Blog

Survey: 43% of marketers say 75% of their content isn’t being consumed

A new survey from BrightEdge on the future of content and search marketing exposes some interesting contradictions between what enterprise marketers think and what they do. Conducted earlier this year, the survey received 252 responses from “digital marketers at Fortune 500 brands that represent a split of B2B and B2C.”

The survey initially asked marketers, “What is your most important marketing initiative this year?” The two top answers were “organic” — it’s not clear how that was defined — and “content.” Search was next, followed by “paid,” “social” and “mobile.”

Source: BrightEdge Future of Content Marketing Survey (n=252 enterprise digital marketers)

Despite this answer, the latter three all saw response rates below 15 percent, which is surprising, given that most marketers are very far from mastering mobile. Strangely, “mobile optimization” was also identified by 27 percent as one of the three “next big things” in search marketing. The other two were “voice search” (31 percent) and “AI/machine learning” (31 percent).

Again, despite the high ranking, most of survey respondents said they were “not likely” to integrate voice search (62 percent) or machine learning (57 percent) into their content marketing efforts this year. A meaningful minority did say, in each case, that they were “somewhat likely” to do so, which is essentially a “maybe.”

From a content marketing perspective, the top categories these marketers were focused on were:

Blogging — 69 percent
Social media — 62 percent
Video — 45 percent
Infographics — 30 percent

The metrics being used to determine the success of content marketing efforts were:

Conversion
Engagement
Traffic

Another interesting finding is that roughly 70 percent of respondents said that 50 percent or less of their content was being used or consumed by the intended audience. And 43 percent said that 75 percent of their content was NOT being consumed.

The overall picture that emerges from the survey is one of inefficiency and misalignment between where enterprise marketers think the audiences are going and what they’re doing to reach them. Furthermore, they’re pouring resources into content that they believe is not being seen or read by its intended audience.

The post Survey: 43% of marketers say 75% of their content isn’t being consumed appeared first on Search Engine Land.

22 Jun 2017
/

5 must-do technical SEO audit items in 2017

In recent months, we’ve seen many important technically focused Google announcements, such as an update on JavaScript crawling support, the migration toward mobile-first indexing, the release and extended support of AMP in search results and the expansion of search results features, from rich snippets to cards to answers.

As a result, a number of technical items must be taken into consideration when doing an SEO audit to validate crawlability and indexability, as well as to maximize visibility in organic search results:

1. Mobile web crawling

Google has shared that a majority of its searches are now mobile-driven and that they’re migrating toward a mobile-first index in the upcoming months. When doing a technical SEO audit, it is now critical to not only review how the desktop Googlebot accesses your site content but also how Google’s smartphone crawler does it.

Mobile Crawling

You can validate your site’s mobile crawlability (errors, redirects and blocked resources) and content accessibility (Is your content correctly rendered?) with the following technical SEO tools:

Google page-level mobile validators: Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and Search Console’s “Fetch as Google” functionality (with the “Mobile: Smartphone” Fetch and Render option) are the simplest and best ways to check how Google’s mobile crawler “sees” any given page of your site, so you can use them to check your site’s top pages’ mobile status. Additionally, Google Search Console’s “Mobile Usability” report identifies specific pages on your site with mobile usability issues.
SEO crawlers with a ‘Smartphone Googlebot’ option: Most SEO crawlers now offer the option to specify or select a user agent, allowing you to simulate Google’s mobile crawler behavior. Screaming Frog SEO Spider, OnPage.org, Botify, Deepcrawl and Sitebulb all allow you to simulate the mobile search crawler behavior when accessing your site. Screaming Frog also lets you view your pages in a “List” mode to verify the status of a specific list of pages, including your rendered mobile pages.
SEO targeted log analyzers: Last year, I wrote about the importance of doing log analysis for SEO and the questions that this would allow us to answer directly. There are log analyzers that are now completely focused on SEO issues, such as Screaming Frog Log analyzer (for smaller log files), Botify and OnCrawl (for larger log files). These tools also allow us to easily compare and identify the existing gap of our own crawls vs. what the mobile Googlebot has accessed.

Mobile Crawling

If you want to learn more about Mobile-First SEO, you can check out this presentation I did a couple of months ago.

2. JavaScript crawling behavior & content rendering

Three years ago, Google announced they were now able to execute JavaScript in order to better understand pages. However, JavaScript tests — like this recent one from Bartosz Goralewicz or this one from Stephan Boyer — have shown that it depends on the way it’s implemented and the framework that’s used.

It’s then critical to follow certain best practices, with a progressive enhancement approach to keep content accessible, as well as to avoid others, such as the former AJAX Crawling proposal, and only rely on JavaScript if it’s completely necessary. Indeed, tests run by Will Critchlow also showed results improvements when removing a site’s reliance on JavaScript for critical content and internal links.

When doing an SEO audit, it is now a must to determine if the site is relying on JavaScript to show its main content or navigation and to make sure it is accessible and correctly rendered by Google.

JS Crawling Configuration

At the page level, you can verify JavaScript crawling behavior and rendering again with Google Search Console’s “Fetch as Google” functionality, or with Chrome’s DevTools, by checking any page DOM with the elements panel and comparing it with what Google’s shows in its cache version, as shown in the screen shot below.

JS Crawling Indexing

For site-wide JavaScript crawling validation, you can use SEO crawlers like Sitebulb or Screaming Frog SEO Spider (which supports JavaScript Rendering through the “Spider Configuration”). As also shown in the screen shot above, you’ll be able to see how the content is rendered and if any required resources are blocked. For larger sites, you can use Botify, too, which has an on-demand JavaScript crawling option.

3. Structured data usage & optimization

Google SERPs haven’t been the traditional “10 blue links” for a long time, thanks to universal search results’ images, videos and local packs; however, the evolution took the next step with the launch and ongoing expansion of features like rich snippets, rich cards, knowledge panels and answer boxes. These features, according to SERP monitors like Mozcast and RankRanger, are now included in a non-trivial percentage of search results.

This shift means that attracting more clicks and visits through SEO efforts is now achieved not only through ranking well in organic listings but also by maximizing your site’s page visibility through these SERP features. In many cases, obtaining these display enhancements is a matter of correctly implementing structured data, as well as formatting and targeting your content to answer queries, where even modifiers can generate a change.

SERP Features

It has become critical to understand which of your popular and relevant queries can provide you more visibility through these various SERP features. By understanding which content has the opportunity to gain an enhanced display in SERPs, you can optimize that content accordingly with structured data and relevant formatting. You can identify these opportunities with search competition and keywords tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs and the Moz Keyword Explorer.

Once you identify which of your content you should format and optimize with structured data, you can use Google’s search gallery examples as a reference to do it and verify its implementation with the Structured Data Testing tool (as well as the Google Search Console’s Structured Data and Rich Cards reports).

It’s also important to start monitoring which SERP features you actually start ranking for and their traffic impact, which you can do through Google’s Search Console Search Analytics report with the “Search Appearance” and “Search Type” filters, as well as with rank-tracking tools like SEOmonitor that (as seen in the screen shot below) can look at your competitors, too.

SERP Tracking
4. AMP configuration

Designed to provide a “simpler” HTML version of your pages using optimized resources and its own cache to serve them faster in mobile search results, AMP has become a must for media websites and blogs, as well as sites with mobile speed issues that don’t have the flexibility of improving their existing pages.

AMP is now required to be included in Google’s news carousel, and its presence has “skyrocketed” in Google news. It’s also given preference over app deep links in search results, continues to be expanded through image results, and now will also be supported by Baidu in Asia.

Many sites (especially publishers) have adopted AMP as a result of these recent developments, so it’s key for your technical SEO audit to check a website’s AMP implementation and verify that it complies with Google’s requirements to be shown in search results.

Sitewide validation 

You can configure SEO crawlers to verify your AMP pages’ existence and status code with custom HTML extraction through Screaming Frog, OnPage.org and Botify.AMP Validation - HTML ExtractionAdditionally, as shown below, more SEO crawlers directly support the AMP validation with reports directly notifying of its existence, as SEMrush Site Audit functionality does, or even verifying common issues with its implementation, which Sitebulb does.

AMP Validation by SEO Crawlers

Page-level validation

It’s also recommended to examine certain pages individually for proper AMP implementation. You should review both your most important pages and those you have identified issues with when validating your overall site with SEO crawlers. This will provide you with more information about the existing errors in them, as well as how to fix them.

You can do this page-level validation by directly testing your code with the official AMP Playground to check if they pass the validation, and you can also use Chrome’s AMP Validator to verify that the current page in the browser has an AMP version and notify of errors.

AMP pages can also be validated at a page-by-page level through Chrome’s DevTools, as well as the Official AMP validator and Google’s AMP Test, which, besides specifying if it passes or not, will also point out any issues and show a preview of how the page will look in mobile search results.

AMP Google Validator

Ongoing monitoring

Once you’ve verified that AMP has been properly implemented and any errors have been fixed, you’ll be able to monitor if there are any remaining issues through Google Search Console AMP report. In addition to noting errors in the AMP pages, it will also mark their level of “severity,” showing as “critical” those errors that will prevent your AMP pages from being shown in Google’s search results, specifying which are pages with the issue and noting which you should prioritize to fix.

Besides correctly setting and monitoring analytics, it’s important to directly monitor the visibility of AMP in Google search results, as well as its impact on your site traffic and conversions.

As shown below, this can be done through the Search Analytics monitor in Google Search Console, via the “Search Appearance” filter. You can obtain more information with rank trackers like SEOmonitor, which is now showing when a query is producing an AMP result for your site.

AMP Tracking

If you want to learn more about AMP implementation, take a look at the presentation I did about it a few months ago.

5. HTTPS configuration

Since mid-2014, Google has been using HTTPS as a ranking signal; last year, they also announced that to help users have a safer browsing experience, they would start marking HTTP pages that collected passwords or credit cards as “Not secure.”

It shouldn’t be a surprise that HTTPS migrations started to be prioritized as a result, and now over 50 percent of the pages loaded by Firefox and Chrome are using HTTPS, as well as half of page 1 Google search results. HTTPS has already become critical, especially for commerce sites, and not just because of SEO — it’s also essential to providing a trustworthy and secure user experience.

When doing an SEO audit, it’s important to identify whether the analyzed site has already done an HTTPS migration taking SEO best practices into consideration (and recovered the lost organic search visibility and traffic to pre-migration levels).

If the site hasn’t yet been migrated to HTTPS, it’s essential to assess the feasibility and overall importance of an HTTPS migration, along with other fundamental optimization and security aspects and configurations. Provide your recommendations accordingly, ensuring that when HTTPS is implemented, an SEO validation is done before, during and after the migration process.

To facilitate an SEO-friendly execution of HTTP migrations, check out the steps described in these guides and references:

Google official best practices, as well as an FAQ (and round of Q&As)
Patrick Stox’s “HTTP to HTTPS: An SEO’s guide to securing a website“
Fili Wiese’s “All you need to know for moving to HTTPS“
The HTTP to HTTPs Migration Checklist, which I created in Google Docs to share, copy and download.

HTTP to HTTPS Migration Checklist

Here are some of the most important SEO-related validations to make during an HTTPS migration:

Make sure you can migrate all of the content and resources — including images, JS, CSS and so on — that you use in your pages. If you’re using subdomains or other properties for CDNs, you will need to make sure to migrate them to start using HTTPS, too — otherwise you will end up having mixed content issues, as you will be showing non-secure content through your HTTPS pages. Be careful if you’re hotlinking, too, as the images might not be shown through HTTPS.
Audit your web structure before migrating to make sure you consistently link, canonicalize, 301 redirect and refer in Hreflang and XML sitemaps to the original versions of each URL that you will later migrate. Make sure it will be feasible to update all of these settings to refer and link to the HTTPS URLs consistently, as well as to 301 redirect toward them when the migration happens.
Gather your top pages from a visibility, traffic and conversion perspective to monitor more closely when the migration is executed.
Create individual Google Search Console profiles for your HTTPS domains and subdomains to monitor their activity before, during and after the migration, taking into consideration that for HTTPS migrations, you can’t use the “change of address” feature in Google Search Console.

HTTPS Validation

Here are some tools that can be very helpful throughout the HTTPS migration process:

For the implementation

To help select the best SSL certificate, check out The SSL Certificate Wizard.
To facilitate HTTP implementation in WordPress, use Really Simple SSL WordPress Plugin.
To obtain the redirect rules to use in htaccess, use HTTP to HTTPS Redirect Generator.

For validation and monitoring

To follow up with Google’s “official” crawling, indexation and organic search visibility information activity between the HTTP and HTTPS domains, it’s a must to use Google Search Console individual properties and sets.
For SSL Checking & Mixed Content Issues, you can use SSL Shopper, Why No Padlock? and Google Chrome DevTools.
To emulate Googlebot for both desktop and mobile, use SEO crawlers like Screaming Frog, OnPage.org, Botify, Sitebulb, Deepcrawl and SEMrush Site Audit, which features a report about HTTPS implementation showing the most common issues.
To verify the direct crawling activity from the Googlebot in your HTTP and HTTPS URLs, use log analyzers like Screaming Frog Log Analyzer, Botify or OnCrawl.

HTTPS Implementation

If you want to learn more about best SEO practices for HTTPS implementation, take a look at the presentation I did about it a few months ago.

Start your audits!

I hope these tips and tools help you to better prioritize and develop your SEO audits to tackle some of the new and current most important issues and opportunities.

The post 5 must-do technical SEO audit items in 2017 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

22 Jun 2017
/

Google Posts now live for all Google My Business users

Google announced on the Google My Business blog that they are now rolling out Google Posts to all Google My Business customers. A couple weeks ago, Google moved Google Posts into Google My Business and that is where you can access it now.

Go to your Google My Business account and click on “Posts” on the left hand side menu when you are in your Google business listing. You can also access it by clicking here.

You should see a screen that looks like this:

After you click add post, you are given several options for your post. You can upload an image, write text up to 300 words, add an event title and start and end time. Add buttons to learn more, reserve, sign up, buy or get an offer. Here is a screen shot of that interface:

Google says this give businesses the ability to:

Share daily specials or current promotions that encourage new and existing customers to take advantage of your offers.
Promote events and tell customers about upcoming happenings at your location.
Showcase your top products and highlight new arrivals.
Choose one of the available options to connect with your customers directly from your Google listing: give them a one-click path to make a reservation, sign up for a newsletter, learn more about latest offers, or even buy a specific product from your website.

Here are how Google Posts come up in search:


For more details check out this help document.

The post Google Posts now live for all Google My Business users appeared first on Search Engine Land.

22 Jun 2017
/

5 Tips for Building Effective Automated Emails

Meet your new superpower: the power to be everywhere.

With automated email campaigns, you can deliver a targeted sequence of emails to be sent automatically on a schedule of your choosing – which makes it possible to build relationships with subscribers no matter where you are!

You can keep your readers engaged by delivering targeted automated campaigns, like a welcome series, product launch series, customer onboarding sequence, or even an online email course.

But how do you get started? Read on for five tips on building an effective and high converting automated email marketing strategy.
1. Keep the subject line short and sweet
Your subject line should be influenced by your email content and the segment of subscribers you’re sending to.

The subject line is your chance to grab readers’ attention and get them to read on. It only takes subscribers a few seconds to scan their inbox and decide if your email is worth reading. So, keep the subject line short, sweet and persuasive.

It’s also important to note that engagement rates typically decline over the course of an automated email campaign. As a result, you’ll want to spend extra time creating eye-catching subject lines to keep subscribers reading.

Try adding a sense of urgency by using phrases like “Last Chance” or “Ends Now” to encourage subscribers to take advantage of your offers while they still can. Personalizing the subject line can also boost open rates and engagement. Adding a person’s name and saying things like “You need this” or “You’ve got to check out these deals!” makes for a more personal experience.

Also, stay away from misleading subject lines. They can cause your subscribers lose trust in you, and give them a reason to delete your email and unsubscribe from your list.
2. Send valuable content
In case you haven’t heard, the email blast is dead. Email marketing isn’t just a matter of blasting every email address on your list, in the hope that someone will click a link and purchase immediately. It’s about delivering value and helping people.

The fastest way to get marked as spam is by sending emails based on whatever ideas pop into your head. Instead, you should strive to send emails your audience cares about. Emails that bring value to their lives in some way.

The best way to do this is by focusing on your audience’s needs and challenges. How does your business help to solve them? Add it to your email. Whether this takes the form of a new blog post you recently published that addresses a common customer question, a story of someone who uses your product or service, or an email that highlights the benefits of your product, this is the kind of information your subscribers want.

Not sure what to send? Try interviewing a “celebrity” in your industry, featuring a customer testimonial or offering targeted bonus content.

This is the kind of valuable content that will motivate them to open your emails, click links you’ve provided and become loyal customers.

Want more tips on what to write in your emails? Check out our What to Write in Your Emails guide – which includes over 30 email copy templates – and course!
3. Set up a welcome series
A welcome email is the first message subscribers receive when they sign up for an email list – if you have one set up. And you should! A welcome series is a simple campaign to create, and it’s one that everyone who sends email should have.

Why? Because it sets the tone for your email list and brand. It’s also your opportunity to thank subscribers for joining your list and set expectations as to what they will receive from you in the future.

Whether your automated email campaign has one email or six, it should be informative and helpful.

To create a welcome series, focus on one email at a time. The most basic email should welcome subscribers, thank them and include other ways to stay connected. Including links to your social media profiles and contact information are just some of the ways you can encourage interaction outside of the inbox.

Either in a different paragraph or a different email, try sharing your best content or products. Your new subscribers won’t necessarily be familiar with you, so repurposing older content and giving them guidance is a great way to help them get situated.

In the next paragraph or next email in the series, learn more about your audience and start to develop a relationship. Prompt direct engagement with a question like “What’s your biggest challenge?” and ask them to reply to the email. Or, encourage them to participate in another recurring event, such as a pre-scheduled webinar.

Be sure to go through this process again with tailored content for your remaining campaigns. Your targeted automated welcome campaigns will be all set up and ready to go in no time.
4. Segment your list
Email segmentation allows you to sort subscribers into different groups, and serve them email content that’s most relevant to them. The goal of segmentation is getting a better idea of who your customers are and best serving them with content they want to see. And by sending the right messages to the right people, you can help drive higher open and click-through rates.

So, how do you segment your subscribers? Subscribers can be grouped based on demographics like job position or location (by asking subscribers to select an option when they sign up to your list or linking out in your welcome email) or responsiveness, like opens or clicks in previous emails.

There are no right or wrong segments, but there are a few that are more effective than others, depending on your business. For example, if you run an online shop, you may want to segment subscribers based on their purchases. This way, you can send them emails highlighting upcoming deals on similar items.
5. Measure and record the results
Check your open rates, your click-through rates, unsubscribes and any other key metrics that are relevant to your strategy. See a drop in engagement? Take a closer look at the email. Many factors affect how subscribers interact with your emails, so test out a few changes to see what’s wrong and what you need to do to fix it.

Your email analytics can tell you different stories about subscriber engagement and the kind of content they like most. This can help you understand where you need to make improvements, deliver more value and increase the success of your emails.
Build better automated emails
Creating an effective automated email campaign can be tough, but that’s why we’re here to help!

Now you know how to build your emails ― so, what do you write? We can answer that! Download our free What to Write in Your Emails course and guide and get 30+ fill-in-the-blank email templates today.

The post 5 Tips for Building Effective Automated Emails appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.

22 Jun 2017
/

SearchCap: AMP e-commerce, SEO audits & content consumption

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

From Search Engine Land:

Why one e-commerce company is going all-in on AMP (Hint: conversions)
Jun 22, 2017 by Ginny Marvin

With significant conversion lifts over responsive design, Event Ticket Center has been pushing the AMP envelope.

5 must-do technical SEO audit items in 2017
Jun 22, 2017 by Aleyda Solis

As the search world evolves, so must your technical SEO audits. Columnist Aleyda Solis discusses some new items to add to your audits in order to stay current.

Early performance results from Google’s update to close variants
Jun 22, 2017 by Andy Taylor

What impact has Google’s latest update to close variants had on paid search performance? Columnist Andy Taylor reviews the data.

Oskar Fischinger Google doodle honoring the filmmaker & visual artist doubles as musical instrument
Jun 22, 2017 by Amy Gesenhues

To mark what would have been Fischinger’s 117th birthday, Google has designed a digital instrument that lets users create musical compositions.

Survey: 43% of marketers say 75% of their content isn’t being consumed
Jun 22, 2017 by Greg Sterling

Enterprise survey shows big gap between awareness and execution.

The State of Digital Advertising 2017
Jun 21, 2017 by Digital Marketing Depot

Marin Software interviewed top digital marketing managers around the world to discover the trends, opportunities, and challenges they face in 2017. Download the report to learn the current state of the industry, plus expert tips and recommendations for success. Highlights include: Marketers’ top priorities for 2017. The ROI potential of different mobile strategies. The main […]

Recent Headlines From Marketing Land, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Internet Marketing:

Confessions of a marketing automation addict
An introduction to conversational commerce and bots
Why is Amazon buying Whole Foods? The opportunity of online grocery [Podcast]
CMOs at the wheel: How are they Driving the Modern Marketing Organization?
It’s time for SMBs to go all in on social and mobile video
LivePerson offers first out-of-box integration with IBM’s Watson Virtual Agent

Search News From Around The Web:

Industry

Gary Illyes From Google Doesn’t Have Access To Apply Manual Actions To Your Site, Search Engine Roundtable
Google to push for law enforcement to have more access to overseas data, Reuters

Local & Maps

Google Maps adds indigenous lands in Canada after long omission, The Guardian
Landslide and Tsunami in Greenland, Google Earth Blog

Searching

"You want to do what??" A commencement address for the I-school at the University of Maryland (2017), SearchReSearch

SEO

A Complete Local SEO Checklist, Search Engine Journal
Bad SEO Advice You Should Still Avoid, SEO Theory
Google May Skip URLs That Repeat Same Path Many Times, Search Engine Roundtable
Google Says Checkmark Characters In Titles Looks Spammy ✓, Search Engine Roundtable
Google Says Yes, Use Breadcrumb Navigation Links On Your Site, Search Engine Roundtable
Google Search Console and structured data, Yoast
Have your keyword rankings really increased? How to track volatility, Branded3
Site Structure and SEO: 5 Ways to Create an SEO-friendly Site Structure, 99signals.com

SEM / Paid Search

5 Essential Tips for Improving B2B PPC Lead Generation, KoMarketing
How to Use Historical Quality Score Data for Better Ads, Search Engine Journal
PPC For Hotels: How To Counter OTAs (Online Travel Agents), State of Digital
Use Historical AdWords Data To Create Your Own Bid Simulator, PPC Hero

The post SearchCap: AMP e-commerce, SEO audits & content consumption appeared first on Search Engine Land.

22 Jun 2017
/

Save the Date: SMX East is back in NYC Oct 24-26

Mark your calendars for SMX East: October 24-26! Don’t miss your only chance this year to attend the largest search marketing conference on the East Coast.

An agenda obsessed with SEO & SEM!

SMX is the only conference series dedicated to search marketing. There are tactic-rich keynotes, sessions and clinics programmed just for you, whether you’re a performance marketer, content marketer, demand gen or brand specialist. Here’s the skinny of what you’ll get by attending:

SEO topics focus on getting found in this mobile-first search world. We’ll discuss the new Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors so you’re up to date on what’s important… and what’s not. We’ll also dive deep on working within Google’s the mobile-friendly accelerated mobile pages (AMP) framework. We’re also super excited for SEO & Social: A Match Made In Marketing Heaven because we’re focused on that opportunity right now.

For you SEMs, it’s all about conversion, testing and optimization. There are multiple sessions focused on paid search and social, audience targeting and much more. I’m particularly interested in Greg Sterling’s Competitive Research For SEM session.

We’ll also feature content for specialist in the Mobile/Local/Retail, Brand/Strategies and Data/Analytics tracks. Are you struggling to understand attribution and improving the way you measure the success of your digital marketing efforts? Ginny Marvin’s session on multi-channel attribution is one to watch.

Stay tuned for the complete agenda which is due out in a few weeks!

Or, register today for the lowest conference rate we’ll offer. You save $400 off on-site rates by registering now. Hotel availability and rates are their best now too. Reserve accommodations at the official conference hotel when you register.

P.S. Make attending easier with our “Get Your Boss On Board” guide, which provides useful tips, a convincing letter template and justification you can use to win approval to attend.

The post Save the Date: SMX East is back in NYC Oct 24-26 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

22 Jun 2017
/

Why one e-commerce company is going all-in on AMP (Hint: conversions)

Initially the domain of publishers, Google is steadily nudging commercial site owners and advertisers to embrace AMP. A new AdWords beta lets advertisers point their mobile search ads to AMP-enabled pages. Ebay was the first major non-news site to deploy AMP widely in a production setting, and other early adopters are getting on board despite the fact that there are still holes in AMP-supported capabilities. Here’s a look at how one company’s head start quickly convinced them to go all-in on AMP.

Early adopters

Event Ticket Center sells concert and sporting event tickets online. Three-quarters of its traffic and a majority of sales come from mobile. Several years ago, the team, headed by brothers Adam and Jessie Young, had been ahead of the curve in moving to a responsive mobile site. They quickly jumped at building out AMP landing pages last year despite the lack of support for e-commerce functionality — no support for forms, tracking and on-page elements like search.

Shortly after the team had some AMP landing pages up, they started testing it for PPC. The analytics weren’t good enough to give them solid insights, but they felt they were on to something. The company developed a kind of hack to keep users unified as they go from AMP to non-AMP pages, which gave them much better visibility into AMP performance. (Google is actively working on a fix to unify user IDs for visits to publisher domains in Analytics.)

Encouraged by the initial performance of AMP landing pages, a couple of months ago, Event Ticket Center decided to focus on building an immersive AMP experience to keep users in the AMP environment until they were deep in the funnel on the site, where AMP capabilities fell short.

“Trying just an AMP landing page alone wasn’t good enough because users don’t convert on the landing page,” said Adam Young.

They now are able to keep users in the AMP experience through navigation, search and their events pages. It’s a full AMP experience until users reach the interactive seating chart and checkout.

Early results

In A/B testing the AMP experience versus the responsive experience with AdWords traffic, the team saw a 20 to 30 percent conversion lift on AMP pages across all mobile campaigns.

By mid-May, more than 70 percent of the 100,000 ad groups in their mobile AdWords campaigns pointed only to AMP pages. That’s now at 100 percent.

All Event Ticket Center mobile ads now point to AMP pages.

AMP pages from organic traffic are converting at a 100 percent lift over responsive, says Adam Young, and the bounce rate is 10 points lower.

Event Ticket Center caught the attention of Google’s AMP team, who reached out and offered support. Event Ticket Center was featured in the AMP beta announcement at Google Marketing Next last month.

The team is currently working on “AMPifying” the ticket listing and venue seating page — the site’s slowest and most complex page. They are also working on building AMP for the checkout experience, but those pages are further complicated with having to handle personally identifiable information (PII).

Future predictions

After their experiences over the past year, to say CEO Adam Young is bullish on AMP would be an understatement. “That AMP is a prerequisite for the future is verifiable. It’s going to be the standard delivery method. There are also no security holes that come from putting JavaScript on someone else’s site, for example.”

The team had once made a big investment in building native apps but is backing off those efforts because of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). Young advises others considering PWAs to start with AMP and then “wrap with PWAs” (more on how PWAs and AMP can work together is available in the AMP documentation here).

“Keep it simple, stupid: this is the paradigm shift in our way of thinking,” said Young. “We’re going fully immersed in AMP. It’s difficult because everything needs to simplify.”

Young predicts it’s soon going to be very easy for e-commerce companies to implement AMP. Of Google and the AMP team, Young says, “Their focus is now e-commerce and how they’re going to make money via mobile search ads.” That should mean an acceleration of AMP support for commercial requirements.

The post Why one e-commerce company is going all-in on AMP (Hint: conversions) appeared first on Search Engine Land.

22 Jun 2017
/

Oskar Fischinger Google doodle honoring the filmmaker & visual artist doubles as musical instrument

Today’s Google doodle is a tribute to German-born filmmaker and visual artist Oskar Fischinger, on what would have been his 117th birthday.

According to Fischinger’s daughter, he and his wife immigrated to America from Germany in 1936.

“They were forced to leave Germany in 1936 when it became clear that my father could not pursue his work as a filmmaker there (avant-garde was considered degenerate by Hitler and his administration),” says Angie Fischinger, “But many people who had already seen his films recognized his greatness. He received an offer to work at MGM and stayed in Hollywood after the war.”

The doodle’s creative lead Leon Hong calls Fischinger a “towering figure” in the world of motion graphics and animation.

“He is best known for his ability to combine impeccably synchronized abstract visuals with musical accompaniment, each frame carefully drawn or photographed by hand,” writes Hong on the Google Doodle Blog, “A master of motion and color, Fischinger spent months — sometimes years — planning and handcrafting his animations.”

Today’s doodle is, on its own, a masterful creation of motion, music and color. Displaying on almost all of Google’s home pages — both here in the US and internationally — the doodle launches a digital musical instrument that lets users compose their own tunes, and then plays them back paired with a visual reflection of the notes.

The interactive music composition tool has various controls to change the key, the tempo and the instrument sound. Works by three separate professional composers have been included as well — Nick Zammuto, TOKiMONSTA and the band Local Natives.

There is a share icon to post your compositions on social pages, and the option to search “Oskar Fischinger” at the bottom of the screen.

“His colors and motion are so carefully planned yet naturally playful, his timing so precise yet human,” writes Hong. “Today’s Doodle aims to pay homage to him, while allowing you to compose your own visual music. I hope it inspires you to seek out the magic of Fischinger for yourself.”

In addition to Hong, the doodle’s production team included engineers Kris Hom and Brian Murray, producer My-Linh Le, project support by Perla Compos, and Marci Windsheimer served as blog editor for the doodle.

The post Oskar Fischinger Google doodle honoring the filmmaker & visual artist doubles as musical instrument appeared first on Search Engine Land.

22 Jun 2017
/

Early performance results from Google’s update to close variants

Back in March, Google began expanding its definition of what constitutes a close variant exact match, a change they expected to roll out “over the coming months.”

At last Tuesday’s “Mad Scientists of Paid Search” session at SMX Advanced, I presented the latest Merkle data on what kind of impact we’ve seen so far. Here I’ll walk through some of the data presented there and explain what it means for advertisers.

Close variant traffic share steady so far

Taking a look at the share of all “exact” and “exact (close variant)” non-brand traffic attributed to close variants for a set of Merkle advertisers, we find that it has remained relatively the same so far in Q2 compared to what we’ve observed since the beginning of 2016 across all three device types for the median brand.

I measured close variant traffic in this way because it gives a sense of what share of traffic would be attributed to close variants if every single keyword in an account were set to exact match. Thus, this method helps to minimize the effect of some advertisers relying more heavily on phrase and broad match types than others, which would heavily impact metrics like the overall share of search traffic coming from “exact (close variants).”

Looking at this same measure for brand traffic, close variants account for a much smaller share of exact traffic, and there has been no obvious movement yet as a result of Google’s update.

So it appears that the updates to the definition of what constitutes a “close variant” haven’t affected how much traffic these matches drive just yet, though again Google mentioned a timeline of “over the next several months.” But what about the conversion rate of close variants relative to pure exact?

Close variant conversion rate holds steady relative to pure exact

Comparing the conversion rate of exact close variant non-brand traffic to pure exact, relative performance has remained roughly the same on desktop and tablet devices since the announcement. Tablet relative performance sank to its lowest level since the beginning of 2016, but this device type accounts for a very small share of overall traffic.

Thus, the update has not yet significantly impacted the relative conversion rate of close variants to pure exact match or the share of traffic coming from close variants.

Let’s take a step back from attempting to measure the impact of the update and focus on what close variants mean for performance right now.

Overall impact of close variants on exact match conversion rate

For the median advertiser, close variants are bringing down the total conversion rate of non-brand exact match traffic between 3 percent and 5 percent in Q2.

However, the impact ranges widely across the sample set studied, and some advertisers see far worse results. On the other hand, some brands actually see a slightly higher overall non-brand conversion rate when factoring in close variants.

For brands that see significantly negative impacts to non-brand exact match conversion rate as a result of mandatory close variants, it’s obviously important to stay active in mining search query reports to identify potential keyword negatives. On the other side of the coin, those advertisers seeing little to slightly positive impacts on conversion rate overall don’t have to be quite as concerned over mandatory close variants, though close variant matches can still cause inefficiencies for any specific keyword within an account and still need to be monitored.

Looking at how much close variants impact the conversion rate of brand keywords, there’s actually zero percent impact for the median advertiser across all three device types. This is due to close variants accounting for just 2-3 percent of all brand “exact” traffic for the median advertiser in Q2, as well as close variant conversion rate coming in very nearly the same as true exact conversion rate for brand keywords.

While the median difference in non-brand conversion rate for exact match queries due to close variants might seem relatively minor, even this level of negative impact can easily turn off valuable traffic.

How close variants can ‘turn off’ traffic

Imagine an exact match keyword that requires a bid of $1.50 in order to show on the first page of results, and an advertiser that needs a 3:1 return on ad spend in order to afford to continue getting traffic on that keyword. That means that the expected revenue per click needs to be at least $4.50, lest the keyword fall off the first page and stop getting traffic all together.

Now assume that pure exact match queries make up 90 percent of all traffic for the keyword and produce revenue per click of $4.50 exactly. The other 10 percent of traffic comes from close variants that produce revenue per click of $3.15.

In aggregate, the expected revenue per click of traffic on this keyword falls below the required $4.50 to warrant a bid high enough for the first page. The only way to avoid this is meticulous management from the advertiser in pruning close variant matches with negative keywords.

Even for those brands which might see even a slightly higher overall non-brand conversion rate for non-brand exact match as a result of close variants, these inefficiencies can exist for any given keyword. Thus, all brands need to be evaluating the close variant matches occurring in accounts in order to limit the adverse effects of these inefficiencies.

Shifting gears, let’s talk about the cost of close variant exact traffic versus pure exact.

Close variant clicks slightly cheaper for non-brand, far more expensive for brand

Non-brand close variant exact match CPC came in between 6 percent and 11 percent cheaper in Q2 for the median advertiser depending on the device type.

This is a welcome disparity for advertisers, given the lower conversion rate of close variants, though the difference in CPC isn’t enough to close the gap in return on ad spend for the median advertiser.

For brand keywords, close variant CPC actually far outpaces that of pure exact match.

I believe this might be because brand close variants aren’t receiving the same quality score benefits that the exact matched keywords they trigger from receive. Thus, even though close variants convert at very similar rates as pure exact for brand, the cost of the traffic is more expensive, though again, close variants account for only a small share of total brand traffic.

Conclusion

Google’s recent update to the definition of acceptable exact match close variants does not appear to be significantly expanding the amount of traffic coming from exact match close variants at this time. Further, the conversion rate of close variants relative to pure exact match does not appear to have meaningfully shifted as a result of the update.

The lack of meaningful change might be because Google is still rolling this update out, and their timeline of “over the next few months” makes it difficult to project when we can feel confident that the rollout is complete.

Additionally, these are well and actively managed accounts that are regularly combed for poor query matches. Accounts that receive less attention and optimization may see worse performance from close variants, both in the past as well as since the update.

Just as close variant performance currently varies significantly from advertiser to advertiser, so also the effects of this change will likely be different depending on the advertiser and keyword in question.

Regardless, advertisers should continue to actively analyze the search queries driving close variant traffic to identify potential keyword negatives. Reducing poor matches can help to reduce the negative effects of mandatory close variants, now and in the future.

The post Early performance results from Google’s update to close variants appeared first on Search Engine Land.

22 Jun 2017
/

App Store Optimization: Why Creatives Lead to Successful Search Ads

Since Apple’s introduction of Search Ads last year, organizations with a mobile app are embracing Search Ads to improve their app’s conversion rate to become more discoverable in the App Store.

Search Ads are created using an app’s store listing, including an app’s metadata and creative. While all the metadata is important for visibility, the creatives (icon, screenshots, and video), need to be visually appealing and relevant to users to improve conversion. Search Ads can only be effective and convert users if the creatives are relevant and clearly demonstrate the app’s core features.

For Search Ads to be effective, it is crucial for marketers and developers to incorporate an App Store Optimization (ASO) strategy to optimize their app’s metadata and creatives to contain high-volume keywords and relevant images based on real mobile data of user’s search trends and behavior in the app store.

Where Do You Start?

ASO is the necessary foundation to making sure an app’s Search Ads are relevant and appealing to the audience for the app to become more discoverable. Before an organization dives into creating an ASO strategy, it is pertinent that they look at the current app market and analyze their competitors and understand how users search.

By evaluating competitors and understanding how users are searching in the App Store, marketing and development teams can have a guide on how to improve their App Store listing. Users tend to search with popular terms associated to specific apps, features or categories. For the most part, targeted keywords have already been determined, but after evaluating competitors and user trends, those keywords can be adjusted to generate more visibility.

Developers need to know which keywords would be most relevant to their app and target those terms. The keywords need to be closely tied to the app’s core features that are unique to the app to target its audience. Track user trends to make sure the keywords are related to what the audience wants in an app. Keep in mind, Search Ads are based off how relevant an app is to a specific term.

App developers also have the option to bid on keywords so their app will appear more frequently in user searches. Regardless of a developer having the highest bid on a keyword, Apple still ranks apps by relevancy. If the Search Ad is not relevant to the user’s search, it will not appear at the top of the App Store.

Search Ad Variations

Apple uses an app’s store listing, metadata and imagery to create its Search Ads. While developers are somewhat limited on what content goes into the Search Ads, they can at least choose how Search Ads will appear to users on the App Store.

Search Ads will appear in one of two forms:

Icon plus first two lines of App Store description
Icon plus screenshots and preview video (if applicable)

ASO optimization -ads

ASO optimization- ads with pictures

Search Ads can also appear in either portrait or landscape depending on the orientation of the current screenshots and preview video.

Optimizing Creatives

The only way that developers can make their app listing more relevant to user searches is by improving their app’s discoverability with ASO. The creatives, which include the icon, screenshots, and preview video, need to show how the app naturally appears to a better answer with its features.

One of the key aspects of ASO is creative optimization, which is an essential part of improving conversion. Here are easy tips based off ASO best practices that will help developers streamline their creative optimization to improve conversion.

Screenshots

An app’s screenshots should be thought of as advertising banners that use high-volume keywords to be relevant in user searches. Screenshots need to clearly display an app’s core features and should be uncluttered. Developers and marketers need to make sure their screenshots are legible—if screenshots are too confusing, they are less likely to convert users.

ASO Tips- Add Screenshots

Preview Video

When an app preview video is used, it takes the place of a screenshot but holds the same level of importance to conversion. Many developers forget that the preview video is presented as a still image, otherwise known as a poster frame. On Search Ads, this means the poster frame cannot be a random image that holds no relevance to the app. Instead, developers should be careful and make sure the poster frame contains high-volume keywords and an image that represents the app’s core features.

ASO Tips- Preview Video

Icon

The app icon needs to be polished and unique to stand out among competitors. If the app icon is not memorable, regardless of showing up in a Search Ad, users are less likely to convert. Some marketers and developers use their brand logo or a memorable character to retain user attention. While this strategy works, the icon also needs to demonstrate the app’s core features and be void of confusion like the screenshots.

ASO Tips- Have a Good Icon

Key Takeaways

Organizations looking to become more discoverable with Search Ads need to improve their app’s metadata and creatives with ASO prior to using Search Ads. Since the keywords that appear in App Store listing will be used for the Search Ad. Make sure that the app’s creatives are clean, clearly demonstrate the app’s core features and the icon, screenshots, and preview video contain high-volume keywords that are relevant not only to the app but to the target audience. The only way an app will become visible through Search Ads is by being relevant first.

The post App Store Optimization: Why Creatives Lead to Successful Search Ads appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.


22 Jun 2017
/