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What is speakable schema markup and how does it impact the future of SEO?

March 29, 2020 No Comments

Google’s recent release of a new markup specification, the speakable schema, brings the digital technology to another leap. The term speakable currently points to the ability of Google Assistant and News to provide internet users with excellent results that fit their needs.

The new schema SEO is useful when asking for specific topics and news related to a particular brand or happening. The returned results are then read back by Google Assistant with speakable texts.

Google’s new feature is currently intended to provide users with a summary of a story’s key points but has a later possibility for expansion.

Available documentations from schema.org  points out to the text to speech conversion of a news article and available online documentation supporting the new feature.

Documentation for schema.org

What is Google’s new speakable schema markup?

Current technology is heading towards speakable-friendly smartphones and gadgets supporting voice searches. Google’s speakable schema markup tool allows businesses to indicate content sections that support voice search technology.

This new Google algorithm will allow businesses to pick the most crucial information relating to their business, highlight such content, and give them better visibility to their intended audience.

This is similar to how featured snippets work only that the information is delivered via voice assistant that reads to your website content to the visitors.

The new Google speakable schema markup is currently in its beta version, which can only be accessed by news publishers. It also has a limited audience reach, exclusively servicing the US for now and only working with Google Home devices including the Google Assistant.

How does Google’s speakable schema markup work?

Similar to the traditional way we get our websites to rank, optimizing your voice searches require you to input significant information fragments featured in your SEO campaign.

It means sections of your campaign material can be optimized for voice search.

The schema helps Google’s algorithm determine the importance of your chosen content fragment with your specific niche, helping it rank in the SERP. Content that is found relevant by Google, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Home streamlines that information and finds a way of reading them back to your website’s intended audience.

The way Google pulls up that information is based on its sophisticated algorithm. News publishers, though, are solely responsible for selecting text fragments that they want Google to feature.

The search engine will determine how relevant the information is and how it relates to their user’s voice search queries before voicing it out.

The current setup of Google’s speakable schema is only accessible to news publishers, allowing them to highlight parts of a news feature in voice search optimization.

Though the technology is still in its early stages, news publishers have the option of presenting the most accurate answers to any internet user’s query.

In its initial state, Google’s speakable schema is a powerful way of obtaining information about recent news and current events.

There are several points to consider when having your content optimized for the speakable schema. Most of these requirements fall under the precepts of meeting the demands of current and possibly future inquiries.

  • The topic should focus on one subject and storyline with understandable and relevant writing
  • All the information presented in the publication must be accurate in all aspects and must be factual
  • The text should not contain ad campaigns
  • The content cannot contain vulgar words or hate speech directed towards a person or entity
  • The news should include the author’s information, including the publication data and contact details

Speakable content is available to businesses creating content but is currently limited to news publications. The points highlighted are just some of the specifications for the new Google schema to ensure all new information meets industry standards.

How will the speakable schema affect SEO?

The tech industry continually shapes itself with innovations like the speakable SEO feature of Google to accommodate existing and future demands.

The rise of voice-enabled searches primarily impacts the search engine optimization landscape, making it more demanding for businesses to ramp up their website performance.

Speakable is still in its beta form, and there are currently no effects on a website’s SEO performance. But as the industry adapts voice searches, we can see speakability becoming one of the forefronts of ranking in the Voice Assistant tools.

As such, the speakable schema will have a tremendous impact on how we use the internet and search for information. This predicament will also be another burden for some companies as they start figuring how to provide better services to their customers.

More and more companies will fine-tune their website content, so it adopts the voice-friendly features of Google. It entails restructuring current content and shifting their market options to include voice-search enabled gadgets and devices.

How to prepare your business for the speakable schema markup?

In the meantime, speakable is still in its early stages. The tech giant continually tests and further enhances its speakable schema markup to strengthen its capabilities. Nonetheless, it won’t take long before companies, and their website starts feeling its effects.

Getting ahead of Google’s SERP race will give your company a better chance of landing the top spots considering your site is at par with the latest algorithm demands of most search engines.

Here are the best practices to implement so your website content meets with the future SEO demands or hire an SEO agency to make it easier:

  • Create coherent and conversational statements on your website relevant to your business niche. This will help stay ahead with speakable-type technology and make it easy for you to determine which information effectively relays to your intended audience.
  • Using short and understandable sentences makes them acceptable to your website visitors. Remember that most people have only a minute of attention span, and you want to capture your audience in that small timeframe to get their interests.
  • Writing in a conversational voice tone is the best way to reach a broader scope of website visitors. You want your audience to get a full grasp of what you are offering, so a short, concise, and simple-worded statement will get them glued to what you are providing.

How do you use speakable markup?

To start using the TTS suitability of Google’s speakable schema, you need to follow four critical requirements set by the search engine.

  1. Following all guidelines, including the technical side, content, webmaster, and structured data protocol, is the starting point of enabling the audio playback capabilities of your website texts
  2. Include Google’s speakable structured data semantics into the code of your web page
  3. Test and approve your chosen structured data
  4. Submit the content for eligibility and onboarding process

What are the benefits of speakable schema markup?

There are a lot of undeniable benefits to using Google’s newest schema platform. Though the speakable SEO is available for an online publisher, for now, future expansions will include almost every business with a website.

Among some of the benefits of using the speakable schema include:

  • There are better opportunities for improving SERP ranking positions
  • A speakable schema improves brand recognition
  • It increases the click-through-rates of your website
  • Position your website for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa’s voice search
  • Increase your website’s social media following
  • Provide your audience with a sneak peek of what your content offers without looking at their device screens

Depending on your market niche, Google’s upcoming speakable schema offers your business with industry-related benefits. This includes getting more views for your music and videos, getting more job applicants on your page, or increasing the popularity of a specific product or service.

But all these benefits are what we can foresee in the future. The fact is, Google’s speakable schema is still in its easy concepts, and it is not clear whether the tech giant would put the feature outright. The Beta version of the new algorithm already allows news publications to read featured information off a webpage.

Conclusion

The future of speakable markup depends on how the general population will receive it. Adaption of the new schema would mean expansion outside of its current scopes to include all aspects of the web. Additionally, industry acceptance of this new schema will only be derived depending on how universally the markup is put to use.

And as voice search becomes an accepted method of looking for information on the web, we might see Google pushing the new schema into its existing ecosystem. Regardless if these search engine changes are seen as a threat to existing methods or an opportunity for advancement, we can look at it as an answer to the changing needs of internet users.

Emily Browne is a web content enthusiast with three years of experience in SEO writing. She can be found on Twitter @Emilyrownee.

The post What is speakable schema markup and how does it impact the future of SEO? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Comprehensive guide to exact match domains in 2020

March 27, 2020 No Comments

Exact match domains (EMDs) are domain names that incorporate the exact keywords that you are trying to rank for in Google’s SERPs.

Examples of exact match domains include:

  • carinsurance.com
  • buygroceries.com
  • dogfood.com

In some industries, people will call their company’s name after the product that they offer, for example, Window Cleaners London.

But in the competitive world of SEO, EMDs are commonly bought by webmasters to gain a quick advantage when it comes to ranking on search engines.

Other studies have shown that having an EMD can help clicks with PPC, given that it targets a particular search enquiry.

The history of exact match domains

Looking back at the evolution of SEO over the past 20 years, having an exact match domain was originally a sure-fire way to rank top of Google.

Even dating back 10 years ago, many SEO practitioners benefitted from just buying an exact match domain, adding a bit of content and getting links from directories and this was enough to secure a page one position.

A new market emerged from domain-name selling. Many entrepreneurs were eager to get their hands on a valuable domain name, whilst thrifty businesspeople held onto domain names hoping to ‘flip’ them at a higher price.

This market continues today, with companies like GoDaddy and 123 Reg offering a marketplace for buying and selling domains, amongst other products.

But webmasters holding onto domains for their potential value has seen the most promising businesses never seen to be made, with websites such as cars.com, food.com, loans.com offering affiliate sites but not transpiring into major brands.

With long-winded exact match domains starting to rank such as buybluejeans.com and carinsurancequotesonline.com – Google responded with an EMD update in 2012 to penalize and filter these out.

Is using exact match domains a problem in 2020?

Not necessarily, there is a place for EMDs in 2020 and the right level of SEO can make it successful.

You do not get penalized just for having an EMD and in some cases, you will get a boost.

However, for the larger part, using exact match domains is going to be like walking on thin ice and could make you very prone to Google penalties.

For instance, creating new landing pages becomes an issue and you risk the possibility of keyword stuffing or over-optimization.

Your homepage should be the welcome page for your website and you should have nicely optimized landing pages coming off it and this where a lot of your SEO traffic will go to. The issue is that if your homepage is homeinsurance.com, using the right words for landing pages becomes tricky. Would you realistically create a page homeinsurance.com/home-insurance and would Google rank this?

When your homepage is likely to have more links pointing to it initially, there will be difficulty in ranking for other landing pages for that exact match keyword.

However, it is link-building that really becomes tricky.

Whatever anchor text you use, you risk the chance of using too much exact match anchor text – and this is a simple way to get a penalty. There are ways around this, such as using a wide range of anchor text, but finding the balance is tricky and it only takes one link of yours to be shared numerous times to make it look like you are running an exact match anchor text campaign.

The role of partial match domain names

Partial match domain names are a combination of the main keyword you are trying to target and something that is not related. A number of successful brands have used other words with the main keyword such as “hut”, “hub”, “network”, “market”, and so on.

Some examples of partial match domain names:

  • suitsdirect.co.uk
  • booksetc.co.uk
  • brownsfashion.com
  • sunglasseshut.com

These brands only use half the target keyword, service or object, such as “sunglasses” or “fashion”.

This approach means that natural landing pages can be created without the risk of keyword stuffing and there is no risk of anchor text causing penalties when the brand name is linked.

Another partial match option is that you take a different word, which is more of an adjective or selling point.

A good example is a price comparison site, Forces Compare, which benefits from having ‘compare’ in its domain, and therefore gets a boost for every product it compares across cards, accounts, loans, and more.

There is also the business provider, Funding Invoice, which benefits from having the word “invoice” in its domain.

Some smart uses of partial matches could involve using words such as “free”, “cheap”, and “best” or locations such as “London” and “California”.

Using the right words by association

If you want to generate brand value, but do not want to risk the chance of a Google penalty, you can use a domain that has an association. You do not gain any immediate benefits from Google, but it will certainly look good from a user’s perspective and gaining a good click-through rate (CTR) will notably benefit your rankings.

This includes the infamous doorbell company, Ring.com, the dog food provider, Paws.com and the dating site, Match.com.

Are some industries better than others for using exact match domains?

Yes, we have to accept that Google treats some sectors very differently and when it comes to very competitive industries such as fashion, insurance and finance, they do not want to give anyone a quick advantage just because they own an EMD.

The best approach is to look at each industry and the SERPs that you are targeting. For some industries such as loans and insurance, there are very few (if any) in the UK search results, where “loans” and “insurance” are mentioned in the domain and they are positioned on page one.

However, if you look at the key term “casino bonuses”, around seven to eight sites on page one have the word “casino” in their domain name – highlighting the importance of researching each industry.

For industries where there is less competition and fewer penalties handed out (and this is particularly in local listings), there is only going to be a handful of people searching for “good plumbers in Orange County” or “pizza places in Brooklyn”– you are more likely to be successful using an exact match domain.

Is it too late to change my exact match domain?

No, if you have started with an EMD and have struggled to get it to rank or have been subject to penalties, you can look at changing the domain and you will still hold a lot of the good SEO you have built up.

Doing a 301 redirect to the new domain will hold 90% to 95% of the SEO value and also have a very quick turnaround time, providing that you have good content and UX to back it up.

A recent rebrand of the company Bridging Loan Hub to Octagon Capital showed that the rankings were restored within two weeks and continued to grow back to their original positions, and higher.

Example of exact match domain sites - Octagon Capital

 

 Conclusion: Do your research and focus on the brand

Exact match domains (EMDs) still have a role to play in successful SEO and this includes some target industries and local searches.

One has to be careful if they have a large SEO strategy depending on optimizing an exact match domain since this could see initial growth but also be high-risk in the penalty department.

The best advice is to research the industry and see who is ranking on pages one and two of Google. Do they use exact match, partial match or neither?

Either way, Google does not want SEO to be easy and they want it to be earned through other factors such as good design, UX, content, and link-building.

Every time, the most effective and risk-free approach will be to create a keyword-free brand name and build an online brand using good, clean SEO. This should be complemented with other traffic sources such as direct, email, referral and social media to see the maximum effect.

Daniel Tannenbaum is co-founder of Tudor Lodge Consultants.

The post Comprehensive guide to exact match domains in 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Video marketing: The ultimate guide (You’ll only need this)

March 25, 2020 No Comments

Video is not only a content type anymore, but it has also become a culture. Before that, theater movies and TV had driven the culture, and the only thing that has changed over the past few years is the platform.

Culture is what drives the marketing around it, and 83% of marketers believe that video is becoming increasingly important; a clear indication of more brands using them as a part of their marketing strategies. It can be clearly seen how important video has become for every platform and marketing channel.

And, if you’re not creating videos for marketing campaigns, then you will be left behind this decade.

According to Cisco, 82% of internet traffic will be through videos by 2022. And according to TechCrunch, people watch 1 billion hours of YouTube video per day (That’s more than Netflix and Facebook video combined). 

In our digital times, everyone is capable of publishing videos and everyone is publishing videos; all you need is a good camera and an internet connection. This culture-driven ability now belongs to anyone who can create a video and is so captivating that the right group of people choose and prefer to watch videos.

A person who will never read a 100-page book will gladly watch a 10-minute IGTV.

Video is more than just cute babies and funny animals. It’s so powerful that, even mentioning the word “video” in your email subject line can increase the open rates by 19%.

In this article, I’ll unveil all the fundamentals, tactics, and best practices for video marketing.

What is video marketing?

Video marketing is all about creating a video to market and promote your product/service, educate your audience, increase engagement on social media, widen your brand awareness and reach your audience with interactive content. There are some popular platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat that businesses are using for video marketing. 

Brands are making videos to help customers make better purchasing decisions by understanding and analyzing their favorite products and features in an engaging way.

Share of businesses using video on their landing pages worldwide from 2016 to 2018

Source

According to HubSpot, 72% of consumers prefer to watch a video about a product than a read product description and more than 50% of consumers want to see videos from brands more than any other type of content.

A quick question.

Why do videos work so well? 

Because our brain can’t resist the visual outburst, videos are easy to follow-through and we get addicted to them. We remember dialogues from the movies we watched in the past decade but we hardly remember some paragraphs from some book we read a few years back. Movies are just a visual representation of the scriptwriter and storytelling of the director.

Half of the internet users look for a video before visiting a store (Google) and your campaign can’t survive without video in your marketing strategy where 87% of businesses now use video to help market their product and services (WyzOwl).

Using video marketing for business isn’t something brand new but to obtain the best results, implementing a proper video marketing strategy is a must.

Gone are the days when throwing some random video in your strategy worked, it’s now more than 80% of the content on the internet and the field has become highly competitive.

Developing a video marketing strategy that works

According to HubSpot research, customers and consumers prefer low-quality authentic video than high-quality inauthentic video. Simple, mundane videos don’t work all the time in the world of marketing. Today, documenting your different work processes like BTS (behind the scenes), vlogs, live videos, and product walkthroughs seem more real and human than videos created filled with artificial effects.

The versatility of the video content you publish also makes it a successful marketing strategy. Be it the branding of your ecommerce business or tapping into new audiences, videos have always got your back.

93% of businesses reported getting a new customer on social media, thanks to video. It’s also very important to create a sound strategy when you’re planning to implement video in your marketing which should include:

  • Creating a script based on customer’s pain points
  • Designing a template that reflects your branding
  • Distribution of video on different platforms
  • Feelings or emotions you want to evoke
  • The persona you’re targeting with the video
  • Recording and editing the video
  • Integrating video into different marketing content
  • Coming up with new topics and trends
  • Analyzing the video performance
  • Improving your strategy based on your data

As we have discussed before, that video is accessible to everyone and any type of business, you only need the right strategy to kick-off. Whether you’re executing operations in the service team or the marketing team, the usefulness of video is apparent everywhere.

Let’s dig deep into the types of video you can create for the different marketing campaigns:

Types of marketing videos

You will be having different objectives for your marketing campaign and based on that you’ll choose the type of video you’re going to create. So, here is the list of top marketing video types to choose from:

1. Explainer videos

The primary purpose of explainer videos is to educate your audience whether it’s your product/service or some concept in your industry. They generally are short in length and it shouldn’t be more difficult than curating decks of slides in the presentation. It’s kind of a scripted journey of your customer’s problem and how they can resolve it.

2. How-to videos

How-to videos are the most popular type of video which customers love to consume and revolve around the educational concept to teach your audience in a step-by-step manner. These types of videos are compelling because they literally show you how to do something.

3. Customer testimonial videos

Customer testimonial videos are the best way to showcase social proof and brand advocacy for your brand. You can ask your consumers to tell their story on camera, what challenges they faced, and how your brand helped them overcome those obstacles.

4. Demo videos

In this type of video, you have the ability to brief your product or service to your audience in a systematic way. It can be an unboxing review, walkthrough or run your physical product through some tests.

72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service (WyzOwl).

5. Personalized video messages

Are you out of ideas for your email marketing campaign?

Try creating video messages.

Nothing can be more personalized, charming and captivating than this type of video message. It will not only improve engagement rate but it will also move your prospect down the funnel towards conversion. See how Marketo used personalized video messages to invite their audience to the summit.

6. Live videos

According to Livestream.com, users watch live videos 1.8x times longer than non-live video, representing the present aspect of your brand. It allows your audience to participate, engage, and connect with your brand in the live video.

You can use live video content to stream events, Q&A sessions, presentations, interviews with experts and foster your audience to interact with your brand.

In this Facebook live video, Martha Stewart prepares viewers for holidays with some outdoor decorating ideas and encourages them to buy each product at Home Depot.

7. AR/VR and 360° videos

Everyone in the industry knows that AR/VR is the future and its market has already reached $ 16.8 billion US. These are future tech that will skyrocket your customer’s experience and you should be integrating your products by now.

VR and 360° videos are important videos that let you put your customers into another person’s shoes, for example, Oreo ran this fun campaign which lets you experience the Oreo virtual world. On the other hand, AR allows people to check out products while sitting in their homes. Everyone knows IKEA furniture App did this beautifully by showcasing their furniture and homeware in your specific living rooms.

Customer experience journey through video marketing

Everyone is familiar with the customer journey or the funnel as we say in which a customer goes from showing interest in your products or services to buying them. Videos are not any piece of content that you can introduce to your audience at any time or any platform. I say that no content should be introduced to the customer in the funnel at the wrong time.

Customers can be offered an additional incentive to push them towards buying a certain product. According to the latest coupon statistics, 86% of millennials say that deals and discounts impact their purchase decisions. This makes coupons a perfect weapon of choice for video marketers.

Here’s a brief to every stage of the customer journey and what type of videos you should introduce to your audience at each stage of the funnel:

1. Awareness

This is the initial stage of the customer’s journey where you show them who you are and what you represent.

  • Your prospect has a great product but he is unable to generate revenue.
  • Prospects try to find the solution on Google by typing their issue.
  • He ends up watching YouTube videos and learns that his problem is ‘A’.
  • Again, he searches “how to solve problem A” and one of your customer review videos pops up in the suggestion.
  • He gets intrigued by the comments on your video and checks out your YouTube channel.
  • Finds out that you have uploaded tons of helpful videos and shares them with the team.
  • Every time he visits YouTube, your videos are recommended as suggestions.

“84% of marketers credit video with increasing traffic to their website.”

Type of videos to use:

  • Explainer Videos
  • Commercial
  • How-To Videos
  • Fun Videos

2. Consideration

In the consideration stage, prospects know that they have a problem and want to find the solution. They try everything to find the solution, ask a friend, compare alternatives, search on Google and want a cost-effective solution to the problem.

  • They know the problem and watch one of your videos on YouTube but it is just a teaser. They click on the given link to watch the full video on your website.
  • They watch one video after the other because of the pop-ups.
  • In between, an email submission form comes up and they fill it. Congratulations, you’ve captured a lead. It triggers an email via your automation platform.
  • Just a few days later, they receive an email with a relevant video.
  • After checking their watch history, the sales rep sends them a personalized video that is shockingly relevant. They end up booking a meeting.
  • This kind of customer care strengthens the relationship.

“80% of marketers credit video with increasing the average time on page for their website.”

Type of videos to use:

  • Testimonials and Video Case Studies
  • Detailed Product Demos
  • Personalized Video Voicemails
  • Setup Webinars

3. Decision

In the decision stage, customers are quite close to making a decision to buy your product or service and it’s your job to create crystal clear smooth processes for the transaction. They should feel like they have control over the complete process and know every detail.

  • Team of prospect lists out all the alternatives including your brand, then they schedule a demo but only your brand sends them a video which makes it easier to understand the product.
  • Prospect sends you an email with a few concerns and you reply to them with a video walkthrough.
  • During their research, they search for a solution to problem X and they find your YouTube video, which makes you the top vendor.
  • After a few days, with a deal on the table, they receive a personal video from a senior executive of yours and they buy.
  • Prospect receives a welcome video from the sales rep and an intro to what’s gonna happen next.
  • You redirect the prospect to the on-boarding video library which makes the whole process even smoother.
  • Now, when their team faces any problem, support videos with screen recording resolves every issue in minutes.

“83% of marketers say video results in a good ROI.”

Type of videos to use:

  • FAQ Video
  • Campaign Nurturing Videos
  • Instructional Video

4. Advocacy

If someone buys your product or service, you’ll always get a chance to engage them with your content and updates that help them grow with your product and industry.

  • The customer finds your product very useful and is very pleased with it.
  • They create a short testimonial video and your marketing team uploads it on your YouTube channel.
  • New prospects find that testimonial on Google and visit your YouTube channel. The cycle repeats again.

“86% of viewers say they regularly turn to YouTube to learn something new.”

Type of videos to use:

  • Troubleshooting Videos
  • Product/Brand Update Videos
  • Interview Videos
  • Social Live Videos

I have shown you how we can integrate videos in each stage of the customer journey. It’s not mandatory to use all of them but it’s recommended to use personalized videos as much as you can. So, design your next customer journey close to perfection with a sound video marketing strategy.

Video analytics

No marketing campaign can be successful without a defined goal and continued experimentation after measuring the data metrics of the campaign. Your goal for running the campaign could be brand awareness, increasing website traffic, or even conversion.

How can you define your goal for the campaign? 

By considering your target audience, buyer personas, media they consume, when they consume it, and which stage of the buyer’s journey they are in.

Video marketing

Having a better understanding of these metrics will help you measure your campaign success and define your goal of the campaign. There are several marketing tools available that make it easy for you to evaluate different Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Here are a few important metrics that you need to keep your eye on:

1. Rate of play

This metric helps you grasp insight into how many people are actually watching your videos. The rate of play is the percentage of people who played your video divided by the number of impressions on the video.

Factors that play an important role in improving this metric include your thumbnail, platform you are publishing the video on, the initial few seconds of the video, and many more. If you’re getting tons of impressions but no one is playing your video, then you need to optimize your videos as soon as possible.

2. View count

The total number of view count on your video reflects how many times viewers have watched your video. It’s easy to measure but tricky to derive because different platforms measure view count differently.

Facebook takes 3 seconds and YouTube an entire 30 seconds of playtime to measure one view count. This metric is also known as reach which means if your goal is brand awareness then this metric is great to track.

3. Click-through rate (CTR)

This is an important sign that signifies if your video is extremely good or not because its primary goal is to make viewers take a desired action that leads them to an already-optimized landing page with a clear call-to-action (CTA).

CTR is the number of times your call-to-action (CTA) is clicked divided by the number of times it’s viewed.

4. Social media sharing

It’s way too easy to monitor the social sharing metrics and it’s extremely important to increase your organic reach on the internet. The social sharing metric shows you how many shares you’re getting on social media from your viewers.

A “share” is the active engagement that a viewer takes to share a video with his friend when they really like the content. When one viewer shares the video, then a similar audience on his network is more likely to share and it creates a chain reaction that helps you reach a wider audience organically.

5. Conversion rate

It’s the rate of conversion for your video campaign that tells how many leads, prospects or customers were generated through your videos.

Conversion rate is the number of times visitors completed your desired action divided by the number of clicks on your CTA. However, measuring this metric is kind of difficult but you can surely track it if you work smartly.

6. Completion rate

It’s the most liable metric for videos because it shows how many people have watched your video completely.

The completion rate is the number of people who completed your video divided by the number of people who played it.

If no one is watching your videos completely then your content needs to be optimized. It shows the success rate of your video marketing campaign.

7. Bounce rate

You might be thinking about how this metric is important in measuring video success. Sometimes, it happens that adding a video to the web page improves the session duration.

The bounce rate is defined as the rate of your video played, where the viewer actually watches some part of your video.

So, start off by noting down the bounce rate of the page before you add the video and after adding the video to the page, check if there is any improvement in the bounce rate. And how the audience is interacting with the new video content.

Bonus tips for awesome video content

As I mentioned in the beginning, everyone is capable of producing and publishing content these days and everyone is doing it. So, before concluding this blog, I would like to give you readers a few more tips, techniques, and strategies to give you an edge over other creators.

Video equipment checklist

Video marketing checklist

Source

Here’s the list of resource requirements you need to fulfill in order to start producing the video content:

  1. Camera: A decent quality DSLR camera would be perfect for the job and will cost you around $ 500-$ 600. A high-end camera smartphone like Samsung S10+, Google Pixel 4, or iPhone 11 Pro will also do the trick and will cost you the same.
  2. Tripod: It’s very effective for video stabilization and vlogging purposes as it makes your camera portable to carry. So, spend on tripods which are lighter in weight.
  3. External Mic: This will improve the quality of sound in your video and especially when you’re shooting for online courses and explainer videos. It will cost you around $ 100-200.
  4. Lighting: In the starting, you can use a reflector to take advantage of ambient light. If you want to step up to more powerful lighting, you can use something like a softbox.
  5. Editing Software: You just need a few skills like editing out your vocal pauses and inserting some text. This would be enough to make a good quality video, as the final content matters the most anyway. You can use expert tools like Adobe Premiere Pro in Windows and Final Cut X Pro in Mac.
  6. Editing Hardware: As much as you need the editing software for finishing videos, you also need some graphic power to run that software. Low-graphic power systems make it difficult to alter large size files. It should have minimum requirements – 8GB RAM, 2GB VRAM Graphic Card, Intel 6th Gen or AMD FX.

Make a great video

In this section, we will check everything that makes a video great:

  1. Use a script: Writing a script for your video helps you deliver 2-3x content in a short period of time. You don’t have to write each and every word; the outline structure will do just fine. For reference read: Write a Video Script 
  2. All direction lighting: Using the omnidirectional method gives your object more sharpness and natural feel.
  3. Soundproofing: Shooting in an echoing room will make you sound terrible. Buy soundproofing material or throw some thick yoga mats on the floor.
  4. Color Correction: This can make a huge difference in the output of your raw footage. It is the most undervalued but an important editing part of the video.
  5. Lots of cuts: Cutting is essential to the delivery of your audio and making it clean, and precise. It can help you remove all the noise, avoid filler words, and streamline the content flow.
  6. Animation Effects: If you’re making explainer videos or educational content, then graphics give you a bonus in conveying your message. You can use software like Adobe After Effects and also outsource tasks to some experts in the field.

Few more strategies

Here are a few more advanced strategies that will help you give more views on your videos:

  1. First Impression: Capture your audience’s attention in the first 5-10 seconds by starting your video with a question, compelling story, or telling them what they will learn in the whole video.
  2. Longer Videos: Try uploading videos longer than 5-10 minutes on very different topics and make them detailed and filled with insights. Long-form content works greatly if created well.
  3. Theme Consistency: You should be consistent with your branding in each and every video. Try to create a theme consisting of your brand color, font, voice, and niche topics which will help you increase brand awareness.
  4. Humor: Using humor in your videos will make your content more watchable. I don’t recommend filling it up with jokes unless you’re a comedian. Just using one or two light-hearted funny lines in the script would be perfect.
  5. Sequence: Always ask your audience to watch the next related video on the topic. On YouTube, you can show them in suggestions and make a playlist.

Tools for video analytics

Video marketing tools

We have already learned what metrics we should measure and here’s how we can measure them:

  1. Vimeo: Advanced video analytics to help you learn more and decide better. It delivers quality and focuses on building a huge community.
  2. Wistia: It has a great feature to show you the bounce rate when a person jumps off from your video and a complete brand customization capability for embedded players.
  3. Vidyard: It offers a defined reporting dashboard and has integration with major marketing automation software. It also gives real-time video views data.
  4. Google Analytics: Firstly, it is free to use. Perfect if you’re just starting off. It gives you the ability to build a customized dashboard and can be specifically used to track conversion rates.

Conclusion

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this guide for video marketing and its best practices.

Video marketing may look intimidating at first but it’s the present and future of content and you can always start slow. You’ll be able to produce good quality content with practice and don’t forget to align content with your brand.

Creating and publishing videos to grow your brand is way easier than ever and make sure to be a part of this big bubble. Start by turning your epic blogs into different, small pieces of videos in an interesting way and re-purpose all your insightful text content into videos.

Go out other and amaze your audience with your videos and keep improvising all the time.

Light, Camera, Roll, Action!

Which part of this guide intrigued you the most and what points did I miss out on?

Please have your say. I am listening.

Himanshu Rauthan is an entrepreneur, Co-Founder at MakeWebBetter, BotMyWork, and the Director of CEDCOSS Technologies. He can be found on Twitter @himanshurauthan.

The post Video marketing: The ultimate guide (You’ll only need this) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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The email marketing landscape 2019 and way ahead for 2020

March 19, 2020 No Comments

Email marketing has always been one of the top ways when it comes to reaching out to a targeted set of audiences for product marketing. One of the best drivers behind email marketing being a major element for product marketing is the fact that for every dollar you spent on email, the ROI is substantial in terms of the conversion drawn from the pursuit.

Email marketing has also always managed to be a great platform for collecting user data and making an effort to understand their behavior better. With this data at hand, marketers have been able to supercharge their email personalization efforts and target the right set of the audience so that the RoI on conversion is highly enhanced.

2019 for email marketing was all about the mobile and interactive approach to marketing, event-based email marketing, personalized email marketing, an automated email marketing system in place along with a lot of other trends. It would be fair to say that these trends just got stronger for the new year and they will definitely be finding their way into the 2020 guides meant for running successful email marketing campaigns.

In this blog post, we will be talking about the email marketing landscape drawn from 2019 and the way ahead for email marketing professionals in the new year, 2020.

1. Email personalization for better conversions

The subscriber that you are basically looking to target is clearly receiving over 50-100 other marketing emails every day. So, what makes you think that your email stands a chance of being clicked upon? Well, that is the power of email personalization. We are just not talking of using the first name of the subscriber because that is so old-school and won’t help you sail the boat.

Personalization can be easily introduced by assessing and working on these factors

  • What time of day do your subscribers want to receive emails?
  • What segment of your subscribers from a particular list is interested in what type of products?
  • Do they enjoy interactive email copy?

We are talking about implementing segmentation and adding tags so that you can really kickstart your entire personalization strategy when it comes to marketing emails. This can be effectively done through creating customized emails by using the purchase and browsing history of these subscribers along with other moves such as setting a customized email frequency for these subscribers. Location-based dynamic content is also a hyper-personalized effort in this direction.

As a business, it is important to have specific and measurable goals in mind before starting an email campaign. To be able to get to a stage where you are able to measure the success of your personalized email campaign, open and click-through rates are a great tool. Here’s how businesses can do it:

  • Begin by collecting the right data from readers on sign-up forms. Email marketing tools like Campaign Monitor can be highly effective.
  • Next up, test your subject lines thoroughly to assess the strength of personalization juice in them. Tools like Drip can help you split-test subject lines to see how your audience responds.
  • Explore triggered emails; tools like Intercom can help. They are very helpful with up-selling and cross-selling, welcome, re-engagement, and more.

2. Mobile marketing FTW

Just in a manner that mobile websites became a mainstream trend and have continued to, mobile marketing is a successful thing. It is true because marketing data has shown significant growth in mobile average order value in 2018 and beyond. People are open and willing to make larger purchases by placing orders through their mobile devices because the user experience on mobile devices is seamless.

So, it is recommended that marketers do their best when it comes to offering details around their product i.e. images, descriptions, or customer reviews so that subscribers get backed by the nudge to take some action on the email. It is going to be imperative for email marketers to choose a fluid design and enable their email for seamless viewing. CTAs will continue to get more pressing yet subtle in the game of mobile email marketing. So, watch out.

The right mobile email strategy in place will always entail how you, as a business, can use the prowess of the smartphone lying in your prospective customer’s pocket. Mobile email marketing for businesses begins with a mobile-friendly website. Your business website actually needs to be best friends with mobile compatibility if you want the optimum success of your email marketing campaigns.

With a mobile-friendly website on the table, mobile-friendly content is a must. A great headline and compact content is the recipe. Just remember that people don’t want to read much but they want to absorb max information without scrolling too much. With Localization and access to geographical data, you can power-up your mobile strategy game.

3. Interactive emails will continue to engage

If you were to put yourself in the shoes of your subscribers, wouldn’t receiving marketing emails with fun content such as games and quizzes be a better way? Yes, absolutely yes! This is why interactive content in your email marketing strategy will continue to dominate the arena and bring better conversions. In 2020, the approach is going to be around pushing functional interactivity in marketing emails. Animated CTAs are fun and functional along with roll-over effects for product browsing while also serving the purpose of boosting sales and conversions. This “fun” clickability pursuit will usher in as the new year rings in.

Here are a few ways to integrate interactive content in your emails

  • CSS animated buttons attract the right attention and bring a sense of gamification
  • An interactive email template with a multi-question survey for the audience pre and post their buyers’ journey.
  • The image rollover effect is also a great way to attract some attention and introduce interactivity to your email strategy.

4. User-generated content

A very important email marketing heads-up for the new year 2020 is the implementation of user-generated content (UGC) for driving real-time engagement. It is something as simple as encouraging your subscribers to submit content through these marketing emails. User-generated reviews have a huge potential and are super valuable when they can help you make other users make an informed purchase. Adding interactivity to your emails can also be an asset in gathering this UGC.

You can easily turn abandoned shopping carts into realized sales with the use of UGC in your email marketing. You can easily convince the user to consider the fact that a real user is a loyal follower of your brand and with their UGC, they vouch for your credibility. For example, a travel planning business can use the photos taken by their previous clients such as photos taken on the customer’s planned itinerary. It will really help build excitement for the prospective customer.

5. Social + Email = Absolute marketing success

This one isn’t new. Bringing together social media marketing and email marketing is quite the success recipe for expert email marketers. When brought together, the platforms become an enabler for each other and in the process, they impart value to your marketing emails.

This process has always been there; prompting your social media followers to sign up for your emails/newsletters and embedding your social media links in the email copy of your marketing emails. In 2019 and 2020, the approach has managed to evolve and now using your social media to send out updates about your emails is a thing.

6. Automated email marketing

We cannot emphasize enough on the fact that email marketing automation is going to be a priority in 2020 as it was in 2019. Having Marketing software has always and will help marketers unlock more data, get the increased workflows kicking, and get the real work done. Considering the AI and machine-learning vertical, the world of automated email marketing systems is only going to get stronger and more performance-focused.

In a nutshell, the landscape for the 2020 email marketing domain is going to be very similar but an edge over from what it was in the fleeting year of 2019. Based on the predictions made by experts in the marketing world, these trends will continue to thrive with chunks of improvements and evolvement every now and then. For the skilled marketer out there, it is imperative that they think the landscape through and develop a rocking email marketing strategy that is infused with all the power-pointers mentioned above and have a blast in 2020 by delivering a successful email marketing approach.

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How to improve your SEO after Google’s spot-zero-termination

March 17, 2020 No Comments

It was January 22 when Google announced changes to the world of search engine optimization. The so-called “spot zero” in the featured snippets of search engine results pages (SERPs) stopped.

In other words, the URL of the featured snippet appears a single time in the SERP instead of serving with the snippet and its base position lower in the result.

The change is already having a significant impact on the number of clicks that featured snippets receive.

Digital marketing agency, 97th Floor conducted a study looking at almost 3000 high-volume SERPs that were affected by the spot-zero termination.

They’ve written a whitepaper to share practical tips on how to prioritize your SEO needs after Google’s update, and have also provided a free STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Results) reporting template to help you strategize.

Here is how to get started.

Content produced in collaboration with 97th Floor.

1. Highlight the date of the change in your analytics platform

The first step is to make sure that you mark the date of January 22 in your analytics platform. It’s the easiest way to keep track of all the changes that happen after Google’s update.

You can also mark the date in other SEO tools that you’re using to track your success with keywords and traffic to your site.

2. Exclude featured snippets from your new keyword research

According to 97th Floor’s research, there was a significant drop in the number of clicks on featured snippets after the spot-zero termination. Thus, make sure you run new keyword research to explore new opportunities. This time, filter out featured snippets and “people also ask” boxes to find keywords that will earn more clicks.

3. Re-optimize your URLs to become featured snippets

97th Floor noticed that it now becomes easier for URLs at the front page of SERPs to turn into featured snippets. Up to now, most featured snippets were in spots 1-3 but now there is a shift that includes more SERPs from the first page.

This means that you might not necessarily need to aim for spot 1 or 2 to land a featured snippet. Spend some time on optimizing your URLs holding lower position keywords to increase your chances of success.

4. Review your traffic coming from featured snippets

Google’s update has impacted the popular snippets that used to attract a high volume of site clicks. Thus, it’s not necessarily useful to aim for landing a featured snippet.

If you’ve noticed a drastic decline in your number of clicks, explore the idea of opting out of the featured snippets aiming for spot two instead.

5. Review your title tags

Now that the clicks are reduced, it’s more important than ever to work on your title tags. Aim for text that is more “clickable” without being misleading.

For example, if your brand is not popular, you can leave out its name from the title to focus on the content that will make your URL more clickable.

Double the time you are spending on optimization to review your SEO success.

6. Improve your meta descriptions

As with title tags, it’s crucial to pay attention to your meta descriptions to make your links more appealing.

It’s the best time to review your meta descriptions to explore how it can affect your clicks to your site.

7. Review your structured data mark-up

Featured snippets don’t make the only way to highlight your links. The structured data associated with your URLs can help you boost your performance in SERPs.

There are many mark-ups for your URLs and they vary based on the content:

  • Customer reviews
  • Event details
  • Product pricing
  • Recipe information
  • Local business information
  • Single Images or Carousels

8. De-optimize the featured snippet if needed

The best way to ‘deactivate’ the featured snippet from your link is to implement the “data-nosnippet” attribute to the HTTP of any page you want to de-optimize.

It’s safer to use this code instead of changing the copy as this could potentially affect your ranking.

9. Communicate the changes

Don’t forget to update your boss or client about the latest changes. Communication can make your job easier both in the short and long term.

Educating your clients can also help you get buy-in for long-term action plans that are clear on the implications of any changes coming from Google.

Start by presenting the situation, how you’re going to address it and the next actions.

This article only provides a flavor of the actionable recommendations in 97th Floor’s whitepaper. Download ‘The 10 Actions SEOs Need to Take Following Google’s Spot-Zero-Termination‘ for a more in-depth view, as well as their free STAR reporting template.

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Five tips to establish a successful content creation process

March 13, 2020 No Comments

In this digital age where around 90% of all digital marketers use content marketing, there is no shortage of content that is flowing around, even in niches you probably never heard of.

Unfortunately, a big chunk of that content is a spammy mess that exists only to build a link, promote things we do not need, and push an agenda that doesn’t care about facts.

Despite all of that, there is always room for more quality content that can put your business on the map. To do that effectively, you need two things – consistency and a strategic approach to content creation.

Why should you have a consistent content publishing schedule?

If you are pumping out mediocre content on a regular basis to try and “trick” Google into favoring you over other domains, you are probably wasting your time. That’s if you want to listen to Google’s own John Mueller.

Now, here’s why this discussion doesn’t really matter. On one side, there is a whole list of stronger search ranking factors to focus on. On the other hand, even if publishing frequency doesn’t directly affect your rankings, there are plenty of other reasons you want to be consistent with your content creation and publishing process.

Some do it because they want to run a newsletter, others simply want to keep their blog fresh and have something to share on their social channels. However, most marketers that look to run content consistently are those who want to grow their businesses with content marketing.

For them, creating consistent content with a purpose is not an option, it’s a necessity. In continuation of this article, we’ll take a look at five tips on how to do exactly that.  

1. Do the groundwork

What does it mean to create quality content? I believe most of us know how to intuitively recognize it, but some would have trouble coming up with a clear definition. 

Here is a snapshot from the guidelines we share with all of our writers that represent how we look at quality content:

Writing to the right audience and solving their problems with actionable advice is hard to do if you only have a vague idea of who you are targeting. That’s why it is crucial to properly research your target audience. Go to Quora and Reddit, visit niche forums, run surveys among existing customers and subscribers, follow top blogs in your niche, analyze your competitors.

If you’re planning to create content consistently, it pays to know both big and small problems your target audience is running into on a regular basis.

If you do extensive research, you should have a substantive list of issues to cover. However, not all of those issues are worth covering on your blog. Creating personalized content is great, but spending 20 hours on a piece that solves an issue exactly three people have is just not worth it.

This is where keyword research comes into play. Using tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Ubersuggest, and even Google Trends is a great way to find out what is the scope of the issues you identified and which are, subsequently, worth covering.

If you’re a start-up looking to grow through content marketing efforts, keyword research and target audience analysis are the foundation to build upon. For brands with an already active blog, they can expand this preparation step by also doing content audit and content gap analysis.

2. Create content with a purpose

I do not know about you, but we like to publish content with a certain goal in mind. In an ideal situation, content should satisfy the following criteria:

  1. It talks about a real problem your target audience has
  2. It can be optimized around a keyword with a worthwhile monthly search volume
  3. It aims to generate brand awareness, nurture gathered leads or has another specific purpose listed below

Now, there are only so many content pieces that will be able to check all three boxes, and that’s just fine. Since you plan to create content consistently, you will have to branch out anyway at some point. The trick is not branching out too far. Always look that your content satisfies at least two of the stated criteria.

One example of content with a purpose that satisfies “only” two criteria (but is still worth creating) is content for nurturing your hard-earned leads.

Depending on who you ask, the sales funnel can have between three and six phases. For the purpose of this example, we can hold on to the version with four that is on the illustration above.

Let’s assume that, during your audience research, you defined four different target audience personas you want to cover. Let’s also assume that you decided to create two different pieces of content for every persona at every stage of the funnel.

This leads us to four personas x four funnel stages x two content pieces for each = 32 content pieces! 

Some of those 32 pieces will not bring you any organic traffic but they will be an integral part of your email sequences, your Facebook funnels and/or any other strategy that uses content for lead nurturing. 

3. Plan three months in advance

The key point of this section is planning ahead, the number of months is up for discussion. If you have enough resources and the ability to stick to the schedule, you can plan six months ahead or more. For many businesses, however, that is not necessary.

For example, we push out one to three content pieces each month and our average time to produce a piece (involves keyword research, outline, writing, polishing, custom images, promotion plans, SEO optimization) is about three weeks (but keep in mind that people don’t work on the content every day).

Considering our available resources, time to produce a single piece, and the number of pieces we publish each month, planning two months ahead is enough to keep everything on track. By “keeping everything on track” I mean ensuring we never end up in a situation where: 

  • We do not have anything to publish because a single article got delayed
  • We do not have resources to schedule in an additional content piece that shares important company news or discusses nig industry trends/news that just popped up  

As you scale up those numbers, you should look to plan three-plus months ahead, especially if you are doing a lot of research, round-ups, longer video content, and interactive content. 

These types of content pieces are more likely to get delayed and increase your average production time, which means they should be scheduled well in advance.

4. Watch what you outsource

At some point, you might wish to scale content production or realize that you just don’t have enough resources to create content consistently on your own. While outsourcing can work well when done properly, if you are working with the wrong people, it will waste you a ton of time you don’t have. 

To anyone that looks to outsource part of their content creation process, here are two important tips:

A. Do not be satisfied with mediocre talent

Even if it takes a long time, run job posts until you find people that meet all of your requirements. Otherwise, you will spend more time reviewing and editing the content than you would spend on creating it yourself in the first place. So if a platform like Upwork fails you, run paid adds on another one like ProBlogger or similar platforms until you find a good match.

B. Give the advantage to people with actual experience in your niche

There are many people out there that can write pretty well. A chunk of those has good research skills and can create a decent piece on almost any topic. However, there usually aren’t that many people with a lot of personal experience that can actually give actionable advice.

I put a lot of value in personal experience because of one thing – authenticity. If the only thing you have to say is just a rehash of what other people said, you are not bringing anything new to the table and it limits the ability to provide actionable tips. That will undoubtedly be reflected in the reduced engagement of your content pieces. 

Since we are talking about outsourcing, I’d also like to point out that there are some content types that I would recommend producing internally whenever possible such as:

  • Pieces that describe a step-by-step process of how your service/product works
  • Pieces that contain a lot of screenshots/videos/graphics that have to be produced internally
  • Very specific pieces where you have to give the freelancer so many details you’re better of doing it yourself

I’m not saying that there aren’t amazing freelancers out there who can cover even promotional pieces to the level you need them to, but I am saying that they are hard to find and small business owners can rarely afford them.

5. Don’t discard guest contributors

Many blogs decide not to publish content from guest contributors because they believe that the average quality of the pieces that are sent over does not justify the time you need to put into managing the whole process. 

While that is true to a certain extent, there are ways to streamline the process to actually be cost-effective. I know that because we have implemented it on our blog. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Setup “write for us page” that outlines what kind of content you are looking for. 
  2. Create a guest contribution form people need to apply through and include it somewhere on the write for us page. You can reply only to people you want to work with which eliminates a lot of unnecessary email communication. 
  3. Create detailed writing guidelines that you send to every guest author. 
  4. Do not be afraid to say “no”. Do not waste time on contributors that do not match your requirements or do not respect your guidelines.

Using questions like the ones you can see on the screenshot below, you will be able to filter out bad submissions fairly quickly. 

If you want to take this a step further, you can even prepare content briefs. For example, guest authors that apply to our blog and are open to writing on a topic we suggest, get a list of primary and secondary keywords to orient their posts around and a list of major sections the article should discuss. 

As long as you have a reasonable linking policy and at least a moderate site authority, good pitches will come. Why not use them to help you push out content more consistently?

Ensuring content quality

One thing that tends to suffers when you put focus on volume is content quality. That is natural, but it can be easily avoided.

The best way to enforce consistent content quality is to set up detailed guidelines (and stick to them). These rules include (but are not limited to):

  • Tone of voice
  • Target audience
  • Linking policy for outgoing links 
  • Formatting guidelines
  • Visual guidelines and the use of rich content
  • Focus on examples and actionable advice

The above guidelines allow you to run every piece through a simple checklist and see if anything needs to be improved before the content goes live. 

When all of this is done as a part of a strong content marketing strategy, it is going to make you happy, it is going to make your customers happy, and it is going to make your bottom line very happy.

Dario Supan is a content strategist and editor at Point Visible, a marketing agency providing custom outreach and link building service.

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Five social media trends that are shaping 2020

March 11, 2020 No Comments

Every year the social media marketing community turns into fortune tellers — we collectively try to predict what trends, features, and innovations will take place in the upcoming year. Of course, trying to predict social media trends is much more trustworthy than fortune-telling even if you’re using astrology as a framework for that. 

Most social media predictions stand on the existing trends and research, which makes them highly likely to actually be accurate. It’s a common truth that social media platforms are constantly changing, they come up with new features, change algorithms, review their respective policies, and it all affects the way we do marketing on social. But it’s not like these changes come out of nowhere — they are all the results of social media company’s vision and business model or external circumstances. 

To identify trends that will dominate social media this year we need to consider all of these internal and external circumstances. And that’s exactly what I did to make up this list of five major trends that will be prominent in 2020. In addition to simply describing what to expect in 2020, I also give some recommendations on how to use these trends to your brand’s advantage.

1. Let data analysis lead your strategy

Social media trends using data for social listening

 

Source: Screenshot from social listening tool, Awario

Knowledge is power, and social media companies want to empower their users and brands, or rather attract more investments. That’s why they are giving social media managers more and more access to insights and data analytics. Facebook is constantly expanding Creator Studio’s and Facebook Insights’ functionality, Twitter is adding more insights to Media Studio, and Pinterest is adding Pinterest Trends to inform brands on user behavior. 

This year we are likely to see more ways to access user trends on different platforms and tap into this data for marketing and social media research. At the same time, due to trend number three on this list, brands might have to change the way they used to do social media marketing, especially with targeted advertising. There are ethical and unethical ways to use data, and the upcoming year will probably be the time to rethink these terms. That may encourage brands to get more involved in the research of the publicly available data with the help of social listening, for example.

How to be on-trend

  • Make sure your social media strategy is based on insights gained through data research, not a blind guess. Use the insights provided by platforms like Facebook and Instagram Insights, Twitter Analytics, and so on to find what content performs best, when you should post, and what resonates with your audience. Your KPIs should respond to your goals – if you are raising brand awareness, pay attention to the number of followers, if you’re focusing on community building, keep track of the engagement metrics. 
  • Collect and analyze publicly available data, this is the most ethical way to conduct marketing research without invading anyone’s privacy. Social monitoring and listening tools such as Awario or Brandwatch break down the sentiment, reach, demographics, and user behavior trends behind any phenomenon you want to research on social media. 

2. Make your communication more private

Making social media more private

In 2019 Mark Zuckerberg claimed that “the future is private”. This was a surprising turn of events for the company which started out as a service to meet people and connect strangers. Facebook’s CEO announced that from now own the platform will prioritize ways to build and sustain smaller communities and tet-a-tet communication meaning more focus on Groups and Messenger as well as WhatsApp. And it’s not just Facebook, social media apps have been introducing more privacy-driven features lately including Instagram’s “Close Friends” list, various updates to DMs functionality for Twitter and Instagram, more ways for brands to manage social messaging. With the upcoming redesign of Facebook feed (expected to be fully rolled out in Q1 and the new ability to limit replies to your tweets, it’s obvious that 2020 will be the year of private social media. 

The turn to private communication is, of course, motivated by user behavior. People simply got much more into messaging their friends and interacting in small interest-based communities. Social media companies took notice of that and are now giving people what they want. However, taking into consideration how many privacy scandals we had in the last couple of years, it’s easy to imagine that the turn to privacy was also prompted by the intent to improve ones’ reputation, especially when we are talking about Facebook. 

How to be on-trend

  • If you don’t have a Facebook group for your customers yet, it’s high time you start one. 
  • Use the “Close Friends” list on your Instagram account to share exclusive content with your most engaged followers. 
  • Go beyond the big three by looking into smaller communities on Reddit and Quora for better opportunities to engage with the audience.

3. Take up more social responsibility

Taking up more social responsibility will be a social media trend

Source: Twitter

This will probably be the most prominent theme in the news coverage of social media companies for 2020. Once again, it’s not a new trend — the pressure to sort out the issues with spamming, misinformation, manipulation of the algorithm, and the social media impact on users’ mental health has been there for a while. 

In 2020 we can expect more regulations on ads, more sophisticated algorithms for discovering spammers and bots, and more ways for users to control what they are seeing on the timeline. In 2019 we saw some actions taken not just by the platforms themselves but also by the state — there were several court cases around creating fake engagement and selling followers and likes that could become precedents for creating legislation around this matter. 

Both Facebook and Twitter CEOs publicly stated that the ultimate framework for dealing with misleading ads and handling users’ data should come from the governmental actors and independent expert committees, not the social media companies. California Consumer Privacy Act is the first attempt at such legislation. This will certainly affect the way brands advertise on social and conduct marketing research (see trend number one).

Social media companies also face a bigger challenge – how to avoid locking people in their own social media bubbles and creating echo-chambers that skew their view of the world? Admittedly, this is a broader challenge for our society in general. However, we can’t ignore the fact that social media contributes to exacerbating the political and social divide between people, and it might be the time for platforms to rethink the core functionality and algorithms behind them.

Another area where social media companies are encouraged to take on more responsibility is mental health. By now it is obvious (and confirmed by research) that social media can have a negative effect on users’ self-esteem and mental health, especially among teenagers, and social media companies need to take notice of that. Some platforms have already made steps in the right direction by informing users about how much time they are spending on the app. The next big change will concern vanity metrics (see below). In 2020, it’s expected that there will be more platform regulations that aim to protect users from abuse and bullying and more ways for users to filter the information they don’t want to consume.

How to be on-trend

  • Make sure your ads comply with the platform regulations.
  • Discard sketchy growth hacks such as buying followers or using third-party tools for follow-unfollow tactics in favor of genuine engagement and community building.
  • To make interactions with your audience actually genuine, understand when those interactions are welcome. The best way to start engaging with people on the internet is by commenting and replying to their public posts: and of course, your comments should be meaningful and relevant. You can find people and posts to engage through social media monitoring — simply monitor keywords and phrases appropriate for your niche.
  • Use social listening, competitor and hashtag research to find accounts related to your niche and engage them in the comments. Offer your expertise or start conversations discussing relevant topics. 

4. Focus less on vanity metrics

Less focus on vanity metrics
This trend is partly related to the previous one. In 2019, we saw several experiments around hiding vanity metrics, mainly like count, on Facebook and Instagram. Twitter’s CEO has also been vocal about his desire to move away from vanity metrics. Moreover, both Instagram and Twitter have slightly tweaked their design to put less emphasis on the number of followers an account has. The rejection of like count is probably motivated both by moral and practical reasons, comparing your number of likes to someone else’s is proven to damage one’s self-esteem.

Hiding vanity metrics from anyone could eliminate the pressure of competition people feel and make social media less stressful. Instagram has also revealed that during the tests they discovered that discarding like count leads to more content on the platform and that’s what any social media company wants. 

That’s the logical outcome of the previous point, if people feel less pressure to get the most likes, they will feel more at ease with posting. All in all, prepare to say goodbye to like counts in 2020.

How to be on-trend

  • For social media managers, discarding vanity metrics means new ways of doing competitor and influencer research. You can use Facebook’s native functionality (Brand Collabs Manager, Insights) or social media analytics tools to compare your brand with your competitors or find and evaluate influencers relevant to your niche. 
  • Track the number of followers, engagement rate, and ads placed on Facebook through “Pages to Watch” and “Ad Library”.
  • Use social listening to compare your social media Share of Voice with your competitors.

Share of voice of top 10 UK universities calculated

Source: Screenshot from social listening tool, Awario

5. Try TikTok

Social media trends - try TikTok advertising

In 2019 TikTok became one of the most downloaded apps in the app store. The swift rise of the social media app drew a lot of attention from social media marketers, and will surely draw even more attention this year. The greatest thing about TikTok is its feed algorithm which allows you to reach a significant number of users right from the get-go, without having to gain followers for a long time. 

The platform is tailored for viral content: easy sharing, trends, and challenges enable you to easily create videos with a huge potential reach. Moreover, the platform is constantly developing its business capabilities, just recently TikTok rolled out the ability to run ads on the platform for everyone. 

TikTok is the app to keep an eye on, as it is one of the fastest-growing social media networks, it surely has bigger plans for the upcoming year.

How to be on-trend

  • If you’re not TikTok yet, create an account right now.
  • See what trends could be useful for your industry, check out what your competitors are doing, examine the latest trends. A lot of TikTok’s content is focused on viral songs, dance challenges, and certain editing techniques. So you should research those if you want to create popular content.
  • Try advertising on TikTok! TikTok Ads is not the only way to promote your product, you can also partner up with TikTok creators to reach new audiences.  

In conclusion

Social media trends don’t just pop out of nowhere and it’s not difficult to predict what will happen in the upcoming year. However, knowing something is only half the battle — you need to actually adjust your social media strategy to the ever-changing circumstances to get the best results. 

In this article, I tried to demonstrate the broader trends but also shared actionable tips to implement in your work. Some of the trends that will play out in 2020 may seem like an impediment for social media marketers, you can’t use targeting, you can’t see how many likes an influencer gets, and people are getting harder to reach since they are all hanging out in private communities. But it’s actually a chance for building genuine and trusting relationships with your audience — and you can do it by using these trends to your advantage.

Aleh is the Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario. He can be found on Twitter at @ab80.

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Disambiguating Image Queries at Google

March 7, 2020 No Comments

Better Understanding Image Queries

Years ago, I wouldn’t have expected a search engine telling a searcher about objects in a photograph or video, but search engines have been evolving and getting better at what they do

In February, Google was granted a patent to help return image queries from searches involving identifying objects in photographs and videos. A search engine may have trouble trying to understand what a human may be asking, using a natural language query, and this patent focuses upon disambiguating image queries.

The patent provides the following example:

For example, a user may ask a question about a photograph that the user is viewing on the computing device, such as “What is this?”

The patent tells us that the process in it maybe for image queries, with text, or video queries, or any combination of those.

In response to a searcher asking to identify image queries, a computing device may:

  • Capture a respective image that the user is viewing
  • Transcribe the question
  • Transmit that transcription and the image to a server

The server may receive the transcription and the image from the computing device, and:

  • Identify visual and textual content in the image
  • Generate labels for images in the content of the image, such as locations, entities, names, types of animals, etc.
  • Identify a particular sub-image in the image, which may be a photograph or drawing

The Server may:

  • Identify part of a particular sub-image that may be of primary interest to a searcher, such as a historical landmark in the image
  • It may perform image recognition on the particular sub-image to generate labels for that sub-image
  • It may also generate labels for text in the image, such as comments about the sub-image, by performing text recognition on a part of the image other than the particular sub-image
  • It may then generate a search query based on the transcription and the generated labels
  • That query may ben be provided to a search engine

The Process Behind Disambiguating a Visual Query

The process described in this patent includes:

  • Receiving an image presented on, or corresponding to, at least a part of a display of a computing device
  • Receiving a transcription of an utterance spoken by a searcher, when the image is being presented
  • Identifying a particular sub-image included in the image, and based on performing image recognition on the particular sub-image
  • Determining one or more first labels that show a context of the particular sub-image
  • Performing text recognition on a part of the image other than the particular sub-image
  • Determining one or more second labels showing the context of the particular sub-image, based on the transcription, the first labels, and the second labels
  • Generating a search query
  • Providing, for output, the search query

query Images

Other Aspects of performing such image queries searches may involve:

  • Weighting the first label differently than a second label: the search query may substitute one or more of the first labels or the second labels based upon terms in the transcription
  • Generating, for each of the first labels and the second labels, a label confidence score that indicates a likelihood that the label corresponds to a part of the particular sub-image that is of primary interest to the user
  • Selecting one or more of the first labels and second labels based on the respective label confidence scores, wherein the search query is based on the one or more selected first labels and second labels
  • Accessing historical query data including previous search queries provided by other users
  • Generating, based on the transcription, the first labels, and the second labels, one or more candidate search queries
  • Comparing the historical query data to the one or more candidate search queries
  • Selecting a search query from among the one or more candidate search queries, based on comparing the historical query data to the one or more candidate search queries

The method may also include:

  • Generating, based on the transcription, the first labels, and the second labels, one or more candidate search queries
  • Determining, for each of the one or more candidate search queries, a query confidence score that indicates a likelihood that the candidate search query is an accurate rewrite of the transcription
  • Selecting, based on the query confidence scores, a particular candidate search query as the search query
  • Identifying one or more images included in the image
  • Generating for each of the one or more images included in the image, an image confidence score that indicates a likelihood that an image is an image of primary interest to the user
  • Selecting the particular sub-image, based on the image confidence scores for the one or more images
  • Receiving data indicating a selection of a control event at the computing device, wherein the control event identifies the particular sub-image. (The computing device may capture the image and capture audio data that corresponds to the utterance in response to detecting a predefined hotword.)

Further, the method may also include:

  • Receiving an additional image of the computing device and an additional transcription of an additional utterance spoken by a user of the computing device
  • Identifying an additional particular sub-image that is included in the additional image, based on performing image recognition on the additional particular sub-image
  • Determining one or more additional first labels that indicate a context of the additional particular sub-image, based on performing text recognition on a portion of the additional image other than the additional particular sub-image Determining one or more additional second labels that indicate the context of the additional particular sub-image, based on the additional transcription, the additional first labels, and the additional second labels
  • Generating a command, and performing the command

Performing the command can include:

  • Storing the additional image in memory
  • Storing the particular sub-image in the memory
  • Uploading the additional image to a server
  • Uploading the particular sub-image to the server
  • Importing the additional image to an application of the computing device
  • Importing the particular sub-image to the application of the computing device
  • Identifying metadata associated with the particular sub-image, wherein determining the one or more first labels that indicate the context of the particular sub-image based further on the metadata associated with the particular sub-image

Advantages of following the image queries process described in the patent can include:L

  • The methods can determine the context of an image corresponding to a portion of a display of a computing device to aid in the processing of natural language queries
  • The context of the image may be determined through image and/or text recognition
  • The context of the image may be used to rewrite a transcription of an utterance of a user
  • The methods may generate labels that refer to the context of the image, and substitute the labels for portions of the transcription, such as “Where was this taken?”)
  • The methods may determine that the user is referring to the photo on the screen of the computing device
  • The methods can extract information about the photo to determine the context of the photo, as well as a context of other portions of the image that do not include the photo, such as a location that the photo was taken

This patent can be found at:

Contextually disambiguating queries
Inventors: Ibrahim Badr, Nils Grimsmo, Gokhan H. Bakir, Kamil Anikiej, Aayush Kumar, and Viacheslav Kuznetsov
Assignee: Google LLC
US Patent: 10,565,256
Granted: February 18, 2020
Filed: March 20, 2017

Abstract

Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on a computer storage medium, for contextually disambiguating queries are disclosed. In an aspect, a method includes receiving an image being presented on a display of a computing device and a transcription of an utterance spoken by a user of the computing device, identifying a particular sub-image that is included in the image, and based on performing image recognition on the particular sub-image, determining one or more first labels that indicate a context of the particular sub-image. The method also includes, based on performing text recognition on a portion of the image other than the particular sub-image, determining one or more second labels that indicate the context of the particular sub-image, based on the transcription, the first labels, and the second labels, generating a search query, and providing, for output, the search query.


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Four tips to help your brand thrive despite Google’s notification changes

March 5, 2020 No Comments

The browser Google Chrome (v80) is following in the footsteps of Mozilla Firefox (v72) and Apple Safari (v12.1) for notifications—websites that ask for opt-in immediately will now be only able to use quiet notification prompts.

These prompts are far less visible than the standard prompts that show up below the address bar.  What’s more, in Chrome, users can now receive all opt-in requests quietly if they choose.

Many brands—retailers and publishers, in particular—have experienced tremendous success with web notifications. For instance, Asda’s George.com gets an astonishing 40% conversion rate with notifications on abandoned carts and a 27% clickthrough rate on segmented alerts.

While web browsers give users more control, brands must adapt. Here are five ways of dealing with these changes:

1. Be clear about the benefits of opting-in 

What value does your website messaging offer? Will subscribers get exclusive content or offers or get alerts when their product shipped? It’s key to highlight such value in a soft-prompt before triggering the browser’s actual notification prompt.

2. Provide granular preferences

Offer visitors a preference center for them to customize settings to receive only notifications they truly want. For instance, a merchant may offer notifications for daily flash sales, weekly specials, new product arrivals and/or transaction updates. More control over notifications equals more customer happiness.

3. Don’t rush the “ask”

Like needy people, needy brands are a turn-off. Therefore, consider waiting until they’ve taken an action that signals interest before asking them to opt-in. Have they looked at a promotion, watched a video or searched for a specific product? Pinpoint the moment when asking for the opt-in will streamline the customer journey instead of stalling it.

4. Test various flows 

Web opt-ins are often the largest addressable audiences for brands, hence marketers don’t want to wait too long before making the ask. You should continuously A/B test your opt-in prompts, including timing, language, and offers. While browsers will judge your site by opt-in rate, brands should be focused on better long-term engagement, more conversions, higher frequency, and greater lifetime value.

5. Reward opens 

Last but not least, notifications have become central to the customer experience for both apps and mobile platforms, which explains why the opt-in rate for apps exceeds 50%. Website marketers should reward customers for notification engagement. For example, they can offer double loyalty point days, early access to the biggest deals or notifications when wish list items go on sale.

Mike Stone is the SVP of marketing at Airship.

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How to identify and address the four biggest digital growth challenges

February 28, 2020 No Comments

SMBs working to accelerate digital growth encounter a variety of challenges across internal operations, marketing platforms, site properties, and competitors. Part of the path to growth is identifying and prioritizing those challenges, which can be tough without looking at the right reports and metrics.

In this post, we’ll dig into four areas that often uncover growth blockers and explain how to assess the opportunities that overcoming them would present.

1. Site issues

Growth, in the advertising budget and in awareness, brings more demand on your site. This means more users, more tracking and tagging, and other factors that can affect site speed, which is a huge factor in user experience. One of the best tools out there to test site speed is Google’s PageSpeed Insight tool, which provides great data and insights on your site speed and user experience on mobile and desktop. In general, Google recommends site speeds between two-to-five seconds, and this is considering the faster end of that range in mind. Anything beyond that, and you’re losing money from users bouncing.

Beyond site speed, the way users digest and navigate your site may not be optimal. Although there’s a lot you can glean from click paths in Google Analytics, heat maps are a relatively tried-and-true way to understand:

  • How users are interacting with your site
  • Where they’re getting stuck
  • Where you should relocate your most valuable CTAs and messaging

We’ve seen numerous clients improve CVR by over 20% with rapid testing cycles on top pages.

2. Internal obstacles

You can promise your users the world in your ad campaigns, but without aligning expectations with current internal challenges, that will only build a base of frustrated customers.

B2B companies may have slower-than-expected turnaround times to contact leads that your ads generate, ecommerce companies may experience inventory issues with best-selling products. If your ads are promising same-day calls that get placed weeks later or if you’re offering fast shipping of out-of-stock products, you’ve used ad spend to create a tide of negative sentiment.

Make sure you’re syncing with internal teams to understand challenges that may require you to adjust messaging, or even slow down/pause ad spend while the issues are being sorted out. Especially considering we’re in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, this is more important than ever for sites selling physical products whose supply chain has been affected.

3. Creative chaos

Images, headlines, descriptions, landing pages, ratios, messaging themes – each element can be a factor in attracting and optimizing user engagement, which makes prioritization of testing complicated. The creation of a testing calendar that aligns with your media plan is incredibly important. If you’re new to testing, start slowly and test one variable at a time to keep results clear. If you’ve got some testing experience under your belt and have the requisite budget and expertise, consider adopting a multivariate testing tool to help you execute a rapid testing schedule that will provide both insights and greater performance.

4. Competitive pressures

The challenge that lurks for companies in every growth stage and vertical is competition. More than simply driving up CPCs on Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, competition requires marketers to consider things like:

  • Cheaper brand clicks vs net-new non-brand users
  • Acquisition vs less-costly remarketing campaigns

It also requires frequent analysis of how the competitive landscape is changing – new entries, new messaging, new price points and offers. SMBs especially need to clearly articulate their advantages over better-known competitors to give themselves a chance to carve out market share in the face of rising costs.

Of the types of challenges outlined above, only competitive pressures are somewhat beyond your company’s control. Make sure to plan out your cadence of site analysis, internal check-ins, and creative testing roadmaps to keep your own house in order and position yourself to meet competitive challenges that arise.

Lauren Crain is a Client Services Lead in 3Q Digital’s SMB division, 3Q Incubate.

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