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Analytics

How to blend performance and branding for a Q4 boost

September 18, 2018 No Comments

Q4 is right around the corner, and that means digital marketers need to be on top of their game in planning, building, executing, and converting. But when you are looking to really scale revenue and new customers this holiday season, you’ll have to incorporate some branding strategies.

Now, I work for a performance digital marketing agency, so everything we do is always tied back to the question, ‘Well, is it improving performance?’ So when I say branding, I’m talking about the avenues that will allow you to get very targeted so that you can be sure you are hitting relevant audiences for your business. Better yet for performance marketers, there is a way where (to some extent) you can measure the effects these branding plays have on performance (I’ll get to that in a bit).

In this post, I’ll break down channels to test for branding, and then I’ll talk about how to measure the performance of those branding channels/campaigns. Let’s get started.

YouTube

This channel has huge reach, and it’s a great way to cast a wide net and get exposure for your brand. The biggest downside with YouTube is that, if you’re not careful, you can spend a lot of your budget ineffectively.

Here are a few targeting recommendations to effectively get in front of the right audiences and have a positive impact on performance:

  • In-market audiences – With this targeting, Google identifies users who are actively shopping for certain categories. Additionally, if you know the demographics of your target audience, you can layer on gender and age targeting to get more selective about the folks who see your ad.
  • Custom intent audiences – You can also take things one step beyond in-market audiences and develop your own custom intent audiences. With custom intent audiences, you enter a list of search terms that align with what your ideal audience uses to find your product/service. Google will then use that list to define and reach the ideal audience for your business; this lets you go beyond Google’s predefined audience segments and reach people as they’re making a purchase decision.

Instagram stories

What makes Instagram’s stories feature so great is that it takes advantage of all of Facebook’s granular targeting capabilities, which means you can get right in front of the specific personas you want to target (including interests, demographic, behavioral, as well as lookalikes and custom audiences). You can also get specific with the devices you want to target, so if you know, for instance, that your core purchasers are typically iPhone users, you can limit targeting to those devices.

I would recommend initially starting off with your top-performing Facebook audience and refine testing from there.

Native advertising

Native is a great way to deliver your ads to massive audiences who are in the mindset of consuming content. Native offers tons of channels: Outbrain, Taboola, Yahoo Gemini, etc. My recommendation is to start with Yahoo Gemini – in particular, the following ad types.

Yahoo mail ads appear within your Yahoo mailbox. You can leverage Yahoo’s capabilities to target by age, gender, interests, and custom audiences. Typically, I recommend targeting users interested in your competitors as they would be highly relevant; that, coupled with layering on age/gender data, will get you close to the personas you want to go after.

Additionally, as you test across Yahoo’s wider network with native, one highly recommended ad format to use would be carousel ads, which come in either desktop or mobile format.

Desktop carousel ads allow advertisers to show a more premium format for their ads:

Mobile carousel ads allow advertisers to use up to 5 images to tell a visual story:

One caveat: not all sites are set up to take carousel ad formats. The sites that are set up for carousel ads tend to be higher-quality properties, so it’s a nice bit of self-selecting when you put carousel ads into play.

How to measure branding performance

Okay, now that you’re casting a wide net and building awareness for your brand, how can you quantify the value of those efforts? Although it’s not easy to assign value to every aspect, we’ve found some strategies to be helpful.

One technique we use is by tagging our ads with utm parameters, indicating the channel, campaign, targeting and ad that a user is coming through on when they click the ad.

Then we develop remarketing campaigns or ad sets specifically targeting our brand awareness efforts. (For example, we remarket specifically to those who have clicked on our Instagram Story ad.) This separates our brand awareness efforts within our remarketing campaigns, which allows us to quantify conversions (and conversion rates) of those who have been exposed to our brand via our broader branding initiatives. It’s not perfect, but it helps us define how successful our branding efforts are.

With users brought in through branding campaigns, it’s important to remember that the buying journey can be longer – even if you’re a retail brand in Q4. If you’re looking to capitalize on your user base for the holiday season, there’s no time like the present to bring in this new audience and get the nurture/remarketing engine running.

Search Engine Watch


Why PPC and SEO need to work together

September 15, 2018 No Comments

Search spend now accounts for almost a third of advertising spend in the UK, and has grown consistently since 2001. Balancing the marketing mix is a huge challenge facing any CMO or marketer, and it’s no different in the world of search. It can be difficult for brands to find the right blend of PPC and SEO, ensuring that marketers are getting the most out of both. It’s one of the more nuanced choices marketers have to make.

Too much of one or too little of the other and marketers could be in the position of unnecessarily wasting valuable budget or, on the flip side, marketers could be in the position where they are not delivering the results search could be yielding for their brand.

Forward3D’s application and understanding of data has helped to advise clients on their best strategy for success. By having using an integrated approach to strategy, appropriate recommendations can be made to allow marketers to balance activity. For one major airline client, aggregated performance data enabled us to make the recommendation to turn off PPC for brand keywords meaning they could deploy that significant marketing budget for acquisition purposes elsewhere.

So, with this in mind, how do you approach the seemingly complicated relationship between PPC and SEO to yield the best results?

Setting up for success

Without aligning PPC and SEO teams, it’s difficult to implement an appropriate strategy. Although it may seem obvious, many companies still report on search as two separate channels when an aggregated view can add a much greater value. This visibility into integrated search performance is crucial to understanding what impact individual channels have on the overall performance mix.

For example, if paid search click-through rates (CTR) increase then organic traffic might well be expected to drop. However, if marketers report this at search engine marketing (SEM) level, they’ll find that total brand traffic is likely to be flat, as it’s the proportions (and costs) per channel that are actually shifting. Teams need to have visibility and understand how changes in performance at this granular level can impact the entire business as this information is critical when planning budgets or future activity.

Understanding the problem

Creating a joint strategy can allow you to more effectively tackle particular problems a business is trying to solve. While it’s still possible to do effective paid search with a sub-optimal website, it’s much more straightforward when site performance is being guided and prioritized by SEO. This is because it benefits from the site speed, conversion rates, and relevancy being driven by tech and content which paid teams can’t usually influence.

For example, an advertiser in a highly competitive paid search auction might be able to achieve some incremental gains from keyword, ad copy, and bid optimization but working with SEO could give them a greater competitive edge. For example, prioritizing page optimization—either from a technical or content standpoint—can ultimately improve both user experience and landing page relevance which not only benefits conversion rates but can lower CPCs too.

Likewise working with content teams helps paid search marketers think more about planning and executing around events rather than reacting to traffic changes. It can also lead to a more collaborative testing strategy whereby Organic teams work with Paid to prioritize long term keyword and ranking opportunities based on first party or performance data to indicate higher profitability or lifetime value rather than relying on traffic. Through ongoing testing and adjusting traffic across these terms it may end up that Paid activity becomes an evolving test bed for high value terms which over time get transitioned to organic.

Taking a long-term view

Ultimately, finding the balance required to run strong search campaigns is largely impacted by planning, budgeting and investment. Long term investment in SEO is more likely to benefit all channels, but short to medium term there may be spikes in interest or particular products that suit a paid search investment. Brands need to correctly identify this balance and budget accordingly, which ultimately determines search success.

By hiring the right talent or working with the right partners who understand the data and nuance around both organic and paid search, businesses can start identifying where investment is best placed. By understanding this process, the teams can produce meaningful, actionable insights, which benefit customers and businesses alike.

Neil Morse is Associate Director, Paid Search Strategy at Forward3D.

Search Engine Watch


Q&A with Adobe on the future of search

September 11, 2018 No Comments

Search marketing is going through a rapid transformation driven by new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Voice Search, Visual Search, Amazon, and Blockchain, impacting how we search for information and buy products and services online.

The Transformation of Search Summit, taking place in New York on October 19 combines the expertise of ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, in partnership with Catalyst (part of GroupM), along with speakers from Hertz, Hilton, Condé Nast, LEGO, and more, to dissect the current landscape and provide a deep-dive into the actionable steps to future-proof and protect your strategy.

This week we sat down with Pete Kluge, Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, to deep dive into his role at Adobe and panel discussion on Google, Amazon, Bing, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Adobe.

ClickZ: Tell us a bit about your role?

Pete Kluge: As Group Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Advertising Cloud, my team leads go-to-market strategy in two key areas:

  • Search Marketing: Advertising Cloud Search, our own solution, was rebuilt earlier this year with a new UI and features powered by Adobe Sensei to boost ROI for advertisers.
  • Creative Management: Advertising Cloud Creative, which also debuted earlier this year, gives marketers control over basic design elements—including advertising copy and assets used in display ads—to allow for the rapid rollout of new messaging and design without the painful and expensive steps of re-trafficking or starting the design process over from scratch.

In addition to driving strategy, my team partners with sales and account services to support clients, deliver business growth, understand customer challenges, and evangelize our products through education and thought leadership.

CZ: What are your key priorities over the next 12 months?

PK: Key priorities for Advertising Cloud Search include: expanding on data and audience integrations with Adobe Experience Cloud and external partners, as well as enhancing AI-driven performance optimizations by leveraging our unique data access. This includes a full rollout of features powered by Adobe Sensei—Adobe’s framework for artificial intelligence and machine learning—such as performance optimizations, performance forecasting, and spend recommendations.

On the creative side of the business, a key priority for the next year is to continue to grow adoption of the platform through greater awareness and thought leadership as well as to deepen existing integrations to allow for seamless collaboration between creatives, marketers, and media buyers.

CZ: What is your biggest challenge in achieving these?

PK: The biggest challenge from a product marketing perspective lies in taking difficult and complex concepts and creating stories and messaging that fully convey the value of our offering to advertisers in a way that is easy to understand. Since Adobe offers such a comprehensive marketing stack that spans many parts of a brand organization—from the CIO to the CTO, CMO on down to practitioners like media buyers and creatives—helping customers connect the dots to drive results is a key part of our role.

CZ: What’s your advice to those that may be facing a similar challenge?

PK: My advice would be to understand your customer’s challenges. The closer you are to clients and their unique goals—which often vary not only by industry but brand history, perception, and a host of variables—the more you can help them leverage technology to drive great experiences.

CZ: What’s the most interesting trend you are you seeing in the market right now?

PK: Delivering great experiences that transcend whatever product a brand is selling is a key trend we’ve helped shape, and are uniquely-suited to solve. Making advertising more connected to marketing strategy through technology is a key part of how we’re doing that.

CZ: How is this going to change in the medium and long term?

PK: The technology to deliver relevant marketing experiences across channels, formats, and screens is continually evolving and improving. We’ve seen consolidation in the industry moving away from point solutions to integrated advertising and marketing stacks that make it seamless to access and share data and audiences across channels for delivery of personalized experiences.

CZ: Do you have a daily routine?

PK: Whether I’m at a conference, collaborating with product teams or meeting clients, it’s always different. Invariably, it’s fueled by coffee and regular exercise.

CZ: What was the last movie you saw in theaters?

PK: “Mission Impossible: Fallout”

Join the discussion and meet 300 other senior marketers trying to solve the same problems. Be sure to check out the full agenda here.

Interested in winning a free pass to attend the summit? Fill out this survey—we hope to see you there!

Search Engine Watch


What Google’s E-A-T score means for ecommerce

September 8, 2018 No Comments

Google updated their search quality rating guidelines in July. These rating guidelines, which you can view here, are used by humans to rate the quality of web pages as search results for specific queries. These ratings are used to guide how Google’s search engineers improve their search engine.

Soon after the update to the guidelines, Google introduced a broad core algorithm update circa August 1st, most likely to ensure that the search engine was returning results that reflected the changes to its guidelines.

One of the most important changes to the guidelines was a greater focus on Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T), as well as a focus on applying this to individual authors—not just brands or web pages.

E-A-T is important for the ecommerce industry because shopping pages are considered by the rater guidelines to be “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) pages, and these types of pages are held to the highest quality standards. For that reason they are also expected to have the highest E-A-T.

If you want your shopping pages to show up in the search results, you will need to identify how to maximize your E-A-T score for Google’s hypothetical human quality raters, which Google’s algorithms are designed to emulate.

Let’s talk about how to do that.

Which content is Google taking into consideration?

The expertise, authority, and trustworthiness of a page are determined primarily by looking at the main content on the page. What counts as main content is obvious when we are talking about a content site like a blog, but which content are Google’s quality raters taking into consideration on your category and product pages?

The first important thing to recognize is that “content” is not limited to text. The rater guidelines explicitly state that “webpage content includes … functionality (such as online shopping features, email, calculator functionality, online games, etc.).”

So raters aren’t just being asked to evaluate text. They’re being asked to evaluate your site’s functionality. It isn’t just the text on your page that needs to be high E-A-T, it’s the design, interface, interactivity, useability, and other features.

For example, raters are explicitly asked to “put at least one product in the cart to make sure the shopping cart is functioning.” They are reminded that “high quality shopping content should allow users to find the products they want and to purchase the products easily.” I highly recommend meeting these basic functions expected of the modern ecommerce site in service of that goal:

  • A persistent shopping cart that stores the products you are planning to buy
  • The ability to create a wishlist
  • The ability to sort category pages and search results by price, weighted relevance, review score, best sellers, and similar criteria
  • The ability to filter category and search results by product features and tags
  • A responsive design that looks good and functions well on mobile devices
  • Modern search capable of interpreting queries and dealing with misspellings rather than simply matching text exactly to what is found on the page

Google provides quality raters with some examples of main content. In an example featuring a product page, they consider the content behind the reviews, shipping, and safety information tabs to be main content:

The rest of the content on the page is considered “supplementary content.” This is because the purpose of the shopping page is to sell or give information about a product. Everything directly involved in serving that purpose is considered main content. Everything peripheral to it, such as suggested products and navigation, is considered to be supplementary.

For a page to receive a good quality score, raters are asked to look for a “satisfying amount of high quality content.” They give an example of a shopping page that includes “the manufacturer’s product specs, …original product information, over 90 user reviews, shipping and returns information, [and] multiple images of the product.” High E-A-T isn’t going to get you far enough if the amount of content isn’t satisfactory for the purpose of the shopping page, so this is where you need to start.

Prerequisites

For quality raters to determine the E-A-T of your shopping pages, there are a few things they need to be able to find to give you a positive score at all.

When raters are evaluating shopping pages, the guidelines ask them to “do some special checks” for “contact information,” including “policies on payment, exchanges, and returns,” suggesting that this information will most likely be found under “customer service.” Make sure this information is present and easy to find.

What is expertise in the ecommerce industry?

The rater guidelines offer an example of a shopping page that earns a high quality score because of its high E-A-T:

They say that the page has “high E-A-T for the purpose of the page” because they have “expertise in these specific types of goods.” They mention that many of the products sold on the site are unique to this company, presumably as evidence of this. They also mention that they have “a positive reputation.”

This suggests that what counts as expertise for a shopping page, according to Google, is the expertise of the manufacturer and the brand regarding the products being sold. The fact that they have a good reputation and exclusive products are used as evidence of this. Needless to say, this means you should only work with manufacturers that have recognized expertise in the industry.

The expertise of those who don’t work for your brand are actually relevant as well. The guidelines ask raters to look for “recommendations by experts, news articles, and other credible information…about the website” while they are doing reputation research for your brand or your content creators.

This emphasizes the importance of outreach in earning a high E-A-T score. Obviously, your products, your site functionality, and your brand integrity must be inherently high in order to earn positive press and recommendations from experts in the appropriate industries, but there are limits to how much your site and products are capable of promoting themselves.

To earn a positive reputation, you will also need to reach out directly to industry influencers and experts, send products to product reviewers, and make headlines by taking newsworthy actions. Failing to do so means that even if your products, brand, and site are stellar, while you won’t have a negative reputation, you will have less of a reputation than those who have made the effort to promote themselves effectively.

Crucially, reputation requires high editorial freedom. Placing sponsored content on sites or promoting your site with ads will not earn you a positive reputation, at least not directly, because content created by your own brand isn’t considered during this research phase.

What makes an ecommerce brand authoritative?

The rater guidelines consider this shopping page to deserve the “highest quality” rating:

As part of the reasoning behind this, they mention that “since the store produces this backpack, they are experts on the product, making the page on their own website authoritative.”

This reveals an interesting insight into how Google decides product content is authoritative. An industry expert or the manufacturer of the product needs to be providing the information, or it isn’t authoritative.

In contrast, a blog post written by somebody who doesn’t work in this industry, isn’t an outdoors enthusiast, and otherwise doesn’t know very much about backpacks wouldn’t be considered an authority on this product.

Google provides this page as an example of one that should receive the “lowest” quality rating:

They name “no evidence of E-A-T” as one reason for this. They note that the “Contact Us” page doesn’t give a company name or physical address, and that the “Shipping and Returns” page lists a different company that doesn’t seem related.

Perhaps most notably for authority considerations, however, they note that they include official looking logos for the Better Business Bureau and Google Checkout, but these don’t seem to actually be affiliated with the website. While the guidelines don’t explicitly mention it, the inclusion of the “Nike” logo in the header also seems to be deceptive.

When it comes to authority, Google seems to be most concerned with how it can be misrepresented. Presumably, a small company with limited reach could still be considered to have good authority so long as it only claims to be the authority over its own products. Likewise, a marketplace selling products produced by other manufacturers would presumably be considered authoritative if it were easy to verify that those manufacturers were indeed affiliated with the seller, and that the ecommerce site was an authorized merchant.

For this specific example, had the Nike, BBB, and Google Checkout logos linked to some sort of verification of affiliation, the page likely would have been considered to have high, or at least satisfactory authority.

What is trustworthiness for ecommerce sites?

To be considered high quality, raters are asked to look for “satisfying customer service information” when evaluating shopping pages. This means that any potential questions or concerns that shoppers might have about the product and the buying process should be addressed.

It’s best to be as extensive and comprehensive as possible. The purpose of the product, how to use it, what it looks like, and what results they should expect need to be covered in as much detail as possible.

Information about shipping charges should be transparent and revealed up front.

Return policies, guarantees, and similar information should be easily accessible. The checkout process shouldn’t surprise users by completing before they thought they were making a purchase or introducing fees they were not expecting or warned about.

Contact information, live chat, and customer support should be easy to find.

Remember that Google is considering all of this information main content. This should be reflected in your site design as well. Do not hide this information away or make it difficult to find. Put it where shoppers and human quality raters alike would expect to find it and where it will alleviate any concerns about the buying process.

The guidelines explicitly mention that stores “frequently have user ratings,” and that they “consider a large number of positive user reviews as evidence of positive reputation.”

Needless to say, it’s strongly recommended to introduce user review functionality to your site. User reviews have a well-measured positive impact on search engine traffic. Various studies have found that 63% of users are more likely to buy from a site that features user reviews, that users who interact with user reviews are 105% more likely to make a purchase, that they can produce an 18% lift in sales, and that having 50 or more reviews can result in an additional 4.6% boost in conversion rates.

In addition to allowing users to leave reviews, it’s important to encourage your users to leave reviews. Include automated emails asking your users to leave a review into your checkout process, with emails arriving in user’s inboxes shortly after their product is shipped successfully, or even papers telling them how to leave a review sent with the product.

If you’re concerned that asking users to leave reviews, or allowing them to in the first place, will result in negative reviews, this fear is largely unfounded. A study published in Psychological Science found that buyers were actually more influenced by the number of reviews than by the overall score, even to the extent that this was considered irrational behavior on their part.

Another study found that users are actually more likely to purchase a product with a rating between 4.2 and 4.5 stars, since excessively high star ratings are considered suspicious.

Finally, if you leave users to their own devices, the ones who are most likely to leave a review are the ones who are either extremely surprised by how well things went, or extremely disappointed. Additionally, they will review your products on another site if they can’t do so on yours, and Google’s guidelines ask quality raters to look at other sites for reviews.

For these reasons and more, try asking your users to leave reviews.

One crucial piece of the puzzle for trustworthiness is security. The guidelines specifically call out an “insecure connection” on a checkout page as a reason to consider a shopping page untrustworthy, and a reason to give it a “low” quality rating. While they are specifically talking about the checkout page, it’s best to deploy HTTPS on every page of your site in order to eliminate any source of doubt.

Another example receiving the “lowest” score, is considered malicious because it asks for the user’s government ID number and ATM pin number. While this is an obvious piece of deception that no legitimate checkout page would ask for, consider less clearly malicious features that could lead to distrust. For example, requiring an email address for checkout, without explanation, that automatically adds users to an email list instead of the option to opt into one, is likely to reduce your trust score.

Conclusion

Google’s search quality evaluator guidelines indicate that expertise, authority, and trustworthiness are central considerations for Google’s engineers. To perform well in the search results for the foreseeable future, your pages should be developed as though humans were evaluating them for these factors.

When it comes to ecommerce, shopping pages are of primary concern, and E-A-T functions differently for them than it would for a blog post. A high quality ecommerce site doesn’t just feature authoritative text, its features and functionality are built with E-A-T in mind.

Earn expertise by working with manufacturers at the top of their industry, and by getting your brand and products in front of industry experts. Be authoritative by partnering with authoritative brands and ensuring that everything is easily verifiable. Build trust with user reviews, extensive contact and customer service information, a secure site, and a transparent checkout process.

Invest in these features to ensure that your shopping pages continue to perform well and remain competitive in the long run.

Manish Dudharejia is the president and founder of E2M Solutions Inc, a San Diego based digital agency that specializes in website design & development and ecommerce SEO. Follow him on Twitter.

Search Engine Watch


Page title optimization – the Holy Grail

September 1, 2018 No Comments

Page titles are probably the most overlooked aspects of SEO. Crafting a good page title is a must-have skill for anyone aiming for high SERP conversions. Title tags are a major factor in helping search engines understand what your page is about, they also determine the first impression visitors have of your page.

It’s important to always optimize your page title as search engines mostly rely on it when ranking because it gives an insight into the content of a page. To excel at SEO & get business online, it is important to play by Google’s rules. In 2017, Google accounted for over 79% of all global desktop search traffic, followed by Bing at 7.27%, Baidu at 6.55% and Yahoo at 5.06%, clearly ranking on Google is essential.

Whether you’re looking to improve the SEO of your website, or increase the impact of a content marketing strategy, optimizing page titles is an important step. In this article, we’ll talk about best writing practices for page title optimization.

Pay attention to length

Google will display 50-60 characters of a page title in the search results before cutting it off, so you should aim for page titles that are around 55 characters or less in length, including spaces.

The length of your page title can affect how it is presented in the SERP. If it’s too long, it’ll be truncated. If it’s too short, Google might decide not to show your page in the search results at all, or simply overwrite your title.

google search title SEO practices in 2018

Source: Google.com

To be safe, make sure the most important or descriptive words in the keyword are towards the beginning so they’re less likely to get cut off. A good page title should be structured like this: Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name.

Note that longer titles may work better for social sharing in some cases, and some titles are just naturally long. While it’s good to be mindful of how your titles appear in search results, there are no penalties for using a long title. Use your judgment, and think like a search engine user.

Write unique titles for every page

Every page on your website is unique and it should be treated as such. It’s important to have specific, descriptive titles for each page on your site. The Page title should reflect the individuality of each page. Unique titles help search engines understand that your content is unique and valuable, and also drive higher click-through rates.

Customize the page title on each page of your website so that they accurately describe what’s on that specific page. With 57% of B2B marketers stating that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative, won’t it be smart to ensure your business pages are seen and understood?

On the scale of hundreds or thousands of pages, it may seem impossible to craft a unique title for every page, but modern CMS and code-based templates should allow you to at least create data-driven, unique titles for almost every important page of your site.

Use your target keyword

Every page on your website should answer a question or provide valuable information someone is searching for. Your website will be more useful to searchers if it ranks in search for the right term – just when they’re looking for the information you provide. This is extremely important. A well-crafted title should include your target keyword. So for each page, you should have a target keyword (or a few) in mind.

Since Google’s algorithm uses the page title as one of the main ways to determine what a page is about, A good title helps both search engines and users understand what the page is about, and having your keywords in the title is a step towards that direction. That makes it clear to Google that this page is relevant for anyone searching for that specific term.

It’s sometimes helpful to have a few descriptive terms in the title, but it is overkill to have the same words or phrases appear multiple times. While there is no penalty built into Google’s algorithm for long titles, you might face challenges if you start stuffing your title full of keywords in a way that creates a bad user experience, such as: Buy shoes, Best shoes, Cheap shoes, shoes for Sale.

This kind of keyword stuffing can make your results look like spam to Google and to users.

Create titles for users and not search engines

This is also very crucial. Your titles should be interesting enough to catch and hold the attention of searchers. While page titles are very important to SEO, remember that your first goal is to attract clicks from well-targeted visitors who are likely to find your content valuable.

It’s important to think about the entire user experience when you’re creating your titles, in addition to optimization and keyword usage. The page title is a new visitor’s first interaction with your brand when they find it in a search result — it should convey the most positive, important and accurate message possible.

Avoid vague descriptors like “Home” for your home page, or “Profile” for a specific person’s profile. Also avoid unnecessarily long or verbose titles, which are likely to get truncated when they show up in the search result listings.

Outsource your SEO auditing

Consistent SEO plays a vital role in helping you achieve your goals. But you can’t just spend a week dedicated to SEO and be done with it for the next three months and expect success. You need to actively track your progress adjust as required. An SEO company will offer you guidance in a constantly evolving industry with optimal strategies changing. Their sole purpose is to help you improve your visibility online.

An SEO company will help place keywords in your page titles to help Google rank your page, add well written, keyword rich copy to underperforming landing pages. These SEO professionals also provide a range of services, including auditing your site, developing a tailored SEO strategy, and implementing the tactics that will help your business rank for keywords and gain organic traffic through search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Outsourcing to an SEO company will give your website the best possible chance of placing highly in search engine rankings and driving a higher volume of relevant traffic to your website. Within months of having your website SEO outsourced to the right people, you should find that your website’s traffic skyrockets.

Whether your aim is to optimize your page title or drive traffic to your website in order to increase your profits or your website’s popularity, ensuring your page titles are optimized put your site on the right lane!

Search Engine Watch


How to create an optimized career page for your website

August 25, 2018 No Comments

With recruitment as competitive a market as it has ever been, it’s essential to ensure every careers page or job vacancy on your website is fully optimized in order to place it in front of the perfect candidate online.

They are some of the largest and most powerful websites around, but typically online job boards lack page authority, so while you cannot compete with them on a domain level, you can still outrank these huge companies with good SEO.

The next step is selling your vacancy to the candidate, which can sometimes be a tough process, but one that your job pages can definitely help you out with.

How should you go about doing this?

Conduct thorough keyword research

Your first port of call to ensure your careers pages are fully optimized is to conduct some thorough keyword research in order to identify relevant keywords to target on your job pages.

Location-specific job searches invariably have a favorable ratio between search volume and keyword difficulty (competitiveness), so it’s crucial to ensure you are targeting properly before you begin to optimize.

Ahrefs is my tool of choice for this due to the ease of use and array of filters available to use.

Use internal links

Internal links are your chance to tell Google which pages on your site are the most important. You can manage your internal links as you wish, but one recommended strategy is for any page you are trying to rank, you should point internal links at it from the more powerful pages on your website.

A good way of finding these authoritative pages is by using the ‘Top Pages’ category in ahrefs (other tools are available) which will filter your pages by URL rating (authority) in a descending order. You are left with a list of your most powerful pages ready to be linked from.

When trying to boost vacancy pages, adding natural looking anchor text along the lines of ‘Like what you are reading? See our latest job openings’ and linking to the live positions can work well.

Internal linking is an oft-underutilized strategy in SEO and Andy Drinkwater is one of the more prominent voices on the topic often sharing useful, actionable information with the SEO community.

Maximize your content

Ensure the copy featured on each of your careers pages is optimized to rank well. Your content should be specific to your company and the individual role, with a minimum word count of 250 words.

Make it enticing! And if your company has a personality, ensure you show it.

The copy itself should be relevant and informative to the user, answering any specific queries they may have. The more information you can give the prospect the better.

Avoid duplicate content at all costs and try to be creative – you can assume the job seeker is looking at a number of job posts so you really need to try and stand out here.

Go behind the scenes

Provide potential employees with a look behind the scenes at your offices before they apply for a role. This is likely to benefit both you and the prospective employee as they can see if the environment appeals to them.

An office walkthrough is the ideal way to show what life is like at your company, plus the tour footage can form part of your Google Business listing (if recorded by an accredited Google Business). Appearing alongside your company address and telephone number, it’s an effective way to boost your site’s local SEO.

If you really want to stand out from your competitors, however, why not invest in a 360 degree tour of your office? This can also be VR-based. Interactive and realistic, it’s the next best thing to being in your office in person and will help a prospective employee to really visualize working for you.

Once you’ve taken these factors into consideration, you also need to think about Google Jobs.

What is Google Jobs?

Having launched in the US in 2017 and the UK in July this year, Google’s new job search tool Google Jobs looks set to radically alter the way job seekers search for roles, also impacting recruitment agencies and their processes.

Google caused a disturbance in the flight industry with the launch of Google Flights, which saw an immediate uptake in bookings from customers who were frustrated by the tendency of airlines to withhold information about additional costs such as baggage fees whilst booking, in order to make their flights appear cheaper.  

Inc.com attributed the success of Google Flights to increased transparency to customers, who are able to see all the relevant costs prior to booking a flight, plus any predicted delays. The impact of the launch of Google Flights was immediate, with Business Insider stating the platform was “an embarrassment to the airline industry”.

The search engine’s success in identifying and capitalizing upon weaknesses in the travel and tourism industry is expected to be replicated in the recruitment industry with the launch of Google Jobs.

Simply recognizing users’ frustration at a lack of information, collating results at once and then proceeding to provide this information immediately results in a more valuable service for users.

What does the launch of Google Jobs mean for job vacancies online?

Google Jobs has been designed to simplify and speed up the process of job-hunting for the job-seeker. At the US launch of Google Jobs last year, Google CEO Pichai Sundar announced that the purpose of the tool was to “better connect employers and job seekers”.

Users are able to filter roles by key criteria such as necessary qualifications and experience, working hours, salary and commute. Recruiters and employment platforms currently working with Google Jobs include LinkedIn, Monster, Glassdoor and Payscale (but interestingly, not Indeed).

The impact on recruitments companies will be severe. Even if you were ranking #1, you will now have the Google Jobs ‘import’ sitting above you plus the usual PPC ads.

While it’s safe to assume that Google will weight Google Jobs above all other recruitment platforms, it is worth bearing in mind that the company recently received a $ 5 billion fine from the EU for abusing their Android dominance, so they may – initially at least – proceed with more caution than usual.


What does this mean for my job vacancy?

Google Jobs pulls through vacancies from many recruitment company sites and jobs boards. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there isn’t the ability to get your (a SMEs) specific role featured in the platform without posting it on one of these jobs sites/boards.

For businesses who have steered clear of these in the past, now may be the time to start to signing up.

We can assume Google Jobs’ popularity is only going to increase so if you want to maximize the chance of your vacancy being seen, don’t get left behind.

 

Search Engine Watch


The Page Speed update: what SEOs need to know

August 21, 2018 No Comments

Page speed has been a ranking factor for desktop searches since April 2010, but it was never officially a ranking factor for mobile searches (despite what we’ve all suspected for a long time). Not until July 2018, that is, when Google rolled out the Speed Update.

Google’s pushing for a faster mobile experience

The Speed Update is the latest in a long list of speed-related updates, tools, and technologies that Google has developed over the last decade – many of which specifically target the mobile experience.

For example, PageSpeed tools, such as the modules for servers like Apache and Nginx, PageSpeed reports in Google Search Console and Google Analytics, and plugins like the PageSpeed Chrome Developer Tools extension have become par for course since their introduction back in 2010.

Since then, Google has introduced tools such as the Mobile-Friendly Test to help websites gauge their responsiveness.

They’ve also launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which allows content creators to make lightweight and lightning-fast versions of pages for their mobile audiences, and Progressive Web Apps (PWA), which load content instantly regardless of a user’s network state.

And, in the past 6 months alone, Google has further introduced an onslaught of new speed-related tools, including:

  • Lighthouse – helps users automatically audit and optimize web pages
  • Impact Calculator and Mobile Speed Scorecard – grades your mobile site’s speed and calculates what impact your site speed is having on your conversion rates and revenue
  • Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX) – a database of real user experience metrics from Chrome users.

Google also transitioned to ‘mobile-first’ indexing in February 2018, which means it now prioritizes the mobile versions of websites over desktop versions when it comes to ranking and indexing.

And last but not least, the Speed Update has ushered in page speed as a ranking factor for mobile websites.

Recent changes to how Google measures page speed

Another recent change you may have noticed is that PageSpeed Insights looks a little different these days. Entering a URL a few months ago would return a report that looked something like this:

As you can see, your site receives one rating and it’s evaluated based on a set of clear technical criteria: redirects, compression, minification, etc. Optimizing, while not always easy per se, was straightforward.
But if you plug in your URL today, you’ll see a screen that looks more like this:

Now you’re scored according to two different categories: speed and optimization.

Optimization is the new name given to the technical checklist you were already familiar with. Anyone who’s used the PageSpeed Insights in the past should instantly recognize these recommendations.

Speed, however, is something new. It’s scored based on two new metrics: First Contentful Paint (FCP), which measures how long it takes a user to see the first visual response from a page, and DOM Content Loaded (DCL), which measures the time it takes an HTML document to be loaded and parsed.

These two new metrics are the game-changers because even if you were measuring them before the update (most SEOs I know weren’t), there’s a high chance that Google’s numbers don’t match yours.

So why the disconnect? Well, while you’re measuring DCL based on your website’s optimal performance, Google is pulling its results from its CrUX database. In other words, these metrics are based on real user measurements.

That means that even if everything looks perfectly optimized on your end, Google may consider your website to be ‘slow’ if most of your users have poor connection speeds or outdated mobile devices.

In other words, Google’s switched from measuring ‘lab’ data to ‘field’ data. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to improve field data except for optimizing your website to make it even faster.

Our experiment measuring the impact of the Speed Update

My team recently conducted a series of experiments to determine what impact, if any, the Speed Update has had on mobile rankings.

First, we analyzed one million pages in mobile search results to understand the relationship between page speed and mobile SERPs before the update. Our research revealed that a page’s Page Speed Optimization Score had a high correlation (0.97) to its position in SERPs. FCP and DCL, however, had almost no bearing on a page’s rank.

Three months later, after Google’s Speed Update went live, we ran the same experiment. Again, we analyzed one million different pages and we collected Optimization Scores, median FCPs, and median DCLs for each unique URL.

What we discovered is that the correlation between a page’s average speed Optimization Score and its position in SERPs remains static: 0.97.

We also discovered that there is still no significant correlation between a page’s position in mobile SERPs and the median FCP/DCL metrics.

The only change we did notice was an industry-wide increase in the performance of mobile pages: the ranking on the first 30 positions in mobile search improved by 0.83 Optimization Score points between our first and our second experiments.

So, what’s the takeaway? At this point in time, it’s very important to continue improving your Optimization Score. FCP and DCL metrics seem to play a minor role where search results are concerned, but the standards for the top positions in SERPs keep increasing.

Advanced checklist for optimizing page speed

Optimizing mobile page speed requires you to test your page speed first. Before you begin making any improvements, plug your URLs into PageSpeed Insights. Or, if you find the thought of checking every page one-by-one exhausting, use a tool that can monitor all of your pages at once.

My team uses the tool we developed, WebSite Auditor. It’s integrated with PageSpeed Insights, which makes it easy to test, analyze, and optimize each page’s performance. GTMetrix and Pingdom are two other great tools for testing and optimizing page speed.

Once you’ve tested your mobile site speed and identified areas of improvement, it’s time to get to work:

  1. Ensure each page has no more than one redirect
    – If you need to use a redirect: use 301 for permanent redirects (e.g. deleted content) and 302 for temporary redirects (e.g. limited-time promotions)
    – Googlebot supports both JavaScript-based redirects and HTTP redirects
  2. Enable compression to reduce file size
    – Gzip all compressible content or use a Gzip alternative (e.g. Brotli)
    – Remove unnecessary data whenever possible
    – Use different compression techniques for HTML codes & digital assets
  3. Aim for a server response time of <200ms
    – Use HTTP/2 for a performance boost
    – Enable OCSP stapling
    – Support both IPv6 and IPv4
    – Add resource hints like dns-lookup, preconnect, prefetch, and preload.
  4. Implement a caching policy
    – Use cache-control to automatically control how and how long browsers cache responses
    – Use Etags to enable efficient revalidation
    – Double check Google’s caching checklist to determine optimal caching policy
  5. Minify resources
    – Minify HTML, CSS, JavaScript
    – Minify images, videos, and other content if they’re slowing down your page speed
    – Automate minification using third-party tools
  6. Optimize images
    – Eliminate unnecessary resources
    – Replace images with CSS3 where possible
    – Don’t encode text in images; use web fonts instead
    – Minify and compress SVG assets
    – Remove metadata if it’s not needed
    – Select smaller raster formats if they don’t interfere with quality
    – Resize and scale images to fit display size
    – Choose the image quality settings that best fit your site needs.
  7. Optimize CSS delivery
    – Inline small CSS files directly into the HTML to remove small external resources.
  8. Keep above-the-fold content under 148kB (compressed)
    – Reduce the size of data required to render above-the-fold content
    – Organize HTML markup to quickly render above-the-fold content.
  9. Remove all blocking JavaScript in above-the-fold content
    – If you need JavaScript above the fold, you can make it non-render blocking by marking your <script> tag as async
    – Inline critical scripts
    – Defer non-critical scripts and 3rd party JavaScript libraries at least until after the fold.

Needless to say, there are a lot of technical SEO tips and tricks you can do to continue tweaking and refining your mobile page speed. If you need more information on how, exactly, to perform any of the above actions, visit Google’s PageSpeed Insight Rules for more detail.

Conclusion: why you need to be optimizing mobile page speed

Year-after-year search engines continue to push the importance of mobile optimization. And it’s no secret why: recent studies suggest that 53% of all mobile visits are abandoned when a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, and you lose 10% of your users with every additional second.

Page speed has always mattered, but providing people with a fast mobile experience is now more important than ever before. This is especially true when you consider mobile-first indexing and the news that the average Optimization Scores of top ranking pages continue to rise.

Search Engine Watch


The difference between on-site blog content and off-site content

August 14, 2018 No Comments

Google recently updated its search quality rating guidelines, which has had a profound impact on the way that content is created. Publishing a revised 164-page document, the leading search engine is now paying greater attention on what users are searching for and what information they end up reading.

The tech giant has not been afraid to say that it has a focus on enhancing the user experience across the platform, and the changes that have been introduced for content creators reinforce this statement for marketers around the world.

While well-crafted onsite content can help strengthen your brand’s message and highlight your industry expertise, you’ll also need to produce creative offsite content that will help your business secure the best online coverage across a range of publications to increase rankings while amplifying your brand.

On-site content

There are multiple elements that cover on-site content, and when done correctly, effective on-site content can help increase your website’s search rankings. If you’re looking to become the go-to brand/service for your prospective customers, it’s crucial that you appear at the top of the results page.

Ultimately, blog content on your business website is there to support the user’s journey while providing them with the most insightful information that they need during their visit. This could also support them when making a purchase, as they see you as a more trustworthy figure. There are a few techniques you can use to make sure that your on-site blog content performs exceptionally well.

The first step to creating blog content is to understand who is reading it — usually this will be your main demographic who already have an interest in your products or services. Although you’ve positioned yourself as an authoritative figure, you need to speak to your website visitors as if they’re on your level for both acquisition and retention purposes.

You also want to avoid any industry jargon, as this can be an instant turn off for a reader. It’s important to be transparent with your audience and tell them the information that they need in a concise way that still delivers the same level of information.

You also need to use your blog content as a way to tell your audience that you’re better than your competitors. This can be achieved through showing off your USPs — whether these include next-day delivery or a lengthy warranty on products. If you’re creating an article on your site that drives information to the reader, they won’t mind you being slightly advertorial, as this can also be beneficial to them.

Internal links are a must in your blog post, but only if they are relevant. If you’re discussing a certain product or service that you offer, you should be linking to the relevant page to help improve the overall page authority.

It’s essential that you end your blog post with a call to action, because if a reader has made it all the way through your article, they’re already invested in your business and are more likely to perform an action.

Off-site content

Creating off-site content is completely different from making blog posts for your business website. This time, you’re not trying to appeal to your customers but to journalists and major publications that will drive authority to your website while having the ability to increase brand visibility.

It requires a full team of innovative and creative people to come up with outreach ideas that can support an SEO campaign. You should have an aim to create pieces of content that can be outreached to different publications that cover various niches. For example, an article that discusses how technology has improved health and safety in the workplace would appeal to technology, business and HR websites, all of which can improve your link building strategy for your online marketing campaigns.

This also means that you must carry out extensive research into what is relevant in the news. From an outreach perspective, this can allow you to see what type of content journalists are looking for and what is currently working well in terms of online coverage.

As well as this, you should also be looking at creating content around national or international events or celebrations — as editors are more likely to pick up this type of content because it will appeal to a wide audience and generate an overall buzz. Recently, we saw this with the World Cup and will soon see the same with the upcoming Christmas period.

Publications and journalists will not take content pieces that are too advertorial, as they want to provide readers with content that is informative and unbiased — but that is not to say they won’t credit you with either a brand mention or a link to one of your target pages.

Although content creation for both on-site and off-site may look similar, they can be very different in tone, format and objective.

 

 

Search Engine Watch


Measure Matters: A New Video Series to Keep You Up to Date on Your Data

August 11, 2018 No Comments

Whether you’re a data analyst, marketer, or e-commerce specialist, keeping on top of your data and making informed choices can make significant impact on your business. With that in mind, the Google Analytics team has introduced a new video series on YouTube: Measure Matters. Hosted by Analytics Advocates Krista Seiden and Louis Gray, the series covers best practices on leveraging our suite of products, rounds up highlights from the larger measurement community, and reviews recent product updates – so you never miss a thing, even with your busy schedule.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel or find our Measure Matters playlist: https://tinyurl.com/measurematters.

Measure Matters kicked off in May with a deep dive into Machine Learning, where we talked about automatic insights within Google Analytics, and whether the machines were coming for our jobs. (Spoiler alert: they’re not)

Our second episode covered finding your North Star, being sure to try new approaches and take risks, but to make choices based on data, rather than hacking your way through without a clear plan.

The third episode focused on how app developers can literally change the game through mobile app analytics, leveraging Google Analytics for Firebase.

Measure Matters Episode 3: Google Analytics for Firebase


What’s Coming Next

Measure Matters is scheduled to stream live every two weeks, with most events taking place at 10 a.m. Pacific time on Wednesday. Our next event will take place on Wednesday, June 27th, with the topic of Hearts, Charts and Shopping Carts — how you can evolve your marketing measurement with data. See our playlist for upcoming and past episodes.

How You Can Participate

Measure Matters is not a one-way broadcast. Krista and Louis regularly stream live on YouTube and answer questions taken via YouTube or on Twitter, using the hashtag #measurematters. So send us your questions, ideas, or content you think belongs on our show, and it just may make our next episode.

Happy analyzing!
Posted by Krista Seiden and Louis Gray, Analytics Advocates


Google Analytics Blog


Introducing simpler brands and solutions for advertisers and publishers

August 7, 2018 No Comments

We launched AdWords nearly 18 years ago with a simple goal—to make it easier for people to connect online with businesses. A search for eco-friendly stationery, quilting supplies, or for a service like a treehouse builder gave us an opportunity to deliver valuable ads that were useful and relevant in the moment. That idea was the start of our first advertising product, and led to the ads business we have today.

A lot has changed since then. Mobile is now a huge part of our everyday lives. People quickly switch from searching for products, to watching videos, browsing content, playing games and more. As a result, marketers have more opportunities to reach consumers across channels, screens and formats. The opportunity has never been more exciting, but it’s also never been more complex. Over the years, Google ads have evolved from helping marketers connect with people on Google Search, to helping them connect at every step of the consumer journey through text, video, display and more.

That’s why today we are introducing simpler brands and solutions for our advertising products: Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, and Google Ad Manager. These new brands will help advertisers and publishers of all sizes choose the right solutions for their businesses, making it even easier for them to deliver valuable, trustworthy ads and the right experiences for consumers across devices and channels. As part of this change, we are releasing new solutions that help advertisers get started with Google Ads and drive greater collaboration across teams.

Google AdWords is becoming Google Ads

The new Google Ads brand represents the full range of advertising capabilities we offer today—on Google.com and across our other properties, partner sites and apps—to help marketers connect with the billions of people finding answers on Search, watching videos on YouTube, exploring new places on Google Maps, discovering apps on Google Play, browsing content across the web, and more.

For small businesses specifically, we’re introducing a new campaign type in Google Ads that makes it easier than ever to get started with online advertising. It brings the machine learning technology of Google Ads to small businesses and helps them get results without any heavy lifting—so they can stay focused on running their businesses. To learn more, visit this post.

We’ll introduce more new campaign types at Google Marketing Live. Sign up to watch the livestream on July 10th.

Stronger collaboration with Google Marketing Platform

We’re enabling stronger collaboration for enterprise marketing teams by unifying our DoubleClick advertiser products and the Google Analytics 360 Suite under a single brand: Google Marketing Platform.

We’ve heard from marketers that there are real benefits to using ads and analytics technology together, including a better understanding of customers and better business results. Google Marketing Platform helps marketers achieve their goals by building on existing integrations between the Google Analytics 360 Suite and DoubleClick Digital Marketing. The platform helps marketers plan, buy, measure and optimize digital media and customer experiences in one place. To learn more, visit the Google Marketing Platform blog.

As part of Google Marketing Platform, we’re announcing Display & Video 360. Display & Video 360 brings together features from DoubleClick Bid Manager, Campaign Manager, Studio and Audience Center to allow creative, agency, and media teams to collaborate and execute ad campaigns end-to-end in a single place. We’ll share more details about Display & Video 360 in the coming weeks, including a demo during the keynote at Google Marketing Live.

Google Ad Manager: A unified platform

We recognize that the way publishers monetize their content has changed. With people accessing content on multiple screens, and with advertisers’ growing demand for programmatic access, publishers need to be able to manage their businesses more simply and efficiently. That’s why for the last three years, we’ve been working to bring together DoubleClick for Publishers and DoubleClick Ad Exchange in a complete and unified programmatic platform under a new name–Google Ad Manager.

With this evolution, we’re excited to do even more for our partners—earning them more money, more efficiently, wherever people are watching videos, playing games or engaging with content, and however advertisers are looking to work with them. To learn more, visit the Google Ad Manager blog.

Transparency and controls people can trust

We know that the media and technology advertisers and publishers choose to use impacts the relationships they have with their customers. As always, our commitment is to ensure that all of our products and platforms set the industry’s highest standard in giving people transparency and choice in the ads they see. For example, we recently announced new Ads Settings and expanded Why this ad? across all of our services, and almost all websites and apps that partner with us to show ads.

You’ll start to see the new Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform and Google Ad Manager brands over the next month.

We’ll be sharing more about these changes—and many other new Ads, Analytics and Platforms solutions designed to help you grow your business—at Google Marketing Live. Register now to watch live on July 10, 9:00 a.m. PT / 12:00 p.m. ET.


Google Analytics Blog