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Updated: 7 hours 39 min ago

How Exactly Do Sitelinks Affect PPC Performance?

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 13:27
Using Various Paid Search Ad Extensions to Gauge Online Performance

 

 

Today, too many search marketers struggle with both increasing search volume while also systematically measuring the origins of that growing traffic. This kind of visibility can crucially impact where you choose to position spend, and ultimately, which audience segments your advertisements reach. It’s basically like you’ve been swimming with your eyes closed all this time, and suddenly you get a pair of goggles – serious game changer.

In fact, we recently helped a client struggling with this very issue. Their team’s main concern revolved around how sitelinks were affecting both their PPC advertising efforts, as well as their organic search traffic. We decided to tackle the problem head on, by testing a variety of different ad extensions on performance.

 

Our Test

We had been running brand campaign review extensions throughout their engagement, but wanted to validate and quantify the conversion rate impact, along with volume (CTR), by testing other types of extensions – namely enhanced sitelinks. Before our engagement, the client was not taking advantage of this tool for their brand campaigns. Once we activated the feature, they saw immediate positive results. Within a day, click through rate (CTR) increased by 11%. However, this volume picked up with no effect on conversion rate (CR).

 

Road Bump

In most cases, a client would see such an immediate spike in CTR as a positive; however, the added real estate these sitelinks took over on SERPs became a cause for concern, as they were now negatively affecting Earned (SEO) efforts. To holistically rebalance the client’s Paid and Earned efforts, we reverted our changes and turned off both review extensions and enhanced sitelinks. Consequently, we saw an immediate and dramatic change in our campaigns’ performance.

  • As expected, CTR decreased within the following 24 hours.
  • Surprisingly, CR quickly declined as well, by 12%. This was a fairly unexpected outcome, since when we saw that initial CTR increase, we hadn’t seen any sign of a CR increase. Our (and the client’s) internal alarm bells started ringing. While CR leveled out somewhat over the following days, it still performed well below normal and did not stabilize on its own.

 

Our Fix

We turned review extensions back on, and immediately CR surged by 30%. This was obviously more in line with what our client wanted to see. In doing so, we confirmed our hypothesis regarding the amount of control we had over brand campaign performance via sitelinks and extensions.

 

Represents actual figures.

 

Key Learnings

This test confirmed that we could regain more control over campaign performance simply by testing various types of ad-extensions.

Will using ad extensions boost traffic?

Yes. The increased real estate enhanced sitelinks occupy jumps out at anyone browsing the web; these feature draw searchers’ eyes directly to brand ads. While this may not directly lead to conversions, it will most certainly lead to increased traffic.

What if I just want to boost conversions?

If your brand is solely focused on conversions, then you should focus on review extension optimization. As we saw in our test, pulling back review extensions led to a significant drop in CR. Review extensions – essentially 3rd party reviews – give brands external validation, particularly when the excerpts provided are from reputable sources.
Someone in the market for your brand’s product or service oftentimes equates a review extension as social proof of your authority, particularly in instances where competition is fierce. All it takes between losing a consumer to the web and getting a conversion, in many cases, comes down to having a human voice and positioning your product as positively as possible. Leverage this feature to strengthen your brand’s online authority, validating shoppers trust in your product, and ultimately boosting conversions.

 

Conclusions and Summary

We validated that performance metrics like CR and CTR can be controlled by search marketers, to a large degree, by implementing simple changes to sitelinks and reviews. Of course, the effectiveness of a campaign depends largely on the client, budget, and a number of other factors. However, in the right situation, these tools can be extremely valuable in achieving and measuring various performance objectives.

 

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Finding More Volume in Paid Search

Tue, 06/09/2015 - 13:55

Clients are always looking for more volume and more efficiency, whether by way of driving more traffic to their sites or by gaining more conversions, sales, or leads. While it is nearly impossible to get both at the same time, there are a few ways to boost volume on your paid search campaigns without breaking the bank. In this post, we’ll outline two different strategies – working with what you’ve got and branching out into uncharted territory. We’ll also only address paid search, since display is a different beast altogether.

Working with What You’ve Got

Optimize Current Campaigns and Keywords

The first, less risky, way to find more paid search volume is by looking for it in your current campaigns and keywords. Here are a few great places to look.

Budgets: If you have room in your budget, an easy way to find more volume is to push up on the better performing campaign’s daily spend.

Dig into the Data: Take a look at a 14 and 30 day campaign report to see if any of your campaigns are routinely capping out (Google has a handy ‘Limited by Budget’ status and Bing has something similar). You want to look at more than one time frame for this analysis, because your campaign performance varies depending on search volume and bids. You could be fine for budget this week, but were limited last week and vice versa.

Analyze then Act: Either manually or using some of the search engine tools, analyze the daily spend of the campaigns that are capping out to see how much more room you have to push, without negatively impacting your CPA. So, for example, if your target CPA is $20 and your daily budget is $100, that means your daily average of conversions should be around 5. If any of your campaigns have a higher daily average of conversions, and thus a lower CPA, then you have room to push more budget to those campaigns.

Check and Balance: If you have budget constraints, you can still push more spend to the better converting campaigns by taking a little off the top of the poorer performing campaigns. Even adding $10/day to your better performing keywords will drive more volume; it may not be a ton more volume, but enough to make it worth pushing down the budgets of the poorer performing campaigns.

Bids: Take a look at a 14 and 30 day keyword report to see if any of your keywords are being capped by your budgets, bids and/or bid strategy.

Let Top Converters Fly Solo: If your campaign budget is limiting your top converting keyword set, consider pulling your top converters out into their own campaign(s). This will allow you to push more budget toward those keywords that drive the most conversion volume.

Bump up Your 3rd Placers: If your keywords routinely have an average position of 3 or lower, try boosting bids to see if you can drive more volume by pushing up the average position for the affected keyword set. This may or may not work – sometimes the best position for specific keywords is position 3, whereas position 1 only drives more spend, but not more conversions.

Boost Your CPA Cap: If your keywords are being constrained by the CPA cap on your bid strategy, you may be able to boost your CPA cap to give them more room to find volume. You might also want to break out the keywords in your bid strategies, so that your higher CPA keywords aren’t constraining your lower CPA keywords by being in the same bid strategy.

 Obviously, if you don’t have room in your CPA to push up the keyword targets, then this isn’t the best option for you.

Search Query Report: Run a 30 day and 90 day (or even YTD) SQR report to see if there are queries that are converting and/or have high click volume that aren’t in your current campaign. A longer time frame on your SQR may highlight keywords that in a 30 day report aren’t shining stars, but when looked at in a longer time frame are actually great converters.

 

Branching Out Into Uncharted Territory

Keyword Expands and Keyword Mining

The best way to really drive more volume is to find new keywords to add to your account that may (or may not) drive more traffic to your site and hopefully more conversions. There are quite a few ways to find new keywords:

Use Google’s Keyword Tool: You can use Google’s free tool to see keywords featured on your or your competitor’s site (simply put in the URL for either and see what comes up). You can also pick a broad term and do a search to see what kind of volume is available for the many existing variations.

 If you do use the keyword tool, make sure to pay attention to irrelevant keywords showing up in the same search results as your relevant keyword, which you may want to negative out of your account.

Mine Your SEO Keywords: A great way to find additional keywords is to mine your organic keyword set. You’ll either need access to Google Webmaster tools or Bing Webmaster tools to find specific organic keywords ripe for addition. Both tools show the latest keywords driving traffic to your site for a specific time period (no more than 90 days). You can also use competitive tools such as Brandwatch or SearchMetrics to do the same, if you have a subscription.

Track Your Competitors: There are some great free and paid tools available, able to show you the top keywords driving traffic to both your site and to your competitors. Some top options include:

SEMRush: This is a free and paid tool that will show you (depending on the level of access you have) the top keywords driving traffic to your site and to your competitors’ site. You can see both organic and paid keywords in this tool. You can even see the ads being matched to the keywords – helpful if you are also interested in changing up your ad copy.

Similar Web: This is a free tool (with a paid version) that can also show you the top organic and paid keywords driving traffic to your site or to your competitors’ sites.

Engage Your Search Engine Reps: If you have a dedicated search engine rep for either Google or Bing, they can help you find additional keywords to add more volume. They can do a keyword expand based on your current keyword set and/or a keyword expand based on your competitive set in the industry.

Pro Tip: No matter how you find new keywords to add into your account, the best way to routinely add new keywords is to create a separate test campaign. This tactic allows you to limit the amount of budget the new keywords spend, while still allowing you to see which ones drive volume. Once a keyword proves its worthiness (as in, it converts at your target CPA), you can move it into one of your regular campaigns so as not to further limit its allocated budget. Typically, you should check in on your new keywords at the 14- and 28-day mark. If they drive a lot of spend but are poor converters, you either should pause them or determine if they assisted other keywords to convert. If they did assist in conversions, you’ll want to determine whether to keep them active, move them to a new campaign, or pause them.

Whether you push for more volume in your current campaigns, branch out into new keyword territory, or do a little (or a lot) of both, any one of these techniques will teach you more than you currently know about what works and what doesn’t work in your account – and, hopefully, you’ll see a boost in conversion or traffic volume to boot.

 

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Structured Data Gets a Face Lift

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 13:47
New Schema.org Vocabularies and Terms Introduced

Photo via http://www.unclutter.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Label-Maker.png

Schema.org, essentially the Dewey Decimal-style organization governing how the Internet categorizes and distributes both digital and real-world information, has been hard at work expanding its full hierarchy of structured data types. Since Schema.org, comprised of Internet experts from Google, Bing, and Yahoo, started back in June 2011, many industries and groups have requested the organization expand its support database to include specific terms to categorize real estate, product, finance, medical, bibliographic, and other kinds of information. Due to this growing demand for new structured data vocabularies, Schema.org has now announced changes to the way they govern, grow, and manage these vocabularies.

 

What You Need to Know

Schema.org has made some exciting updates, with undoubtedly more to come in the near future. Here’s the complete list thus far.

 New Public Forum: Schema.org formed W3C the Schema.org Community Group, a forum for architects, developers, and marketers alike to stay up to date and/or actively participate in structured data’s evolution. Why join? At the very least, for quick access to new extensions, discussions, and up-to-date news.

New Extension Mechanism – This new extension mechanism is designed to enable groups and industries to extend Schema.org terms to fit their custom use cases. Huh? Yes. Let me explain with this handy example:

Schema.org has designated “ShareAction” as a schema type used for identifying an element which can be shared. However, on certain platforms, like let’s say Pinterest, folks do not share. They pin! You see, sharing and pinning in this context mean the same thing, except pinning is a more precise type of action that means sharing relative to this particular platform. Tricky, tricky.

Due to these types of linguistic relationships, Schema.org has introduced extensions enabling us to extend any schema type – in this case, making “Pinning” an extension of “Sharing”. Look for more extensions to come as more industries and groups embrace schema.org (this is why you should join the working group!).

Publically Present Schema.org Issues on GitHub – In the spirit of the open Internet, Schema.org has moved documentation of their issues and milestones to GitHub. Here, you can see, comment, and review upcoming releases.

New Versioning or Snapshots of the Entire Vocabulary – This page lists the updates rolled out with every release. Details include fixes and examples, site improvements, and new vocabularies.

New Automotive Vocabulary – Schema.org launched the Automotive Ontology Community Group to advance the use of shared conceptual structures in the auto industry across the Internet. What this means is although every car manufacturer may use varying terminologies for each particular item they sell, for example a car door can also be a car hatch, every consumer and manufacturer knows what a car door is – even if it’s a rear hatch, it is still a door. Applying structured data around information such as doors, cargoVolume, fuelCapacity, fuelEfficiency, fuelType, etc. will allow everyone – consumers, developers, car manufacturers – to connect the most meaningful data points at the right times.

 

Why Should Brands Care About All of This?

Because this is where the Internet is headed. Google and other tech and Internet groups are hard at work assisting their users in getting the exact information they need to optimize with structured data. In fact, at this years’ Google I/O Developers conference, Aparna Chennapragada, Director of Google Now, showcased her team’s current project, which leverages entities such as the ones discussed above in schema.org.

Ultimately, Google is moving towards creating a conversational search engine where queries will move from explicitly stated names to implicit context. In order for Google to return the appropriate answers to your customers’ questions, you need to help it understand the entities contained in your webpage or app.

 

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Mobilegeddon was the Quake, App Installs are the Aftershock

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 10:19
Google Rolls Out App Install Button in Search Results

Amidst the ado, hubbub, and general hullabaloo concerning Mobilegeddon, Mopocalypse, or whatever you want to call it, Google quietly rolled out a smaller, separate mobile update a week prior to April 21st. Well, “smaller” in terms of scope, but perhaps not in terms of importance. Google’s App Indexing specifications have been around for some time now, but they’ve never been as impactful as they are now. Back in February, Google announced that information from indexed apps was a ranking factor for signed-in Android users with the app already installed. Then, on April 16th, Google took this even further, announcing that…

  1. App Indexing is now a ranking signal for all Android users, not just those who have the app installed.
  2. When App Indexing is implemented, app install buttons may now appear in search results for Android users who do not have the app installed.

That’s right, you can now drive app installs from Google search results through App Indexing. This means you can actually acquire new users and drive even more engagement with your app right from Google search results. Once the app is installed, users will be taken directly to the app content that is relevant to their search.

 

Coming Soon to iOS?

 

So Android users are covered, but what about iOS users? While Android has a much larger market share than iOS, iOS does come in second, and together they made up 96.3% of the smartphone OS market in 2014. Is it only a matter of time before Google supports App Indexing for iOS apps? A couple of signs indicate that this may be on the horizon. The first, a response from the Google’s Mariya M. on the Google Webmaster Help Forum, feels like a strong hint. She writes, “Indeed, as has already been mentioned, app indexing is supported only for Android for now. Stay tuned for updates,” (emphasis mine).

Additionally, some larger sites have already gone as far as to add deep links to their iOS content. You can see this across HuffingtonPost.com. The back end of their homepage boasts the following code,

Just below the deep link to their Android app, there is a deep link to their iOS app. While this snippet of code may serve no purpose yet, as far as I know, it seems likely that it will be the way to get iOS app content indexed in the future. HuffPo is including it to get a jump on the competition if/when Google does start supporting App Indexing for iOS apps. Google has not yet provided guidelines for deep linking to iOS app content, but progressive sites like HuffPo apparently feel it is worth taking the initiative to get a head start on this.

 

What About Apps Without Corresponding Web Pages?

 

In June of 2014, without much fanfare, Google introduced its new App Indexing API. One feature of the API is that it allows apps without corresponding web pages to notify Google of their deep links, allowing that content to be indexed and surface in Google search results.

Taken together, all of this means that Google is equipped to be your app search engine, even without the formality of a website as a middleman. App content can rank even if the user does not have that app installed and there is no website associated with that app. Add iOS App Indexing and the service will be even more complete. In a way, the level of engagement could be even deeper than what comes out of app store searches, because the actual in-app content will ideally line up exactly with user intent.

 

Brand Takeaways

 

If you’ve already implemented deep linking of app content on your site, you’re in good shape! That’s all Google needs to start displaying the app install button in search results. If your app does not have a corresponding website, you’ll need to use the App Indexing API to get your content indexed. It would also be prudent to start thinking about deep linking of your iOS app – being prepared will pay off if and when Google does start supporting this. You’ll be ahead of the curve.

 

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Is Search Getting Too Personal?

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 12:54

In the days of yore, SEO was a very different creature compared to what it is today—part panda, part penguin, part hummingbird, and let’s face it, part human. With each evolutionary development, search marketers find themselves scrambling to keep up.

Keeping up with these changes can sometimes feel like walking into a crime scene. You see the outcome immediately, but the cause is hardly ever staring you straight in the face. You first have to dig for clues (data). Then you have to try to piece them together (analysis), come up with a theory, and find the evidence to back it up (test).

One particular development that’s been causing a stir lately is personalized search. Much to most users’ delight, search engines like Google and Bing are increasingly serving up more personalized results pages than ever before.

We see personalization in a variety of ways, including the search results, query Autocomplete, and People Also Ask, which Google is testing right now. The query suggestions and results we see are not just based on what’s popular or trending; they’re also heavily influenced by our personal search history, social behavior, likes, and location. What that means is that no two people are going to have the same search experience for the same query.

To demonstrate this, I typed in the following query as myself (logged in to Google, with my history and cache preserved) and as someone who is not me, using Private Search in Firefox. You can also use Chrome incognito. Here’s what we see:

 Personalized Google Autocomplete:

Private Google Autocomplete:

My personalized suggestions are more robust, based on what Google knows about me based on my search history—that I like cats, clothing, and entertainment. What’s interesting to note is that both types of searches yield “Catalina” related suggestions. That’s most likely because I happen to live in Los Angeles, and regardless of whether or not I’m searching as myself or in private, Google still knows what my IP address is.

Using a different query this time (“swimsuits”), let’s look at the SERPs. The differences are slight, but they’re there. The top seven organic results are the same, but they appear in different order, thus proving that personalization can affect page rank:

Personalized Search Private Search    

 

Again in this example, it’s apparent that my personal search history is affecting the SERPs. While I might not actually ‘shop’ at Nordstrom.com (too pricey for me), I do browse their site quite a bit. This could explain why Nordstrom beats out Kohl’s for the #2 spot in my personalized search.

If you try this out yourself, you may find the differences quite subtle, but that may change very soon as Google continues to push more towards a more personalized, unique search experience. In fact, Matt Cutts recently suggested that perhaps “SEO” should stand for Search ‘Experience’ Optimization because search has become so much more than it was before—it’s all about what resonates with the individual—it responds to users on a more intimate level.

 

Brand Takeaways

So this is all great news for consumers searching online, but what does it mean for brands that want to ensure their pages are still ranking? Good question. With personalized search becoming the trend, brands should be more concerned with ‘who’ they’re ranking for rather than ‘how high’ they’re ranking. If your page is ranking #1 for the wrong audience, what good does that do you?

Here are a few pro tips for navigating personalized search:

  • Get to Know Your Audience – Brands should focus their time and effort on getting to know their target audience, determining that target audience’s wants and needs, understanding how they search, and discovering what they respond to. Armed with the right information, brands can focus on crafting an SEO strategy that’s aimed at reaching the right people, in the right place, at the right time.
  • Link Content with Strategy - A big part of that strategy should focus around content—on page, video, images, meta data, and so on. Every piece of content should be written with specific users in mind, which means it should speak their language, sympathize with their needs, and offer credible, tangible solutions. The desired results for implementing a strategy like this would not only be a favorable page rank, but more importantly, increased click-through and conversion rates.

With personalized search becoming the SEO trend to follow, search marketers will find themselves relying less on page rank to measure SEO success and instead transitioning toward a more holistic approach to analytics. If I may be so bold as to take Mr. Cutts’ notion a step further, when determining how effective your Search Experience Optimization is, don’t think so much in terms of page rank, but rather, brand authority.

 

Be Future-Proof

How Google measures brand authority may always be a bit of a mystery, but what we do know is that, since its last Quality Rating Guide was released in the summer of 2014, Google is making an undeniable shift towards using brand-related metrics—expertise, authority, and trustworthiness—to determine which pages get the most visibility in the search results.

Staying connected and engaged with your existing and target customers will not only improve your online presence; it will also strengthen brand awareness as a whole. SEO aside, brand building should always be top-of-mind in any marketing strategy; whether it’s online or offline – that’s just Marketing 101. In the old days of SEO, this basic rule of thumb fell by the wayside. But the truth is, personalized search demands that we start thinking like traditional marketers again. This way, no matter what updates Google throws our way in the future, we can protect our brands, pages, and websites by ensuring we always have a solid connection with our audience.

 

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Build Brand Awareness with Social Media

Thu, 04/09/2015 - 09:52

When in doubt, socialize! Building an engaged social media audience is a great way to grow your brand’s online presence. We recently partnered with a beverage industry retailer to grow their online presence with a Display media campaign on Facebook.

Check out our latest case study about the partnership, detailing how we…

– Grew 100,000+ Facebook page Likes

– Systematically tested their entire creative portfolio to identify top-performing online assets to use in present and future campaigns

– Gathered qualitative data from newly engaged audience members about their product line to then feed back into production – incorporating real customer feedback into product creation to further align what the brand provides with what customers actually want.

Engaging with your customers online, whether with social media marketing, content marketing, or search marketing, can open all kinds of doors, giving you the data necessary to make smarter decisions about how to grow your business.

Introducing Google Mom – The Only Knowledge Graph You’ll Ever Need

Wed, 04/01/2015 - 09:26

Today, Google introduced what may be the ultimate implementation of the Knowledge Graph – Google Mom. Using its inherent understanding of our preferences, history and unrecognized talents, Google Mom produces Now cards and search results tailored specifically to us, the users, each unique in our own special ways.

“We’ve traditionally sought to understand people based on search history, geolocation, emails and purchase habits. Now Google Mom takes that mission a step further, replicating the neural networks found in mothers around the world, helping us get to know you better than you know yourselves,” Google engineer April Fuls told attendees at a morning press conference.

“Our old algorithm may know when you were born,” she continued, “But Google Mom? She was there.”

Google is expected to roll out the feature globally over the next few days, but Fuls gave the media a sneak peek this morning.

Queries about weather were met with replies suggesting specific outfits searchers received during the past holiday season, such as “Why don’t you wear the jacket Aunt Linda bought you?”

Attendees saw the feature used in the wild when Fuls’ presentation was interrupted by a reminder about an eligible bachelor in her hometown. “Why don’t you give him a call?” prompted Google Mom, “You got along so well as kids.” A clickable “Call” button promptly followed.

Visibly embarrassed, Fuls’ attempts to close the reminder further displayed Google Mom’s semantic abilities. “I guess you don’t have time for your Google Mom,” read a message on the screen. “I bet Siri’s installed user base doesn’t treat her this way.”

Struggling to get back on track, Fuls demonstrated Google Mom’s integration with Maps. The application now removes listings for restaurants and bars that serve food that’s too spicy or have ever had to call the police for disorderly patrons.

“Google Mom also works to add your own actions to the Knowledge Graph,” Fuls continued. “For example, everyone in my address book now knows that I bought tickets to see One Direction,” she sighed.

Fuls added that Google Mom will soon be joined by Google Dad, slated to answer all queries with a consistent “ask your mother.”

As reporters filed out of the theater, a final message appeared on-screen: “You did your best, and that’s all that matters.”

How Hard Will Google’s Mobilegeddon Hit Your Site?

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 11:45

Google’s massive mobile update is on its way, slated to start a little less than a month from now – on April 21st. A member of the Google Webmaster Team just announced this update will be significantly larger than Panda and Penguin. This warning, coupled with the blog post Google released nearly two months ahead of the update, further underlines the impending extensiveness of this algorithmic change. If we take a second to think about how large Panda and Penguin already were – Panda docked all websites engaging in sub-standard page quality practices (it specifically checked the content quality of a page) and Penguin docked websites engaging in sub-standard linking practices – an update even more widespread than these will surely be disruptive. Mobilegeddon will dock all websites not yet optimized for mobile usability. But how much of an impact will this update have on your website?

To answer this, we leverage the performance and mobile error data Google has provided to determine an approximate hit to Impressions, Clicks, CTR and Average Position. In this post we’ll help you prepare for the worst by showing you how to:

  1. Determine which data to use
  2. Download and organize mobile usability data
  3. Download Top Pages performance data
  4. Combine Top Pages Performance data with mobile usability data
Pick Your Poison – Determine Which Data to Use

Your first step in this analysis? Select the GWT (Google Webmaster Tools) profile corresponding with your non-mobile optimized pages. Here’s how to tell which one to pick:

  1. If your site can only be accessed by one domain (www), then choose www as you have no other choice.
  2. If your site uses www for desktop and m. for mobile, choose the www version. I’m going to assume – read “pray” – that your m. is mobile optimized. If it is not, you will need to perform this analysis against that profile as well.
  3. If you have mobile in a directory such as example.com/mobile/…

a. Shame on you and why?

b. This should have its own profile in GWT to track performance against mobile pages only. If you don’t have that setup…

c. Shame on you again and follow these instructions on how to setup subdirectories to Google Webmaster Tools.

One of the websites I’m currently working on for a client is NOT mobile optimized and only on a www. Let’s see how much mobile traffic we’re getting before the update…

Yep. I’m no rocket scientist, but that looks like we can expect an approximate 20% hit in traffic. Next step? Let’s see what types of usability errors are currently present on our pages.

Get Organized – Download and Organize Mobile Usability Data

Head over to the Mobile Usability section in GWT and download, one at a time, each mobile usability error report. Here’s how:

1. Select the first named error, and view its report.

2. From there, click to download the report. No need to show additional rows as this one will download up to 1,000.

*I’m not sure if these 1,000 are chosen at random, most important, visited, etc. However, we can use what is here to draw conclusions later on.

3. Repeat this process until all reports have been downloaded.

4. Combine the reports into one file with each report in its own tab then rename as you see fit.

 5. Add a column to the end of each data set and identify the type of error.

6. Combine all data to view the amount of errors present at the URL level.

a. Select ALT+D, then P. This will bring up the PivotTable Wizard.

b. Select multiple consolidation ranges and PivotTable (or also chart if you please), click next.

c. Select create a single page field for me, click next.

d. Select Add and go through each tab, select your entire data set one tab at a time then add the next tab until you have all tabs combined, click next.

e. Now we have our pivot table summarizing every error at the URL level. Just filter out “Last Detected” as this information is not as relevant to our analysis.

 

Great, now we know how many errors we have total, and which URLs the update will specifically affect. Looking at this list of errors you’re probably thinking… Okay, I have work to do, but where do I even start? To answer this question, let’s figure out how much traffic is currently coming into your site from each URL, how much of an impact we stand to lose overall from this update, and prioritize our workload accordingly.

Pro Tip: At this point, you might get lucky and spot trends signaling a specific template causing the brunt of your site’s errors and make a quick fix. If not? No sweat. We’ll simply continue onto our next step, prioritizing our optimization efforts by the amount of traffic a page garners instead of what type of page or template it uses.

What’s the Prognosis Doc? – Download Top Pages Performance Data

Here’s how we’ll assess what’s at stake for your website, performance-wise, once Mobilegeddon hits.

  1. Head over to the top pages report, set the filter to mobile to show all top pages in the mobile SERPs – If you wish, extend your date range to include the last three months of data.
  2. Add the parameter “&grid.s=500” to the end of your URL to get all your top pages. Change the 500 to however many rows you need.
  3. Click to download this table.
  4. Add this GWT Data to your working file in its own tab. You should now have a file which looks something like this:

All Together Now– Combine Top Pages Performance Data with Mobile Usability Data

Now it’s time to combine the data!

1. Copy the headers for the columns in the Pivot tab and paste right next to your GWT data so it looks something like this:

2. Apply a VLOOKUP to find if a URL in the GWT tab matches one in the Pivot summary tab, return the value. You’ll need to apply this same formula across the row, however you’ll need to change which column it checks.

3. Fill in the formula across the row and change the second to last number in each formula to 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and so on. Here are some examples… =IFERROR(VLOOKUP($A2,Pivot!$2:$8,2,0),””), =IFERROR(VLOOKUP($A2,Pivot!$2:$8,3,0),””), =IFERROR(VLOOKUP($A2,Pivot!$2:$8,4,0),””), etc.

4. Drag and fill these formulas down.

And just like that… you now have mobile usability error data matched up with GWT performance data!

From here you can apply a filter to exclude URLs with no errors and see if there are similarities in the types of pages affected. You can also calculate the sum of Impressions and Clicks, which you can then compare to your overall numbers to get an idea of what percentage of traffic this group of pages typically accrues.

Tight on Resources? – If you are tight on developer resources, tackle the pages which garner the most traffic first, then move down your list accordingly. At this point in the game, it’s better to do as much as you can to protect your top traffic-driving pages than to wait months to do an entire mobile overhaul all at once.

Follow these steps, and you’ll brave Google’s mobile-friendly update like a champ. Mobilegeddon? Shmobilegeddon!

 

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Facebook Exiling Spammers Once and For All

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 10:01

Phone spammers that is.

In a report published over the weekend, Android Police caught what appears to be a new phone app on the horizon from Facebook. The app, appropriately called ‘Phone’, seems like it will provide enhanced information about numbers on your incoming phone call log, much like current caller ID apps. What differentiates this new app from its predecessors? Its connection to Facebook’s vast and detailed data set, which grows exponentially more diverse each day via people and businesses’ constant uploads and interactions. With ‘Phone’, Facebook could, for example, use its data, as indicated in the report, to block commonly blocked phone numbers throughout user networks. If this is the case, the app stands to only improve overtime, as users continuously report spammers and unsolicited cold calls. Here are a few other ways we’re thinking ‘Phone’ could work in the future.

7 Possible Facebook ‘Phone’ Features
  1. Expand ‘Click-to-Call’ Functionality: The app could provide phone numbers in both mobile and desktop ads. When you ‘click-to-call’ on a desktop, the app could send your request to your ‘Phone’ app and start your call.
  2. Block Spam: With this app, Facebook could gain the ability to identify businesses tied to spammy phone numbers and use that information as ranking or quality signals across all of Facebook.
  3. Improved Advertisement Targeting: If this app knows your phone number, it might also be able to identify your service carrier. With this knowledge, the app could track your call usage and provide ads for better calling plans.
  4. Measure Engagement: Facebook could track your call duration and frequency through this app as engagement metrics to enhance your newsfeed.
  5. Sync Facebook Actions with Real-World Actions: If you make a call to a business or vice-versa that you are not yet connected with on Facebook, Facebook could track that interaction with ‘Phone’ and show you an ad to Like that business page after your real-world interaction. The same could probably be true for personal phone calls, after which Facebook could send you friend request recommendations based on your call history and current Friend status or lack thereof.
  6. Improved Security: Using this app, Facebook could identify unwanted personal numbers and cross-reference them with their identified Facebook user to sync your personal off-Facebook blocking preferences with those on Facebook.
  7. Personalize Your Facebook Contacts: Facebook may quite possibly be able to use ‘Phone’ to sync the contact label data on your phone with your Facebook profile. For example, if my mother’s number is labeled as “Mom” in my phone, Facebook could suggest I mark her as such on Facebook to enhance my social graph. Furthermore, if I have both cell and work numbers listed for my mom in my phone, Facebook could cross-reference those with business data and now it knows where my mom works.

Of course, I’m not sure what Facebook’s exact plan is for this ‘Phone’ app, but I doubt the social network is only interested in blocking unwanted callers. Everything Facebook does is designed to enhance the vast set of engagement data on its social graph, enabling the social network to use that data to provide hyper-targeted ads to its users. Lucky us?

The Write Stuff: How to Reverse-Engineer Your Content Strategy

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 13:39

Content marketing has become such a cliché topic that even articles declaring it cliché are old hat. Many companies have bloggers publishing on a daily basis – I’m sure there’s a light-switch manufacturer out there with a very compelling listicle about dimmer switches. Google has been forthright about the importance of having quality content on your site, and that’s why so many businesses feel obliged to go beyond the simple product listing page.

Along with this opportunity comes the danger of creating content that no one (including the search engines) is interested in consuming. A search for “dimmer switches” doesn’t return any listicles on the first page of results. Google hasn’t seen users dive into editorial content for this query, and so product landing pages are getting the attention. Take the hint.

 

When content marketing is aimed at improving organic rankings, its intent must match the search engine’s identified intent for the keyword in question.

For example, if you’re selling a book about Charles Lindbergh’s historic trans-Atlantic crossing, “flights to Paris” would be a poor keyword choice. That query is obviously going to deliver airfare listings. Don’t shoot arrows into the dark and hope someone finds them, or even worse – you hit a potential customer and lose the sale.

To this end, marketers can perform a bit of due diligence to reverse-engineer a content strategy that focuses on the right themes and formats to earn organic traffic.

To show how it can be done, let’s imagine a telescope shop. Right now the retailer’s website is mostly product pages with minimal editorial content. The owner would like to get some traffic on queries about telescopes, but doesn’t know where to start. He needs a content strategy.

If we perform the broadest possible search using the keyword “telescope”, we get a SERP dominated by major manufacturers. Five of the links go to transactional pages, while three lead to educational and/or informative pieces. Just like our example with dimmer switches, Google has determined that “telescope” is a query with strong purchase intent. The search engine is favoring product pages over editorial content. The SERP is also leaning heavily towards major manufacturers, and that’s bad news for our humble shop.

Dive inside Your Customer’s Head

Our hypothetical retailer is not out of luck – he just needs to find more fertile ground to plant his content. Here we borrow a bit from long-tail keyword targeting. An experienced hobbyist will be familiar with the lingo, and may search for “refracting telescope” to hone-in on the instrument he/she wants. The Google SERP for this query looks much different:

Users are presented with both an explanatory box of scraped Wikipedia text, as well as images. The first three organic links are informational. Only four of the nine results are for merchant sites, and they’re down-page. In this case, Google has clearly decided that those searching for “refracting telescope” are looking for some level of detailed information. Though merchant listings rank lower in this instance, that doesn’t mean traffic is limited to high school students doing research. Rather, consumers conducting these kinds of specific searches may be further along in the customer decision journey, comparing and contrasting their options.

What does this have to do with content marketing? A savvy telescope retailer will recognize that his pages on refracting telescopes cannot simply consist of dozens of product listings – the site will struggle to compete with the informational content currently occupying the SERP. A listicle on “10 Telescopes That Look Like Steve Buscemi” probably won’t do the trick, either.

Instead, content that provides a decent rundown of how a refracting telescope works, a bit of history, and the pros and cons versus other types of instruments could add enough editorial heft to satisfy the threshold Google has set for this keyword.

That listicle about Steve Buscemi might be successful on Facebook or Twitter, where you’ll pop-up in people’s feeds. It’s attention-grabbing and entertaining. However, Google will probably be confused by the association of two disparate entities.

So I Don’t Need a Blog?

You still need a blog, or somewhere to host your content offerings. Remember, we’re just talking about getting content to show up in organic rankings. Galleries, videos, and quizzes may excel on other platforms.

I’d Like Another Example, Please

Sure. A search for “how to change windshield wipers” reveals a SERP with a Quick Answer Box ahead of two YouTube videos. The familiar blue links are below that. The obvious takeaway for a content marketer is that this query deserves a video. If you don’t have budget for that, a nice list will do just fine. That simple format, paired with the authority of the site, earned Allstate the Quick Answer Box. In fact, all the other organic links go to some form of list, sometimes in gallery form. This content needs structure, which makes sense for a “how-to” query.

The internet is full of content that no one is reading. That’s fine if you’re sharing poetry on your personal blog. However, if someone is paying you to create a piece intended to improve their brand visibility in the SERPs, the least you can do is make sure the ship is headed in the right direction. With any luck, you’ll hit on both topics and templates that connect with your prospects and earn the attention you need to compete.

 

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