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The limits of coworking

December 16, 2018 No Comments

It feels like there’s a WeWork on every street nowadays. Take a walk through midtown Manhattan (please don’t actually) and it might even seem like there are more WeWorks than office buildings.

Consider this an ongoing discussion about Urban Tech, its intersection with regulation, issues of public service, and other complexities that people have full PHDs on. I’m just a bitter, born-and-bred New Yorker trying to figure out why I’ve been stuck in between subway stops for the last 15 minutes, so please reach out with your take on any of these thoughts: @Arman.Tabatabai@techcrunch.com.

Co-working has permeated cities around the world at an astronomical rate. The rise has been so remarkable that even the headline-dominating SoftBank seems willing to bet the success of its colossal Vision Fund on the shift continuing, having poured billions into WeWork – including a recent $ 4.4 billion top-up that saw the co-working king’s valuation spike to $ 45 billion.

And there are no signs of the trend slowing down. With growing frequency, new startups are popping up across cities looking to turn under-utilized brick-and-mortar or commercial space into low-cost co-working options.

It’s a strategy spreading through every type of business from retail – where companies like Workbar have helped retailers offer up portions of their stores – to more niche verticals like parking lots – where companies like Campsyte are transforming empty lots into spaces for outdoor co-working and corporate off-sites. Restaurants and bars might even prove most popular for co-working, with startups like Spacious and KettleSpace turning restaurants that are closed during the day into private co-working space during their off-hours.

Before you know it, a startup will be strapping an Aeron chair to the top of a telephone pole and calling it “WirelessWorking”.

But is there a limit to how far co-working can go? Are all of the storefronts, restaurants and open spaces that line city streets going to be filled with MacBooks, cappuccinos and Moleskine notebooks? That might be too tall a task, even for the movement taking over skyscrapers.

The co-working of everything

Photo: Vasyl Dolmatov / iStock via Getty Images

So why is everyone trying to turn your favorite neighborhood dinner spot into a part-time WeWork in the first place? Co-working offers a particularly compelling use case for under-utilized space.

First, co-working falls under the same general commercial zoning categories as most independent businesses and very little additional infrastructure – outside of a few extra power outlets and some decent WiFi – is required to turn a space into an effective replacement for the often crowded and distracting coffee shops used by price-sensitive, lean, remote, or nomadic workers that make up a growing portion of the workforce.

Thus, businesses can list their space at little-to-no cost, without having to deal with structural layout changes that are more likely to arise when dealing with pop-up solutions or event rentals.

On the supply side, these co-working networks don’t have to purchase leases or make capital improvements to convert each space, and so they’re able to offer more square footage per member at a much lower rate than traditional co-working spaces. Spacious, for example, charges a monthly membership fee of $ 99-$ 129 dollars for access to its network of vetted restaurants, which is cheap compared to a WeWork desk, which can cost anywhere from $ 300-$ 800 per month in New York City.

Customers realize more affordable co-working alternatives, while tight-margin businesses facing increasing rents for under-utilized property are able to pool resources into a network and access a completely new revenue stream at very little cost. The value proposition is proving to be seriously convincing in initial cities – Spacious told the New York Times, that so many restaurants were applying to join the network on their own volition that only five percent of total applicants were ultimately getting accepted.

Basically, the business model here checks a lot of the boxes for successful marketplaces: Acquisition and transaction friction is low for both customers and suppliers, with both seeing real value that didn’t exist previously. Unit economics seem strong, and vetting on both sides of the market creates trust and community. Finally, there’s an observable network effect whereby suppliers benefit from higher occupancy as more customers join the network, while customers benefit from added flexibility as more locations join the network.

… Or just the co-working of some things

Photo: Caiaimage / Robert Daly via Getty Images

So is this the way of the future? The strategy is really compelling, with a creative solution that offers tremendous value to businesses and workers in major cities. But concerns around the scalability of demand make it difficult to picture this phenomenon becoming ubiquitous across cities or something that reaches the scale of a WeWork or large conventional co-working player.

All these companies seem to be competing for a similar demographic, not only with one another, but also with coffee shops, free workspaces, and other flexible co-working options like Croissant, which provides members with access to unused desks and offices in traditional co-working spaces. Like Spacious and KettleSpace, the spaces on Croissant own the property leases and are already built for co-working, so Croissant can still offer comparatively attractive rates.

The offer seems most compelling for someone that is able to work without a stable location and without the amenities offered in traditional co-working or office spaces, and is also price sensitive enough where they would trade those benefits for a lower price. Yet at the same time, they can’t be too price sensitive, where they would prefer working out of free – or close to free – coffee shops instead of paying a monthly membership fee to avoid the frictions that can come with them.

And it seems unclear whether the problem or solution is as poignant outside of high-density cities – let alone outside of high-density areas of high-density cities.

Without density, is the competition for space or traffic in coffee shops and free workspaces still high enough where it’s worth paying a membership fee for? Would the desire for a private working environment, or for a working community, be enough to incentivize membership alone? And in less-dense and more-sprawl oriented cities, members could also face the risk of having to travel significant distances if space isn’t available in nearby locations.

While the emerging workforce is trending towards more remote, agile and nomadic workers that can do more with less, it’s less certain how many will actually fit the profile that opts out of both more costly but stable traditional workspaces, as well as potentially frustrating but free alternatives. And if the lack of density does prove to be an issue, how many of those workers will live in hyper-dense areas, especially if they are price-sensitive and can work and live anywhere?

To be clear, I’m not saying the companies won’t see significant growth – in fact, I think they will. But will the trend of monetizing unused space through co-working come to permeate cities everywhere and do so with meaningful occupancy? Maybe not. That said, there is still a sizable and growing demographic that need these solutions and the value proposition is significant in many major urban areas.

The companies are creating real value, creating more efficient use of wasted space, and fixing a supply-demand issue. And the cultural value of even modestly helping independent businesses keep the lights on seems to outweigh the cultural “damage” some may fear in turning them into part-time co-working spaces.

And lastly, some reading while in transit:


Social – TechCrunch


The limits of coworking

December 16, 2018 No Comments

It feels like there’s a WeWork on every street nowadays. Take a walk through midtown Manhattan (please don’t actually) and it might even seem like there are more WeWorks than office buildings.

Consider this an ongoing discussion about Urban Tech, its intersection with regulation, issues of public service, and other complexities that people have full PHDs on. I’m just a bitter, born-and-bred New Yorker trying to figure out why I’ve been stuck in between subway stops for the last 15 minutes, so please reach out with your take on any of these thoughts: @Arman.Tabatabai@techcrunch.com.

Co-working has permeated cities around the world at an astronomical rate. The rise has been so remarkable that even the headline-dominating SoftBank seems willing to bet the success of its colossal Vision Fund on the shift continuing, having poured billions into WeWork – including a recent $ 4.4 billion top-up that saw the co-working king’s valuation spike to $ 45 billion.

And there are no signs of the trend slowing down. With growing frequency, new startups are popping up across cities looking to turn under-utilized brick-and-mortar or commercial space into low-cost co-working options.

It’s a strategy spreading through every type of business from retail – where companies like Workbar have helped retailers offer up portions of their stores – to more niche verticals like parking lots – where companies like Campsyte are transforming empty lots into spaces for outdoor co-working and corporate off-sites. Restaurants and bars might even prove most popular for co-working, with startups like Spacious and KettleSpace turning restaurants that are closed during the day into private co-working space during their off-hours.

Before you know it, a startup will be strapping an Aeron chair to the top of a telephone pole and calling it “WirelessWorking”.

But is there a limit to how far co-working can go? Are all of the storefronts, restaurants and open spaces that line city streets going to be filled with MacBooks, cappuccinos and Moleskine notebooks? That might be too tall a task, even for the movement taking over skyscrapers.

The co-working of everything

Photo: Vasyl Dolmatov / iStock via Getty Images

So why is everyone trying to turn your favorite neighborhood dinner spot into a part-time WeWork in the first place? Co-working offers a particularly compelling use case for under-utilized space.

First, co-working falls under the same general commercial zoning categories as most independent businesses and very little additional infrastructure – outside of a few extra power outlets and some decent WiFi – is required to turn a space into an effective replacement for the often crowded and distracting coffee shops used by price-sensitive, lean, remote, or nomadic workers that make up a growing portion of the workforce.

Thus, businesses can list their space at little-to-no cost, without having to deal with structural layout changes that are more likely to arise when dealing with pop-up solutions or event rentals.

On the supply side, these co-working networks don’t have to purchase leases or make capital improvements to convert each space, and so they’re able to offer more square footage per member at a much lower rate than traditional co-working spaces. Spacious, for example, charges a monthly membership fee of $ 99-$ 129 dollars for access to its network of vetted restaurants, which is cheap compared to a WeWork desk, which can cost anywhere from $ 300-$ 800 per month in New York City.

Customers realize more affordable co-working alternatives, while tight-margin businesses facing increasing rents for under-utilized property are able to pool resources into a network and access a completely new revenue stream at very little cost. The value proposition is proving to be seriously convincing in initial cities – Spacious told the New York Times, that so many restaurants were applying to join the network on their own volition that only five percent of total applicants were ultimately getting accepted.

Basically, the business model here checks a lot of the boxes for successful marketplaces: Acquisition and transaction friction is low for both customers and suppliers, with both seeing real value that didn’t exist previously. Unit economics seem strong, and vetting on both sides of the market creates trust and community. Finally, there’s an observable network effect whereby suppliers benefit from higher occupancy as more customers join the network, while customers benefit from added flexibility as more locations join the network.

… Or just the co-working of some things

Photo: Caiaimage / Robert Daly via Getty Images

So is this the way of the future? The strategy is really compelling, with a creative solution that offers tremendous value to businesses and workers in major cities. But concerns around the scalability of demand make it difficult to picture this phenomenon becoming ubiquitous across cities or something that reaches the scale of a WeWork or large conventional co-working player.

All these companies seem to be competing for a similar demographic, not only with one another, but also with coffee shops, free workspaces, and other flexible co-working options like Croissant, which provides members with access to unused desks and offices in traditional co-working spaces. Like Spacious and KettleSpace, the spaces on Croissant own the property leases and are already built for co-working, so Croissant can still offer comparatively attractive rates.

The offer seems most compelling for someone that is able to work without a stable location and without the amenities offered in traditional co-working or office spaces, and is also price sensitive enough where they would trade those benefits for a lower price. Yet at the same time, they can’t be too price sensitive, where they would prefer working out of free – or close to free – coffee shops instead of paying a monthly membership fee to avoid the frictions that can come with them.

And it seems unclear whether the problem or solution is as poignant outside of high-density cities – let alone outside of high-density areas of high-density cities.

Without density, is the competition for space or traffic in coffee shops and free workspaces still high enough where it’s worth paying a membership fee for? Would the desire for a private working environment, or for a working community, be enough to incentivize membership alone? And in less-dense and more-sprawl oriented cities, members could also face the risk of having to travel significant distances if space isn’t available in nearby locations.

While the emerging workforce is trending towards more remote, agile and nomadic workers that can do more with less, it’s less certain how many will actually fit the profile that opts out of both more costly but stable traditional workspaces, as well as potentially frustrating but free alternatives. And if the lack of density does prove to be an issue, how many of those workers will live in hyper-dense areas, especially if they are price-sensitive and can work and live anywhere?

To be clear, I’m not saying the companies won’t see significant growth – in fact, I think they will. But will the trend of monetizing unused space through co-working come to permeate cities everywhere and do so with meaningful occupancy? Maybe not. That said, there is still a sizable and growing demographic that need these solutions and the value proposition is significant in many major urban areas.

The companies are creating real value, creating more efficient use of wasted space, and fixing a supply-demand issue. And the cultural value of even modestly helping independent businesses keep the lights on seems to outweigh the cultural “damage” some may fear in turning them into part-time co-working spaces.

And lastly, some reading while in transit:


Startups – TechCrunch


18 NEW jobs added to the PPC Hero Job Board!

December 15, 2018 No Comments

The PPC Hero Job Board is really picking up steam. 18 NEW jobs have been posted in just the last week! See the open positions.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


GE’s digital future looking murkier with move to spin off Industrial IoT biz

December 15, 2018 No Comments

When I visited the GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, New York in April 2017, I thought I saw a company that was working hard to avoid disruption, but perhaps the leafy campus, the labs and experimental projects hid much larger problems inside the company. Yesterday GE announced that it is spinning out its Industrial IoT business and selling most of its stake in ServiceMax, the company it bought in 2016 for $ 915 million.

For one thing, Jeff Immelt, the CEO who was leading that modernization charge, stepped down six months after my visit and was replaced by John Flannery, who was himself replaced just a year into his tenure by C. Lawrence Culp, Jr. It didn’t seem to matter who was in charge, nobody could stop the bleeding stock price, which has fallen this year from a high of $ 18.76 in January to $ 7.20 this morning before the markets opened (and had already lost another .15 a share as we went to publication).

It hasn’t been a great year for GE stock. Chart: Yahoo Finance

Immelt at least recognized that the company needed to shift to a data-centered Industrial Internet of Things future where sensors fed data that provided ways to understand the health of a machine or how to drive the most efficient use from it. This was centered around the company’s Predix platform where developers could build applications using that data. The company purchased ServiceMax in 2016 to extend that idea and feed service providers the data they needed to anticipate when service was needed even before the customer was aware of it.

As Immelt put it in a 2014 quote on Twitter:

That entire approach had substance. In fact, if you look at what Salesforce announced earlier this month around service and the Internet of Things, you will see a similar strategy. As Salesforce’s SVP and GM for Salesforce Field Service Lightning Paolo Bergamo described in a blog post, “Drawing on IoT signals surfaced in the Service Cloud console, agents can gauge whether device failure is imminent, quickly determine the source of the problem (often before the customer is even aware a problem exists) and dispatch the right mobile worker with the right skill set.”

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The ServiceMax acquisition and the Predix Platform were central to this, and while the idea was sound, Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research says that the execution was poor and the company needed to change. “The vision for GE Digital made sense as they crafted a digital industrial strategy, yet the execution inside GE was not the best. As GE spins out many of its units, this move is designed to free up the unit to deliver its services beyond GE and into the larger ecosystem,” Wang told TechCrunch.

Current CEO Culp sees the spin-out as a way to breathe new life into the business “As an independently operated company, our digital business will be best positioned to advance our strategy to focus on our core verticals to deliver greater value for our customers and generate new value for shareholders,” Culp explained in a statement.

Maybe so, but it seems it should be at the center of what the company is doing, not a spin-off — and with only a 10 percent stake left in ServiceMax, the service business component all but goes away. Bill Ruh, GE Digital CEO, the man who was charged with implementing the mission (and apparently failed) has decided to leave the company with this announcement. In fact, the new Industrial IoT company will operate as a wholly owned GE subsidiary with its own financials and board of directors, separate from the main company.

With this move though, GE is clearly moving the Industrial IoT out of the core business as it continues to struggle to find a combination that brings its stock price back to life. While the Industrial Internet of Things idea may have been poorly executed, selling and spinning off the pieces that need to be part of the digital future seem like a short-sighted way to achieve the company’s longer term goals.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Six most common travel SEO mistakes to get right in 2019

December 15, 2018 No Comments

Here’s a bold statement: “SEO in the travel industry is immensely challenging.”

The sheer number of pages to manage, complexities of properties, flights, accommodation, availability, occupancy, destinations, not to mention the crazy amount of APIs and databases to make a travel site function, can all make life tricky for an SEO, particularly when it comes to the development queue…

tough development queue

Having said that, there are still common mistakes and missed opportunities out there that have the potential to be really impactful and believe it or not, they don’t actually require a huge amount of resource to put right.

So, here’s a list of the six most common travel SEO mistakes to get right for 2019:

  1. Forgetting about index bloat

There are a LOT of facets and filters when it comes to commercial travel category pages, arguably the most of any industry.

Typically with every facet or filter, be it; availability, location, facilities, amenities nearby, occupancy etc. A URL is created with the associated parameters selected by the user.

If not handled correctly, this can produce thousands of indexable pages that have no unique organic value to users.

This is a problem for a number of reasons:

  • It can be confusing for search engines because they can find it tricky to identify the best and most relevant URL to rank and show users depending on their query
  • It can dilute domain level ranking signals drastically
  • It can cause a huge amount of duplicate content issues
  • It can waste crawl budget which for big travel sites is super important

Combined, this can cause big losses in rankings, traffic and subsequently conversion!

How to identify index bloat

Go to Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) and check your ‘Index Coverage’ report or, in the old version, check ‘Index Status’ to see if you can see any spikes or growth in ‘Total Indexed’ pages. If you notice something like the graph below and it’s not expected, then there may be a problem:

index bloat graph

If you find there is a big increase and you can’t explain why, conduct some ‘Site:’ operator searches and spot check areas of your site where this may be commonplace to see what you can find.

Here’s an example of index bloat from the page speed tool ‘Pingdom’. It seems as though every input a user executes produces an indexable URL:

index bloat example

Once you’ve found a problem like this, review the extent of it with a Screaming Frog crawl. This way you can see how many URLs are affected and distinguish between whether they are actually indexable or not.

For example, there may be a few hundred pages that are indexable but have not yet been found and indexed by Google.

How to fix index bloat:

  • Noindex – Use a page level meta ‘noindex’ directive on the culprit pages
  • Where possible redirect – index bloat can happen as a result of mountains of historical 404 pages too, 301 redirect them into the most appropriate page to consolidate
  • Canonicalisation – apply an absolute canonical tag to the culprit pages to indicate that they are duplicate
  • Pagination – where possible use rel=”next” & rel=”prev” markup to show that pages are part of a series
  • URL parameter tool – By far the easiest but arguably the most risky method is using Google’s parameter handling tool to indicate the purpose of the culprit pages, be careful though, this can cause bigger problems if implemented incorrectly

Expert tip

If any of the above are difficult to get implemented in your dev queue and you don’t trust yourself using the parameter handling tool, you can actually noindex web pages & directories in your robots.txt file. You can actually add lines reading:

Noindex: /directory/

Noindex: /page/

This could save you a lot of time and is fully reversible, so less risky if you have control over your robots file. If you’ve never heard of this, don’t worry it is supported and it does work!

  1. Unemotive meta titles

It’s pretty staggering but in the UK, there’s a lot going on in January for travel — it is certainly the biggest spike in the year for many brands, followed by ‘holiday blues’ peaks after summer.

Here’s the trend of interest over time for the query ‘tenerife holidays’ (a destination famed for its good weather all year round) to show you what I mean:

search trend over time of "tenerife holidays"

January might be a bad time to experiment because of the higher interest but, the rest of the year presents a great opportunity to get creative with your titles.

Why would you?

Simply, keyword heavy titles don’t inspire high click-through rates.

Creative titles entice users into your landing pages, give your brand a personality and increase your click-through rate. This sends strong positive relevancy signals to Google which helps towards highlighting that your website is the best for the initial user query.

Here are a few things you can try with supportive content and commercial landers:

  • Get emotional, people buy holidays on the experiences they anticipate having. Play on that with your titles – how will products/content from this page make the user feel?
  • Where possible use a numbered list to be as descriptive as possible
  • Use strengthening words such as premium, secret, amazing, proven, guaranteed
  • Tie in emotional hooks using words like; fun, adventure, seamless, safe, welcoming, luxury, relaxing
  • Experiment with ‘price from’ and actually quote pricing in the title
  • Switch up your ‘PHP’ generated title tags for property pages and experiment with more descriptive wording and not just PROPERTY NAME | LOCATION | BRAND – but don’t remove any keyword targeting, just improve those titles.

Expert Tip

Write five completely unique title tags for the same page and test each one with a Facebook or PPC ad to see whether they outperform your current iteration in terms of engagement.

  1. Poor merchandising

As previously mentioned, the travel industry experiences peaks and troughs of consumer behavior trend throughout the year which causes the majority intent to switch dramatically across different months in the year.

So, having a deep understanding of what users are actually looking for is really important when merchandising high traffic pages to get the best conversion out of your audience.

In short, gaining an understanding of what works when, is huge.

Here’s some tips to help you make better merchandising decisions:

  • Use last year’s email open rate data – what type of content/product worked?
  • Use Google Search Console to find pages that peaked in organic traffic at different times
  • Involve the social media team to get a better understanding of what your audience is engaging with and why
  • Use Google Trend data to verify your hunches and find clearer answers
  • Use UGC sites such as Quora to find questions users are asking during different months of the year. Use the following site operator and swap out ‘holiday’ for your topic: ‘site:quora.com inurl:holiday’ and then filter by custom date range on your search

Often consumers are exposed to the same offers, destinations and visuals on key landing pages all year round which is such a missed opportunity.

We now live in a world of immediacy and those in the industry know the challenges of users cross-shopping between brands, even those who are brand loyal. This often means that if users can’t find what they are looking for quickly, they will bounce and find a site that serves them the content they are looking for.

For example, there’s an argument for promoting and focusing on media-based content, more so than product, later in the year, to cater to users that are in the ‘consideration’ part of the purchasing funnel.

Expert tip

Use number five in this list to pull even more clues to help inform merchandising

  1. Holding back on the informational market share

I grant you, this is a tall order, travel advice, blogs and guides are a standalone business but, the opportunity for commercial travel sites to compete with the likes of TripAdvisor is massive.

An opportunity estimated from our recent Travel Sector Report at 232,057 monthly clicks from 22,040 keywords and only Thomas Cook is pushing into the top 10.

travel sector graph of number of keywords ranking

Commercial sites that don’t have a huge amount of authority might struggle to rank for informational queries because dedicated travel sites that aren’t directly commercial are usually deemed to provide better/unbiased content for users.

Having said that, you can see clearly from above that it IS possible!

So, here’s what you should do…

…focus on one thing and do it better than anyone else

Sounds pretty straightforward and you’re probably thinking ‘I’ve heard this before’ but, only a handful in the travel industry are actually doing this well.

Often you see the same information from one travel site to the next, average weather, flight times, the location of the country on a map, a little bit of fluff about the history of the destination and then straight into accommodation.

This is fine, it’s useful, but it’s not outstanding.

Let’s take Thomas Cook as an example.

Thomas Cook has built a network of weather pages that provide live forecasts, annual overviews as well as unique insights into when is best to go to different destinations. It even has a tool to shop for holidays by the weather (something very important to Brits) called ‘Where’s Hot When?’

Thomas Cook where's hot when?

The content is relevant, useful, concise, complete, easy to use, contemporary in design and, most importantly, better than anyone else’s.

In short, Thomas Cook is nailing it.

They have focused on weather and haven’t stopped until it’s as best as it can be.

Why did they bother with weather? Well it’s approximately a third of all travel-related informational searches that we found in our keyword set from the Travel Sector Report:

travel sector graph number of searches and ranking

Apply Thomas Cook’s methodology to something that is relevant to your audience, it could be; family attractions, adult only tour guides, Michelin star eateries, international laws families should be concerned about, the list is plentiful!

Find something, nail it.

  1. Ignoring the gold in on-site search

There are some big travel sites out there that don’t have an on-site search function which is a huge missed opportunity. Travel sites are inherently difficult to navigate with such a volume of pages, site search is quite often a great solution for users.

As well as this, it can give marketers some amazing insight into what users are looking for, not just generally in terms of the keywords users might be using but also the queries users are searching on a page by page level.

For example, you could drill down into the differences between queries searched on your homepage vs queries searched on specific landing pages to spot trends in behavior and fix the content gaps from these areas of the site.

You could also use the data to inform merchandising decisions to address number three on this list.

In doing this, users are actually telling you exactly what they are looking for, at what time, whether they are a repeat visitor or a new one and where they’ve come from to visit your site.

If you spend the time, this data is gold!

If you can’t get buy in for this, test the theory with an out of the box search function that plugs straight into your site like searchnode. Try it for six months, you might be surprised at how many users turn to it and you will get some really actionable data out of it.

It’s also super easy to track in Google Analytics and the reports are really straightforward:

1. Go to Admin

google analytics add searchnode search box to your site

2. Click ‘View Settings’

google analytics view settings

3. Switch ‘Site search Tracking’ on

google analytics site search tracking on

4. Strip the letter that appears in your site’s search URL before the search terms e.g. for wordpress this is usually the letter “s”: www.travelsite.co.uk/?s=search-term

5. Click ‘save’, boom you’re done.

Let Google collect data, extract it monthly and dig, dig furiously!

  1. Ignoring custom 404 errors pages

Who doesn’t love a witty 404 page. More and more often you’ll find that when webmasters optimize a 404 error page they make them lighthearted. Here’s a great example from Broadway Travel:

broadway travel 404 error page

There is a reason why webmasters aim for a giggle.

Think about it… when users hit a 404 error page, 100% of the time there’s a problem, which is a big inconvenience when you’re minding your own business and having a browse, so, something to make you laugh goes a long way at keeping you unfrustrated.

Time to name names, and show you some 404 error pages that need some work…

British Airways

british airways 404 page not found

TUI & Firstchoice

TUI and Firstchoice 404 page not found

Expedia

expedia 404 page not found

Momondo

momondo 404 page not found

404 error pages happen over time, it’s totally normal.

It’s also normal to get traffic to your 404 error page. But it’s not just any old traffic, it’s traffic that you’ve worked hard to get hold of.

If, at this point, you’re thinking, ‘my site has recently been audited and internal links to 404 pages have been cleared up’.

Think again!

Users can misspell URLs, ancient external links can point to old pages, the product team can make mistakes, as meticulous as you may be, please don’t discount this one.

Losing quality users because of a bad 404 experience is an SEO’s idea of nails down a chalkboard.

Here are some tips to optimize your 404 pages:

  • Hit them with something witty but don’t be controversial
  • Feature the main site query forms prominently so users can conduct another ‘base’ search
  • Feature a site search option as well – an error page is a perfect opportunity to get users to conduct a site search to give you some insight into what they are looking for (number five on this list)
  • Include curated links to most popular top level pages such as destinations, guides, hotels, deals etc. This will allow users to start from at the top of each section and it will also allow search engines to continue crawling if they hit a 404 page
  • Re-emphasize branding, USPs, value proposition and trust signals to subconsciously remind users of why they’re on your site in the first place

Even if you think your 404 is awesome don’t neglect them when they pop up:

  • Review the 404 page data in Google Analytics behavior flow to find broken links you may not have known about and fix them
  • Keep on top of your 404 pages in Google Search Console and redirect to appropriate pages where necessary

404’s are often the bane of an SEO’s life and you might think about ways to get out of keeping on top of them.

Sadly there aren’t any short cuts….

…Bonus SEO mistake

Creating a global 301 redirect rule for every 404 page and direct them to your homepage.

This is surprisingly common but is poor SEO practice for a number of reasons, firstly you won’t be able to identify where users are having issues on your site when 404 pages pop up.

You may also be redirecting a page that could have originally had content on it that was totally irrelevant to your homepage. It’s likely in this situation that Google will actually override your redirect and classify it as a soft 404, not to mention the links that may have originally pointed to your 404’s.

Save your users, build a 404 page!

Final thoughts

No site is perfect, and although it might appear as though we’re pointing fingers, we want you to be able to overcome any challenges that come with SEO implementation — there’s always a bigger priority but keep your mind open and don’t neglect the small stuff to stay ahead of the game.

The post Six most common travel SEO mistakes to get right in 2019 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


At a New York Privacy Pop-Up, Facebook Sells Itself

December 14, 2018 No Comments

The one-day pop-up kiosk is meant to show that Facebook takes users’ privacy concerns seriously. It also was an opportunity to gather more data.
Feed: All Latest


[RELEASED] 44 PPC Pros You Can’t Miss

December 14, 2018 No Comments

Professional development is a key piece to staying ahead of the ever-changing digital landscape. See who will be framing the training at Hero Conf Philadelphia.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Are Coupon Sites Stealing Your Holiday Sales?

December 12, 2018 No Comments

Everyone likes to save money during the Holidays. Learn how Google Analytics can help you see which sites could be stealing your conversions.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Facebook redesigns Life Events feature with animated photos, videos and more

December 12, 2018 No Comments

Facebook today announced a redesign of its “Life Events” feature, which allows people to share significant milestones in their life, like an engagement, graduation, a new job, a move to a new city, and more. The feature has existed since the launch of Timeline, but has to date offered a fairly nondescript type of post. Today, that’s changing, Facebook says. Now, users will be able to add animated photos or videos, photos from the people or Page you’ve tagged (like those of your partner or your new workplace), or you you can pick an image from Facebook’s own art collection, if you don’t have your own.

The photos and videos you post will also have subtle animations, like slowly zooming in, to give the post more attention. And you can still pick an icon to represent the life event, as before.

The idea behind the redesign is to give these sorts of posts a better way to stand out from other posts, the company explains

 

Of course, Facebook likely wants to increase the feature’s adoption, too, as it’s a straightforward way to collect profile data on an individual that they may not have otherwise filled out – like where they live, where they work, or their alma mater, for example.

Facebook will also now alert your friends directly when you’ve shared some life events, it says.

For certain types of life events – like changes in your current city, work, education, and relationship status – your friends may receive a notification to let them know about the news. This ensures they won’t miss the update if they were just casually scrolling their News Feed. And it’s a way to make sure the event gets seen by your broader network of Facebook friends – including those acquaintances whose updates don’t regularly show in your News Feed, as Facebook’s algorithms have determined you aren’t close.

In addition, when you react to a life event someone else posted with a like, wow, heart, etc., Facebook now shows all the other reactions from friends alongside your own.

Perhaps most importantly, is that Facebook is finally giving life events a place of importance on users’ profiles.

While the feature for years has been touted as a way to remember significant events, it’s actually been fairly difficult to relocate your older life event posts from years ago. With the update, however, life events will have their own dedicated section on user profiles. (You can opt to hide a life event here by tapping the “…” button then selecting “Hide from Timeline,” if you choose).

This will give people visiting your profile for the first time a way to get to know you, by way of the most important moments you’ve shared through this feature. That may not be something everyone is comfortable with, though, so you’ll want to check to see if there are any older life event posts you need to hide or delete.

The updated life events are rolling out worldwide on iOS, Android and desktop beginning today, and completing in the days ahead.

Facebook Life Events

Posted by Facebook on Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Social – TechCrunch


Podcast industry aims to better track listeners through new analytics tech called RAD

December 12, 2018 No Comments

Internet users are already being tracked to death, with ads that follow us around, search histories that are collected and stored, emails that report back to senders when they’ve been read, websites that know where you scrolled and what you clicked and much more. So naturally, the growing podcast industry wanted to find a way to collect more data of its own, too.

Yes, that’s right. Podcasts will now track detailed user behavior, too.

Today, NPR announced RAD, a new, open-sourced podcast analytics technology that was developed in partnership with nearly 30 companies from the podcasting industry. The technology aims to help publishers collect more comprehensive and standardized listening metrics from across platforms.

Specifically, the technology gives publishers — and therefore their advertisers, as well — access to a wide range of listener metrics, including downloads, starts and stops, completed ad or credit listens, partial ad or credit listens, ad or credit skips and content quartiles, the RAD website explains.

However, the technology stops short of offering detailed user profiles, and cannot be used to re-target or track listeners, the site notes. It’s still anonymized, aggregated statistics.

It’s worth pointing out that RAD is not the first time podcasters have been able to track engagement. Major platforms, including Apple’s Podcast Analytics, today offer granular and anonymized data, including listens.But NPR says that data requires “a great deal of manual analysis” as the stats aren’t standardized nor as complete as they could be. RAD is an attempt to change that, by offering a tracking mechanism everyone can use.

Already, RAD has a lot of support. In addition to being integrated into NPR’s own NPR One app, it has commitments from several others that will introduce the technology into their own products in 2019, including Acast, AdsWizz, ART19, Awesound, Blubrry Podcasting, Panoply, Omny Studio, Podtrac, PRI/PRX, RadioPublic, Triton Digital and WideOrbit.

Other companies that supported RAD and participated in its development include Cadence13, Edison Research, ESPN, Google, iHeartMedia, Libsyn, The New York Times, New York Public Radio and Wondery.

NPR says the NPR One app on Android supports RAD as of now, and its iOS app will do the same in 2019.

“Over the course of the past year, we have been refining these concepts and the technology in collaboration with some of the smartest people in podcasting from around the world,” said Joel Sucherman, vice president, New Platform Partnerships at NPR, in an announcement. “We needed to take painstaking care to prove out our commitment to the privacy of listeners, while providing a standard that the industry could rally around in our collective efforts to continue to evolve the podcasting space,” he said.

To use RAD technology, publishers will mark within their audio files certain points — like quartiles or some time markers, interview spots, sponsorship messages or ads — with RAD tags and indicate an analytics URL. A mobile app is configured to read the RAD tags and then, when listeners hit that spot in the file, that information is sent to the URL in an anonymized format.

The end result is that podcasters know just what parts of the audio file their listeners heard, and is able to track this at scale across platforms. (RAD is offering both Android and iOS SDKs.)

While there’s value in podcast data that goes beyond the download, not all are sold on technology.

Most notably, the developer behind the popular iOS podcast player app Overcast, Marco Arment, today publicly stated his app will not support any listener-tracking specs.

“I understand why huge podcast companies want more listener data, but there are zero advantages for listeners or app-makers,” Arment wrote in a tweet. “Podcasters get enough data from your IP address when you download episodes,” he said.

The developer also pointed out this sort of data collection required more work on the podcasters’ part and could become a GDPR liability, as well. (NPR tells us GDPR compliance is up to the mobile apps and analytics servers, as noted in the specs here.)

In addition to NPR’s use of RAD today, Podtrac has also now launched a beta program to show RAD data, which is open to interested publishers.

Mobile – TechCrunch