Tag Archive | "Visual"

Looking Beyond Keywords: How to Drive Conversion with Visual Search & Search by Camera

Posted by Jes.Scholz

Let’s play a game. I’ll show you an image. You type in the keyword to find the exact product featured in the image online. Ready?

Google her sunglasses…

What did you type? Brown sunglasses? Brown sunglasses with heavy frame? Retro-look brown sunglasses with heavy frame? It doesn’t matter how long-tail you go, it will be difficult to find that exact pair, if not impossible. And you’re not alone.

For 74% of consumers, traditional text-based keyword searches are inefficient at helping find the right products online.

But much of your current search behavior is based on the false premise that you can describe things in words. In many situations, we can’t.

And this shows in the data. Sometimes we forget that Google Images accounts for 22.6% of all searches — searches where traditional methods of searching were not the best fit.

Image credit: Sparktoro

But I know what you’re thinking. Image SEO drives few to no sessions, let alone conversions. Why should I invest my limited resources into visual marketing?

Because humans are visual creatures. And now, so too are mobile phones — with big screens, multiple cameras, and strong depth perception.

Developments in computer vision have led to a visual marketing renaissance. Just look to visual search leader Pinterest, who reported that 55% of their users shop on the platform. How well do those users convert? Heap Analytics data shows that on shopping cart sizes under $ 199, image-based Pinterest Ads have an 8.5% conversion rate. To put that in context, that’s behind Google’s 12.3% but in front of Facebook’s 7.2%.

Not only can visual search drive significant conversions online. Image recognition is also driving the digitalization and monetization in the real world.

The rise of visual search in Google

Traditionally, image search functioned like this: Google took a text-based query and tried to find the best visual match based on metadata, markups, and surrounding copy.

But for many years now, the image itself can also act as the search query. Google can search for images with images. This is called visual search.

Google has been quietly adding advanced image recognition capabilities to mobile Google Images over the last years, with a focus on the fashion industry as a test case for commercial opportunities (although the functionality can be applied to automotive, travel, food, and many other industries). Plotting the updates, you can see clear stepping stone technologies building on the theme of visual search.

  • Related images (April 2013): Click on a result to view visually similar images. The first foray into visual search.
  • Collections (November 2015): Allows users to save images directly from Google’s mobile image search into folders. Google’s answer to a Pinterest board.
  • Product images in web results (October 2016): Product images begin to display next to website links in mobile search.
  • Product details on images (December 2016): Click on an image result to display product price, availability, ratings, and other key information directly in the image search results.
  • Similar items (April 2017): Google can identify products, even within lifestyle images, and showcases similar items you can buy online.
  • Style ideas (April 2017): The flip side to similar items. When browsing fashion product images on mobile, Google shows you outfit montages and inspirational lifestyle photos to highlight how the product can be worn in real life.
  • Image badges (August 2017): Label on the image indicate what other details are available, encouraging more users to click; for example, badges such as “recipe” or a timestamp for pages featuring videos. But the most significant badge is “product,” shown if the item is available for purchase online.
  • Image captions (March 2018): Display the title tag and domain underneath the image.

Combining these together, you can see powerful functionality. Google is making a play to turn Google Images into shoppable product discovery — trying to take a bite out of social discovery platforms and give consumers yet another reason to browse on Google, rather than your e-commerce website.

Image credit: Google

What’s more, Google is subtly leveraging the power of keyword search to enlighten users about these new features. According to 1st May MozCast, 18% of text-based Google searches have image blocks, which drive users into Google Images.

This fundamental change in Google Image search comes with a big SEO opportunity for early adopters. Not only for transactional queries, but higher up the funnel with informational queries as well.

kate-middleton-style.gif

Let’s say you sell designer fashion. You could not only rank #1 with your blog post on a informational query on “kate middleton style,” including an image on your article result to enhance the clickability of your SERP listing. You can rank again on page 1 within the image pack, then have your products featured in Similar Items — all of which drives more high-quality users to your site.

And the good news? This is super simple to implement.

How to drive organic sessions with visual search

The new visual search capabilities are all algorithmically selected based on a combination of schema and image recognition. Google told TechCrunch:

“The images that appear in both the style ideas and similar items grids are also algorithmically ranked, and will prioritize those that focus on a particular product type or that appear as a complete look and are from authoritative sites.”

This means on top of continuing to establish Domain Authority site-wide, you need images that are original, high resolution, and clearly focus on a single theme. But most importantly, you need images with perfectly implemented structured markup to rank in Google Images.

To rank your images, follow these four simple steps:

1. Implement schema markup

To be eligible for similar items, you need product markup on the host page that meets the minimum metadata requirements of:

  • Name
  • Image
  • Price
  • Currency
  • Availability

But the more quality detail, the better, as it will make your results more clickable.

2. Check your implementation

Validate your implementation by running a few URLs through Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. But remember, just being valid is sometimes not enough. Be sure to look into the individual field result to ensure the data is correctly populating and user-friendly.

3. Get indexed

Be aware, it can take up to one week for your site’s images to be crawled. This will be helped along by submitting an image XML sitemap in Google Search Console.

4. Look to Google Images on mobile

Check your implementation by doing a site:yourdomain.cctld query on mobile in Google Images.

If you see no image results badges, you likely have an implementation issue. Go back to step 2. If you see badges, click a couple to ensure they show your ideal markup in the details.

Once you confirm all is well, then you can begin to search for your targeted keywords to see how and where you rank.

Like all schema markup, how items display in search results is at Google’s discretion and not guaranteed. However, quality markup will increase the chance of your images showing up.

It’s not always about Google

Visual search is not limited to Google. And no, I’m not talking about just Bing. Visual search is also creating opportunities to be found and drive conversion on social networks, such as Pinterest. Both brands allow you to select objects within images to narrow down your visual search query.

Image credit: MarTech Today

On top of this, we also have shoppable visual content on the rise, bridging the gap between browsing and buying. Although at present, this is more often driven by data feeds and tagging more so than computer vision. For example:

  • Brahmin offers shoppable catalogs
  • Topshop features user-generated shoppable galleries
  • Net-a-Porter’s online magazine features shoppable article
  • Ted Baker’s campaigns with shoppable videos
  • Instagram & Pinterest both monetize with shoppable social media posts

Such formats reduce the number of steps users need to take from content to conversion. And more importantly for SEOs, they exclude the need for keyword search.

I see a pair of sunglasses on Instagram. I don’t need to Google the name, then click on the product page and then convert. I use the image as my search query, and I convert. One click. No keywords.

…But what if I see those sunglasses offline?

Digitize the world with camera-based search

The current paradigm for SEOs is that we wait for a keyword search to occur, and then compete. Not only for organic rankings, but also for attention versus paid ads and other rich features.

With computer vision, you can cut the keyword search out of the customer journey. By entering the funnel before the keyword search occurs, you can effectively exclude your competitors.

Who cares if your competitor has the #1 organic spot on Google, or if they have more budget for Adwords, or a stronger core value proposition messaging, if consumers never see it?

Consumers can skip straight from desire to conversion by taking a photo with their smartphone.

Brands taking search by camera mainstream

Search by camera is well known thanks to Pinterest Lens. Built into the app, simply point your camera phone at a product discovered offline for online recommendations of similar items.

If you point Lens at a pair of red sneakers, it will find you visually similar sneakers as well as idea on how to style it.

Image credit: Pinterest

But camera search is not limited to only e-commerce or fashion applications.

Say you take a photo of strawberries. Pinterest understand you’re not looking for more pictures of strawberries, but for inspiration, so you’ll see recipe ideas.

The problem? For you, or your consumers, Pinterest is unlikely to be a day-to-day app. To be competitive against keyword search, search by camera needs to become part of your daily habit.

Samsung understands this, integrating search by camera into their digital personal assistant Bixby, with functionality backed by powerful partnerships.

  • Pinterest Lens powers its images search
  • Amazon powers its product search
  • Google translates text
  • Foursquare helps to find places nearby

Bixby failed to take the market by storm, and so is unlikely to be your go-to digital personal assistant. Yet with the popularity of search by camera, it’s no surprise that Google has recently launched their own version of Lens in Google Assistant.

Search engines, social networks, and e-commerce giants are all investing in search by camera…

…because of impressive impacts on KPIs. BloomReach reported that e-commerce websites reached by search by camera resulted in:

  • 48% more product views
  • 75% greater likelihood to return
  • 51% higher time on site
  • 9% higher average order value

Camera search has become mainstream. So what’s your next step?

How to leverage computer vision for your brand

As a marketer, your job is to find the right use case for your brand, that perfect point where either visual search or search by camera can reduce friction in conversion flows.

Many case studies are centered around snap-to-shop. See an item you like in a friend’s home, at the office, or walking past you on the street? Computer vision takes you directly from picture to purchase.

But the applications of image recognition are only limited by your vision. Think bigger.

Branded billboards, magazines ads, product packaging, even your brick-and-mortar storefront displays all become directly actionable. Digitalization with snap-to-act via a camera phone offers more opportunities than QR codes on steroids.

If you run a marketplace website, you can use computer vision to classify products: Say a user wants to list a pair of shoes for sale. They simply snap a photo of the item. With that photo, you can automatically populate the fields for brand, color, category, subcategory, materials, etc., reducing the number of form fields to what is unique about this item, such as the price.

A travel company can offer snap-for-info on historical attractions, a museum on artworks, a healthy living app on calories in your lunch.

What about local SEO? Not only could computer vision show the rating or menu of your restaurant before the user walks inside, but you could put up a bus stop ad calling for hungry travelers to take a photo. The image triggers Google Maps, showing public transport directions to your restaurant. You can take the customer journey, quite literally. Tell them where to get off the bus.

And to build such functionality is relatively easy, because you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There are many open-source image recognition APIs to help you leverage pre-trained image classifiers, or from which you can train your own:

  • Google Cloud Vision
  • Amazon Rekognition
  • IBM Watson
  • Salesforce Einstein
  • Slyce
  • Clarifai

Let’s make this actionable. You now know computer vision can greatly improve your user experience, conversion rate and sessions. To leverage this, you need to:

  1. Make your brand visual interactive through image recognition features
  2. Understand how consumers visually search for your products
  3. Optimize your content so it’s geared towards visual technology

Visual search is permeating online and camera search is becoming commonplace offline. Now is the time to outshine your competitors. Now is the time to understand the foundations of visual marketing. Both of these technologies are stepping stones that will lead the way to an augmented reality future.

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Google Lens improvements ready visual search and AR for mainstream adoption

Better text recognition, lookalike search and real-time functionality are upgrades.

The post Google Lens improvements ready visual search and AR for mainstream adoption appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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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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Is Your Camera the New Search Box? How Visual Intelligence is Turning Search Keyword-less

Posted by purna_v

My neighbor has the most beautiful garden ever.

Season after season, she grows the most exotic, gorgeous plants that I could never find in any local nursery. Slightly green with envy over her green thumb, I discovered a glimmer of hope.

There are apps that will identify any plant you take a photo of. Problem solved. Now the rest of the neighborhood is getting prettied up as several houses, including mine, have sprouted exotic new blooms easily ordered online.

Take a photo, get an answer. The most basic form of visual search.

Visual search addresses both convenience and curiosity. If we wanted to learn something more about what we’re looking at, we could simply upload a photo instead of trying to come up with words to describe it.

This isn’t new. Google Visual Search was demoed back in 2009. CamFind rolled out its visual search app in 2013, following similar technology that powered Google Glass.

What’s new is that a storm of visual-centric technologies are coming together to point to a future of search that makes the keyword less…key.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are the critical new components in the visual game. Let’s focus on what this means and how it’s going to impact your marketing game.

How many kinds of reality do we actually need?

The first thing we think about with the future of visual is virtual reality or augmented reality.

There’s also a third one: mixed reality. So what’s the difference between them and how many kinds of reality can we handle?

Virtual reality (VR) is full immersion in another universe – when you have the VR headset on, you cannot see your actual reality. Virtual reality is a closed environment, meaning that you can only experience what’s been programmed into it. Oculus Rift is an example of virtual reality.

Augmented reality (AR) uses your real environment, but enhances it with the addition of a computer-generated element, like sound or graphics. Pokémon Go is a great example of this, where you still see the world around you but the Pokémon-related graphics – as well as sounds – are added to what you see.

Mixed reality (MR) is an offshoot of augmented reality, with the added element of augmented virtuality. Here, it merges your virtual world with your real world and allows you to interact with both through gestures and voice commands. HoloLens from Microsoft (my employer) is an example of mixed reality – this headset can be programmed to layer on and make interactive any kind of environment over your reality.

The difference is a big fat deal – because an open environment, like HoloLens, becomes a fantastic tool for marketers and consumers.

Let me show you what I mean.

Pretty cool, right? Just think of the commercial implications.

Retail reality

Virtual and augmented reality will reshape retail. This is because it solves a problem – for the consumer.

Online shopping has become a driving force, and we already know what its limitations are: not being able to try clothing on, feel the fabric on the couch or get a sense of the heft of a stool. All of these are obstacles to the online shopper.

According to the Harvard Business Review, augmented reality will eliminate pain points that are specific to every kind of retail shopping – not just trying on the right size, but think about envisioning how big a two-man tent actually is. With augmented reality, you can climb inside it!

If you have any doubt that augmented reality is coming, and coming fast, look no further than this recent conquering by Pokémon Go. We couldn’t get enough.

Some projections put investment in AR technology at close to $ 30 billion by 2020 – that’s in the next three years. HoloLens is already showing early signs for being a game-changer for advertisers.

For example, if I’m shopping for a kitchen stool I could not only look at the website, but I can see what it would look like in my home:

Holo_1.png

Holo2.png

It’s all about being able to get a better feel for how things will look.

Fashion is one industry that has tried to find ways to solve for this and is increasingly embracing augmented reality.

Rebecca Minkoff debuted the use of augmented reality in her New York Fashion Week show this September. Women could use AR app Zeekit – live during the show – to see how the clothes would look on their own body.

Zeekit.png

Image credit: Zeekit

Why did they do this? To fix a very real problem in retail.

According to Uri Minkoff, who is a partner in his sister’s clothing company, 20 to 40 percent of purchases in retail get returned – that’s the industry standard.

If a virtual try-on can eliminate the hassle of the wrong fit, the wrong size, the wrong everything, then they will have solved a business problem while also making their customers super happy.

This trend caught on and at London Fashion Week a few weeks later there were a host of other designers following suit.

Let’s get real about reality

Let’s bring our leap into the visual back down to earth just a bit – because very few of us will be augmenting our reality today.

What’s preventing AR and VR from taking over the world just yet is going to be slow market penetration. AR and VR are relatively expensive and require entirely new hardware.

On the other hand, something like voice search – another aspect of multi-sensory search – is becoming widely adopted because it relies on a piece of hardware most of us already carry with us at all times: our mobile phone.

The future of visual intelligence relies on tying it to a platform that is already commonly used.

Imagine this. You’re reading a magazine and you like something a model is wearing.

Your phone is never more than three feet from you, so you pick it up, snap a photo of the dress, and the artificial intelligence (AI) – via your digital personal assistant – uses image search to find out where to buy it, no keywords necessary at all.

Take a look at how it could work:

Talk about a multi-sensory search experience, right?

Voice search and conversation as a platform are combined with image search to transact right within the existing platform of your digital personal assistant – which is already used by 66% of 18- to 26-year-olds and 59% of 27- to 35-year-olds, according to Forrester Research.

graph_genzz.jpg

As personal digital assistants rise, so will the prevalence of visual intelligence.

Digital personal assistants, with their embedded artificial intelligence, are the key to the future of visual intelligence in everybody’s hands.

What’s already happening with visual intelligence?

Amazon

One of the most common uses exists right within the Amazon app. Here, the app gives you the option to find a product simply by taking a photo of something or of the bar code:

Amazon1.jpg or Amazon2.jpg

CamFind

The app CamFind can identify the content of pictures you’ve taken and offer links to places you could shop for it. Their website touts the fact that users can get “fast, accurate results with no typing necessary.”

For example, I took a photo of my (very dusty) mouse and it not only recognized it, but also gave me links to places I could buy it or learn more about it.

Pinterest

Pinterest already has a handy visual search tool for “visually similar results,” which returns results from other pins that are a mix of commerce and community posts. This is a huge benefit for retailers to take advantage of.

For example, if you were looking for pumpkin soup recipe ideas and came across a kitchen towel you liked within the Pin, you could select the part of the image you wanted to find visually similar results for.

Pinterest.png

Image credit: Pinterest

Google

Google’s purchase of Moodstocks is also very interesting to watch. Moodstocks is a startup that has developed machine learning technology to boost image recognition for the cameras on smartphones.

For example, you see something you like. Maybe it’s a pair of shoes a stranger is wearing on the subway, and you take a picture of it. The image recognition software identifies the make and model of the shoe, tells you where you can buy it and how much it costs.

Mood.jpg

Image credit: Moodstocks

Captionbot.ai

Microsoft has developed an app that describes what it sees in images. It understands thousands of objects as well as the relationship between them. That last bit is key – and is the “AI” part.

Capbot.png

Captionbot.ai was created to showcase some of the intelligence capabilities of Microsoft Cognitive Services, such as Computer Vision, Emotion API, and Natural Language. It’s all built on machine learning, which means it will get smarter over time.

You know what else is going to make it smarter over time? It’s integrated into Skype now. This gives it a huge practice field – exactly what all machine learning technology craves.

As I said when we first started, where we are now with something like plant identification is leading us directly to the future with a way of getting your product into the hands of consumers who are dying to buy it.

What should I do?

Let’s make our marketing more visual.

We saw the signs with rich SERP results – we went from text only to images, videos and more. We’re seeing pictures everywhere in a land that used to be limited to plain text.

Images are the most important deciding factor when making a purchase, according to research by Pixel Road Designs. They also found that consumers are 80% more willing to engage with content that includes relevant images. Think about your own purchase behavior – we all do this.

This is also why all the virtual reality shenanigans are going to take root.

Up the visual appeal

Without the keyword, the image is now the star of the show. It’s almost as if the understudy suddenly got thrust into the spotlight. Are they ready? Will they succeed?

To get ready for keywordless searches, start by reviewing the images on your site. The goal here is to ensure they’re fully optimized and still recognizable without the surrounding text.

First and foremost, we want to look at the quality of the image and answer yes to as many of the following questions as possible:

  • Does it clearly showcase the product?
  • Is it high-resolution?
  • Is the lighting natural with no distortive filters applied?
  • Is it easily recognizable as being that product?

Next, we want to tell the search engines as much about the image as we can, so they can best understand it. For the same reasons that SEOs can benefit by using Schema mark-up, we want to ensure the images tell as much of a story as they can.

The wonderfully brilliant Ronell Smith touched upon this subject in his recent Moz post, and the Yoast blog offers some in-depth image SEO tips as well. To summarize a few of their key points:

  • Make sure file names are descriptive
  • Provide all the information: titles, captions, alt attribute, description
  • Create an image XML sitemap
  • Optimize file size for loading speed

Fairly simple to do, right? This primes us for the next step.

Take action now by taking advantage of existing technology:

1. Pinterest:

On Pinterest, optimize your product images for clean matches from lifestyle photos. You can reverse-engineer searches to your products via the “visually similar results” tool by posting pins of lifestyle shots (always more compelling than a white background product shot) that feature your products, in various relevant categories.

visual-search-results-blog.gif

In August, Pinterest added video to its visual search machine learning functionality. This tool is still working out the kinks, but keep your eye on it so you can create relevant content with a commerce view.

For example, a crafting video about jewelry might be tagged with places to buy the tools and materials in it.

2. Slyce:

Integrate Slyce’s astounding tool, which gives your customer’s camera a “buy” button. Using image recognition technology, the Slyce tool activates visual product recognition.

slyce.png

Image credit: Slyce.it

Does it work? There are certainly several compelling case studies from the likes of Urban Outfitters and Neiman Marcus on their site.

3. Snapchat:

Snap your way to your customer, using Snapchat’s soon-to-come object recognition ad platform. This lets you deliver an ad to a Snapchatter by recognizing objects in the pictures they’ve just taken.

The Verge shared images from the patent Snapchat had applied for, such as:

snapchat.png

For example, someone who snaps a pic of a woman in a cocktail dress could get an ad for cocktail dresses. Mind-blowing.

4. Blippar:

The Blippar app is practically a two-for-one in the world of visual intelligence, offering both AR as well as visual discovery options.

They’ve helped brands pave the way to AR by turning their static content into AR interactive content. A past example is Domino’s Pizza in the UK, which allowed users of the Blippar app to interact with their static posters to take actions such as download deals for their local store.

Blippar.jpg

Now the company has expanded into visual discovery. When a user “Blipps” an item, the app will show a series of interrelated bubbles, each related to the original item. For example, “Blipping” a can of soda could result in information about the manufacturer, latest news, offers, and more.

blippars.jpg

Image credit: Blippar.com

Empowerment via inclusivity

Just in case you imagine all the developments are here to serve commerce, I wanted to share two examples of how visual intelligence can help with accessibility for the seeing impaired.

TapTapSee

taptapsee logo.PNG

From the creators of CamFind, TapTapSee is an app specifically designed for the blind and visually impaired.

It recognizes objects photographed and identifies them out loud for the user. All the user needs to do to take a photo is to double tap on the devices’ screen.

The Seeing AI

Created by a Microsoft engineer, the Seeing AI project combines artificial intelligence and image recognition with a pair of smart glasses to help a visually-impaired person better understand who and what is going on around them.

Take a look at them in action:

While wearing the glasses, the user simply swipes the touch panel on the eyewear to take a photo. The AI will then interpret the scene and describe it back out loud, using natural language.

It can describe what people are doing, how old they are, what emotion they’re expressing, and it can even read out text (such as a restaurant menu or newspaper) to the user.

Innovations like this are what makes search even more inclusive.

Keep Calm and Visualize On

We are visual creatures. We eat first with our eyes, we love with our eyes, we become curious with our eyes.

Cameras as the new search box is brilliant. It removes obstacles to search and helps us get answers in a more intuitive way. Our technology is adapting to us, to our very human drive to see everything.

And that is why the future of search is visual.

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3 Resources to Help You Create Remarkable Visual Content

Copyblogger Collection: visual content that surprises and delights

As someone who made an intentional decision to have a career working with words, talking to you about the importance of visual content makes me feel a little weird.

But I have to tell you, when I’ve been scrolling through my Twitter timeline lately, it’s the updates with intriguing visuals that catch my eye. They’re the ones I read, and the links I click.

In the current digital marketing landscape, the strategic use of visual content — whether it accompanies text or stands alone — is a smart move as you strive to produce the best experience for your audience.

This week’s Copyblogger Collection is a series of three handpicked articles that will help you learn:

  • How to create simple, captivating drawings
  • How to use images to engage distracted readers
  • How to create a visual brand

As you work your way through the material below, think of these lessons as a mini visual content creation course.


How to Create Simple Drawings to Clarify Your Ideas and Captivate Your Audience

image-brainstorming-process

If you think you can’t draw, Mike Davenport and Henneke are out to prove you wrong in How to Create Simple Drawings to Clarify Your Ideas and Captivate Your Audience.

They’ll show you how anyone can draw images without an art school education or fancy tools. Mike and Henneke explain that:

Simple images are quick to draw, and you don’t have to buy them. You might even find that readers engage more with hand-drawn images because they are more personal.

My favorite tip from this article is a simple way to get your hand-drawn images online. Check it out!


Use Images (Not Just Words) to Turn Your Distracted Visitors into Engaged Readers

use-images

We are living in a visual world, and Pamela Wilson is a visual girl. That’s how the song goes, right?

Pamela shares how to harness the power of images in Use Images (Not Just Words) to Turn Your Distracted Visitors into Engaged Readers.

Her expert knowledge will guide you through image creation best practices that you can start using right away.


How to Create a Visual Brand and Fight the Dark Forces

cb-visualbrand

Rafal Tomal recently watched Star Wars for the first time and didn’t just regard his viewing experience as entertainment. He composed a piece with visual branding lessons you can learn from the film.

In How to Create a Visual Brand and Fight the Dark Forces, he says:

Visual branding is about telling a story, creating a coherent user experience, and appealing to emotions.

Rafal will help you conceive and implement a strong visual brand throughout your digital content — from your website design to your blog post images and social media profiles.

Expand your digital content creation

Use this post (and save it for future reference!) to help you think of new ways to create remarkable visual content to share with your audience.

We’ll see you back here on Monday with a fresh topic to kick off the week!

About the author

Stefanie Flaxman

Stefanie Flaxman is Copyblogger Media’s Editor-in-Chief. Don’t follow her on Twitter.

The post 3 Resources to Help You Create Remarkable Visual Content appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Social Media: Leveraging visual marketing on Instagram and Pinterest

Creating your social media marketing take a dedicated effort where success is built one customer at a time. Watch this video from the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE to learn more from Jason Miles, Co-founder, Liberty Jane Clothing, and Aime Schwartz, Digital Marketing Manager, King Arthur Flour, about where to start your social media efforts with Instagram and Pinterest.
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How to Swaggerjack the Power of Visual Memes – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by lenawest

Visual assets like memes and truly informative infographics have always been (and will continue to be) effective ways of driving traffic and generating conversations. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Lena West walks us through some of the more effective examples, proving that it isn’t difficult to create visual assets that get people talking.









For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard:

Video Transcription

Hey there, everyone. Welcome to Whiteboard Friday. My name is Lena West from Influence Expansion, and I am here today to talk about how you can swaggerjack the power of visual memes to really boost your traffic and your SEO results.

So first, a couple of things I want to talk to you about is a couple tactics. So we’re going to kind of get into the nitty-gritty a little bit here, so tactics that I have used with our clients that I know work. So first let me also say that I am not an SEO expert, and I don’t play one on TV.

I’m a social person. But one of the things that I’ve noticed in our work with clients is when we are really heavy handed using a lot of images, you would think that it wouldn’t work, it wouldn’t be effective, but it is. I notice that not only do they get better search engine rankings, but they also get a lot of traffic and a lot of social signals. So all that’s good stuff. So I’m going to show you a couple of things that we do to get that done for our clients.

First thing I’m going to talk to you about is Wordless Wednesday. If you don’t know what that is, I’m going to go into it. Infographics, and do not laugh at me when I say infographics because I know everybody might be tired of infographics, but there’s still some life there and there’s still an opportunity for us to get it right and get some visibility going with infographics and get some juice out of it still.

Then I’m going to talk about quote graphics. So you’ve seen these probably on Facebook, a lot on Pinterest. It’s a really nice background, and then on top it’s got some text that kind of makes you feel good about yourself and good about your soul. So I’ll talk about that in a minute.

So first, let’s talk about Wordless Wednesdays. So what is Wordless Wednesday? I was first introduced to Wordless Wednesday when I started doing some work with BlogPaws, and complete disclosure, I’m on the board, but they are a great organization. BlogPaws is a pet organization, and they help pets with blogs, people who blog about pets, and that sort of thing.

What they do is they’ll post pictures of dogs and cats and ferrets, and it’s really interesting because they just post the picture, no words, hence Wordless Wednesday. They post it on a Wednesday. Because they don’t force the content on the reader, what will happen is people will start to comment like crazy about what they think that particular animal is saying or what they think the scenario is about, etc. It really boosts engagement, and it gets people talking.

The thing that I learned the most about Wordless Wednesdays is, if you Google it, like right now if you Google it, you will see that there is about 7.7 million, and it will probably be more as you’re watching this video, depending upon when you watch this, 7.7 million search results. If you look at the top five results there, you’re going to find that not a lot of them are big brands. They’re small companies. So there’s really room to grow and participate in this particular meme. I’m going to talk to you about how to do that in a second.

So that’s what Wordless Wednesdays is about. It’s about slapping up probably an innocuous looking picture and getting people to comment and share. It works. It’s super effective. Something creative happens when you don’t force content on people.

So how do you swaggerjack the Wordless Wednesday? The easiest thing to do, number one, is just chime in on Wordless Wednesdays. Just start tagging your blog posts as Wordless Wednesdays. Now that you can use hashtags on Facebook, you can do it on Facebook. Start really getting in on Wordless Wednesday.

The other thing that you can do is make your own meme. So one of my clients has, I believe she calls it, Scarlett Says Saturdays. So that’s the alliteration thing going on.

I’ve also seen Throwback Thursdays. You guys have probably seen that. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re consistent. If it’s Throwback Thursdays, it’s not Throwback Thursdays once a month. It’s Throwback Thursday every Thursday. That’s the thing that makes the difference. That’s where you get the juice from this Wordless Wednesday type meme is being consistent and doing it every single week without fail.

The power of the visual meme is amazing. Some brands that get this right, and you guys probably have seen some of these ads, it’s the folks at Old Navy. Oh, they are amazing with the retro thing that they’ve done. They’ve brought back some ’70s stars, Mr. T and The Brady Bunch people. It’s just amazing what they’ve done with graphics. They’ve got that whole retro meme, that visual meme going, and it is working for them. Old Navy does more sales than Gap even does. So it’s been really effective for them.

Another brand that gets it right, our friends at Dos Equis. So what’s the saying this guy? He’s the most unforgettable man in the world or the most interesting man in the world. “When I’m busy I drink Dos Equis.” We know this guy. He’s like the Old Spice guy. He’s always around. He’s this distinguished looking gentleman with white hair and a white beard. It’s not Santa, but it’s the Dos Equis guy. But they’ve used the power of the visual meme so that every single time you see this guy’s face, you don’t even have to see the Dos Equis logo. You don’t have to see anything. All you know is something cool is going to come out of this guy’s mouth, and they’re going to make him look like James Bond meets MacGyver in this commercial.

So a couple tools that you can use to figure out which memes are hot so that you can jump on the bandwagon, KnowYourMeme.com, QuickMeme.com, and MemeCenter.com. So check those out. Those are really good places for you guys to get a start.

Second thing I want to talk about, infographics. Now I know that infographics have been overdone and overused, but I’m going to talk to you about something a little bit new in a minute. The first thing that we have seen work for our clients, in terms of getting more traffic and definitely more social shares, is going to Google images, doing a search and also going on Pinterest and doing a search for whatever industry they’re in plus the word infographics.

So if your client is in wellness, let’s say, so they’re in healthcare. Maybe it’s a vitamin company or a supplement company or something like that. Go and search for vitamins plus infographic, wellness plus infographic, healthcare plus infographic. You’d be surprised at the infographics that come up. Some of them are going to be crappy, and some of them are going to be really well done. All you have to do is copy-paste. Grab that infographic.

The beauty of infographics is, at the very bottom, mostly what you see is the attribution. So it’s whoever created it has their logo at the bottom. So you usually don’t have to worry about that when sharing infographics. Always make sure to give attribution though, because you don’t want to be steeling anybody’s stuff and trying to pass it off as your own. You don’t want any problems like that. But copy-paste. Share stuff. It doesn’t have to be your content or your client’s content for you to share it. Fill that editorial calendar with some infographics.

So for those of you who are tired of infographics that are already existing, I’ve got something for you too. Design your own. You can make your own. Your clients are sitting on tons of data. All you’ve got to do is ask them: “Hey, have you ever done a survey? What were the results? How many results did you get?” You’d be surprised at what clients reveal when you start asking the right questions.

Great way for you to design your own info-graphics, here are a couple tools, visually, Piktochart.com and Infogram. I am partial to these folks because they have a really nice pictogram. They have a really nice user interface. It’s very easy to kind of figure out what’s going on and it’s highly customizable, and what — free. So I like that.

Brands that get the infographics game right think outside of the box. So there’s this company called Warby Parker Eyewear. I’ve got to really slow it down with that — Warby Parker Eyewear. What they’ve done is they have done an annual report for I think the past two or three years. There’s one for 2010, 2011, and I think 2013 maybe, or 2012. They’ve done an annual report for their company using an infographic format. You’ve got to publish the annual report any doggone way. You may as well make it sexy. I think it’s great. Google it. You’re going to love it. You’re going to love how they’re used the infographic format to get that content out there and to share that content with their audience.

Another company who blew it out of the water, folks called LunaMetrics. You may not know who they are, but I guarantee if you work in the social space at all, you have seen their infographic. Google it. I promise you. It’s an infographic. It’s a white background, and what it does is it gives you all of the standard sizes for every single social channel layout. So it tells you the ideal size for your profile image on Facebook, your cover image for your Facebook page, your cover image for Twitter. It gives you all of those graphics all in one really long infographic. I know I have used this for us in my company. I’ve used this for our clients. I know other pros in the social space use this all the time. Who gets the credit at the very bottom?
The folks at LunaMetrics. It’s been passed around thousands and thousands and thousands of times. So really check that out.

The last and third thing I want to talk to you about in terms of swagger-jacking the power of visual memes is quote graphics. Say that three times fast. So quote graphics, you’ve seen them on Facebook and Pinterest. They’ve got that nice background, and usually it’s like a lake or some flowers or something, or maybe even a watercolor background. Some of them are bright, kind of in your face. They have some sort of saying or quote on top in very stylized text.

What I love about these images is it doesn’t matter the size of your company or your client’s company. You can use these. Here’s how. If you’re representing a bigger brand or if you work at a big brand, you can use these quotes because you get to choose what the quote image says. You get to pick which quotes you use. You can use these quotes to really humanize a big brand to bring it down, to make it connect with people in a very real way. So using words and images, you can use it connect with people.

If you’re representing a smaller brand or a smaller company or if you work at a smaller company, you can use quote graphics to develop that know, like, and trust factor with your clients and the people who are visiting your Pinterest boards or visiting your Facebook page.

Again, based on the quotes you select and the backgrounds you select, we’ve had custom backgrounds made for our clients. So we’ll create, I don’t know, a suite of like five or six custom backgrounds and just throw different quotes on the top of those various backgrounds and swap them in and out and get them up on Facebook and get them up on Pinterest. It’s been really amazing in terms of the sharability and the traffic.

Always, always, quick tip from Lena, at the very bottom put your URL or your client’s URL so that people know exactly where to go to if they want to find more information about this company that shared this great quote with them.

As always, just like with infographics, you can search, copy, paste. You can find them on your own. I think there’s a really good one on Facebook. If you go and search for quote graphics on Facebook, you’ll see it. There’s a whole Facebook page devoted to these.

The other thing you can do is create your own. I like these tools to do that. You’ve got to have your own background with most of these tools. But Pinwords is great. We use Pinwords a lot, especially if you have your own background. If your designer has done a custom background for you, Pinwords is awesome. So I’m going to circle the one that I like. Pinwords. Oops, I don’t think you guys can see that. Pinwords. I like Pinstamatic as well and Quozio. So those are three options for you to create your own.

Brands that get this right, I’m going to save Peugeot Panama for last because I love what they’ve done, and it’s like OMG. But LL Bean and HGTV. It’s very tempting when you’re on Pinterest or when you’re creating these graphics to smack products in there and use it as a sales channel. Could you do that? Yeah. But that’s like complete cheese-ball.

You want to be creative. So what the folds at LL Bean have done, so okay what’s the energy of LL Bean? What are they about? They’re about camping and outdoors and being in the wilderness and that sort of thing. It’s got that outdoorsy vibe to it. So every single board on their Pinterest board, their main Pinterest board, every board is about outdoors or animals in the wild. People are pinning this stuff like crazy. You would think, “Well, why don’t they just put pictures of their jackets?” Because nobody cares. People want to share pictures of animals and really cool tent set-ups and outdoor, what do they call it, glamping. So there’s loads of pictures of glamping on LL Bean Pinterest boards. They really get it right. Check them out.

HGTV does something very similar as well. So HGTV is all about DIY and renovating and painting your house and that whole bit. So they’ve got some boards.

But Peugeot Panama, they take it for me. What they did, you have to see it. Please Google it. What they’ve done is they’ve taken pictures of their cars, and Peugeots are kind of small cars. So what they’ll do is they’ll take pictures of the car, and they’ll chunk them up into nine or six different images and they’ll put them back together on the Pinterest board so that when you go to the Pinterest Board, it’s almost like a puzzle. It’s the coolest effect. It’s a very cool way that they’ve deconstructed the images to reconstruct the bigger picture. It’s absolutely amazing.

So I hope that you see that images are not our enemy, and images are actually our friend. We can do so much with images. It’s not just about alt text and trying to cram text in there and only use text. You can get a lot of social signals. You can get a lot of traffic and really great search engine rankings, because if you’re doing well on social, you all know that you are going to come up high on those search engine rankings.

So feel free to chat me up in the comments below. Let me know what you’re thinking. Ask me any questions. If I speak too fast and I left something out, let me know. So thanks so much for listening. See you online.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Why Visual Assets > Infographics – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

The marketing industry seems to have a love-hate relationship with infographics. When they’re really done well, they can be effective ways of conveying a lot of complex information in a way that’s easier to digest. The problem is that relatively few of today’s infographics are really done well, and many are simply created for shallow SEO benefit.

In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand talks about the differences between infographics and visual assets, and why the latter are far more effective in our efforts.









For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard:

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition to of Whiteboard Friday. This week I’m going to take a stance. It’s a little bit of a strong and contrarian stance. I’m going to say that I really, really dislike most infographics. In fact, not even most. The vast majority of infographics I strongly dislike. And that said, I really like visual assets. Today I’m going to try and explain the difference to you and show you why I’m a huge believer in one and such a disrespecter of the other.

So the typical infographic and the thing that frustrates me about it so much is that it’s really designed primarily to get embeds, to get links, potentially to get some traffic and build some branding. But it’s actually not optimized for a lot of these things. In fact, because the medium has both become so overused and because the execution on many of them is such poor quality, I find that they often hurt more than they help. Because of that, I’m not a fan.

So here is your typical infographic. How obsessed are Facebook users with celebrities? Oh my gosh, look, 35% have liked a celebrity’s page, and look, more and more people have liked more and more celebrity pages over time. Here’s a picture of some people, and here are words in some graphic format that’s really hard to read and unnecessary illustrations on the side just to ornament this thing up.

Then they hope that someone is going to pick it up and embed it on their news site, and occasionally this stuff does work. In fact, for a few years now it has worked. The challenge is it keeps going down and down and down. It’s reaching a point of diminishing returns, and I think that’s because audiences are really tired of the infographic format or are getting very tired, especially more sophisticated and savvy audiences, which for a lot of B2B and even many B2C marketers, let’s face it, we are reaching those areas.

Also, these things can be tremendously burdensome to try and put on a web page. They’re hard to read a lot of the time. So it makes it challenging even when someone does embed it. Google has said specifically that they’re looking at algorithmic ways that they can work around infographics that get embedded that people didn’t really mean to or intend to link back, and they are merely doing a link to the infographic because of the embed itself.

This kind of stuff, eh, I’m just not about that. I don’t think that most of us in the inbound marketing field should be about that, despite the potentially positive impact that something very similar can have.

So these are visual assets. There are many different kinds of visual assets. In fact, I would say infographics, traditional infographics are just one type of visual asset and possibly not the best one. In fact, probably not the best one in my opinion.

Photos, just a collection of pictures from relevant and interesting people, events, places, even concepts that are illustrated, these get picked up. They get shared around the web. They’re useful for social media networks. But they’re also useful to have in a photo library that people might take and use for all kinds of different reasons.

Charts and graphs that illustrate or explain the numbers behind a story or a phenomenon, these can be incredibly useful, and they get picked up and used all the time by sources that want to quote the numbers and even by sources that originated the numbers that are looking for visual ways to represent them. This is a phenomenal way to build value through visual assets.

Visual representations, I do stuff like this all the time. Think of the SEO Pyramid. It starts at the base with accessibility, and then we talk about keywords and links, social, user and usage signals, and all that kind of stuff. I’ve done some visuals like that on Whiteboard Friday, things like the ranking factors by distribution through the pie chart explaining those different things.

I’ve done stuff like the T-shaped web marketer, talking about going deep in a particular niche, but having a lot of cross domain expertise. These are not high-quality graphics. They’re made by me. I use Flash 6 to make these things, because I learned Flash way back in my days as a web designer. I’m lazy and have not learned to get good at Illustrator or Photoshop in particular. Yet, they get picked up and sent all over the place, and you can see visual assets doing the same thing in all sorts of niches.

Comics, illustrations, or storyboards that tell a narrative visually, incredibly popular and get picked up all the time. Screen shots; even just a simple screen shot with some annotation and explanation, examples of what to do, how to use it, how to interpret that information, layering on top some data, these types of visual assets have huge caché and value.

You get a lot more opportunity from these kinds of visual assets, in my opinion and experience, for links, for referencing, being referenced by media outlets, by industry resources, by third parties, by people in your professional or personal sphere. You have more of an opportunity for embeds because they’re much simpler to embed, and they can be useful in so many more places than an infographic, which really needs to take up an entire post about it if it’s going to get referenced at all.

They give a lot more value to people. They’re simple to consume, to understand, and they’re useful and usable in ways that infographics often are not. And, a lot of the time they’re far simpler to execute. It doesn’t take a graphic designer to produce a ton of these different types of resources. It often doesn’t cost very much, if anything at all, to make them, and that means you can produce a far greater quantity of visual assets than you could of infographics and have potential there to get links, to get references, to build your brand in really authentic ways.

So I’m sure there will be some vigorous debate and discussion in the comments, and I look forward to it. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Mega-SERP: A Visual Guide to Google

Posted by Dr-Pete

The days of 10 blue links are over, and Google’s search result pages seem to be evolving on a daily basis. We often see new SERP features in isolation, so I had an idea—what if I put all of them (or, at least, all of the big ones), on one mega-SERP? The following is a visual guide to the state of Google in 2013.

A few disclaimers

This is not a real Google SERP, although it is constructed from real results. Many of these features do not occur together in the wild. For example, you can have top+side or top+bottom AdWords blocks, but not all three. Statistics (after the image) were taken from 10,000 queries over the week of September 22, 2013 (daily average, as measured by the MozCast Project). These queries represent a variety of lengths and volumes, but do tend to skew commercial. This post is not an endorsement of any taco-related product or service, but I do love me some tacos. Without further ado, I give you Mega-SERP (click on the image for a full-sized version):

Mega-SERP - Small Version

Let’s dive into these 24 distinct features, which I’ve grouped into five color-coded buckets: “Local,” “Advertising,” “Knowledge Graph,” “Vertical,” and “General.” Each feature includes, where available, the prevalence of that feature across MozCast’s 10K query set. The first percentage is by unique queries, and the second (in parentheses) is by query volume. Up first are the local features.

Local SERP features

(A) Local Carousel – 1.0% (0.3%)

There are two types of carousels—local and knowledge graph—but only one on any give SERP. I’ve chosen to show a local carousel, since they seem to impact more competitive queries and are reshaping the local SEO landscape.

(G) Local Knowledge Panel – 6.3% (3.4%)

Some organic results are blended with a local listing and map pin, and clicking on them pulls up a Knowledge Graph panel (previously called an “authoritative one-box”). These results don’t always appear in the #1 position, but they seem to be more common on higher authority sites.

(J) Local “Pack” Results – 7.3% (8.4%)

Blended packs are the most familiar local results, and mix Google Maps data with organic listing that have local relevance..he 7-pack accounting for 81% of the local packs in our data set. Packs range from two to seven local results, and we’ve seen them in any position from #1 to #9, but they tend to be more common in the top half of the SERP.

(M) Local “Near” Results – 5.1% (4.1%)

The “near” box is a pure local pack, pulling data directly from Google Maps. These packs max out at three results. Near boxes are usually called out with a header in the form of “[Query] near [Location]“.

(Y) Google Map + Pins – 11.3% (10.1%)

Results with “pinned” listings (such as local packs) almost always trigger a map, although the location, size, and even presence of the map has started to vary quite a bit. Except for traffic maps, all maps we’ve seen appear in the right-hand column.

Advertising and paid results

Advertising includes both the traditional AdWords blocks and the newer, paid inclusion results. Keep in mind that the presence of advertising is highly variable and depends on factors like competition, time of day, seasonality, etc. The numbers below should only be taken as rough estimates.

(C) AdWords Ads (Top) – 72.2% (72.8%)

The top-left AdWords block (above organic results) is easily the most common, and it ranges from one to three results. Ad formats are becoming much richer, as you can see from the Mega-SERP example, which includes both photos and site-links.

(D) Shopping Results (Left) – 18.2%* (19.0%)

Paid shopping results usually appear as a horizontal block of product images and links, but Google is testing variations. Shopping results can appear in either the left or right column, and are typically at the top. Our system currently only tracks total shopping results, and doesn’t separate the data for left vs. right.

(R) AdWords Ads (Bottom) – 16.5% (14.9%)

The bottom AdWords block is very similar to the top block, and can contain up to three results.

(T) Shopping Results (Right)

Most shopping results on the right look the same as results on the left, but there are some noticeable exceptions, such as paid product placement for a single product. Those variations are still the minority of cases, but expect Google to experiment a lot in the near future.

(W) AdWords Ads (Right) – 42.4% (41.6%)

The right-hand column block of ads has the highest count, and can contain up to eight AdWords ads. These ads typically have very few enhancements or added features. AdWords ads always seem to start at the top and then either flow into the right column or bottom section (never both, at least in our data).

Knowledge Graph features

Many people call the informational box in the right-hand column the “knowledge graph,” but the knowledge graph is a complex combination of data sources and algorithms that is starting to manifest across the SERP. Following are a few common entities that seem to be connected to the knowledge graph.

(B) List Carousel

Google recently (September 27th) launched a new form of white-backgrounded carousel (Mega-SERP query was “taco songs”), which currently seems to appear for certain music-related searches. Clicking on any song takes you to a new SERP and a prominent YouTube box at the top of the page.

(E) Answer Box – 1.4% (1.3%)

There are many, many shapes and sizes of answer boxes (see my post exploring 101 answer boxes), but they almost always appear as a gray-outlined box at the top of the left-hand column. Some of this data comes directly from third-party sources, but much of it seems to be tied to the knowledge graph.

(U) Knowledge Graph (Info) – 26.2%* (32.6%)

This is what most people think of when they hear “knowledge graph”—a block of information about a subject, in this case nutritional information. Informational knowledge graph boxes have many variants. Our data tracks all knowledge graph entities (except answer boxes) under one number, so the 26.5% represents the entire world of knowledge graph boxes.

(V) Knowledge Graph (Brand)

While technically still a knowledge graph box, brand boxes seem to be connected to Google+, allowing you to follow a brands G+ page and recent activity.

(X) Disambiguation Box

The disambiguation box occurs when Google thinks that a searcher’s intent is ambiguous and wants to provide options. In the Mega-SERP example, a search for “taco shell” brought up options for tortilla or Taco Bell. Clicking on one of these links triggers a new search.

Vertical search results

So-called “vertical” results used to be very cleanly separated in Google and not counted as organic listings, but that line is beginning to blur. For example, many video results now seem to be integrated directly as organic (as in the Mega-SERP example). I’m treating the new “In-depth articles” as a vertical result, because of its close relationship to news results.

(F) Image Mega-block

The mega-block of images is rare, and seems to only occur at the top in 7-result SERPs. The Mega-SERP example comes from the search “pictures of tacos”, and these images almost always appear for searches starting with “pictures of…”, “photos of…”, etc.

(I) Video Results – 18.5% (22.0%)

Currently, video results are integrated into organic results, with the exception that they show a thumbnail of the video and sometimes a publication date. Video results can appear at any position in the SERP.

(N) Image Results – 24.6% (27.5%)

Image results are still a “true” vertical and are tied directly to Google Image search. Standard image results appear as a horizontal block of images in the left-hand column, and their position varies. These results link directly to Google Images.

(O) News Results – 19.6% (29.8%)

News results are another true vertical, and also occur as a distinct block in the left-hand column. The news block can have up to three links, and the first link is often enhanced with a thumbnail image.

(Q) In-depth Articles – 5.2% (9.9%)

Launched in August of 2013, “In-depth articles” are one of the biggest new features of the year. The in-depth block is a fairly large set of three articles (which can all have thumbnails, currently). Google seems to reserve this block for content that is evergreen and literally “in-depth,” and most of these links come from major publications like The New York Times. Unlike news results, these links may be months or even years old and are not updated regularly.

Miscellaneous features

Finally, we have the SERP features that just don’t belong to any one group. Sorry, miscellaneous features—we still love you.

(H) Site-links (6-pack) – 19.4% (19.9%)

The #1 organic listing may be rewarded with expanded site-links—anywhere from one to six, depending on the site. There is a perfect correlation, at least in our data, between site-links and 7-result SERPs (i.e. if a result has site-links, it’s a 7-result SERP). Google is experimenting with 10-packs of site-links, but only for domain queries (currently), like “tacobell.com“.

(K) Authorship Mark-up – 21.9% (20.9%)

If Google can connect a resource to a Google+ entity, that result may get authorship mark-up, which adds a thumbnail of the author, his/her name, and some basic G+ stats. Also, there’s apparently such a thing as “taco journalism.”

(L) Review Mark-up – 24.0% (24.6%)

Products, recipes, and other appropriate entities may show review data, including stars. In the Mega-SERP example, the recipe listing is also showing a thumbnail image.

(P) Social Results

Social results have evolved a lot in the past year or so, and the current incarnation looks a lot like authorship mark-up, but there’s one big difference—these results are 100% personalized. My friend Dan is only showing up here because we’re in each other’s G+ circles.

(S) Related Searches

This aspect of the SERP has almost become so ubiquitous that I hesitate to even call it a feature. The vast majority of searches (sorry, we don’t have exact numbers on this one) have links at the bottom to related topics.

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A Visual Guide to Keyword Targeting and On-Page Optimization

Posted by randfish

How do I build the perfectly optimized page?

This is a challenging question for many in the SEO and web marketing fields. There are hundreds of “best practices” lists for where to place keywords and how to do “on-page optimization,” but as search engines have evolved and as other sources of traffic — social networks, referring links, email, blogs, etc. — have become more important and interconnected, the very nature of what’s “optimal” is up for debate.

My perspective is certainly not gospel, but it’s informed by years of experience, testing, failure, and learning alongside a lot of metrics from Moz’s phenomenal data science team. I don’t think there’s one absolute right way to optimize a page, but I do think I can share a lot about the architecture of how to target content and increase the likelihood that it will:

  • A) Have the best opportunity to rank highly in Google and Bing
  • B) Earn traffic from social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.
  • C) Be worthy of links and shares from across the web
  • D) Build your brand’s perception, trust, and potential to convert visitors

With the help of some graphics from CreativeMarket (which I highly recommend), I created a number of visualizations to explain how I think about modern on-page optimization and keyword targeting. Let’s start with a graphical overview of what makes a page optimized:

elements-optimized-sml
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In the old days of SEO, “on-page optimization” referred merely to keyword placement. Search engines liked to see keywords in certain locations of the HTML code to help indicate a page’s relevance for that query. But today, this simple approach won’t cut it for two key reasons:

  1. The relevancy and keyword-based algorithms that Google and Bing use to evaluate and rank pages are massively more complex.
  2. Gaining a slight benefit in a keyword placement-based algorithmic element may harm overall rankings because of how it impacts people’s experience with your site (and thus, their propensity to stay on your pages, link to you, or share your content socially — all of which are also directly or indirectly considered in ranking algorithms).

Below is a pie-chart breakdown of how the 128 SEO professionals surveyed for Moz’s annual ranking factors project rated broad algorithmic elements’ impact in Google:

rank-factors-pie-2013
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If <15% of the rankings equation is wrapped up in keyword targeting, no wonder smart SEOs in the modern era have evolved to think more holistically. Personally, I’m happy to sacrifice “perfect” keyword placement in the title element or a URL for better user experience, a higher chance of having my content shared on social networks, or a better click-through rate in the search results.

But, for the purposes of this post, let’s put some of those caveats aside and dive into the best practices for each element of a page. It may be unwise to optimize all of these purely towards search engine-based best practices, but we can temper the advice with notes on usability and user experience for visitors, too. Below, I’ve attempted to go tag by tag, and element by element through the keyword targeting and on-page optimization canon to expand on the more basic advice in the “Elements of an Optimized Page” graphic above.

Uniquely valuable

An optimized page doesn’t just provide unique content, but unique value. What’s the difference?

  • Unique content simply means that those words, in that order, don’t appear anywhere else on the web.
  • Unique value refers to the usefulness and takeaways derived by visitors to the page. Many pages can be “valuable,” but few provide a truly unique kind of value — one that can’t be discovered on other pages targeting that keyword phrase.

Whenever I advise marketers on crafting pages, I ask them to put themselves in the minds of their potential visitors, and imagine a page that provides something so different and functional that it rises above everything else in its field. Here are a few of my favorite examples:

  • The Baby Name Wizard — a terrific page that provides clear value above and beyond its competition for searches around baby names.
  • How Much Does a Website Cost — Folyo surveyed their designers to create a distribution of prices that accurate, credible, and massively valuable to those seeking data on pricing.
  • Scale of the Universe — this interactive feature will take you from the tiniest parts of an atom all the way to universe-scale. No wonder it ranks for such abstract queries as “the size of things.”
  • The Best Instant Noodles of All Time — The Ramen Rater has tried literally thousands of packets of instant noodles and determined these ten to be the outstanding few. I’m actually excited to try them :-)
  • Top Social Networks by Users — Craig Smith puts together an update to this list every month or two, and has compiled this invaluable resource to help those of us wondering just how big all the networks are these days. I’ve personally used this for numerous posts and presentations — it’s an excellent example of creating unique value by aggregating data from varied sources (and it, deservedly, outranks stalwarts like Nielsen as a result).

Unique value is much more than unique content, and when you have a page that rises to the level that these do, social shares, links, and all the other positive associations, branding, and ranking signals are apt to follow.

Provides phenomenal UX

A user’s experience is made up of a vast array of elements, not unlike the search engines’ ranking algorithms. Satisfying all of these perfectly may not be possible, but reaching for a high level will not only provide value in rankings, but through second-order impacts like shares, links, and word-of-mouth.

At the most basic level, a great UX means the page/site is:

  • Easy to understand
  • Providing intuitive navigation and content consumption
  • Loading quickly, even on slower connections (like mobile)
  • Rendering properly in any browser size and on any device
  • Designed to be visually attractive/pleasing/compelling

Smashing Magazine has my favorite article on the subject: What is User Experience Design? Overview, Tools, and Resources.

Crawler/bot accessible

Search engines still crawl the web using automated bots, and probably will for at least the next decade or more. While there have been plenty of leaps in the sophistication level of these crawlers, the best practice is not to take chances and follow some important guidelines when building pages you want engines to crawl, index, and rank reliably:

  • Make sure the page is the only URL on which the content appears, and if it’s not, all other URLs canonicalize back to the original (using redirects or the rel=canonical protocol)
  • URLs should follow best practices around length, being static vs. dynamic, and being included in any appropriate RSS feeds or XML Sitemaps files
  • Don’t block bots! Robots.txt and meta robots can be used to intelligently limit what engines see, but be cautious not to make errors that prevent them from crawling and indexing your content.
  • If the page is temporarily down, use a status code 503 (not a 404), and if you’re redirecting a page to a new location, don’t go through multiple redirect chains if possible, and use 301s (permanent redirects), not other kinds of 30x status codes.

Geoff Kenyon’s Technical Site Audit Checklist is still one of the best resources for those seeking more in-depth information about crawler-based accessibility.

Keyword-targeted

As I mentioned in the opening of this post, it may be the case that perfectly optimized keyword targeting conflicts with goals around usability, user experience, or the natural flow of how you write. That’s OK, and frequently, I’d suggest leaning in those more user-centric directions. However, when it’s possible to optimize keyword usage, you’ll need some ammunition. Here’s a look at the most important elements as we’ve observed them through time, testing, correlation, and listening to the engine’s recommendations, too.

7 important keyword targeting elements (and 1 not-so-important element)

#1: Page title

Using the primary keyword phrase at least once in the page’s title, and preferably as close to the start of the title tag/element as possible is highly recommended. Not only are titles key to how engines weigh relevance, they also dramatically impact a searcher’s propensity to click.

Above is an example comparing some title elements for the search query “lip balm.” The tag for allure.com is more compelling from the perspective of fulfilling the searcher’s intent (which is likely to compare multiple blams vs. find a specific one), but it also puts the keyword in prime, eye-catching real estate on the results page. We have seen evidence and heard the engines themselves discuss the value/importance of earning clicks and preventing “pogo-sticking” (the bouncing of a visitor back to a search page after clicking a result). Optimizing for both keyword prominence AND user intent/visibility is an excellent idea.

#2: Headline

While we’ve seen mixed results over the years with using the H1 tag specifically for keyword placement, it’s almost certainly the case that a searcher who’s just clicked on a results expects to see a matching headline on the page they visit. Failure to do so may increase the odds of pogo-sticking, and our most recent rank correlations suggest that a topically relevant H1 is associated with higher rankings.

I wouldn’t always require a match between the title and the H1 precisely, but they shouldn’t be so dissimilar as to drive anyone who’s clicked away from the result.

#3: Body text

It should come as no surprise that using your primary (and secondary, if relevant) keyword phrase(s) in the content of the page are important. Our research suggests that it’s not just about raw keyword use or repetition, though. Search engines are almost certainly using advanced topic modeling algorithms to assess relevance and perhaps quality, too.

This means it’s wise to make your content comprehensive, useful, and relevant as possible, not just filled with instance of a keyword. In fact, we’ve observed plenty of cases where the overuse of keywords resulted in a negative impact on rankings, so be judicious. If you asked a non-marketing friend to read the page, would they get the sense that a term or phrase was suspiciously prominent, sometimes needlessly so? If that’s the case, you’re probably overdoing it.

#4: URL

A good URL has a few key aspects, but one of those is keyword use. Not only does it help with search engine relevancy directly, but URLs often get used as anchor text around the web (mostly through copying and pasting). For example, if I link to this post using its URL, e.g. http://moz.com/blog/visual-guide-to-keyword-targeting-onpage-optimization, the phrases “keyword targeting” and “onpage optimization” appear right in the text.

For more best practices on URLs, check out our learn article on the topic.

#5: Images and image alt attributes

Having images on a keyword-targeted page is wise for many, many reasons, not least among them is that these can help directly and indirectly with rankings. Most directly, your image has an opportunity to show up in an image search result. Granted, Google’s new interface has dramatically lowered the traffic from image search, but I still find great value in having your brand name/site associated with production of useful graphics, photos, and visual elements.

For search engines, the image’s title, filename, surrounding text, and alt attribute all matter from a ranking perspective. In particular, those doing SEO should know that when an image is linked, the alt attribute is treated similarly to anchor text in a text link.

#6: Internal and external links

A good page should be accessible through no more than four clicks from any other page on a site (three for smaller sites), and it should, likewise, provide useful links to relevant information on any topics that are discussed.

Some SEOs have, in the past, questioned whether linking externally, especially to sites/pages that might compete for a visitor’s time/attention or a search engine’s rankings is wise. I believe the nail in that coffin was delivered by Marshall Simmonds in his Whiteboard Friday Interview noting the value the NYTimes saw from their implementation of external links. Since then, search engine representatives have subtly hinted on multiple occasions that there are elements in the algorithm which reward external links to quality sites/pages.

#7: Meta description

A page’s meta description isn’t used directly in search engine ranking algorithms (according to representatives from Google and Bing), but that doesn’t mean they’re not critical. The meta description tag, if it employs the keyword query, usually shows up in the search results, and is part of what searchers consider when deciding whether to click.

As you can see from the snippet above, when keywords appear in the meta description, they also get bolded, which can help with visibility. The primary goal of a meta description should be to earn the searcher’s click. Think of them like ad copy, and work to make searchers care about your page.

#8: Meta keywords

Notably absent from this list is the Meta Keywords tag, which Google does not use in rankings, and we, along with many others (including SearchEngineLand) recommend against employing on your pages.

———–

The reason it’s so important to balance these keyword-targeting demands with other attributes of on-page optimization is illustrated below:

google-correlations-13sml
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As you can see, while on-page features like keyword use in titles, keywords, and body text (even when measured via a more sophisticated and higher correlating model than just raw usage like our data science team did in the ranking factors) have reasonable correlations given the complexity of Google’s rankings, other elements are found much more often in higher- vs. lower-ranking pages.

If social shares, brand mentions, links, and domain authority all potentially trump keyword-based factors as differentiators, marketers need to make sure we’re hitting the basics of on-page, but never extending in such a way that interferes with our ability to succeed in these other avenues.

Built to be shared through social networks

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, and dozens more social networks that are niche-focused can help earn signals that help rankings directly and/or indirectly (often through exposure to folks who might link to them).

A well-optimized page should help to make social sharing as easy and seamless as possible, including:

  • Using obvious social sharing buttons that are targeted to the page’s audience. Don’t just list every network on the web — be empathetic and predictive of what your visitors are likely to employ.
  • Craft URLs that are short and descriptive so that copying/pasting (for those who prefer) is painless, and whenever/wherever those links appear they provide a good UX for those seeing them. This is particularly important across more niche social sites, forums, and Facebook/Google+ (which use full URLs if the length is short rather than the condensed versions that Twitter uses).
  • Make content that has inherent viral value. Think about a social influencer and ask yourself, “would I share this page if I came across it?” Find ways to make that answer yes. One of the best is to build pages that will make social sharers themselves look good to their audiences (either because the page helps promote them directly/indirectly or because the unique value is so compelling, their followers/fans will be indebted to them for finding it).
  • If possible and relevant, employ features like Twitter Cards and Facebook’s OpenGraph markup to get the additional benefits on those networks.

Given how the reach of social networks have grown, how well social shares correlate positively to higher search rankings, and how those correlations have risen over time, there’s a lot of value in making sure your pages have an opportunity to perform socially.

Multi-device ready

Although it was called out in the UX section, this principle is worthy of its own headline due to the increasing diversity of devices, browsers, and screen sizes. Mobile use isn’t just critical for users “on the go.” Many are using mobile or tablets to browse at home, at work, and as a replacement for laptop/desktop. And they’re not just consuming — they’re sharing! Social sharing in particular is a huge part of mobile & tablet functions, which means that if you’re not optimized for all devices, you’re missing critical opportunities for amplification to a broader audience.

Inclusive of authorship, metadata, schema, and rich snippets

There are a vast array of options that provide additional markup that engines may employ in their listings. Rather than try to list all of them, I’ll link to resources with more information on each:

Moz’s marketing scientist, Dr. Pete, recently put together a slide deck showing 90+ unique forms of search results, many of which leverage rich forms of markup (though only a few of these are in the control of the marketer/creator).

My recommendation is to apply those that both match the opportunities provided by the engines and the techniques that will give value to your potential visitors. Be cautious of going overboard — there’s a bit of rich snippet spam that serves only to leave a bad taste in searchers’ mouths and may hurt your reputation or rankings with the engines themselves, too.


Choosing how to optimize

One important takeaway from this post should be that modern on-page SEO is about juggling competing priorities. In general, my recommended ordering of those priorities is as follows:

  1. Create a page that is uniquely valuable to your targeted searchers.
  2. If at all possible, make the page likely to earn links and shares naturally (without needing to build links or prod people).
  3. Balance keyword targeting with usability and user experience, but never ignore the critical elements like page titles, headlines, and body content at the least.

There’s no such thing as a “perfectly optimized” page, but I took a stab at drawing up the mythical beast anyway:

perfectly-optimized-page3

Over time, what’s “perfect” might change, and new services, platforms, and areas of optimizational opportunity could arise. But for the past few years (notwithstanding some newer tactics like Google’s rel=author), the model described in this post has held relatively stable. The “O” in SEO is getting broader, and I think that’s a wonderful thing for marketers of all stripes. Targeting an algorithm instead of people is far worse than hitting both birds with the same handful of optimization stones.

p.s.: If you have feedback or suggestions on items to include, please feel free to suggest them in the comments.

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