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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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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.

 

 

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.

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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Organic Search – Industry & Vendor Trends

Back to DigitalRelevance‘s 2015 Enterprise Buyer’s Guide to SEO – it includes even more info on organic search industry trends – and – trends in best vendors that sums up the state of the SEO industry in a few lists (love!) – here are the highlights;

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Organic Search Trends

  • The Big Picture > Sustainable SEO – understanding macro-trends (not just the micro-trend code-level updates) in SEO is mandatory, now that competition is more intense – this means SEO is at the core of your Content Strategy & marketing machine.
  • Increase of Long-Tail Search Traffic (16% of all searches done today have never been seen before – and – social & video are an ever present search competitor).
  • Changing Display of Search Results (Google Carousel, Knowledge Graph, and future changes & updates).
  • Merging of Thought Leadership and Social Engagement – social engagement is needed as proof to Google that you’re a true thought leader (or, it could be correlary, in that brands that do great SEO also support great social efforts).
  • Value of Truly Earned Links – link building is alive, and better than ever – given that it’s one of the few ways to still rise above the competition, prove relevance, and leverage content.
  • Fragmentation of Search – optimization on other platforms is necessary, as Google is losing a bit of search traffic to other info providers; Amazon, Wikipedia, Yelp and mobile apps.  Amazon SEO is a great next step to consider.
  • Diminishing Focus on Keywords and Rankings – first manifest in Google’s encryption of keyword search data – putting more focus on the use of Google Webmaster Tools (GWT).
  • Personalization – personalized results across channels will set brands apart.
  • Importance of Mobile – mobile surpassed desktop in 2014 so mobile-specific content and pages are a must.

Common Traits of Winning SEO Providers

  • Passion – a team that will tell any brand what it’s going to take to get the job done, not just what they want to hear – not sacrificing quality for a quick win, yet proposing a sustainable strategy that will work.
  • A Track Record of Success – a demonstration of impressive and sustained results across multiple brands over time (especially if dated back to the birth of SEO).
  • A Long-Term Focus – an understanding of the sales funnel and how content aligns to it, planning, measuring and creating long-term campaigns that make an impact (and please upper level execs).
  • A Multi-Disciplinary Approach – a holistic, sustainable approach to SEO is a multi-disciplinary one that relies on the interplay between search, media outreach, content, technical elements and social factors (and video!).
  • The Ability to Execute and Prove ROI – execution and measurement of the items above for both B2C and B2B clients.

YouTube is a Search Engine & Other Social / Video Search Stats

In CCO this month, Seth Dotterer (VP of Marketing at Conductor / @Conductor) brought up some good points on social search and video search with his article YouTube is a Search Engine – here are the sound-bite highlights;

  • “…video is expected to account for 79 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2018.”
  • “Facebook serves more than 1 billion searches per day, and Pinterest – consistently ranked in comScore’s top 50 digital media properties – launched guided search this summer.  (Pinterest says it wants to be the place where people search for inspiration.)”
  • “…with a little in-house talent, a decent camera and some editing software, any brand can produce video its audiences want to watch. Here are some ideas;”
    • How-to (RZ: these keywords also tend to draw massive search volume as well)
    • List (RZ: pick the most video-friendly topics from your editorial calendar)
    • Unboxing (RZ: if you enjoy unwrapping a gift, you’ll totally understand this one)

Other top video trends to align with your brand and demand (keyword search volume) can be found on YouTube’s Trends Dashboard.

The Wiz of Moz’s Tips for 2015

GREAT article from Chief Content Officer Magazine #CCOMAG this previous month, with commentary from Rand Fishkin, and some good-as-gold tips for SEO, Strategy & Measurement.  Here are the sound-bite highlights;

  • “It may be true that SEO has been around a long time, but it is still the most powerful earned, nonpaid source of traffic on the web”
  • “Google is sending out 10 times more traffic everyday than Facebook does.”
  • “Due to a lack of knowledge, there’s underinvestment in SEO by content marketers to the detriment of their efforts.”
  • “What I also see from those who invest in content marketing is an addiction to the daily drive to add more content – mostly for the reason that if they don’t have something new, they can’t drive more traffic.  SEO is potentially a huge solution for that problem.”
  • “While social media and other sources of promotion fade after a few hours or days, search traffic continues on for months or years.”
  • On Google Universal: “…in these cases, Google is usually taking away traffic when a decision is already made or when there’s not a lot of opportunity to capture conversion-focused value from those visitors.  And by offering the information up front, Google is promoting more and greater use of Google.  You can see that in mobile search statistics, which just keep going up and to the right… in the long term it creates a bigger pie for everyone including marketers.”
  • “Search is one of the most popular things we do on mobile devices, and certainly one of the most popular things we do on the mobile web.”
  • “Many marketers are failing right now to properly connect and measure ROI from various channels… social media is a channel that very rarely figures in the last click before conversion… social media and content marketing are often broadening the very top of the funnel.  They affect how people discover you, get branded by you and first come to know you.  For the next three, six, or nine months, those people will often turn into conversations or amplifiers… but unfortunately, we don’t have great ways of measuring that data.”
  • On Channels like Social Media: “has low competition and much less noise.  A lot of people won’t put dollars towards them – which means there’s tremendous opportunity in those channels.  Unfortunately, people focus on what they can measure.”
  • “…I am seeing a huge amount of investment in content marketing, and that’s exciting, but I think the pendulum has swung too far to quantity over quality.”

 

A 2015 (Enterprise) Buyer’s Guide to SEO

DigitalRelevance (now, Relevance Content Promotion News & Insights) – provides some great resources (in their Resource Hub) for anyone looking to get more out of their content… Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 1.04.22 PM

…and, this year – starting things off right with their 2015 Enterprise Buyer’s Guide to SEO.  This guide includes some 2014 SEO highlights, but also promotes a NEW SEO Structure that is at the core of all content production (right where it should be, aligned with Content Marketing) – as opposed to the OLD way of sticking SEO in a nice compartment right under all of search marketing;

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B2B Sales Process, Visualized

Salesforce just released a new eBook that does an excellent job of visualizing the B2B sales process – reiterating that the process doesn’t change – it’s the variables within the campaign that make it or break it (campaign ROI, top search terms, lead sources, lead quality, etc).  Great B2B review…

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You know you need a PPC Expert, if…

Here’s a great line from Search Engine Watch

If you’re new to PPC, you may be unaware that it will cost you less to hire an expert than it will to launch a campaign on your own.

Pierre Zarokian continues on with 10 (adjusted) reasons to hire a PPC management expert;

  1.  GOOD Keyword research isn’t easy (and the good stuff isn’t free) – so PPC experts use multiple data points to form a more complete picture of the keywords in the search landscape.
  2. WRONG ad copy leads to low conversion & lower quality score (meaning you just wasted a ton of money).
  3. Tracking requires technical expertise – if you don’t know how to setup conversion goal tracking and attribution in Adwords and Analytics (two of your most valuable metrics), you need an expert.
  4. Leveraging experience is priceless – it’ll take a PPC expert with years of experience and many PPC clients LESS TIME and COST to setup your campaign right, than it will for you to figure out, and realize this fact after you’ve lost valuable media budget.  You can read hundreds of articles and forums online, but the good stuff is what you don’t find there.
  5. Campaign settings make things more targeted more difficult.  Targeting, ad groups, ad structure, content network, remarketing… so many options, and the ever-present risk of wasting a ton of ad spend before you know it.
  6. Landing pages matter.  Adwords takes into account the landing page that you’re sending traffic to – as does an expert.  With an optimized landing page, Adwords will increase your quality score, and an expert will be able to effectively support leads / sales with the traffic they generate.
  7. Click fraud?  Yep, you have to monitor for click fraud.
  8. Negative keywords?  Yep, you have to make sure Adwords doesn’t show your ad for things that are unrelated, wrong or down right dirty (and no, it’s not that easy).
  9. Beta programs.  An expert can help get you access into beta programs that may help increase conversion, decrease cost, or provide new features that make a huge impact on your business.
  10. Your time is better spent running the business, not in it.  The time it takes to make these changes right, and manage them, is time better spent doing something else.  You also can’t have an expert ‘set it and forget it’ – that’s the easiest way to lose money, fast.

ABLB – Always Be Link Building

7 ways to expand link building efforts organically, and leverage every bit of content you produce;

  • Re-evaluate & Define Target Audiences
  • Plan for LB w/n Media Promotion Strategy (Earned, Owned, Paid)
  • Influencer Outreach
  • Content Curators
  • Link Reclamation
  • Paid Promotion / Product Seeding
  • Repurpose Existing Media / Content

Thanks, Search Engine Land and Chris Dyson.

Google Tag Manager + ABR

Managing complex sites with Adjusted Bounce Rate (ABR) is now easier with Google Tag Manager (GTM).  Best part about it – this has been around since June 2012.

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By adding one line of code to your Google Analytics snippet, you could fire off an event to GA after a certain amount of time elapsed.

For example, you could set the ABR threshold to 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, or whatever fits your specific content. And if an event is triggered and captured via Google Analytics, then the visit won’t count as a bounceVoila, you now have a much stronger metric to view when trying to determine low dwell time and actual bounce rate.

Thanks, Search Engine Watch.

AdWords Opportunities

There’s a new face of gambling – the Adwords Opportunities tab.  While the budget and ad group recommendations sound like they’re helping you optimize your campaign it’s easy to lose site of the long(er)-term monthly / quarterly goal with snags like;

  • Recommended Budgets: increasing spend based on a per day performance, instead of making the most of the budget the entire month, or taking into account that performance is higher on some days of the week, than others.  Simply put – manage your own budget.
  • Recommended Keywords: sure, the value proposition of a new ad group of keywords sounds great, but with further review, it can include many non-relevant keywords, and can skew clicks and costs.  Simply put – review & manage all keywords.

While new, more data is helpful – running a performing campaign always comes back to having “smart people use smart tools / data”.  Thanks, Search Engine Watch and Diane Pease.

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Rand Fishkin + New Approach, CliffsNotes.

Brad Miller of Search Engine Watch sums up a recent interview w/ Rand Fishkin of Moz – to get his take on some of the hot topics for SEO in 2013 and a new approach for some…

  1. Local Search for National Brands (think nationally, compete locally)
  2. Content Marketing: How to Stand Out (‘industry source’)
  3. Where Should Content Live? (on your site – go long term)
  4. Getting Picked Up (more visibility & engagement, not dates)
  5. Link Building vs. Social Signals (corollary for holistic approach)
  6. Email Marketing & SEO (start connecting the two)
  7. Google+ (using it for authorship / leadership visibility)
  8. and the rest of the interview, here.

Set Goals, Gauge Results

Rebecca Murtagh of Search Engine Watch gave a great 5 step plan to developing a more results-driven multi-channel plan worth reviewing.  I love how she sums it up…

In an ever-changing landscape, it is imperative to collect data, analyze it and adapt your plan accordingly. Make the commitment to review and respond to what your customers are responding to.

And her list starts with…
Finally creating and understanding that multi-channel integrated strategy.

Understanding your channels in Google, and how to allocate resources.
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Optimizing all owned, earned and paid media for search.  (i.e. – Facebook may be anunderutilized source of conversion / traffic – or is it?).

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Assign values to results to quantify (low volume in social might actually be seen as an opportunity for growth as opposed to a loss – or valued different if in a multi-channel / multi-attribution strategy).

Collect, assess, adapt.

4 Google Changes worth Considering

Mary Weinstein of Search Engine Watch provided some great insight into recent changes w/ Google’s algorithm – and – the HISTORY of changes to the algorithm (great resource!);

  • Keywords NOT PROVIDED (more organic search encryption, GREAT!) – NOTE, the amount of “not provided” data on Google is now at 81%!  A great reason to setup Webmaster tools to help with insight into some of that ‘not provided’ data.
  • That big black ‘beta’ bar called ‘Google Shopping’ or the new format for Local Search Results (for specific industries only – like travel/tourism, food, etc).  Note – if this takes off, could it take down Yelp!?  STAY TUNED!
  • Google Hummingbird, powered by voice recognition, now increasing the value of optimizing for conversational search.
  • Google+ Shared Endorsements for Product Listing Ads – maybe it IS worthwhile to engage in Google+ after all…?
  • AND, here’s my favorite part… just when you think Google isn’t THAT IMPORTANT…

Google squashed Wall Street projections for YOY with a reported $14 billion in revenue for Q3 2013, and a net income of $2.97 billion, a 12% increase.

Google doesn’t mess around with search, and they are aiming to be the destination for product searches and purchases online. Google Shopping may make a lot of changes, but if you’re an online merchant that’s looking to profit, Google is the largest revenue and traffic generating shopping channel.

Thanks, Mary!

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Google Analytics’ ‘Not Provided’ & SEO

Search Engine Watch author Adam Stetzer just highlighted some great points on ‘Not Provided’ traffic data in Google Analytics AND Hummingbird – and what it means for SEO reporting.  Some highlights;

  • Attribute Non-Branded Traffic to SEO, Branded Traffic to Other Marketing Efforts
  • ‘Not Provided’ has ‘decimated’ this type of analysis, but…
  • Small adjustments to SEO analysis can help…
  • Brand mentions may be more critical than ever (but don’t overdo it)
  • Breadth of website [content] matters (especially when it comes to Hummingbird)
  • Replace Non-Branded Keyword Traffic w/ Entrance Pages
  • A healthy website is constantly expanding in breadth (new keyword rankings)

How to build breadth?  There are a couple ways…

  • Newsjack hot stories & ‘insert’ the brand
  • Create infographics
  • Create videos
  • Use social media for UGC to promote (from staff & customers)

…and when all else fails, read this infographic;

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Thanks, HubShout.

Content Marketing Strategy

Why your business needs a content marketing strategy… well put.  Thanks Lee Odden.

Google sites handle about 88 billion searches each month. YouTube is the second most popular search engine second only to Google. Facebook is now over 600 million users. Twitter has nearly 200 millionaccounts. LinkedIn is at 101 million users and FourSquare grew 3,400% in 2010.

Work that Matters – Show Up

Go to work on a regular basis.

Art is hard. Selling is hard. Writing is hard. Making a difference is hard.

When you’re doing hard work, getting rejected, failing, working it out–this is a dumb time to make a situational decision about whether it’s time for a nap or a day off or a coffee break.

Zig taught me this twenty years ago. Make your schedule before you start. Don’t allow setbacks or blocks or anxiety to push you to say, “hey, maybe I should check my email for a while, or you know, I could use a nap.” If you do that, the lizard brain is quickly trained to use that escape hatch again and again.

Isaac Asimov wrote and published 400 (!) books using this technique.

The first five years of my solo business, when the struggle seemed neverending, I never missed a day, never took a nap. (I also committed to ending the day at a certain time and not working on the weekends. It cuts both ways.)

In short: show up.

Thanks, Seth Godin.

 

 

Tips for Online Dev

  • You cannot rely on the end goal being incentive enough to encourage individuals to cooperate on achieving the end goal
  • Design so that incremental participation results in incremental gains
  • Provide tools that enable intended participants to construct their own evidentary rationales for participating
  • Rather than trying to develop solutions to individual problems, construct means for actions in two seemingly unrelated domains to benefit each other
  • A public spectacle is engaging, requires no long-term commitment. It encourages people to observe, ask questions and occasionally, even to participate
  • Create social projects complex enough that a single individual cannot explain it to others, forcing participants to work together to find solutions.

http://www.psfk.com/2010/11/video-usman-haque-psfk-conference-london-2010.html

 

People Eat with their Eyes

…and no one reads web copy.  So – what is it really there for?  (good question).  If something doesn’t look appealing – let’s be honest – it ISN’T appealing.

The world’s largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants is looking to revamp their menus, store design, and ordering experience.  With a juicy budget of $2.4 billion, in 2011 McDonalds is set to rebuild 400 ‘domestic outposts’, refurbish 1,600 existing restaurants and create an extra 1000 to boot.

With over 31,000 restaurants worldwide located in over 100 countries, the big challenge for McDonalds is to curate each restaurant to account for different cultural dining practices.  To do this McDonalds VP of concept and design Denis Weil has created a team of corporate design leaders to research and get a feel for local design trends which will make each restaurant unique to its area.

Juicy Design’s Tom Williams has been working with the restaurant giant since 2003, redeveloping restaurants in Australia and now across Asia and the US.  He states the design brief was simply to “make things unique.”

Reportedly the first complete makeover since the late-seventies; one of the many changes in-restaurant will see McCafe coffee machines relocating next to tills, exhibiting barista skills in true cafe style.  Whilst oatmeal-ordering customers will be served their meal, hand-stirred at least twelve times to instill a sense of a ‘home-cooked’ breakfast.  Drive-through sales will also be redesigned for those with large orders, easy traffic and minimising wait time.

President and COO Don Thompson explains;

People eat with their eyes first…If you have a restaurant that is appealing, contemporary, and relevant both from the street and interior, the food tastes better.