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.
The post The email marketing landscape 2019 and way ahead for 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Facebook spying on teens, Twitter accounts hijacked by terrorists, and sexual abuse imagery found on Bing and Giphy were amongst the ugly truths revealed by TechCrunch’s investigating reporting in 2019. The tech industry needs more watchdogs than ever as its size enlargens the impact of safety failures and the abuse of power. Whether through malice, naivety, or greed, there was plenty of wrongdoing to sniff out.
Led by our security expert Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch undertook more long-form investigations this year to tackle these growing issues. Our coverage of fundraises, product launches, and glamorous exits only tell half the story. As perhaps the biggest and longest running news outlet dedicated to startups (and the giants they become), we’re responsible for keeping these companies honest and pushing for a more ethical and transparent approach to technology.
If you have a tip potentially worthy of an investigation, contact TechCrunch at firstname.lastname@example.org or by using our anonymous tip line’s form.
Here are our top 10 investigations from 2019, and their impact:
Facebook pays teens to spy on their data
Josh Constine’s landmark investigation discovered that Facebook was paying teens and adults $ 20 in gift cards per month to install a VPN that sent Facebook all their sensitive mobile data for market research purposes. The laundry list of problems with Facebook Research included not informing 187,000 users the data would go to Facebook until they signed up for “Project Atlas”, not receiving proper parental consent for over 4300 minors, and threatening legal action if a user spoke publicly about the program. The program also abused Apple’s enterprise certificate program designed only for distribution of employee-only apps within companies to avoid the App Store review process.
The fallout was enormous. Lawmakers wrote angry letters to Facebook. TechCrunch soon discovered a similar market research program from Google called Screenwise Meter that the company promptly shut down. Apple punished both Google and Facebook by shutting down all their employee-only apps for a day, causing office disruptions since Facebookers couldn’t access their shuttle schedule or lunch menu. Facebook tried to claim the program was above board, but finally succumbed to the backlash and shut down Facebook Research and all paid data collection programs for users under 18. Most importantly, the investigation led Facebook to shut down its Onavo app, which offered a VPN but in reality sucked in tons of mobile usage data to figure out which competitors to copy. Onavo helped Facebook realize it should acquire messaging rival WhatsApp for $ 19 billion, and it’s now at the center of anti-trust investigations into the company. TechCrunch’s reporting weakened Facebook’s exploitative market surveillance, pitted tech’s giants against each other, and raised the bar for transparency and ethics in data collection.
Protecting The WannaCry Kill Switch
Zack Whittaker’s profile of the heroes who helped save the internet from the fast-spreading WannaCry ransomware reveals the precarious nature of cybersecurity. The gripping tale documenting Marcus Hutchins’ benevolent work establishing the WannaCry kill switch may have contributed to a judge’s decision to sentence him to just one year of supervised release instead of 10 years in prison for an unrelated charge of creating malware as a teenager.
The dangers of Elon Musk’s tunnel
TechCrunch contributor Mark Harris’ investigation discovered inadequate emergency exits and more problems with Elon Musk’s plan for his Boring Company to build a Washington D.C.-to-Baltimore tunnel. Consulting fire safety and tunnel engineering experts, Harris build a strong case for why state and local governments should be suspicious of technology disrupters cutting corners in public infrastructure.
Bing image search is full of child abuse
Josh Constine’s investigation exposed how Bing’s image search results both showed child sexual abuse imagery, but also suggested search terms to innocent users that would surface this illegal material. A tip led Constine to commission a report by anti-abuse startup AntiToxin (now L1ght), forcing Microsoft to commit to UK regulators that it would make significant changes to stop this from happening. However, a follow-up investigation by the New York Times citing TechCrunch’s report revealed Bing had made little progress.
Expelled despite exculpatory data
Zack Whittaker’s investigation surfaced contradictory evidence in a case of alleged grade tampering by Tufts student Tiffany Filler who was questionably expelled. The article casts significant doubt on the accusations, and that could help the student get a fair shot at future academic or professional endeavors.
Burned by an educational laptop
Natasha Lomas’ chronicle of troubles at educational computer hardware startup pi-top, including a device malfunction that injured a U.S. student. An internal email revealed the student had suffered a “a very nasty finger burn” from a pi-top 3 laptop designed to be disassembled. Reliability issues swelled and layoffs ensued. The report highlights how startups operating in the physical world, especially around sensitive populations like students, must make safety a top priority.
Giphy fails to block child abuse imagery
Sarah Perez and Zack Whittaker teamed up with child protection startup L1ght to expose Giphy’s negligence in blocking sexual abuse imagery. The report revealed how criminals used the site to share illegal imagery, which was then accidentally indexed by search engines. TechCrunch’s investigation demonstrated that it’s not just public tech giants who need to be more vigilant about their content.
Airbnb’s weakness on anti-discrimination
Megan Rose Dickey explored a botched case of discrimination policy enforcement by Airbnb when a blind and deaf traveler’s reservation was cancelled because they have a guide dog. Airbnb tried to just “educate” the host who was accused of discrimination instead of levying any real punishment until Dickey’s reporting pushed it to suspend them for a month. The investigation reveals the lengths Airbnb goes to in order to protect its money-generating hosts, and how policy problems could mar its IPO.
Expired emails let terrorists tweet propaganda
Zack Whittaker discovered that Islamic State propaganda was being spread through hijacked Twitter accounts. His investigation revealed that if the email address associated with a Twitter account expired, attackers could re-register it to gain access and then receive password resets sent from Twitter. The article revealed the savvy but not necessarily sophisticated ways terrorist groups are exploiting big tech’s security shortcomings, and identified a dangerous loophole for all sites to close.
Porn & gambling apps slip past Apple
Josh Constine found dozens of pornography and real-money gambling apps had broken Apple’s rules but avoided App Store review by abusing its enterprise certificate program — many based in China. The report revealed the weak and easily defrauded requirements to receive an enterprise certificate. Seven months later, Apple revealed a spike in porn and gambling app takedown requests from China. The investigation could push Apple to tighten its enterprise certificate policies, and proved the company has plenty of its own problems to handle despite CEO Tim Cook’s frequent jabs at the policies of other tech giants.
Bonus: HQ Trivia employees fired for trying to remove CEO
This Game Of Thrones-worthy tale was too intriguing to leave out, even if the impact was more of a warning to all startup executives. Josh Constine’s look inside gaming startup HQ Trivia revealed a saga of employee revolt in response to its CEO’s ineptitude and inaction as the company nose-dived. Employees who organized a petition to the board to remove the CEO were fired, leading to further talent departures and stagnation. The investigation served to remind startup executives that they are responsible to their employees, who can exert power through collective action or their exodus.
If you have a tip for Josh Constine, you can reach him via encrypted Signal or text at (585)750-5674, joshc at TechCrunch dot com, or through Twitter DMs
Despite the U.S. government’s concerns over TikTok, which most recently led to the U.S. Navy banning service members’ use of the app, TikTok had a stellar 2019 in terms of both downloads and revenue. According to new data from Sensor Tower, 44% of TikTok’s total 1.65 billion downloads to date, or 738+ million installs, took place in 2019 alone. And though TikTok is still just experimenting with different means of monetization, the app had its best year in terms of revenue, grossing $ 176.9 million in 2019 — or 71% of its all-time revenue of $ 247.6 million.
Apptopia had previously reported TikTok was generating $ 50 million per quarter.
The number of TikTok downloads in 2019 is up 13% from the 655 million installs the app saw in 2018, with the holiday quarter (Q4 2019) being TikTok’s best ever, with 219 million downloads, up 6% from TikTok’s previous best quarter, Q4 2018. TikTok was also the second-most downloaded (non-game) app worldwide across the Apple App Store and Google Play in 2019, according to Sensor Tower data.
However, App Annie’s recent “State of Mobile” report put it in fourth place, behind Messenger, Facebook and WhatsApp — not just behind WhatsApp, as Sensor Tower does.
Regardless, the increase in TikTok downloads in 2019 is largely tied to the app’s traction in India. Though the app was briefly banned in the country earlier in the year, that market still accounted for 44% (or 323 million) of 2019’s total downloads. That’s a 27% increase from 2018.
TikTok’s home country, China, is TikTok’s biggest revenue driver, with iOS consumer spend of $ 122.9 million, or 69% of the total and more than triple what U.S. users spent in the app ($ 36 million). The U.K. was the third-largest contributor in terms of revenue, with users spending $ 4.2 million in 2019.
These numbers, however, are minuscule in comparison with the billions upon billions earned by Facebook on an annual basis, or even the low-digit billions earned by smaller social apps like Twitter. To be fair, TikTok remains in an experimental phase with regards to revenue. In 2019, it ran a variety of ad formats, including brand takeovers, in-feed native video, hashtag challenges and lens filters. It even dabbled in social commerce.
Meanwhile, only a handful of creators have been able to earn money in live streams through tipping — another area that deserves to see expansion in the months ahead if TikTok aims to take on YouTube as a home for creator talent.
When it comes to monetization, TikTok is challenged because it doesn’t have as much personal information about its users, compared with a network like Facebook and its rich user profile data. That means advertisers can’t target ads based on user interests and demographics in the same way. Because of this, brands will sometimes forgo working with TikTok itself to deal directly with its influencer stars, instead.
What TikTok lacks in revenue, it makes up for in user engagement. According to App Annie, time spent in the app was up 210% year-over-year in 2019, to reach a total 68 billion hours. TikTok clearly has users’ attention, but now it will need to figure out how to capitalize on those eyeballs and actually make money.
Reached for comment, TikTok confirmed it doesn’t share its own stats on installs or revenue, so third-party estimates are the only way to track the app’s growth for now.
Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.
Today, something short. Continuing our loose collection of looks back of the past year, it’s worth remembering two related facts. First, that this time last year SaaS stocks were getting beat up. And, second, that in the ensuing year they’ve risen mightily.
If you are in a hurry, the gist of our point is that the recovery in value of SaaS stocks probably made a number of 2019 IPOs possible. And, given that SaaS shares have recovered well as a group, that the 2020 IPO season should be active as all heck, provided that things don’t change.
Let’s not forget how slack the public markets were a year ago for a startup category vital to venture capital returns.
We’re depending on Bessemer’s cloud index today, renamed the “BVP Nasdaq Emerging Cloud Index” when it was rebuilt in October. The Cloud Index is a collection of SaaS and cloud companies that are trackable as a unit, helping provide good data on the value of modern software and tooling concerns.
If the index rises, it’s generally good news for startups as it implies that investors are bidding up the value of SaaS companies as they grow; if the index falls, it implies that revenue multiples are contracting amongst the public comps of SaaS startups.*
Ultimately, startups want public companies that look like them (comps) to have sky-high revenue multiples (price/sales multiples, basically). That helps startups argue for a better valuation during their next round; or it helps them defend their current valuation as they grow.
Given that it’s Christmas Eve, I’m going to present you with a somewhat ugly chart. Today I can do no better. Please excuse the annotation fidelity as well:
Both David and Dave also write about search engine patents from time to time, so it was a fun discussion.
David and I were discussing patents and the show before it started, and we both began to compare the most memorable patents we had come across in the last year. This post is my top ten list, along with blog posts I wrote about each of these search engine patents.
The majority of my favorites from the past year are knowledge-based patents covering the use of knowledge graphs and entity extraction.
Another favorite was a news-related patent that was updated for the 6th time. One of the previous times that it was updated (in 2013), the magazine/website ComputerWorld reported upon the update, but didn’t bother to look at the updated claims in the continuation patent, but instead reported upon what the description said (copied from the original 2003 version of the patent) missing out on the actual changes to that patent. It has changed a lot since the first version.
Another favorite is actually a hybrid search/knowledge-based patent that tries to understand and anticipate query templates that might be asked.
The last of the bunch is about better information local search by using actual visits to businesses to calculate quality visit scores to potentially boost rankings of local results.
These are my top ten Search Engine Patents posts of 2019 (I only chose ones that I spent enough time with to write about them. Hopefully, David Harry will share his Top 10 search engine patents from this year with us, too.
1. User-Specific Knowledge Graphs to Support Queries and Predictions Structured user graph to support querying and predictions, is a post about the patent Structured user graph to support querying and predictions. This patent was originally filed in 2013. however, it makes a lot of the same points as this very similar 2019 whitepaper from Google on Personal Knowledge Graphs.
2. Augmented Search Queries Using Knowledge Graph Information – The patent behind this one explains how Google has been including knowledge graph-based results, such as knowledge panels, Related Questions, Related Entities, and more in Search Results for queries, where they have recognized that there is an entity in a query that you may have searched for. The post is about the patent Providing search results using augmented search queries
3. In Google Knowledge Graph Reconciliation, I wrote about a patent that explains how Google works to better understand knowledge graphs and entities that appear in those in tuples and reverse tuples, and how to expand what those knowledge graphs cover. The patent behind it was Automatic discovery of new entities using graph reconciliation.
4. In How Might Google Extract Entity Relationship Information from Q&A Pages?, I wrote about the patent Information extraction from question and answer websites, which focuses upon relationships between entities, and how confidence scores might be developed to determine the likelihood that those relationships are true. It also looks at the natural language parsing behind finding answers to questions regarding such relationships.
5. In the post Answering Questions Using Knowledge Graphs, I wrote about Natural Language Processing With An N-Gram Machine, which tells us about how Google may create a knowledge graph to answer a query by performing a search on a question submitted to the search engine, an then use the results (or a percentage of the results) to create a knowledge graph that it can then use to answer the query. This reminded me of the User-Specific knowledge graphs that I wrote about in the first patent I wrote about in this post, and how it pointed out that Google was engaged in creating many more knowledge graphs than just the one that we think about when they told us they were going to index real-world objects back in 2012.
6. The post Entity Extractions for Knowledge Graphs at Google is about the patent Computerized systems and methods for extracting and storing information regarding entities about how Google uses natural language processing to extract entities from text on Web Pages, and how it also parses that text to understand relationships between the entities it finds, and facts and attributes and classifications of those entities, and the confidence scores between those entities and facts about them.
7. In How Google May Interpret An Ambiguous Query Using a Semantic Interpretation, I wrote about how Google may decide to answer a query that may seem ambiguous by trying to decide upon the intent behind the query and comparing the results that Google search returns for the ambiguous query from the searcher with ones that cover different intents to see how similar the SERPs are for each of those. Google tells us that each of the different semantic interpretations that guess at the intent behind a query might be associated with a canonical query that it would test to see the similarity between it and the original query. This approach is described in the patent Evaluating semantic interpretations of a search query.
8. I compared earlier claims in Evolution of Google’s News Ranking Algorithm to the claims from the 6th update to one of the original Google News patents at Google, which started out by ranking articles based upon features of the sources of that news in the first version and evolved in a number of ways to focus upon originality by how much it references different entities, as described in updated claims in the patent Systems and methods for improving the ranking of news articles (6th version of this patent, updating the claims as a continuation patent)
9. The post Automatic query pattern generation is about a patent that takes a hybrid search/knowledge approach to better understanding queries that searchers may perform, by looking in query logs for questions that searchers may perform as templates and using entities from Google’s Knowledge Graph as part of those questions. An example would be “what are the symptoms for pneumonia?” The patent behind this post is Automatic query pattern generation. That Google is combining the use of query log information with knowledge graph information to learn about what people might search for, and anticipate such questions shows us how they may combine information like they do with augmentation queries, and answering questions using knowledge graphs.
Local Search-Based Patents
10. In the post Quality Visit Scores to Businesses May Influence Rankings in Google Local Search, I wrote about how Google might combine real-world information about visits to businesses, as captured using navigational devices such as smartphones, as described by the patent Quality visit measure for controlling computer response to query associated with physical location. Google referred to the use of such quality visit scores in one of their support pages about ads and analytics and mentioned that they might be awarding digital and physical badges to the most visited locations as local favorites (which Google is now awarding in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.)
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As the holiday slowdown looms, the final U.S.-listed technology IPOs have come in and begun to trade.
Three tech, tech-ish or venture-backed companies went public this week: Bill.com, Sprout Social and EHang. Let’s quickly review how each has performed thus far. These are, bear in mind, the last IPOs of the year that we care about, pending something incredible happening. 2020 will bring all sorts of fun, but, for this time ’round the sun, we’re done.
Our three companies managed to each price differently. So, we have some variety to discuss. Here’s how each managed during their IPO run:
- EHang priced at the bottom of its range, selling shares for $ 12.50 apiece
- Sprout Social priced mid-range at $ 17 per share after targeting a $ 16 to $ 18 per-share price interval
- Bill.com priced above its raised range, selling shares at $ 22 apiece after raising its interval from $ 16 to $ 18 to $ 19 to $ 21
How do those results stack up against their final private valuations? Doing the best we can, here’s how they compare:
- EHang was worth around $ 680 million at its IPO price. The company’s final private valuation (likely set during its $ 42 million Series B) is unknown. However, we’d guess that the IPO was at a higher price, given the time between the private round and the IPO.
- Sprout Social managed to slightly raise its valuation in its IPO. Worth around $ 814 million in the liquidity event, Sprout had been worth just over $ 800 million when private.
- Bill.com was valued at around $ 1.6 billion in its IPO, comfortably above its final private valuation of $ 1.0 billion.
So EHang priced low and its IPO is hard to vet, as we’re guessing at its final private worth. We’ll give it a passing grade. Sprout Social priced mid-range, and managed a slight valuation bump. We can give that a B, or B+. Bill.com managed to price above its raised range, boosting its valuation sharply in the process. That’s worth an A.
Trading just wrapped, so how have our companies performed thus far in their nascent lives as public companies? Here’s the scorecard:
- EHang’s Friday closing price: $ 12.90 (+3.2%)
- Sprout Social’s Friday closing price: $ 16.60 (-2.35%)
- Bill.com’s Friday closing price: $ 38.83 (+76.5%)
You can gist out the grades somewhat easily here, with one caveat. The Bill.com IPO’s massive early success has caused the usual complaints that the firm was underpriced by its bankers, and was thus robbed to some degree. This argument makes the assumption that the public market’s initial pricing of the company once it began trading is reasonable (maybe!) and that the company in question could have captured most or all of that value (maybe!).
Bill.com’s CEO’s reaction to the matter puts a new spin on it, but you should at least know that the week’s most successful IPO has attracted criticism for being too successful. So forget any chance of an A+.
Image via Getty Images / Somyot Techapuwapat / EyeEm
SEO and PPC can and should work together was the premise of Sarah Barker’s keynote speech at Hero Conf London this year. Let’s take a dive into the why and how of collaborating effectively between the two specialties.
Read more at PPCHero.com
There’s nothing that beats that organic #1 position in Google’s SERPs when it comes to brand visibility, increase in traffic, trust factor boost, reduction in cost per lead, and so on.
Everyone who’s anyone in online business knows this, which is why the struggle to grab that marketer’s Holy Grail can look like a cut-throat business to many SEO novices.
However, even SEO pros get confused when Google throws a wrench into the intricate workings of the rankings machine. Google’s core algorithm updates can mess up even the best SEO strategies, especially if you react in a panic to a drop in the rankings.
Today, I’ll share with you the three things I’ve learned from 2019 Google algorithm updates that will help you future-proof your SEO. First, however, take a look at the hints that Google rolled out alongside those updates to see if you’re building your SEO strategy on a healthy foundation.
2019 Google core algorithm updates and what they tell us
That’s just a bit shy of 9 updates per day.
All of them change how the algorithm evaluates a website and its rankings (most just slightly, though).
However, three of them were so-called ‘core algorithm updates’ – meaning that their impact on the rankings was likely significant for most indexed websites. Google announced these (in March, June, and September of 2019), which is not something that they normally do. This should give you an idea of how important they were in the grand scheme of all things SEO-related.
Websites were affected differently, with some seeing increases in their rankings and traffic, and others plummeting to Google’s page #3. Many of the sites that experienced significant drops are in the Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) niche.
(Verywellhealth.com shows a significant drop after the March core update)
“The sensitive nature of the information on these types of websites can have a profound impact on peoples’ lives,” says Paul Teitelman of Paul Teitelman SEO Agency. “Google has long struggled with this and at least one of these core algorithm updates was designed to push trustworthy YMYL content to the top while sinking those websites that contain dubious and untrustworthy information.”
Google signaled a path forward with these updates. If you were not paying attention, here are the key takeaways:
- Google signals an intent to keep rewarding fresh, complete, and unique content. Focus on answering the searcher’s questions thoroughly and precisely.
- E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) guidelines are more important than ever. Things like backlinks from reputable websites, encryption, and who authors your posts can make or break your organic rankings.
- Google wants to see you covering a wide range of topics from your broader niche. Increase your relevance with content that establishes you as the go-to source in your niche.
SEO is far from an exact science.
If anything, it’s educated guesswork based on countless hours of testing, tweaking, and then testing again.
Still, there are things that you can do to future-proof your SEO and protect your websites from reacting too violently to core algorithm updates.
Based on Google’s recent hints, here are three things that you should focus on if you’re going after those page #1 rankings in the SERPs.
Three tips to future-proof your website’s SEO
Keep the focus on high-quality, actionable content
I know you’re annoyed with hearing it by now but high-quality content is a prerequisite to ranking at the top of the SERPs and staying there.
This means that you need to pin-point a specific question that the searcher wants answers to and then write a piece of content that provides a detailed clarification of the issue. Does it need to be 5,000 words long? That depends on the question but, in most cases, it doesn’t. What it needs to be is concise and thorough, and clarify any and all questions that the searcher might have while reading it.
Ideally, you will want your content to be 1500+ words. According to Backlinko’s Brian Dean and his research, Google tends to reward longer content.
My advice is to ask yourself the following questions when you’re writing:
- Am I providing the reader with a comprehensive answer to their question?
- Is my content more thorough than what’s already on the #1 page of the SERPs?
- Am I presenting the information in a trustworthy way (citing sources, quoting experts)?
- Is my content easy to understand, and free from factual, stylistic, and grammar errors?
If your answer to these questions is a yes, you’re already doing better than (probably) 95% of your competitors.
Improve the E-A-T score of your website
In SEO, E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
In other words – who is authoring blog posts and articles that are published on your website? Are they penned by an expert in the field or by a ghostwriter?
Why should people trust anything you (or your website) have to say? That’s the crux of E-A-T.
The concept appears in Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG), and SEO experts have debated for years whether or not it has any bearing on the actual organic rankings.
In 2018, Google cleared all doubts around it, announcing that QRG is, in fact, their blueprint for developing the search algorithm. “You can view the rater guidelines as to where we want the search algorithm to go,” Ben Gomes, Google’s vice president of search, assistant and news, said in a CNBC interview.
Here’s what the QRG has to say about E-A-T
We have no idea if Google’s core algorithm can evaluate E-A-T parameters as well as an actual human rater. Still, if that’s Google’s end goal, it’s a good idea to pay attention to it now, regardless of whether it’s implemented or not. It most certainly will be at one point in the future.
To improve your E-A-T score, focus on the following
- Add an author byline to your posts – every post that you publish should be authored by someone. Use your real name (or your author’s real name), and start building a reputation as an expert in the field.
- Create your personal website – even if you’re trying to rank your business site, make sure to have a personal branding website of your own (and of any regularly contributing authors). Those websites should be maintained – you don’t need to SEO the heck out of them but you should publish niche-relevant content regularly.
- Get featured on Wikipedia and authority websites – QRG clearly instructs raters to check for author mentions on Wikipedia and other relevant sites. That stands to reason because experts in the field will often be quoted by other publications.
- Get mentions on forums – same goes for forum mentions. If people name-drop you on relevant forums, that means that they feel you have something important to say.
- Secure your site with HTTPS – security is an important E-A-T factor, especially if you’re selling something via your website. An unsecured website will have a low E-A-T score so make sure to invest in encryption to boost trustworthiness.
Build quality backlinks and establish a social presence
Quality backlinks are still a very important ranking factor.
However, according to a report released by Backlinko, it’s not about one or two backlinks, regardless of how strong they are.
What moves the ranking needle are sustainable, evergreen link-building strategies – backlinks from trusted, niche-related websites that are acquired by white hat SEO methods such as blogger outreach, guest posting, and collaborations with other influencers in the niche. The more of these types of backlinks you get, the better your organic rankings.
Additionally, getting backlinks from a greater number of referring domains ensures that your rankings are protected if, for example, a couple of those websites get shut down or penalized in the future. When you’re playing the link-building game, it pays to think ahead.
(Image Source: https://backlinko.com/google-ranking-factors)
And, while they don’t carry the same weight as true backlinks, you’d be wrong to underestimate the value Google’s ranking algorithm places on social media signals.
A truly authoritative website – and all the authors that write for it – will have a strong social media presence. They will use it to amplify their message, build additional authority, and drive traffic to their website. Ahrefs’ Tim Soulo does this better than any other SEO expert that I know.
All of this will affect the aforementioned E-A-T parameters. If nothing, it will distribute your name far and wide, signaling to Google that you’re not a complete nobody that just happens to run a website or write a blog about a certain topic. The stronger your social media presence; the more followers, comments, and shares you end up earning – the better it is for your E-A-T.
Get people to trust you and the algorithm will follow
Pretty soon, the key to top rankings will be how believable and trustworthy you are. Google’s current insistence on E-A-T parameters clearly demonstrates that. Everything else will be just the icing on the cake after that – the fancy schema you’re using, the on-page SEO gimmicks, and all the other loopholes SEO experts are now using to rank their websites.
I’m interested to hear what you think about the direction that Google is taking with this year’s algorithm updates. Have any of your websites been affected? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss.
The post 2019 Google core algorithm updates: Lessons and tips to future-proof your SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Last week, we extended the early-bird pricing on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019 until 15 November at 11:59 p.m. (CEST). Consider it distinctly non-divine intervention from Expeditus, the patron saint of procrastinators (and speedy causes). The countdown continues, and you have just four days left to save serious dough — we’re talking up to €500 depending on the type of pass you purchase.
No matter what role you play in the startup world, you’ll find tremendous value at Disrupt Berlin. Add even more value — buy an early-bird pass to Disrupt Berlin before the early bird flies away for good on 15 November at 11:59 p.m. (CEST).
Disrupt Berlin draws attendees from more than 50 countries across Europe and beyond, making it an international celebration of all things startup. This is the place to see the latest tech from innovative early-stage startups, and you’ll find hundreds of them exhibiting in Startup Alley. Don’t miss the Country Pavilions where you’ll find delegations from different countries showcasing the best of their up-and-coming startups.
You’ll also find TC Top Picks exhibiting in Startup Alley. Our editors selected up to five startups they feel represent the most interesting use of technology in the following categories: AI/Machine Learning, Biotech/Healthtech, Blockchain, Fintech, Mobility, Privacy/Security, Retail/E-commerce, Robotics/IoT/Hardware, CRM/Enterprise and Education. Come to meet, greet and network with the founders who earned the coveted Top Pick designation.
With so many exhibiting startups to see, not to mention all the founders, investors and technologists roaming around the Berlin Arena, how can you cut through the noise to find the people who align with your business goals and interests? Use CrunchMatch, our free business-matchmaking tool that slays the old needle-in-a-haystack approach to networking.
We’ll email all registered attendees when we launch CrunchMatch, and we’ll explain how to access the platform. You then create a professional profile outlining your role and the specific types of people and connections you want to make. CrunchMatch will find and suggest matches and — with your approval — suggest meetings, send out meeting requests and schedule appointments. Closing the deal? That’s up to you.
Beyond all the networking opportunities, you’ll have the chance to learn from and engage with tech and investing experts and icons. Hear from world-class speakers, attend smaller Q&A Sessions where you have the chance to get your pressing questions answered, watch the Startup Battlefield and don’t miss the Hackathon finalists pitch on the Extra Crunch Stage. Check out the Disrupt Berlin agenda.
Join us on 11-12 December for all the value and opportunity Disrupt Berlin 2019 offers. And remember, you have just four more days to grab all the value you can. Channel Saint Expeditus and beat the deadline. Buy your early-bird pass before 15 November at 11:59 p.m. (CEST). We’ll see you in Berlin!
Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.
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