of my belief that wanting to speak with a human is a failure in the system. We should give our customers what they want. Guess what? They sometimes want sales people, and personal onboarding and training.

We will not resort to barfy tactics like high pressure sales, harassment, and limit self-service. But maybe, just maybe, the world isn’t so black and white as humans=bad, computers=good.

Expect more opportunities to engage with real, live, bona-fide Mozzers as part of your product experience, should you need us.

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[Part 3]

Two invisible accomplishments

Not all of our big 2015 accomplishments are transparent to customers or the community. They’re important nonetheless.

The fance-pantsiest new engineering platform

We knew that to out-innovate our competitors and make marketing easier for our customers in this dynamic environment, we needed a step-function improvement in our ability to experiment and innovate.

We were inspired by compelling new development platforms built and tested at places like Google, Hubspot, and Twitter. They simplified the software development process without compromising security or performance.

RogerOS is our new engineering platform. It’s based on the Mesos kernel with a marathon wrapper. Moz Content was built 100% on it, so the two innovations incubated and launched together last year. More Moz services are starting to move to it.

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In the spirit of generosity, we open sourced a big chunk of our work and look forward to contributing more in the future. We’ve still got a lot of work to do to make the platform more robust and we’ll continue these efforts in 2016.

The platform is poised to deliver the step function increase in innovation. Because a bigger, more complex Moz shouldn’t mean slower.

Kissing bad architecture goodbye

Technical debt is the worst. Ugh. It’s demotivating for the team and siphons cycles away from innovation. It’s hard on customers because feature delivery stalls when you’re keeping a fragile system from imploding.

Our Moz Pro product was hobbled with some serious tech debt. The team spent months trying to keep it up. Customers were disappointed and the team was tired. We needed a plan to fix it that didn’t involve a highly risky 18-month rebuild.

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Luckily, one of our engineers had an epiphany, and a bunch of other engineers worked very hard to turn that epiphany into a workable plan that delivered feature improvements (not just parity!) while retiring painful tech debt in seven months. That’s way, way better than the dreaded 18 month slog.

We have massively transformed the backend architecture for Moz Analytics. This frees up cycles for innovation and unlocks a bunch of latent potential in the data. It feels like we were running a race in a cast and crutches, and now finally our leg is free! We’re throwing those crutches to the sideline and sprinting. Here we come!

[Part 4]

The tough stuff

Have you noticed how many year-in-review posts skip the tough stuff? I don’t want to do that. After all, a lot of this year’s tough stuff become next year’s strategic initiative.

The marketing software space is getting crowded. It’s no secret that companies need to transform their marketing to match the new ways people discover, engage, and buy.

The spigot of investor cash has been flowing fast and free into marketing tech for last couple years. We’re definitely seeing more competition in the market.

To our competitors: We Salute You!

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You keep good pressure on us to innovate and deliver a great experience for good value.

Moz is ahead in some areas and lagging in others. We’ve struggled to keep our link data reliable and we have to play catch up on the size and quality of our index. We’ve been very weak on keyword research, and will be remedying that in 2016. Our customer acquisition flow and brand is also way more complicated than it was a mere two months ago. We’ll be investing heavily in optimizing and improving this experience so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for.

These challenges are non-trivial, and yet invigorating. We’ve got the best people on the planet at Moz and we’ve been making forward-thinking tech investments. It’s game on in 2016.

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[Part 5]

Inside Moz HQ

Amidst all of the shifts and changes, some things remain constant.

TAGFEE remains our aspiration and our compass. As an organization, as people, we often have great integrity with our values. We also have moments of failure.

But what makes Moz special is not the absence of flaws, or the TAGFEE page on the website; it’s the genuine commitment to those values. The pursuit is relentless.

I don’t know anyone who is perfect. The people I admire most are those that strive for excellence when they fail; they pick themselves up and keep trying. They never give up the commitment to their values. Mozzers are like that.

We’ve got 192 Mozzers now, up from last year’s number of 149.

This year, we’ve done a lot of good work on teaching Mozzers learning about productive conflict, feedback, and inclusion in tech. We’re not done, but we’ve made an earnest start.

Our gender diversity numbers are still terrible, but at least we’re headed in the right direction. Overall, we’re 40% women, up from 37% last year. We’re up to 27% in engineering. 54% of non-engineering roles are women.

A lot of the work we’re doing to make the tech industry more inclusive doesn’t benefit Moz directly, but we’re still happy to do it. For example, we partner with lots of programs to bring middle and high school girls on tours of Moz HQ and encourage them to consider careers in STEM — maybe even start their own business someday. Several Moz engineers volunteer at coding schools, like ADA Academy, mentoring and welcoming underrepresented people to tech careers. We’re also partnering with Year Up to give underserved young adults meaningful careers.

Our charity match program continues to be one of my most proud parts of Moz. Last year we donated over $ 110k to charities that Mozzers are passionate about. We match every Mozzer donation 150%.

Our paid, PAID vacation program continues to be a high point for all Mozzers.

Last year, Moz spent over $ 400k on airfare, hotels, tours, food, boats, and life-changing, memory-making experiences for Mozzers.

That’s money well spent on lives well lived.

Lastly, we reached a milestone so wonderful, I’m having a hard time expressing how it makes me feel. Two Mozzers, who didn’t know each other when they started working here, fell in love and are getting married. We made a whole family!!!

[Part 6]

Performance (metrics vomit!)

2015 was a strong improvement over 2014 revenue growth rate. We finished the year at about ~$ 38 million in revenue. That’s a growth rate of 21.6%, compared to the 5.7% the year prior.

Moz Pro still drives the majority of revenue, and Moz Local has demonstrated impressive growth.

Product gross profit margin fared well this year at 76%. That’s basically holding steady from last year. If you throw non-product in there, overall gross profit margin is 73%.

Total Cost of Revenue (COR) went up a little bit from last year. Most of the cost driven by increases in the amounts we pay to our data aggregator partners for Moz Local. We expect this to grow even more in 2016 as Local becomes a bigger share of our product mix.

Total operating expenses came to $ 36.4 million dollars in 2015 (excluding CORs). The basic shape of that spend has remained pretty constant. The vast, vast majority of our company spend is people. No major shifts in spending trends from 2014 to 2015 other than increased 3rd Party Data.

As planned, our EBITDA loss increased from last year to -$ 3.1 million.

Cash burn was slightly above our 10% of revenue plan, but we were pretty darn close at 11%.

Adam shared a detailed reflection of changes and upgrades to Moz Pro in 2015. I encourage you to check it out. Those changes are attracting a slightly different customer. The number of new Moz Pro customers we’re acquiring is much lower than in previous years, but our average revenue per user is increasing. We’re also keeping customers longer. Obviously, we’d love to add tons of new Pro customers *and* increase Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). We’ll be putting energy into that in 2016.

Moz Local locations more than doubled in 2015. And we’re very excited to see how customers are enjoying the big Moz Local Insights release we released this week. It’s only been 24 hours, but initial response is very good.

Organic traffic grew in 2015 by 16.7%. We hit just shy of 16 million organic visits.

You can read a bunch about the community we host here on Moz.com from this post.

Our external communities continued to grow. We did, however, decide to stop investing in the LinkedIn group in 2015 in favor of Instagram.

[Part 7]

The Series C and looking ahead

I wrote last week about closing our Series C. (BTW, did you notice the public markets for SaaS companies nose-dived soon after? Phew! If you’re reading this, we love you Foundry!)

We made big investments and placed some big bets in 2015. It’s so exciting to see them start to bear fruit. In the next 12 months, you should see (1) more feature releases, (2) more personal interaction with the Moz team when buying and using our products, and (3) increased clarity on our brand and customer acquisition flows.

Thanks for sharing your feedback, sticking with us, and rooting for us. We’ll keep trying to make great stuff that helps you do your job better, and bring a smile to your day!

Okay. And that’s a wrap on your 2015 Annual Report. Peace out.

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Jump-start Your 2016 with the Best of Copyblogger 2015

ringing in 2016 - happy new year!

Did you see that year that just flew by?

It seems like it was only a few weeks ago that Sonia Simone welcomed 2015 with My Challenge to You for 2015: Only Connect.

In that post, Sonia talks about how business success is about getting the “Big Thing” right.

What’s your Big Thing?

You’ll recognize it as the overarching reason behind your business. It’s your motive for wanting to connect with people online. It’s what gets you out of bed every morning.

When you’re clear about your Big Thing, the details tend to fall into place.

Get clear on your Big Thing, then dive into the details below

This past year, Copyblogger took a deep dive into the details of effective content marketing.

Choosing the “best” posts from this embarrassment of riches is impossible. I mean, really? How does one choose?

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. So, I loaded up on coffee and took a nice, long stroll through all the content we put together for you in 2015.

Thank you to our team and our readers

Before I share my list, I want to take a moment to thank Demian Farnworth and Stefanie Flaxman for their work on the editorial team this year.

Demian’s can-do attitude and epic content marketing skills made for some exceptional posts this year.

And Stefanie’s eagle-eyed editing instincts have polished every post below into its best possible form.

To all the guest writers whose work we published this year, thanks to you, too. You accepted our suggestions with grace, met our deadlines with style, and helped to spread the word. Great work!

I especially want to thank you, our faithful readers.

You’ve stayed with us and let us know your thoughts on social media, in emails, and even in person. We appreciate the time and attention you’ve given to our pages over the past year.

Pick a topic and jump-start your 2016

Want to brush up on a particular subject as you head into the new year?

Pour yourself a cup of your preferred beverage, pull up a chair, and start reading.

And be sure to come back for a visit on the first Monday of 2016. We’ve got some fantastic content lined up for you. And a few surprises, too! It’s going to be a great year.

By the way, have you signed up for our free Copyblogger Content Challenge yet?

Starting Monday, January 4, we’ll be teaching an enthusiastic group of several thousand people how to create solid cornerstone content for their websites. Join us!

Encouragement for your journey

Trolls, Unkind Words, and How to Know You’re on the Right Track

If you want your content to be remembered, you’ve got to be willing to take a stand, trolls be damned. Sonia Simone has some words of wisdom for you if you struggle with feeling exposed to unfriendly people online.

The Introvert’s Guide to Surviving an In-Person Conference

Fess up: are you one of the many self-proclaimed introverts who read Copyblogger? If so, this post is for you.

The Dangerous Myth of the Magical Tool

If you’ve found yourself thinking, “If only I had the right software, my business would be transformed,” please take a moment to read this post.

How Not to Be a Sleaze (or a Martyr) in Your Business

Sonia drops some wisdom with her usual combination of story and savvy in this post about finding balance in your business.

5 Things to Take Advantage of When You’re Starting Something New

Small is beautiful! Here’s why you should enjoy the early days of your business to the fullest.

Harness the power of email marketing

Beth Hayden has spent a hefty chunk of 2015 generously sharing what she knows about email marketing — and she knows a lot.

If you’re trying to understand how all the pieces of the email marketing puzzle fit together, take a look at the posts below.

Adaptive content: what it is, how to use it

You may have heard the term “adaptive content” a few times in 2015. As Demian Farnworth says, adaptive content means to “tailor content to a customer’s experience, behavior, and desires.”

Sound intriguing? Read the posts in this section to fully understand adaptive content and discover how to put it to work for you in 2016.

16 Stats that Explain Why Adaptive Content Matters Right Now

Demian leads off with a rallying cry: adaptive content matters because it offers your readers a better, more tailored experience.

13 Simple Questions to Help You Draft a Winning Content Strategy [Free Worksheet]

If Demian’s 16 stats about the importance of adaptive content got you fired up to use it on your site, this post will help you take the first step. We’ve created a free worksheet you can download and fill out to help you start using adaptive content strategies.

3 Adaptive Content Resources for Advanced Marketers

To implement adaptive content, you must fix your older content so it works well today, understand who’s on your site, and use marketing automation to serve up unique content experiences to your site visitors. Fortunately, Editor-in-Chief Stefanie Flaxman has gathered resources to help you do all three.

Need some inspiration? Read on …

Here’s How Henry Rollins Writes (Slightly NSFW)

Those of us who had the honor of seeing Henry Rollins speak at 2015’s Authority Rainmaker event in Denver won’t soon forget the energy and passion in his words. But how does he get those words onto paper?

4 Revelations that Drove Me to Quit My Job and Start a Business

Raubi Perilli shared a personal story about what it was like for her in the early days of her business (hint: it wasn’t all pretty, but it taught her many lessons).

Claiming Your Power as a Writer

Stepping into your full power as a writer means putting on your Big Person Underpants. Need details? Count on Sonia Simone to fill you in.

News we saw, news we made

Introducing Rainmaker.FM: The Digital Marketing Podcast Network

We like to comment on news that impacts content marketers. But, of course, it’s even more fun to make news. That’s what happened when we launched our Rainmaker.FM podcast network last March. That’s right: we didn’t just launch a show or two. It was (and is) a full-blown podcast network. Go big or go home, as we say around here. :-)

Will Your Website Survive the Google Mobile Penalty?

This year, Google recognized the profound change that has happened in web surfing and began to penalize websites that didn’t display properly on mobile devices. Ahead of the change, Demian Farnworth offered some advice to help you prepare.

Why Copyblogger Is Killing Its Blog

Every once in a while (on April Fools’ Day each year, to be precise) we like to make fake news. This year was no exception.

Why the Ad Blocking Panic Shouldn’t Scare Smart Publishers

2015 was the year that ad blocking software became widely available, which sent some online publishers into a panic. But not smart content marketers like us! Demian Farnworth explains why you can breathe easy about ad blocking software.

Copyblogger Media Rebrands as Rainmaker Digital

Name change alert! Our company officially outgrew its original name in 2015 and we debuted a new (more flexible and accurate) name: Rainmaker Digital. Brian Clark explains the decision in this post.

Is Podcasting Replacing Written Content Marketing?

Sometimes when you make news, your moves create more questions than answers. I wrote this post to answer the question people had been whispering to me when they thought no one was listening.

Introducing Digital Commerce Institute: Online Training Plus a Killer Live Event

2015 was a big year for us, and we wrapped it up by launching an entirely new web property this past fall: Digital Commerce Institute. If you’re working to master online business, head over to the Digital Commerce Academy and check out our offerings, which include next year’s live event, Digital Commerce Summit.

All things podcasting

We do this thing around here (you may have noticed). We experiment with new techniques and invite you along for the ride so you can learn at the same time we do.

That’s why you saw an abundance of posts about podcasting on Copyblogger in 2015. We were learning, and we shared what we discovered with you in real time.

Conduct Better Podcast Interviews with This Simple 6-Step Preparation Process

Jerod Morris shared the process he uses to prepare for his podcast interviews in this detailed post.

How a Podcast Is Born [Infographic]

Who better to explain the technical steps behind bringing a podcast into the world than our own podcast midwife … er, Director of Multimedia Production, Kelton Reid? It’s a complex process, but this infographic makes it easy to understand.

4 Copywriting Techniques for Engaging Podcasts and Audio Presentations

We republished this classic post in 2015 because once we found ourselves creating audio content, we saw Brian Clark’s advice here in a whole new light.

Landing page pick-me-ups

The Savvy Marketer’s Checklist for Seductive Landing Pages

Henneke came around with her usual sparkly prose and offered some memorable advice on creating effective landing pages. This one includes a checklist you can use when creating your own landing pages.

9 Landing Page Goofs that Make You Lose Business [Infographic]

Is your landing page lagging? Henneke helps you steer your way around common roadblocks that keep your landing page from performing as well as it should.

Practical how-to advice

5 Insider Tips to Make More Sales During Your Webinars

Beth Hayden shares a confession: she used to be terrible at making sales during live webinars. Then she tried the techniques she outlines here and everything changed (for the better).

Bundle Like a Boss: How to Put Together Irresistible Product Packages

If you’ve created more than one digital product, you’ve got the makings of a bundle on your hands. Read Ali Luke’s post for some innovative ways to package your products together.

The Traffic Light Revision Technique for Meticulously Editing Your Own Writing

It’s not easy to really “see” your own work after you’ve written it, which is why mistakes can creep in. Employ the method Stefanie Flaxman outlines here and you’ll catch all those blunders before you hit publish.

Content Marketing Is Easier When You (Partially) Delegate These 12 Tasks

Content marketing can be a slog — to make an impact you have to show up and do the work day in and day out. Fortunately, Charlie Gilkey wrote a post that shows you how you can delegate at least some of your content marketing tasks to others. It’s an innovative approach to delegation!

4 Ways to Turn a Mature Membership Site into a Treasured Resource Your Members Will Love

It’s a good problem to have: you’ve created a membership site, and you now have so much content on it, your members are feeling overwhelmed with your offerings and aren’t sure where to start. Debbie Hodge found herself in this situation and detailed exactly how she solved it.

Valuable downloadable resources

One of the aspects I’ve most enjoyed about joining the editorial team this past year has been the opportunity to brainstorm useful resources to create for you.

10 Ways to Piss Off David Ogilvy (Free Poster)

In this post, Demian Farnworth gathered some thought-provoking quotes from legendary copywriter David Ogilvy, and we put them together into a mini poster for you (complete with digital coffee stains).

The Credit Belongs to You

Jerod Morris didn’t need to twist our arms when he pitched this idea: the poster we put together contains one of the most inspiring quotes I’ve ever read. It’s guaranteed to put the wind back in your sails when you’re having a tough day.

11 Insights on Finding a Writing Voice Readers Take Seriously [SlideShare]

“Develop a recognizable writing voice.” Easy to say, but not so easy to do. Until you read the SlideShare we created for you. It’s chock-full of inspiration direct from the mouths of well-known writers whose voices are unforgettable.

6 Simple Exercises to Help You Write Better Short Sentences [Free Worksheet]

Content marketing requires a special type of writing. The best content marketers communicate their messages with shorter sentences. In this free worksheet, Demian Farnworth provides some guidance you can apply to your own writing.

Fun infographics that will make you a better content marketer

The Perfect Anatomy of a Modern Web Writer [Infographic]

If you read Copyblogger on a regular basis, then you either already write for the web or you aspire to. Either way, the infographic here will help you double-check to see if you’ve got what it takes to make it in the wild world of content marketing.

11 Essential Ingredients Every Cornerstone Content Page Needs [Infographic]

Cornerstone content pages form the foundation of an authoritative website. They share what you want to be known for. You’ll link to them frequently and may even put them in your navigation menu. It’s important to craft them carefully and this handy infographic offers tips.

How Do You Compare to Serious Business Bloggers? [Infographic]

Andy Crestodina interviewed business bloggers to gather the data in this comprehensive survey, and Barry Feldman put together a beautiful infographic to make the data easy to understand.

Content creation tips and techniques

A Simple Content Marketing Strategy for Creative Folks

Our Lead Designer, Rafal Tomal, brought us this post with his approach to content creation — it’s a method any creative person can use.

Solve Your Blank-Page Problem with This Visual, 3-Step Content Creation System

Kelly Kingman stopped by with a solution that uses tangible objects to get you past the blinking cursor on a blank page. Break out those markers and sticky notes!

6 Easy Ways to Adapt Your Writing Style to the New World of Content Consumption

Effective online content has a look and style that makes it easy to consume. If you’re a long-time writer (and even if you’re not), becoming aware of what works best on the web will make your ideas easier to consume.

How to Survive and Thrive as a Corporate Content Marketer

Susan Daffron shared her front-line observations about life as a corporate content marketer in this witty, informative post.

The Single Best Way to Create Hit Content in Record Time

Over the past year, we’ve deliberately combed our archives and brought back evergreen content we wanted to highlight once again. In this post, Demian Farnworth outlines exactly how we go about republishing our best information.

Why Content Marketers Need Editors

Published just this week, Stefanie Flaxman’s post makes a compelling case for the role of an editor on any content marketing team. Plus, you’ll get content marketing inspiration from some bottles of nail polish. Really!

What Is Content Marketing?

And finally, the Mother of All Content Marketing Posts. Buckle up and click that link.

Tips for making the sale

How to Pre-Sell Your Product by Offering Tantalizing Samples

Sean D’Souza facilitates sales by offering samples of his information to whet his prospects’ appetites. Read on to discover how to use this technique yourself.

3 Simple Copywriting Techniques to Get Your Customer ‘Beyond’ the Buy Button

The “buy” button can seem like a huge hurdle to get your site visitors over. But with the techniques Amy Harrison outlines in this post, you’ll be armed with copywriting tips that will make it easy.

Building a memorable brand

How to Create a Visual Brand and Fight the Dark Forces

Only Rafal Tomal would watch Star Wars and think about branding! In this post, he builds an analogy that will help you keep your visual brand on track.

The Transformative Effect of a Well-Built Brand Statement

How you talk about your business changes how people perceive it — and even how you feel about it. Craft a brand message that resonates with the simple exercise outlined in this post.

How to Fully Engage Your Readers’ Brains with Images

Images are an important part of any content strategy, and this instructive post shows you how to choose and use them on your website.

Our Heroes

This year, we’ve highlighted some of our amazing customers in a series of posts called The Hero’s Journey. You’ll meet Belinda Weaver, Darren DeMatas, Michaela Clark, Chris Healy, Lindsay Barto, Amy Butcher, and Chris Hargreaves.

More to come in the year ahead!

Best resource-rich posts

Have you noticed what Stefanie Flaxman does for you every Friday?

She reaches into the Copyblogger archives to put together mini “courses” for you on a variety of content marketing topics. The posts below are especially good. Pay attention on Fridays and take some time to read Stefanie’s Copyblogger Collection posts.

Funniest post images

Don’t get me wrong: every one of the posts below contains valuable information. You’ll learn a lot from them. Once you stop giggling over the post images.

Conquer Content Shock with Illegitimate Ideas

Demian Farnworth explains why sometimes you’ve got to step way — way — outside the box to get noticed. Warning: once you see this image, you cannot unsee it.

The 5 Words that Are Key to Podcast Monetization

Jon Nastor weighs in on how to monetize that podcast you work so hard to put together (and keep your dog entertained).

Don’t Panic, but This Article Was Written by an Algorithm

Will machines replace writers? Demian Farnworth asks this provocative question, and based on the image, I suspect the answer is a resounding “no.”

Join our first Copyblogger Content Challenge (it’s free)

Our free Copyblogger Content Challenge begins this Monday, January 4.

We’re going to be walking folks just like you through a powerhouse strategy to make your site more authoritative, more attractive to your audience, and just plain more awesome. We’ve got tutorials, a free webinar, and even a pop-up forum to help you get it done. And it’s all free.

If you haven’t registered yet, click here to find out more and register now.

About the author

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is Executive Vice President of Educational Content at Rainmaker Digital. Follow her on Twitter, and find more from her at BigBrandSystem.com.

The post Jump-start Your 2016 with the Best of Copyblogger 2015 appeared first on Copyblogger.


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A Year In Review: Search Engine Land’s Top 10 Columns Of 2015

Which columns truly captivated our readers this year? We conclude our year-in-review series by highlighting our most widely read columns of 2015.

The post A Year In Review: Search Engine Land’s Top 10 Columns Of 2015 appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Authoritative Links: Search Engine Land’s 10 Top Link Week Columns Of 2015

Though naysayers continue to predict the death of link building, it’s still going strong. Check out our most widely read link building columns from the past year.

The post Authoritative Links: Search Engine Land’s 10 Top Link Week Columns Of 2015 appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Brands That Won (and Lost) Google in 2015

Posted by Dr-Pete

As part of the MozCast 10K (a 10,000-keyword daily Google tracker), we keep a close eye on the domains with the most page-one Google real-estate. As of December 1st, these were the “Big 10″:

“Share” represents the percentage of total results each domain has across the entire data set. Of course, absolute rankings can vary a lot depending on the data set, but what’s more interesting is how any given brand moves over time.

We watch day-to-day movements closely as search marketers, and often track winners and losers when Google announces a big update, but I thought it would be interesting to take the long-term view. Who are the brands who won and lost the most Google real estate in the past year? All of the data from this post is from the MozCast 10K and spans December 1, 2014–December 1, 2015.

Biggest winners in 2015

If we look at absolute gains in total page-one Google real estate, the winners are in the table below. The “Rank” columns shows their current position in the Top 100:

Online retail giant Amazon.com held tight to the #2 position in our data set, making the biggest overall gain. Etsy made impressive gains, jumping from the #81 spot at the end of 2014 to the #31 spot on December 1st, 2015. Even with its financial woes, Groupon performed solidly on Google, moving from the #87 spot to #40. Instagram jumped from outside of the Top 100 entirely (#141) to #57.

It’s interesting to note that two of the biggest gains in 2015 were for Google properties, YouTube and Google Play. YouTube moved from #5 to #4, and Google Play came in just shy of the Top 10 at #12. YouTube gains don’t count growth in Video Cards, large video links which dominate some Google results. Here’s an example Video Card from a search for “chandelier”:

The numbers in the chart above may seem small, but keep in mind that there’s only a 0.01% difference in total Google real-estate between #9 and #10 in the overall “Big 10.” A tenth-of-a-percent represents massive land holdings in the world of page-one results.

Most improved in 2015

Another way to slice-and-dice winners in 2015 is to look at sites with the biggest relative gains. In other words, who improved the most relative to their position in 2014? Here are the Top 10 Most Improved:

Six of these are repeats from the overall winners list, but looking at relative changes, Etsy’s and Instagram’s gains are even more impressive. Both sites more than doubled their page-one Google real estate in our data set, with Etsy seeing gains of over 150%.

Biggest losers in 2015

Google real estate is limited, and for every winner there ultimately has to be one or more losers. These are the sites that took the heaviest absolute losses in our data set:

Social media giant Twitter was the big loser in 2015, falling out of the Top 10, from #6 in 2014 to #15 at the end of 2015. This “loss” may be deceptive, however, as Google and Twitter struck a deal in August of this year to display Tweets directly in search results. Here’s an example, from a branded search for “Etsy”:

Tweets are now a true Google vertical result, occupying an organic position and appearing in almost 6% of the searches that we track. Fellow social media site, Pinterest, also lost ground in 2015, after nearly breaking into the Top 10 (they were #11 in 2014). Unfortunately for Pinterest, their losses weren’t offset by a sweetheart deal with Google.

Google-dominating Wikipedia showed a weak spot in their armor this year, losing twice the ground that #2 Amazon gained. Wikipedia took some losses early in 2015, and then ran into more trouble with their mid-year switch to a secure (https:) site.

Online auction site and aspiring retailer eBay added to their troubles in 2015, dropping out of the Top 10 from #9 to #17. eBay took heavy losses in May of 2014, but then partially recovered going into the beginning of 2015. As of December 1st, all of those short-term gains have disappeared in our data set.

Yelp gave up its #4 position in 2015 to YouTube, and seemed to suffer from some of Google’s local changes this year. Retailers Walmart and Overstock also saw year-over-year losses, as did online answer site wikiHow.

An oddly dominant site in 2014, the NIH’s National Library of Medicine site dropped from #17 to #20. Their presence may be the result of a high number of medical queries in our data set, and was probably impacted by a handful of niche Google updates, including the launch of the Medical Knowledge Panel, such as this one for “type 2 diabetes”:

On the bright side, it looks like the Tax Man took a hit in 2015, with the IRS dropping from #19 to #27. While it seems odd that two government (.gov) sites hit our list of losers, I suspect this was coincidental.

The envelope, please…

While Amazon’s continued dominance is impressive, and Wikipedia’s tumble from grace is certainly worth noting, I think the big story this year is Etsy. In addition to taking the #2 spot in total gains, they more than doubled their 2014 Google page-one real estate and rocketed from the #81 overall position in our data set to #31. Etsy and other niche online retailers will be the ones to watch in 2016.

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Google Snubs & Bing Embraces The 2015 Rugby World Cup

Bing provides a special area in search with standings and information for fans. Google does a special logo, but only in some countries.

The post Google Snubs & Bing Embraces The 2015 Rugby World Cup appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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The 2015 #MozCon Video Bundle Has Arrived!

Posted by EricaMcGillivray

The bird has landed, and by bird, I mean the MozCon 2015 Video Bundle! That’s right, 27 sessions and over 15 hours of knowledge from our top notch speakers right at your fingertips. Watch presentations about SEO, personalization, content strategy, local SEO, Facebook graph search, and more to level up your online marketing expertise.

If these videos were already on your wish list, skip ahead:

If you attended MozCon, the videos are included with your ticket. You should have an email in your inbox (sent to the address you registered for MozCon with) containing your unique URL for a free “purchase.”

MozCon 2015 was fantastic! This year, we opened up the room for a few more attendees and to fit our growing staff, which meant 1,600 people showed up. Each year we work to bring our programming one step further with incredible speakers, diverse topics, and tons of tactics and tips for you.


What did attendees say?

We heard directly from 30% of MozCon attendees. Here’s what they had to say about the content:

What percentage of the presentations did you find interesting? 53% found 80%+ interesting to their work.

Did you find the presentations to be advanced enough? 74% found them to be just perfect.

Wil Reynolds at MozCon 2015


What do I get in the bundle?

Our videos feature the presenter and their presentation side-by-side, so there’s no need to flip to another program to view a slide deck. You’ll have easy access to links and reference tools, and the videos even offer closed captioning for your enjoyment and ease of understanding.

For $ 299, the 2015 MozCon Video Bundle gives you instant access to:

  • 27 videos (over 15 hours) from MozCon 2015
  • Stream or download the videos to your computer, tablet, phone, phablet, or whatever you’ve got handy
  • Downloadable slide decks for all presentations


Bonus! A free full session from 2015!

Because some sessions are just too good to hide behind a paywall. Sample what the conference is all about with a full session from Cara Harshman about personalization on the web:


Surprised and excited to see these videos so early? Huge thanks is due to the Moz team for working hard to process, build, program, write, design, and do all the necessaries to make these happen. You’re the best!

Still not convinced you want the videos? Watch the preview for the Sherlock Christmas Special. Want to attend the live show? Buy your early bird ticket for MozCon 2016. We’ve sold out the conference for the last five years running, so grab your ticket now!

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Behind-the-Scenes Online Marketing Insights from Authority Rainmaker 2015

authority rainmaker 2015 audio recap

Authority Rainmaker 2015 wrapped up a week ago, and those of us who were there are still processing the online marketing insights we had at the live event in Denver.

If you didn’t make it this year — and even if you did — we’d like to invite you to experience some of the energy at the conference.

There were so many smart people — attendees, presenters, and sponsors — gathered in one place. The collective energy of the group could be felt in the opera house seats, in the lobby, at the meals, and at the parties.

Listen below to Clark Buckner of TechnologyAdvice interview Authority Rainmaker 2015 presenters, attendees, and sponsors.

Hear their favorite takeaways below. And read on for the most compelling quotes we heard.






Download audio

 

 

Chris Brogan, on a building a feeling of belonging:

I think that there’s a lot of revenue to be made — and a lot of business to be made — by helping add value to the people you most want to help and serve.

Demian Farnworth, on being a misfit:

If the crowd is going that direction … I go the opposite direction.

Sonia Simone, on building a business around belief:

We’re looking for this belief-based tribe to belong to … there is a big part of our brain that wants that.

Arienne Holland, on owning your space:

It’s not “tell your story and people will come,” because that’s not true. But tell your story, and with the right amplification the right customers or audience will find you and identify with you.

Summer Felix, on delivering the right sales message:

We take that approach with all of our videos — sales videos, and informational videos — just to say, “Okay, who’s watching this? What do you want them to do at the end of the video? And why might they be skeptical? And how can you resolve that and answer that in this amount of time?”

Joe Pulizzi, on having two audiences for your marketing:

Our most important marketing assets are our employees. If we don’t have a communication program ready to go for our employees, it’s going to be tough … you’ve got fertile land right there ready to go, but you have to make sure you water it a little bit.

Chris Garrett, on delivering the right content to the right people at the right time:

If [the site visitor owns] product X, then promote product Y, don’t keep promoting product X to customers of product X.

Tony Clark, on adaptive content and marketing automation tactics:

It’s about … putting the right piece of content in front of the right person at the right time to … get them on the process to buy.

Lee Odden, on telling the truth in your marketing:

The thing I heard from a lot of people was just … be honest, be true.

Cory Matthews, on authenticity:

Perfection never comes. I’ve struggled with that myself for years — “Well, I have to do this exactly perfect.” No, you just need to get started.

Kevin Carlson, on Chris Brogan’s unexpected comment to him:

He didn’t need to do that. You know, that’s going above and beyond. … I’m hard-pressed to think of an example or another situation … where one of your featured keynote speakers comes up to an attendee and says ‘Hey, I see you.’

Jerod Morris, on approaching podcast sponsors:

Let’s grow this together. … here’s what it is, but there’s this big, long journey we can go on together.

Scott Stratten, on not selling out when seeking podcast sponsors:

We wanted to look from episode one that we were at the top of the game … I’d rather have no sponsor than to compromise with the values of the show and get any sponsor.

Beth Hayden, on the speakers at this year’s conference:

They are doing things that really make me think, and it’s stuff that’s really actionable, and it’s not just the same old stuff over and over again … I come out of this conference in particular with pages and pages of practical notes of stuff that I can use in my business.

Sarah Eadie, on empathy:

Empathy is an asset … empathy for your customers and for their needs, and hopes, fears, and dreams is really invaluable … is really important.

Selena Vidya (Selena Narayanasamy), on switching her business to a consultancy model:

For us, it’s more of an empowerment education-type thing, rather than being the ones who bring them the content … the goal as a consultant is to be there when they need you, but they really need to be able to do this stuff themselves as well — it’s the only way they’re going to be able to grow.

Ethan Beute, on his main takeaways from Authority Rainmaker 2015:

No matter the angle or the topic, there are all these themes that come through … treating leads as humans, thinking empathetically about other people … intense awareness of, empathy for, focus on delivering to the audience … that the people on the email list need to be treated as people you serve.

Thanks to everyone at Copyblogger Media who made Authority Rainmaker 2015 possible, and to our sponsors:

Legend Sponsors:

Spears Marketing

Wellness Media

Champion Sponsors:

Feedblitz

The Draw Shop

Top Rank Online Marketing

Thursday Night Party Sponsor:

Moz

Friday Night Party Sponsor:

AWeber

Media Sponsors:

Search Engine Journal

Marketing Profs

TechnologyAdvice

Content Marketing Institute

Many thanks to Ethan Beute for today’s post image.

About the author

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is Vice President of Educational Content at Copyblogger Media. Follow her on Twitter, listen to her Hit Publish podcast, and find more from her at BigBrandSystem.com.

The post Behind-the-Scenes Online Marketing Insights from Authority Rainmaker 2015 appeared first on Copyblogger.

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It’s Your Turn: Now Accepting Community Speaker Pitches for MozCon 2015

Posted by EricaMcGillivray

Yep, it’s that time of year, friends. Time to submit your online marketing talk pitch for MozCon 2015. I’m super excited this year as we’ll have 6 community speaker slots! That’s right—you all are so amazing that we want to see more from you.

The basic details:

  • To submit, just fill out the form below.
  • Talks must be about online marketing and are only 15 minutes in length.
  • Submissions close on Sunday, April 12 at 5pm PDT.
  • Final decisions are final and will be made in late April.
  • All presentations must adhere to the MozCon Code of Conduct.
  • You must attend MozCon in person, July 13-15 in Seattle.



If you are selected, you will get the following:

  • 15 minutes on the MozCon stage to share with our audience, plus 5 minutes of Q&A.
  • A free ticket to MozCon. (If you already purchased yours, we’ll either refund or transfer the ticket to someone else.)
  • Four nights of lodging covered by us at our partner hotel.
  • A reimbursement for your travel (flight, train, car, etc.), up to $ 500 domestic and $ 750 international.
  • A free ticket for you to give to anyone you would like and a code for $ 300 off another ticket.
  • An invitation for you and your significant other to join us for the speakers’ dinner.

We work with you!

Pitching for a community speaker slot can feel intimidating. A lot of times, our ideas feel like an old hat and done a million times before. (When I say “our” here, I mean “mine.”)

At MozCon, we work with every single speaker to ensure your presentation is the best it can be. Myself and Matt Roney dedicate ourselves to helping you. Seriously, you get our personal cell phone numbers. Don’t get me wrong—you do the heavy lifting and the incredible work. But we set up calls, review sessions, and even take you up on the stage pre-MozCon to ensure that you feel awesome about your talk.


We’re happy to help, including:

  • Calls to discuss and refine your topic.
  • Assistance honing topic title and description.
  • Reviews of outlines and drafts (as many as you want!).
  • Best practices and guidance for slide decks, specifically for our stage.
  • A comprehensive, step-by-step guide for show flow.
  • Serving as an audience for practicing your talk.
  • Reviewing your final deck.
  • Sunday night pre-MozCon tour of the stage to meet our A/V crew, see your presentation on the screens, and test the clicker.
  • A dedicated crew to make your A/V outstanding.
  • Anything else we can do to make you successful.

Most of the above are required as part of the speaker process, so even those of you who don’t always ask for help (again, talking about myself here), will be sure to get it. We want you to know that anyone, regardless of experience or level of knowledge, can submit and present a great talk at MozCon. One of our past community speakers Zeph Snapp wrote a great post about his experiences with our process and at the show.


For great proposals:

  • Make sure to check out the confirmed MozCon 2015 topics from our other speakers so you don’t overlap.
  • Read about what makes a great pitch.
  • For extra jazz, include links to videos of you doing public speaking and your slide deck work in the optional fields.
  • Follow the guidelines. Yes, the word counts are limited on purpose. Do not submit links to Google Docs, etc. for more information. Tricky submissions will be disqualified.

While I can’t give direct pitch coaching—it would be unfair to others—I’m happy to answer your questions in the comments.

Submissions are reviewed by a selection committee at Moz, so multiple people look at and give their opinions on each pitch. The first run-through looks at pitches without speaker information attached to them in order to give an unbiased look at topics. Around 50% of pitches are weeded out here. The second run-through includes speaker bio information in order to get a more holistic view of the speaker and what your talk might be like in front of 1,400 people.

Everyone who submits a community speaker pitch will be informed either way. If your submission doesn’t make it and you’re wondering why, we can talk further on email as there’s always next year.

Finally, a big thank you to our wonderful community speakers from past MozCons including Stephanie BeadellMark TraphagenZeph SnappJustin Briggs, Darren Shaw, Dana Lookadoo, Fabio Ricotta, Jeff McRitchie, Sha Menz, Mike Arnesen, A. Litsa, and Kelsey Libert, who’ve all been so amazing.


Still need to confirm you’ll join us?

Buy your ticket!

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10 Predictions for the Marketing World in 2015

Posted by randfish

The beginning of the year marks the traditional week for bloggers to prognosticate about the 12 months ahead, and, over the last decade I’ve created a tradition of joining in this festive custom to predict the big trends in SEO and web marketing. However, I divine the future by a strict code: I’m only allowed to make predictions IF my predictions from last year were at least moderately accurate (otherwise, why should you listen to me?). So, before I bring my crystal-ball-gazing, let’s have a look at how I did for 2014.

Yes, we’ll get to that, but not until you prove you’re a real Wizard, mustache-man.

You can find 
my post from January 5th of last year here, but I won’t force you to read through it. Here’s how I do grading:

  • Spot On (+2) – when a prediction hits the nail on the head and the primary criteria are fulfilled
  • Partially Accurate (+1) – predictions that are in the area, but are somewhat different than reality
  • Not Completely Wrong (-1) – those that landed near the truth, but couldn’t be called “correct” in any real sense
  • Off the Mark (-2) – guesses which didn’t come close

If the score is positive, prepare for more predictions, and if it’s negative, I’m clearly losing the pulse of the industry. Let’s tally up the numbers.

In 2014, I made 6 predictions:

#1: Twitter will go Facebook’s route and create insights-style pages for at least some non-advertising accounts

Grade: +2

Twitter rolled out Twitter analytics for all users this year (
starting in July for some accounts, and then in August for everyone), and while it’s not nearly as full-featured as Facebook’s “Insights” pages, it’s definitely in line with the spirit of this prediction.

#2: We will see Google test search results with no external, organic listings

Grade: -2

I’m very happy to be wrong about this one. To my knowledge, Google has yet to go this direction and completely eliminate external-pointing links on search results pages. Let’s hope they never do.

That said, there are plenty of SERPs where Google is taking more and more of the traffic away from everyone but themselves, e.g.:

I think many SERPs that have basic, obvious functions like ”
timer” are going to be less and less valuable as traffic sources over time.

#3: Google will publicly acknowledge algorithmic updates targeting both guest posting and embeddable infographics/badges as manipulative linking practices

Grade: -1

Google most certainly did release an update (possibly several)
targeted at guest posts, but they didn’t publicly talk about something specifically algorithmic targeting emebedded content/badges. It’s very possible this was included in the rolling Penguin updates, but the prediction said “publicly acknowledge” so I’m giving myself a -1.

#4: One of these 5 marketing automation companies will be purchased in the 9-10 figure $ range: Hubspot, Marketo, Act-On, Silverpop, or Sailthru

Grade: +2

Silverpop was 
purchased by IBM in April of 2014. While a price wasn’t revealed, the “sources” quoted by the media estimated the deal in the ~$ 270mm range. I’m actually surprised there wasn’t another sale, but this one was spot-on, so it gets the full +2.

#5: Resumes listing “content marketing” will grow faster than either SEO or “social media marketing”

Grade: +1

As a percentage, this certainly appears to be the case. Here’s some stats:

  • US profiles with “content marketing”
    • June 2013: 30,145
    • January 2015: 68,580
    • Growth: 227.5%
  • US profiles with “SEO”
    • June 2013: 364,119
    • January 2015: 596,050
    • Growth: 163.7%
  • US profiles with “social media marketing”
    • June 2013: 938,951
    • January 2015: 1,990,677
    • Growth: 212%

Granted, content marketing appears on far fewer profiles than SEO or social media marketing, but it has seen greater growth. I’m only giving myself a +1 rather than a +2 on this because, while the prediction was mathematically correct, the numbers of SEO and social still dwarf content marketing as a term. In fact, in LinkedIn’s 
annual year-end report of which skills got people hired the most, SEO was #5! Clearly, the term and the skillset continue to endure and be in high demand.

#6: There will be more traffic sent by Pinterest than Twitter in Q4 2014 (in the US)

Grade: +1

This is probably accurate, since Pinterest appears to have grown faster in 2014 than Twitter by a good amount AND this was 
already true in most of 2014 according to SharedCount (though I’m not totally sold on the methodology of coverage for their numbers). However, we won’t know the truth for a few months to come, so I’d be presumptuous in giving a full +2. I am a bit surprised that Pinterest continues to grow at such a rapid pace — certainly a very impressive feat for an established social network.


SOURCE: 
Global Web Index

With Twitter’s expected moves into embedded video, it’s my guess that we’ll continue to see a lot more Twitter engagement and activity on Twitter itself, and referring traffic outward won’t be as considerable a focus. Pinterest seems to be one of the only social networks that continues that push (as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube all seem to be pursuing a “keep them here” strategy).

——————————–

Final Score: +3

That positive number means I’ve passed my bar and can make another set of predictions for 2015. I’m going to be a little more aggressive this year, even though it risks ruining my sterling record, simply because I think it’s more exciting :-)

Thus, here are my 10 predictions for what the marketing world will bring us in 2015:

#1: We’ll see the first major not-for-profit University in the US offer a degree in Internet Marketing, including classes on SEO.

There are already some private, for-profit offerings from places like Fullsail and Univ. of Phoenix, but I don’t know that these pedigrees carry much weight. Seeing a Stanford, a Wharton, or a University of Washington offer undergraduate or MBA programs in our field would be a boon to those seeking options and an equal boon to the universities.

The biggest reason I think we’re ripe for this in 2015 is the 
LinkedIn top 25 job skills data showing the immense value of SEO (#5) and digital/online marketing (#16) in a profile when seeking a new job. That should (hopefully) be a direct barometer for what colleges seek to include in their repertoire.

#2: Google will continue the trend of providing instant answers in search results with more interactive tools.

Google has been doing instant answers for a long time, but in addition to queries with immediate and direct responses, they’ve also undercut a number of online tool vendors by building their own versions directly into the SERPs, like they do currently for queries like ”
timer” and “calculator.”

I predict in 2015, we’ll see more partnerships like what’s provided with 
OpenTable and the ability to book reservations directly from the SERPs, possibly with companies like Uber, Flixster (they really need to get back to a better instant answer for movies+city), Zillow, or others that have unique data that could be surfaced directly.

#3: 2015 will be the year Facebook begins including some form of web content (not on Facebook’s site) in their search functionality.

Facebook 
severed their search relationship with Bing in 2014, and I’m going to make a very risky prediction that in 2015, we’ll see Facebook’s new search emerge and use some form of non-Facebook web data. Whether they’ll actually build their own crawler or merely license certain data from outside their properties is another matter, but I think Facebook’s shown an interest in getting more sophisticated with their ad offerings, and any form of search data/history about their users would provide a powerful addition to what they can do today.

#4: Google’s indexation of Twitter will grow dramatically, and a significantly higher percentage of tweets, hashtags, and profiles will be indexed by the year’s end.

Twitter has been 
putting more muscle behind their indexation and SEO efforts, and I’ve seen more and more Twitter URLs creeping into the search results over the last 6 months. I think that trend continues, and in 2015, we see Twitter.com enter the top 5-6 “big domains” in Mozcast.

#5: The EU will take additional regulatory action against Google that will create new, substantive changes to the search results for European searchers.

In 2014, we saw the EU 
enforce the “right to be forgotten” and settle some antitrust issues that require Google to edit what it displays in the SERPs. I don’t think the EU is done with Google. As the press has noted, there are plenty of calls in the European Parliament to break up the company, and while I think the EU will stop short of that measure, I believe we’ll see additional regulatory action that affects search results.

On a personal opinion note, I would add that while I’m not thrilled with how the EU has gone about their regulation of Google, I am impressed by their ability to do so. In the US, with 
Google becoming the second largest lobbying spender in the country and a masterful influencer of politicians, I think it’s extremely unlikely that they suffer any antitrust or regulatory action in their home country — not because they haven’t engaged in monopolistic behavior, but because they were smart enough to spend money to manipulate elected officials before that happened (unlike Microsoft, who, in the 1990′s, assumed they wouldn’t become a target).

Thus, if there is to be any hedge to Google’s power in search, it will probably come from the EU and the EU alone. There’s no competitor with the teeth or market share to have an impact (at least outside of China, Russia, and South Korea), and no other government is likely to take them on.

#6: Mobile search, mobile devices, SSL/HTTPS referrals, and apps will combine to make traffic source data increasingly hard to come by.

I’ll estimate that by year’s end, many major publishers will see 40%+ of their traffic coming from “direct” even though most of that is search and social referrers that fail to pass the proper referral string. Hopefully, we’ll be able to verify that through folks like 
Define Media Group, whose data sharing this year has made them one of the best allies marketers have in understanding the landscape of web traffic patterns.

BTW – I’d already estimate that 30-50% of all “direct” traffic is, in fact, search or social traffic that hasn’t been properly attributed. This is a huge challenge for web marketers — maybe one of the greatest challenges we face, because saying “I brought in a lot more traffic, I just can’t prove it or measure it,” isn’t going to get you nearly the buy-in, raises, or respect that your paid-traffic compatriots can earn by having every last visit they drive perfectly attributed.

#7: The content advertising/recommendation platforms will continue to consolidate, and either Taboola or Outbrain will be acquired or do some heavy acquiring themselves.

We just witnessed the 
surprising shutdown of nRelate, which I suspect had something to do with IAC politics more than just performance and potential for the company. But given that less than 2% of the web’s largest sites use content recommendation/promotion services and yet both Outbrain and Taboola are expected to have pulled in north of $ 200m in 2014, this is a massive area for future growth.

Yahoo!, Facebook, and Google are all potential acquirers here, and I could even see AOL (who already own Gravity) or Buzzfeed making a play. Likewise, there’s a slew of smaller/other players that Taboola or Outbrain themselves could acquire: Zemanta, Adblade, Zegnet, Nativo, Disqus, Gravity, etc. It’s a marketplace as ripe for acquisition as it is for growth.

#8: Promoted pins will make Pinterest an emerging juggernaut in the social media and social advertising world, particularly for e-commerce.

I’d estimate we’ll see figures north of $ 50m spent on promoted pins in 2015. This is coming after Pinterest only just 
opened their ad platform beyond a beta group this January. But, thanks to high engagement, lots of traffic, and a consumer base that B2C marketers absolutely love and often struggle to reach, I think Pinterest is going to have a big ad opportunity on their hands.

Note the promoted pin from Mad Hippie on the right

(apologies for very unappetizing recipes featured around it)

#9: Foursquare (and/or Swarm) will be bought, merge with someone, or shut down in 2015 (probably one of the first two).

I used to love Foursquare. I used the service multiple times every day, tracked where I went with it, ran into friends in foreign cities thanks to its notifications, and even used it to see where to go sometimes (in Brazil, for example, I found Foursquare’s business location data far superior to Google Maps’). Then came the split from Swarm. Most of my friends who were using Foursquare stopped, and the few who continued did so less frequently. Swarm itself tried to compete with Yelp, but it looks like 
neither is doing well in the app rankings these days.

I feel a lot of empathy for Dennis and the Foursquare team. I can totally understand the appeal, from a development and product perspective, of splitting up the two apps to let each concentrate on what it’s best at, and not dilute a single product with multiple primary use cases. Heck, we’re trying to learn that lesson at Moz and refocus our products back on SEO, so I’m hardly one to criticize. That said, I think there’s trouble brewing for the company and probably some pressure to sell while their location and check-in data, which is still hugely valuable, is robust enough and unique enough to command a high price.

#10: Amazon will not take considerable search share from Google, nor will mobile search harm Google’s ad revenue substantively.

The “Google’s-in-trouble” pundits are mostly talking about two trends that could hurt Google’s revenue in the year ahead. First, mobile searchers being less valuable to Google because they don’t click on ads as often and advertisers won’t pay as much for them. And, second, Amazon becoming the destination for direct, commercial queries ahead of Google.

In 2015, I don’t see either of these taking a toll on Google. I believe most of Amazon’s impact as a direct navigation destination for e-commerce shoppers has already taken place and while Google would love to get those searchers back, that’s already a lost battle (to the extent it was lost). I also don’t think mobile is a big concern for Google — in fact, I think they’re pivoting it into an opportunity, and taking advantage of their ability to connect mobile to desktop through Google+/Android/Chrome. Desktop search may have flatter growth, and it may even decline 5-10% before reaching a state of equilibrium, but mobile is growing at such a huge clip that Google has plenty of time and even plentier eyeballs and clicks to figure out how to drive more revenue per searcher.

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