Tag Archive | "Matters"

SMX Overtime: What really matters for SEO success

SEO expert Lily Ray offers advice on how small websites can build credibility, why depth above breadth is a good philosophy and the reason ad transparency is important.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising (and Why It Matters)

Marketing is the strategy of educating customers about a company’s choices in the marketplace, who their product or service will be a good fit for, and who it won’t. Advertising is then used to take that strategy and communicate it to an audience. Read on to learn more.
MarketingSherpa Blog

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Why Your Voice Matters More than Ever This Year

woman and man working and talking - copyblogger

2016, right?

Such a strange, difficult year. Lots of us are thinking about the artists we lost — poets, musicians, cultural icons.

Of course, famous people die every year — but this one had a nasty streak. Bowie, Prince, Ali, Cohen, Fisher, and so many more. People who went far beyond entertaining us.

We never met them, but they changed everything.

Because they found the courage to speak, and sing, and cry out with real voices. Screwed up, weird, flawed, masterful. Sometimes broken, sometimes triumphant, but real.

Truth and courage

Every year, the first week of January inspires us to look ahead, to resolve to be better.

This year is not normal.

This year, it’s not “lose five pounds (again)” or “finally get the junk drawer organized.”

This year, our challenge is to be honest enough and brave enough to change the world.

You have something to say — whether it’s with your blog, with a podcast, with video, with your art or your music. You have something to contribute that no one else can.

We need that now.

You have a voice that’s irreplaceable. It can’t be turned into a clever algorithm. It can’t be duplicated and it can’t be churned out for a penny a word.

We need that now.

It’s about you

As we progress (if progress is the right word), one thing is clear: any time communication can be automated, it will be.

Sports scores, statistics, facts and figures. Anything that can be charted and analyzed by a machine can be turned into some form of automated content.

You will never find success writing like a machine. If your work can be done by a bot, it will be.

Individual, fresh, genuine human voices have always been what worked. They connect us with one another. They present ideas in ways we haven’t thought about before. They make us laugh and they make us angry, and they make us think.

We don’t need any more cynical, mass-produced content.

In 2017, as automation takes over so much routine communication, real human voices become more important, not less.

It’s not about you

If you run a business, you’re changing the world.

If you write content for a business, you’re changing the world.

Not by selling more “best-of-breed solutions for disruptive excellence.”

But by making art that builds the connections between human beings who want things and human beings who make things.

I know there are plenty of people who will think I’m nuts for saying that the content we craft for our businesses can be art.

I don’t care.

Business matters. Making a living matters. Supporting your family matters. And I am never going to tell you to be complacent about those things.

But don’t do it at the expense of your human voice. It doesn’t work, and it’s not what the world needs from you. Sing the song only you can sing.

2017 needs you

We need people who are not afraid of hard work and big ideas.

We need people who understand that the web is made of real human beings, with problems and feelings and complicated lives.

We need people who will resist the epidemic of unkindness.

If you ever thought that this abstract thing called “content” was more important than connection to your audience, you were misreading the situation — badly. Content works because it builds a connection to real people.

2017 needs your voice — your unique expression and humanity.

Of all the “back to basics” advice we give, this one (in my excruciatingly humble opinion) is the most important.

Be strategic, for sure. But don’t let that erase or diminish your genuine and courageous human voice.

The post Why Your Voice Matters More than Ever This Year appeared first on Copyblogger.

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Showrunner Short: Why Color Psychology Matters for Your Branding


There are many elements to take into account when you are determining how you will brand your podcast. Don’t overlook the psychological impact of the colors you choose.

In this Showrunner Short, Jerod Morris delivers a quick lesson on the oft-overlooked importance of color psychology in podcast branding. It matters both for your podcast’s artwork and for the overall branding of your platform.

How do you want your content to make your audience feel? What kind of emotional connection are you trying to make?

Your color choices should fall in line with the answers to these questions.

And different colors deliver distinctly different emotional impacts, which Jerod runs down in this episode.

Click Here to Listen to

The Showrunner on iTunes

Click Here to Listen on Rainmaker.FM

About the author


Rainmaker.FM is the premier digital marketing and sales podcast network. Get on-demand business advice from experts, whenever and wherever you want it.

The post Showrunner Short: Why Color Psychology Matters for Your Branding appeared first on Copyblogger.


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4 Ways to Identify Site Visitors (and Why It Matters)

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You think we all would know what marketing automation meant, the way we throw the phrase around in the corporate hallways and home offices of America.

“Reginald, what you need is a marketing automation solution — then your sales team would be balling!”

That’s the idea. Software that captures, nurtures, and delivers leads to a sales team. But not everyone needs this style of marketing automation.

Case in point: Copyblogger Media.

A little more than a year ago, we hired a well-known marketing automation provider to help us convert more of our traffic into sales. We spent several weeks with them adding code and tweaking analytics.

It was some scary good stuff. Then they asked about our sales team.

“Eh, the sales team?”

“Yeah. The sales team.”

Shortly after that, the relationship ended (amicably, I must add).

See, we don’t have a sales team. Because we don’t need one. We have our content.

The no-drama sales team

From the blog, to the podcasts, to the emails, to the webinars, to the sales letters — all of this content is our sales team.

Our sales team is how we write. We are all life-long students of copywriting. And copywriting is nothing more than salesmanship in print.

Let’s take this even further. What separates the brand of copywriting we practice (direct-response) from general publicity copywriting is that we test.

And we test hard. If it doesn’t convert, we cut it. Just like you would do with a salesperson.

Just without the drama.

Combine that with our approach to business building, and it’s no surprise that we went from nothing to $ 10 million a year in less than a decade on our own. And we’re still growing.

Keep in mind: this is an approach you can duplicate.

Deliver the right content to the right person at the right time

Now, you can still use marketing automation even if you don’t have a sales team.

Marketing automation will give you the tools to deliver adaptive content. In other words, marketing automation allows you to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time.

Do that and you will convert more visitors to customers. But how do you deliver the right content to the right person?

The first question is: How do you even know who’s on your site?

You can’t deliver the right content to the right person at the right time if you don’t know who she is.

If you’re scratching your head like me, then you’re in luck. I’m not a programmer. I’m just your garden-variety web writer.

I have a hunch. But we need more than a hunch. That’s where our resident code genius, Chris Garrett, comes in.

He agreed to hop on the phone with me to figure this out.

After we exchanged pleasantries (fortunately, with the English this is ridiculously short), I jumped right into the thick of things.

“Chris, I understand with adaptive content we are supposed to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. But how do you even know who is on your site?” I asked.

In his exquisite English accent he said, “You could start with cookies.” Great. I’m hungry.

Here are four ways to identify site visitors.

1. Conventional cookies

Chris explained that this is the standard procedure. And it’s pretty simple to understand. See, once someone visits your site, you place a cookie on him — a tag that identifies that user. Think of it like the burs that you pick up when hiking in the woods.

This bur is a tiny text file that stores information on your machine. Most websites store just one piece of information: a user-identification number.

According to How Stuff Works, Amazon stores a little more: a main user ID, a session ID, and the session time.

Some sites warn you about cookies. For instance, the Telegraph displays a small banner at the top of their website that warns visitors they use cookies — and why.

Cookies are also used in remarketing programs.

Remember that time when you were thumbing through OnePiece at midnight, thinking it might be kind of cool to wear a onesie around the house (but never in public!), and then for weeks every site you visited after that — Dictionary.com, Spark Notes, the Mother Nature Network — all featured ads for onesies?

Thank the cookie.

But people can clear cookies from their browsers.

And from a marketer’s viewpoint, as Chris explained, you can’t be very specific with cookies.

“What you might be able to tell,” Chris said, “was that since they raided the content on the category for copywriting, they are interested in copywriting. So you tweak the experience by delivering an option to download an ebook on copywriting on that page.”

But there is a larger problem with cookies. I’ll explain in the next section.

2. Routine referrers

Another way to identify what type of person is on your site is to use referrers. For instance, Chris said you could deliver different content based upon the keywords people typed to find your site.

Of course, Chris was quick to add that this becomes difficult because Google hides the majority of these keywords.

But there are other types of referrers you could use to help identify visitors:

  • Social media platforms
  • Search engines
  • Specific websites
  • Devices

While these metrics can help shape your overall picture of each visitor, they are limited. Which brings me to the weakness of cookies and referrers: you are forced to guess intent rather than know directly.

And when it’s important to deliver the right kind of content to the right person at the right time, wouldn’t you rather know the facts than guess the facts?

That’s where self-identify procedures come in. There are two we’ll talk about today.

3. Self-select channel choices

This one looks like this: people choose how they want to receive information. So you might set this up by asking people to select from a choice of problems you can help them solve.

Imagine you offer four different email newsletters based upon these questions:

These questions address the users’ needs — not based upon who they are, but on what problems they need solved. Once they choose a path, you know something about them.

Imagine the visitor chose SEO copywriting. You could refine that decision with another question that evaluates comfort level with the subject:

  • No experience.
  • Some, but not much.
  • Advanced: I have very specific problems I need addressed.

And based upon that information, you can deliver the right content at the right time (say an email autoresponder — the lazy marketer’s best friend) without having to guess.

But there is one more method we need to investigate. What Chris called the “superior approach.”

4. Mighty membership sites

“Sign-ins,” Chris said, “are superior to cookies. Sign-ins are superior to referrers. Sign-ins are superior to self-select channel choices, too.”

How so?

Chris says when visitors join your membership site or training course — and they are signed in — wherever they are on your site, you know who they are because of the data stored in their account. Thus, you can truly deliver precise content to them.

Think of it as internal remarketing.

For example, when a member of Authority is signed in and he is an alumnus of last year’s live event, we could deliver a completely different experience on the blog by:

  • Removing the option to join the Authority membership site
  • Replacing it with a banner for the next live event
  • Adding information about the live event to the sidebar: early bird special, hotel deals, last minute details
  • Having the “Popular” sidebar deliver content based upon the event and other information you know about the member — information he filled out when signing up for the membership site

Can you see how that specificity would increase conversions?

That’s personalized content powered by marketing automation.

Why personalized content is essential

And let me close by sharing a few stats on why personalized content is essential:

  • Forty-five percent of people are more likely to shop on websites that offer personalized recommendations.
  • Personalized emails boast 25 percent higher open rates and 51 percent higher click-through rates.
  • Companies that personalize will see a 19 percent higher conversion rate.

But you can’t have that personalization without knowing who is on your site. As Christine Warner said, “Personalized content eliminates ambiguity about the target audience and builds trust through relevance.”

Now, because I know you are all thinking, “Man, this sounds like a lot more work to create all this specific content,” in the next article of this series we’ll talk about how you can deliver that precise content without overextending yourself.

We’ve got you covered. Until then, take care.

And let’s continue this current discussion about personalized content over on LinkedIn …

Image source: David Marcu via Unsplash.

About the author

Demian Farnworth

Demian Farnworth is Copyblogger Media’s Chief Content Writer. Follow him on Twitter or The Copybot. In the meantime, subscribe to his podcast: Rough Draft

The post 4 Ways to Identify Site Visitors (and Why It Matters) appeared first on Copyblogger.


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16 Stats That Explain Why Adaptive Content Matters Right Now

folded measuring tape

Big data. Content. Growth hacking. Pivot. Engagement. A few words and phrases that make us want to stick a fork in our eye each time we hear them. Or stick a fork in the eye of the person using the words.

We all hate buzzwords, but it’s hard to get away from them. A phrase sticks and soon a parade that rivals Macy’s is trailing behind it. That popularity begets even more popularity, and, well after the phrase has worn out its original meaning, everyone is using the damn word.

Thing is: behind each buzzword is a meaningful truth. And quite possibly, a trend worth joining. For instance, anyone who jumped on the big data or content bandwagon did not miss out. In fact, they were rewarded.

And I’m going to make a similar statement about the buzzword for 2015: adaptive content. Pay attention.

Adaptive content 101

Some of you might recall the phrase “adaptive content” from the last episode of The Lede podcast. And some of you might recall the difficulty we had defining the phrase. The definitions we shared span a spectrum of ideas.

Garrett Moon from CoSchedule described adaptive content as the idea of creating once, then publishing everywhere, which was at one time NPR’s official content policy (see COPE).

This is a concept we use here at Copyblogger, and we’ve talked about this before with the asset pillar, especially with infographics. That definition is useful, but it’s just a start.

Dig further into the research (what little of it there is) and you’ll probably think to yourself: “This is nothing more than sophisticated personalization.” You know, the email newsletter you get every day that begins, “Dear [your first name]” or Amazon’s recommendation engine.

While this is true about adaptive content, these examples are all rule-based. We tell our machines, “Okay, if he does X followed by Y, then we think he’ll appreciate Z.” Marketers and search engines both want to guess the user intent.

Very primitive. Very clunky. We should be able to do better.

Our hope with adaptive content is to tailor content to a customer’s experience, behavior, and desires. Like a custom-built mold.

In essence, adaptive content is a culmination of everything we’ve been talking about — experience maps, storyboarding, empathy maps — and what we’ve been saying for so long about creating an experience.

Adaptive content merges all these disciplines under one roof.

It’s almost like choosing your own adventure

I’ve got two examples for you. Let’s start with a simple one.

Mars Cyrillo, product and marketing VP at CI&T, pointed to the experience of buying an airline ticket. Normally we’ll go directly to the airline’s website, find the best flight, and then go to Expedia to buy the ticket.

Instead, Mars explains, adaptive content would be American Airlines recognizing that people behave this way, and then delivering an incentive or specific content that would keep visitors on their site.

This could be as routine as a pop-up offering car rentals or hotel rooms at a reduced rate exclusive to the American Airlines website. It just depends on how much American Airlines knows about its customers.

Noz Urbina wrote about another great example on Content Marketing Institute. He describes a wine-tasting adventure with his partner where the winery provided tablets at the table during the event, but that was it.

Fun, but pointless.

For starters, Noz said they could have:

  • Allowed check-ins by social media (which should’ve been a no-brainer).
  • Displayed a personalized welcome screen.
  • Suggested wine lists and accompaniments like cheeses or crackers.
  • Adapted the micro-copy and tone of the website based on his visit.

But the winery missed the mark, especially this mind-blowing opportunity:

What they should have done was display a personal welcome screen on the tablet that they gave, and allowed people to add items to the shopping cart that would then add to their final bill so that when they went to the cash register, they paid for what they drank there.

That would’ve been adaptive content in action.

And the reason this is so important: We all come to expect this kind of service (just like Noz did). Whether it’s at the gas pump, the golf course, massage parlor, movie theater, or in our living rooms and offices, we all believe that our experiences should be more interactive.

Why? Smartphones.

Some seductive stats

This overly attached love affair with smartphones has been building all along — and is not going away any time soon. Witness:

  1. About 13 percent of Internet traffic comes from global mobile users. In 2009, that number was just one percent. What contributed to this rise in mobile use? Shopping.
  2. Seventy-seven percent of mobile users use search engines and social sites on their phones.
  3. According to a Google Smartphone User study, “88 percent of those who look for local information on their smartphones take action within a day.” Read: smartphone users are highly-motived buyers.
  4. More importantly, nine out of 10 searches on a mobile device end in an action: reservation, purchase, appointment, download.
  5. Commerce success begins with a superb mobile experience. A Compuware study suggested that if you deliver a bad mobile experience, then more than half of those users will not recommend you — and probably recommend the competition instead.
  6. According to Google search data, one-third of all CPG (consumer packaged goods) searches now originate from smartphones. This trend will only continue to rise since, as Google wrote in a 2011 paper called Zero Moment of Truth, “Search is always accessible — from anywhere, on any device and at any given time.”
  7. Deloitte Consulting confirmed the power of smartphones over commerce in a 2013 paper that demonstrated the devices influenced $ 159 billion of U.S. retail sales in 2012.
  8. But what it comes down to is the merging of the offline and online world as McKinsey stated: “According to published reports, 48 percent of U.S. consumers believe companies need to do a better job of integrating their online and offline experiences.”
  9. Fifty-four percent of U.S. consumers want in-store digital, mobile touch points.
  10. Often the buying phase starts long before the purchase. Eighty-eight percent of consumers research (and these days, the research could start on a mobile phone, laptop, tablet, watch, or pair of glasses) before they buy, consulting an average of 10.4 sources.
  11. Online research efforts often involve visiting online reviews, ratings, and recommendations, which according to Prestige Marketing leads to 105 percent higher conversion rates. Are you taking advantage of ratings and reviews?
  12. Showrooming — when consumers use their phones to comparison shop in stores — is no longer a threat to brick-and-mortars and reverse showrooming — when consumers go online to research products but then head to brick-and-mortar stores to complete their purchases — is actually on the rise (69 percent), creating an opportunity for forward-thinking businesses to capture more sales.

In other words, smartphones rule the commerce roost. In addition, opportunities for creating personalized experiences through adaptive content are abound, as these further studies suggest:

  1. 56 percent of U.S. consumers are happy to buy from a retailer that offers a good (not even great, mind you) personalized experience. (Registration required to view study.)
  2. In this 2012 Consumer Search report, 65 percent of respondents said they look to friends, family, and social media for gift-giving ideas. Interestingly enough, 64 percent also said they look to companies to provide that sort of inspiration.
  3. Companies seem to recognize this desire because 94 percent of them say personalization is critical to their success.
  4. And it’s been long known that personalized e-commerce sites can increase conversions by 70 percent.

So the question is: Are you inspiring your customers with this type of personalized experience?

The challenges that lie ahead

Let me highlight some keywords from this data dump: search, website, mobile, personalization, and engagement. These are the key concepts behind adaptive content, which leads me to think the new environment we are in is less about content and more about experience.

As Jerod said in our conversation on The Lede, “It serves up almost a customized experience for them that is different from what another person gets. Each experience is individualized to have maximum impact.”

Of course, experience is built on content.

But adaptive content presents at least two challenges for a marketer:

  1. Implementing the technology.
  2. Creating the content.

The technology is not easy to figure out and will vary depending on each business’s individual needs. That disadvantage, though, is the perfect opportunity for companies to say, “How can we make software solutions to make adaptive content easier?”

The other challenge is finding the resources to create the content. If you have six customer avatars, then you have six different paths, and each of those paths break off two, three, or four different times. You’ve got a lot of content to create.

No problem if there were 48 hours in a day.

So, with those challenges and some unanswered questions before us, in 2015 we will be diving into the deep end of the adaptive content pool. Our hope is to provide answers and solutions for these challenges so we can all be on the right side of cutting-edge marketing and emerging technology.

Welcome to 2015, and stay tuned.

Adaptive content in action

Have you seen businesses successfully employ adaptive content?

Or have you observed missed opportunities for businesses to use adaptive content? What could the companies have done differently?

How can adaptive content help your business create a superior customer experience?

Let’s continue the discussion over on LinkedIn …

Image by Jeff Sheldon via Unsplash.

About the author

Demian Farnworth

Demian Farnworth is Copyblogger Media’s Chief Copywriter. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

The post 16 Stats That Explain Why Adaptive Content Matters Right Now appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Why Mobile Matters – Now

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Having built an online business during the dot-com boom and bust, I’ve always been a bit skeptical about the mobile revolution. Every year since the late 90s, we’ve heard that this would be “The Year” for mobile. In the past year, though, my skepticism has been challenged by a wide range of data, and I no longer believe that the mobile web is simply a miniature desktop. This post is an in-depth analysis of why I think online marketers need to start paying attention to mobile now.

Google’s “Mobile First” Shift

It’s no mystery that I follow Google’s actions pretty closely. When Google launched a significant redesign back in March, Jon Wiley – Lead Designer for Google Search – posted this on Google+:

For a long time, we’ve assumed that mobile would naturally follow desktop, and trends like the slow death of WML (Wireless Markup Language) seemed to support that assumption. In the past two years, though, Google has repeatedly designed and launched new features on mobile first, including the most recent ad format and the latest version of Google Maps.

So, it begs the question – what does Google know that the rest of us don’t?

Google’s Greatest Fear

In July of 2013, Google migrated AdWords advertisers to what it calls “enhanced” campaigns. Many in the industry viewed this as a euphemism for preventing advertisers from bidding separately on mobile and tablet vs. desktop. Google had been experiencing long-term CPC losses, and most analysts blamed those losses on advertisers’ unwillingness to pay the same rates for mobile/tablet clicks as they did for desktop.

Google has strongly resisted splitting out mobile vs. desktop performance, going as far as to tell the SEC that “…disclosing or quantifying the impact of only one factor, such as platform mix, could be misleading and confusing to investors.” This has nothing to do with usability or confusion – Google is afraid of mobile and its impact on their $ 60B bottom line, the vast majority of which depends on advertising. Mobile-first design is about survival, plain and simple.

Google’s Multi-Screen World

Back in 2012, Google released a fascinating study about the multi-screen world. It paints a complex picture of how we use multiple screens to navigate the web, and often perform activities across mobile, tablet, and desktop. Google ended that report with eight conclusions, and this was the final one:

What led them to this conclusion? A couple of data points give a very interesting view of the impact of mobile on search. First, Google reported (see slide #20) that a full 65% of searches begin on mobile phones. Second, they found – which seems obvious in retrospect – that we reach for the “screen” that’s closest (slide #34). So, if you see something on TV, hear about it on XM Radio in the car, or read about it in the doctor’s waiting room, you’re going to reach for your mobile phone.

More Mobile Trends (2014)

Recently, Mary Meeker’s closely-watched annual state of the internet report was released, and it contains a great deal of data about where mobile is headed. Smartphone adoption is climbing and tablet sales are skyrocketing, but I’d like to focus on one graph that sums up the trend pretty well (from slide #9):

Globally, the percentage of page views coming from mobile devices has jumped substantially in the past year, and accounts for almost one-fifth of North American page views. Critics will argue that desktop usage has not substantially decreased, and that’s true, but the problem is this – as mobile gets to be a larger piece of the picture, we’re seeing less and less of that picture by excluding mobile data.

Look at it this way – let’s say we had a sample of 1M page views, and all of them came from desktop visitors. That would give us the pie on the left. Now, let’s say desktop holds steady at 1M page views, but mobile is now 19% of total views. This is what that reality would look like:

If we only look at those 1M page views, then it seems like nothing has changed, but the reality is that the desktop piece of the pie has shrunk. If we ignore mobile in this case, we’re missing out on 234,568 page views, and our picture is incomplete.

Why This Matters for Search

So what if someone starts a search on mobile – why should that matter to us as search marketers? The problem is simple: while Google desktop search design is being inspired by mobile design, the reality of a small screen means that mobile SERPs can look very different. Just as Google found with ad CTRs, this can lead to very different user behavior.

So, how different are mobile SERPs? I’d like to look at a few notable examples of desktop vs. mobile SERPs, starting from most similar to least similar. For all of these examples, the desktop SERP was captured on a Windows 7 PC using Chrome, at 1280×1024, and the mobile screen was captured on an iPhone 5S using Safari.

Here’s a fairly basic SERP (a search for “plumbers”) with ads and some local features. The desktop version is on the left, and the mobile version is on the right. I apologize for the reduced size, but I felt that a side-by-side version would be the most useful:

The impact of the smaller screen here is readily apparent – even though the desktop SERP shows eight full ads above the fold and the mobile SERP shows only two, the desktop screen still has room for three organic results, a map, and a couple of local pack results. Meanwhile, the one organic result that does pop up on the mobile screen has the advantage of being the only organic element on the “page”.

Unfortunately, we have very little data on relative CTR for either ads or organic results, and Google is tweaking both designs all of the time. I think the core point is that these user experiences, even for a relatively straightforward SERP, are clearly different.

Let’s look at another SERP (“army birthday”) where the major elements are similar, but the screen space creates a different experience. In this case, we get one of the new answer boxes:

An answer box is disruptive on any screen, but on the mobile screen it occupies almost the entire SERP above the fold. Of course, scrolling is easier and more natural on mobile, so I don’t want to pretend this is a true apples-to-apples comparison, but if the answer meets the user’s needs, they’re unlikely to keep looking.

Let’s look at a standard Knowledge Graph box, in this case one for a local entity (“woodfield mall”). Here, while the styles of the Knowledge Graph boxes are similar, the SERPs are radically different:

While the desktop SERP has a rich Knowledge Graph entry, we also see a substantial amount of organic real estate. On the mobile SERP, a condensed Knowledge Graph box dominates. That box also contains mobile-specific features, like click-to-call and directions, which could easily divert the searchers and keep them from scrolling down to organic results.

Finally, let’s consider a SERP where the presentation and structure are completely different between desktop and mobile. This is a search for “pizza” (from the Chicago suburbs, where I’m located), which triggers a local carousel:

Carousels – whether they’re local, Knowledge Graph, or the newer song and episode lists – are a great example of mobile-first design. While the desktop carousel seems out of place in Google’s design history and requires awkward horizontal scrolling, the mobile carousel is built for a finger-swipe interface. What’s more, the horizontal swipe may derail vertical scrolling to some degree. So, again, a single element dominates the mobile SERP in this example.

The Mobile Feature Graph

These differences naturally lead to a follow-up question – do mobile SERPs just look different, or are they fundamentally showing different rankings and features than desktop SERPs? You may be familiar with the MozCast Feature Graph, which tracks the presence of specific SERP features (such as ads, verticals, and Knowledge Graph) across 10K searches. I decided to run the same analysis across mobile results and compare the two.

The table below shows the presence of features across both desktop and mobile SERPs. Data was recorded on June 5th. Both data sets were depersonalized and half of the queries (5K) were localized, to five different cities.

For the most part, SERP features were consistent across the two devices. While it’s very difficult to compare two sets of rankings (even when they differ only by a few hours), the similar number of sitelinks suggests a similar make-up of 10-result vs. 7-result SERPs. A cursory glance at the data suggests that page-1 rankings were not dramatically different.

The big feature difference (which is entirely driven by layout considerations) was in the presence and structure of AdWords blocks. Mobile SERPs only allow top and bottom ad blocks, since there’s no right-hand column. While bottom-of-page ads are the rarest block on desktop SERPs, they’re fairly common on mobile SERPs. The overall presence of ads in any single position was lower on mobile than desktop (at least for this data set). All of this has CTR implications, but we as an industry don’t have adequate data on that subject at present.

The local data is somewhat surprising – I would have predicted a noticeably higher presence of local pack results in mobile SERPs. Google has implied that as many as half of mobile searches have local intent, with desktop trailing substantially. Unfortunately, collecting comparable data required matching the local methodology across both sets of SERPs, so my methodology here is unreliable for determining local intent. This data only suggests that, if local intent is the same, local results will probably appear consistently across desktop and mobile.

The Google Glass Feint

Beyond our current smartphone and tablet world is the next generation of wearable technology, which promises even more constrained displays. Right now, we tend to think of Google Glass when we hear “wearables,” and it’s easy to dismiss Glass as an early-adopter fad. When we dismiss Glass, though, I think we’re missing a much bigger picture. Let’s say our timeline looks something like this, with us in the present and Glass in the future…

In other words, I think it was fair to say that Glass, whether you love or hate it, was clearly a future-looking move and is pushing our comfort zones. It was ahead of what we were ready for, and so Google pulled us ahead…

Let’s say we’re not quite halfway-ready for Glass. Stay with me – there’s a point to my crude line art. What about the wearables that aren’t quite as futuristic, including the wide array of fitness band options and the coming storm of smartwatches? Our perception now looks something like this…

Before Glass, we were just warming up to fitness bands, and smartwatches still sounded a bit too much like science fiction. After Glass, challenged with that more radical view of the future, fitness bands almost seem passé, and smartwatches are looking viable. I’m not sure if any of this was intentional on Google’s part, but I strongly believe that they’ve moved the market and pushed ahead our timeline for adopting wearables.

This isn’t just idle speculation paired with pseudo-scientific visuals (it is that, but it’s not just that) – Samsung sold half a million Galaxy Gear smartwatches in Q1 of 2014. Google has recently announced Android Wear, and the first devices built on it have hit the market. More Android-based devices are likely to explode onto the market in the second half of 2014. Rumors of an Apple smartwatch are probably only months away from becoming reality.

I expect solid smartwatch adoption over the next 3-5 years, and with it a new form of browsing and a new style of SERPs. If the smartphone is our closest device and first stop today, the smartwatch will become the next first stop. Put simply, it’s easier to look at our wrists than reach for our pockets. The natural interplay of smartwatches and smartphones (Android Wear already connects smartwatches to Android-powered phones, as does Google Glass) will make the mobile scene even more rich and complex.

What It Means for You

My goal is to put the data out there as matter-of-factly as possible, but I personally believe that the long-awaited mobile disruption is upon us. Google is designing a SERP that’s not only “mobile first”, but can be broken into fragments (like answer boxes and Google Now “cards”) that can be mixed-and-matched across any device or screen-size. Search volume across non-desktop devices will increase, and mobile in all its forms may become the first stop for the majority of consumer searches.

For now, the most important thing we can do is be aware. I’ve always encouraged browsing your “money” terms – what does your URL really look like on a SERP, and how does the feature set impact it? I’d strongly encourage the same for mobile – open a phone browser and really try to see what the consumer is experiencing. If your business is primarily local or an impulse buy driven by TV and other advertising, the time to consider mobile is already behind you. For the rest of us, the mobile future is unfolding now.

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Which Data Matters Most to Marketers? Take the Survey!

Posted by randfish

2012 was a year of triumphs and setbacks for marketers seeking the data to best accomplish their goals. Big improvements and additions in products like Google Analytics, GWMT, Bing Webmaster Tools, Mixpanel, KISSMetrics, Raven, and yes, SEOmoz PRO, too (along with dozens of others), helped many of us improve our reporting, auditing, and optimization efforts. But with the good came the bad, and setbacks like Google's expansion of keyword (not provided), the loss of referral data from iOS6, and kerfuffles over AdWords data appearing alongside rankings reared their heads, too.

When it comes to marketing data, I really like the concept behind Google's own mission statement: organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Unfortunately, I think the search giant has been falling short on a lot of the aspects that relate to our world, and thus it's up to third parties to pick up the slack. Moz is obviously part of that group, and we have plenty of self-interest there, but many other companies (and often Google and Bing themselves) are stepping in to help.

To help better understand the information that matters most to professionals in our field, we want to run a short survey focused specifically on data sources:

Data Sources Survey


We hope that this takes less than two minutes to complete, and that by aggregating broad opinions on the importance of data sources, we can better illustrate what matters most to marketers. In the spirit of transparency, we plan to share the results here on the Moz blog (possibly in an update to this post) in the next week or two.

Please help us out by taking the survey and by sharing it with your fellow marketers (or any professional you know who relies on marketing data).

Thanks very much!

*For those who have asked about SEOmoz's own plans regarding rankings vs. AdWords API data – we have removed AdWords search volume from our keyword difficulty tool (it was never part of the formula), and will be working on alternatives, possibly with the folks over at Bing. Like others in the field – Hubspot, Ginza, Conductor, Brightedge, Authority Labs, etc. – we plan to maintain rankings data in our software.

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Why Google+ is the only thing that matters

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SEO is dead. Long live SEO!

At London SMX, a SEO conference, SEO writer Danny Sullivan said that for him, links as a ranking factor are broken. He used a voting analogy. When Google first started talking about links, they said they gave them a lot of importance because they were democratic. Any webmaster could vote for a site of their choice. But they were only democratic in the same sense that the US was when you could only vote if you were a property-owning white man. To link to a site, you still had to own a site, know about anchor text and be relatively tech savvy. Nowadays that’s not really relevant.

Today, if people want to link to a site, they are far more likely to post the address on Facebook or Twitter. Everyone has an account and no technical knowledge is required. This kind of social sharing, to carry on the metaphor, is a more universal suffrage. Which is why all the search engines use social interactions as a ranking factor.

But they can only go so far. Because it’s so easy to link to a site on these platforms, it is also very easy to manipulate. Consider how many brands on Facebook get people to like a post so that they can enter a competition. Or on Twitter, they ask users to share their thoughts and include a URL or a hashtag. If these sorts of interactions also helped your search engine ranking, big brands could very quickly go overboard and essentially be paying for likes and retweets to get more traffic. And policing it would be almost impossible. Social interactions, in other words, could never count as strongly as links do. But what then, are the ‘new’ links?

Lisa Myers also at SMX confidently asserted, “author=rel tags are the most important social signal”. Author=rel tags are a line of code that tells Google who’s written the content on the page, so if likes and re-tweets weren’t going to be a big factor, perhaps people are?

Why people matter

This then, brings us back to Google+. Increasingly it seems that Google is mapping people to each other and to companies. Go to http://www.google.com/s2/search/social and you can see ‘your world’ according to Google. You’ll have your friends there, and content you’ve shared socially. They’ll have the same, even if they don’t have a Google+ account. You’ll probably also see the company you work for, your boss, your entire life.

Google is getting an increasingly nuanced picture about you and who you are. If you’re an English professor who specializes in say, Romantic poetry, in the very near future it might be the case that an article you write on your personal blog might out-rank something written on your college’s website. By using the author=rel tag, Google will be able to see that an article written by you about your subject is more likely to be more authoritative than say, something written anonymously on a well-regarded site.

From Google’s point of view this is a no-brainer. It’s hard, if not impossible, to manipulate your personal rankings in the way that you can with links, or any other element of SEO.

SEO becomes social

So now the very idea of a social network is in danger of becoming redundant. It’s no secret that I’m a Facebook sceptic but hear me out.

Facebook is about sharing stuff with your friends. Twitter is about following people you’re interested in but (most of the time) have no personal connection to. SEO is becoming both. If I search for a restaurant, it’s likely that I’m going to be interested in which ones my friends like. After all, I don’t want to go to a bad one, and I trust my friends more than the review sites. But if I’m searching for, say, SEO news, I want to hear from the experts. I personally trust Danny Sullivan more than I trust anyone else. But that’s not to say everyone does. You might be more of a Matt Cutts boy/girl.

With Google+, the search engine can get a really clear picture about who your friends are, and who you admire. As you interact with some posts more than others, they will quickly see who you trust and who you don’t. And this is bad news for the social networks because they just can’t compete with that. Their expertise lies in facilitating sharing, not organizing (and monetizing) data. (For evidence of this, log in to Facebook and see how many ads you click. The answer, almost certainly, is zero.) The things people currently do on social networks, reading an endless deluge of what friends are eating for lunch, or what they’re watching on TV, might still have a place in the coming years. But I’d be amazed if they’re anything like the mainstream activity they are now. Google+ has the potential to offer us the information we want, when we want, and from whom we want. And all they want in return is our privacy.

But no one is on Google+? How can they do those things?

A quick glance at the s2/search URL earlier shows that actually, this process is already underway, regardless of how many people are ‘plussing’. Google has such a vast web of properties that for most people, it probably already knows a hell of a lot. People may not be on Google+ but a lot of people have Google accounts, so the company can monitor what they’re searching for, which sites they like and how they behave on line.

Of those, some people will have a gmail account so they can also see their contacts. Even if they have none of these things, if they have an Android mobile phone, Google’s mobile operating system, Google can get all this and more. And remember Google’s market share is such that most people have used their search engine, so using your IP they can still build up a rough picture. Oh, and then there’s the Chrome browser, the world’s most popular

For those of us that have a Gmail account, an Android phone, even a Chromebook, Google probably knows more about us than our parents. Or closest friends.

All this information is weaving its way into Google’s search results. But make no mistake. Google wants your data, so it wants you on Google+

Where all this is headed

59% of the world’s cell phones run on Android. As anyone at Nokia will tell you, being dominant in the mobile space won’t last forever, but Android is open source. It is by definition more versatile than Nokia ever could be. For the medium term at any rate, the smart money goes on Android dominating mobile.

So Google is dominant in the mobile space. And global mobile traffic is doubling year on year. Chrome is the most popular browser. We’re spending more of our time on Google’s properties. And Google, let’s remember, doesn’t play nice. And I’ll say this again, they want you on Plus.

Already, if you want a Gmail account, you have to sign up to Google+ Would it be so hard to imagine that they’ll do the same with Android phones? After all, if they can get access to every article you read and site you visit, then share it where relevant to people in your circles, they could completely cut Facebook and Twitter out of the equation. They could start slow I guess, maybe just make it easier for people to ‘plus’ something on Android than it is to Facebook or Tweet it. But given what’s at stake, I’m not sure they’ll go a lot further than that.

The web has changed a lot since Google first started. It is exponentially more complex, but if anything consumer expectations have only got higher. We still want search engines to give us simple answers in an ever-more-complicated world. To do this Google needs data, so that’s what they’re going after.

Because they don’t have a choice. If it can’t do the job people need, they’ll just go elsewhere. Facebook has its challenges but it also has dollars and data. One day, it might learn how to use them. And Google knows it. It hasn’t launched Plus to be a cool social media company; it’s not a sinister plot to track and monitor the entire world, it’s essential to Google’s survival. If Plus fails, so does Google.

This isn’t just another product, or a ranking factor or fun social media tool. It’s everything.

Have I convinced you? Please let us know below.

And if you’re not on Google+, check out our free Google+ PDF guide

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Seth Godin on Blogging, Business Books, and Creating Content that Matters

Internet Marketing for Smart People Radio Logo

The man.

The myth.

The legend.

All hyperbole aside, season two of the Internet Marketing for Smart People radio show kicks off with author, entrepreneur, and prolific blogger Seth Godin.

A lot has changed since Seth pioneered effective email marketing in the mid 90s. And he set the standard for many of us when he switched to blogging over a decade ago.

But perhaps the most striking changes have rolled over the book publishing industry — an inevitability Seth foresaw even as he cranked out one best seller after another.

Today, you’ll hear about all of that, and much more.

In this episode Seth Godin and I discuss:

  • How Seth writes (kinda, well, you’ll see…)
  • Why Seth’s blogging style is totally irrelevant to your blogging success
  • Is the traditional business book still relevant?
  • Are rich, interactive eBooks better than text-only eBooks?
  • Why The Domino Project is only publishing short manifestos
  • Seth’s simple advice for writers struggling to ship
  • Why now is the time to do something that matters

Hit the flash player below to listen now:

Other listening options:

The Show Notes:

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger and CEO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Brian on Google+.


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