Tag Archive | "Digital"

Digital Marketing News: The Visual Internet, Influencer Marketing Trends, Sneaky Ads

How to Keep Up With the Rise of the Visual Internet [Infographic]
Online media is increasingly visual — from personal photos to branded motion graphics, gif and videos. How can you keep up with the rising need for visual content? This infographic shares tips to help you stay on top of the trend and keep your viewers engaged. MarketingProfs

10 Million People Used Facebook Live on New Year’s Eve
It probably won’t come as a shock that, for most, the tradition of cozying up around an antennaed TV to watch the ball drop on NYE is behind us. Because in front of us — right in front of our faces — is Facebook Live. Ringing in 2018, Facebook Live topped their activity from the previous year’s NYE festivities, with people sharing 47% more live videos than last year.  Facebook Media

Google’s Rich Results Tool Allows for Testing of Structured Data
Google has a way of defining things (“Conversions” for instance) and now, they’ve defined Rich Results. “Rich Results” has been coined as a phrase to refer to rich snippets, rich cards and other “rich” additions to a website’s content. And Google’s new tool will test for all types of structured data that can be shown as rich results, pulling from sources including JSON-LD, Microdata and RDFa. The tool currently works for recipes, jobs, movies and courses, and Google plans to expand to more data types. Search Engine Journal

Top Influencer Marketing Trends & Challenges of 2018
Of the influencer marketers surveyed by Linqia, 76% predict that their top challenge in 2018 will be determining the ROI of their influencer marketing programs. In addition, 52% of those same influencer marketers plan to adopt the trend of running influencer marketing programs that leverage multiple types of influencers, and 44% will use influencer content to improve the performance of other channels. MarketingProfs

What Millennials Are Killing Now, And 24 Other Insights We Can Glean by Analyzing Tweets
6,000 tweets are posted every second, and anybody who’s stayed up past bedtime scrolling through the Twitterverse can attest that, yes, it can all add up to a LOT of noise. But each tweet is also a piece of data. Brandwatch has analyzed billions of those tweets, which they refer to as “live human thought,” and answered some of our most burning questions: Who was the most talked about character in Game of Thrones Season 7? Does Starbucks spell my name wrong on purpose? Brandwatch

2018 Will Be the Year Chatbot Conversations Get Real
AT&T recently revealed plans to roll out a “mobile 5G” network in a dozen markets by the close of 2018. The company indicated that the network would bring 5G service to everything from mobile and VR to car AI and home TV. Not to be left out, Verizon, Sprint and T-mobile are all working towards 5G as well — all with nuanced approaches.  VentureBeat

On Facebook, Viral Reach for Branded-Content Ads Eclipses Standard Ads
New research from Shareablee shows that branded-content ads get twice as many organic or earned impressions as they do paid impressions on Facebook. Organic impressions for the average Facebook ad make up less that 10% of impressions from paid promotion. Creating shareable content that performs well organically — with a little help from paid promotion  is proving to be a winning combination. MarketingLand

One In Ten Publishers Say They’re Not Labeling Native Advertising
Two new studies from the Native Advertising Institute show that about 10% of news and magazine publishers aren’t properly labeling their online native advertising. These publishers largely cited “meeting budget demands” as their reason for doing so, even though 25% say this practice is one of the biggest threats they see to native advertising. MediaPost

Snapchat May Force Users To Watch Three Seconds Of Ads Before Skipping
To help increase their perceived value in the market, Snapchat is considering making their ads skippable only after the first three minutes. Currently, Snapchat users skip ads within the first second of viewing, where the industry standard for a successful ad lies around the two second mark. AdAge

Six Surprising Facts About the Way We Spend Our Time with Media
Believe it or not, in a world where we’re continually surrounded by media, some stats about its use can still surprise us. For example, U.S. adults spend more time listening to on-air radio than they do on social networks. eMarketer

2018 Will Be A Pivotal Year For Facebook’s Video Ambitions
Mark Zuckerberg has recently proclaimed that he sees video as a “megatrend.” True to form, this trend has caused Facebook to act by placing video first across the Facebook group of apps. The platform has upped their investment in video already, but it plans to invest an additional billion dollars in 2018. Digiday

On the Lighter Side:

The Real Story Behind Steak-umm’s Delightfully Weird Twitter Account – AdWeek

Sneaky Ads: In China, the Characters From the Show Appear in the Commercials, Too – Ad Age

TopRank Marketing In The News:

TopRank Marketing Blog – 109 Content Marketing Blogs to Watch in 2018 (Broken Down By Category) – SnapApp

Caitlin Burgess - The Trendiest Marketing Content of 2017 – LinkedIn

Lee Odden – The Most Impactful Tips from the Biggest Marketing Minds of 2017 – LeadMD

Amy Higgins – A Year of Great Content in Review: 19 Best Pieces by Prowly Magazine Contributors in 2017 – Prowly

Lee Odden – Lee Odden to Keynote Pubcon Florida 2018 – PubCon

What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week?

We’ll be back next week with more digital marketing news! Have something to share in the meantime? Tweet us @toprank or drop me a line @Tiffani_Allen.

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Digital Marketing News: Teens Over Facebook, Blockchain and Big Blue, MoonPie Roasts You

Social Commerce

Social Commerce Takes Hold. A study by PwC reports that 78% of consumers are influenced by social media when shopping online. According to Marketing Week, the “social commerce boom” is being fueled by young mobile consumers. Thirty-three percent of 18- to 24-year-olds say they would purchase items directly on Facebook, 27% on Instagram and 20% on Twitter. For 25- to 34-year-olds, the numbers decrease a bit: 30% on Facebook. For 54- to 65-years-olds, it’s 10%. MediaPost

Top 100 Social Media Trends for 2018. From Influencer Campaigns to Social Media-Friendly Designs to social media inspired dog toys, these are 100 social media trends for next year. Or are they? IRL social media filters? TrendHunter

Snapchat Looking to Publish Content on Third-Party Websites With ‘Stories Everywhere’. The word from Cheddar is that Snap is developing a new program dubbed Stories Everywhere that will allow third-party publishers to embed Snapchat content on their websites. Let’s just hope it’s not too little, too late.  Variety

The Price Of Mobile Ads Will Surge More Than 45% In 2018. Mobile programmatic pricing is about to have its hockey stick moment, set to grow more than 45% by 2019, according to a projection released by programmatic agency Goodway Group. Ad Exchanger

Data Shows Tablets Driving Highest Click-Through Rates. A new report reveals that tablet impressions drove 1.13% click-through rates that were the highest of any device in many categories such as Automotive, Consumer product Goods, Education, Financial, Food & Drink, Government, Home & Garden as well as Retail, Technology, Travel and Utilities. MediaPost

Has Teen Use of Facebook Peaked? According to Forrester Research data, Facebook is the only platform of the 6 major social networks that’s experienced a decline in usage among 12-17 year olds.  MarketingCharts

Blockchain Pumping New Life Into Old-School Companies Like IBM. Demand for blockchain, best known for supporting bitcoin, is growing so much that it will be one of the largest users of capacity next year at about 60 data centers that IBM rents out to other companies around the globe. The market for blockchain-related products and services will reach $ 7.7 billion in 2022, up from $ 242 million last year, according to researcher Markets & Markets.  Bloomberg

Love In The Inbox: Americans Are Tied To Email, Study Finds. Email is not dead! 78% of Americans expect to use email as much or more than they now do in five years, according to Inbox Report 2018. MediaPost

Artificial Intelligence

On the Lighter Side:

MoonPie is brutally roasting people who insult the snack on Twitter – Business Insider

Wendy’s social media team hosted an ‘Ask Me Anything’ forum on Reddit – LA Times

Jack in the Box Tests Munchie Meals for California Pot Smokers – AdAge

TopRank Marketing In the News:

Lee Odden – 140 of Today’s Top SEO Experts to Follow – Search Engine Journal

What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week?

Be sure to stay tuned until next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories. Also check out the full video summary with Tiffani and Josh on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

Happy New Year from the Team at TopRank Marketing!


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AMP-lify Your Digital Marketing in 2018

Posted by EricEnge

Should you AMP-lify your site in 2018?

This is a question on the mind of many publishers. To help answer it, this post is going to dive into case studies and examples showing results different companies had with AMP.

If you’re not familiar with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), it’s an open-source project aimed at allowing mobile website content to render nearly instantly. This initiative that has Google as a sponsor, but it is not a program owned by Google, and it’s also supported by Bing, Baidu, Twitter, Pinterest, and many other parties.


Some initial background

Since its inception in 2015, AMP has come a long way. When it first hit the scene, AMP was laser-focused on media sites. The reason those types of publishers wanted to participate in AMP was clear: It would make their mobile sites much faster, AND Google was offering a great deal of incremental exposure in Google Search through the “Top Stories news carousel.”

Basically, you can only get in the Top Stories carousel on a mobile device if your page is implemented in AMP, and that made AMP a big deal for news sites. But if you’re not a news site, what’s in it for you? Simple: providing a better user experience online can lead to more positive website metrics and revenue.

We know that fast-loading websites are better for the user. But what you may not be aware of is how speed can impact the bottom line. Google-sponsored research shows that AMP leads to an average of a 2X increase in time spent on page (details can be seen here). The data also shows e-commerce sites experience an average 20 percent increase in sales conversions compared to non-AMP web pages.

Stepping outside the world of AMP for a moment, data from Amazon, Walmart, and Yahoo show a compelling impact of page load time on metrics like traffic, conversion and sales:

You can see that for Amazon, a mere one-tenth of a second increase in page load time (so one-tenth of a second slower) would drive a $ 1.3 billion drop in sales. So, page speed can have a direct impact on revenue. That should count for something.

What do users say about AMP? 9to5Google.com recently conducted a poll where they asked users: “Are you more inclined to click on an AMP link than a regular one?” The majority of people (51.14 percent) said yes to that question. Here are the detailed results:

This poll suggests that even for non-news sites, there is a very compelling reason to do AMP for SEO. Not because it increases your rankings, per se, but because you may get more click-throughs (more traffic) from the organic search results. Getting more traffic from organic search, after all, is the goal of SEO. In addition, you’re likely to get more time on site and more conversions.


How the actual implementation of AMP impacts your results

Before adopting any new technology, you need understand what you’re getting into.

At Stone Temple Consulting, we performed a research study that included 10 different types of websites that adopted AMP to see what results they had and what challenges they ran into. (Go here to see more details from the study.)

Let’s get right to the results. One site, Thrillist, converted 90 percent of their web pages over a four-week period of time. They saw a 70 percent lift in organic search traffic to their site — 50 percent of that growth came from AMP.

One anonymous participant in the study, another large media publisher, converted 95 percent of their web pages to AMP, and once again the development effort as approximately four weeks long. They saw a 67 percent lift in organic search traffic on one of their sites, and a 30% lift on another site.

So, media sites do well, but we knew that would be the case. What about e-commerce sites? Consider the case of Myntra, a company that is the largest fashion retailer in India. Their implementation took about 11 days of effort.

This implementation covered all of their main landing pages from Google, covering between 85% and 90% of their organic search traffic. For their remaining pages (such as the individual product pages) they implemented a Progressive Web App, which helps those pages perform better as well. They saw a 40% reduction in bounce rate on their pages, as well as a lift in their overall e-commerce results. You can see detailed results here.

Then there is the case of Event Tickets Center. They implemented 99.9% of their pages in AMP, and opted to create an AMP-immersive experience. Page load times on their site dropped from five to six seconds to one second.

They saw improvements in user engagement metrics, with a drop in bounce rate of 10%, an increase in pages per session of 6%, and session duration of 13%. But, the stunning stat is that they report a whopping 100% increase in e-commerce conversions. You can see the full case study here.

But it’s not always the case that AMP adopters will see a huge lift in results. When that’s not the case, there’s likely one culprit: not taking the time to implement AMP thoroughly. A big key to AMP is not to simply use a plugin, set it, and forget it.

To get good results, you’ll need to invest the time to make the AMP version of your pages substantially similar (if not identical) to your normal responsive mobile pages, and with today’s AMP, for the majority of publishers, that is absolutely possible to do. In addition to this being critical to the performance of AMP pages, on November 16, 2017, Google announced that they will exclude pages from the AMP carousel if the content on your AMP page is not substantially similar to that of your mobile responsive page.

This typically means creating brand-new templates for the major landing pages of your site, or if you are using a plugin, using their custom styling options (most of them allow this). If you’re going to take on AMP, it’s imperative that you take the time to get this right.

From our research, you can see in the slide below the results from the 10 sites that adopted AMP. Eight of those sites are colored in green, and those are the sites that saw strong results from their AMP implementation.

Then there are two listed in yellow. Those are the sites that have not yet seen good results. In both of those cases, there were implementation problems. One of the sites (the Lead Gen site above) launched pages with a broken hamburger menu, and a UI that was not up to par with the responsive mobile pages, and their metrics are weak.

We’ve been working with them to fix that and their metrics are steadily improving. The first round of fixes brought the user engagement metrics much closer to that of the mobile responsive pages, but there is still more work to do.

The other site (the retail site in yellow above) launched AMP pages without their normal faceted navigation, and also without a main menu, saw really bad results, and pulled it back down. They’re working on a better AMP implementation now, and hope to relaunch soon.

So, when you think about implementing AMP, you have to go all the way with it and invest the time to do a complete job. That will make it harder, for sure, but that’s OK — you’ll be far better off in the end.


How we did it at Stone Temple (and what we found)

Here at Stone Temple Consulting, we experimented with AMP ourselves, using an AMP plugin versus a hand-coded AMP web page. I’ll share the results of that next.

Experiment No. 1: WordPress AMP plugin

Our site is on WordPress, and there are plugins that make the task of doing AMP easier if you have a WordPress site — however, that doesn’t mean install the plugin, turn it on, and you’re done.

Below you can see a comparison of the standard StoneTemple.com mobile page on the left contrasted with the default StoneTemple.com page that comes out of the AMP plugin that we used on the site called AMP by Automatic.

You’ll see that the look and feel is dramatically different between the two, but to be fair to the plugin, we did what I just said you shouldn’t do. We turned it on, did no customization, and thought we were done.

As a result, there’s no hamburger menu. The logo is gone. It turns out that by default, the link at the top (“Stone Temple”) goes to StoneTemple.com/amp, but there’s no page for that, so it returns a 404 error, and the list of problems goes on. As noted, we had not used the customization options available in the plugin, which can be used to rectify most (if not all) of these problems, and the pages can be customized to look a lot better. As part of an ongoing project, we’re working on that.

It’s a lot faster, yes… but is it a better user experience? Looking at the data, we can see the impact of this broken implementation of AMP. The metrics are not good.

Looking at the middle line highlighted in orange, you’ll see the standard mobile page metrics. On the top line, you’ll see the AMP page metrics — and they’re all worse: higher bounce rate, fewer pages per session, and lower average session time.

Looking back to the image of the two web pages, you can see why. We were offering an inferior user interface because we weren’t giving the user any opportunities to interact. Therefore, we got predictable results.

Experiment No. 2: Hand-coded AMP web page

One of the common myths about AMP is that an AMP page needs to be a stripped-down version of your site to succeed. To explore whether or not that was true, we took the time at Stone Temple Consulting to hand-code a version of one of our article pages for AMP. Here is a look at how that came out:

As you can see from the screenshots above, we created a version of the page that looked nearly identical to the original. We also added a bit of extra functionality with a toggle sidebar feature. With that, we felt we made something that had even better usability than the original page.

The result of these changes? The engagement metrics for the AMP pages on StoneTemple.com went up dramatically. For the record, here are our metrics including the handcrafted AMP pages:

As you can see, the metrics have improved dramatically. We still have more that we can do with the handcrafted page as well, and we believe we can get these metrics to be better than that of the standard mobile responsive page. At this point in time, total effort on the handcrafted page template was about 40 hours.

Note: We do believe that we can get engagement on the AMP by Automatic plugin version to go way up, too. One of the reasons we did the hand-coded version was to get hands-on experience with AMP coding. We’re working on a better custom implementation of the AMP by Automatic pages in parallel.


Bonus challenge: AMP analytics

Aside from the actual implementation of AMP, there is a second major issue to be concerned about if you want to be successful: the tracking. The default tracking in Google Analytics for AMP pages is broken, and you’ll need to patch it.

Just to explain what the issue is, let’s look at the following illustration:

The way AMP works (and one of the things that helps with speeding up your web pages) is that your content is served out of a cache on Google. When a user clicks on the AMP link in the search results, that page lives in Google’s cache (on Google.com). That’s the web page that gets sent to the user.

The problem occurs when a user is viewing your web page on Google’s cache, and then clicks on a link within that page (say, to the home page of your site). This action means they leave the Google.com page and get the next page delivered from your server (in the example above, I’m using the StoneTemple.com server.)

From a web analytics point of view, those are two different websites. The analytics for StoneTemple.com is going to view that person who clicked on the AMP page in the Google cache as a visitor from a third-party website, and not a visitor from search. In other words, the analytics for StoneTemple.com won’t record it as a continuation of the same session; it’ll be tracked as a new session.

You can (and should) set up analytics for your AMP pages (the ones running on Google.com), but those are normally going to run as a separate set of analytics. Nearly every action on your pages in the Google cache will result in the user leaving the Google cache, and that will be seen as leaving the site that the AMP analytics is tracking. The result is that in the analytics for your AMP pages running on Google.com:

  • Your pages per session will be about one
  • Bounce rate will be very high (greater than 90 percent)
  • Session times will be very short

Then, for the AMP analytics on your domain, your number of visitors will not reflect any of the people who arrive on an AMP page first, and will only include those who view a second page on the site (on your main domain). If you try fixing this by adding your AMP analytics visit count to your main site analytics count, you’ll be double counting people that click through from one to the other.

There is a fix for this, and it’s referred to as “session stitching.” This is a really important fix to implement, and Google has provided it by creating an API that allows you to share the client ID information from AMP analytics with your regular website analytics. As a result, the analytics can piece together that it’s a continuation of the same session.

For more, you can see how to implement the fix to remedy both basic and advanced metrics tracking in my article on session stitching here.


Wrapping up

AMP can offer some really powerful benefits — improved site speed, better user experience and more revenue — but only for those publishers that take the time to implement the AMP version of their AMP site thoroughly, and also address the tracking issue in analytics so they can see the true results.

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Rainmaker Digital is at Your Service

We’ve launched a lot of things over the last decade. Software, SaaS, WordPress hosting, WordPress design frameworks, themes, courses, certification, live training, conferences, and membership communities. And we’ve delivered tons of free content to teach you how to perform digital marketing, design, and copywriting in a way that works. But we’ve never offered to do
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Digital Commerce Academy Opens to New Students Next Week

Editor’s note 9/6/17: Digital Commerce Academy is now closed to new students. If you’re interested in learning the strategies and tactics for building a successful digital business, join the waitlist today. Just a heads up that our Digital Commerce Academy (DCA) — the resource that gives you real-world instruction on how to build a digital
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Digital Commerce Academy Is Open Again (For a Limited Time)

Editor’s note 9/6/17: Digital Commerce Academy is now closed to new students. If you’re interested in learning the strategies and tactics for building a successful digital business, join the waitlist today. Can I really earn a living with digital products and services? The answer is yes, you can. And you can enjoy the personal and
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How Small Digital Publishers Can Grow Their Network and Save Time

Posted by lydiagilbertson

Being a small or startup publishing company is hard. The digital advertising industry is broken. Larger companies like Vox and Buzzfeed are some of the only online publications that can hope to monetize their content effectively. Smaller niche publications often have an even harder time attracting return visitors or getting people outside of their current active users to see their content at all. Already at a disadvantage, most small publications are also understaffed and underfunded. These publications can use content marketing and search marketing concepts within their online distribution strategy to better reach their audiences and to compete with bigger publications.

Platforms as distributors

Somehow, platforms have long been both the saviors and the destroyers of the digital publishing industry. Regardless, they’ve become a necessary evil for the content distribution strategy of almost all online publishing companies. There’s no real harm in trying out different ways to reach your audience, but don’t waste your time on a platform that isn’t growing your audience or enhancing its engagement. The usual contenders being Facebook and Twitter, there are a few more platforms that can be easily utilized towards helping you to reach your audience.

1. AMP

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) project is a complex attempt by Google to make pages load faster on mobile devices, keep users on their platform, and to better engage with the publishing community. Many larger sites report a lot of success using AMP. Smaller publishers may be wary of trying out AMP on their sites, out of fear that it will further overwork their staff or that it requires an intense amount of web development knowledge. However, Google AMP is fairly simple to implement (more on how further down the page) if you’re using WordPress or another common content management system.

Companies using WordPress will have an especially easy time adding AMP to the list of ways they distribute their content. Both WordPress and Yoast have plugins available to put (and manage) your content into the AMP format. Medium is also in the process of allowing its users an easy way to designate AMP content. Here are a few things to keep in mind before publishing your content via AMP:

  1. Make sure it’s in article format. AMP is meant for blog posts and news articles, so don’t try to publish products or landing pages using Google AMP.
  2. Be conscious of the audience you’re publishing for when using AMP. Articles that appear in the Google AMP carousel in the SERP are usually topical and considered “news.”
  3. If your site is struggling with speed issues, AMP could be a part (but not all) of the solution, as it will help your articles load more quickly on mobile devices.
  4. If your site doesn’t use WordPress, implementing AMP might be a little bit harder than just downloading a plugin for your CMS. Find more out about that process here.
  5. Analytics tracking should be included in your overall traffic and segmented to show how much traffic comes from AMP. Find out more about AMP and Google Analytics here.

2. Medium

Medium is another platform that can help more users to see your content and stay on the page long enough to read it. Like any platform, hosting your entire site on Medium comes with the risk of giving your content to another entity rather than your own website. This is a concern because hosting all of your content somewhere like Medium means it could make changes to the platform that you may not like, or in severe situations shut down entirely (and take your content with it). It also has limited capabilities with on-page ads. However, there are some larger publishers that have been adopting Medium as their main source of content distribution. There are several benefits to doing this:

  1. Medium has a built-in audience of millions of engaged readers.
  2. Most of the content on Medium is high quality.
  3. Migrating your entire site to the Medium platform is actually relatively easy for both WordPress and non-WordPress sites. Be sure to keep in mind that hosting all of your content on a platform can be risky.

Another way to utilize Medium’s built-in audience is to republish your content onto the platform. Medium allows for its users to write content on their platform and then canonicalize to their own website (that’s not on Medium). This allows small publishers to pick which content goes on Medium (much like a social media platform) in order to make sure it’s targeted to Medium’s user-base.

3. Google News

Google News is a section of the search engine results page that focuses entirely on timely news content. In order for many websites to be featured in this specialized SERP, they have to go through the application process and get accepted into the Google News program. After acceptance, the site has to follow and keep a specific set of meta tags up-to-date, only posting timely content designated for the platform. Find out more about how to get accepted into Google News here.

Utilize content marketing tools

Outside of monetization, the number-one hurdle that most small publishing companies face is being understaffed and overworked. One way to remedy this is using tools that help diminish the workload involved in managing content-heavy sites. Here are a list of tools that can help small publishers cut down on their tasks:

1. CoSchedule

CoSchedule is editorial calendar software that minimizes time spent keeping track of all of the posts you want/need to do on any given day. It’s designed for both small and enterprise companies, but is better suited for smaller ones due to its all-in-one approach. CoSchedule allows you to plan your posts in advance and set a time for when to post them on social media platforms, all in a single tool.

2. BuzzSumo

Ideating different pieces of content for your site takes a significant amount of time. Utilizing a tool like BuzzSumo could help you to come up with a ton of different article concepts based on what’s trending on different social media platforms.

3. Canva

Having a small team usually means that your graphic designer is extremely busy (or nonexistent). Making quick graphics and supplementary images for your posts can totally be done utilizing Canva, without bogging down your graphics team with more work than it can handle (plus, there’s a free version).

Focus on your niche

Find your niche and build your audience. Obviously, this is easier said than done. But, it’s extremely important as a small publisher to be filling a void or taking a different perspective in the already overflowing content funnel of the Internet. Find your unique voice and the people that want to hear it. Sticking to your publication’s brand or niche will in turn build you a specialized audience. This allows prospective advertisers to better target and then convert using your content.

Don’t always focus on quantity, but quality

Similar to the last point, in addition to not overstretching your genre, don’t overstretch your posting frequency. Rather than posting more times per day just to meet an imaginary quota, it’s better to create fewer posts of higher quality. Moz did a publishing experiment that illustrates the complexity of publishing frequency and content quality. Pay more attention to what your users want rather than what you assume Google does.

Summary

Being a small publishing company is hard. Most small publications find themselves understaffed and overworked trying to catch up with much larger companies.The best way to try to compete with larger publishing companies is to keep your focus small and to use external applications. They’ll help you save time and make creating easier. Utilize all of the platforms that work for your audience — not just all of the platforms available.

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The Three Key Elements of Influential Digital Marketing

"True influence isn’t something you borrow. It’s what you embody." – Brian Clark

Ever see a numbered headline like the one above and try to guess what the three things are?

Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes it’s not. In this case, you could be thinking I’m going to talk about content, copy, and email.

And while you’re right that those things are important, that’s not what this article is about.

Content and copy contain the messages you need to get across, and email delivers those messages within a conversion-rich context. But without understanding the fundamental elements of those messages, you won’t create the kind of influence with your target audience that leads to sales.

With companies of all sizes rushing to embrace “influencer marketing,” it seems that many have given up on the unique power the internet provides to form direct relationships with prospects.

Instead, they’re trying to avoid the work by reaching the audiences of people who have already put in the work.

Despite the disintermediated nature of the internet, brands are instead turning to a new form of intermediary, or influential middle man. Shortcut marketing rears its ugly head again.

Now, don’t get me wrong — having relevant influencers in your corner is desirable, and often game-changing. That said, your main goal is to first develop direct influence with your prospects, which ironically makes it easier to get outside influencers on your side.

This is the reality of modern marketing in any medium, and it’s especially viable online. And those three key elements that your digital marketing must embrace to develop true influence are aspiration, empowerment, and unity.

1. Aspiration

Effective marketing has always been about identifying and fulfilling aspirations. People strive to improve themselves and their station in life, especially in relation to others in the social strata.

Early mass marketing did a great job of channeling aspiration through envy. Messages encouraging consumers to “keep up with the Joneses” through the accumulation of material goods became the persuasion prompt for elevated social status.

Aspiration remains as powerful as ever, but it’s a different animal now. First of all, we no longer compare ourselves to our geographic neighbors. Instead, we now have worldwide Instagram-fueled expectations based on who we desire to be like based on interests, lifestyles, and various forms of success.

As master marketer Roy H. Williams presciently said:

“Show me what a person admires, and I’ll tell you everything about them that matters. And then you’ll know how to connect with them.”

Paired with that is a pronounced reduction in the desire to accumulate material things. According to a recent Trend Watch report on consumerism, status is shifting away from markers of material wealth — what they have — and moving more toward who they want to become.

This shift is amplified by celebrities and other influential people on social media. Their followers want to be healthier, smarter, creative, connected, and entrepreneurial. If you’re selling material goods, you need to understand how your widget fits into the broader aspirational lifestyle of your target audience.

This alone seems to justify the focus on outside influencer marketing, but it’s really just a way of abdicating your responsibility as the shepherd of your products and services. As Eugene Schwartz famously said decades ago:

“You do not create desire for your product. You take an existing demand in the market, and you channel it into your products.”

The desires and aspirations of your ideal customer are out there — in plain view — thanks to a social medium that publicly identifies who people admire and follow. It’s your job to discover the parameters of that aspiration, and channel it toward your product or service.

2. Empowerment

If you know what a prospect aspires to become, then your product or service and your marketing must empower that person to become a better version of themselves. If you fail across that spectrum, you’ll lose out to a competitor who delivers.

The 20th century was fueled by inadequacy marketing that encouraged material accumulation. Without access to alternative perspectives, people were targeted by marketers with messages that positioned the brand as the hero, promising to save the poor prospect from the anxiety manufactured by the message.

If your neighbor had a new Buick, you were now made to feel lesser in terms of social status. Why not upgrade to a Cadillac and take the lead?

Effective modern marketing flips that approach on its head. Rather than appealing to materialism or base self-interest, people are looking for positive inspiration and pragmatic guidance on how to become their best selves.

Pair that with the fact that the internet in general (and social media in particular) have helped erode trust in traditional institutions, while shifting power to engaging individuals. The appeal of attracting influencers with strong personal brands reflects this trend — people want to be empowered by other people, not faceless corporations.

Why not also put a human face on your own company? Again, what’s going to get an influencer excited about pimping your stuff, if your brand is uninspired to begin with?

This can be as easy as flipping your perceived role as a marketer. Whether you want to think of yourself as a guide, mentor, or coach, it’s your job to empower the buyer’s otherwise self-directed journey.

In an environment ripe with information and choices, the prospect is in charge. And while they may not look like a hero yet, they’re definitely the protagonist of their own story.

That means they’ll follow and choose to do business with the brand that empowers them to achieve their heroic aspirations. Outside influencers can help, but only as long as you’re also developing direct influence within your market in a meaningful way that establishes that you’re a player.

3. Unity

For decades, smart marketing and sales professionals have worked to incorporate the six fundamentals of influence established by social psychology studies — reciprocity, authority, social proof, liking, commitment and consistency, and scarcity — into their persuasion efforts.

So it was definitely news when Dr. Robert Cialdini, the original definer of those fundamentals, added a seventh — unity.

In reality, it actually wasn’t that much of a surprise. Books such as 2004’s The Culting of Brands by Douglas Atkin, and Seth Godin’s Tribes from 2008, provided earlier reflections on the power of unity influence. Meanwhile, companies such as Apple and Harley Davidson have used the power of belonging to build brands worth billions.

Smart digital marketers knew what was up, but we simply tried to shoehorn the concept into the existing influence principle of liking. That means people are more readily influenced by people they like and otherwise find attractive.

But unity goes way beyond simple liking. From the prospect’s perspective, it’s more about people like me or even of me.

According to the same Trend Watch report, people now trust people like themselves more than representatives of traditional power centers, and as much as academic or technical experts. To me, that makes unity perhaps the most powerful of the (now) seven fundamental principles of influence.

Take authority. It’s no longer enough to just demonstrate your expertise with content. You need to be the relatable authority that also shares the core values and worldviews of your prospects.

Or consider social proof, which means we look to others for indications of value and how to behave. A Breitbart article may get tens of thousands of social shares, and yet that social proof is meaningless — and actually a negative — to those who do not share the values and worldviews of that crowd.

There are a lot of tribal ways that we unify. Family, neighborhood, city, province, and nationality are obvious. But the more powerful forces of unification from a marketing standpoint are interest, aspiration, and empowerment. You need to lead people with similar aspirations in a way that brings them together even more.

Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier for anyone to locate like-minded people who share their interests and aspirations. And as Godin pointed out repeatedly in Tribes, they’re also looking for like-minded leaders to provide the empowerment.

Stand for something that matters

It’s impossible to practice empowerment marketing with wishy-washy content and copy. To the contrary, it’s bold positioning, motivating manifestos, and innovative mission statements that inspire people to confidently chase their aspirations. And it’s no coincidence that these are the same sort of messages that spread like wildfire through social media.

Empowering content that matches aspirations and validates worldviews is what those coveted influencers use to build audiences. You must do the same to remain in the game.

Traditional wisdom says to hide behind a carefully crafted brand, powered by safely sanitized messages, in the hope of appealing to everyone. But if a prospect can’t see themselves belonging with your brand, they’ll look — and find — someone who does make them feel like they belong by standing for something that matters to them.

True influence isn’t something you borrow. It’s what you embody.

The post The Three Key Elements of Influential Digital Marketing appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

SEO and Digital Trends in 2017

Posted by gfiorelli1

Disclaimer: This post, as with every post that aims to predict the future, should be taken with a grain of salt — no matter how authoritative the author.

The main purpose of this post is to offer ideas and open a constructive discussion around the future of SEO and digital marketing over the next 12 months.

Days of Future Past

2016 is, finally, close to its end.

It was an intense year, especially when it came to SEO and Google in particular. Because I’m deeply convinced that we cannot attempt any preview of the future without considering what happened in the past, I invite you to look back at the events that have marked the evolution of Google in the past 10 months.

It is important to note that, contrary to more classic Google timelines, I prefer to see all Google-related events in the same place. I believe it’s the only way we can escape from a too-narrow vision of where Google is headed:

Click to view a larger image

Blue: Official Google Updates
Red: Businesses/companies acquired by Google/Alphabet
Green: Main posts in Google Webmaster Blog
Purple: Main Google patents published
Brown: Products Google launched in the market

What we can learn from this timeline?

This:

  1. Google is steadily moving to a mobile-only world. Mobile-first indexing seems like the inevitable consequence of a year (or more) almost exclusively dedicated to evangelizing and forcing a change of mindset from desktop to mobile.
  2. Albeit links are still essential for rankings (see Penguin 4.0), Google’s investigative efforts seem almost fully devoted to entity, predictive, and personalized search. Again, quite logical if we consider deeply personal devices like mobile and home assistants.
  3. For the same reason, voice search seems to be the next frontier of search, partly because Bing — using a different business strategy than Google — may represent a big competitor in this arena.
  4. Since John Giannandrea has become the Senior Vice President of Search at Google, machine and deep learning began to be used by default in every facet of Google Search. Thus, we should expect them to be used even more in 2017, perhaps with specific algorithms improving Hummingbird at every phase.
  5. In a mobile-only world, the relevance of local search is even higher. This seems to be the strategic reason both for an update like Possum and all the tests we see in local, and also of the acquisition of a company like Urban Engines, whose purpose is to analyze the “Internet of Moving Things.”
  6. The acquisition of startups like MoodStock and EyeFluence (but also Anvato and Famebit) seems to suggest that video/images and video/images marketing will be a central focus for Google, perhaps also because YouTube is struggling against Facebook (and not just Facebook) when it comes to videos/images and their monetization.

The shift from desktop-first to mobile-first

Until now, SEOs have considered mobile search to be one of the many specializations of SEO, on the same level as local search or international SEO.

That mentality did not change much when, back in 2015, Google announced AMP. Moreover, us SEOs considered AMP just another (often annoying) “added task” to our implementation checklist, and not as a signal of the real intentions of Google: Mobile search is all search.

With the announcement of mobile-first indexing, though, these intentions are now 100% clear, and somehow they represent a Copernican Revolution: After 18 years of prioritizing desktop, now we have to prioritize mobile.

The reason for this epochal change is evident if we look at the source of the search traffic (both organic and paid) for our sites:

Click to view a larger image

I designed this chart using the search traffic data Similarweb offers us. For all the industries categorized by Similarweb, I took the first five websites per search traffic volume in the USA during last November, and saw for each one of them how much traffic was from desktop and how much from mobile during the past three months.

Even though this analysis cannot be considered exhaustive and granular, as I hadn’t considered the industries subcategories and I hadn’t considered the “long-tail websites,” surely it’s indicative of a trend.

The results are clearly telling us that mobile search is bringing more traffic to websites than desktop: 20 industry niches out of 24 see mobile as their first source of traffic.

The four industry niche exceptions to this general rule are important ones, though:

  1. Computer & Electronics
  2. Internet & Telecom
  3. Science
  4. Travel

A good example of a website that still sees desktop search as its main source of search traffic is Tripadvisor.com:

  • Desktop search traffic represents 71% of all traffic from desktop
  • Mobile search traffic represents “only” 55.79% of all traffic from mobile

However, these same percentages should also make us reflect. They don’t mean that TripAdvisor isn’t visited on mobile, but that other channels are relevant traffic sources on mobile more than desktop (such as direct, not to mention the mobile-only app).

AMP, then, was the main character in the Google Search-branded storytelling about mobile this year.

Google announced AMP in October 2015, and by April already 37% of news sites’ articles had an AMP version, according to a study by the GDELT Project.

However, the same study reported that, globally, only 40% of all news sites articles had a mobile version of any kind.

It must be underlined that the GDELT Project study refers only to news sites and not ecommerce or other kinds of websites, which see heavier use of mobile or responsive versions. Nevertheless, it can still be considered a good barometer of the reality of the web overall.

Speaking of “barometers,” the Consumer Barometer with Google for 2016 is showing us important trends for the USA, like this one:

The percentage of people mainly using a smartphone is growing, while the percentage of people mainly using desktop is decreasing with respect to 2015 (or is stable if we consider the last 5 years).

Beware, though: If you analyze the trends in other countries, like some Asian or European ones, the percent of people using mainly smartphones is even greater.

Does this mean that we should neglect desktop search? No! If wid, it would be a big mistake, especially if our website were an ecommerce site.

The chart below, based on the same Consumer Barometer with Google data, tells us clearly that desktop is still by far the most-used device for product research (desktop is in orange):

Click to view a larger image

This insight must be considered if we’re planning to redesign our site, to find a balance in terms of site usability for both desktop and mobile… and I cannot help but think that the subtle (and recently not-so-subtle) suggestion from Google of moving from mobile/responsive to PWA is also influenced by this reality.

What to plan for 2017?

Prepare for mobile-first indexing

When Google announced mobile-first indexing last November 4th, it did not say that the change would happen that same day, or even after a few days.

Google, instead, said this:

To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first.

This means that we are still in a desktop-first index, but it’s almost sure that it’ll switch to mobile-first in 2017.

As happened with Mobilegeddon in 2015, Google is giving us plenty of time for:

  1. Creating a mobile version with any possible format (m. site, responsive, adaptive, PWA) of our site if we still haven’t (remember how few news sites’ articles have a mobile version?).
  2. Making the content and pages presented both in mobile and desktop versions the same. Be aware that this is the only possible way to really lose rankings, because if in desktop search we have visible content and pages that were discarded in our mobile version, when mobile-first deploys, it will lose that SEO visibility. For this reason, Google suggests responsive as the easiest way to avoid this problem.
  3. Implementing structured data in our mobile versions, because it’s usually neglected in the interest of speed (and Google needs that information!).
  4. Eventually — and hopefully — reconsidering all the user experience and conversion optimization we offer on desktop and mobile (check out this deck by Talia Wolf from MozCon). For instance, in recent months — because of the Google demotion of tabbed content — many websites started to get rid of tabs and present all their content at once. This limitation won’t apply anymore once mobile-first comes.
  5. Rethinking and planning a new link building strategy if we have a separate m. mobile site. This is more of a defensive strategy suggestion, though, because we still don’t know what will happen to inbound links to desktop versions in a mobile-first indexing world. It may happen that Google will find a way to make the Link Graph independent from the nature of the sites.

In light of what Google has told us about mobile-first indexing, and that you can find finely discussed here in this Q&A on Search Engine Land, If I had to give an extreme suggestion, it would be this:

if you have a very bad mobile version, and if you know that you’re not going to have a new, fully functional one in time for the end of 2017, then (absurdly) it could be better for you to have a desktop-only site.

In fact, Google has repeatedly said that mobile-first does not mean that it won’t index the desktop version of a site. To the contrary: If a site doesn’t have any mobile version, Google will index and consider for rankings its desktop one. And this will be the case even if that same website has an AMP version.

Finally, I strongly urge you to update (or download, if you still don’t use it) Screaming Frog.

In its very recent 7.0 version, Screaming Frog allows us to fetch and render crawled pages, something that before was only possible (and with a painful one-by-one URL process) via Google Search Console. Obviously, remember to set up Screaming Frog to emulate the Googlebot smartphone crawler.

Moreover, Screaming Frog now also alerts us to any blocked resource that could impede the correct rendering of our pages, again just as GSC does — but without the pain.

AMP

Despite some concerns AMP is generating amongst some bigs news sites, web owners, and SEOs, it doesn’t seem that Google will reduce pressure for a large number of websites to adopt it.

On the contrary! In fact, if AMP was at first directed to news websites (and blogs), recently Google started presenting AMP results for recipe sites too:

And for an ecommerce website like Ebay (one of the founders of the AMP Project):

Therefore, if your website is already receiving a great volume of traffic from mobile search, you might start scheduling the creation of an AMP version.

This should be a priority for a blog, a news site, or a recipe site.

However, if you have an ecommerce site, it could be interesting to AMP-lify a category to test the performance and ROI of creating an AMP version of it, as the AMP Project suggests here. Not every functionality that’s standard in ecommerce is possible with AMP, but if I had to bet, this is the niche where the AMP Project will see its biggest enhancements; Google and Ebay are too deeply involved to ignore it.

That said, if you are an ecommerce site, while it can be exciting to experiment with AMP, your real strategic choice should be going PWA.

Resources about AMP

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

I am quite confident that If there’s a main trending topic for 2017, it will be Progressive Web Apps.

Not only has Google already started evangelizing it publicly via its Webmaster blog and developer website, but Googlers are informally suggesting it in conferences and private chats.

As we’ve seen above, ecommerce websites are not yet fully AMP-lifiable.

Moreover, three seconds is the new fast, according to this study Google presented last September. Even a very well-optimized responsive or m. site can barely perform with an average SiteSpeed like that if we consider how heavy web pages are right now.

Then comes the other obsession of Google: security… and PWA only works with HTTPS.

So, it’s as easy as summing 1+1 to foresee how Google will push websites’ owners to go PWA.

The only setback to this evangelization, ironically, could be mobile-first indexing, which is still very uncertain in all its details, hence causing people to hold off.

However, if you’re an ecommerce site, don’t have an app, or are reconsidering the opportunity of constantly maintaining two apps (iOS and Android) because of the need to rationalize costs, then Progressive Web Apps can be your best choice, as they allow a website to work as if it were an app (and offline, too).

Again, as we sometimes forget, SEO’s future will be determined on a macro- and micro-scale by business decisions.

Resources about PWA

Understanding language is the holy grail of machine learning

This phrase is the headline of the Natural Language Understanding Team page page on Google’s Research website. The author of this phrase? John Giannandrea, Senior Vice President for Search at Google.

On that same page, we also find this:

Recent research interests of the Google NLU team include syntax, discourse, conversation, multilingual modeling, sentiment analysis, question answering, summarization, and generally building better learners using labeled and unlabeled data, state-of-the-art modeling, and indirect supervision.

With that declaration in mind, we have a better understanding of what Google is doing by simply looking at some patents this team has published:

Context, as you can see, tends to be recurrent, and — as anyone who’s studied linguistic and semantics knows — this is a very easy thing to understand.

A classic example is how “carro” means “car” in Mexico and means “carriage” or “wagon” in Spain. The meaning of a world can radically change because of context, in this case cultural context.

Context is fundamental for understanding the meaning of the implicit and compound facets of any conversation, which is fundamental for the successful development of completely new search environments like Google Assistant and Google Home. Will Critchlow (with the collaboration of Tom Anthony) explained this well at The Inbounder last May:

Finally, context and natural language are partly the basis (for what we know) of the infamous RankBrain, as vectors too are contextual (and contexts by themselves), as Bill Slawski explains in this post.

Moreover, Google finally seems serious about understanding one of the most common (and most complex) aspects of natural language: metaphors. And once they’re able to understand the meaning of metaphors, understanding the meaning of all the other rhetorical figures people use when talking (and writing) will be an easy incremental step for Google.

Why does Google have this irresistible interest in natural language?

Sure, on an ideal level, it’s because Google wants “to provide the better answer to users’ needs,” and to do that, Google must:

  1. Understand what each web document is about (semantics);
  2. Understand what users are actually searching for, now more and more using their voice and typing in the search box (natural language processing).

Another ideal reason is that “You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer“.

But then there are more earthly (aka: business) reasons:

  1. Voice Assistants adoption is growing, as reported by MindMeld;
  2. 40% of Voice Assistant users started using it only 6 months ago, which is a sign that the “early adopters” phase seems passing testimony to the “mainstream users” phase;
  3. Already 20% of mobile queries are Voice Search (and will be 50% in 2020, according to Microsoft);
  4. The primary setting for voice search is our home (followed by our car), according to a KPCB study;
  5. Already in 2014, Google was reporting that the biggest percentage of voice search users were teens. Those teens are growing, getting jobs, and becoming parents;
  6. Amazon sold about 5 million Amazon Echo in the last two years, and Amazon reported that “Echo Dot and Echo Tap, two smaller and cheaper versions of the traditional Echo device, accounted for at least 33 percent of sales in the past six months” (source: Geekwire).

These are some of the reasons why Google developed Google Assistant (a completely new search environment, as defined by Google itself at Google I/O) and Google Home, and that’s why Google announced that Voice Search reporting will come to Google Search Console in the future.

As in the past with Android, Google is entering in the market when all its competitors are already established. Let’s see, thanks to the adoption of Android as a mobile OS, if it will be able to recover its position and eventually become the market leader.

What to plan for 2017?

When it comes to natural language, voice search, and intelligent voice assistants, what SEOs can do is more related to optimizing for the parsing and indexing phases of the Google algorithm than to rankings themselves.

I talked about this idea in my last post here on Moz — Wake Up, SEOs – the NEW New Google is Here — so I won’t repeat myself, but I do suggest you go read it (again).

More concretely, I would plan these tasks for the first month of 2017:

This is needed not only because Google will eventually use mobile-first indexing and these usually don’t have schema implemented, but also because structured data is one of the fundamental tools Google uses for understanding the meaning of a web document. Moreover, Google is really pushing rich cards for mobile search, somehow replicating the incentivization strategy used in the past with rich snippets.

Are you worried about performance? Then it’s time to adopt JSON-LD (paranoiac thought: is this also a reason why Google strongly insisted on JSON-LD for structured data?).

Featured snippets are even more prominent on mobile search, and also used by Google Home to offer answers, even though — as wisely said by Dr. Pete here on Moz — it’s still not clear how that will translate into a click to our website.

Right now there are several tools that allow us to investigate and know what queries fire up a featured snippet (apart from all the other SERPs features). The ones I use are these:

    • GetStat
    • Moz, both Keyword Explorer (SERPS Analysis) and Moz Pro Campaigns (SERP Features and Analyze Keywords in the Rankings section)
    • SEMRush, in the Positions page of the Organic Research section of its Domain Analysis, which also offers to visualize a snapshot of the SERP for each keyword

SEMRush SERP snapshot, and an example of how a featured snippet can be generated from an ecommerce category page (the SEO for Amazon must be very happy, I bet).

  • Start using the Google Assistant API and experiment with custom voice commands
  • RankBrain is one of the fundamental bricks toward a natural language based search engine, so if you have not already done it, start rethinking keyword research, and stop generally talking about “topics” with no real actionable strategy behind it.
  • Consider branding as an SEO strategy
  • One of main characteristics of Google, enhanced by entity search and context, is personalized search.

    Personalization, then, seems to be even more important if we consider personal assistants.

    Personalization means that Google will more often present content from websites that are in our search history or — through search entities — linked from websites already present in our search history.

    This means that if, on a short, tactical level it’s important to target long-tail queries, on a longer, strategic level the ideal is making our brand synonymous with our products and services. This can be achieved by targeting higher up the funnel with the right content in the right format, published and promoted at the right moment to the right people. This is very well described Jono Alderson at Searchlove London in 2015 (here’s the video recording):

    Searching higher up the funnel from Jono Alderson

  • Reconsider Bing!

If you think that Bing is only “that search engine with cool background photos,” it’s time to change your mind. Bing is fueling the search of Siri and Alexa, apart from being the default search engine of Cortana. If you calculate how many iOS/OS X, Windows 10, and Amazon Echo devices are used, then you have a rough idea of how Bing could be important as voice search grows. You can read more about voice search, Cortana, and Bing in this post by Purna Virji.

SE.LO.MO (Search Local Mobile)

Only a few years ago digital marketers used to talk a lot about SO.LO.MO. (SOcial, LOcal, and MObile).

We were all talking about Foursquare marketing. Then Foursquare changed to Swarm, and we no longer talk about SO.LO.MO., partly because the marketing philosophy behind it has become a default practice.

However, now with mobile as the first search traffic source and the unstoppable success of personal assistants and chatbots (I invite you to look this deck by Jes Stiles), the idea of doing marketing locally and mobile is even more pressing and promising, although there are technologies like beacons that don’t seem able to conquer the market, maybe because they’re too advanced with respect to consumer behavior.

Returning to TripAdvisor as an example, if we look at which queries bring more organic traffic from mobile (and excluding branded searches), we see these:

Click on the image to see a larger version

Apart from telling us that people in the USA really like to go out for dinner without any clue on where to go, what this simple analysis shows is that people search on the go more and more. They’ve finally understood that searches are localized and they don’t need to explicitly indicate their location. Perhaps even more important, they now fully know that their results pages are personalized.

What this snapshot above is not telling us, though, is a trend that could become the new normal in the next future: longer verbose queries because of voice search.

In fact, if we dig into the Similarweb mobile keyword report, we can start finding these kind of queries:

The SERPs answering these queries, though, also show us one problem and one opportunity:

  1. The problem is that these SERPs, while having a clear local intent, quite often do not present any local search pack.
  2. The opportunity is that, despite these queries indeed being “local,” Google fails to offer relevant results able to answer them (see the “five star restaurants like salvatores in western new york” as an example).

Therefore:

  1. Thinking of local search only as MyBusiness optimization may limit the opportunities businesses (especially local businesses) can have to earn SEO visibility and traffic.
  2. Also, local business websites should start working to intercept the potential traffic generated by those kinds of queries. There is a real opportunity in those kind of queries, simply because (still) nobody is really thinking about them (apart fromTripAdvisor, as its result for “where to get breakfast near grand hotel francais paris” testifies).

How to achieve that?

Probably not by trying to target all the infinite possible combinations of local searches a user can do in relation to our kind of business and our location. That would be equal to creating content of very poor quality, when thinking about how Hummingbird and, in many aspects, RankBrain work.

This leads me to redirect you back to the previous chapter of this post about semantics, natural language, and context.

David Mihm advises to Think of your website (or your client’s websites) as an API, adding that:

Even if you’re not a publisher in the traditional sense of the word, you should prepare for a time when no one ever visits your website. Awareness, research, and conversion will all happen in search results, and the companies whose websites facilitate that paradigm on the leading edge will be rewarded with more customers while competitors scramble to catch up. This means as much Schema.org and JSON-LD markup as possible, and partnering with third parties that have cut deals with Google to facilitate transactions (see: OpenTable and ZocDoc).

Because David is surely more expert in local search than I, if you want to dig into what could be the trends in this very important SEO area, I invite you to read his predictions in the Tidings blog.

THE IRRESISTIBLE ASCENT OF VIDEO (and the images strike back)

Video

This post by Contently is old (July 2015), but it shared still-interesting stats via an Emarketer study about the growth of video consumption online.

Consumption of video online is growing, even though — apparently — it’s not really stealing time away from TV.

Things look different if we look at “generations” (I don’t really like marketing segmentations such as “millennials,” but we can still use them for brevity):

What this chart is forgetting, though, is the youngest audience (from 4–13 years old). If you have a child around those ages, you’ll agree that she consumes video mostly online. For instance, my kids’ idols are Iron Man, Aragorn, Luke Skywalker, and DanTDM, a YouTuber, who shares his videos while playing games like Minecraft.

Let’s add a final stat about what device is used the most for watching videos online:

Laptop & desktop are still the most-used devices, but smartphone is quickly growing.

Consider that:

  1. The average age kids start owning a smartphone is 10.3 years;
  2. Children from 5 to 13 years old (and also young people up to 20 years old) tend to me more visual than textual;
  3. Their influence on the buying habits of their parents has been known for many years and, in 2012, it was equal to $ 1.2 trillion USD in spending.

I talk a lot about kids because they are the most crystal-clear example of why every technological platform is so devoted to video and video live streaming right now (Instagram being the last one announcing it on 11/21). However, this trend in consuming videos online (and YouTube still is the most-used channel) is common to almost every age group of Internet users.

Finally, if we pair to this video frenzy the equally irresistible rise of native advertising (pro tip: follow Melanie Deziel), then see that Google acquired companies like Anvato (a “video platform that guarantees video playback and monetization from signal to every screen” as it describes itself) and Famebit (an “Influencer Marketing Platform for YouTube, Instagram, and More”, as its title tag recites) is not a surprise at all.

Google needs to find new ways of monetizing videos… and YouTube is not enough anymore.

More concretely, if we think about our 2017 SEO and digital marketing strategy, video seems to be a channel that we should start exploring more seriously, if we did not consider it before.

And when it comes to digital PR, we should start considering online videos stars as much (if not more) influencers as any classic blogger.

Images

In 2017, for almost the same reasons explained above for video, we should expect a return in interest for images marketing, especially in Google search.

Let’s be honest: Images search, as it is right now, is the dinosaur of Google search. For us SEOs it hasn’t been useful in bringing traffic to our websites for many years and, for Google, it’s not profitable.

Maybe this is one of reasons why Google bought Moodstock and invests so much intellectual and machine learning efforts in image recognition.

People do showrooming… They go into a store, take photos of products with their smartphone, and then search for online offers for those same products.

It should not be silly to think that Google could “help” this search thanks to image recognition, because it already does it quite well with its reverse image search feature.

Moreover, with Schema.org/Product, we can tag the images of our products so that Google can easily pair product images to other characteristics like prices, offers, and stock availability.

With this data, it could start monetizing the Images vertical once for all.

[NOTE: As I was writing this, Google announced that it will start showing product schema rich snippets in image search results... so this is no longer a risky preview, but partly a reality!]

VR

What is the last company did Google acquire? Eyefluence.

What physical product did Google launch in October? The DayDream VR headset.

What was the most exciting feature that YouTube (and other platforms) rolled out? 360.

I’ll let you fantasize about the opportunities VR represents for the smart digital marketers.

Maybe in 2017 VR will still be an “early adopters” technology, but if I were you, I’d start preparing myself and clients to it.


Credits: The images in this post, if you didn’t guess it already, are from the HBO show Westworld.

The captions in the photos are from sci-fi movies and TV series titles (have fun discovering them)

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SearchCap: Santa tracker, Yahoo Answers app & digital assistants

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

The post SearchCap: Santa tracker, Yahoo Answers app & digital assistants appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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