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SEO = More Time & More Freedom

If you’ve been exposed to SEO at any point in your career, you probably know about the benefits, and maybe some of the players in the space. But if you haven’t met Brian Dean, you don’t know your SEO.  Not only does he have some of the best tips to boost the off-page SEO that you’re already doing – he has a very no-nonsense way of explaining it…
“I probably don’t need to tell you about the power that first page Google rankings have for you, and your business.  Because the fact is, if we can get your sites on the first page for keywords that your customers search for everyday – life is good.  Targeted traffic rolls in, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  New clients and customers come to you.
…all of this gives you more time and more freedom.”
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Well said Brian.  Watch that video and a few other gems, here;

Local Search Highlights in the 2015 Internet Trends Report

Jon Schepke (with Search Engine Watch) pulled some great insight from Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends Report – and, in reading between the lines – could see that all lines point to… Mobile & Local Search.  So if you’re still on the fence about mobile and local search marketing & optimization strategies, you might as well hand in your Marketing Badge right now.  Here were his key take aways;

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Optimizing for Mobile is TABLE STAKES

  • Mobile searches have overtaken desktop search (sooner than projected)
  • Mobile use has also overtaken desktop use, on a daily basis (see the chart above).
  • 73% of the planet has a mobile phone
  • “if your local search strategy fails to address the mobile consumer, you might as well not have a local search strategy”
  • See Google’s recent release of Micro Moments noting that ‘near me’ searches have increased 34 times in 2011 (in Q4 2014, 80% of those searches were conducted via mobile devices).
  • See Forrester’s push of Mobile Moments, by definition, “a point in time and space when someone pulls out a mobile device to get what he or she wants immediately, in context.
  • See Facebook’s Retailer Beacons for businesses to offer deals & content for consumers in store via Place Tips.
  • In most cases, mobile (and mobile search) is the MOST direct connection between your company & consumer demand.

Get Ready for MOBILE WALLETS

  • “Brands that convert ‘near me’ searches into revenue through appealing mobile wallet offers are solving for the “last mile” of local search.” (truly creating a full circle consumer behavior).
  • Whole Foods has seen mobile payments surge by 400% since adopting Apple Pay.
  • Pep Boys has seen a seven-figure sales result from mobile wallet.

Our Presentations can Change The World

Following the presentation & design theme this week – I’ve stumbled across three noteworthy presentation design firms / designers – that also have great stuff to share (you understand how critical good design is with presentations, branding, marketing, content – when you see it).  Take a peek…

Emiland De Cubber and Slides with a Purpose.

SlideHeroes and their McKinsey-Style Business Presentation Writing / Video Training.

AND LAST, ETHOS3 – and their ‘Manifesto for Presenters

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Information Design – just for fun…

You know that feeling you get when you leave a really… really bad presentation with hideous slides (i.e. – ‘I want that hour of my life back).  Have you ever had the chance to sit thru a really… really good presentation?  Those are typically the presentations that have less words, less clutter, nice design, tell a story and extra credit if it’s actually entertaining too.  If you’ve seen that, and remember it – mission accomplished.  Someone has effectively communicated their story, and their intent.  It’s only confusing why some brands don’t think the same principle applies to their business.  Here’s another great example from Slideshare Hero Emiliand – and his redesign of a recent NSA Presentation

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A Testament to the Internet & Information Design

Emiliand is a Slideshare HERO – taking one of the top Internet Trends Reports (Mary Meeker‘s annual Internet Trends Report – from KPCB, the firm that assisted Facebook, Twitter and Groupon in IPO) and (very humbly) redesigning it.  His work is a testament to the power of information design – and, without it – how a very valuable message, data and information can get lost.  The same goes for a brand’s website, social content, app and overall digital experience (just look at brands that have MADE IT, simply because they have put design and functionality, first).  Here’s a snippet from Emiliand’s work…

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SEO – the constant pursuit of connecting search demand to valuable content

The best marketers know that SEO is an ongoing practice – and when done right – it is something that is monitored on a bi-weekly (if not more often) basis, noting changes in search rank due to site optimization, content, links and other ‘search signals’.  Not to mention, Google rolls out hundreds of algorithm updates each year – it’s only the major changes (Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird, and iterations of those updates) that seem to get the most attention.

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Among those hundreds of updates – is the latest Google Core Search Algorithm update, expected to be similar to The Quality Update in May 2015.  Both of these updates push search quality forward grading several factors with site content, user experience and links – all focused on creating valuable content.

So – the moral of the story is – SEO is the constant pursuit of higher search rank (connecting search demand) to valuable content (on-page and off-page) – and if that ‘constant need’ isn’t something you can commit to service – it’s time to talk to a SEO agency.

Media Transparency is About to get Real. REAL Real.

The Association of National Advertisers just released a RFP for a research agency to ‘demystify’ the advertising & media landscape – and clear up perception issues around rebates, kickbacks, and other practices.  Results from a recent ANA & Forrester study shows some of the hot topics marketers are most concerned about;

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It is apparent that there is a wide disparity in the opinions throughout the industry. The lack of a common perspectiveruns the risk of suboptimal client/agency relationships and challenged business processes throughout the ecosystem. It is the ANA’s belief that the industry requires an independent, objective, third-party individual/organization to:

  • Demystify the landscape.
  • Understand the role of holding companies and their levels of engagement.
  • Understand if media plans are being compromised.
  • Develop practical solutions and best-practice behaviors that serve as industry standards.
  • Determine where marketers’ behavior may be “pushing the limits.

‘Link Building’ is a Dirty Word. Try ‘Signal Driving,’ instead.

Anyone who claims that links are dead just hasn’t been paying attention to either Google or what’s going on around them. To be honest, I’m fine with folks believing links are dead as it makes my job easier (and yours too) so let’s leave them believing it and move on.

And that’s how this latest article from Dave Davies and Search Engine Watch starts out – it had me hooked in the first paragraph.  Dave goes on to talk about why he’s never again using the term “Link Building” again (based on the history of the tactic), but instead, is moving to use the term “Signal Driving” – now that off-site SEO signals come from many different areas, not just links.

 

It’s time to commit – to video.

If you don’t already have a video master creating daily / weekly / monthly video content for you on YouTube, Vimeo, Wistea, Periscope, Meerkat, Facebook, Vine, Instagram… then it’s time to commit (just to catch up).  One easy way to do it – WAKE brand media just launched their video subscription service – to help you to commit to creating great video content for your brand.  It’s like hiring a personal trainer – only this one will get your video content into shape!

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Know, Go, Do, Buy – Google’s New Micro Moments

Leave it to Google – the new release on their Think Insights blog is ‘Micro Moments‘ – those moments that encapsulate searcher intent, specifically on a mobile device.  Google defines these ‘Micro Moments‘ as moments where “decisions are made and preferences are shaped…” when consumers turn to “phones with intent and expect brands to deliver immediate answers.”  (aka – the new GMOT, only, less trendy).  Know, Go, Do, Buy Micro moments can be considered when doing planning or strategy on a keyword-level, and device-level – for keyword ‘types’ that fit ‘micro moments’, like;

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Game Changers – New Digital Requirements that will Change Your Marketing Plan

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Mobilegeddon, Instagram Ads, Pinterest Search – just a few of the top digital tactics that have come out in just the first six months of this year have (if you’re already on top of them) or will (if you aren’t) change your entire marketing plan for this year. Here’s a recap of the game changers that will change your marketing plan – and if you’re a good marketer, you’ll change it now, not later.

  • Mobile First. Mobile search surpassed desktop search earlier this year – and then, on April 21, Google released an algorithm update that penalized non-mobile optimized (or responsive) websites. ‘Mobilegeddon’ as it was called, was a flurry of marketers scrambling to figure out how to either; (a) bite the bullet and redesign their website in a responsive / mobile optimized format – or – (b) find a workaround to appease Google in the meantime.
    • Impact #1 – Google continues to release algorithm updates that reward sites with a great user experience. Get it right now, or scramble to catch up with the next update.
    • Impact #2 – Mobile is in the lead for certain metrics, but remain device agnostic. When in doubt, keep user experience and audience interests at the forefront of all marketing decisions).
    • Impact #3 – Channel strategies should shift to accommodate more mobile targeted tactics: Paid Search Campaigns skewed to mobile devices, ramp up Facebook advertising (knowing that Facebook also is a ‘mobile first’ company), optimize for Local Search, and the list goes on.
  • Social Advertising & Content.  Social platforms continue to open up new targeting methods with advertising options, and they’re only getting better. Pinterest now allows advertising, animated (‘cinematic’) pins that can be optimized in the same way you optimize for search (Pinterest’s search team is from Google, so you can imagine there’s some similarity in their search algorithm there). Instagram is opening up advertising options to more advertisers, and can pull in Facebook Advertising targeting capabilities. Facebook Advertising is now critical (and one of the only ways to get in front of your audience), and targeting strategies are getting better, all while advertising costs rise (so get in now, while the gettin’s cheap-er!).
    • Impact #1 – Shift advertising budget allocation towards social channels (not next year, now) to ensure that you’re getting highly targeted visibility in a new channel, while the ‘channel clutter’ is low, and taking advantage of a low-cost awareness and conversion platform.
    • Bonus Point – Social signals still count as a factor in search rank, even with Google’s latest algorithm update.
    • Impact #2 – Optimize your social content both for search engine and native search indexing. We’ve created a culture of ‘searchers’, it’s up to you to connect searching consumers with your brand.
    • Impact #3 – Create relevant content. Start first by defining the specific channel audience, then the targeting capabilities, and develop the most relevant social content possible for that audience.
  • Twitter Counts in Search.  Now that Google & Twitter have a deal to index tweets again, this easy content channel can turn into a long-tail search dream.
    • Impact #1 – Reconsider Twitter in your social channel mix. Consider it as a SEO aide and a social channel, with a focus on driving visibility for long-tail terms and converting that visibility to traffic.
    • Impact #2 – Optimize Tweets. Look to your SEO Keyword Research / Plan to help guide your Twitter content calendar by incorporating target keywords into topics and tweets.
    • Impact #3 – Run Twitter Advertising Tests. There is a solid correlation between highly visible tweets (via retweets, audience size) and the likelihood that your tweet will show up in Google search. Consider running Twitter advertising tests to help boost channel visibility, followers and select tweets.
  • Content is More Than King, it’s the Kingdom. Search, social and paid advertising channels can’t run without content. Yet, if siloed, content development becomes very segmented and inefficient. It’s time we rethink how we look at content as an afterthought, and make it as important as digital marketing is to a business. Reconsider how you look at content. Is it an afterthought, or the leading thought?
    • Impact #1 – Create a master content calendar that aggregates content needs and output on all channels: SEO, Blog, Social Media, Paid Media, Email, PR. Find content gaps where there are missing holes between the ideal customer content experience and what you currently have. Then create the right content, and make it user friendly. If you wouldn’t watch / read / share it – why would your audience?
    • Bonus point: Create a content repository, if you don’t already have one. With needs for content growing, staying organized will be key.
    • Impact #2 – Invest in rapid, high-quality content resources and partners. Content can’t take forever to develop any more, and it doesn’t have to. The right resources and partners can enable you to produce more content that is valuable, visible and trackable. You have to feed the beast, and he’s hungry.
    • Impact #3 – Make content accountable. Every piece of content should have a set of performance metrics attributed to it. Some content will perform better than others, and that success path should be tracked. Consider content like shooting arrows out to your audience: you’ll want to see where they land, and figure out what you did to land the good ones.

So – if you’re following the digital marketing plan that you set in place last year, it’s already out of date. Follow the plan that will work, now – and use an agency to tell the difference.

The 7 New Rules of SEO

Search Engine Watch and Pratik Dholakiya recently published a great list of seven ‘directives’ or rules for SEO today that sum up many of the questions we get on a daily basis – so here’s my key takeaways from the list;

  1. Link Building isn’t dead; it has evolved.  Building links is still a critical aspect of SEO (and equates to about 40% of search rank factors) – its just how you build these links that matters.
  2. If you want to build backlinks, build relationships.  High quality content and backlinks both take time, nurturing, and can’t be automated.
  3. SEO must be an enterprise-wide effort.  You have to go big or go home – SEO is so content driven that every aspect of the business has a need for it, and content worth producing (from operations, to supply chain, R&D to marketing).
  4. Long-Tail goes a Long-Way.  Google’s Hummingbird update made long-tail search more relevant than ever – and it starts with items 1-3 already on this list.
  5. Usability, UX and Mobile Optimization take you the rest of the way.  With Google’s mobile algorithm update, it’s a clear signal that Google is rewarding those that provide a great customer experience that aligns with the upward trend of internet & search use.
  6. Your brand is social, Twitter is more relevant than ever.  Now that Tweets are appearing in search results, implementing items 1-5 within social are critical.  Next  stop – Pinterest.  With an ex-Google team developing the algorithm for Pinterest, it’s set to head the same way.  And if you didn’t get how important video has been over the last two years, you’ll need to pick up on that, too.
  7. Do your thing – what is right for your business.  Google updates have, and will continue to come out on a regular basis.  Stick to what you know is right, and you’ll continue to stay in the good graces of Google.

Scott Brinker’s ‘Marketing Technology Landscape’ Map – 2015 Edition

Scott Brinker of @chiefmartec has done it again – further updating his Marketing Technology Landscape infographic / map.  I love this infographic for two reasons; (1) if I ever need to see what companies are providing services in a certain area, I just have to zoom in 15x, and (2) it gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger every year.

The real lesson out of all of this is that if you – as a business – have to rely on a graph like this to get traffic / customers – instead of showing up on page 1 search results for a simple, topical search keyword – you have a SEO problem. 293

Thank you, Scott!  Just when you thought you knew it all – he can always show you more.  View his MarTec blog @ http://chiefmartec.com

The Digital Agency vs. In-House Debate

If you’ve ever had to make the decision of expanding your in-house team or hiring a marketing agency to bring your digital goals and marketing wish list to life – you’re not alone. In my opinion, it’s the best marketers that test options, opportunities and weigh the risks and rewards of each step (it’s the key to improvement, innovation and optimization).

Here are some of the benefits a digital marketing agency will provide (vs. sourcing in-house);

Inject Creativity Into Your Brand

Trying to solve the same problems all day can become stale and challenging. While a single focus can develop expertise, after a while it can be difficult for some in-house teams to think outside the box and see the forest through the trees. Agencies who work with a variety of industries and clients can offer new opinions and creative solutions that may not be visible to the tired eye. Supporting your in-house team with a fresh look and new perspective on developing a digital strategy can keep your brand competitive and positioned as an industry leader. Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Let Your Team Focus On Executing

Hiring an external marketing team can be a great compliment to your existing in-house assets. You provide help in shaping the overall strategic direction while your agency manages the operational duties of marketing production. This can free up your team, both mentally and physically, to focus on nurturing and closing the leads your agency is responsible for pulling in. Let your brand devote its resources to navigating through internal meetings and executing.

Experience Is The Best Teacher

Making the right choice for an internal team involves finding individuals you can trust to execute a wide variety of marketing strategies. This issue is, you don’t want a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Agencies hire experts to fill specialized roles so they can hone their niche skills and come together as a team to create a singular marketing unit. That expertise paired with a network of trusted partners can be a big compliment to your already established team.

Home Field Advantage

Your agency is more that your business partner; it’s your pillar of support to answer questions, educate your team, and keep your business ahead of the curve. From local companies to international brands, businesses can benefit from the experience and deep understanding of user behaviors and interests agencies possess. If you want to market to a specific geographic area (country, region, etc), finding an agency that is in that area can be key – they know your consumer well, because they are your consumer. For example, doing SEO or Paid Media in the US really is best done by agencies in the US because they understand the regional linguistics and the localization that needs to happen with any marketing, advertising or content.

An Ace Up Your Sleeve

Agencies perform the same tasks in a variety of industries to become experts at optimizing campaigns and strategies. This eliminates the learning curve and saves your business time and money by hitting the ground running.

Agencies also have access to the best tools, platforms, and technology and can often be more cost effective than purchasing a tool and in-house management. Many agencies already have access to a wide variety of tools and for the same price as many top industry tools, your brand can have an entire team to manage campaigns and analyze results.

Reduce Risk

Whatever direction your brand choses to take, it’s a big decision. Brands must measure the risk vs. reward for their particular situation to be confident in their choice. Agencies allow your business to get a tailor fit service that can be adjusted based on exactly when and where you need help. While agency expenses can seem like a lot up front, consider that hiring an employee actually costs at least 30% more than their salary. Hiring the wrong employee can lead to even greater expenses such as recruiting costs, salary, benefits, other costs (office equipment, training, managing), HR issues, missed business opportunities, impact on employee morale, and severance. For the same price as one expert level employee, you brand can have access to a complete team of resources including specialists, strategists, analysts, and experts. An external team also eliminates the risk of what may happen if members of your in-house team leave.

Conclusion

Before your business takes the next leap into developing it’s digital marketing strategy, consider all the components that influence your bottom line. Your results are directly tied to your available resources and the efficiency of your execution.

 

 

Free PPC Tools that make life, fun…

Thanks to Melissa Mackey with SEW for mentioning some of the not-so-obvious PPC / SEM / Paid Search tools out there that make life more, well… fun (aka – giving you the time back in your day so that you can actually go off the grid for a minute or two).   She highlights 23 free tools like;

  • Uber Suggest (keyword suggestions outside of keyword planner)
  • Soovle (search results on various engines)
  • Convertable (lead source & keyword tracking)

…and more in her article on SEW.

If you know nothing else about SEO in 2015 – memorize this list.

If you know nothing else about SEO in 2015 – memorize this of the TOP 11 SEO TACTICS in 2015, compiled by Pratik Dholakiya with SEW.  While there are over 200 ranking factors (and a more refined, smaller list recommended by MOZ), if you can master & execute regularly on these tactics, you’re doing better than most marketers;

  1. Create Incredible Content that Earns Links
  2. Create Co-Citation Links
  3. Create Editorial Links
  4. Fix Broken Links
  5. Conduct Link Reclamation (Brand Mentions, Content Usage)
  6. Conduct Link Outreach (New Placements, Mentions, Content)
  7. Conduct Competitor Analysis (Find Competitor Placements)
  8. Focus on ROI instead of Rank
  9. Map your SEO Strategy to an Audience (or Audiences)
  10. Optimize for All Search Engines (or, well – master Google)
  11. Focus on Mobile SEO Criteria & Keywords

Note how 65% of that list is focused on link building – it’s certainly not dead, and still is one of the few SEO tactics that can move the needle when all else has been done with On-Page SEO.

The Changing Landscape of Search & Key Trend Traffic ‘Rush’

Danny Sullivan is a pretty radical guy.  When I saw him present The Changing Landscape of Search, and I noticed he was wearing Google Glass while paddle boarding I thought, “wow – you know you’ve made it when Google sends you so many Glass prototypes that you use them as goggles.”

More importantly, he made sure that everyone knows that SEO IS DEAD.

Well, not quite yet.  In fact, his presentation shows all of the new changes in the search landscape that prove it is ever-changing, and that marketers need to evolve as well to adjust (in everything from scraper keywords & sites, pandas, penguins, to click to call changes).  In fact – looking at a higher level on search trends, he was also able to show that search is still critically relevant – something most men realize in the day or hours before Valentines Day;

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Thank you, Danny.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant Tool

Gartner is a powerhouse when it comes to research and understanding the vendor / tool / platform / provider landscape, similar to Forrester.  What I love most is their use (or the way that they’ve branded the standard competitive landscape quadrant) into Gartner’s Magic Quadrant.  Now, if only it actually worked magically, I would give it a bit more credit.  When evaluating any supplement to your business, it’s helpful to get a bird’s eye view on what all of your options look like with this ‘tool’ and it’s definition of;

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Search 101 – by Google

For those uncomfortable conversations that you need to have with executives that don’t understand how search works (or those that don’t know that ‘natural’ / organic search results aren’t really 100% natural) – Google’s found a way to make that akward convo more entertaining with Inside Search & How Search Works.  Everything from how search engines (particularly Google) crawl, index sites, how their algorithm ‘works’, fighting spam, and cool toys in the ‘playground’ area (with some oldies and goodies) – and some tips & tricks on how to make life, well… easier.

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SEO Platforms vs. SEO Agency Team

Interesting report released recently by Digital Marketing Depot as a Marketer’s Guide to Enterprise SEO Platforms in 2015.  This brings up the case that any platform would be useless without the team needed to assess and interpret the data, implement changes, and develop content around a solid content marketing strategy.

So – a SEO platform is really only one piece to the SEO puzzle, whereby most top SEO agencies these days give you access to these very same platforms at a reduced cost, or as part of their cost, similar to the same cost of the platform itself.  SEO Strategists, Analysts, Tools, Content Dev, Link Building, Reporting Management = Agency Team, where even the… Cost of an Agency Team & Tools = Cost of a Single SEO Platform.

Still – SEO platforms are worth reviewing, just to stay on top of what’s available in the marketplace;

Vox’s Card Stacks – short & sweet info distillation

Media, news & information done right – via Vox’s Card Stacks & pubs / media brands (like Eater, Curbed, Vox.com, Polygon, The Verge, SB Nation, Racked).  With their success (and Google’s own Cards / Knowledge Graph), it’s clear that new content forms are not just nice to have, they’re a requirement (short, sweet, & visual) – a trend that has already been happening in the mobile space, is now coming to desktop (see apps like Looksee, Nat Geo View, etc.)

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