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Google ad revenue growth popped back in Q2





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Back to Basics: Do outbound links matter for SEO?

Google cautions SEOs to be mindful about outbound linking.



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Google’s indexing bug is back – new content not being indexed

It’s back, Google isn’t able to index new fresh content right now.



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SEOs beware: Link builders are back with bogus Domain Authority pitches

Stop optimizing for Domain Authority; it has no impact on Google rankings.



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We Are Not Going Back to Old Retail

With the future of retail we have crossed over the demarcation line, says Walter Robb, the former co-CEO of Whole Foods. “We’re not going back to the old retail,” said Robb. “It’s just not going to happen. That’s the combination of digital and physical. We’re in what I would call new retail, which is the integration.”

Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods, discusses the retail revolution currently underway in an interview on CNBC:

Traditional Retail Models Are Under Pressure

From where I sit the customer is doing pretty well. They’re spending. They’re pretty strong. There was a lot of pessimism at the back half of last year that was reflected in some of the stock prices, but I think that was overblown. We’re going to see a customer that’s doing pretty well this year in 2019 and might surprise a little bit to the upside. That being said, traditional retail models are under pressure. The customer is spending their dollars in so many different ways and places than they could before. You used to just open up four walls and open a store and now the customer has so many more options.

We do know that in the United States we’re about 24 square feet of retail space per capita and that’s two and a half times more than any other industrialized country. We have too much space so there’s going to be a winnowing out that’s going to happen here. There’s going to be winners and losers and we’re already seeing that. In 2019, I think that continues, but I do think that we’re in the second half of that. What we’re actually seeing that the mall is beginning to switch over and putting in exciting new uses and we’re seeing retail stores start to open again.

We Are Not Going Back to Old Retail

With the future of retail, we have crossed over the demarcation line. We’re not going back to the old retail. It’s just not going to happen. That’s the combination of digital and physical. You’re seeing the digital retailers, the Allbirds, the Warby Parker’s, come out and say, alright we’re going to open physical stores because we realize our customers want to experience our brand and be with us in that way. They’re bringing new ideas to that presentation of retail, which is pretty exciting.

At the same time, you’re seeing physical retailers adapt to digital ways. Take a look at Target and how they’ve employed all the new tools that they have for the customers, in-store apps and those sorts of things. You’re seeing a combination of these two. In some cases it’s adolescent and in some case it’s more mature, but we are not going back to just the simple form retailer. We’re in what I would call new retail, which is the integration.

The edge of which is actually in China with a supermarket called Hema from Alibaba, which is which is simply fantastic. It’s integrated on the back end and on the front end. I think you’re seeing retailers say, we’ve adapted to the age of Amazon and we understand this is how customers want to shop. We’re seeing a whole new generation of businesses and entrepreneurs say, I’m going to bring the customer this fusion of digital and physical in a way that’s really exciting and really compelling. We’re not going back. I opened my first store in 1978 but that’s just not as easy to do anymore because you have to have that the tools to really understand your customer personally. I think it’s pretty exciting to see what’s happening.

Physical and Digital Retailers Need Each Other

The business model on the last mile is very challenging unless you’re connected into a physical store. If you just out there floating without a connection to physical retail those have not proven to be sustainable. I think it’s clear to me that the customer wants that choice. I think the data is very clear that they want both. They’re not going to give up physical stores and that’s why you’re seeing these digital and physical retailers. They need each other and they need both parts of that to make the thing actually compelling for the customer.

I think there’ll be a shakeout. You seem some consolidation already, but the most interesting combinations are where the physical retailer buys the digital, where Target buys Shipt and where Walmart buys Flipkart or whatever you see around the world, realizing the combination is the most powerful. That will be the most sustainable from a business model perspective.

We Are Not Going Back to Old Retail, Says Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods

Also Read:

Nothing Short of a Revolution Happening in the Food Marketplace

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A Plan for Mindful Growth and Bringing Fun Back to Your Writing Process

This week on Copyblogger, we’ve been talking with writer, designer, and entrepreneur Paul Jarvis about mindful growth for our business…

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Google celebrates its 20th birthday: A look back on 2 decades

In true “googley” fashion, the search giant commemorates its anniversary with a doodle highlighting key events of the past 20 years.



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How to Win Some Local Customers Back from Amazon this Holiday Season

Posted by MiriamEllis

Your local business may not be able to beat Amazon at the volume of their own game of convenient shipping this holiday season, but don’t assume it’s a game you can’t at least get into!

This small revelation took me by surprise last month while I was shopping for a birthday gift for my brother. Like many Americans, I’m feeling growing qualms about the economic and societal impacts of putting my own perceived convenience at the top of a list of larger concerns like ensuring fair business practices, humane working conditions, and sustainable communities.

So, when I found myself on the periphery of an author talk at the local independent bookstore and the book happened to be one I thought my brother would enjoy, I asked myself a new question:

“I wonder if this shop would ship?”

There was no signage indicating such a service, but I asked anyway, and was delighted to discover that they do. Minutes later, the friendly staff was wrapping up a signed copy of the volume in nice paper and popping a card in at no extra charge. Shipping wasn’t free, but I walked away feeling a new kind of happiness in wishing my sibling a “Happy Birthday” this year.

And that single transaction not only opened my eyes to the fact that I don’t have to remain habituated to gift shopping at Amazon or similar online giants for remote loved ones, but it also inspired this article.

Let’s talk about this now, while your local business, large or small, still has time to make plans for the holidays. Let’s examine this opportunity together, with a small study, a checklist, and some inspiration for seasonal success.

What do people buy most at the holidays and who’s shipping?

According to Statista, the categories in the following chart are the most heavily shopped during the holiday season. I selected a large town in California with a population of 60,000+, and phoned every business in these categories that was ranking in the top 10 of Google’s Local Finder view. This comprised both branded chains and independently-owned businesses. I asked each business if I came in and purchased items whether they could ship them to a friend.

Category

% Offer Shipping

Notes

Clothing

80%

Some employees weren’t sure. Outlets of larger store brands couldn’t ship. Some offered shipping only if you were a member of their loyalty program. Small independents consistently offered shipping. Larger brands promoted shopping online.

Electronics

10%

Larger stores all stressed going online. The few smaller stores said they could ship, but made it clear that it was an unusual request.

Games/Toys/Dolls etc.

25%

Large stores promote online shopping. One said they would ship some items but not all. Independents did not ship.

Food/Liquor

20%

USPS prohibits shipping alcohol. I surveyed grocery, gourmet, and candy stores. None of the grocery stores shipped and only two candy stores did.

Books

50%

Only two bookstores in this town, both independent. One gladly ships. The other had never considered it.

Jewelry

60%

Chains require online shopping. Independents more open to shipping but some didn’t offer it.

Health/Beauty

20%

With a few exceptions, cosmetic and fitness-related stores either had no shipping service or had either limited or full online shopping.

Takeaways from the study

  • Most of the chains promote online shopping vs. shopping in their stores, which didn’t surprise me, but which strikes me as opportunity being left on the table.
  • I was pleasantly surprised by the number of independent clothing and jewelry stores that gladly offered to ship gift purchases.
  • I was concerned by how many employees initially didn’t know whether or not their employer offered shipping, indicating a lack of adequate training.
  • Finally, I’ll add that I’ve physically visited at least 85% of these businesses in the past few years and have never been told by any staff member about their shipping services, nor have I seen any in-store signage promoting such an offer.

My overarching takeaway from the experiment is that, though all of us are now steeped in the idea that consumers love the convenience of shipping, a dominant percentage of physical businesses are still operating as though this realization hasn’t fully hit in… or that it can be safely ignored.

To put it another way, if Amazon has taken some of your customers, why not take a page from their playbook and get shipping?

The nitty-gritty of brick-and-mortar shipping

62% of consumers say the reason they’d shop offline is because they want to see, touch, and try out items.RetailDive

There’s no time like the holidays to experiment with a new campaign. I sat down with a staff member at the bookstore where I bought my brother’s gift and asked her some questions about how they manage shipping. From that conversation, and from some additional research, I came away with the following checklist for implementing a shipping offer at your brick-and-mortar locations:

✔ Determine whether your business category is one that lends itself to holiday gift shopping.

✔ Train core or holiday temp staff to package and ship gifts.

✔ Craft compelling messaging surrounding your shipping offer, perhaps promoting pride in the local community vs. pride in Amazon. Don’t leave it to customers to shop online on autopilot — help them realize there’s a choice.

✔ Cover your store and website with messaging highlighting this offering, at least two months in advance of the holidays.

✔ In October, run an in-store campaign in which cashiers verbally communicate your holiday shipping service to every customer.

✔ Sweeten the offer with a dedication of X% of sales to a most popular local cause/organization/institution.

✔ Promote your shipping service via your social accounts.

✔ Make an effort to earn a mention of your shipping service in local print and radio news.

✔ Set clear dates for when the last purchases can be made to reach their destinations in time for the holidays.

✔ Coordinate with the USPS, FedEx, or UPS to have them pick up packages from your location daily.

✔ Determine the finances of your shipping charges. You may need to experiment with whether free shipping would put too big of a hole in your pocket, or whether it’s necessary to compete with online giants at the holidays.

✔ Track the success of this campaign to discover ROI.

Not every business is a holiday shopping destination, and online shopping may simply have become too dominant in some categories to overcome the Amazon habit. But, if you determine you’ve got an opportunity here, designate 2018 as a year to experiment with shipping with a view towards making refinements in the new year.

You may discover that your customers so appreciate the lightbulb moment of being able to support local businesses when they want something mailed that shipping is a service you’ll want to instate year-round. And not just for gifts… consumers are already signaling at full strength that they like having merchandise shipped to themselves!

Adding the lagniappe: Something extra

For the past couple of years, economists have reported that Americans are spending more on restaurants than on groceries. I see a combination of a desire for experiences and convenience in that, don’t you? It has been joked that someone needs to invent food that takes pictures of itself for social sharing! What can you do to capitalize on this desire for ease and experience in your business?

Cards, carols, and customs are wreathed in the “joy” part of the holidays, but how often do customers genuinely feel the enjoyment when they are shopping these days? True, a run to the store for a box of cereal may not require aesthetic satisfaction, but shouldn’t we be able to expect some pleasure in our purchasing experiences, especially when we are buying gifts that are meant to spread goodwill?

When my great-grandmother got tired from shopping at the Emporium in San Francisco, one of the superabundant sales clerks would direct her to the soft surroundings of the ladies’ lounge to refresh her weary feet on an automatic massager. She could lunch at a variety of nicely appointed in-store restaurants at varied prices. Money was often tight, but she could browse happily in the “bargain basement”. There were holiday roof rides for the kiddies, and holiday window displays beckoning passersby to stop and gaze in wonder. Great-grandmother, an immigrant from Ireland, got quite a bit of enjoyment out of the few dollars in her purse.

It may be that those lavish days of yore are long gone, taking the pleasure of shopping with them, and that we’re doomed to meager choosing between impersonal online shopping or impersonal offline warehouses … but I don’t think so.

The old Emporium was huge, with multiple floors and hundreds of employees … but it wasn’t a “big box store”.

There’s still opportunity for larger brands to differentiate themselves from their warehouse-lookalike competitors. Who says retail has to look like a fast food chain or a mobile phone store?

And as for small, independent businesses? I can’t open my Twitter feed nowadays without encountering a new and encouraging story about the rise of localism and local entrepreneurialism.

It’s a good time to revive the ethos of the lagniappe — the Louisiana custom of giving patrons a little something extra with their purchase, something that will make it worth it to get off the computer and head into town for a fun, seasonal experience. Yesterday’s extra cookie that made up the baker’s dozen could be today’s enjoyable atmosphere, truly expert salesperson, chair to sit down in when weary, free cup of spiced cider on a wintry day… or the highly desirable service of free shipping. Chalk up the knowledge of this need as one great thing Amazon has gifted you.

In 2017, our household chose to buy as many holiday presents as possible from Main Street for our nearby family and friends. We actually enjoyed the experience. In 2018, we plan to see how far our town can take us in terms of shipping gifts to loved ones we won’t have a chance to see. Will your business be ready to serve our newfound need?

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SearchCap: Google simplifys targeting controls, Google headed back to China & more stories not about Google

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.



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You Need Both of These Skill Sets to Keep Your Audience Coming Back for More

When I’m not performing my typical duties as Rainmaker Digital’s Marketing Technologist, I’m cooking up a storm in my kitchen. Amidst the rhythmic chopping of fresh produce, the clashing of pots and pans, and the roar of boiling water, I realized that my two roles have a lot in common. They both require a balance
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