Tag Archive | "Trends"

Top Marketing News: Content Marketing Trends, Google Checks Your Speed & YouTube Live-Streaming Updates

Content Trends 2018: BuzzSumo Research Report
A new report for BuzzSumo shows that social sharing is down 50% year-over-year, LinkedIn is becoming a leader in social engagement and more. BuzzSumo

YouTube Adds New Live-Streaming Tools, Including Monetization Options. Social Media Today
YouTube recently added automatic english language subtitles for live-streaming videos, along with the ability to replay live-streamed videos and chat simultaneously and more.  Social Media Today

Google Releases Mobile Scorecard & Impact Calculator Tools To Illustrate Importance Of Mobile Page Speed
Google continues to reinforce the importance of mobile page speed. The search engine recently released tools to help website admins and marketers alike better understand why speed matters on mobile.  Search Engine Land

We Regret to Inform You That Vero Is Bad [Updated]
Although Vero was supposed to be the better Instagram, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in light of functionality issues that have come to the surface. Gizmodo

Making your first AMP Story: Google’s answer to Snapchat and Instagram
Google recently announced AMP Stories, a new format similar to Snapchat and Instagram Stories, implemented via a new accelerated mobile pages (AMP) component. Search Engine Land

Marketing and IT Departments Need to Get In Sync to Best Capitalize on Mobile Technology
According to recent research from Adobe, technologies like augmented reality , virtual reality and artificial intelligence are poised to help accelerate the mobile evolution. AdWeek

Google Confirms “Edge Cases” When Content Theft Can Cause Negative Effects
Search Engine Journal reports: “Google has updated the search results pages by adding breadcrumbs to the top of the page. The breadcrumbs are triggered by informational search queries and are accompanied by images.” Search Engine Journal

Media Buyers: Snapchat Is Focused On Enabling Commerce In Ads
Look out Pinterest in Instagram — Snapchat is making a play for eCommerce advertisers. According to Digiday: “Snapchat is working on developing new commerce units to bolster its e-commerce offering.” Digiday

Twitter’s Rolling Out its New ‘Bookmarks’ Feature to All Users
Twitter announced that it’s rolling out its new ‘Bookmarks’ feature, which serve as an alternative to liking a Tweet you want to view later. Social Media Today

Facebook Rolls Out Job Posts To Become The Blue-collar Linkedin
Facebook is trying to compete with LinkedIn in the job market, and they’re starting with skilled workers. TechCrunch

GDPR Study Shows 65% Of Companies Unable To Comply
MediaPost reports: “Data Applications provider Solix Technologies released the results Tuesday of a survey outlining the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) readiness assessment, revealing that the majority of organizations are not prepared for May 2018 GDPR enforcement.”  MediaPost

 

On the Lighter Side:
Skippy Goes Smooth With Mark Ronson Soundtrack To Promote Its Creamy Peanut Butter – The Drum
Lacoste’s Iconic Crocodile Makes Room for 10 Endangered Species on Brand’s Polo Shirts – AdWeek

TopRank Marketing (And Clients) In the News:
TopRank Marketing Blog - The 50 Best Business & Marketing Blogs – Detailed
Steve Slater - Word of Mouth Marketing: How to Create a Strategy for Social Media Buzz & Skyrocket Referral Sales - BigCommerce
Rachel Miller and Lee Odden - Top Influencers to engage with ahead of the #SMMW18 conference – Onalytica
Lee Odden - Top 100 Digital Marketers 2018 – Brand24
Alex Rynne (LinkedIn) and Lee Odden – 7 Things Learned from Attending B2BMX – Cassie Ciopryna
Lee Odden – Humanizing Marketing —Takeaways from #B2BMX 2018 – Tabitha Adams
Cherwell Software – Cherwell Software wins the 2018 Killer Content Award! – Alison Munn

We’ll be back next week with more digital marketing news! If you need more in the meantime, follow @TopRank on Twitter or subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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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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Four key holiday paid search trends to keep an eye on

Columnist Andy Taylor shares data that can help predict trends in the e-commerce and retail space this holiday season. Advertisers, take note!

The post Four key holiday paid search trends to keep an eye on appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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SearchCap: Google iOS app trends, difficult clients & content SEO

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

The post SearchCap: Google iOS app trends, difficult clients & content SEO appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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SearchCap: YP acquired, PPC trends & tennis Doodle

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

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6 key paid search trends from Merkle’s Q1 2017 report

Here’s a look at what’s happening with Shopping ads, expanded text ads, device bidding and more.

The post 6 key paid search trends from Merkle’s Q1 2017 report appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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SearchCap: AdWords updates, Bing Ads Valentine’s Day trends & voice search

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

The post SearchCap: AdWords updates, Bing Ads Valentine’s Day trends & voice search appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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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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Beyond Responsive: Design and Development Trends for Adaptable Marketers

Posted by Carson-Ward

A friend of mine recently asked me to review and explain a series of site recommendations sent over by a well-known digital marketing agency with roots in SEO. We talked through the (generally good) recommendations for content and search optimization, and then we got to this:

“* Mobile accounts for 53% of your traffic. We recommend building a mobile-friendly responsive website. Google recommends using responsive design so that your site looks good on all devices, and it may help increase mobile rankings.”

And that was it. A bullet point that says “build a responsive site” is like getting a home inspection back with a bunch of minor repairs and a bullet point that says, “Also, build a new house with modern specs.”

We, as professional marketers, need to realize that this advice is not good enough. We’re not helping anyone with broad statements that give no guidance on where to start or what to think about. Google might recommend responsive, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only option or that it’s always the right option. Even if it is the right option, we need to have some idea on how to do responsive right.

If we’re going to tell people to redesign their websites, we’d better have something more profound than a single bullet point on a 20-page document. Implying that “Google will reward you for responsive” and leaving it at that could do more harm than good. It also misses a tremendous opportunity to help clients build a great website with an awesome user experience.

It’s fine if you’re not well-versed in site architecture, design, user experience, and/or user intent. Just don’t mention a gargantuan project like a site redesign if all you have to say is “build a responsive site, because Google.”

This post is a look at how companies are handling the future of the web, for better or worse. My goal is to help SEOs, content marketers, and all other digital marketers to speak more intelligently about responsive, mobile, and other design and development trends.

Don’t follow the crowd: you risk going full Windows 8.

We learned some important lessons about cross-platform design from the disaster that was Windows 8. It was a mess for lots of reasons – and yet I see the same people who mocked Windows 8 beginning to make some of the same mistakes on their websites. For those who never used Windows 8 in its early days, let me explain why it was so bad.

  • “Metro” (or “Modern” or whatever) shunned navigation for modern simplicity. It featured big icons – and no clear way to do more than click icons. Desktop users hated it.
  • There were a bunch of useful features and options most people never knew about hidden in sub-navigation. Windows 8 could actually do some cool new stuff – but few people knew it could, because it wasn’t visible.
  • Users didn’t know how to do what they wanted. Menus and buttons were shunned in favor of bloated pictures of app icons. Common features like the start menu, control panel, and file search were suddenly moved to non-standard places. Thousands of people turned to Google every month to figure out how to do simple things like turn their computer off and run a search. That’s RIDICULOUS.

A small sample of people asking Google to help them navigate a Microsoft product. Also interesting: Windows 7 has always had lower searches for these terms despite 4-5x the number of active users.

Now here we are, three years later, watching the web go full Windows 8 on their users. Menus are scaled down into little hamburgers on desktop. Don’t do that! You’re alienating your desktop users just like Windows 8 did. Users have to click two or three times instead of just once to find what they need in your menu. And don’t kid yourself: You’re not Windows. No one’s going to ask Google how to use your site’s nav. They’re just going to look at result number two.

Let’s look at an example of making the Windows 8 mistake on the web. Let’s go big. Let’s go Honda.

This is what happens when you take a design trend and try to force it on your corporate site without thinking about users or why they’re coming to your site. What does this site sell? Dreams? Clouds? Stock images? The text on the page could be placed on almost any corporate site in the world. Honda has gone full Windows 8 on their corporate site.

Aside: I’m picking on Honda because I know they can take a beating here and keep running – just like my CR-V (which I love).

I’m obviously not a fan of the expanding mobile-style navigational menu on desktop, but Honda blew me away with an overly-complicated mess of a menu.

I understand the company makes major engines, boats, and aircraft parts. Having lots of parts to your business doesn’t mean that each part deserves equal emphasis. Honda needs to step back and ask what users want when they get to the site, and realize that it’s unfeasible to serve every intent – especially if it wants to maintain its simplistic design.

What about the competition?

Toyota and other competitors know most users visiting the site want to look at automobile options or find a dealer. Both Honda and Toyota have sites for racing, and both companies sell industrial engines. But Toyota understands that most users landing on Toyota.com want the consumer brand, and that racing enthusiasts will Google “Toyota racing” instead. There’s also a link way down in the footer.

The exception to the rule of avoiding what I’m calling mobile-only design might be a design firm. Here’s Big Spaceship’s site. They’re a design agency that knows more about web design than I ever will. It’s a great site, and it’s probably going to get them sales. Do not copy them. Don’t imitate a design agency’s website unless you are a design agency. I’m talking to you, Honda.

When a user visits a design firm’s site, they want to see the company’s skills. Design agencies like Big Spaceship are wise to immediately showcase and sell users on their design capabilities. In essence, the home page acts as a full-page product shot and sales page.

I’ve seen SEO/Design/Marketing agencies create what are essentially design-only websites, and then wonder why no one is interested in their SEO services. I’ve seen product companies use a logo + hamburger menu + massive product image layout and have problems selling anything but the product featured in the first image. That’s what you get for copying the cool kids.

It only makes sense to show one thing if you only do one thing. Good design in Amazon’s case is very different. Amazon has millions of products, and they don’t want people clicking through categories, choosing the wrong ones, and getting lost or frustrated. The search function is key with a mega-site: thus the not-so-pretty search bar on every Amazon page.

Align your users’ intents with nav items and landing page content. Show them how to browse or search your goods and services without making them click unnecessarily. Keep browse-able items to a manageable level, and make sure you have a simple click path to things people want to do on your site. Look at how Medium aligns intent with design.

Simplicity works for Medium posts: the user wants to read the post they’ve landed on, and the focus of the site’s design is on reading the post. Medium will hold off on getting you to read or share more until you’re done reading. Most of those calls to action are at the bottom of the article. Now look at the home page.

Smart. When someone lands on a post, they want to read the post. So show them the post! When someone lands on the home page, their intents vary. Give them options that aren’t hidden behind a hamburger menu. Show them what they can do.

Figure out what your users want to know or see, and build those elements prominently into the site. Don’t blindly copy web design, or you risk following Windows 8 in alienating your core users, especially on desktop.

So how do you know what your users want to see?

1. Run on-page surveys

One of the best ways to figure out what people are looking for is to ask them. Don’t continually annoy people with popups, but if you’re just starting out it’s worth gathering the information up-front. Ask people what they’re looking for when they visit your site. We use Qualaroo, but there are lots of simple tools that can be implemented quickly.

If you already know what people are looking for, you should make sure you know what their primary considerations are for buying. Does price matter to them more than power or quality? If price matters most to your buyers, price should be featured prominently in the design.

2. Use split tests to understand intent

There are lots of reasons to run split tests, and the focus should usually be on conversion. The problem is that sometimes we focus exclusively on which version converted better, and forget to ask why.

We use Optimizely, and it’s awesome. We also keep a log of test results with our pre-test hypothesis, pages tested, a link to results, and why we think it won. Then we try to think about the implications if we’re right about our conclusion.

  • Where else might we be making the mistake of the losing version?
  • What other pages are impacted if we’re right about what our users want?
  • Is there content we can create to solve the users’ problems? Are there key pages or explanations that are missing?

It’s a little bit dangerous to over-apply a single test’s conclusions on the whole site, so this usually leads to more testing. After three or four tests you might be ready to make moderate changes without running a split test, allowing you to move on to the next big test.

3. Look at in-market segments

Try to figure out where your users are mentally by looking at in-market segments. Don’t mistake in-market segments for what users are trying to buy. Instead, use it to understand what else the user has been looking at. Here’s a site we work on, for example:

So what is this telling me on our home services site? What do real estate, employment, hotels, new cars, and home furniture have in common? These are all things people need if they’re moving. If we’re smart about it, our site should have messaging and navigation options clearly intended for people who are moving. Maybe moving guides would be a good content idea. These are all opportunities that go unnoticed if we’re only focused on what people want to buy.

Some sites are going back to mobile sites, and that’s okay

It’s been said that Google “likes” responsive design and will reward responsive sites with higher search rankings. I disagree on that second point. Google likes sites that give the user what they want, regardless of the technology used.

Yes, Google has recommended responsive design. So do I, but I do so because it’s by far the easiest multi-device approach to maintain and the hardest to completely mess up. That doesn’t mean it’s the only way, and that does not mean that Google will penalize a site for providing a superior mobile experience in a different way.

There are lots of benefits to mobile sites. On some sites the intent and behavior of mobile users is different enough from desktop users that it justifies creating a mobile-specific experience. It’s also compatible with the goal of a fast-loading site.

Responsive sites are generally much slower to load, according to a report from The Search Agency.

You can and should make your site fast with responsive, but there are a host of reasons most responsive sites end up slower on mobile. Both dynamically-served sites and mobile sites naturally lend themselves to building with speed in mind. A mobile-specific site can also offer an experience that is ideal for the user intent at that time.

This past July, Cindy Krum talked about “mobile intent” during her Mozcon presentation. It might sound like a buzzword, but it’s true that mobile users are in a different spot. They’re not looking to compare as much. They want to either buy quickly or get some quick details on the product.

If you’re thinking about doing a mobile site, make sure you have lots of people ready to build it out correctly and maintain it. Don’t underestimate the dev time it will take to make the entire site work. You’ll need SEOs who know how to set up rel tags and ideally make sure the mobile site has an identical URL structure. You’ll need lots of QA to make sure all your page types are being served correctly.

Some SEOs will say that a mobile sub-domain or sub-folder is worse for SEO because links to one won’t count as links to the other. Nonsense! That’s what the rel=”canonical” and rel=”alternate” tags are for. Just like fretting over non-www 301 redirecting to the www version, these are things that made a big difference at one point, but are no longer as essentially important as they were. Google is smart enough to understand what’s happening – unless you don’t implement them correctly.

Responsive design is still a better option for most companies, but there’s no reason to be dogmatic about it. There’s a reason Google gives you three options. A mobile site can work for larger companies, and is often the best option for mega e-commerce sites.

Web development continues to evolve – including JavaScript libraries

JavaScript usage is place where the SEOs are often guilty of giving dated advice. SEO should enable great content to appear to more people in more searches. SEO should not be used to restrict useful content creating tools unless absolutely necessary.

Traditional SEO wisdom has always been to avoid putting any content into JavaScript that we want the crawlers to see. This is outdated advice for websites in 2015. Libraries like React and Angular can be amazing tools. They’re full of features, fun to use, and can make your website feel faster and more responsive.

If Google wants to reward a positive user experience, and if JavaScript can help site owners provide a stellar user experience, then SEOs should embrace JavaScript. Rather than lobbying against any JavaScript on the site it’s time to get a little more sophisticated in our approach to help the team use their tools correctly.

React and Angular can definitely make your dynamic content more fun to use, but they also make heavy use of AJAX-like client-side execution, which Google doesn’t really understand (yet). Developers and SEOs should be aware of how to make it work.

Making AJAX Google-friendly could be its own post. In fact, there are already several great posts. Google also has some great guides – make sure to check the linked resources, too. One small warning: there’s a lot of outdated info out there on the topic.

You can get around a lot of the nitty-gritty technical SEO using things like Prerender or V8. Try to find a tool that will automatically generate a crawlable version while using AJAX. Communicate with your developers to find a solution that works with your setup.

A humbling example

As I said, it’s important to make sure that you communicate with developers before construction begins. I’ll use a painful recent experience as an example. We just built a react-based tool that helps beginners estimate how much internet speed they need. It immediately redirected all visitors to a URL with a hashtag and the rest of the survey is behind a hashtag. And none of the text could be crawled without client-side execution.

Oops.

We built an awesome tool, and then hid it from Google. Someone fire the guy who missed that… just don’t tell anyone it was me. We used React.js here, and it was a blast. We’ve also received great feedback from users. The lesson here is not to avoid React and AJAX. The lesson here is to communicate SEO requirements to the developers early. The fix will be done soon, but it took a lot longer than if I’d done my due diligence beforehand.

Understanding Google-friendly JavaScript implementation is the job of every SEO. Other digital marketers should at least be aware that there’s a potential problem and a technical solution.

I love interactive tools that are fast and useful. SEOs should be facilitating the building of things that are awesome. That means helping find solutions rather than lobbying against an entire toolset that’s widely used on the modern web.

Don’t forget About indexable apps

Google can now index and rank apps, and they have some decent guidelines on how to do it. It’s possible that app-based companies with an exclusively mobile client base don’t even need a traditional website.

Most companies will still want to build and maintain websites, but be open to the idea that a responsive site might not be the best option for a small mobile game developer. The right option might instead be to add links to content and discussion and then support deep linking within the app.

Even if app-only isn’t the right option, consider that content within apps could be a more engaging medium for people who have already installed the app. For example, a discussion board for players of the game might work better within the game app itself. It could definitely feel more engaging and immersive if users never have to leave the app to ask a fellow user a question or rant about the latest update.

Final thoughts

A site might look awesome when you shrink and expand the window while presenting the design to the c-suite, but if the real decision makers, the users, don’t know what a cheeseburger menu is, you’re not going to sell very many stock photos of earth. Responsive design is a great option – often the right option – but it isn’t the only option. Hopefully this post can help get some thoughts started how to do responsive right.

I’m absolutely not saying that responsive is dead. My point is that if our advice drifts into design and development we should be able to give more concrete advice. Don’t just build websites that respond to screen size. Build websites that respond immediately to your customer’s needs.

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Bing Ads Shares Halloween Data For Advertisers: Search, CTR CPC Trends

See when to expect click-through rates and costs to peak by product category and more.

The post Bing Ads Shares Halloween Data For Advertisers: Search, CTR CPC Trends appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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