CBPO

Analytics

Four marketing strategies to increase app store downloads and engagement

January 23, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • App marketing is intensely competitive. There are limited channels to market your app but millions of apps to compete with. It’s important to maximize every opportunity.
  • Like SEO, App Store Optimization involves keyword research and optimization. App developers have limited space for their keywords and much competition to face. Hence, precision is highly necessary.
  • App ads on Facebook are unlike other types of ads. You need Facebook SDK, in addition to the ads manager, to properly track app downloads and engagement.
  • Rewards should turn your app users into customers. When done right, incentives can generate social proof and viral loops.
  • There is ASO but there’s also app SEO. Content formats such as blogs, podcasts, and newsletters can make your app website/landing page gain higher rankings on search engines.

Your app is competing for visibility with 1.82 million other apps if it’s on Apple’s App Store, or 2.7 million apps if it’s on Google’s Play Store. That’s tremendous competition. 

Marketing your app almost seems a lost cause. But while making your app stand out is indeed a daunting undertaking, it is possible, as long as you apply the right strategies. 

Effective app marketing involves identifying key types of channels for discovery and engagement (app stores, social media, search engines, and in the app itself) and targeting your audience. 

1. App store optimization/landing page optimization 

Newcomers make up only 8% of apps listed on the App and Play store top charts, going by Adjust’s App Trends 2020 Report. Considering that the app store is your app’s main chance, by far, at organic discovery, it need not be said that your App Store Optimization (ASO) must be on point. 

ASO is to apps what SEO is to websites. And both have their similarities, especially in the on-page/off-page strategy dichotomy. And like SEO, ASO begins with improving visibility. 

The first tip to achieve this is to use an attractive name and logo. Those two are the first things users see when they find your app. But before then, you have to make sure people can find it, right? And not just anyone – the right people, your target audience. 

When optimizing your app store listing, what factors must you consider, keeping in mind that app indexing differs between stores?

  • App Name/Title: feature relevant keywords to enable the app store algorithm to properly identify and categorize your app. You have 50 characters for this on Play Store while Apple’s App Store also includes a subtitle, for keywords that don’t fit the main title.

App store optimization tips - Work on the title

  • Apple, unlike Google, allows developers to input specific keywords in a private field on its App Store. For Google, you have a short description field (80 characters) and a long description page (4000 characters) which are both public. 
  • Include keywords that are relevant to your app and which accurately describe its features, functionalities, and benefits.

That is as much as you can influence your app’s rankings. Other factors, beyond your direct influence, include reviews and ratings, download and uninstall rates, app updates, etc. 

2. Facebook ads strategy 

ASO has its place and you can’t rely on app stores entirely for app discovery. Not if you’re not a big-name brand. Your marketing strategy should tilt more towards the paid, discussed below. As Christian Eckhardt of Customlytics says,

“The likelihood of a user going to a store to browse or discover new apps has declined significantly, compared to the early days of the stores.”

By creating a page on Facebook for your app, you can run ads with custom call-to-actions to gain publicity for your app and increase downloads. Facebook Ad Manager allows you to set an objective for your app: whether you are targeting app installs or app engagement (traffic). Facebook Ads offer a competitive ROI with an average cost-per-install rate of $ 1.8, compared to Twitter’s $ 2.53 and Instagram’s $ 2.23. 

CPI using Facebook ads

To run ads for your Facebook app,

  • First, set up Facebook SDK. This is necessary to optimize your app for mobile ads, though you can still run ads for unregistered apps using the app store URL. 
  • Continue setup in the Ads Manager, where you select your target audience, budget, bid, creative format, and other options. 

  • Finally, continually measure your ad performance, track engagement data, and gain analytics insights using Facebook SDK and within the Ad manager.

Measuring ad performance that adds to your app store downloads

3. Use a rewards system 

This is a strategy that helps you to convert your app users into marketers. Of course, this assumes that you have an app that delivers value to its users. The next step would be to incentivize app engagement. 

In-app rewards that can facilitate engagement include unlockable customization options, discounts, push notifications, in-app currency (points, coins, etc.), vouchers, and other freebies Many apps (especially games) already feature these. But here, motivation is important. What kind of behavior does/should the reward system encourage?

  1. Retention 
  2. Publicity
  3. Reviews

Beyond app retention, your in-app incentives should encourage actions that publicize your app. For instance, you can offer a discount or some other benefit to people who share the app or refer users (using referral codes). We know this works since old research by Google showed that people find new apps through friends and family than by any other means. Likewise, incentivize app users to rate and write reviews of your app on the store. Apart from promoting the goodwill of an app, positive reviews drive up app store optimization rankings, increasing the visibility of your app.

But app retention is important too. Only 32% of users would return to an app at least eleven times, a six-point reduction from last year’s rate. And app stores consider high uninstall rates as signs of a low-quality app. Such an app would get lower rankings and may even be removed from the store eventually. Incentives keep people using the app and create viral loops.

4. Content marketing strategy 

Search engines are a great place to gain publicity for your app. Think about it. Someone hears how great your app is and immediately searches the name, only to find scanty or no relevant results at all. You need a creative and consistent content marketing strategy to convert search engine users. 

You can use a blog to highlight the benefits of your app, inform users of updates, and teach them how to maximize the features of the app. If businesses that blog gain 126% more leads than those that don’t, why not apps? The popular investing app Robinhood’s marketing strategy features a blog where they teach people the basics of investing and finance.

Using content marketing to make your app more visible and valuable in the audience's eyes

But there is more to blogging than just posting articles. You need to research keywords to find the ones that will help you convert the most. That’s what enables search engines to effectively rank your blog posts. 

In addition, content marketing is not limited to blogging. You may also take advantage of newsletters, podcasts, and YouTube videos, as Robinhood does. Called ‘Robinhood Snacks’, it delivers a daily newsletter with financial news to subscribers (irrespective of whether they use the app or not) and breaks down business stories via podcasts as well. 

Content marketing is broader though. You also need backlinks to rank. And that means getting your app featured on ‘top apps’ listings, external reviews, guest article mentions, all of which should contain backlinks to your landing page. Of course, it need not be mentioned anymore that you need a highly-engaging landing page with a clear call-to-action that takes visitors to the app’s store page.

A simple content marketing checklist for app optimization will look like the following:

  • Research ideas that are related to your app and relevant to your audience. 
  • Craft topics from these ideas and develop engaging content around them. 
  • Use mediums that your audience uses the most. For instance, podcasts are a great idea if you are targeting millennials. 
  • Feel free to repurpose content. Your blog post can be repurposed into a YouTube video. You can transcribe a podcast interview and convert it into an article, etc. 
  • Always include a call-to-action 

Conclusion

If you implement the strategies discussed above, you can rest assured of steady app growth. However, the most important factor is that the app is indeed valuable. The best apps are those that advertise themselves. But virality does not happen overnight. Its the result of the consistent application of the right strategies.

Guy Sheetrit is the CEO of Over The Top SEO, an award-winning marketing agency that provides customized SEO marketing solutions for ecommerce, local, and Fortune 500 companies. He can be found on Twitter @guysheetrit.

The post Four marketing strategies to increase app store downloads and engagement appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Ways to get the most out of your Google Adwords PPC strategy

January 19, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • PPC advertising is a highly effective way to drive targeted prospects to websites, sales pages, or blogs.
  • Even though PPC can take up some parts of your budget, there are important benefits attached to this practice.
  • Did you know, 92% of all keywords that people type into search engines are long tails?
  • This article gives you a brief on the benefits of having a PPC strategy, must-haves for PPC advertising through Google Adwords, elements of attractive and effective PPC Ads, and more on optimizing your Google Adwords PPC strategy.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is an important component of online marketing. Specific strategies can be used by advertisers to maximize the return from their PPC marketing. PPC advertising is a highly effective way to drive targeted prospects to websites, sales pages, or blogs. Digital marketers can choose between Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, or Bing Ads. However, most online marketers prefer using Google AdWords for their PPC strategy since it displays their ads on Google SERPs.

A. Benefits of Google Ads PPC advertising

Though PPC marketing costs money, it has five important benefits:

1. Convenience and speed

Advertisers can set up their PPC ad campaigns easily and quickly. They can use PPC ads to target their prospects with precision and get results almost immediately. According to Neil Patel, SEO expert and co-founder of both Crazy Egg and Hello Bar:

                    “With PPC, you can drive visitors to your website in hours, not months”

2. Adaptability

Ad text, keywords, and other elements of PPC ads can be constantly tweaked to optimize and so maximize their effectiveness.

3. Cost-effectiveness

Google Adwords charges advertisers only when there are clicks on their ads and not merely when ads are displayed.

4. Budget flexibility

Advertisers can decide on the budget of their PPC campaign since Google Adwords does not have any minimum spending limits. For instance, they can set a maximum daily budget of twenty dollars and a maximum cost of twenty cents for each click on their ad, which they can change whenever they want.

5. Predictability

With a PPC campaign, digital marketers can easily predict the number of their visitors based on how much they spend. The search engine algorithm is less of a factor. In one of his PPC related articles, Neil Patel stated,

“Spend more, get more visitors. If you want exactly 10,000 visitors, you can get exactly 10,000 visitors”,

Despite all these benefits of Google Ads PPC advertising, first-time digital marketers should be attentive as they may lose a lot on their invested money if they ever fail to properly set up their PPC marketing campaigns.

B. Preparation before starting a Google Ads PPC campaign

The first thing new marketers should do is to read thoroughly the Google Adwords Getting Started Guide, which has a large amount of useful information. Next, they should use the Google Adwords Keyword Suggestion Tool and create a comprehensive list of relevant keywords for their products or services.

Use of long-tail keyword phrases

Since the price per click of PPC ads is determined by competitive bidding of search terms, popular search terms such as “insurance”, “stop smoking”, and “weight-loss” cost several dollars for the top three positions on the search results. On the other hand, long-tail keywords are phrases that are not searched very often but are more likely to be used by people who are willing to buy.

Ahrefs, in fact, reports that 92% of all keywords get 10 or fewer searches per month. In other words, 92% of all keywords that people type into search engines are long tails.

PPC strategy - Chart showing search volume distribution

C. Elements of attractive and effective PPC ads

Well written ads are decisive to the success of a Google Ads PPC strategy. They should highlight the key benefit of the product or service so that potential clients click on them.

Marketers should also include these elements in their ads:

1. The price of the product

Users who see the price of the product and still click the ad are more likely to buy the product. If they think the price is too high, they may not click on the ad and save the cost of that click.

2. A strong call-to-action

Specific call-to-action phrases such as “purchase”, “buy”, “call today”, “sign up”, and “order ensures” the prospects understand what they are expected to do after they clicking the ad.

3. The best performing keyword preferably in the title of the ad

Whenever users type that keyword and the ad is displayed, the keyword phrase appears “in bold font” within the ad on the Google search page. This will draw their attention to the ad.

4. The URL of the specific page on the website that has the product

If people who click the ad do not find the product on that page, they are likely to exit and click some other ad.

D. Fine-tuning PPC management to boost its profitability

Advertisers can experiment with different offers and call-to-action phrases and test multiple ads. Google Adwords rotates ads automatically within the ad group and displays, more often, the better-performing one. They can remove keywords that are not getting enough clicks and replace them with others. Also, they can decrease or increase the maximum cost-per-click and check the effect on the performance of their ads.

E. Additional strategies to increase the cost-effectiveness of your Google Ads PPC marketing

Submit negative keywords

Advertisers should make a list of keywords that cause their ads to be displayed but are not related to their product. After that, they should submit them as negative keywords by putting a negative sign in front of those keywords. By doing this, they will ensure that anyone using those keywords won’t have their ad displayed to them. For instance, if the product is about “how to stop smoking”, advertisers should exclude anything like “smoking chimneys” or any other sources of smoke!

Some keywords might have far different user intent and bring in clicks that are an immediate bounce but won’t turn into a conversion”.

Explained SEO expert Rinko de Jong, in an email interview.

This could also lead to ad impressions that result in no clicks. Both can weaken the quality score of your ad resulting in negatively impacting your ad placement and cost per click”, he added.

Disallow ads to be displayed in Google’s content network partner sites

Clicks originating from these websites are usually of a lower quality than those from search results because they come from people who are browsing that website, not people who are actively searching for the product of the advertiser. So, these clicks might result in fewer sales but will cost definitely just the same.

Pay-Per-Click marketing has the potential to drive a steady stream of visitors to affiliate sites, sales pages, or websites resulting in increased sales and profits if it is properly set up and constantly monitored.

Jacob M. is a copywriter, marketing blogger, and inbound marketing consultant.

The post Ways to get the most out of your Google Adwords PPC strategy appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Core Web Vitals report: 28 Ways to supercharge your site

January 16, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Google plans to roll out the new Core Web Vitals update in early 2021.
  • The overall size, dimensions, load order, and format of your images will drastically affect your PageSpeed score.
  • Loading critical CSS and JS inline can improve the perceived load time of your site.
  • Above-the-fold videos and large background images can be particularly damaging to your Largest Contentful Paint time.
  • A server upgrade and a CDN can improve your server response time and your contentful paint score.
  • Founder of Content Powered, James Parsons, shares an exhaustive list of 28 elements that will supercharge your site for Google’s Core Web Vitals update and Google PageSpeed Insights.

Announced in early 2020, the Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics Google is developing and plans to roll into their overall search algorithm in May of 2021.  Given that it’s almost 2021 now, anyone who wants to get ahead on optimizing their site for this new algorithm update can get to work now.  Thankfully, Google has been very good about publicly disclosing what these new metrics are and how they work.

Armed with that information, it’s possible to build a checklist of action items to check and optimize on your site to ready yourself for the inevitable rollout of these new ranking factors.  Here are 28 such items for that checklist.

A. Image optimization

Images are one of the largest influencing factors in the core web vitals.  All of the web vitals measure the time until some initial rendering, and loading images is the largest source of delay before a page is initially fully loaded.  Thus, optimizing images tends to be the most powerful tool for improving core web vitals.

1. Reduce the Dimensions of Background Images

Background images are rarely fully necessary to a site design and can be a large source of delay in loading a page for the first time.

If you use a background image, reduce how large that image is and optimize it so it loads as close to instantaneously as possible.

2. Minimize or Replace Background Images with Patterns

If you’re not tied to a specific background image, either replace the image with flat colors, a gradient, or even a simple tiled pattern.  Again, the goal is to minimize how many assets need to load before the initial load of the website is complete.  Since background images don’t make a huge impact (and are even less necessary on mobile), minimize or remove them as much as possible.

3. Remove Images on Mobile Above the Fold

Speaking of mobile, the mobile browsing experience is often slower than desktop browsing due to the quality of cell and wireless signals.  Mobile devices are especially susceptible to delays in the first input and on the content shift.

Core Web Vitals report elements - Above and Below the Fold

To help avoid that, strive to make as much of your above-the-fold content as possible based on text and other simple elements.  Large images and slideshows above the fold are particularly rough on your score, so remove or move them as much as possible.

4. Implement Lazy Loading

Lazy loading is a common technique for speeding up the initial load of any given page.  With Google’s new metrics on the horizon, it’s no surprise that support for it is quickly becoming a default feature.  WordPress, for example, added native default lazy loading in version 5.5 earlier this year.  Make use of lazy loading for any content, particularly images, that doesn’t need to load above the fold initially.

5. Use WebP Images

Another Google initiative, WebP is a new image format developed back in 2010.  It’s a smaller image format with better compression algorithms than your traditional image formats like PNG.

While it hasn’t really picked up widespread traction until recently, it’s becoming more and more valuable as both users and search engines are increasingly concerned with speed and load times.  Support is widespread, even if usage isn’t, so you can more-or-less safely use WebP images as your primary image files.

6. Optimize Image File Sizes

Using a tool to crunch or smush image files to be smaller in file size should be a default part of optimizing images for the web by this point.

Core Web Vitals report elements - WebP Image Optimization

If you don’t do it already, make sure you implement a way to process images as part of your blogging workflow moving forward. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve defined the height and width of images to prevent layout shift.

B. CSS optimization

CSS has become an increasingly critical part of many site designs, so much so that blocking it makes the web almost unrecognizable.  With so much of a site reliant on CSS for everything from colors to positioning, making sure your code is optimized is more important than ever.

7. Inline Critical CSS

You don’t need to inline every bit of your CSS, though that works as well.  In particular, you want to inline CSS that is critical to the overall design and layout of your theme.

Core Web Vitals report elements - Inlining CSS

This minimizes the number of individual files a browser needs to call from your server just to load the initial layout and paint the initial content on your site.

8. Minify CSS

CSS is by default a very minimalist language and can operate perfectly well without spaces, indentation, comments, and other text that makes it more user-friendly and easier to develop.  Before uploading new code to your site, run it through a tool to minify it and remove all of that excess cruft that has a microscopic-yet-tangible effect on page loading.

9. Consolidate CSS Files and Code

It can be tempting to store CSS in a variety of files and scattered throughout your code, placing it where it seems like it should be rather than where it makes sense to put it.  Remember; what is easiest as a developer is not necessarily the fastest for a user.  Consolidate your CSS, whether it’s inline or in separate files, and only execute specific elements as necessary.

10. Optimize CSS Delivery

CSS is often a late-loading element of site code.  Traditional site design loads the framework for the site, then the content, then the CSS to format it all.  Particularly when CSS is stored in an external file, this delays loading significantly.  Preloading your CSS is a strategy recommended by Google to force the browser to load the CSS and have it ready when it’s needed.

C. JavaScript optimization

JavaScript is one of the biggest sources of code bloat and delay in loading websites. Optimizing your site’s JS can help speed it up tremendously, even when it doesn’t seem like it would have much of an effect based on what you’re doing to it.

11. Minify JS Scripts

Like CSS, JavaScript doesn’t need extraneous spaces and breaks to function.  It also doesn’t need verbose variable names, which are useful for development but can increase the size of scripts by a significant amount.

Run your scripts through a minifier before adding them to your site.

Core Web Vitals report elements - Minify your Javascript

12. Consolidate Scripts and Minimize Usage

Many of the purposes web designers use JavaScript for have been available as features in HTML5 and CSS3 for years now.  Particularly in older websites, a revamp or review of scripts can find alternative, faster ways to do the same things.  Review and optimize, minimize, consolidate, and strip as much JavaScript as you can from your site.

13. Defer or Async Scripts Whenever Possible

Scripts are roadblocks in rendering a website.  When a browser has to render a JS script, it has to process through that script before it can continue loading the page.  Since many developers put scripts in their headers, this delays page loading significantly.  Using Defer allows the browser to continue loading the page before executing the script, while Async allows them to load simultaneously.  Using these two features allows you to offset the delay inherent in using scripts and speed up your initial page loads.

14. Remove jQuery Migrate

A recent update to jQuery has led to a lot of old plugins and scripts no longer working.  To buy time and allow webmasters to update their sites, the Migrate module was introduced.  This is essentially a translation module that allows old jQuery to function on sites that utilize a newer version of jQuery.

Core Web Vitals report elements - Remove jQuery Migrate

Perform an audit of your site to see if anything you’re using – particularly old plugins and apps – uses jQuery Migrate.  If so, consider updating or replace those plugins.  Your goal is to remove usage of the Migrate module entirely because it’s rather bulky and can slow down websites dramatically.

15. Use Google Hosted JS Whenever Possible

Google offers a range of standard libraries hosted on their servers for use on your website.  Rather than relying on a third party for those libraries or hosting them yourself, use Google’s versions for the fastest possible load times.

D. Video optimization

Videos are increasingly popular as part of the average website, from core elements of content to video-based advertising and everything in between.  They’re also extremely large files, even with partial loading and modern video buffering.  Optimize your use of video as much as possible.

16. Use Image Placeholders for Video Thumbnails

There are plenty of users who browse the web with no desire to watch videos, so forcing videos to load in the background for them is completely unnecessary.  A good workaround is to use an image placeholder where the video would normally load.

Core Web Vitals report elements - Lazy load your videos

The image loads faster and looks like the video player with a loaded thumbnail.  When a user clicks it to start the video, it begins the video load but doesn’t require loading any of the video file or player until that point.

17. Minimize Videos Above the Fold

As with images, video files are extremely heavy, so loading them above the fold is a guaranteed delay on your first content paint.  Push them below the fold; most people want to read a title and introduction before they get to the video anyway.

E. Font and icon optimization

Fonts and icon usage can be a lot heavier on a site’s load times than you might expect. Optimizing them might seem like minuscule detail work, but when you see the impact it can have, you’ll wonder why you never made these minor-yet-impactful optimizations before.

18. Preload Fonts

Similar to scripts, when your website calls for a font that it needs to load, loading that font takes precedence and stops the rest of the code from rendering.

Using a preload command to load the font earlier than necessary helps speed up page loading, as well as preventing the “flash of unstyled text” effect that happens for a brief instant between the text loading and the font styling appearing.

Core Web Vitals report elements - Pre-load your fonts

19. Only Use Fonts You Need

Many web fonts and font families load their entire character sets and stylesheets when called, even if your page doesn’t utilize 90% of that content.  Often, you can limit how much you load, though you may need to pay for premium font access.  It can be quite worthwhile if you’re using limited amounts of a given font, or a font that has a particularly large character set included.

20. Use SVG Whenever Possible

SVGs are Scalable Vector Graphics and are a way to create extremely small elements of a page that can nevertheless scale indefinitely, as well as be manipulated individually, to a much greater degree than traditional fonts and icons.  If possible, switch to using SVGs instead of your usual icons.

F. Server optimization

No matter how many optimizations you make to the code of your website, to your images, or to other elements of your site, none of it matters if your server is slow.  The proliferation of web hosting companies, the ongoing development of faster and stronger tech, all means that web hosting shows its age very quickly.  Every few years, it can be worthwhile to change or upgrade hosting to faster infrastructure.

21. Upgrade to a Faster Server

You don’t necessarily need to upgrade from a shared host to a dedicated host, though this can help with some of the speed issues inherent in shared hosting.  Even simply upgrading from a slower package to a faster one can be a good use of a budget.

22. Use a CDN

Modern content delivery networks can handle most of the elements of your site faster than your typical web host can in almost every circumstance.  At a minimum, consider using a CDN for your images, videos, and other multimedia.  You can also consider offloading stand-alone script files as well.

23. Preload DNS Queries

Preloading or prefetching DNS queries helps minimize the delay between an asset being requested by the visitor and the display of that asset.

This couples with using a CDN to store assets by loading and resolving the CDN’s domain before it’s called for the first time, further speeding up page load times.

Preload DNS queries - DNS lookups

24. Preload Your Cache

Often, a cache plugin or script used on a website triggers when the first visitor arrives to view the page.  That first visitor has a slower experience, but their loads cache the page for future visitors until the cache expires.  Unfortunately, the first visit is often a Google bot crawling your page from your XML sitemap or an internal link, and that means that Google is the first one to experience the slow version of your site.  You can get around this by preloading the cache on your website so Google’s next visit is a guaranteed fast-loading web page.

25. Consider a Server-Side Cache

Software such as Varnish Cache acts as a server-side cache to further speed up the generation and serving of a cached version of your page, making it as fast as possible with as few server calls as possible.

G. Additional optimization

Anything that didn’t fit in another category has been added here.  These additional optimizations might not apply to your site design, but if they do, taking care of them can be a great boon.

26. Minimize Third-Party Scripts

Webmasters in 2021 will need to strike a balance between site speed optimizations and user engagement tools.

Many plugins, such as social sharing buttons, third-party comment systems, and media embeds all need to execute third-party scripts in order to work, but those scripts slow down the site.  Minimize them as much as possible, and try to find the fastest versions of each.

Minimize third-party scripts

27. Avoid Pre-Load Filler

A common technique for sites with slower load times is to add a spinner, a loading icon, an animation, or another form of content that loads and displays to indicate to a user that the site is, in fact, loading.  While this can help minimize bounces, it’s a huge hit to the initial loads measured by the core web vitals.  Remove these and work to speed up your site such that you don’t need them.

28. Consider a Site Redesign

When all is said and done, sometimes you need to make so many changes to so many foundational elements of your site that it’s easier to simply scrap your current design and engineer a new one with speed in mind.  Consider it a possibility, and analyze the benefits you’ll get from optimized core web vitals.  No one knows yet how influential those metrics will be on the overall algorithm, but it certainly can’t hurt to optimize for them.

James Parsons is the founder of Content Powered, a blog management & content marketing company. He’s worked as a senior-level content marketer for over a decade and writes for Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, and Business Insider.

The post Core Web Vitals report: 28 Ways to supercharge your site appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Making the argument for nofollow links in SEO

January 12, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The debate still continues in the SEO community on the variation of value from backlinks.
  • Google has shifted their position on these links.
  • What do we get for our efforts?
  • Are nofollow links worth the pain?

Are nofollow links a waste of time?

SEO practitioners have for years been told that nofollow links have zero value. It has become a mantra that has been repeated to the point where it has become a vulgar term to us.

Is this a healthy approach to link building though? Should opportunities for these diminished backlinks be ignored moving forward? Here I’d like to make the case for these lowly search engine signals.

What is a dofollow and a nofollow link?

I will keep this short. There are no dofollow links. All links start out as follows by default for search engines. Google came out many years ago with a new attribute called a nofollow and asked website managers to add them to links in their comments section because unscrupulous spammers were causing havoc on their algorithms. It was an easy way for these black hat SEO types to build lots of links on multiple sites.

Over time, some websites added this attribute to other parts of their content, if not their entire website to dissuade marketers from trying to get links on their websites for SEO purposes only. As a result, many marketers lost a lot of interest in these sites for providing them quality content.

Google with all of its vagaries, updates their position

A little over a year ago, Google came out and told us they had updated the algorithm to consider some nofollow links as hints. The extent of what that means can be open to interpretation.

But it does tell us that Google is paying attention to them. This does not mean I am recommending open season and that your link building strategy should be entirely built on them. But there is definitely more value to them than most people realize.

Nofollow backlinks can still provide authority

The quality rater guidelines published by Google have put a lot of focus on Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T). Going through the verbiage you will find that they place authority on the authors of content being mentioned in news articles and publications. Even Wikipedia is specifically mentioned (which has nofollow links as policy on its entire website).

Forbes, Huffington Post, and Medium are great examples of websites that only provide nofollow links. But I imagine that would have little concern about these quality raters.

In ignoring these publications you could very well be missing out on one of the keys to increasing the authority of your website based upon the assumption that there is a lack of link juice.

Search console consistently provides these links in their reporting

As much data as is available in the Google Search Console, there is quite a bit more information we in the SEO community would like to see that is not readily given in this tool. And yet, Google has consistently provided many nofollow links mixed in with the regular backlinks in the reporting. Why do you think this is?

Google easily knows the difference between them and yet still provides them and has for years. Not only that – they also factor them into the top linking text (anchor text) section which is a big part of this puzzle.

A mixture of the two types has always been considered healthy for a backlink profile for your website. Where nofollows can have a strong impact is providing context. Being able to reinforce brand name and other keyword terms for your site and individual pages.

No one can expect to get exact keyword match anchor text from high authority websites on a regular basis. But mentions in forums, now comments and other places can provide context if not link strength. If you are trying to refine the keyword focus of your pages, this is a worthwhile endeavor.

More direct traffic

Qualified traffic of any kind is valuable. If your entire job is to increase the rankings of your website, then this point does not apply. But being an SEO usually means getting more organic traffic to your website. It would be hard to dispute that visitors from high traffic websites to yours’ based upon the intent of the link, would not count as such.

When visitors to those websites are reading their content on a particular subject and inevitably click a link to your website, that is a win in my book. It is kind of the whole point of your job.

Not to mention that someone who has been researching a topic and ran across your company name mentioned multiple times on industry-specific websites starts to solidify that brand recognition everyone is always talking about.

Summary of nofollow backlinks

For seasoned marketers, much of this is known and sometimes a helpful reminder is welcome. Those that are new to the industry often hear derision regarding the matter and shun these backlinks without having done their research or tested them on their own.

These hints for the search engines can bring a lot of value if utilized with restraint and consideration. Don’t be so willing to discount them out of hand.

Rob Delory is the Founder of QuickSilver Agency. He can be found on Twitter @rdelory.

The post Making the argument for nofollow links in SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


How brands should meet customers in their new (virtual) reality

January 9, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Virtual experiences like test drives, makeup tutorials, and open houses have become essential as shoppers move their business online.
  • The same digital assets for virtual test-runs and try-ons, once built, can be repurposed in marketing ads, social media, personalized sales demos, and even product redesigns.
  • Elly Uz, content marketing manager at interactive 3D streaming platform PureWeb, shares three steps for marketing in the new landscape.

Desperate times call for digital measures. First, a quick recap: The old world was spinning right along, a pesky virus decided to visit all corners of the globe, the planet shut down, and a new world emerged. Along the way, just about everything changed. Years of incremental changes so small they’re hard to realize before a sudden jolt exposes a fresh reality. Before the pandemic, virtual experiences like test drives, makeup tutorials, and open houses were considered cute and cool (but far from essential). Today, the ability to try on and test out products is mission-critical.

And marketing, as it always does, must evolve right alongside society. Forward-thinking brands are already undergoing digital transformations to provide online shoppers (that is, everyone) the best virtual interactions possible.

The next best thing

An ecommerce website, at its most basic, is like a digital brochure. You go and scroll a menu of items with pictures and prices. If you’re only choosing a pack of toilet paper, that’s good enough — not so much for clothes, eyeglasses, vehicles, homes, and other experiential items.

The truth is, the computer-generated imagery you see in movies and the dynamic interactivity of video games can both be used in your website. If you’re able to customize and test-drive a car online (you are) or move through a digital version of a store where you pick up and interact with photorealistic items in 3D (you can), suddenly a website that acts no differently from a trifold paper brochure seems primitive.

Retailers and ecommerce businesses today can use 3D content creators to build digital versions of their products that go way beyond a photograph. The digital assets can be built into a site where buyers can customize them, spin them around, see textures, and experience movement. And retailers utilizing 3D technology and augmented reality are seeing 90% higher customer conversion rates than those that aren’t.

For anyone who feels compelled to touch before buying, virtual test-runs and try-ons represent the next best thing. The same digital assets, once built, can be repurposed in marketing ads, social media, personalized sales demos, and even product redesigns.

To create more compelling marketing for brands that are leveraging these emerging technologies, take these steps as soon as possible:

1. Make your web experience the source of the customer engagement you sought on social

By creating scenarios where buyers can interact with products from home, you’re serving them up a deeply valuable experience. Instead of interruptive marketing where your brand appears on a screen to compete for their attention, buyers come to you. They spend their time customizing a pair of sneakers or a car. They send it to their family for opinions or post it to social media and invite their friends to create their own. This is the way to connect with consumers amid a pandemic when they’re not walking into your store but into your digital space.

Major players are delivering AR capabilities to the masses — from Pinterest and YouTube adding makeup try-ons to Shopify making it easy to add interactive content to its websites and Instagram enabling augmented-reality ads.

2. Tap into readily available resources to create compelling virtual content

It’s the perfect time to stop and reimagine what your online sales and marketing can be in this internet-first era. Sure, 3D content creation used to take ample time, expertise, and meticulous labor. Now, thanks to game engines like Unreal and Unity — which take care of the physics, motions, lighting, and essentially create the framework for 3D — these creations take days instead of months.

While you still need the expertise of content creators, you don’t need a massive budget or endless months of runway. Apparel brand Tommy Hilfiger is moving to a completely digital design by 2022 and its parent company PVH built an incubator to train employees and eventually bring other brands outside its ecosystem on board. You likely already have the resources, and you might not realize it.

3. Don’t limit an interactive campaign to your website

Once your interactive 3D digital experience is created, the sky is the limit for campaigns. You can create so many consumer touchpoints and use digital assets over and over. Brands can use the beautiful custom watch that Jacob created to remarket to him or create an email campaign featuring the clothing items that Kylie viewed in 360 degrees while visiting the virtual store.

On Instagram, sunglasses maker Bollé lets users virtually try on its Phantom model to see how its different styles of lenses work. In the past, brands and marketers were limited to a pool of shoppers in the immediate area; now, a brand can be truly international.

It certainly seemed like a frivolous luxury to tour a digital condo or test-drive a truck through a computer simulation — until it became the only option. Now that we all find ourselves in this new reality, it’s only fitting to evolve along with the times.

Elly Uz is the Content Marketing Manager at PureWeb, an interactive 3D streaming platform based in North America.

The post How brands should meet customers in their new (virtual) reality appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


What affiliate marketers have missed about Google Analytics

January 5, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Affiliate marketers can use Google Analytics to do the following – Google Event Tracking to monitor on-site engagements, Google Dashboards for analyzing user behavior, and build custom Audiences for improving audience retargeting.
  • As an affiliate marketer, Google Analytics does not provide you with off-site tracking, so you can’t see what actions a person performs on a merchant site after leaving your website.
  • With server-side tracking and Google Analytics, you can monitor an entire affiliate funnel through one platform. Advantages include the ability to create lookalike audiences based on people who made a purchase, run improved retargeting campaigns, and export lookalike data across multiple ad platforms.

Google Analytics is a powerful tool that provides valuable insights for anyone managing a website. In this article, I will discuss how to use Google Analytics for your affiliate marketing campaigns. I will then show you how to use third-party tools to provide you with additional insights to generate more revenue from your existing traffic and make better use of your ad budget.

How marketers currently use Google Analytics for affiliate tracking

If you are using Pay Per Click (PPC) ads as your primary customer acquisition channel, your profit margins are directly tied to ad costs. Any edge you gain that improves your ROAS will provide you with a competitive advantage in the ad auction.

There are three primary levers of a PPC campaign, the ad copy, the audience targeting, and the landing page experience. The insights you gain through Google Analytics can help you improve audience targeting and the landing page experience.

PPC and how marketers use Google Analytics for tracking affiliate marketing

Google Event Tracking allows you to track outbound clicks on affiliate links. Once set up, the dashboard is accessible through Behavior > Events. If you know the average conversion rate for a product, you can assign each click a value by setting up Goal Values.

Google Analytics - Event tracking

You then need to make modifications to the GA tracking code or add a special configuration to your GTM tag. This article covers event tracking in more detail.

With Google Event Tracking, you can monitor your assumed profit margins for a campaign through Google Analytics. Of course, these figures are far from accurate.

When implemented effectively, Goal Values provide you with a theoretical model for predicting your campaign’s profitability. However, it does not reflect your actual sales. To access this data, you need to log in to your affiliate dashboard, check the sales, and see if the predicted profit margins align with the real results. Moreover, affiliate platforms provide differing levels of insights. That means you might only get a “gross sale value” that covers sales from all traffic, as opposed to traffic from one website.

The second thing most affiliate marketers will do is review the information provided through Google Analytics dashboards to monitor what people are doing on their landing pages. For example, you might monitor how far down a page people scroll, how much time they spend on the page, the bounce rate, and more. You can also see the number of affiliate link outbound clicks.

You can run A/B tests and other experiments to check how your actions impact the CTR to affiliate links. You can adjust the position of affiliate links and the placement of the products you are promoting to improve CTR.

Insights gained from Google Analytics provide you with essential data to test your assumptions. You can use this data to improve the landing page experience and boost your CTR.

Any improvements you make to the landing page experience can and should improve your ROAS.

The final thing you can do is use Google Analytics to improve your initial targeting. If you are tracking who clicked on the affiliate link, you can create a refined lookalike audience for Google AdWords through Google Analytics. The following guide discusses audience targeting and Similar Audiences.

Any improvement to your targeting will give you an edge in the ad auction.

What are the limitations of Google Analytics for affiliate tracking?

Google Analytics is a powerful tool for monitoring the on-site activities of your visitors. As a business owner that controls an entire funnel, you can place your Google Analytics tag across your site, including the checkout page where the transaction actually takes place. Therefore, Google Analytics provides you with all the data you might conceivably need to monitor and optimize a funnel.

Rather than relying on assumed transaction values, you can monitor everything through one or more Google Analytics dashboards. Unfortunately, as an affiliate marketer, since you can’t place your GA tag on the merchant “thank you” page, Google Analytics fails to provide you with these insights. You are forced to jump between your affiliate programs, the ads platform, and Google Analytics to monitor how your PPC campaigns are performing. 

I discussed why you couldn’t use GA Event Tracking for the final stages of an affiliate funnel. It is an inconvenience that prevents the real attribution of transactions to an ad click. 

This issue impacts your marketing at two crucial levels, which will inevitably increase your Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) and your ability to automate your campaign targeting and optimization:

  1. Your entire audience is blended into general “buckets,” which prevents you from displaying relevant ads according to the users’ positions in the funnel.
  2. You can’t build lookalike audiences of your best possible “customers” because you don’t know who’s done what. 

While these two factors will undoubtedly reduce your profit margins, they will also undermine your long-term business objectives and ability to compete on the ad auction.

The final inconvenience you’ll face is that you can’t share custom audiences generated through Google Analytics across other ad platforms. To be fair, Google Analytics was never designed to provide off-site analytics tracking. However, as an affiliate marketer, enriching your Google Analytics data with off-site conversion data can bring a lot of value to your business. I’ll discuss how off-site tracking works in the next section.

How offline conversion tracking works

Offline conversion tracking ties actions taken by users on your site and actions taken on sites or systems outside the reach of the initial site’s Google Analytics tag. The most common methods for implementing off-site analytics tracking are through server-side tracking API (also known as postback tracking) and manual data / CSV upload.

Out of the two options, JavaScript tracking is the simplest method to implement. However, strict browser privacy settings and AdBlocks have made this method increasingly unreliable. Moreover, with JavaScript, there are further restrictions like browser memory, shortened cookie runtimes, and denial of access to session storage.

Offline conversion tracking model

With server-side tracking, unique click ID data is passed during the outbound click and is then sent back via a server-side URL. The unique click ID value is the common denominator that links a click from your website to actions on a separate site.

The data flow is managed through a postback URL. In the following blog post, I share technical information about how postback URLs work and why they’re important.

The main benefit of server side tracking is that it is not affected by ad blockers, ITP, ETP.

As an affiliate marketer, off-site marketing analytics provides you with a complete overview of your marketing funnel. You can track an off-site purchase. With this data, you get the same insights and advantages as a business where the end sale is made on their site.

An additional advantage of off-site tracking is that you can sync conversion data across multiple channels/ platforms and then use this data to create custom audiences. You can, therefore, test your marketing funnel utilizing cheaper traffic sources, then use the data to build lookalike audiences for ads on Facebook or Google, for example.

Unfortunately, not all ad platforms support off-site tracking. Google introduced off-site tracking in 2013. Bing Ads introduced the service in 2017, while social media platforms such as Twitter and TikTok have yet to provide a suitable solution for affiliate marketers.

Solutions for offsite tracking

Offsite tracking has multiple advantages for people operating in the affiliate marketing niche. That’s not to say that it’s not without problems. You need a lot of technical knowledge to set up a system to connect data from a browser to the server-side.

Google Analytics provides an extensive API that enables developers to implement server-side tracking. There are three primary methods for implementing off-site tracking:

  1. Google Analytics API: Requires the highest level of development skills. However, the Google Analytics API provides programmers with the best potential for complete server-side tracking.
  2. Google Tag Manager: A High level of technical skills. Google Tag Manager will only allow you to effectively track off-site actions if you can add Google Tags to the merchant’s site.
  3. Third-Party Affiliate Tracking Software: Plug & play solutions that connect Google Analytics and other Ads marketplaces (Bing, Facebook, and other platforms).

Due to the ever-evolving data and analytics space, developing and keeping up with the constant changes requires a significant investment of time and resources. Large companies might choose to invest in a custom in-house solution for off-site tracking. However, solutions that utilize the Google Analytics API are too expensive for most affiliate marketers.

Affiliate tracking software like AnyTrack.io, a company that I founded, provides a native server-side tracking integration with Google Analytics, Bing Ads, and other ad networks. It’s certainly a lot easier than hiring a developer to create a custom solution.

On balance, regardless of your approach, the limitations of offsite tracking are outweighed by the sizable benefits. That is, assuming you want to optimize your marketing funnel and increase your ROAS.

Integrating Google Analytics With Offsite Tracking

Implementing Google Analytics with offsite tracking software like AnyTrack.io is straightforward. Google Analytics already provides the standard dashboards for tracking visitor flow across a site from landing page to conversion.

When you integrate offsite tracking, you are, fundamentally, just gaining the same type of data as someone who manages an entire funnel across a single site would see. The benefit is that you get access to data you can use to improve your ROAS.

Case Study

One of our clients, Cliverse.com, has six websites in the pet care industry. Most of the traffic to their sites comes from organic search. They were facing a data challenge that you may be familiar with; they found it difficult to understand what products were converting and from which pages those conversions were occurring.

In addition, PPC ads were more expensive than needed. For example, they were running retargeting ads to people who had purchased an affiliate product suggesting they make a purchase. With better data, they could improve ROAS.

Using AnyTrack.io, Cliverse could finally see from what page, and which link on a page was generating the conversions. Through analyzing the data, Cliverse was able to increase revenue by 30% thanks to page optimization. Because they have the complete picture, they are now able to run paid media campaigns to their site with full confidence.

Conclusion

Bridging the gap between your google analytics data and affiliate network conversions is the optimal way to improve your position at the ad auction. With a full overview of your affiliate funnel, you gain actionable insights on what triggers conversions and generates sales. It’s a vital edge that can help improve your ROAS.

In this guide, I showed you three ways to use Google Analytics as an affiliate marketer. You can use Google Event Tracking to monitor people who click on your affiliate links. With Goal Values set up, you can track your campaigns’ probable results. Moreover, you can run retargeting campaigns and create Custom Audiences for future ad campaigns.

Through the Google Analytics dashboards, you can gain insights into your site visitors’ actions. You can use these insights to validate the assumptions you make when running conversion optimization tests.

While Google Analytics is a powerful tool, you can’t see what actions people take when they leave your site. If you integrate off-site tracking, you get access to this data. Most third-party tools, such as the one we created, allow you to use Google Analytics to get a complete overview of your affiliate marketing funnel.

As an affiliate marketer, off-site tracking combined with Google Analytics provides you with valuable insights that can help you improve your ROAS. Follow the steps shared in this guide to see the results for yourself.

Laurent Malka is Co-founder of AnyTrack.io, a plug & play conversion tracking platform. He can be found on Twitter @laurent_malka.

The post What affiliate marketers have missed about Google Analytics appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


How NLP and AI are revolutionizing SEO-friendly content [Five tools to help you]

December 29, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Natural language processing (NLP) is one factor you’ll need to account for as you do SEO on your website.
  • If your content is optimized for NLP, you can expect it to rise to the top of the search rankings and stay there for some time.
  • As AI and NLP keep evolving, we may also eventually see machines doing a lot of other SEO-related work, like inserting H1 and image alt tags into HTML code, building backlinks via guest posts, and doing email outreach to other AI-powered content editors.
  • While it seems far-fetched right now, it’s exciting to see how SEO, NLP and AI will evolve together.
  • Writer.com’s Co-founder and CEO, May Habib discusses in-depth about SEO content and shares top tools to help you through the content creation process.

Modern websites are at the mercy of algorithms, which dictate the content they show in the search results for specific keywords. These algorithms are getting smarter by the day, thanks to a technology called machine learning, also known as artificial intelligence (AI).

If you want your site to rank in search results, you need to know how these algorithms work. They change frequently, so if you continually re-work your SEO to account for these changes, you’ll be in a good position to dominate the rankings. 

Natural language processing (NLP) is one factor you’ll need to account for as you do SEO on your website. If your content is optimized for NLP, you can expect it to rise to the top of the search rankings and stay there for some time.

The evolving role of NLP and AI in content creation & SEO

Before we trace how NLP and AI have increased in influence over content creation and SEO processes, we need to understand what NLP is and how it works. NLP has three main tasks: recognizing text, understanding text, and generating text.

  • Recognition: Computers think only in terms of numbers, not text. This means that any NLP solution needs to convert text into numbers so computers can understand them.
  • Understanding: Once the text has been converted into numbers, algorithms can then perform statistical analysis to discover the words or topics that appear together most frequently. 
  • Generation: The NLP machine can use its findings to ask questions or suggest topics around which a writer can create content. Some of the more advanced machines are already starting to put together content briefs. 

With the help of NLP and artificial intelligence (AI), writers should soon be able to generate content in less time as they will only need to put together keywords and central ideas, then let the machine take care of the rest. However, while an AI is a lot smarter than the proverbial thousand monkeys banging away on a thousand typewriters, it will take some time before we’ll see AI- and NLP-generated content that’s actually readable.

As AI and NLP keep evolving, we may also eventually see machines doing a lot of other SEO-related work, like inserting H1 and image alt tags into HTML code, building backlinks via guest posts, and doing email outreach to other AI-powered content editors. While it seems far-fetched right now, it’s exciting to see how SEO, NLP, and AI will evolve together.

Major impact from Google BERT update

In late 2019, Google announced the launch of its Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) algorithm.  BERT helps computers understand human language using a method that mimics human language processing. 

According to Google, the BERT algorithm understands contexts and nuances of words in search strings and matches those searches with results closer to the user’s intent. Google uses BERT to generate the featured snippets for practically all relevant searches. 

One example Google gave was the search query “2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa”. The old algorithm would return search results for U.S. citizens who are planning to go to Brazil. BERT, on the other hand, churns out results for Brazilian citizens who are going to the U.S. The key difference between the two algorithms is that BERT recognizes the nuance that the word “to” adds to the search term, which the old algorithm failed to capture. 

How NLP and AI Are Revolutionizing SEO-Friendly Content [5 Tools That Can Help You] - Google search query example

Source: Google

Instead of looking at individual keywords, BERT looks at the search string as a whole, which gives it a better sense of user intent than ever before. Users are becoming more specific with the questions they ask and are asking more new questions, and BERT breaks down these questions and generates search results that are more relevant to users.

This is great news for search engine users, but what does it mean for SEO practitioners? While it doesn’t exactly throw long-standing SEO principles out the window, you might have to adjust to accommodate the new algorithm’s intricacies and create more content containing long-tail (longer and more specific) keywords. Let’s move on to the next section to learn more about creating BERT-optimized content.

Developing SEO-friendly content for improved Google

When we perform SEO on our content, we need to consider Google’s intentions in introducing BERT and giving NLP a larger role in determining search rankings. Google uses previous search results for the same keywords to improve its results, but according to the company, 15% of all search queries are used for the first time. The implication here is that Google needs to decipher these new questions by reconstructing them in a way it understands. 

With this in mind, your SEO should factor in the criteria below: 

Core understanding of search intent

While keywords still play an important role in Google searches, BERT also pays close attention to user intent, which just means a user’s desired end goal for performing a search. We may classify user intent into four categories:

  • Navigational: The user goes to Google to get to a specific website. Instead of using the address bar, they run a Google search then click on the website link that appears in the search results. It’s possible that these users know where they want to go but have forgotten the exact URL for the page.
  • Informational: The user has a specific question or just wants to know more about a topic. The intention here is to become more knowledgeable or to get the correct answer for their question. 
  • Commercial: The user might not know what they want at the moment, so they’re just looking around for options. They may or may not make a purchase right away.
  • Transactional: The user is ready and willing to make a purchase and is using Google to find the exact product they want.

Unlike old search algorithms, the new Google algorithm captures user intent better because it considers the whole context of the search terms, which may include prepositions such as “of”, “in”, “for”, and “to”, or interrogative words such as “when”, “where”, “what”, “why”, and “how”. Your SEO strategy should produce content that:

  • Answers a user’s question or addresses a need right away
  • Provides value to the reader
  • Is comprehensive and focused 

You might need to conduct more research about ranking sites for your keyword and check out what kind of content gets into the top results. It’s also a good idea to look at the related searches that Google suggests at the bottom of the results page. These will give you a better idea of user intent and help you draw an SEO strategy that addresses these needs.

Term frequency-inverse document frequency

You might not have heard of the term “Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency” (TF-IDF) before, but you’ll be hearing more about it now that Google is starting to use it to determine relevant search results. TF-IDF rises according to the frequency of a search term in a document but decreases by the number of documents that also have it. This means that very common words, such as articles and interrogative words, rank very low. 

TF-IDF is calculated by multiplying the following metrics:

  • Term frequency: This may either be a raw count of instances of a keyword, the raw count adjusted for document length, or the raw frequency of the most common word. 
  • Inverse document frequency: This may be calculated by taking the total number of documents, dividing it by the number of documents that have the keyword, then getting its algorithm. If the word is very common across different documents, the TF-IDF gets closer to 0. Otherwise, it moves closer to 1. 

When we multiply the metrics above, we get the TF-IDF score of a keyword in a document. The higher the TF-IDF score, the more relevant the keyword is for that specific page. As an end-user, you may use TF-IDF to extract the most relevant keywords for a piece of content. 

Google also uses TF-IDF scores in its NLP engine. Since the metric gauges the relevance of a keyword to the rest of the document, it’s more reliable than simple word counts and helps the search engine avoid showing irrelevant or spammy results.

Sentiment importance

Consumer opinions about brands are everywhere on the internet. If you can find a way to aggregate and analyze these sentiments for your brand, you’ll have some powerful data about overall feelings about your business at your fingertips. 

This process is called sentiment analysis, and it uses AI to help you understand the overall emotional tone of the things your customers say about you. It involves three key activities:

  • Knowing where your customers express their opinions about your brand, which might include social media, review sites such as Yelp or the Better Business Bureau, forums, feedback left on your site, and reviews on ecommerce sites such as Amazon.
  • Utilizing AI and NLP to pull data from these sites in massive quantities, instead of gathering a random sample consisting of just a few comments from each platform. This gives you a clearer overall picture of customer sentiment.
  • Analyzing data and assigning positive or negative values to customer sentiments, based on tone and choice of words.

Crafting an SEO strategy that places importance on customer sentiment addresses common complaints and pain points. We’ve found that dealing with issues head-on, instead of skirting them or denying them, increases a brand’s credibility and improves its image among consumers.

Salience and category

If you want to better understand how natural language processing works, you may start by getting familiar with the concept of salience. 

In a nutshell, salience is concerned with measuring how much of a piece of content is concerned with a specific topic or entity. Entities are things, people, places, or concepts, which may be represented by nouns or names. Google measures salience as it tries to draw relationships between the different entities present in an article. Think of it as Google asking what the page is all about and whether it is a good source of information about a specific search term.

Let’s use a real-life example. Let’s imagine you do a Google search to learn more about how to create great Instagram content during the holidays. You click on an article that claims to be a guide to doing just that but soon discover that the article contains one short paragraph about this topic and ten paragraphs about new Instagram features. 

While the article itself mentions both Instagram and the holidays, it isn’t very relevant to the intent of the search, which is to learn how to document the holidays on Instagram. These are the types of search results Google wanted to avoid when it was rolling out BERT. Instead of trying to game the system to get your content to the top of the search results, you need to consider salience as you produce your online content. 

Five tools that can help you develop SEO-friendly content

Given all the changes that Google has made to its search algorithm, how will you ensure that your content remains SEO-friendly? We’ve gathered six of the most useful tools that will help you create content that ranks high and satisfies user intent.

1. Frase

Frase (frase.io) claims to help SEO specialists create content that is aligned with user intent easily. It streamlines the SEO and content creation processes by offering a comprehensive solution that combines keyword research, content research, content briefs, content creation, and optimization. 

Fraser - Tools to create SEO-friendly content

Frase Content, its content creation platform, suggests useful topics, statistics, and news based on the keywords you enter. If you’re working with a team, the Content Briefs feature tells your writers precisely what you need them to produce, reducing the need for revisions and freeing up their time for more projects. 

2. Writer

Writer (writer.com) realizes that we all write for different reasons, and when you sign up, it asks you a few questions about what you intend to use it for. For example, you might be interested in improving your own work, creating a style guide, promoting inclusive language, or unifying your brand voice. 

How NLP and AI Are Revolutionizing SEO-Friendly Content [5 Tools That Can Help You] - Writer

Writer’s text editor has a built-in grammar checker and gives you useful real-time suggestions focusing on tone, style, and inclusiveness. Writer also offers a reporting tool that lets you track your writers’ progress for a specific period, such as spelling, inclusivity, and writing style.

3. SurferSEO

Surfer (surferseo.com) makes heavy use of data to help you create content that ranks. It analyzes over 500 ranking factors such as text length, responsive web design, keyword density, and referring domains and points out common factors from top pages to give you a better idea of what works for a specific keyword. 

Surfer - Tools to create SEO-friendly content

You can see Surfer’s analysis at work when you use its web-based text editor. You will see a dashboard that tracks what the app calls the “content score”. It also gives you useful keyword suggestions.

4. Alli AI

Alli AI (alliAI.com) offers you a quick, painless way to perform SEO on existing content. All you need to do is add a single code snippet to your site, review Alli’s code and recommendations, then approve the changes. Once you approve the changes, Alli implements them in minutes.

How NLP and AI Are Revolutionizing SEO-Friendly Content [5 Tools That Can Help You] - Alli AI

Alli does this by finding the easiest links to build. If you prefer to do things manually, the tool also shows you link building and outreach opportunities. If you’re struggling to keep up with all Google’s algorithm changes, Alli claims it can automatically adjust your site’s SEO strategy.

5. Can I Rank?

Can I Rank (canirank.com) compares your site content to other sites in its niche and gives you useful suggestions for growing your site and improving your search rankings. Its user interface is easy to understand and the suggestions are presented as tasks, including the estimated amount of time you will need to spend on them. 

How NLP and AI Are Revolutionizing SEO-Friendly Content [5 Tools That Can Help You] - Can I Rank?

What we like about Can I Rank? is that everything is in plain English, from the menu to the suggestions it gives you. This makes it friendly to those who aren’t technical experts. It also presents data in graph form, which makes it easier to justify SEO-related decisions.

Bottom line

Google changes its search algorithms quite a bit, and getting your page to rank is a constant challenge. Because its latest update, BERT, is heavily influenced by AI and NLP, it makes sense to use SEO tools based on the same technologies.

These tools – such as Frase, Writer, SurferSEO, AlliAI, and Can I Rank? – help you create content that ranks. Some of them check for grammar and SEO usability in real-time, while others crawl through your site and your competitors’ sites and come up with content suggestions. Trying out these tools is the only way for you to know which one(s) work best for you. Stick with it, and you’ll stay ahead of the game and create content that performs well for years to come!

May Habib is Co-founder and CEO at Writer.com.

The post How NLP and AI are revolutionizing SEO-friendly content [Five tools to help you] appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


How C-suite derives business value from social media: Q&A with Hootsuite’s VP of Corporate Marketing, Henk Campher

December 22, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The pandemic drove people inside their homes and onto social media like never before.
  • Hootsuite has closely been monitoring the changing behaviors of consumers online since the beginning of 2020.
  • We caught up with Henk Campher, VP of Corporate Marketing and Head of Social Impact at Hootsuite, to help you derive a cream level perspective for your digital strategies.
  • Know how CMOs can find value in SMM efforts, conduct market analysis, and run social media campaigns that actually succeed in the eyes of top management.

From learning banana bread recipes to connecting with loved ones, hunting jobs, and now shopping holiday gifts, the pandemic drove people inside their homes and onto social media like never before. 2020 has shown us how people have resorted to Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn. While Hootsuite has closely been monitoring the changing behaviors of consumers online, we caught up with Henk Campher, VP of Corporate Marketing and Head of Social Impact at Hootsuite, to help you derive a cream level perspective for your digital strategies.

Henk Campher, VP of Corporate Marketing and Head of Social Impact at Hootsuite - Q&AQ. Paid ads have their own cons like reduced page reach, how do you maintain an upward graph for organic page reach and boost relationships, engagement, and direct sales?

Henk Campher: Never take a one-size-fits-all approach to social media marketing, especially with organic content. To reach a large audience, organic posts need to be optimized. To do this, you need to understand the platform and audience you are optimizing for. Start by focusing on the platforms that make the most sense for your business. For example, if you’re a B2B company, you may find the most value on LinkedIn or Twitter whereas a B2C company may gravitate towards Snapchat, Instagram, or TikTok to reach a younger crowd. 

If you want organic content to perform well on social media, create engaging and personalized content that is fitting for the platform you are using. Give people a reason to follow and engage with your social posts. To better understand what content resonates with your audience, start by using social listening tools—at Hootsuite, we integrate directly with Brandwatch so our customers can navigate social intelligence capabilities directly from their dashboard.

Case study:

Securian Financial, a Hootsuite financial services customer, was able to leverage social listening to determine that their key demographics shifted away from complaining about quarantine to sharing positive content around being connected. What arose was Life Balance Remix, a UGC campaign encouraging people to share content that highlighted their “new normal” and garnered thousands of participants with over 2.5 million campaign impressions across Twitter and Instagram. 

Beyond creating the right content for the right platform, it’s essential to connect with people. Show your audience the human side of your brand. You can do this by lifting up your employees on social media and sharing their stories or connecting with the wider community through an employee advocacy tool, like Hootsuite’s Amplify tool. If you want to boost engagement on posts, ask your audience relevant and interesting questions. This is also a great opportunity to learn about what interests them. If you focus on value and creating the right content, you’ll be able to successfully develop relationships with your audience, boost engagement, and drive sales.

Q. What are the top social media metrics that can help CMOs see direct value in marketers’ social media marketing efforts?

Henk Campher: For both B2C and B2B brands, the key to successful social measurement is to keep your metrics simple. Trust classic cross-platform metrics like return-on-ad spend and lifetime value, as these measures also tie directly to your organization’s business goals. Once you choose the content you think will resonate with your audience, test your ideas to identify which posts generate the most engagement, shares, and impressions, and do this for each social platform. Continue to test, learn, and optimize. But when it comes to measuring your efforts on social, it is important to keep your business objectives in mind and develop KPIs that match the overall goals and expectations of your organization. Metrics such as impressions and reach should be analyzed consciously.

If your goal is to build brand awareness, focus on overall engagement and how long visitors are staying on your website. This will help evaluate if your content isn’t just “content-for-content-sake” but is actually resonating with your audience and driving conversions. 

Q. What are the typical touchpoints/aspects marketers must include in their social media campaigns to reflect value for the brand and meet CMO expectations?

Henk Campher: One of the most important aspects of a social media campaign is social listening. A robust social listening tool allows you access to real-time insights into consumer sentiment, shifting trends, and competitive intelligence. These insights are key to helping a brand better understand how consumers feel about a campaign and what they want from your brand.  

The best social media campaigns also have specific goals in mind and are purpose-driven. You must understand the customer segment you’re trying to reach through a specific campaign. To achieve this, create profiles or personas for your core constituencies that integrate data and insights from marketing channels (including social) and CRM. Understanding how, where, and when to engage with your constituents requires a clear picture of their motivations and their needs.

Another important aspect is social data integration. Our ‘Social Transformation Report uncovered that only 10% of marketers feel they have mature practices around integrating social data into enterprise systems like Adobe, Microsoft, Marketo, or Salesforce. However, according to our ‘2021 Social Trends Report, 85% of organizations that integrate social data into their other systems have the confidence to accurately quantify the ROI of social media. While data integration is a complex process, a much more accessible entry point that can help marketers better connect social engagement to customer identity and measurable ROI is integrating paid and organic social media activity.  We found that mature organizations with completely integrated paid and organic social strategies are 32% more confident in quantifying the ROI of social media. 

Q. How important is it for any brand to have involvement in social matters and social investments?

Henk Campher: The most successful brands this year didn’t put themselves front and center of the conversation—they decided to listen instead. After taking the time to listen, brands must find creative and empathetic ways of adding value to the conversation instead of trying to lead it. Brands should stay true to their identities and their audience by asking:

  • “What is my role?”
  • “What conversations make sense for me to weigh in on and why?”
  • “How can social media contribute to my business objectives?”

Having a voice in important conversations is powerful for a brand. However, if a brand is posting about topics that don’t align with the brand’s personality and identity, customers will notice. As a wealth of different conversations are taking place across social media at all times, it’s important to create a blueprint for how to comment on a conversation, if at all. 

Q. What methods can CMOs implement to use social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for effective market analysis?

Henk Campher: There are various tried-and-true methods CMOs can implement when using social media platforms for market analysis. Before you begin your analysis, always have a clear goal in mind. It’s important to look at what exactly you want to analyze whether it’s your brand, product, or competitors. Doing a quantitative content analysis by assessing the engagement rate of your social posts can give companies an idea of if a message or product is resonating with your followers. Social listening is another incredibly powerful tool for analysis. Through social listening, you can zero in on how people are talking about your brand.  It’s also important to not be shy. Be empowered as a brand to implement tactics like polls and surveys on social to get in touch with customers and glean informative insights into how your audience is thinking about your brand. 

Q. How would you push an online event that involves employee referral on social media for a maximum turnaround?

Henk Campher: Develop an effective social media strategy in advance and provide your employees with the right resources and tools to promote the event. You can do this by crafting the content and social platform guidelines in advance so it is easy for employees to spread the word on social media. At Hootsuite our Amplify tool allows brands to extend their social reach and increase employee engagement. Using platforms that are suited for employee advocacy will garner the most successful results. 

Q. What are your expert tips on the most effective ways to run a social media campaign, especially during the holiday season 2020?

Henk Campher: The holidays are a great opportunity for brands to increase engagement and drive sales on social media. Here are my four tips to create an effective social media campaign and stand out from the competition: 

  1. Tweak your social media posting schedule to accommodate changing workdays or times. B2B businesses often have higher engagement rates during the day, as employees are leaving early and working less in the evening. B2C companies generally have a better reach when it’s not during typical work hours. 
  2. Continue to curate content over the holidays, even if there might be a downturn of activity on social channels across the board. If you go quiet on social, your customers will notice. 
  3. Maintain community engagement as relationships, connections and engagement are key to any successful social media campaign. Always respond to customer issues or comments promptly.
  4. The holidays are a great time to showcase the ‘human’ side of your business. Take advantage of platforms like Instagram to showcase the company, employees, and interact with the community at large. 

Q. What are the most common mistakes you see brands making in their social media pushes?

Henk Campher: The most common mistake brands make is thinking of social media merely as a broadcast medium. With nearly three billion people on Facebook every month, more than one million on Instagram, and hundreds of millions more on Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, and Snapchat, it’s tempting to think that way. While social media started with organic posts and later turned to paid social advertising, brands should never lose sight of social media’s core value: establishing and maintaining relationships. Take the time to invest in relationship building, as this helps brands build strong bonds with their audiences and boost customer loyalty, which ultimately benefits their business. Rather than pump out promotional content, take the time to establish your brand’s personality, and connect with customers by taking on an empathetic “human-first” approach.

How is your brand making the most of social media marketing this holiday season? Are there challenges you’re facing with regards to creating value from a board room perspective? Feel free to share your thoughts on our interview, drop a comment!

The post How C-suite derives business value from social media: Q&A with Hootsuite’s VP of Corporate Marketing, Henk Campher appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


SEO and cybersecurity: Incorporating cybersecurity into your SEO strategy

December 15, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Website security directly impacts the SEO performance of the website, as the non-compliance with the security requirements can cause low rankings or Google penalties.
  • Blacklisting, malicious bots interfering with the crawling process, and spam attacks are among the main consequences of low website security.
  • The “site not available” warning, the presence of strange JavaScript code, not working login credentials and frequent error messages can be the warning signs of a cyberattack on your website.
  • Making security checks a part of your SEO strategy would help you create a website that is resistant to cybersecurity attacks.

Every site needs to be secure and there are no “too small” or “too unnecessary” sites for malicious attacks. Online businesses are fully centered on high search rankings for online reputation and profits. For this purpose, they often implement the most effective SEO tactics, from link building to great content marketing, to land up on the front page of Google search. Nevertheless, apart from delivering the best content to the users, Google is also aimed at making the internet a safe environment, hence placing importance on websites’ cybersecurity practices.

In fact, hacks may not only be destructive for your reputation but also for your site’s organic search performance. Hence, cybersecurity and SEO go hand in hand towards building a firm’s online reputation. If the website doesn’t mean the latest security compliance it can be blacklisted by Google, suffer from spam attacks or activities of malicious bots. 

So we want to share effective advice on how to recognize the security vulnerabilities in time, how to integrate the security checks into your development strategy, why you should regularly scan your website, and how to protect your local networks. 

Four main steps to improve website security

Security or the absence of security may seriously affect your SEO. We all know that the HTTP certificate is no longer a reliable way to secure the site and the HTTPS has, for the most part, become the poster boy of the security standard. In 2014, Google started to prioritize the sites with HTTPS in the search results. 

Focusing on SEO and security will help your business to step on the steer of success. The struggle to improve the website’s ranking and keeping it cybersecurity is common for many companies so here what we suggest:

#1: Learn to recognize the earliest warning signs

Cyber attacks can cause malicious bots activity. Bots will always represent a part of your traffic but not all bots are harmless to the site’s security. Cybercriminals, however, launch bots to crawl sites in the search for vulnerable parts, data theft, or content crapping. Malicious bots use the same bandwidth as the “good” bots and normal visitors do. If your server is a subject of repetitive tasks by malicious bots, it may lead to the server to stop serving pages. 

Cybercriminals always rely on the website’s weak sides to hack it. Thus, it’s essential to stay ahead and pay attention to the following warning signs of cyberattacks that are supposed to make your inner radar shout. Cybercriminals can cause malicious bots activity. 

Google Alerts and notifications

In case you received a Google alert notification or see a “Site not available” warning in search results, we have bad news. This is a sign that your website has been hacked. To confirm this fact, go to the Google Search Console, the Security Issues section, and look for the hacked URLs that Google has detected.

Presence of strange JavaScript code

The presence of a weird Java code in the source code of your website is a reliable alert sign. Javascript codes are often used by hackers to steal precious personal data like credit card details or passwords from your site. If you see any trace of strange-looking code, get rid of it immediately. 

Your login credentials don’t work

Not hard to guess that something goes wrong when you enter the valid login info and get the “wrong password” notification. Your login credentials have been altered by cybercriminals. 

You get frequent random popups or error messages

More than half of malicious attacks on websites are performed by “black” SEO’s who are aimed at improving their own site’s ranking. They target the sites with prominent search rankings and insert links or use Javascript to redirect users to their own malicious websites. SEO spamming allows scammers to use high-ranking websites in order to promote low-quality content to low masses and, consequently, push their rankings. SEO spam has several negative impacts:

  1. The site will get blacklisted by the search engine.
  2. The site’s spam ranking may reduce the site’s ranking
  3. The business reputation will get dramatically spoiled as visitors will see lots of spamming content.

Very often hackers use cross-site scripting or insert their own code into the source code of your website to bypass its security system. So if you get any kind of these notifications, don’t ignore them. It’s time to run a serious scan in order to discover the malicious software.

#2: Make security check a part of your developing strategy

If you ever become the subject of a cyber attack, financial losses are not the only concerning consequence. The compromised website may face a range of penalties by Google and distort the search results. When potential customers will look for your website, they will most probably first meet a warning page that will dissuade them from visiting your site. Consequently, it is essential to make cybersecurity a part of your SEO strategy.

Trusting Google alerts is a good piece of advice there’s more than that to be done. Learn to predict the possible threats and control the cybersecurity level. In addition to involving your team of IT-specialists, hire one more cybersecurity professional. Only a qualified specialist will help you discover the site’s vulnerabilities and elaborate on the cyber protection strategy for your eCommerce business.

#3: Use effective scanning tools

One more way to get rid of malicious intervention is by using a file malware scanner. The system looks at the website code to check web pages for malware or strange PHP or HTML files on your server. The examples of scanners that can prevent your site from being penalized, blacklisted, and maintain your search engine rankings are Sucuri SiteCheck or Web Inspector. 

In addition, open-source web analytics tools like AWStats can scan your log files for suspicious activity. This tool offers data on every bot that crawled your site, bandwidth consumed, last crawled date, and total hits, allowing you to detect malicious activity.

For example, a bot’s throughput does not exceed a few megabytes per month. If you face thousands of page hits from a single IP address within a short time period the available bandwidth will be limited.

Finally, use tools like Ahrefs and Majestic to check your backlink profile. They will not only improve your site’s SEO but also track down unnecessary backlinks from SEO spammers.

#4: Protect your security and privacy with VPN

No matter where you are in a remote area, at home, or office, local network security should be tightened under any circumstances. A large network is highly susceptible to human error, and the risks cannot be underestimated compared to a small network. All users need to ensure that they’re compliant with all standard security measures. Despite the time and place of their work, they must ensure that the traffic is controlled with the Web Application Firewall and the connections are encrypted with a stable VPN.  

There are three main ways in which a VPN significantly increases the security of your website. First, it encrypts all the sensitive data, so hackers can’t access it. Second, VPN intercepts any malicious software or phishing attempts stopping them from infiltrating your system. And third, VPNs are a must-have for companies having remote employees who might be accessing companies’ systems using public hotspots as doing that without a VPN can lead to security vulnerabilities. 

Today’s market does not experience any shortage of quality VPN suppliers. So do your research and choose the VPN that would meet all of your business needs. 

Conclusion

Internet security matters and it matters a lot. The security breach in your website’s operation may cause dramatic damage to the eCommerce web site’s reputation and income. Cybersecurity needs to become a part of your SEO strategy for all eCommerce companies that want to take the leading position on the market of online sales. Now when you know that safety is crucial within the web, it’s time for the SEO and IT team to unite the forces and make up a reliable strategy that will raise the website’s ranking and maintain the security of your site.

Connie Benton is a chief content writer, guest contributor, and enthusiastic blogger who helps B2B companies reach their audiences more effectively. You can find her on Twitter at @ConnieB34412379.

The post SEO and cybersecurity: Incorporating cybersecurity into your SEO strategy appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


B2B paid search forecast: What to expect in 2021

December 12, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Google surprised marketers with a few changes in 2020 – an updated search query report, new ad extensions, and new audience targeting, to name a few — which forced advertisers to adjust their SEM strategies and tactics in order to maintain or increase their ROI.
  • B2B advertisers are testing and investing in different campaign types besides the traditional search and display campaigns, and are seeing good performance with Discovery Campaigns.
  • In the wake of the changes Google made to the search query report in September, Dynamic Search Ads can complement existing search campaigns and improve CTR, CPC, and ROAS.
  • Expect to see higher adoption of auction-time bidding, dynamic extensions, and dynamic search ads.

2020 was a tough year for many industries, but for the B2B industry, demand remained strong. Paid search budgets increased in many cases, as B2B companies invested more in digital marketing. The end of Q1 hurt performance, but things started to normalize in Q2, and we observed the usual seasonality the rest of the year.

In addition to the pandemic, Google also surprised us with a few changes – an updated search query report, new ad extensions, and new audience targeting, to name a few. All such changes forced advertisers to adjust their SEM strategies and tactics in order to maintain or increase their ROI.

After an eventful 2020, here are 6 PPC trends B2B advertisers should watch in 2021:

1. SEM campaigns diversify 

Given the high competition in the B2B space, advertisers need to differentiate themselves in order to get their target audience’s attention and drive demand. B2B advertisers are testing and investing in different campaign types besides the traditional search and display campaigns. B2B advertisers are seeing a good performance with Discovery Campaigns – with CTR higher than display, and CPL more efficient than search – so we expect them to increase their investment in this campaign type in 2021.

Quick tip

When launching Discovery Campaigns, be patient. Let them run for a couple of weeks without making changes as the bidding algorithm is learning during that period and you will see fluctuations in all metrics. After that, you can prioritize the audiences that are performing well. Performance improves consistently after 4-5 weeks of launch.

2. Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) gain in popularity

DSA campaigns will become even more popular with B2B advertisers after the changes Google made to the search query report in September 2020. Now that the report includes only terms that a significant number of users searched for, and with advertisers losing visibility into low-volume keywords that drive traffic and can generate leads, DSA campaigns offer an efficient way to find new keywords. Their search query reports can help reveal gaps in keyword coverage. DSA can complement your existing search campaigns and improve CTR, CPC, and ROAS.

Quick tip

For lead generation accounts that have strict lead and CPL goals, create separate campaigns for DSA so you have more control over the budget. Start by targeting your SEM landing pages so you can have some control over potential queries and headlines.

3. PPC managers embrace automation

More B2B advertisers are using automation tools and machine learning in order to improve performance, increase efficiency, and save time. Some of our favorite automated features – automated bidding strategies, responsive search ads, and the optimize ad rotation in Google Ads – will continue to gain popularity in 2021. We should also expect to see higher adoption of auction-time bidding, dynamic extensions, and dynamic search ads as B2B advertisers seek to optimize and scale their paid search campaigns.

Quick tip

When evaluating automated bidding strategies for lead generation accounts, don’t worry about higher CPCs as you will likely be paying more for higher quality clicks. If you are seeing a high volume of leads at a low CPL, you are going in the right direction. And always set your target CPA based on the last 30 days’ average, even if it is higher than your goal. Otherwise, you will see a decrease in lead volume.

4. YouTube ad investment increases

Online video ads have become more important for B2B marketers during COVID-19 times. B2B buyers are using online video ads more often to inform purchase decisions: 64% of B2B buyers have increased their use of online video and 51% have increased their use of search, according to eMarketer.  We expect B2B advertisers to increase their YouTube investment in 2021 and to launch video campaigns both to generate brand awareness and to generate leads. In addition, B2B advertisers will invest more in creating video content — and YouTubes’ new betas will make that content easier to create.

Quick tip

For a full-funnel video strategy, prioritize videos that are 6-, 15- and 30-seconds long as short videos engage users the most. Also, avoid salesy videos and try to create videos that show the personality of your brand so you can connect with your audience.

5. Mobile investment drops

Lower mobility driven by COVID-19 has decreased the number of mobile buyers while increasing time in front of computers, leading to strong desktop growth. During the pandemic, paid search desktop traffic is up 60%, while mobile traffic has dropped 7% compared to the pre-COVID period. Moreover, the conversion rate for desktop has increased by 4% while the conversion rate for mobile decreased by almost 19%. 

Quick tip

Leverage automated bidding strategies to save time and prioritize the devices that are performing best. And don’t forget to look at the assisted conversions report when evaluating mobile performance if you are still using last-click attribution.

6. Paid search messaging becomes increasingly customer-centric

B2B buyers are looking for new solutions as they accelerate purchases, and are expecting more from their solution providers according to the 2020 B2B Buyer Behavior Study. So, we’ll see more ads from B2B companies highlighting features, functionality, customer support services, product training, and implementation support in order to attract and engage B2B buyers. For successful SEM campaigns, promoting relevant content that speaks to industry needs will be a must.

Quick tip

If you have lead generation campaigns and prefer to drive traffic to a landing page with a form, use site links and callouts to highlight the additional services or training you have available for your customers.

With new campaign types and messaging to test, and more automation features and tools at hand, 2021 promises to be fun for B2B advertisers.

Lucia Rodas-Estrada is Senior Search Director at Merkle | DWA.

The post B2B paid search forecast: What to expect in 2021 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch