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Four visual design cues ecommerce marketers should use in 2019

March 19, 2019 No Comments

Digital campaigns are all about visuals in today’s digital world.

According to Deposit Photos on visual trends in 2019,

“To get users to pay attention, visual content across platforms has to have an edge. Brave, bold and sometimes daring choices of visuals are becoming prominent for a reason.”

Social Media Examiner’s 2018 Industry Report shows that 80 percent of marketers use visual assets in their content marketing. And 11 percent more B2C marketers than B2B marketers attest that visual content is the more important type of content today.

Retail marketing without visual content can be boring, unattractive, and will yield low ROI. Visual cues will, however, help direct attention while portraying a message with visual methods of communication, including videos, photos, infographics, memes, and comics.

Using the appropriate visual cues on landing pages will help direct attention and engagement to the intended CTA and if they will get any value from it. You could use bright banners, exclamation marks, arrows, product images, and more.

Here are four visual design cues ecommerce marketers should focus on in 2019:

1. Arrows

Arrows are one of the most commonly used visual cues because they explicitly describe what you should do and are easily understood. They are often used to point to a CTA and could come in different forms. According to ConversionXL, when it comes to using explicit visual cues, an arrow outperforms a human’s line of sight as humans tend to spend twice the average time looking at forms with arrows.

The Gift Rocket design below is an example of a creative way to use arrows. They simply directed the top of the rocket toward what is important.

Example of using arrows as a visual cue

To get the best of arrow cues, ensure the color of your arrows align with the rest of the design and remember not to use more than one arrow, unless where necessary. Also, be creative with your arrows and remember that they have the tendency to increase traction and sales.

2. Color

Color is one of the most important aspects of design and is also a form of communication. The choice and usage of your brand color play a huge role in how you interact with and engage your audience.

Colors have a strong connection with the human mind, as they could help set a mood, make a memory stick or invoke memory, and also affect decision making. It is then imperative that marketers learn how to implement various colors in a campaign to draw attention and help their customers decisions.

Your choice of color could be based on age, location, gender, or trends. Or you could simply use a color that depicts what the brand is about and represents the emotion you want your audience to associate with. Know what your brand stands for and choose a color that accurately depicts it. For example, the color blue could be associated with trust, loyalty, confidence, wisdom, and faith. A popular company that uses this color is Facebook, with its core value being transparency and trust.

The Oxford Summer School also uses the same shade of blue which stands for trust, integrity, and communication across its website and social media platforms. This does not only depict excellence and a professional brand identity but also helps improve brand recognition by 80 percent.

Example of color usage as a visual cue

3. Line of sight

A line of sight can also function as an explicit visual cue. Based on the cognitive bias of deictic (or “pointing”) gaze, eye directions on an image naturally direct viewers to look in the same direction as the line of sight. People often follow the line of sight of others, so if someone on a screen is looking at a quote, form, or testimonial, others will follow. This technique can be used to influence attention and connect emotions to your offer.

This technique was used by both presidential candidates (Trump and Clinton) in the 2016 US elections. Using the line of sight on landing pages as seen in the pictures below, Clinton and Trump’s marketing team guided visitors to the forms on their respective landing pages.

Example on line of sight as a visual cue

Like arrows, the line of sight in an image can be used to draw attention to a CTA button or something significant on the image. It could be a simple eye illustration, an animal picture, or a human photograph looking towards the action point as seen in the image below.

Example of using human figures for the eye of line visual cue

This technique is particularly effective for social media ads with pop up forms, testimonials, and landing pages. Whatever you do make sure, don’t use a human looking away from the intended target.

4. Product imagery

Consistent and high-quality imagery that perfectly describes your product or service is one of the best ways to engage your audience with your brand.

Humans have a short attention span, which leaves you with three seconds or less to capture your audience. Your social media images represent your brand and how your customers view your products to determine if they will purchase or not.

To get the perfect product imagery for your social media that will engage your audience, use high-quality images and high color accuracy. Also, take great close-up photos from different angles to help your customers easily analyze the product.

Conclusion

Visual design is not limited to using videos and gifs on landing pages, and adding cues yield an effective way to convince visitors to act. Don’t be limited by your visitors’ attention span, grab the bull by the horn and guide visitors to a mutually desired outcome with the help of visual cues. Visual design cues, if maximized properly, will help increase conversion ratio, customer satisfaction.

Tell us how you have or plan to make your website stand out with interesting usage of visual design cues.

Pius Boachie is the founder of DigitiMatic, an inbound marketing agency. 

The post Four visual design cues ecommerce marketers should use in 2019 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Excel Fuzzy Lookup for SEO: Effortless 404 and site migration redirects

March 16, 2019 No Comments

In recent years, the nature of SEO has become more and more data-driven, paving the way for innovative trends such as AI or natural language processing.

This has also created opportunities for smart marketers, keen to use everyday tools such as Google Sheets or Excel to automate time-consuming tasks such as redirect mapping.

Thanks to the contribution of Liam White, an SEO colleague of mine always keen on improving efficiency through automation, I started testing and experimenting with the clever Fuzzy Lookup add-in for Excel.

The tool, which allows fuzzy matching of pretty much any set of data, represents a flexible solution for cutting down manual redirects for 404 not-found pages and website migrations.

In this post, we’ll go over the setup instructions and hands-on applications to make the most of the Excel Fuzzy Lookup for SEO.

1. Setting up Excel Fuzzy Lookup

Getting started with Fuzzy Lookup couldn’t be easier — just visit the Fuzzy Lookup download page and install the add-in onto your machine. System requirements are quite basic. However, the tool is specifically designed for Windows users — so no Mac support for the moment.

Unlike the not-exact match with Vlookup (which matches a set of data with the first result), Fuzzy Lookup operates in a more comprehensive way, scanning all the data first, and then providing a fuzzy matching based on a similarity score.

The score itself is easy to grasp, with a score of one being a perfect match, for instance. This score then decreases with the matching accuracy down to a score of zero where there is no match. Regarding this, it’s advisable not to venture below the 0.5 to 0.6 similarity threshold in the settings, as the results are not consistent enough for a site migration or 404 redirects purpose below that limit.

Example of accuracy score

For greater accuracy, it’s also desirable to trim the domain (or staging site equivalent) from the URLs, making sure that the similarity score is not altered by too many commonalities. For more information about the setup, you can also refer to this Fuzzy Lookup guide.

2. Redirect mapping automation and its benefits

Considering the time necessary to familiarize with the site, categories and products/services, it’s safe to assume that a person would manually match two URLs roughly every thirty seconds. If that doesn’t sound too bad, consider that it would take between five to eight hours for a website of 1,000 URLs. This would make it quite a tedious and time-consuming task.

Bearing in mind that Fuzzy Lookup can provide nearly immediate results with a reliable fuzzy matching for at least 30 to 40 percent of the URLs, then this approach starts to appear interesting. If we consider the savings in terms of time as well, this would translate to about three hours for a small site or over ten hours for large ecommerce site.

3. Dealing with site migration redirects

If you are changing the structure of a site, consolidating more domains into one, or simply switching to a new platform, then redirect mapping for a website migration is definitely a priority task on your list. Assuming that you already have a list of existing pages plus the new site URLs, then you are all set to go with Fuzzy Lookup for site migrations.

Once you have set up the two URL lists in two separate tables, you can fire up the Fuzzy Lookup and order the matched URLs by the similarity score. In my tests, this has proven to be an effective, time-saving solution, helping in cutting down the manual work by several hours.

As displayed in the screenshot below, the fuzzy matching excelled with product codes and services/goods (such as 20600 and corner-sofas, for example). This allows the matching of IDs with IDs, and the URL with the parent category, in the case where an identical ID is not available.

Example of site migration redirects

4. 404 error redirects

Pages with a 404 status code are part of the web and no website is immune, hosting at least a few of them. Having said that, 404 errors have the potential of creating problems, hurting the user experience and SEO. Fuzzy Lookup can help with that, requiring just one simple addition a recent crawl of your site to extract the list of live pages, like the example below:

Example of 404 redirects

The fuzzy matching works pretty well in this instance too, matching IDs with IDs, and leaving the match to the most relevant category if a similar product/service is not live on the site. As per the site migrations, the manual work is not completely wiped out, but it’s made a whole lot easier than before.

5. Bonus: Finding gap/similarities in the blog

Another interesting application for Excel Fuzzy Lookup can be found in analyzing the blog section. Why? Simply because if you’re not in charge of the blog then you are not likely to be aware of what’s in it now, and what has been written in the past.

This solution works in two ways as well, because if a similarity is found, then you have the confirmation that the topic has been already covered. If not, this means that there’s still room for creating relevant content that can be linked to the service/product category to improve organic reach as well.

Example of finding gaps and similarities in the blog

Wrapping up

Time is money, and when it comes to dealing with large numbers of URLs that need to be redirected, a solution like Fuzzy Lookup can help you in cutting down the tedious manual redirect mapping. Thus, why not embrace fuzzy automation and save time for more exciting SEO tasks?

Marco Bonomo is an SEO & CRO Expert at MediaCom London. He can be found on Twitter @MarcoBonomoSEO.

The post Excel Fuzzy Lookup for SEO: Effortless 404 and site migration redirects appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Eight tips to getting your videos ranked on YouTube in 2019

March 12, 2019 No Comments

Look around you, people are either watching vlogs and video interviews or enjoying branded video content and live stream recordings. This goes to imply that video marketing is at its peak as people are engaging with video content more than ever before.

Talking about video marketing, one cannot help but mention YouTube, the platform synonymous with it. Being a video marketer, YouTube SEO needs to be at the top of your priority list.

You might be uploading stellar videos on a daily basis, but nothing matters if your videos don’t manage to get seen. After all, with 400 hours of video content being uploaded every minute, how do you ensure yours stands out and attracts viewers?

Don’t let your YouTube marketing efforts go waste. Here are eight effective ways to ensure your videos get ranked highly on YouTube and attract views.

1. Use relevant keywords

Be it Google or YouTube SEO, the first and foremost step is conducting keyword research. Start with making a list of potential keywords related to your video, it can be anything that people will use that can direct them to the video.

Next, use YouTube’s autocomplete feature to identify the popular keywords people use to search. You will be met with long-tail keyword suggestions here which prove to be a lot more accurate than the generic short-tail ones.

Example of YouTube’s autocomplete feature

Apart from manually searching for keywords, you can also use tools such as TubeBuddy and vidIQ to find the best keywords and tags to use.

2. Optimize the title, description, and tags

When you are browsing videos, the first element that catches your eye is the video title, isn’t it? Not only should the video title be compelling and interesting, but it should also contain the target keyword/s. The same applies to the video description and tags that best attribute your video.

YouTube video descriptions are highly underrated. Marketers don’t realize that this space provides context and influences ranking too. While you have 5000 characters to play with, YouTube just displays the first 157 characters. So use this space wisely, infused with keywords and appropriate call-to-action words.

example of YouTube’s video description

Another important SEO element is adding relevant tags which make your video easily discoverable.

3. Create engaging videos

Ultimately, people will watch your videos and will keep coming back for more if you upload fresh, engaging and informative content which happens to be an important ranking signal to YouTube’s algorithm.

The more compelling your videos are, the higher is the audience retention which automatically increases your chances of showing up under YouTube’s search suggestions.

In addition to the content, it is important to pay heed to the production quality too. For example, poorly lit and inaudible videos will certainly not entice viewers. So, invest efforts in enhancing the production quality of your video in order to drive views.

4. Encourage subscriptions

Managing a YouTube channel that barely has subscribers and viewers is as good as talking to a wall. Don’t stop at just uploading a video, make it work for you by reaching your target audience and encouraging them to engage with your channel and subscribe to it.

Building a strong subscriber base increases your chances of being ranked highly on YouTube because it goes to show that you have an engaged community which is a huge plus point.

Example of how to encourage YouTube subscriptions

Now, how do you get people to subscribe? Start with asking for it. Make it a practice to insert this call-to-action at the end of every video and include it in the video description. You must also encourage subscriptions outside of YouTube by adding a widget on your website or asking your followers to subscribe on your Facebook or Twitter pages.

5. Add compelling thumbnails

Example of customized YouTube video thumbnails

If you have been using YouTube’s auto-generated video still as the thumbnail, you need to stop being lazy and change your ways.

The thumbnail is the first visual reference your audiences get of your video which influences their decision to view it. So it needs to be compelling enough to grab their attention. Instead of settling for an auto-generated still, why not use customized thumbnails which are far more appealing?

It is a good idea to show the close-ups of human faces to strike emotional connect and the appropriate amount of text to make it click-worthy. You can also add your brand logo but make sure it doesn’t overshadow the thumbnail, given the restricted space.

6. Use the closed caption feature

Example of the closed caption feature

You might have come across “CC” while watching videos on YouTube. CC stands for closed captions, an important YouTube SEO tool.

Closed Captions (CC) refers to the text overlay or transcription of the video. Using closed captions in videos makes it appeal to a wider audience and lets your viewers watch your video with ease irrespective of their surroundings. This leads to higher user engagement in the form of likes, comments, shares, and subscribers.

Discovery Digital Networks conducted a study and found an overall increase of 7.32 percentage in views for captioned videos.

While YouTube generates auto-captions, you rather add closed captions for search engines to accurately index. This impacts your SEO ranking.

7. Name files appropriately

It’s easy to overlook this step but the fact is that naming your video file appropriately is more important than you think. Instead of going ahead with “video_final.mp4” or “brand_filmFINAL.avi,” it is important to rename the video to include the keywords as it is an indicator to search engines about what your video file is about.

8. Be consistent

To improve your rankings and build an engaged community, you must be consistent with uploads. You need to be committed to churning out unique and relevant video content and stay at the top of your game because that is the only way you can improve engagement which in turn boosts search rankings.

Just like any other social media platform, maintain a content calendar for YouTube and ensure you reward your community with videos on a regular basis.

For more on getting videos to rank, also check out our guide on YouTube optimization. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Marcus is the founder of Brew Interactive, an inbound digital marketing agency that specializes in marketing to the affluent audience through digital. He is also the author of the highly raved book, Social Payoff.

The post Eight tips to getting your videos ranked on YouTube in 2019 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Facebook dynamic ads: A beginner’s guide

March 9, 2019 No Comments

Facebook constantly expands its advertising offerings by introducing new features to accommodate advertisers in their effort to make the most out of their platform.

Whether it is creating ads that tell the brand’s story with carousel ads, immersing users in their brand’s world with Canvas or Stories ads, or cutting down the time to create creatives while at the same time tailoring the ad to the ad viewer with dynamic ads, Facebook wants to ensure that it gives advertisers the tools to drive results across its platforms.

In a world where personalization is vital to make experiences more engaging, Facebook Ads are no different. Advertisers need to customize their offering, ad copy and ad creative to ensure the best experience possible. A great experience tailored to the user’s needs hopefully equals higher engagement — or, in terms of Facebook advertising, conversions.

Tailoring your ads to your user, the manual and tedious way

One way you could promote your products to potential customers before dynamic ads were available was to create a single image or carousel image ad and guide people to specific product pages on your website.

But if you were a business with a large inventory to promote, you needed to create as many ads (creative and links to product pages) as your products. And if you wanted to tailor your ads based on where they are on the marketing funnel or the actions they performed (e.g. they viewed or added to the cart a particular product), then things could become really complicated really fast.

Dynamic ads (or dynamic product ads as they are formerly known) allow advertisers to not only automate this tedious process but also create highly personalized ads that promote products with up to date information.

Dynamic ads: The definition and requirements

Facebook dynamic ads help advertisers display the right product to the right people at the right time. Here is how this happens:

A potential customer visits your site and browses through your products. Facebook, through the Pixel, will pair products and users and ‘take notes’ on how they interacted with them. When you create a dynamic ad you can include everyone that exhibited the same behavior, bring them back to your website by displaying the very same products each user engaged with using accurate and updated information available in the product feed. This how dynamic ads can help your visitors to complete the transaction.

To be able to run dynamic ads you need to have the following in place:

  1. A business manager: This serves as a big folder where all of your assets (Facebook page, Ad account, Pixel, and Dynamic ads-related assets mentioned below) will be organized.
  2. Product feed(s): This is the file where all your products and product information will be stored.
  3. Product catalog(s): This is where your product feed is hosted.

How to get started with dynamic ads

Dynamic ads are a powerful offering that can be used across a variety of verticals. Currently, dynamic Facebook ads are available to businesses that sell products (ecommerce), hotel, flight, destination, and home listings.

Your business type will dictate the events (standard or custom) you need to implement. Here are the typical standard events needed for ecommerce businesses.

Table of typical e-commerce business standard events for Facebook dynamic ads

Source: Facebook

You can add as many events you need to align them to your funnel. Once you have the events implemented, you need to create the feed.

1. Creating a product feed

Facebook requires Facebook advertisers to list all of their products in a file following a specific format. This file is the product feed that will feed the products to your catalog. Depending on your ecommerce platform, you may need to create a data feed using a .csv, .tsv, or .xml file or a third-party feed provider to facilitate this process.

Download the data feed template and fill in the information. Here is what your feed needs to include:

Creating a product feed in Facebook dynamic ads

Source: Facebook 

Be sure to test your feed with Feed Debugger to ensure that your feed is set up correctly and fix any issues that may arise.

2. Creating a product catalog

Now, we can create a product catalog. Visit Catalog Manager in your business manager and choose the type that best describes your needs.

Creating a product catalog in Facebook dynamic ads

Name your product catalog and click on the ‘Add Products’ button to upload your product feed.

Ad product screen in Facebook dynamic ads

Next, choose how you will upload the data (schedule or a one-time upload) and insert the URL of your product feed.

Uploading product data in Facebook dynamic ads

When done, go to the ‘Diagnostics’ tab to check for any issues, if you have done so with Feed Debugger. Now, that your product catalog and product feed are all set up, we can move to the exciting part; creating the dynamic ads campaign.

3. Setting up a dynamic ads campaign

To create a dynamic ads campaign, head over to Ads Manager and choose ‘Catalog sales’ as the campaign’s objective. Setting up a dynamic Facebook ads campaign

At the ad set level, create a product set. The product set is a subset of your product catalog, and it contains the products that will be displayed through this campaign.

Product set in Facebook dynamic ads

Next, in the audience section, choose ‘Define a broad audience and let Facebook optimize who sees your products’ so you can reach new people (prospecting campaign). To remarket to existing visitors, use the option “Use info from your Pixel or app to create a retargeting audience “.

Defining the audience in Facebook dynamic ads

Scroll down below the connections menu and click ‘Show Advanced Options’. Here are some options that let you refine your audience and exclude people who are less likely to take action, such as someone who has already visited your website or bought from you.

adding a connection type in Facebook dynamic ads

Next, you want to optimize for the right event type. Choose the event that you want to optimize for (View Content, Add To Cart, or Purchase) and set the conversion window to one that suits your needs.

optimizing a Facebook dynamic ad

Be sure to fill in any other information (i.e. targeting, budget, etc.) the way you usually do. Now, we will create the ad.

When choosing the ad format (single or carousel), take into account the type of images used in your product feed.  Typically, landscape images will look great with the single image ad format while vertical images will look better with the carousel ad format.

Now for your ad copy, you don’t need to manually insert the product name, description, or any other product information. You can use the ‘+’ button inside each box to pull a catalog field from your product feed.

For instance, click the ‘+’ button in the text field, and select ‘Price’ from the drop-down list.

Adding ad copy details in Facebook dynamic ads

There you have it. You’ve successfully created your first dynamic ad.

Using dynamic ads creatively

As mentioned previously, dynamic ads are currently available if you promote products, vehicle, flights, destination, or home listings. If you don’t see your business type here, don’t get discouraged as dynamic ads can be used for all verticals. Here are some examples of using dynamic ads creatively.

1. Using dynamic ads to promote your blog posts

When using dynamic ads to promote your articles, the articles serve as products, and all product info will be the article’s information. For example, the product id will be the article’s id; the product description will be the article’s description and so on. Have in mind that you don’t need to rename the product feed’s, only the contents of it.

Promoting your articles this way, allows you to save time and automate a tedious process. Plus, you can easily choose whom you will target; new or existing audience.

promoting blog posts on Facebook dynamic ads

2. Using dynamic ads for a betting company

To use dynamic ads top promote betting services, we substitute the products for matches/games and take of advanced product feed offerings by changing product availability based on time. Since matches are time-sensitive, we need to ensure that no match would get advertised after the betting period has ended.

Although these are just two cases, dynamic ads can be used for the majority of the verticals out there.

Making the most out of your dynamic ads

Dynamic ads are a powerful tool in Facebook advertiser’s arsenal. Since its launch, new possibilities are constantly being added. Here are some possibilities that you will find interesting:

1. Customizing the appearance of your Dynamic Ads

In an endless newsfeed where a majority of the ads look the same, you should create and apply custom templates to your dynamic ads to help stand out and grab your ad viewer’s attention. Depending on the period you are advertising in you can create Christmas, Valentine’s day, Black Friday inspired templates. You can also create “evergreen” templates that include your logo and your brand’s colors.

Customizing your ad Facebook dynamic ad experience

2. Multi-language and multi-country dynamic ads

Recently, Facebook released two new features that help you target your ideal audience within a country where many languages are spoken. Creating multi-language dynamic ads is very straight forward. Set up the dynamic ads campaign the way you normally would, and use the ‘Create in Different Languages’ option.

Multi-language and multi-country dynamic ads

Have in mind that this will only change the ad’s copy, not the information that comes from your product feed.

If you are promoting your products across countries that have different currencies and you need to tailor product information to the language of your audience, then you need to create additional feeds that will include currency information (one feed) and country/language information (second feed).

Add product information screen

Both secondary feeds can be set up in your Catalog Manager. If you are targeting an international audience consider tailoring your ads to match their language. The chances are that your ads will convert better.

Screenshot of description

A secondary feed that holds information on different languages will look something like the above screenshot. You need the product id which uniquely identifies your product, then state the overrides for each country-language combination and provide the all necessary product info for each language.

For currencies, you will work similarly. Provide the product id, the country and the price in the country’s currency.

Screenshot of price

3. Using animations in dynamic ads

Using animations in Facebook dynamic ads

The slideshow dynamic ads format helps display your products to users from different angles, including close-ups, without users having to click on the ad. This way, you bring the web experience straight in the users’ NewsFeed. To create Slideshow Dynamic Ads you only need to include multiple images of the same product in the feed as opposed to only one and check the box ‘show when available’ under ‘Catalog Assets’.Screenshot of catalog assets

Final words

Facebook Dynamic ads are a great advertising solution and should be part of your online advertising strategy. They allow you to automate ad creative creation, tailor your offering to your ad viewer and optimize for success. When done correctly, Facebook dynamic ads can help achieve your KPIs and make more bang for your buck.

The post Facebook dynamic ads: A beginner’s guide appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Why mobile first design is the only 2019 strategy that will work

March 5, 2019 No Comments

Everyone knows that mobile is red-hot right now. In fact, there is a pretty good chance you are reading this very article on a mobile device.

And yet, like an old dog who just won’t learn a new trick, most people are still designing websites for desktop computers and then trying to make them work well on mobile devices. Square peg, meet round hole.

Quite simply, it doesn’t make sense. Why would you create a website for a dying medium (cough, cough; desktop) and then try to force it to work for new technology? It doesn’t have to be this way.

Why not, instead, create a website for the devices most people are using that will also work on a desktop?

Google has made it clear that mobile-first is the way to go. It is time to leave the past behind because five billion mobile phone users have made it clear they aren’t going anywhere.

Here is why designing for desktop first is a mistake, why responsive mobile design isn’t enough, and why mobile first is the only way to go in 2019.

It is time to put a stop to responsive mobile design

Let’s say you need a train. You want a fast one, one that can get you from Paris to London in two hours. (Ignore, if you will, that this train already exists.) Would you build a coal train, then convert it to a high-speed diesel-electric train? No, that would be a ridiculous waste of time and resources, particularly since the high-speed train can run on standard tracks.

And yet, that is what most people are doing when it comes to designing sites for mobile. They create a site for desktop first, then try to make it work on mobile instead of building a better, faster site that will work just fine on both.

Before we dig into how to design mobile first websites, we need to talk about responsive design.

What is the difference between responsive mobile design and mobile first design? Aren’t they, essentially, the same thing? Not quite.

Is ‘mobile responsive’ the same as ‘mobile first’?

Mobile responsive and mobile first have some of the same ingredients, but their methods, approaches, and strategies are totally different.

Here is how they differ:

Mobile responsive is a technical web design approach where CSS is used to adjust the site to the device it is viewed on. The coding is more complex, and the design still often places desktop needs at the forefront. In other words, the website’s built for desktop users first and then made to work on mobile later.

Mobile first, on the other hand, is a design strategy. While it may use a mobile responsive framework, it considers mobile users’ needs first and foremost. Instead of creating a desktop website and then forcing it to fit in a mobile box, you create a website that considers the majority of users (on mobile) first.

Mobile websites have been an afterthought for years. Yet, 52.64% of all internet traffic happens on a mobile device.

By implementing the seven strategies below, you’ll start designing websites for the devices users are actually using and not just for desktop.

Seven easy strategies to create mobile-first websites

Designing for mobile first doesn’t have to be complicated. And with the rise of the freelancer and gig economy, finding high-quality designers isn’t complicated either.

So get started and start putting the needs of your mobile users first.

Here’s how you can keep your mobile users at the forefront of your mind and get a few handy tools to make your life easier.

1. Less is more when it comes to content (yes, really)

Wait, what? Isn’t longer content better?

Well, (here comes everyone’s favorite internet answer) it depends.

Longer, more in-depth blog posts are, in fact, proven to generate nine times more leads than short posts.

But, mobile readers are looking at tiny little screens.

To be mobile first, your content needs to be concise and clear, so keep the mobile-first design in mind when starting your blogging strategy.

Solution: Keep your copy succinct and unique using a grammar tool to deliver in-depth information in as few words as possible. Break up text into single-sentence paragraphs when possible.

Screenshot of grammar tool

(Image Source)

2. Keep your site simple

Minimization is having a pop-culture moment. The truth is people, love simplicity. It reduces anxiety, improves clarity, and makes us happier.

This applies to web design as well. Less, really is more. Keep the website elements you truly need and ditch the rest.

“But, what about X thing that my site really, really needs??” Ask yourself, “Does it spark joy?” If yes, then keep it.

Ask yourself if each element is really necessary. For example, could you ask fewer questions on your 13 field contact us form?

Can you reduce the number of links on your nav bar?

Here are six more website simplification tips:

  1. Reduce the number of pages on your site
  2. Add an improved search feature so users can still find what they need
  3. Increase white space to reduce the appearance of clutter
  4. Use clean lines and wide borders
  5. Use a simple font and make it larger
  6. Keep a maximum of two columns on mobile

Get VOIP screenshot

(Image Source)

Solution: Keep it simple. Get rid of tiny buttons, ditch scrolling images, trash that 13 field form.

3. Bring your calls to action (CTA) into the 21st

There is nothing worse than clicking on a link from your mobile device that doesn’t load because, while the main site is mobile responsive, the landing page it links to is not.

Or, our favorite, when you get taken to an off-center, impossible to fill out lead-gen form.

Your calls to action are useless if they aren’t designed with mobile in mind. Which means you are missing out on leads and sales.

Solution: Stop throwing money down the drain. Make sure your CTA is designed mobile-first, too. Test links and consider using mobile-friendly calls to action such as SMS text messaging and live chat.

Chat bot example

(Image Source)

Additionally, your mobile conversion funnel needs to be brought into the 21st century with new features like mobile vibration on button clicks, full-screen mobile e-commerce experiences, and signature collection.

Mobile interaction experience example

(Image Source)

4. Let’s talk about it: Make mobile communication a breeze

There is no question that mobile devices have changed the way we communicate with each other and with brands.

Did you know that 97% of Americans report they send at least one text message a day? Research even shows that the increase in text messaging has contributed to a rise in phone call-related anxiety.

People want answers to their questions now, not at 9 a.m. when your phone support opens back up.

And they don’t want to call you if they don’t have to.

Have you adjusted your contact methods to meet the communication preferences of today’s consumers? If not, you may be leaving customers dissatisfied–without even know it. It is time to change. Luckily, there are plenty of tools to make this shift painless.

Consider using a help desk software like Freshdesk to manage your customer communications across channels and devices. It can track previous conversations, prioritize incoming requests, and even help automate the process.

Freshdesk screenshot

(Image Source)

Or, consider adding a live chat or a chatbot to your website to humanize your website for mobile users. If you are looking for an easy way to transition, this is it. Chatbots are a great way to give a fantastic mobile experience without a massive overhaul of your entire website.

Solution: Use technology like chatbots and mobile-friendly help-desk software to make mobile communication frictionless.

5. Graphic design for mobile first

You might be wondering, “Does graphic design really matter when it comes to mobile first?” The answer is a resounding yes!

A study into the value of graphic design found companies who emphasized on graphic design outperformed non-design-focused companies by 200 percent. Well-designed websites are also considered more trustworthy, more memorable, and easier to use.

So, what does mobile first graphic design look like?

According to Venngage, the most significant graphic design trends of 2019 are:

  • Vivid colors
  • Strong typographical elements
  • Geometric shapes and abstract patterns
  • Light and dark contrasting color schemes
  • Gradients and duotones
  • Bright minimalism
  • Original, hand-drawn illustrations and designs
  • Real photographs

What does this all mean in practice?

Aim for bold shapes, clean lines, bright colors, and typographical elements. Make use of white space, which is both visually soothing and makes navigating on mobile easier.

Graphic design examples

(Image Source)

Solution: Use graphic design tools to make creating memorable, trustworthy, and easy to use websites simple. We love Canva and Snappa for their library of templates and stock photos.

6. A need for speed

Site speed has always been important to user experience. But now, site speed is a Google ranking factor, too.

If you are too cool to care about what Google thinks, consider that 40% of people will leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Even more damaging, 79% of shoppers are less likely to buy from a site again if they experience web performance issues.

Clearly, your site needs to load fast if you want to survive on mobile.

How to improve speed on your mobile first website

Luckily, building your site with an eye on mobile first means you aren’t stuck trying to strip features away to make your site load faster on mobile.

Instead, you can implement speed protocols from the beginning.

Here is how to build a fast, mobile-first website.

  1. Check your page speed using Google’s Test My Site. Google site speed tool
  2. Install a CDN, which loads content from a cache closest to the user.
  3. Compress images so they look good but load fast
  4. Consider using lazy load, which loads elements separately so the user can view at least some of your content right away.
  5. Make the switch to HTTPS, which is faster, more secure, and has SEO benefits.

Solution: Start by testing your mobile page speed, then implementing the changes above.

7. Test, test, test

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Testing is more important than ever for websites. Even the most carefully designed mobile first website needs to be tested on multiple devices.

Why? Currently, there are at least nine different operating systems in use on mobile devices.

According to StatCounter, Android makes up 75% of the mobile operating system market share. iOS clocks in with just under 22 percent of the marketing share, but KaiOs, Windows, and Samsung all claim at least a small portion of the market.

Statcounter screenshot

(Image Source) 

Dozens of new phones are released every year. In fact, Motorola released 11 new mobile devices in just 2017.

In 2018, Apple released two new iPad models (Mini and Pro), two new iPhones (iPhone XS and XR), and three new computers (new models for the iMac Pro, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini).

Trying to keep up is just plain exhausting. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to test your site across platforms regularly.

Solution: Use a cross browser and cross platform tool to see how your site performs across the multitude of different operating systems and devices.

Conclusion

The desktop computer is dying. Mobile responsiveness is not enough to keep mobile users on your site.

If you want to create an easy to use website that Google and users will love, mobile first design is simply the only way to go.

But changing the way we’ve always done things can feel overwhelming.

You’ve got enough on your plate, right?

As you can see, the mobile first design doesn’t mean changing your entire process. Instead, it means reimagining how we create content, images, CTAs, and communications while keeping a firm focus on mobile users’ needs.

Stop spending too much time creating sub-par mobile sites that users hate. Instead, use these tips to build websites that search engines and (more importantly) web users will love.

Adam Enfroy is Affiliate Partnerships Manager at BigCommerce, and also does Content Marketing Consulting and Blogging at adamenfroy.com. He can be found on Twitter @AdamEnfroy.

The post Why mobile first design is the only 2019 strategy that will work appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Marketing Technology Awards 2019

March 2, 2019 No Comments

We’ve been working together with our sister site, ClickZ, to honor the best and brightest marketing technology companies today (which includes some SEO-related tools). 

These Marketing Technology Awards are voted on 50/50 by the community and by a panel of judges. The ceremony will be hosted by Scott Brinker, and will take place on the night of March 21 in Tribeca, New York.

We’ve been raising quite a bit more hubbub about it on ClickZ, which more directly covers all marketing technology.

But since our SEW name is on there too, we wanted to make sure everyone here was in the loop as well. (You’ve probably seen it in the newsletters!)

How do the Marketing Technology Awards work?

You can read full detail about the Awards on the official website here, and can see answers to common questions here.

Categories span across various types of marketing technology, including CDPs, ABMs, call analytics, conversational bots, and a dozen more.

And of course, a handful of more SEO type things such as search tools, location-based marketing, mobile marketing, etc.

Categories also include “Use of Technologies” (best campaigns, best tech stack), as well as “People” (martech CEO and CMO).

The awards were free to enter, and anyone who has used any of the platforms (excluding employees) could vote on them, rating the tools on things like ease of use, integration, innovation, value for money, customer service, etc.

Finalists were determined based 50% by community votes, and 50% by these judges.

marketing technology awards panel of judges

Announcing the finalists

So for 2019, we want to thank everyone who has entered, nominated, voted, scored, and otherwise provided your valuable insights and experience.

We’d like to announce the list of finalists for this year, and offer a huge congratulations to everyone on this list.

We can’t wait to celebrate you and your great work at this event.

Here’s the full list:

Technologies

Best Account Based Marketing Tool

  • Demandbase
  • Jabmo
  • Uberflip

Best Analytics Platform

  • AT INTERNET
  • Interana
  • Pathmatics
  • TapClicks

Best Attribution Platform

  • Fospha
  • Marketing Evolution

Best Call Analytics Platform

  • DialogTech
  • Infinity
  • Invoca
  • Marchex

Best Chat/Conversationsal Bot/Tool

  • Drift
  • Smooch
  • Wizu

Best Content Marketing Tool

  • Acrolinx
  • Percolate
  • Turtl

Best Conversion Rate Optimization Tool/Technology

  • CoolTool
  • Lucky Orange
  • WEVO

Best Customer Data Platform (CDP)

  • Adlucent
  • Arm Treasure Data
  • Fospha
  • Tealium

Best Customer Relationship Management Platform (CRM)

  • Crowdvocate
  • Erply
  • Zaius

Best Data Privacy/GDPR Tool/Technology

  • Isatis CyberSoft
  • Sourcepoint

Best Data Visualization Tool

  • Adobe
  • DashThis

Best Demand Side Platform (DSP)

  • Amobee
  • SmartyAds
  • The Trade Desk

Best Digital Asset Management Platform (DAM)

  • Canto
  • Widen

Best Email Service Provider (ESP)

  • Epsilon
  • GetResponse
  • MessageGears
  • Upland Adestra

Best Influencer Marketing Platform

  • CreatorIQ
  • HYPR
  • IZEA Worldwide Inc.

Best Location Based Marketing Platform

  • Brandify
  • Chatmeter
  • Rio SEO
  • Yext

Best Marketing Automation Platform (MAP)

  • Maropost
  • Omnisend
  • Salesforce
  • Swrve

Best Mobile Marketing Platform

  • Attentive
  • Urban Airship

Best Paid Media/Bid Management Tool

  • Adlucent
  • Kenshoo (Kenshoo Search)
  • SmartyAds

Best Personalization Platform

  • Certona
  • Monetate
  • RichRelevance
  • Sitecore
  • Yieldify

Best Predictive Analytics Platform

  • Keen Decision Systems
  • SmartyAds

Best Sales Enablement Technology

  • Clari
  • Highspot
  • List Partners LLC
  • Seismic

Best SEO Tool

  • Conductor
  • OnCrawl

Best Social Media Marketing & Monitoring Company

  • Kenshoo (Kenshoo Social)
  • Rascasse

Overall – Marketing Technology Company of the Year

  • To be announced from the list of finalist at the awards dinner

Use of technologies

Best Customer Experience Campaign

  • Nestlé (Nestlé China)
  • Ogilvy (H&M & Ogilvy)
  • Best Data Enablement Campaign
  • Adobe (Adobe)
  • Catalyst (Catalyst & Tauck)
  • Idomoo (Fairmont Hotels & Resorts)
  • Marketing Evolution (Marketing Evolution)

Best Marketing Technology Stack

  • Catalyst
  • Kenshoo Inc.

Best Personalization Campaign

  • Conversant (Swanson Health)
  • Location3 (Mountain Mike’s Pizza)
  • Selligent Marketing Cloud (OPEL NETHERLANDS)
  • Sitecore (Herschend Family Entertainment (Dollywood.com))
  • Velocity Worldwide (The Belfast Classic/Sport Changes Life)

Best Technology Combination

  • Akamai
  • Glisser
  • Merkle (Globe Life and Accident Insurance)
  • TVTY

Best Use of Marketing Technology

  • Adobe (Adobe & Adobe Advertising Cloud)
  • Ogilvy (H&M & Ogilvy)
  • SAP (SAP & MSIGHTS, Inc.)

People

Marketing Technology CEO Award

  • Conductor (Seth Besmertnik, CEO, Conductor)
  • Marketing Evolution (Rex Briggs, CEO, Marketing Evolution)
  • Sourcepoint (Ben Barokas, CEO, Sourcepoint)
  • Tapad (Sigvart Voss Eriksen, CEO, Tapad)
  • Trustpilot (Peter Holten Mühlmann, CEO, Trustpilot)

Marketing Technology CMO Award

  • Hootsuite (Penny Wilson, CMO, Hootsuite)
  • The Trade Desk (Susan Vobejda, CMO, The Trade Desk)
  • Yieldify (Hannah Nakano Stewart, CMO, Yeildify)

Again, a huge congratulations to all of these fantastic companies and people! For inquiries about the ceremony, please see more information and contact info here.

The post Marketing Technology Awards 2019 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Google / YouTube and brand safety: What’s next?

February 23, 2019 No Comments

At the ripe old age of 20, Google is synonymous with internet search. The famous Silicon Valley brand long ago became a verb.

Google Chrome remains the most popular web browser, leading on most mobile and desktop devices with more than 60 percent share across both platforms. It’s four times more popular than rival browsers.

In the U.S. alone, Google raked in about $ 34 billion in ad dollars tied to its dominant internet search business, per eMarketer.

With all its success and R&D spent to improve its search capabilities, it is surprising what a poor job Google and its core video offering, YouTube, do in two key areas of top importance to advertisers around the globe: search personalization and brand safety.

Just this week, YouTube once again became a shining example of what advertisers are desperately trying to fix: avoiding ad placements next to brand-inappropriate or dangerous content.

Google’s brand safety assurance is not fully baked yet

YouTube’s latest brand-safety debacle was sparked by a 20-minute video that has been viewed nearly 2.5 million times since Sunday.

Blogger Matt Watson said the comments sections on some YouTube posts that featured videos of girls performing things like gymnastics and yoga were being exploited by a “soft-core pedophilia ring.”

The videos were being time-stamped with minors in compromising positions and ads from companies like Disney and Nestle were being served up next to them. Unfortunately, YouTube’s recommendation engine was collecting and serving up more similar videos with associated ads being viewed and interacted with by pedophiles.

The outrage and furor over Watson’s discovery has caused major advertisers like AT&T, Disney, Epic Games and Nestle to pull advertising from YouTube as a result.

In response, earlier this week, YouTube has removed more than 400 channels amidst its latest child exploitation crisis.

However, significant brand damage and revenue loss for YouTube has been inflicted. A lack of faith in Google’s search algorithms and its brand-safety assurance is in the spotlight again following similar incidents that have occurred since 2017.

Brand safety concerns on YouTube

Following these well-publicized crises like YouTube’s most recent one, advertisers have grown increasingly concerned about ads appearing in brand-safe environments, especially on social-media platforms such as Google’s YouTube and Facebook.

A survey of more than 300 advertising decision-makers conducted by Oath, a Verizon company, last spring found that 99 percent of advertisers are concerned with their ads appearing in brand-safe environments. And 58 percent of them were more concerned than previous year.

A more recent study conducted by Teads found that “brand safety is keeping CMOs up at night.” Eight in 10 said that they’re more concerned with avoiding placement of ads next to brand-inappropriate content than ever before. It’s an issue that’s weighing heavily on the global digital ad industry that is now valued at more than $ 628 billion.

Ad platforms’ responses to protect brands

In response to advertisers’ concerns, major ad platforms have been adding more safeguards to avoid embarrassing and ineffective ad placements next to inappropriate content.

For example, Facebook rolled out new capabilities to exclude advertisements from predetermined categories such as conflict, gambling, guns, immigration, religion and tragedy. Google Ads offers some limiting functionality, but it is not as granular as what Facebook offers advertisers today.

Last month, new third-party software solutions from Integral Ad Science (IAS) and DoubleVerify were released to give YouTube advertisers more assurance that their video ads will appear next to brand-suitable content. This type of software is designed to reduce incidents of ads from tech giants, retailers, government agencies and media companies running alongside YouTube channels promoting controversial topics such as conspiracy theories, Nazis, North Korean propaganda and white nationalists, a trend reported on by CNN last April.

Tech giants like Google turn to artificial intelligence to improve ad effectiveness

The new software from IAS and DoubleVerify to improve brand-safety assurance on YouTube incorporates machine learning to create models for determining ad appropriateness.

Similarly, last year, Google launched new features with machine-learning technology – including a new service called AdSense auto ads that helps publishers improve monetization and ad placement. Google claims the relatively new feature ensures that ads will be displayed when they’re likely to perform and provide a good user experience.

Publishers who participated in the beta saw and average lift of 10 percent with revenue increasing ranging between five to 15 percent.

However, the personalization capabilities from Google to improve ad efficiency are not as good as they should be for publishers or advertisers.

How does current Google Ads personalization stack up?

As an example for the latter, I’ll cite a story about a good friend’s recent experience with Google Ads. A small business owner, he runs a local plumbing business in Milwaukee. He spent hundreds of dollars on an ad campaign a few months back to increase incoming business leads using Google Ads.

Google’s auto-generated keywords for the campaign it scraped from his landing page were not relevant, especially in terms of geo-targeting for a local plumbing business. His website traffic went way up, but he did not gain one qualified sales lead as a result of the campaign. It was a dismal failure for him.

How much will deep learning improve it?

Many industry experts view deep learning as the Holy Grail for “changing the game for both advertisers and consumers.” According to a ClickZ story by Daniel Surmacz: “Deep learning is changing the way we think about effectiveness. It’s the most promising field of AI-based research found in Google Translate and Tesla self-driving cars.”

Without an ability for machine learning AI-powered platforms to “think on their feet” like human neural networks, many don’t have the same speed and efficiency-drivers that deep learning provides. It’s simply not possible for machine-learning AI engines to act like personal shoppers and cross-sell relevant items to consumers without deep learning’s more highly advanced algorithms.

Unless Google improves its personalization and brand-safety capabilities, it stands to lose more market share to others, most notably Amazon.

The share of new ad dollars has been on the decline for the longtime duopoly of Google and Facebook compared to two years ago. Amazon, a master of personalization and controller of its own walled garden, has emerged as a search advertising powerhouse and it’s on track to generate more than $ 10 billion in ad revenues over the next year.

Gary Burtka is vice president of US operations at RTB House, a global company that provides retargeting technology for global brands worldwide. Its North American headquarters are based in New York City.

The post Google / YouTube and brand safety: What’s next? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Link reclamation: A practical guide for turning unlinked brand mentions into links

February 19, 2019 No Comments

Your latest content campaign has been covered by a top-tier global publication… but there’s no link! Your brand (or your client) has been mentioned, but that’s all.

At this stage, do you simply accept the brand value of a mention and move on to target your next link prospect? Or is there a process you can follow to at least try to get a link added in?

Sadly, unlinked brand mentions are one of the biggest challenges when building links through content marketing and digital PR. It’s more common than many link builders would like to admit.

But, seeing a link added in to an article after it’s been published can be easier to achieve than many assume.

You just need to know when it’s right to ask for a link, who you need to reach out to and what you should say. We’ll cover all these things below.

Content-led link building is hard — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

It often takes blood, sweat and tears to launch a campaign which earns significant numbers of links. And it’s for that reason that link reclamation should be a tactic which is executed as standard. After all, if you’ve put the effort in to land coverage in the first place, it makes sense to follow additional steps to secure a link if that’s what it takes.

How many people use link reclamation?

To demonstrate a point: I recently reached out to my Twitter and LinkedIn networks. I asked a simple question: ‘Do you use link reclamation alongside your content marketing campaigns?’

The responses surprised me…

Always: 29%
Sometimes: 47%
Never: 24%

Of those who took the time to respond, only three in ten are executing link reclamation as standard on every campaign.

Perhaps more surprising is that one in four aren’t using it at all.

Given some of the comments left alongside the poll, this is something which many turn to if they have time — rather than working it into a wider link building process.

Think of the links which could have been earned but which were simply let lie as brand mentions.

What is link reclamation?

Link reclamation is a simple but efficient tactic to turn brand mentions into links; usually those earned as part of a content marketing or digital PR campaign.

As SEOs, we understand the value of authoritative, editorial links and the impact which they can have upon our campaigns — just as much as we understand how hard it is to even earn coverage from top-tier publications in the first place.

That’s why it can be frustrating when we discover a brand mention which doesn’t link.

What’s really important to remember, however, is that, in many instances, journalists aren’t purposefully avoiding linking to you or your client. For one reason or another (whether that’s trying to speed up the publishing process, a question as to whether a link is really needed to tell the story or others…) articles sometimes go published without a link.

As an industry we need to accept that there’s little we can do to change a journalist’s own processes and publication criteria. What we can do is take action and follow a series of tried and tested steps to try to land that link.

After all, the hard work of getting the coverage in the first place is already done. Turning a brand mention into a link is surely easy in comparison, right?

I’d like to say yes. And in many cases it is. However, I’ve also seen some horrendous examples of link reclamation gone wrong, usually because of a lack of understanding as to whether a link is actually deserved or not.

How do you find unlinked brand mentions?

One way to find unlinked brand mentions is to use ahref’s content explorer and follow their tutorial here. Combining a CSV export with Screaming Frog to compile a list of web pages which mention your brand but which don’t link.

If you’re actively promoting a content marketing or digital PR campaign, however, you’ll undoubtedly already be looking for the latest coverage.

One of the easiest ways to find this is through Google News. Filter by ‘Past 24 hours’ to see coverage picked up in the past day, or set to ‘Past week’ if you’re looking to find additional articles and features.

screenshot of Google News filtered by past 24 hours or past week, to be used when finding relevant content for link building

This will often throw up a number of unlinked brand mentions  which you then can use link reclamation tactics for to try and turn them into a link.

Don’t forget to set up Google Alerts both across your brand name and campaign headlines as well to easily be alerted to further unlinked mention opportunities to explore.

When should you ask for a brand mention to be linked?

It’s not always right to ask for an unlinked brand mentioned to be turned into a link.

Despite what many may say, a journalist doesn’t owe you a link. Not even if they cover your campaign.

A link’s purpose is to take a user from A to B and, in order for that to make sense to be in place, it typically needs to add value of some sorts.

To put this into a working context, let’s look at a few different scenarios here.

  1. Your brand (or client) has been mentioned in an article in reference to a study which you conducted and which the article directly mentions. There’s no link but many of the statistics and findings have been revealed.
  2. A journalist has featured an infographic which you produced (and embedded it) but hasn’t linked. They have credited your brand.
  3. Your brand has been referenced alongside a quote which you supplied to a journalist to add further weight to their story around a subject.
  4. Your brand has been mentioned out of context. In this case, let’s base it around a Tweet which circulated last year; one of your physical stores has been mentioned in an online newspaper, only in reference to a robbery taking place over the road from it.

In which instance would you say you’re well-deserved of the link?

Scenario one. 

When there’s a clear opportunity to add value with what’s on the other end of the link, there’s no debating that a link should be in place and it’s easy to justify why. The good news is that, in many cases, the link will already be in place when there’s clear value to the user and is an important part of the wider article.

Scenarios two and three are the ones where most link reclamation activity happens. Those where a link references the original campaign or the brand who has supplied a quote. In most cases, the link isn’t already in place here because it isn’t vital to the story. However, the link is in context and can be requested as a way to cite a source.

Scenario four is where link reclamation should be avoided. The link is of no value to readers and doesn’t make contextual sense.

Always be mindful as to whether it makes sense for a link to be added in to an article. Ask yourself; “would a link add value to a reader?” Otherwise, you’re wasting your time trying to reclaim an out-of-context mention.

You need to be able to clearly outline where a link should point to.

Note: requesting homepage, category or service page links is often not as successful as those to content pages as it can be seen as overly commercial.

You also need to be able to justify why it makes sense to be in place to maximize your success rate at link reclamation.

Who should you approach with your request?

You need to make sure you’re making your request to the right person to increase your chances of seeing a brand mentioned turned into a link.

Your options of who to approach are usually:

  1. The journalist who wrote and published the article
  2. Their editor
  3. The publication’s corrections desk

You see, most go straight back to the journalist who they pitched the original story to, however this isn’t always as successful as it could be.

Why?

Journalists are busy people.

Once they’ve hit publish there’s a good chance they’ve moved onto writing their next article and have more or less forgotten about what they last put together. And we simply have to accept that. They have new priorities and they’re not about to go and drop everything to add your link back in.

Of course, that’s not to say that reaching back out to a journalist doesn’t work, simply that they’re not always the best option.

You could reach out to the editor of the section. However, again, they’re busy individuals and adding your link in likely doesn’t come as a high priority.

A corrections desk’s role is to make amends to articles which have already been published.

This makes them, at least for me, the first people to reach out to.

You’ll find corrections contacts listed for most publications. If we take a look at Metro’s ‘Contact Us’ page (found in their footer), we see:

contact info for Metro.co.uk, shows email for a corrections desk which can be the best option for reviewing unlinked brand mentions

The address clearly states that the purpose is for complaints or corrections. sSending your link reclamation request here often ensures both quick action and an increased chance of success.

Say you send to the corrections desk and either get no reply after three days or you don’t see the link added in. (Note that you often won’t be notified that a link has been added to the article after you request it through the corrections desk — so be sure to keep checking yourself.) In this case, you might go back and reach out to either the journalist or the editor (or both; essentially giving you three chances at getting that link).

What should you say to maximize your chances of getting the link?

I’ve spent hours in the past reworking emails, but am confident that the approach which I now take works well, at least across my own clients and campaigns.

I’ve learned that a successful link reclamation email includes the following:

  • A polite THANK YOU for covering your campaign, brand or client (manners really do go a long way)
  • A clear reference to the title of the article which contains the brand mention
  • A link to the article which contains the mention
  • The link which you want added in to the article
  • A simple justification as to why the link adds value to readers

And, in practice, here’s what that looks like for me:

example email of how to ask for a backlink to a currently unlinked brand mention, particularly where it adds value to the reader

It’s simple, straight to the point and polite; however what it does perfectly is justify why a link would add value to the article and should be added in.

In this particular example, the link was added into an article on USA Today within 2 hours of sending the email.

Earning extra links for your brand

Link reclamation is something, as far as I’m concerned, should be done alongside all content marketing and digital PR campaigns to help you maximize the number of quality links earned.

Once you understand what works (and what doesn’t) in terms of who to approach and what to say, you’ll find that it’s something you can spend half an hour on each day and see results from.

At the end of the day, links still work in SEO. And there’s every argument to be made to put in that extra bit of effort to earn more from your (already put in) hard work.

James Brockbank is Managing Director of Digitaloft, a multi-award winning SEO, PPC & Content Marketing agency. You can find him on Twitter @BrockbankJames.

The post Link reclamation: A practical guide for turning unlinked brand mentions into links appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Q&A with SEMrush CEO / Cofounder, Oleg Shchegolev

February 16, 2019 No Comments

Oleg Shchgolev, CEO and Co-founder of SEMrush, also created SEOquake that was released in 2006. SEOquake was the inspiration to creating something more complex. Then SEMrush was born with the help of his partner, Dimitri Melnikov.

Today, SEMrush has 10 years in the market with 500 employees, revenues close to 100 million, and about 2 million users worldwide.

I had the pleasure to interview Oleg, including some questions beyond Search.

KT: What type of inspiration, vision, and loyalty did you see in Dmitri Melnikov that made you want to go in business with him?

OS: First and foremost, Dima is my friend. Second, he is a SEMrush co-founder; he’s been here right from the very beginning. We have always believed in the product that we’ve been working on and I totally admire him as my friend, my colleague, and co-founder.

We make most decisions together as CEO & co-CEO. Our temperaments are mutually reinforcing and this contributes greatly in allowing us to make balanced and informed decisions.

KT: How is your relationship with your partner Dmitri Melnikov?

OS: I’ve known Dmitri for more than 30 years. We grew up in the same neighborhood; we started programming together and over time our friendship expanded into a business partnership. We’ve gone through lots of ups and downs together.

KT: To be successful in the tech industry do you consider a person has to go to college or can they be self-taught?

OS: Formal education greatly enhances discipline and concentration, helps you socialize and find the right and important people — to network, if you like.

But a lot of leaders I know are self-taught. Back when I was a student, people had pretty much no idea what SEO was, or how important (and complicated) it would become over the years. Students should be aware that their knowledge gets outdated fast. They need to be prepared to dedicate a lot of time to continuing self-education.

The IT industry is developing extremely quickly. That’s not to say that college education is not needed at all (it definitely doesn’t hurt to learn some basic stuff in college), but other than that…like I said, I don’t deem formal training to be absolutely essential. With all the online courses and workshops, it’s possible to study everything remotely.

KT: Does SEMrush have corporate social responsibility initiatives? Such as giving scholarships for people that dream with tech careers? Or any other?

OS: At the moment, we work closely with American and European universities and give students the opportunity to explore SEMrush. While learning digital marketing, they familiarize themselves with our tools and work on their projects with the help of SEMrush. Representatives of our company give a lot of master-classes to students, providing them with the insights about digital marketing.

We organize a lot of meetups, roundtables and conferences on digital marketing and agile. We always welcome other IT companies to take part in such events. Lots of lectures, a great deal of useful insight, plenty of opportunities for networking — these are just a few reasons to come by our events.

On a different note, we certainly care about ecological sustainability. We are going to implement waste separation in all our offices and  we encourage our employees to cycle to work to reduce CO2 emission.

It goes without saying that we give people the opportunity to work with us on paid internships. Pretty often, former interns become our full-time employees. We have plans for a large project on how to help novice specialists find work in the digital sphere, but we won’t reveal the details yet

KT: Where is SEMrush headed in the next 5 years?

OS: We are definitely going to add more features to SEMrush, while enhancing our content tools, along with local SEO and traffic analytics (Competitive Intelligence 2.0). We want to ensure that we remain the leading digital marketing software.

As for strategic plans, we are going to strengthen our global brand. At the moment we’re working diligently to enter emerging markets such as China — right now, we are updating our databases to cover Baidu data.

We’ll also introduce tools that help figure out how to rank better on Amazon and optimize for voice search.

This is just a minor part of what is coming. There are a lot of other things we are working on, but we’ll keep them quiet for a while! Hint: 2019 is going to be a big year for us.

KT: What are your biggest pain points as SEO thought-leader? What additional support/buy-in do you think most companies struggle with to get on board? Does this result in limiting their growth opportunities?

OS: SEO is multidimensional and its development is extremely rapid. 5 years ago we couldn’t even imagine that image search or voice search would be everywhere. Such technological growth involves non-stop education and creative thinking, both from my side as a thought-leader and from the side of companies trying to get on board.

One more indispensable thing to get on board successfully is to have some unique feature, to understand your uniqueness and, crucially, to communicate that knowledge to your audience. Such an environment of extrinsic value, created for your customers, will also help build strong and long-term relationships with them and will directly affect customer retention.

KT: What will impact the traditional SEO from Voice search devices in the coming years?

OS: The share of voice searches is growing, along with the amount of voice-activated smart speakers. Naturally, voice searches are different from the searches that are typed — the former are longer and the wording is different — more conversational.

Voice search is about questions, prepositions, and comparisons – the same as with featured snippets . If it’s not an informational query, people are likely to search for location-based info.

Backlinko’s study claims that 40.7% of answers come from the featured snippet. Our SEO clients are putting more and more emphasis on this feature. Questions, prepositions, and comparisons dominate featured snippet results. A whopping 52% of questions have featured snippets.

KT: Can we get a dashboard or report on voice search?

OS: There’s no single dashboard or report on voice search in SEMrush (at least for now) but some of our tools help find solutions for voice search optimization. For instance, featured snippet checks or mobile devices optimization — this contributes to voice search ranking.

KT: What’s the most popular SEMrush feature and why?

OS: Everyone loves us for Keywords Research tools, but there is so much more to SEMrush.

KT: What’s a feature of SEMrush that is less utilized and why?

OS: The features that are available in the Admin Mode only =)

KT: What is diversity like in the tech industry? Do you think there is gender bias in the tech industry?

OS: Judging by what the media says, there are indeed a lot of problems with diversity in the tech industry.  In SEMrush we want our company to be equally welcoming to people of any race or gender. About half of SEMrush C-level employees are women and we believe they are awesome specialists who help make SEMrush an industry-leading company.

Closing thoughts

My favorite answer is the last one because I am an advocate for equality and inclusivity.

In my conversation with Oleg I also learned that SEMrush’s headquarters is now in Boston.

To summarize the success of SEMrush, it is based on a great communication within its talented partners, a great culture of inclusivity, and the amazing people that work there.

The post Q&A with SEMrush CEO / Cofounder, Oleg Shchegolev appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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17 top plugins and extensions for SEO

February 9, 2019 No Comments

There are so many great plugins available, and it’s difficult to choose which are the best for you.

To help you decide which tools will make your work easier and more productive, I’ve asked SEO experts to share what they use.

Per the experts, I compiled this list of 17 of the best plugins and extensions for SEO — and they’re all free.

Here are the top plugins and extensions recommended by experienced SEOs

1. SEO TextOptimizer

Free extension

This plugin is perfect for those who deal with content. SEO TextOptimizer lets you measure the quality of texts you create for your website based on how search engines would evaluate it.

The tool shows you topics you should develop as well as those you’d better eliminate for search robots to understand the text is relevant to the specific queries. The plugin also suggests you a list of words you could add to improve your content. The best thing is that you don’t need great SEO expertise to use it.

2. SEOquake

Free extension

With SEOquake plugin, you can easily analyze your key SEO metrics. Moreover, the tool provides SEO audit, backlinks analysis, and other useful functions.

One of the factors why SEO professionals choose this tool is that you can get a comprehensive analysis of a SERP and even export its results. There’s a bar appearing below each search result which provides you with key metrics such as traffic, Alexa rank, social media shares, etc.

3. BuiltWith

Free extension

This extension lets you find what a website you are visiting at the moment is built with. It’s created to help developers, designers, and researchers to discover the technologies other pages are implementing and choose those they want to use for their sites.

The plugin tracks:

  • Widgets
  • Frameworks
  • Advertising
  • Publishing
  • Hosting
  • Analytics
  • Content Delivery Network
  • Document Standards

Experts also say it’s great you can easily get global trends on using specific technologies.

4. Serpstat Plugin

Free extension

It’s an extension which helps you conduct SEO analysis of a page. Serpstat Plugin provides the most critical information on keywords, traffic, and page visibility. You can also get the report on the top 10 keywords for which your page ranks at the top of search results.

Serpstat SEO & Website Analysis Plugin has now three tabs: Page Analysis, On-page SEO parameters, and Domain Analysis. Here are the most crucial parameters you’ll get with the plugin:

  • Domain’s traffic.
  • Domain’s visibility trend for a year.
  • The number of results on Google, Bing, and Baidu.
  • The number of images on Google Image Search.
  • Alexa Rank.
  • Page speed.
  • Site start date.
  • Meta tags.
  • The number of shares on social media networks (Facebook and Pinterest).

The plugin is free, but to use it, you need to create your Serpstat account, if you don’t have one yet.

5. WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress plugin

This incredibly popular plugin by Yoast helps experts with on-site SEO needs. The tool will let you:

  • Add meta keywords, title, and description to your posts.
  • Provide clear site navigation for crawlers and users.
  • Analyze your on-page SEO. You can check your content, descriptions, and keywords.
  • See what your snippets will look like.
  • Create SEO-friendly Facebook Open Graph.

This WordPress plugin has a very quick and easy-to-use interface.

6. WAVE Evaluation Tool

Free extension

This tool evaluates web content accessibility within Chrome and Firefox browsers. WAVE provides 100% secure and private accessibility reporting. The plugin checks password-protected, intranet, sensitive or dynamically generated web pages.

7. Spark Content Optimizer

Free extension

Spark Content Optimizer is a tool designed to help you develop your site’s search experience. The plugin provides you with easy access to such a crucial data as:

  • Monthly traffic.
  • The performance of your site for all the keywords.
  • The technical audit which analyzes more than 40 hard-to-find issues.
  • Information on backlink authority.

8. Link Redirect Trace

Free extension

It’s a great tool for tracking redirect path. The tool analyzes HTTP Headers, rel-canonicals, robots.txt, link power, etc. You can use Link Redirect Trace extension to analyze your competitors, your on-page and off-page SEO, and other critical factors.

Here are the main tasks this plugin can help you cope with:

  • Identify and fix problems in your on-page/off-page SEO.
  • Analyze your competitors’ links.
  • See the redirect chain and fix problems to make your load time faster.
  • After your site was redesigned or migrated, you can check your links.
  • Check links from affiliate and advertising networks.

9. Ap – Data Layer Inspector+

Free extension

This plugin is a perfect toolkit for digital analysts. This add-on lets you monitor, debug, get detailed data not having to switch between the page, the code, and the developer console.

With this tool, you can inspect the dataLayer in real time, insert code into the page, analyze GA hits, ignore hits to individual properties, etc.

10. User-Agent Switcher

Free extension

The tool will help you switch quickly between user-agent strings. If you want to test how your page responds to different browsers, this plugin will let you do it. Due to User-Agent Switcher, you can browse with predefined user-agents or add your own ones.

11. Open SEO Stats

Free extension

This extension provides quick access to the most important SEO stats. The tool will show you:

  • Traffic stats. Graphs from Alexa Rank, Quantcast Rank, Compete Rank.
  • Information on your backlinks.
  • Cached pages.
  • Indexed pages. You’ll see the number of pages indexed in Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Yandex, etc.
  • Geolocation information, such as country, city, and IP address.
  • The shares on social websites.
  • Meta information, such as title, meta keywords, description, canonical tags, internal links, external links, and more.

12. Velvet Blues

Free WordPress plugin

This plugin will be handy for those who move their WordPress website to another domain and need to update internal links and references to pages. The plugin helps you fix the problem and change old links on your website. Experts say it’s great that you can find and replace any URL in your WordPress database without having to use phpMyAdmin directly.

With Velvet Blues Plugin, you can:

  • Update links which are embedded in excerpts, content, or custom fields.
  • Choose whether you want to update links for attachments or not.
  • View the number of items updated.

Install it only when you need to fix something and then uninstall it. The plugin treats everything it finds.

13. WP Rocket

Free WordPress plugin

Experts consider this plugin to be one of the best caching tools. Using WP Rocket to cache pages, your page load time decreases, and indexing improves. Moreover, the tool lets users reduce the weight of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files.

With WP Rocket, you can optimize your images, so that they’ll get loaded only when visitors scroll down the page. Such an action contributes to improving page speed.

14. All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets

Free WordPress plugin

This tool will be useful for those who want to get rich snippets for their web pages. The plugin is created to help you make your page stand out in Google, Bing, and Yahoo search results.

All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets supports most content types released by Schema.org. Here are eight different content types for which you can add schema:

  • Review
  • Event
  • People
  • Product
  • Recipe
  • Software Application
  • Video
  • Articles

15. Cloudflare’s plugin for WordPress

Free WordPress plugin

This free plugin helps to accelerate page loading time, improve your SEO, and protect against DDoS attacks.

Cloudflare plugin adds value for SMEs/Medium sized businesses, making it very easy to setup CDNs, DDoS Protection, and allow them to utilize edge SEO technologies like service workers.

16. WhatRuns

Free extension

This extension lets you find out what runs any website. You, ll get all the technologies used on websites you visit:

  • CMS
  • WordPress plugins
  • Themes
  • Analytics tools
  • Frameworks

Moreover, you can even get notified when websites start using new tools and services if you follow them.

17. Grammarly

Free extension

There are both free and paid access available for this plugin. The tool underlines your grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors for you to correct them. It also suggests you synonyms for overused words and gives you tips on how you can improve your texts. To get the most out of this plugin, you’d better use a paid version, as it’ll get you access to the most critical issues.

Choose the best for you

Remember that the more extensions you download, the slower your browser becomes. That’s why it’s essential to know which ones exactly are perfect for you.

Free WordPress plugins and Chrome extensions will help you make your work easier, but you may spend quite a significant time looking for those which are really useful for you. So, this list should have helped you circle out the tools you’ll try to implement into your working process.

Want more SEO tools?

Check out these articles as well:

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