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The search dilemma: looking beyond Google’s third-party cookie death

April 17, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • In 2020, majority of the 181.7 billion U.S. dollar revenues came from advertising through Google Sites or its network sites
  • Even though they will be removing the third-party cookie from 2022, the search giant still has a wealth of first-party data from its 270+ products, services, and platforms
  • The Trade Desk’s 20 percent stock price drop is proof of Google’s monopoly and why it shouldn’t enjoy it anymore
  • Google expert, Susan Dolan draws from her rich experience and details the current search scape, insights and predicts future key themes that will arise out of the 3p cookie death

Imagine search as a jungle gym, you automatically imagine Google as the kingpin player on this ground. This has been a reality for decades now and we all know the downside of autonomy which is why the industry now acknowledges a need for regulation. Google announced that it would remove the third-party cookie from 2022. But a lot can happen in a year, 2020 is proof of that! Does this mean that cookies will completely bite the dust? Think again. I dive deep into years of my experience with the web to share some thoughts, observations, and insights on what this really means.

For once, Google is a laggard

Given the monopoly that Google has enjoyed and the list of lawsuits (like the anti-trust one and more) this move is a regulatory step to create a “net-vironment” that feels less like a net and is driven towards transparency and search scape equality.

But Firefox and Safari had already beaten Google to the punch in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Safari had launched the Safari Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) update on March 23, 2020. Firefox had launched its Enhanced Tracking Protection feature in September 2019 to empower and protect users from third-party tracking cookies and crypto miners.

Google’s solution to respect user privacy

Google recently announced that it won’t be using identifiers. Google is developing a ‘Privacy Sandbox’ to ensure that publishers, advertisers, and consumers find a fair middle ground in terms of data control, access, and tracking. The idea is to protect anonymity while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers. The Privacy Sandbox will don the FLoC API that can help with interest-based advertising. Google will not be using fingerprints, PII graphs based on people’s email addresses that other browsers use. Google will move towards a Facebook-like “Lookalike audience” model that will group users for profiling.

Did that raise eyebrows? There’s more.

Don’t be fooled – They still have a lavish spread of first-party data

Google is already rich with clusters of historical, individual unique data that they’ve stored, analyzed, predicted, and mastered over the years and across their platforms and services. These statistics give you a clear sense of the gravity of the situation:

  • Google has 270+ products and services (Source)
  • Among the leading search engines, the worldwide market share of Google in January 2021 was almost 86 percent (Source)
  • In 2020, majority of the 181.7 billion U.S. dollar revenues came from advertising through Google Sites or Google Network Sites (Source)
  • There are 246 million unique Google users in the US (Source)
  • Google Photos has over one billion active users (Source)
  • YouTube has over 1.9 billion active users each month (Source)
  • According to Google statistics, Gmail has more than 1.5 billion active users (Source)
  • A less-known fact, there are more than two million accounts on Google Ads (Source)
  • There are more than 2.9 million companies that use one or more of Google’s marketing services (Source)
  • As of Jan 2021, Google’s branch out into the Android system has won it a whopping 72 percent of the global smartphone operating system market (Source)
  • Google sees 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide (Source)

Google has an almost-never ending spectrum of products, services, and platforms –

Here’s the complete, exhaustive list of Google’s gigantic umbrella.

Google's 270+ products, services, and platforms

Source: Matrics360

Google already has access to your:

  • Location
  • Search history
  • Credit/debit card details shared on Google Pay
  • Data from businesses (more than 2.9 million!) that use Google services
  • Your device microphone
  • Mobile keyboard (G-board)
  • Apps you download from the Google Playstore and grant access to
  • Device camera, and that’s not even the tip of the iceberg

Google’s decision to eliminate the third-party cookie dropped The Trade Desk’s stock by 20 percent

Nobody should have monopoly and this incident serves as noteworthy proof. Google’s decision to drop 3p cookies shocked The Trade Desk’s stock prices causing a 20 percent slump in their stock value. The Trade Desk is the largest demand-side platform (DSP) and Google’s decision kills the demand for The Trade Desk’s proprietary Unified ID 1.0 (UID 1.0) – a unique asset that chopped out the need for cookie-syncing process and delivered match rate accuracy up to 99 percent.

Google’s statement on not using PII also jeopardizes the fate of The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0. which already has more than 50 million users.

Here’s what Dave Pickles, The Trade Desk’s Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer had to say,

“Unified ID 2.0 is a broad industry collaboration that includes publishers, advertisers and all players in the ad tech ecosystem.”

“UID provides an opportunity to have conversations with consumers and provide them with the sort of transparency we as an industry have been trying to provide for a really long time.”

Adweek’s March town hall saw advertisers and publishers haunted by the mystery that surrounds Google as Google denied to participate in the event. The industry is growing precarious that Google will use this as a new way to establish market dominance that feeds its own interests.

We love cookies (only when they’re on a plate)

Cookies are annoying because they leave crumbs everywhere… on the internet! Did you know, this is how people feel about being tracked on the web:

  • 72 percent of people feel that almost everything they do online is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or other companies
  • 81 percent say that the potential risks of data collection outweigh the benefits for them

These stats were originally sourced from Pew Research Center, but the irony, I found these stats on one of Google’s blogs.

On a hunt to escape these cookies or to understand the world’s largest “cookie jar” I checked out YouTube which seemed like a good place to start since it has over 1.9 billion monthly active users. You could visit this link to see how ads are personalized for you – the list is long!

My YouTube curiosity further landed me on this page to see how my cookies are shared (you can opt out of these). Even my least used account had 129 websites on this list, imagine how many sites are accessing your data right now.

Back in 2011 when I was the first to crack the Page rank algorithm, I could already sense the power Google held and where this giant was headed – the playground just wasn’t big enough.

Key themes that will emerge

Bottom line is, the cookie death is opening up conversations for advertising transparency and a web-verse that is user-first, and privacy compliant. Here’s what I foresee happening in search and the digital sphere:

  • Ethical consumer targeting
  • Adtech companies collaborating to find ways that respect their audience’s privacy
  • A more private, personalized web
  • More conversations around how much and what data collection is ethical
  • More user-led choices
  • Rise in the usage of alternative browsers
  • Incentivizing users to voluntarily share their data
  • Better use of technology for good

What do you think about the current climate on the internet? Join the conversation with me on @GoogleExpertUK.

Susan Dolan is a Search Engine Optimization Consultant first to crack the Google PageRank algorithm as confirmed by Eric Schmidt’s office in 2014. Susan is also the CEO of The Peoples Hub which has been built to help people and to love the planet.

The post The search dilemma: looking beyond Google’s third-party cookie death appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


UX: an important SEO ranking factor

April 13, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The story of SEO and UX began almost 20 years ago with both making a foray into the market in the 1990s
  • After years of analyzing data, I found that UX is a critical ranking factor for SEO
  • If you’ve exhausted all your SEO techniques but still don’t see a considerable movement on your website or rankings – you’re probably losing at user experience (UX)
  • Adobe Research’s Sr. Web Engineer, Atul Jindal condenses years of his experience and observations into this SEO guide to help you win at SEO and search experience

I’ve worked with many SEO and CRO campaigns as well as fortune 50 companies over the years. This gives me access to valuable data that helped me understand what is working and what’s not. Over the years by analyzing data I found that UX is a critical ranking factor for SEO.

The story of SEO and UX began almost 20 years ago with both making a foray into the market in the 1990s. While SEO was widely used as a marketing technique, UX (user experience) concentrated on giving the users an enhanced engaging experience on the website.

If you have exhausted all your SEO techniques but still don’t see a considerable movement on your website or rankings. Then probably you’re losing at User experience.

But it is quite difficult to find UX-related issues on your website. When you’re only looking at your website from an SEO perspective! You need to take a look at your website with your user’s (customer’s) eyes.

In this guide, I’ll explain UX and guide you on how to implement it into your SEO campaigns to get results.

What is UX?  

User experience (UX) is the experience of a user with your website/application. An easy-to-use website will provide a pleasant user experience but an unplanned website will have a bad or poor user experience.

UX focuses on the site architecture, visitor journey, desktop, and mobile layouts, user flows. In short, user experience is driven by how easy or difficult it is to navigate through the user interface elements that the website designers have created.

User interface (UI) focuses on the graphical layout of any application. It includes several factors such as fonts and design styles, text entry fields, transitions, images, and animation interface. In short, anything visual comes under the umbrella of UI.

It is important to note that UI and UX are two different functionalities. While UI revolves around design layout, UX is the experience of the user on the website while they are navigating the web pages.

Since we have a better understanding of the two, let us further understand how we can successfully implement UX into an SEO campaign.

Why does UX matter in SEO?

In recent years, Google has changed its ranking criteria. There was a time when Google was looking for the keyword reparations in your content or the number of backlinks that your website has.

But now the scenario has been completely changed. Google is becoming more user-centric day by day. They are using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP), and other kinds of latest technologies to understand, evaluate and provide the best of the best results. 

Google has introduced the EAT concept as well as metrics like search intent, page speed, mobile-friendliness, dwell-time are ranking factors to rank on Google. All these factors are part of a rich user experience. 

A rich user experience is a factor that creates the difference between the first and second positions. Providing a rich user experience is always helpful for visitors and encourages them to stay longer and engage more on your website. That sends positive quality signals that show your website the best result to Google. And as a result of that Google rewards you with top spots.

How to implement UX into an SEO campaign?

As mentioned above, SEO and UX share common end goals – audience engagement. SEO will answer a person’s query, while UX will take care of their navigational queries once they reach the webpage. 

Today, it has become imperative to include the two while designing SEO campaigns or any digital marketing strategy. Google is constantly evolving its user experience and merging effective SEO strategies to give the audience a more meaningful experience. 

An excellent example of UX and SEO design is IKEA. We all know what IKEA stands for, but their website forms a story at every step. It guides the user to the correct landing pages and keeps them engaged. The color palette, their tags, and categories make a user stay longer and engaged on the website. 

UX and its role in SEO an important ranking factor - IKEA example

Source: IKEA designed on Canva

Empathy plays a vital role in optimizing your web pages with the right combination of keywords. Those days are no more with us when the exact keyword matches were enough to rank well. Today, it is about putting yourself out there and thinking from a bigger perspective. 

Google has done a great job over the past five years of getting away from ranking signals that can be spammed easily such as links and keyword stuffing. 

In other words, understanding your audience’s buying intent and analyzing their search queries will lead to refined and sustainable results. 

Let us understand the three most critical factors that influence the SEO + UX ranking. 

Understand your audience

It is probably one of the trickiest parts of running any successful campaign – Understanding the target audience. 

Most companies spend a considerable amount of time researching the audience before concluding who will be their right target. It is why we have spent a sizable amount of time highlighting its importance. 

We have often heard of marketers, businesses, and content creators emphasizing the importance of the right target audience. While sometimes it is more or less commonsensical to grasp the audience’s pulse, there are times when you need to explicitly ask: 

  • Who is my target audience? 
  • What do they want? 
  • What they are searching for? 
  • How are they looking for the information? 
  • Did my searcher bounce right away? 
  • Was there any action taken on the link?

These are key questions, Google’s algorithm takes into consideration to understand whether search results are aligned to the searcher’s intent.

For example, Airbnb works on an inclusive design model that concentrates on improving readability across all platforms. Their target audience is clearly defined – travel enthusiasts, people looking for holiday home options, and people looking for holiday hosting solutions. Their focal point has been improving the user experience by leading them to the right landing pages. They coupled it with catchy CTAs that probed the user to take an action. Whether you are a host or someone seeking an extraordinary travel experience, their comprehensive holiday solutions pave the way to make booking a holiday faster and easier. 

UX and its role in SEO an important ranking factor - Airbnb example

Source: Airbnb. Designed on Canva 

Once you understand your audience completely, it can lead to a page getting clicks and some action taking place if you are on the first of Google search results. 

UX helps the audience stay glued to the page while SEO honors their intent to click on the page’s keyword and land. Everything you do, your focal points are always around the satisfactory experience of the users. From addressing their color preferences to the layout and messages, you have to build everything that caters to your customers. 

Another critical factor in understanding the audience is the user’s intent. It would help if you addressed it while carrying out a detailed audience persona such as informational, navigational, transactional, or commercial purpose. In each case, the queries have to be predefined to understand the user’s need. 

Keyword research

Understanding the intent of potential visitors landing on your web page through search is another crucial factor that makes up for an effective UX and SEO strategy. If your website is not fully optimized with the right set of keywords, there is a bleak chance of it ranking on Google or even leading to any action. 

For example, imagine searching for the keywords – “How to wear a bowtie?” 

The most logical conclusion is that your search will lead you to a tutorial or a video, right? If the same set of keywords are used by an ecommerce site selling the bowtie, your query will remain unanswered. You may conclude that the website using this keyword is not worth visiting in the future because they apply ‘click-bait’ words to lead a consumer to their website. 

But if the person lands on the right page with the instructions clearly outlined, they stay to learn, thus increasing the dwell time and may browse the website for more information. Here your keyword has played a vital role in leading the consumer straight to the tutorial. 

Google keyword planner, Moz keyword explorer, Keywordtool.io, Ahrefs Keywords explorer, or SECockpit are some practical tools used widely to search for the right keywords. 

The best way to select the right keywords to fit your SEO strategy is to iterate the keywords you need ranking. Search relevant topics based on your business to portray and understand how the user intent affects keyword usage. 

In short, keyword research, before setting up SEO campaigns and merging them with UX, help you evolve with changing market trends. 

Site architecture

Designing a website without optimizing it for search engines is a waste of time and vice versa. Both these aspects work together and need to be carefully considered right from the beginning. 

The site’s architecture is how the pages flow on your website. From the SEO point of view, good website architecture means Google will easily find and index your page. Simply, links should help Google to navigate smoothly from high to low authority pages. Google Search Console has improved a lot since its early days and became highly informative to SEO technicians, helping them to understand how a website is indexed and appeared to Google. 

Using H1, H2 tags, headings, taglines, catchy CTAs, and informational menu labels, decide whether your audience will interact with your website or not. Remember- your homepage should not be more than four clicks away. 

Mobile responsiveness

Mobile-responsive design has gained significant importance for both the user experience and SEO. Over 50 percent of all traffic is now driven by mobile search and sites that are not mobile-responsive will compromise the user experience.

According to Google’s page experience document, mobile-friendly websites have priority access to appear above in search results. Enhancing the readability of your readers by incorporating the right font family and text size is a must-have to consider improving the mobile experience. Having a responsive website with the ability to load faster has on varying screen sizes has become a standard these days.

You can check a site’s mobile responsiveness by using Google’s Mobile-friendly testing tool

Conclusion

Bad SEO + UX ruins the entire motive of brand building. It pays well to give importance to the fine attributes today. It includes domain name, informational content, internal links, optimizing meta tags, meta descriptions, image alt tags, headings, and page titles to make the entire experience worthwhile.

Implementing SEO with UX design may seem a little daunting initially; however, it is critical to boost rankings and build a great brand.

Atul Jindal is Sr. Web Engineer at Adobe Research.

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Search Engine Watch


Clubhouse: popular kids’ hangout or a true asset for brands’ community building?

April 10, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Find out how Clubhouse differentiates itself within the sea of social media apps
  • Clubhouse has turned its voice-only design from a potential constraint into its key strength
  • Users are able to multi-task while staying on the platform as background chatter (like in a coffee shop!)
  • Because the app is so new and fresh it took some time, but many brands are now using Clubhouse
  • Wherever there are influencers, advertisers aren’t far behind
  • Just this week Clubhouse announced a new monetization feature, Clubhouse Payments, as “the first of many features that allow creators to get paid directly on Clubhouse”
  • Now might be a good time to consider building an online community to add value and deepen the connection with your audience, here’s how

Clubhouse is the latest entrant into the ring of popular social media apps. The pandemic fast-tracked broader usage and many A-list celebrities have adopted the platform pivoting it into a more mainstream space and conversation. Clubhouse is an audio-only network that has become a disruptor to more mainstream social media channels and has provided a breath of fresh air and a much-needed distraction for those of us suffering from video and zoom fatigue.

It’s a welcome change for many of us as the app is built on a voice-led, live, concept and hosts conversations around very impromptu and diverse topics. The topics vary and the app is still limited however as more people continue to get invited a broader array of lifestyle and societal conversations will continue to blend into the feeds.

Clubhouse exclusivity: pro or con?

The MAJOR problem with the app is that the allure still is around its exclusivity.  You can’t join unless you’re invited (and using an iPhone) and for many who have heard of Clubhouse but haven’t joined or been invited it’s a big problem for major expansion.

The “voice only” advantage

One notable differentiator for Clubhouse is that it’s managed to turn its voice-only design from a potential constraint into its key strength. Users are able to use the app as passive background chatter while doing other work and listening in which is a breath of fresh air for many multi-tasking marketers such as me.

Real-time conversations: the heart of what makes Clubhouse tick

The reason Clubhouse is different and exciting is because it’s synchronous. It’s happening live and never again. If you’re not there, you will miss the conversation forever. Traditional social media channels are asynchronous.  You can access and revisit content and review or engage at any time that works for you and catch up at your own pace.  Rooms can be recorded if permission is granted, but that is seemingly rare as the value is in the authenticity of real-time communication and conversation.

As an excited and relatively new Clubhouse user, I’m trying to figure out the value of the platform for my clients as well as myself.  This got me thinking about how brands can use Clubhouse to build an online community to add value.  Clubhouse is a platform centered firmly on creators, not brands, at least for now. A creator can certainly be a brand leader working to expand thought leadership and build community or interest for a brand but within the Club the conversation is around authenticity and the person and NOT the bigger brand.

How brands can use Clubhouse to add to build an online community that adds value

I asked several of my friends and industry colleagues for their opinions on the platform and I found their answers to be useful and inspiring and noteworthy. Below are several responses relevant to the conversation of how brands can use Clubhouse to add to build an online community to add value.

  • Amberly Hilinski, Director of marketing at SodaStream International said “Clubhouse is weighing the reward of facilitating and respecting relevant content you don’t own.  Long lead earned media for brand owners who have the privilege (or budget) to think in terms of years and not quarters.   As the inevitable stampede of influencer dollars roll in, I worry how the conversations shift and how many truly “tune-in” worthy guests are booked.”
  • Margaret Molloy, CMO of Siegel + Gale said, “Time is the primary challenge for many thought leaders, a major consideration is whether we want to dedicate the effort to build a following on another platform. This is especially true for B2B leaders with an active social graph on LinkedIn and/or Twitter already. Clubhouse is centered firmly on creators, not brands, at least for now. A creator could be a brand employee hosting a community as a thought leader/community builder, however, it’s about the person, not the corporate brand.”
  • Ashley Stevens, Brand, Content & Experiential Marketing Expert said, “Brands can use Clubhouse as an extension of another online community or event. It’s a great place to “continue the conversation” and develop more personal relationships with current and potential clients.
  • Rob Durant, Founder of Flywheel Results said, “Brands cannot use Clubhouse the way they have used other platforms. There’s no automating it, There’s no outsourcing it, There’s no editing it, There’s no photoshopping it. People only get to know you when you show up and are fully present. That being said, Brands, even B2B Brands, CAN use Clubhouse. They just need to facilitate conversations instead of dominating them.”
  • Danielle Guzman, Global Head of Social Media at Mercer added, “Clubhouse is an opportunity for brands to rethink how they engage with their audiences. Most brand social channels are broadcast channels, very few have conversations with their audiences, because of resource constraints, lack of know-how, compliance reasons, and other concerns. Platforms like Clubhouse and the audio tools that Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms are working on will challenge corporates to review & redesign how they social up on social media.

It’s taken some time, but brands are now joining the Clubhouse conversations. Many of my colleagues remained dubious of the long-standing return and the overall future of the platform and insisted that brands should concentrate efforts in places providing maximum return. Clubhouse lacks analytics and tangible metrics to measure the investment of time and energy for brands.

Closing thoughts

I remain interested and active on the platform for now I’m cautious that it’s the “popular kids” hangout and the allure and interest is largely based around buzz. Certainly, brands can and should listen into ongoing conversations and get ideas on the audience tuning in and having conversations.  Brands who listen to ideas and have a pulse on the culture and content their market is exposed to will have a long-standing advantage and edge.

Wherever there are influencers, the advertisers aren’t far behind. As it stands today, Clubhouse still is limited with around two million active weekly users on the app. It offers what every advertiser wants – a highly targeted, used in one contained place, but the question remains of how and when to get advertisers involved.

Just this week within Clubhouse’s blog post, the startup announced a new monetization feature, Clubhouse Payments, as “the first of many features that allow creators to get paid directly on Clubhouse.”

This is the first step towards monetizing Clubhouse and the first of what many assume will come towards steps to monetize the platform.

As Twitter, LinkedIn, and other audio apps emerge Clubhouse will quickly have to adapt and make some changes if it wants to become a mainstream platform for brand marketers. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds over time!

Marissa Pick is a social & digital strategist and Senior Marketing Director at Marissa Pick Consulting LLC. Marissa can be found on Twitter @marissapick.

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Search Engine Watch


Going beyond keywords: how conversational insights take the guesswork out of marketing

April 6, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Keywords represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding consumer intent
  • Using AI-powered chatbots, conversational data that occurs over messaging channels like Facebook Messenger and Instagram Messaging can give businesses a deeper understanding of what consumers want
  • Below, we’ll discuss how conversational marketing platforms like Spectrm use natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI) to guide customers through the buying funnel
  • A robust conversational marketing platform makes it possible for companies to build chatbots that engage and convert customers on the websites, apps, and social platforms where people spend their time

conversational insights and keywords - Spectrm

For more than two decades, Google and other search engines have attempted to crack the consumer intent code. The entry point for a search marketing campaign is the keyword list. Yet keywords—whether spoken or typed—represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding what a user wants. There’s no way to clearly measure (or identify) user intent, but Google is getting better at figuring out what a user wants with technologies like Google Hummingbird, an algorithm update they rolled out in 2013. Google introduced Hummingbird in response to the increasingly conversational nature of search queries. 

Per a 2013 article in Wired, “Google is now examining the searcher’s query as a whole and processing the meaning behind it.” In January 2020, Statista reported roughly 40 percent of US search queries contained four or more terms.

Asking a search engine or virtual assistant a question is the beginning of a conversational journey that carries the searcher across channels until they ultimately find what they want (or not). Keywords pull the curtain of intent back, but they only provide a glimpse of the customer journey, labeling the searcher’s thoughts without revealing the “why” of what they’re searching for. 

Once a user clicks on a search result, the conversation—from the search engine’s perspective—is over. 

But thanks to advances in natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI), businesses have access to a much deeper understanding of what consumers want across the entire buying journey. 

AI-powered chatbots that “speak” to consumers can collect customer intent data and take the conversation beyond an initial keyword query. They enable businesses to leverage that customer intent data instantly to scale one-to-one personalization in direct chat.

Below, we discuss how conversational marketing platforms employ NLP and AI in chatbots to guide customers through the buying funnel, using conversational analysis to gain an understanding of customer intent that goes far beyond keywords. 

Content created in partnership with Spectrm.

The customer conversation is online

According to Hootsuite’s Digital In 2020 report, 60 percent of the world’s population is online. The report found that, globally, users spend an average of 6 hours and 43 minutes online each day—40 percent of their waking life using the internet. A large chunk of that time, more than two hours, is spent using social media.

Consumers were using mobile messaging and chat an average of 20 minutes per day in 2020, with Business Insider predicting that the average would grow to 24 minutes by 2021. Interacting with chatbots is a natural extension of consumers’ comfort with messaging in social media apps like Facebook and Instagram.

Increasingly, messaging is how we connect with each other. Facebook and Instagram are at the center of this trend. Businesses have the potential to reach and engage with over two billion people on Facebook and Instagram using their respective messengers. This level of engagement gets to the root of consumer intent, diving beneath surface keywords to the conversational data that can help companies understand what’s motivating the consumer to conduct their search in the first place. 

Leveraging conversations to drive results

Conversational marketing platforms use messaging apps to engage with consumers and determine intent. This is next-level chatbot technology that uses AI to create a two-way exchange with every customer, asking them questions throughout the buying process and capable of operating on multiple messaging channels.

Spectrm is an example of a conversational marketing platform that goes beyond simple, generic approaches to conversational AI by using domain-specific NLP to guide consumers through the customer journey. Generic conversational AI uses general NLP that can be used for simple tasks like autosuggestions and basic keyword matching. Domain-specific NLP is trained for the individual business. Spectrm’s approach to conversational AI combines domain-specific NLP with the use of generative adversarial networks, a type of machine learning that enables enterprises with little or no customer intent data to quickly generate their own data sets to train the algorithm.

“Marketing chatbots that use domain-specific NLP learn how your individual customers speak. The customer intent data specific to your business, customers, and goals are used to continuously improve your chatbot. It’s about understanding how your customers engage naturally with your brand, and training your bot to respond to that to drive outcomes valuable to your business. Even if you don’t have a lot of conversational data to train your bot.” – Writes Spectrm

Chatbots are only part of what makes conversational marketing platforms work. Platforms like Spectrm operate across multiple messaging channels where consumers spend all their time including Facebook Messenger, Instagram Messaging, Google Business Messages, and even at the display level via conversational display ads using AdLingo and Google DV360.

Consumers like chatting with businesses. They’re already moving through the buying cycle using one-on-one conversations that provide much more in-depth intent data than a simple keyword search. Consider the follow statistics:

  • 75 percent of consumers prefer to engage with brands in private messaging channels versus traditional channels
  • 65 percent of people are more likely to shop with a business they can reach via chat

Conversational data = More targeted campaigns

Conversational data can be used to create marketing campaigns that are more targeted than traditional search and display campaigns. They enable businesses to design targeted messaging around the customer journey, learning what customers want/need in the context of how they’re interacting with the chatbot.

Conversational data also enables businesses to create customer profiles using the answers people provide in chat. Personalization and segmentation become easier based on the granularity and specificity of conversational data. This information can be used to personalize marketing messages at a one-to-one level directly in chat. 

None of this is possible without the right platform. Some factors to strongly consider while evaluating an enterprise-level conversational marketing platform would be:

  • An easy to implement, no-coding setup
  • Customizations for your specific company and customer needs
  • Easy integrations with your tech stack
  • Enforcement of the highest privacy standards (GDPR, CCPA, and the others)
  • Connection to your product feed (for ecommerce websites) and ability to serve product recommendations/content in real-time based on user input
  • Flexible role management with the ability to set user access roles

Tools like Spectrm are at the heart of marketing automation, enabling companies to acquire new customers at scale. A robust conversational marketing platform makes it possible for companies to build chatbots that engage and convert customers on the websites, apps, and social platforms where people spend their time—no engineering resources needed.

Just like search engines, conversational intelligence tools effectively use language to get to the heart of consumer intent. They go beyond keywords to make every datapoint actionable, using chatbot analytics to optimize funnels and segment customers

In Spectrm’s words, “Reaching the right audience is getting harder every day. Consumers are more curious, demanding, and impatient than ever. They expect their digital experiences to be personalized, instant, and effortless. Chatbots enable brands to connect with their audience personally and offer seamless customer experiences from the start.”

To view Spectrm’s offerings, click here.

The post Going beyond keywords: how conversational insights take the guesswork out of marketing appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


What five news-SEO experts make of Google’s new, “Full Coverage” feature in mobile search results

March 25, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Google recently rolled out the “Full Coverage” feature for mobile SERPs
  • Will this impact SEO traffic for news sites, SEO best practices, and content strategies?
  • Here’s what in-house SEOs from The LA Times, New York Times, Conde Nast, and prominent agency-side SEOs foresee

Google’s “Full Coverage” update rolled out earlier this month – but what does it really mean for news-SEOs? In-house SEOs from The LA Times, New York Times, Conde Nast, and prominent agency-side SEOs weigh in.

As a news-SEO person myself, I was eager to get my peers’ opinions on: 

  • If this feature will result in greater SEO traffic for news sites?
  • If editorial SEO best practices and content strategies will evolve because of it?
  • If it will result in closer working relationships between SEO and editorial teams?
  • Or, will everything remain “business as usual”?

ICYMI: Google’s new, “Full Coverage” feature in mobile search

Google added the “full coverage”  feature to its mobile search functionality earlier this month – with the aim of making it easier for users to explore content related to developing news stories from a diverse set of publishers, perspectives, and media slants.  

Just below the “Top Stories” carousel, users will now begin seeing the option to tap into “Full Coverage”/“More news on…” for developing news stories. The news stories on this page will be organized in a variety of sub-news topics (versus one running list of stories like we’re used to seeing), such as:

  • Top news
  • Local news
  • Beyond the headlines, and more

Take a look at  in-action, here:

Google's "Full Coverage" feature

Source: Google

While the concept of Google “Full Coverage” was developed back in 2018,  it pertained strictly to the Google News site and app. The technology, temporal co-locality, works by mapping the relationships between entities – and understanding the people, places, and things in a story right as it evolves. And then, organizes it around storylines all in real-time to provide “full coverage” on the topic searched for.

The launch of Google’s new “Full Coverage” feature in mobile search, specifically, is exciting because it takes its technology a step further; able to detect long-running news stories that span many days, like the Super Bowl, to many weeks or months like the pandemic to serve to users.  The feature is currently available to English speakers in the U.S. and will be rolled out to additional languages and locations over the next few months. 

What five news-SEO experts think about “Full Coverage” in mobile search

Lily Ray, Senior Director, SEO & Head of Organic Research at Path Interactive on Google's "Full Coverage" feature
Source: Linkedin

1. Lily Ray, Senior Director, SEO & Head of Organic Research at Path Interactive

Lily Ray is a Senior SEO Director at Path Interactive in New York. She’s a prominent voice within the SEO community (with +15K followers on Twitter), and has been nominated for multiple search marketing awards throughout her career. She is well known for her E-A-T expertise.  Here’s what she had to say:

 

“Full Coverage appears to be another new tool in Google’s arsenal for displaying a diversity of perspectives and viewpoints on recent news and events. It’s a good thing for publisher sites because it represents another opportunity to have news content surfaced organically. It may also serve as a way for niche or local publishers to gain more visibility in organic search, since Google is specifically aiming to show a broader range of viewpoints that may not always come across with the major publications.

Hopefully, Google will allow us to be able to monitor the performance of Full Coverage via either Search Console or Google Analytics, so we can segment out how our articles do in this area compared to in other areas of search.”

Louisa Frahm, SEO Editor at The LA Times on Google's "Full Coverage" feature
Source: LinkedIn

2. Louisa Frahm, SEO Editor at The LA Times

Louisa Frahm currently serves as the SEO Editor at the Los Angeles Times and is also pursuing a master’s degree in communication management at the University of Southern California. Prior to the LA Times, Frahm was an SEO strategist at other high-profile digital publications including Entertainment Weekly, People Magazine, TMZ, Yahoo!, and E! Online. Here’s her take:

“I’ve always liked that element of Google News. It taps into readers (like me!) who are consistently hungry for more information. 

Working in the journalism field, I’m always in favor of readers utilizing a diverse array of news sources. I’m glad that this new update will tap into that. I’m interested to see which stories will fall into the “develop over a period of time” criteria. I could see it working well for extended themes like COVID-19, but big breakout themes like Harry and Meghan could also potentially fit that bill. 

A wide variety of story topics have resulted from that Oprah interview, and fresh angles keep flowing in! As we’re in the thick of 2021 awards season, I could also see the Golden Globes, Grammys, and Oscars playing into this with their respective news cycles before, during, and after the events. 

The long-term aspect of this update inspires me to request more updates from writers on recurring themes, so we can connect with the types of topics this particular feature likes. Though pure breaking news stories with short traffic life cycles will always be important for news SEO, this feature reinforces the additional importance of more evergreen long-term content within a publisher’s content strategy. 

I could see this update providing a traffic boost, since it provides one more way for stories to get in front of readers. We always want as many eyeballs as possible on our content. Happy to add one more element to my news SEO tool kit. Google always keeps us on our toes!”

Barry Adams, Founder of Polemic Digital on Google's "Full Coverage" feature
Source: Linkedin

3. Barry Adams, Founder of Polemic Digital

Barry Adams is the founder of SEO consultancy, Polemic Digital. He has earned numerous search marketing awards throughout his career and has also spoken at several industry conferences. His company has helped news and publishing companies such as – The Guardian, The Sun, FOX News, and Tech Radar to name a few. This is his opinion:

“The introduction of Full Coverage directly into search results will theoretically mean there’s one less click for users to make when trying to find the full breadth of reporting on a news topic. 

Whether this actually results in significantly more traffic for publishers is doubtful. The users who are interested in reading a broad range of sources on a news story will already have adopted such click behaviour via the news tab or directly through Google News. 

This removal of one layer of friction between the SERP and a larger number of news stories seems more intended as a way for Google to emphasize its commitment to showing news from all kinds of publishers – the fact remains that the initial Top Stories box is where the vast majority of clicks happen. This Full Coverage option won’t change that.”

John Shehata, Global VP of Audience Development Strategy at Conde Nast on Google's "Full Coverage" feature
Source: Linkedin

4. John Shehata, Global VP of Audience Development Strategy at Conde Nast, Founder of NewzDash News SEO

John Shehata is the Global VP of Audience Development Strategy at Conde Nast, the media company known for brands such as – Architectural Digest, Allure, Vanity Fair, and Vogue. He’s also the founder of NewzDash News SEO – a News & Editorial SEO tool that helps publishers and news sites boost their visibility and traffic in Google Search. This is his opinion:

“Google has been surfacing more news stories on their SERPs over the past few years, first Top Stories were two-three links then it became a 10-link carousel. Google then started grouping related stories together expanding Top Stories carousel from one to three featuring up 30 news stories. They also introduced local news carousels for some local queries, [and now, this new feature]. It is obvious that Google keeps testing with different formats when it comes to news. One of our top news trends and prediction for 2021 is Google will continue to introduce multiple and different formats in the SERPs beyond Top Stories article formats.

As of the impact on traffic back to publishers, it is a bit early to predict but I do not expect much boost in traffic. Do not get more wrong, this feature provides more chances for more publishers to be seen, the question is how many search users will click. And if users click, Google surfaces over 50 news links plus tweets which makes it even more competitive for publishers to get clicks back to their stories.

I did some quick analysis back in July of last year When Google Search Console started providing News tab data. I found that News Impressions are less than five percent of total web impressions. Not quite sure how is the new “Full Coverage” feature CTR will be and how many users will click! The “full coverage” link placement is better than the tabs, so we might see higher CTR.”

Claudio Cabrera, Deputy Audience Director, News SEO at The New York Times on Google's "Full Coverage" feature
Source: LinkedIn

5. Claudio Cabrera, Deputy Audience Director, News SEO at The New York Times

Claudio Cabrera serves as the Deputy Audience Director of News SEO at the New York Times. He is an award-winning audience development expert, journalist, and educator. Prior to working at The New York Times, he was Director of Social and Search strategy at CBS Local. Here are his thoughts:

“It can be looked at in so many ways. Some brands will look at it as an opportunity to gain more visibility while some will feel their strong foothold may be lost. I think it just encourages better journalism and even better SEO because it forces us to think outside of our playbooks and adjust on some level to what we’re seeing Google provide users. 

From a site traffic perspective, I can’t really comment on whether this has affected us or not but I do know there are so many other areas where sites have done serious research and testing into like Discover where audiences can grow and be picked up if you do see a drop-off. I don’t think the best practices of SEO change too much but I think the relationship between search experts and editors deepens and becomes even closer due to the changes in the algo.”

Conclusion

Google’s new “Full Coverage” feature in mobile search rolled out earlier this month and is an extension of the full coverage function developed for Google News back in 2018. The aim of this new feature is to help users gain a holistic understanding of complex news stories as they develop – by organizing editorial content in such a way that it goes beyond the top headlines and media outlets. In essence, giving users the “full coverage” of the event. 

News-SEO experts seem to be in agreement that this new feature will make it simpler for users to explore – and gain a holistic understanding of – trending news stories. As far as what this new feature means for SEO traffic and strategy, experts can only speculate until more developing news stories emerge and we can analyze impact. 

Elizabeth Lefelstein is an SEO consultant based in Los Angeles, California. She’s worked with a variety of high-profile brands throughout her career and is passionate about technical SEO, editorial SEO, and blogging. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter @lefelstein.

The post What five news-SEO experts make of Google’s new, “Full Coverage” feature in mobile search results appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Four ways to use your website data to discover missed sales opportunities

March 24, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Analyzing and understanding website data helps enhance potential sales and conversions
  • Google Analytics records the exit rate of specific website pages, helping you pinpoint exactly where users abandon your sales filter
  • Google Tag Manager can help identify if users are leaving forms uncompleted, leaving you tantalizingly close to conversion without sticking the landing
  • Recording and analyzing common user search terms on a website will reveal if consumers are seeking services they are willing to pay for but you do not provide
  • Search analysis tools will shine a light on any underutilized and under-monetized website pages, helping you make the most of your PPC budget

In the age of online marketing and data intelligence, every click matters. Traffic is a great metric for the potential success of your business, after all. Alas, traffic means little without conversions. A brick-and-mortar store that sees plenty of footfall but fails to make sufficient sales will be considered a failed business model. The online world is no different. Without conversions, a website is just an expensive – and ultimately unsuccessful – advertising campaign.

A conversion is the completion of any pre-determined action on a website. This could be downloading free content in exchange for joining a mailing list or interacting with the site through social media or a contact form. The gold standard of conversions will always be sales, though. If your product or service is not turning a profit, something needs to change.

By studying and understanding website data, you can pinpoint missed opportunities for sales on your site. Utilizing tools and software, you’ll understand what visitors are looking for and why they bounce without converting.

Data to review

Here are four core KPIs that should be studied to understand why visitors leave your site without making a conversion. By mastering and understanding this data, you can make any necessary adjustments to your website and marketing strategy – potentially reaping financial rewards.

1. Google Analytics exit pages

The exit page of a website, which is tracked on Google Analytics, is the last interaction a user has with your website before terminating a session. Google Analytics records exit pages as a percentage, referring to this as an exit rate.

In an ideal world, the most popular exit page on any website will be the thank you page after completing a conversion. At this stage, the user has concluded their business to the satisfaction of all parties.

If you notice a high exit rate on a different page, it merits investigation. Something about this page is deterring visitors from converting. Ergo, this exit page is potentially responsible for missed sales.

Be aware that an exit rate is not the same as a bounce rate. Bounce rate relates to users that leave a site without any interaction. Exit pages are recorded when users begin the journey toward conversion but fail to complete the process.

By understanding which pages on your website have the highest exit rate, you can improve your sales. Take a look at this page and consider why users are not completing a conversion. Potential explanations include:

  • An unclear or weak call to action
  • A lengthy sales funnel with too many steps
  • Insufficient information about your product or service, failing to convince the user to convert – or too much data, confusing a user and causing them to lose interest
  • Lack of preferred payment options (that is, ewallets – not everybody likes to use their credit card online)

Tweak this exit page to improve user experience and convince users to conclude a conversion. This is easier if one page of your website, in particular, has a high exit rate. If exit pages are equally spread throughout your site, it may be worth considering a complete overhaul and refresh of the content.

2. Google Tag Manager

The internet has brought a lot of good to the world, but enhancing patience is not among these benefits. With so much competition out there, users are unlikely to tolerate any kind of interface issues when attempting to complete a conversion. You can use Google Tag Manager to identify these issues.

Form completion is arguably the best use of GTM. If you study the analytics of a form and find that it is frequently being abandoned before completion, something is amiss. You had the user on the end of your hook – they would not have started to fill in the form otherwise. Unfortunately, something made them change their mind and you missed out on a sale.

Use the GTM debugging mode to ensure that a technical hitch was not to blame. If this is the case, it’s time to look inward. Some of the common reasons for users to abandon forms before completion include:

  • The form is just too long and cumbersome! Slow and steady may win a race, but it bores the life out of online consumers
  • Unnecessary questions. If you’re not selling age-restricted products or services, don’t ask for a user’s date of birth. Unless it’s relevant to the product, do not ask for clarification of gender or race
  • Pop-up advertising. Unfortunately, you may be standing trial for the sins of other sites here – previous experiences elsewhere may tarnish a user’s view of all online forms
  • Lack of assurance about the safety and security of any data that will be provided. Make it clear that you are not in the business is selling personal information to other businesses
  • Lack of mobile device compatibility. Over half of all web traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets. Ensure your form is not fiddly and persnickety to complete on such a device

Using Google Tag Manager to understand your website data and fix missed conversion opportunities

Source: Google Tag Manager

Using GTM to gain insights into why forms remain uncompleted can be an easy fix, and potentially turn half-completed questionnaires into successful conversions. Don’t miss out on a possible sale for something as prosaic as a needlessly complicated sign-up process.

3. Search records

As we touched upon previously, consumers want to feel understood by a business. The modern visitor to a website will ideally not wish to search to find what they’re looking for. Visitors want to find everything they need before their eyes and to see that your product or service will resolve a particular pain point.

If users are making use of the search function, configure the site to record search terms. This provides the perfect opportunity to study what your potential customers are seeking – and presumably not finding – on your site. If they located what they were looking for, they would likely have completed a conversion.

Understanding what users are searching for means that you can improve and enhance your offering to apply these missing services. Alternatively, it may just reveal that your copy needs a little updating. Check whether users are using terminology that does not match up with keywords used on your site. This is an easy fix with a content refresh and reduces the frustration of being so near but yet so far from a conversion.

This will also have a welcome side-effect of potentially bolstering your SERP standing. Google is moving toward a model of enhanced search equity, which makes your use of copy all the more important. It will be very welcome for a website’s page ranking – and conversion potential – to stand or fall on quality and relevance of content, as opposed to restrictive technical obstacles.

4. Traffic value

To paraphrase George Orwell, “all website traffic is equal, but some traffic is more equal than others.” Some pages on your website will inevitably demonstrate greater potential for sales and conversions. Investing in a search analysis tool can aid you in identifying these pages so you can focus your financial outlay on them. Google Trends can also be an invaluable ally here.

Your website will likely utilize at least one cost-per-conversion model, such as Google Ads. You may be using several, with Facebook Ads (which includes Instagram Ads) and even Microsoft Advertising providing plentiful leads to conversions. While PPC business models are constantly evolving, some tactics are evergreen.

Perhaps the most critical of these is identifying which pages on your site have potential that is not being maximized. By undertaking SEO analysis, you will gain a greater understanding of what users are looking for online. In learning this, you may realize that you are placing too much of a marketing budget on one page when judicious use of keywords on another may yield greater results.

For example, it’s always tempting to place all of your financial muscle on a completion page. We have discussed already how users are looking for a brief and practical conversion funnel. Do not overlook the potential to educate and entertain before pushing for conversion, though. If you embrace – and more importantly, perfect content marketing, you will convince users to click through to a conversion page after learning more about your offering. This enhances your traffic stats, potentially building brand loyalty in the process.

What next?

Now that you are aware of these metrics, use them to calculate your conversions. That’s easily done – just divide the number of conversions by the number of visitors, then multiply the total by 100. How does that number look to you?

If you feel that your conversion rate is lacking in any of these metrics, there are steps that you can take to improve it. These include:

  • Simplifying any forms and streamlining your sales filter
  • Improve and simplify the copy on pages with a high exit rate
  • Considering adding a pop-up with a renewed CTA – or even the promise of a discount or freebie – when a user tries to close a common exit page
  • Review your search records and ensure your offering matches consumer needs and expectations
  • Keep up to date with search trends and ensure you are monetizing the right pages on your website

Follow these steps and you’ll potentially see your conversions soar. Few things are more frustrating than missing out on a sale that came enticingly close. These minor improvements will not take much work but could make a real difference to your bottom line.

FAQ

What is a website conversion?

Any website will contain a range of actions for visitors to complete. This could be signing up for a newsletter mailing list, sharing a post on personal social media channels, making a query through a contact form, or ideally making a purchase. If a visitor to your website completes this action, it is considered a conversion. The number of people that do so compared to your traffic quantity is referred to as a conversion rate.

What is a good conversion rate for a website?

This depends on a range of factors, including your industry and your anticipated return on investment. A website that operates on a cost-per-conversion model, such as Google Ads, needs a higher conversion rate to turn a substantial profit. The average conversion rate on this platform is circa three percent. What matters most is that you are seeing a return on your investment – and that your conversion rate continues to grow, not shrink.

How to increase the conversion rate on a website?

The most effective way to increase a conversion rate is to make the process as fast and simple as possible for consumers. Create a superior user experience by making it obvious what a visitor needs to do to convert, and by removing any unnecessary steps from the resulting filter. Every additional action you ask of a user gives them another opportunity to lose patience and walk away.

How to calculate a website conversion rate?

There is a simple formula for calculating the conversion rate of your website. Track your conversions over a set period, divide this by the number of visits to the website in this time, then multiple the total by 100. For example, a website that enjoys 700 conversions from 12,500 visitors over 30 days has a monthly conversion rate of 5.6%.

How to set up conversion rate tracking on your website?

Any website must track conversions to ensure optimum efficiency and return on investment. Major platforms like Facebook Ads and Google Ads have in-built tracking facilities. Learn how to utilize these tools and turn the data to your advantage.

Joe Dawson is Director of strategic growth agency Creative.onl, based in the UK.

The post Four ways to use your website data to discover missed sales opportunities appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Get more subscribers with these seven podcast SEO tips

March 22, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Did you know that, as of 2020, upwards of 68 million people listen to a weekly podcast?
  •  Your podcast can easily reach more subscribers if you take some time to do some off-page SEO tactics and a few other best practices along the way
  • Check out these seven podcast SEO tips to help you get in front of more people and get more subscribers

If you have a podcast for your business, something you’ve probably thought about is how to get more subscribers to tune in to future episodes. 

After all, unlike with traditional blogging where you have a dedicated space for your content, your listeners are accessing your podcast episodes through a third-party streaming service or podcast directory. And these services often carry hundreds of thousands of other podcasts in their network. 

So how can you get your podcast discovered by more of the right leads and future customers?

The answer is simple: podcast SEO. Blog posts aren’t the only thing that stands to benefit from search engine optimization techniques. Your podcast can easily reach more subscribers if you take some time to do some off-page SEO tactics and a few other best practices along the way.

Wondering how to get started and get that podcast out there? Check out these seven podcast SEO tips to help you get in front of more people and get more subscribers.

Seven ways to get more podcast subscribers using SEO

1. Have a clear persona for your podcast

Did you know that, as of 2020, upwards of 68 million people listen to a weekly podcast? Given the year-on-year growth of podcasts, you’re bound to have a dedicated audience in that huge market.

But the growing number of podcast listeners is also a sign of the growing number of podcasts available online. In order to stand out, you’ll have to speak to a specific set of podcast listeners instead of trying to reach just anyone.

This is where having an audience persona is helpful. The persona not only tells you what kind of podcast content your ideal subscribers want to see — but it also shows you their lifestyle, beliefs, and goals.

podcast seo - audience persona

Source: Optinmonster

Your audience persona doesn’t have to be complex.

When you have a clear picture of what these things are, you can then optimize not only your podcast as a whole but each episode according to search terms your subscribers might be looking for.

If your podcast listeners are interested in sales, for instance, then use keywords that reflect actual searches they may make. Example episode titles that practice proper podcast SEO for this niche include, “How to train your sales team” or “How to master video sales calls”.

2. Choose the right platform

In technical SEO, uptime and loading speeds are important ranking factors. If your website loads slowly too, your page is less likely to rank higher on search.

The same applies to your podcast. Podcast ranking may be influenced by how quickly your platform loads. The less optimally it performs, the less likely people are going to subscribe.

Many podcasters choose to host their podcast episodes on their own website then create dedicated episode pages to increase their chances of getting in front of their ideal subscribers using typical on-page SEO. When going this route, you need to make sure your platform is up to speed.

Educate yourself on different podcast hosting platforms that prioritize site performance for podcast hosting. Not every web host may be well-optimized for podcasts and cause your site to perform slower or have issues with loading audio files. Fortunately, as the podcasting industry grows, more and more web hosts are making a point to add seamless support for podcast episodes and files.

3. Interview industry leaders

One great way to get in front of your audience and get more podcast subscribers is by inviting well-known thought leaders and influencers in your niche onto your show. 

Their supporters and followers are more likely to listen to your podcast if they know that somebody they trust is sharing valuable information on your platform. Having those important guests just gets your ideal subscriber’s foot in the door — they may discover your podcast for the first time and decide to subscribe for more related content.

If you’re a relatively small podcast, build your way up the ladder before reaching out to huge leaders in your industry. Don’t be afraid to reach for low-hanging fruit and asking industry experts with a slightly smaller following on to your podcast. 

Use this as an opportunity to showcase your interviewing skills and grow your existing listenership before getting in front of bigger names in your niche.

4. Incorporate your podcast into your blog posts

We mentioned briefly that some podcasters choose to host their episodes as dedicated pages on a website. Why not really level up your podcast SEO by attaching podcast episodes into SEO-friendly blog posts?

While Google has been making the effort to include multimedia results on search — including, yes, even podcasts and YouTube videos — the reality is that most of the search query results still pull up blog posts and pages the majority of the time. 

Stay ahead of the competition by combining your blog and podcast efforts. There are a couple of options to go about this. First, you can create a blog post around a podcast episode. So after recording your episode, repurpose it into a high-value blog post that you can then optimize with the best SEO practices.

Another way to do this is doing an audit of your existing blog posts and inserting podcast episodes into them. This allows you to make the most of your blogs’ on-page SEO and get your podcast in front of more visitors and potential subscribers.

Check out this example on the FreshBooks blog that inserts a podcast episode inside a blog post. They went with the first route, where they created a dedicated blog post around the main topics that emerged in this specific podcast episode.

To encourage people to actually listen to the episode, you can tease the content in the form of questions or simply highlight what to expect. Mention key phrases and SEO-friendly search terms to make the most of on-page SEO.

5. Submit your podcast to reputable directories

Another way to get more podcast subscribers? Getting yourself listed in the top podcast directories online. Getting on these podcast directories is often straightforward enough, especially if your podcast is already up and running on one platform.

You can choose to submit your podcast to directories like Apple Podcasts or Spotify one at a time, while another option is using services like Anchor.fm to submit your podcast to multiple directories all at once.

podcast seo and stats on podcasts

Source: Statista

A comparison of the top podcast directories and apps among US listeners between 2019 to 2020, according to Statista.

These top directories are most likely where listeners themselves go to search for new podcasts, so you stand the chance to get more subscribers using this method. With dozens of available options, choose the top-performing apps and services first then slowly trickle your way down the rest of the market.

Also, be aware of any new players that might emerge in the podcast app industry to be at the forefront of their growth. Or if there are niche podcast directories that your specific audience might be on, that can be a fantastic way to reach the right audience without the steep competition.

6. Incorporate this as part of your customer support

If your business has a podcast that creates short, high-value episodes that walk people through your product or service or answer their commonly asked questions, why not incorporate said episodes into your customer support knowledge base?

Users might have frequently asked questions about your product or app, for example. In your FAQs pages and knowledge bases, embed your episodes in relevant pages that will help answer your customers’ queries. 

This can also be a way to humanize and personalize your email ticketing system. Because many email ticket support software allow your team to upload files to send to customers, why not send these helpful podcast episodes in response to their questions or concerns. 

Of course, make sure that the links you send to your customers through support channels are always relevant to their concerns.

7. Cut it up into micro-content

To really drum up your podcast SEO, repurpose your episodes and turn them into micro-content you can share across other platforms. 

For example, choose a segment with a big takeaway or story in under one minute that you can then post on your Instagram feed. Or cut an engaging exchange between guests then post the excerpt on Facebook or YouTube.

The beauty of this tactic is that you can create multiple pieces of micro content from just a single podcast episode, so you’ll be able to make endless content for social media. 

Use soundbites as excerpts, create graphics based on quotes from the episode, turn your main topics into viral-worthy infographics — either way, it’s a great way to not only create content for other platforms but to especially grab attention and bring awareness to your podcast.

The podcast Happier in Hollywood creates micro-content by taking excerpts from their recorded episodes and turning them into videos with subtitles for Instagram.

micro-content for podcast seo

Source: Happier in Hollywood

Key takeaways

Getting more podcast subscribers can seem like an uphill climb, but remember that your content creation efforts have to be punctuated by a solid promotion strategy too. Podcast SEO makes sure that your podcast is seen by the people who’d love to follow your podcast the most. Aside from basic podcast SEO, use the tips in this blog post to help you boost those search results and get your podcast heard.

Kevin Payne is a content marketing consultant that helps software companies build marketing funnels and implement content marketing campaigns to increase their inbound leads.

The post Get more subscribers with these seven podcast SEO tips appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Where do you take your marketing strategy from here?

March 20, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Most marketers agree that creating content is a core business strategy
  • SEO can help you capitalize on the content you’ve created and see lasting results
  • Create content around common sales objections to improve the sales process
  • Instead of going all-in on the best-case scenario of in-person events being able to happen in 2021, create a plan based on what you know works now and could continue to work into the future as well

With 2020 pulling the rug out from under pretty much everyone, it’s no surprise that marketing has had to shift over the past year. Where the focus for many organizations was once in-person meetings and events like trade shows and conventions, it’s now mostly shifted to tactics that can be deployed remotely.

The biggest winner out of all this change has, without a doubt, been content marketing. In the summer of 2020, I surveyed 49 B2B companies to see how they are approaching marketing, and more than 80 percent of them agreed that content is now considered a core business strategy.

Content marketing is a strategy that doesn’t require any physical contact to connect with people, and content can be shared widely and consistently, regardless of where people are in the world. It can help current clients better understand the value of a company and even act as a way to bring new customers into the fold.

While the strategy owes much of its popularity to the pandemic, content marketing’s recent dominance is unlikely to go away once the pandemic subsides. Before 2020, many marketers had already been pushing for a more content-focused strategy. In many ways, this past year has simply created the opportunity for them to prove the strategy’s true worth.

How to plan a marketing strategy around whatever 2021 may bring

These past few months have been a time of experimentation for marketers, full of successes and failures. For some companies, weaknesses in this strategy, like poor SEO and a lack of budget for content development, have been exposed, even as the potential of content marketing has been proven. Now, the question for marketers is how to bring a content strategy into the next year and successfully meld it with a plan for a world beyond the current health crisis.

1. Focus on SEO

All the high-quality content in the world can’t help you if no one can find it. Make better SEO a key goal if you want to capitalize on everything you’ve done this past year. Perform a technical website audit to ensure your website is set up to be found by search engines and a keyword audit to ensure your content aligns with your target audience’s queries. Not only should your keyword research guide your content for the future, but it should also steer your updates of older content to maintain its relevance. Updating old content is often the most efficient strategy you can employ.

Don’t just stop at keywords, though. Perform a deep dive into your audience’s behavior to figure out exactly what they’re looking for to increase your chances of turning visits into conversions. After all, what you think you know about user behavior and what is actually true can turn out to be wildly different. For example, according to HubSpot, popups are the most-used form for sign-ups, but they only succeed in converting three percent of visitors. Landing pages, meanwhile, have the highest conversion rate, despite being the least popular version of sign-up form.

2. Develop more sales enablement content

Effective content can be useful for more than just marketing. Sales reps can also use it to better communicate with potential customers.

Listen to sales calls to figure out which questions are the most common and which are the most difficult for your sales team to answer. From there, you can create sales enablement content, such as blog posts and infographics, that the team can refer to and pass on to prospects. You can also use the biggest client successes as case studies that can help potential clients better understand your value. This will not only help sell customers, but it can also help with securing internal buy-in for a content-focused strategy.

3. Don’t bet on in-person events in 2021

Over 90 percent of event marketers plan to invest in virtual events next year. Even if everything goes perfectly over the next few months and things can begin moving toward some level of normalcy by summer or fall, don’t count on big in-person conventions and trade shows to come roaring back and take over your marketing strategy. That’s why a majority of marketers are creating strategies that can work for both virtual events and in-person events over the next year.

Content will still be just as effective when the pandemic is over, but what in-person events will look like is still up in the air. Don’t bet on an imaginary best-case scenario, create a plan based on what you know works right now and could continue to work into the future.

While 2020 might have thrown everyone for a loop, the lessons learned this year can be applied in 2021, even if we’re unsure of what the coming year will truly bring. By focusing more on a content-first strategy, you can ensure your marketing plans don’t go to waste both in best-case and worst-case scenarios.

Cherish Grimm is VP at Influence & Co., a content marketing agency that helps its clients achieve measurable business results through content marketing.

The post Where do you take your marketing strategy from here? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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The five latest Google Ads features and how to make the most of them

March 17, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Make no mistake, Google Shopping is still mostly a paid PPC channel, but you can also enjoy its free traffic
  • Video and display formats are not the type of ad you think of when it comes to online acquisition
  • They are more popular for brand awareness and influence targets
  • All conversions are not born equal, especially, when it comes to acquisition channels – a purchase on your site from a new customer has more value than one from a returning one
  • It’s easy to forget that most of the business still happens offline and that Zoom calls and online shopping are not all there is to life
  • Yet offline conversion trackings are not always taken into account
  • With Gallery Ads, Google offers a new ad format integrated into the Search Network
  • As these ad formats are for mobile displays only, their dimensions enable advertisers to make a stronger impact than with a text ad

Google released new smart features and ways to buy ads on its different channels. They allow marketers to increase their reach and to try new approaches. As always with the novelty, there will be a learning curve.

At SEISO, the reference PPC insight platform, we analyzed the impact of these updates on more than 13,000 accounts. Here is how you can make them work for you.

Content created in partnership with SEISO.

1. Get listed for free on Google Shopping

Make no mistake, Google Shopping is still mostly a paid PPC channel, but you can also enjoy its free traffic. Why is there a free option? After the introduction of the shopping channel, Google ousted most of the other price comparison websites from its SERP (Shopping.com, Shopzilla, BizRate, and others). The move was so aggressive that in 2017, the European Commission fined Google €2.42 billion (~$ 3 billion) for breaching EU antitrust rules by “giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service.” Although it is still going through appeal, Google has made changes to ensure other options are present on its services and SERP than its own. As for organic search optimization, you need to ensure your products appear in the first positions.

How to make it work for you

First, you need to start by optimizing your Shopping Ads and understand what products click and convert the most. For example, you can use SEISO Google Shopping Analyzer (Free to try) to get shopping reports. From there you can adapt your product feed and product pages to ensure you focus on products that are margin positive.  

SEISO Google Shopping Analyzer - Report

Source: SEISO Report for non-performing products in your shopping feed

Once you have trimmed the feed and pages, you can go to your Google Merchant Center account in the Growth Menu. There you will find a channel called “Surfaces across Google”. You want to set it to “ACTIVE”. This feature was initially available only in the USA and India but is being rolled out worldwide. 

Using Google Ads new features - Polish your Google Shopping Ads

2. Get impressions on display and YouTube ads but only pay for sales

Video and display formats are not the type of ad you think of when it comes to online acquisition. They are more popular for brand awareness and influence targets. 

But now Google wants to convince you otherwise. Why? Google has so much data on users’ profiles and their intents that they can predict what they will buy. Facebook has built its platform on what they know about the users from their browsing and sharing. Google knows the users very well: from the search queries, from the media they consume on its surfaces (videos and AMP pages), and its past purchases thanks to receipts received in Gmail. 

Thanks to this treasure trove of data points, the algorithm identifies which new video game console the user wants. And it only shows him the relevant ads when he is ready to buy. The ad will be more likely to convert and Google will get a higher revenue per page by only showing converting ads to users: win/win. 

Now you can run performance-based targeting for YouTube Ads and on the Display network. It usually means a lower reach than a CPM or a Trueview campaign but you will get incremental conversions while controlling your budget. 

Google Ads

But remember, this is a black box. The algorithm will decide to display your ad or not based on how much money it will generate for Google. If your products find an audience this is a virtuous cycle and you will get a lot of volume. If not, your campaign might not pick up at all. 

How to make it work for you

  • Use Smart Display with a tCPA or tROAS bidding strategy. This allows you to retain the benefits of the Smart Display framework without losing control.
  • Based on 13,000+ Google Ads accounts audited by SEISO, the best targeting are: “Similar converters” & “Custom Intent on your competitors”

You can use the audience analysis section of SEISO to identify which audience is the most relevant for you. And you can try it for free.

3. Customer acquisition is good but NEW customer acquisition is better

All conversions are not born equal. When it comes to acquisition channels, a purchase on your site from a new customer has more value than one from a returning one. Of course, loyalty is key and you need to take care of existing customers. But Search engine marketing is neither the main nor the most money-efficient channel to do so. CRM, whether through email marketing or earned social media are more efficient to re-engage your customers. The symbiosis between acquisition and loyalty is the best way to maximize your customer lifetime value.

Once you know how much money you can expect from a user in the long term, you are able to adapt the amount you are willing to pay for a new customer vs. an old one.

In Google Shopping, you can now take the lifetime value into account. Go in the conversion goals by clicking “Settings” in the left navigation of your Smart Shopping campaign. Use the “New Customer Acquisition” option. There, indicate the incremental price you are willing to pay per conversion for this type of customer versus a returning one. For example, if your CPA for a conversion is $ 42 and you set the new customer value to $ 38. It will let the campaign pay up to $ 80 for new customers and $ 42 for existing ones.

Google Ads

How to make it work for you

Make sure you are tracking your new customers, there are two ways to do so and you should use both:

  • Make sure your Google Ads account and your Google Analytics account are connected. This way, the algorithm is aware of all sales made on your website even if they came from another channel.
  • Set differentiated tags for new and old customers and let your ecommerce platform or your tag manager. You need to show one or the other tag depending on the status of the customer.

As a rule of thumb, you should align this with your promotion strategy. Focus on your product selection to boost your best-recruiting products. The ones that usually trigger the first sale on your website for new customers. 

4. Get offline! How to keep tracks on offline conversions

In these days and times, it is easy to forget that most of the business still happens offline and that zoom calls and online shopping are not all there is to life. Yet offline conversions tracking are not always taken into account. According to Google, 30 percent of mobile queries are local searches and it is the fastest-growing segment. And 75 percent of users making a local search will go to a store within 24 hours. This is a lot of conversions lost to online tracking.

Google Ads

The new version of the Google Ads’ local campaigns is here just for that. Local campaigns use GPS and Wifi to identify the location of the user. Google will display ads related to business advertising presence around the user’s current location. 

How to make it work for you

To succeed, you will need to set up an omnichannel tracking that integrates offline elements. From there you will be able to measure different types of conversion. You should create a set of conversion actions for each campaign:

  • In-store visits: Google automatically tracks walk-in traffic from user’s location captured from their Apps and OS). You will need to register all your points of sales addresses or GPS coordinates. 
  • Offline purchase thanks to offline the Conversions API or bulk sheets upload.
  • Online purchase through your regular tracking pixel.

Once your conversions start to show in the interface you will be able to optimize against each of these goals. Moving further you will be able to optimize the new full potential of each campaign against each target! To do so you try the SEISO campaign optimization tool for free. 

Source: SEISO PPC Campaign Optimisation Tool

5. Be creative! Push gallery ads over all networks

Gallery Ads and Showcase Shopping Ads on Search are good to be tested! 85 percent of respondents put more importance on visual information than text information. Visual information is preferred over text by at least 50% of respondents in all categories except for electronics, household goods, and wine and spirits (Intent Lab research, Feb 2019).

With Gallery Ads Google offers a new ad format integrated into the Search Network. As these ad formats are for mobile displays only, their dimensions enable advertisers to make a stronger impact than with a text ad. Google will continue to serve the same user with your creatives on new placements such as: 

  • YouTube: On the “Home” screens where more than 90% of users say they discover new brands & new products.
  • Discovery: Google Discovery App while scrolling the news feed and searching by interest.
  • Gmail: Through discovery, even though Gmail Ads are being rolled out, Discovery ads allow you to expand your reach from Gmail to other Google-owned surfaces. 

And of course, they are shown in the main result pages as Showcase Shopping Ads.

Google Ads

Google is always bringing in new features to test, The key to having a State of the Art Google Ads account is to test early. Once the features reach mass adoption you are already fully optimized and have secured the best positions.

There is much more to discover in the SEISO analysis report, including expert tips and best practices, account activity analysis, and more than 75 criteria sifted.

Are your Google Ads Campaigns optimized? Try SEISO for free TODAY, click on this link: www.seiso.io/en.

SEISO

The post The five latest Google Ads features and how to make the most of them appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Research: The integration of SEO and PR

March 14, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Experts have told us for a few years that SEO and public relations (PR) need to merge
  • Are SEO and PR really integrating “in the wild”?
  • In case you too searched the web about how this and found nothing considerably valuable, here are some answers for you
  • Founder and CEO of Organic Growth, Kevin Carney surveyed 184 SEO and PR professionals across brands, agencies, and consultants
  • Dive in to discover more on the state of SEO and PR integrations in the industry

We’ve been hearing for a few years now that SEO and public relations (PR) need to merge. The primary reason given is that they have similar goals, as well as similar strategies and tactics. It is sometimes argued that some aspects of SEO are PR, in an age when publishing has become comparatively low-cost. So much so that anyone can become a publisher, and due to the advent of content marketing, brands now have to.

I searched the web for information about how this integration is going, or not. I found nothing I considered to be of value on this topic. So I decided to create this article after collecting information from SEO and PR professionals to get a clear picture of our industry.

Methodology

I created a survey, then used Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to reach out to SEO and PR professionals. This resulted in 78 survey responses. I waited a month, went back to HARO, and got 91 more. I then shared my survey in a few SEO and PR groups on Facebook, which resulted in 15 more. I got 184 survey responses in total.

When I started I had arbitrarily decided I wanted 200 survey responses but decided to stop at 184 rather than do another round of HARO or Facebook group outreach.

Of course, all surveys have some level of bias

In this instance, the bias occurs for the following reasons:

  • I designed my survey with my preconceived notions of what questions mattered most
  • I looked for people in nooks and crannies of the internet where I felt it would be easy to find willing participants
  • People who took my survey self selected

Does this mean my data is flawed? No more than any other set of data collected via most surveys, but it is possible that had I surveyed only SEO folks, or only PR folks, that I would have gotten different data, and I just want that stated upfront. I believe my data is relevant, but by no means is it the final word on this topic.

So, is this integration of SEO and PR happening?

In a word, yes.

So now let’s look at the charts whose underlying data lead me to believe this is true.

Initial questions were very objective

This first set of charts show the answers that were pretty cut and dry, and not so much a matter of opinion.

The breakdown of survey participants

Survey participants categorized themselves as representing brands, representing agencies, or being consultants who represented various clients. Below is the breakdown.

As you can see, it’s a pretty good split with agencies slightly outnumbering brands.

SEO and PR integration survey participant categories

Do agencies publish articles about SEO and PR or SEO vs PR?

I was personally curious what percentage of agencies feel the topic of PR and SEO or PR vs SEO is important enough to publish articles about. It was surprisingly few.

Content publication stats on SEO and PR or SEO vs PR

What percentage of participants have one integrated team?

A lot more than I expected: 71 percent to be precise.

SEO and PR are not one integrated team

Do firms without one integrated team have both SEO and PR?

To my surprise, the answer tends to be, “no”. Team sizes within this group tended to be smaller, which likely accounts for this.

Within this group, 35 out of 52 companies had teams of three members or fewer, which means only 17 companies had teams of four members or larger. Only four companies had teams of more than 20 people.

SEO PR integration team data

For firms with two teams, how closely do they work together?

While this includes only 16 firms, I do not see a strong pattern here. Perhaps this is due to the small data sample, or perhaps the question is too subjective for everyone to have a common understanding of how close “closely” is.

Stats on team integration

The following statements were completely subjective

I asked the survey participants to rate how much they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about PR and SEO. Every statement was rated on a ten-point scale where 10 means strong agreement and one means strong disagreement.

Can SEO be separated from PR?

As you can see, the bulk of participants feel they can not.

They can not be separated

What is the primary focus?

I was thinking that some firms put PR ahead of SEO and consider that SEO supports their PR efforts, whereas other firms put SEO ahead of PR and consider that PR supports their SEO efforts.

I was expecting these two charts to be mirror images of each other and I am surprised that they don’t.

Is SEO used to boost PR Is PR used to boost SEO

What surprised me the most is not either chart by itself, but that they do not mirror each other. I had thought the two questions were opposites of each other, which to me at least means the charts should be mirror images of each other.

While there is a pretty strong consensus shown by the “We do SEO” chart, this is not shown by the “We do PR” chart.

Are SEO and PR equally important?

There is strong agreement with this idea.

SEO and PR are equally important

Are PR and SEO separate functions?

There is a consensus leaning to “no”, they’re not.

They are separate functions across the industry

Is link building the PR of SEO?

In the spirit of full disclosure, this is something I believe to be true. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe there are good and bad forms of link building, but I suppose there are also good and bad forms of PR.

That this statement was shared with the participants reflects a bias of mine. Having said that, I consider participant responses to be validating.

Link building is the PR of SEO

In closing

The SEO-PR integration is happening, and so far has happened more than I expected would be true.

My next thought is “What does this all mean?”

Should we change the way we’re doing what we’re doing as a result?

For this, I’m interested in feedback from readers. What do you think?

Kevin Carney is the Founder and CEO of the boutique link building agency Organic Growth.

The post Research: The integration of SEO and PR appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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