At the Searchmetrics SEO blog, authors write about current issues in the areas of online marketing and SEO and show interesting statistics and trends. Searchmetrics monitors and reveals the full business available to you online.
At Searchmetrics, the software we produce to help customers rank online is as important as the people on our team who can help you make sense of it all. As we launch the new Searchmetrics Digital Strategies Group, we talked to one of our SEO consultants and content strategists making up the core of the […]
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Even experienced SEOs are sitting up and taking notice: Is domain splitting the new big thing in SEO? The story of the erstwhile web behemoth about.com is sending shockwaves through the search industry. The portal is splitting itself into new, highly-specific websites – and with astonishing success. In this Unwrapping the Secrets of SEO, we […]
Odds are you haven’t followed the US Supreme Court’s recent ruling that’s struck down a ban on commercial sports betting in most states and is opening the floodgates to an estimated $150 billion market in wagers at casinos, racetracks, mobile devices and everything in between. In this Unwrapping the Secrets of SEO, we’ll examine how this tectonic […]
“Just get to the cloud. There’s no time to waste anymore.” – Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, during a speech in March 2017 Fast forward to Google’s recent annual I/O conference, and it’s clear the cloud train has left the station. Cross channel and cross device, marketing strategies need to “just work” and consider voice, visual, video, natural language […]
As search engines take on new smarts seemingly with each passing day, consumers gain access to quality information that can presumably make our lives easier. But it leaves marketers scrambling. Major algorithmic changes can require rethinking your content strategy and endlessly working to ensure content both old and new gets found. One way to make all these changes […]
The world of search is evolving, with micro-targeting, voice search and accelerated mobile first initiatives upending the status quo and threatening to leave laggards to uncertain fates, speakers at the first Searchmetrics Summit in London said on May 9. The one-day search and content marketing conference explored how strategic SEO, technical SEO, digital marketing and […]
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More than 70 countries around the world celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. If you’re one of the procrastinators, you’re frantically trying to book a brunch reservation, ordering flowers or looking for that perfect card to let Mother know how much she means to you. In this installment of Unwrapping the Secrets of SEO, we decided to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the creation of Mother’s Day by looking at the things its founder hated – over-commercialization of an event she meant to honor her recently deceased mother. A dive into the data uncovers some interesting truths about the billions of dollars in annual sales surrounding Mother’s Day. Read on to find out more.
Unwrapping the Secrets of SEO
Seeds of Yesterday
“A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”
— Anna Jarvis.
Anna Jarvis spent a good portion of her later years trying to undo a good part of what she had wrought in creating Mother’s Day. Her mother died on the second Sunday of May. Jarvis in May 1908 held a ceremony to honor her and other mothers. The following year, she couldn’t attend remembrance ceremonies at her mother’s church in West Virginia, and sent 500 white carnation instead. The reason: the petals don’t fall off the flower and “hugs them to its heart as it dies,” she said.
Commercialism took root as word of these remembrances spread. According to Katharine Antolini, the Trustee of the International Mother’s Day Shrine, the price of white carnations skyrocketed from a half a cent each in 1908 to 15 cents in 1912. By 1920, they were priced at $1.00 each. To put that in perspective, today you can order a dozen white carnations for about $7.00. Afraid of leaving money on the table, the floral industry began peddling red carnations as gifts for living mothers.
Today, carnations don’t make the cut in search queries for many of the countries we surveyed. In the month of May, US search volume stands at 4,303. As one might guess, roses top the list for searches at 386,000, followed by orchids at 122,000 and lilies at 40,000. And different flowers are favored in different countries, but one correlation is that the most internet searches for flowers happen around Mother’s Day. In the UK, “Mothering Sunday” is in March. Searches for flowers in that month top more than 200K. There, carnations remain a bit more popular than in the US, with a search volume of 14,872. It’s a slightly different story in Germany, where “nelken” (carnations) search volume rises to 29K in May when Germany celebrates Mother’s Day. Roses (rosen) have a search volume of 59K, followed by orchids with 48K and lilies with 33K search volume.
The Personal Touch
Americans apparently want to see the look on Mom’s face when handing her flowers. The top flower-related keywords are “flower shops near me” and “flower shop near me’. In Germany, “blumen verschicken” (roughly translates to flower delivery, is a close second to “blumen” in search volume around Mother’s Day. In the UK, “flowers delivery” and “flowers delivered” are the second and third in searches behind “flowers.” There also may be more than a few last-minute Mothering Sunday shoppers: “delivery flowers next day” and “same-day flowers delivery” round out the top ten UK searches.
Not in the Cards
Knowing the power of letter-writing, Jarvis wanted it to be part of the holiday’s commemoration. Anna Jarvis Museum Director Olive Ricketts told NPR that Jarvis wanted people to be with their mothers on Mother’s Day, but when they couldn’t do that, they should send a handwritten letter.
What happened was an explosion in the greeting card industry. Statistic Brain suggests $671 million is spent on Mother’s Day cards in the United States alone each year, making it the third most popular holiday for the greeting card industry behind Christmas and Valentine’s Day. While the search term “mothers day cards” has a search volume of 438K in May, “greeting cards” has a search volume of 40K, ranking as the second most popular month behind December.
Internationally, according to Google Trends, the search for “Mother’s Day” is most popular in Central and South America, with Guatemala topping the list. Showing mom love with words seems to be how Guatemalans celebrate the day: the most popular related search term is “tarjetas dia de la madre” which roughly translates to “Mother’s Day Card.”
Brits appear to be much less interested in greeting cards for mom than Americans . Search volume for “mothers day cards” tops out around Mothering Sunday at just over 100K, and a paltry 892 for “Mothering Sunday Cards.”
In Germany, cards take a back seat to being a bard. The search for “muttertagskarte” (Mother’s Day Card) in Germany has a search volume of 9,618, while poems “muttertag gedichte” (Mother’s Day poetry) have a search volume of 22K. That’s higher even than “muttertag geschenk” (Mother’s Day gift), which has a search volume of 1,876.
Candy companies took the sweet sentiment that was the cornerstone of the holiday quite literally, and it only fueled the fire building in Jarvis over the commercialization of Mother’s Day. As she watched candy makers rake in profits from her holiday, she tried to disrupt that industry, too. In 1923, she protested by crashing a candy convention in Philadelphia. Today, she might be less hostile. Mother’s Day doesn’t even register as a money-making event for candy producers in the United States — they focus on Valentine’s Day, Easter and Halloween. Search volume for candy is relatively flat in the UK, Germany and the US throughout the rest of the year.
Mother’s Day 2018
While Jarvis would be happy that moms are being celebrated, Mother’s Day is now a $20 billion holiday in the US — a fact that would have disappointed Jarvis deeply, but how people are looking to spend that money would have irritated her even more. People in the US still gravitate toward sending flowers — the search volume in May for “flower delivery” is 593K while the in-person “brunch” spikes for the year in May at 284K.
In the UK, going to the theater is a popular activity for Mothering Sunday — the search volume for “theater” peaks in March at 46K. And in Germany, “muttertag film” is the top activity under Mother’s Day-related search terms, with a search volume of 2,885.
Together, florists and greeting card companies get the lion’s share of what people are searching for around Mother’s Day, but it looks like searchers in the US, UK and Germany need help figuring out what to get mom. For non-date-specific terms, Searchmetrics data shows the generic “Mother’s Day gifts” are the most popular Mother’s Day-related search terms in the US and the UK around Mother’s Day and Mothering Sunday, respectively. Germans apparently don’t have as much trouble with what to get mom — “muttertag geschenk” is the 5th most popular search term.
A lot can fit under the category of “Mother’s Day gifts,” which can return an overwhelming range of options for clueless sons and daughters. For ecommerce sites and publishers looking to cut through some of the noise, it might be a signal to target long-tail keywords to get their sites in front of the right eyes.
Sons and daughters face the big question of what to get mom every year, but that doesn’t mean it gets any easier to find that perfect gift. But with the right data, marketers can help guide searchers to the perfect gift that mom didn’t even have to ask for.
One benefits of driving in the slow lane is you get to enjoy the scenery in a lot more detail. Anyone in the driver’s seat on the web has no such illusions. Speed and nimbleness are important keys to online success. Problem is, that racer mentality could come to a crashing halt in coming weeks in the US, thanks to a decision to overturn so-called net neutrality rules that helped level the playing field for companies doing business on the internet. In this installment of Memo to the Modern Marketer, guest contributor Nicolas Finet looks into how the end of net neutrality may affect the digital marketing landscape.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net neutrality rules were originally approved by the FCC in 2015, to the delight of companies seeking open and fair access to the internet around the world. The guiding principle of net neutrality is that Internet Service Providers (ISP) must treat all data on the web the same – giving no one provider preferential treatment over another.
In practice, net neutrality rules mean that ISP’s are:
Banned from charging differently by user, website, platform, content, application, or method of communication.
Restricted from intentionally blocking or slowing down specific websites and online content.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission rules went further than many expected, also classifying internet service providers as Title II common carriers in order to give the measure strong legal backing.
The EU also has laid down a framework on net neutrality, but some of EU countries have stronger laws nationally, or are discussing passing them. Neelie Kroes, former European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, has asked “national legislators and regulators to wait for better evidence before regulating on an uncoordinated, country-by-country basis that slows down the creation of a Digital Single Market“.
Slow Lanes, Fast Lanes
The FCC in December, under new leadership in the Republican administration of Donald Trump, rescinded those rules despite heavy criticism from Google, Amazon, Netflix and hundreds of other companies. In a statement, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai the aimed to stop the federal government from “micro-managing the internet”. The new rules took effect April 23.
For now, don’t expect much to change. Internet service providers have signaled they don’t plan to make any immediate changes that would give some companies or products, including their own, preferential treatment over others. Industry groups are challenging the FCC’s decision in court, and many state regulators are mulling enacting their own version of net neutrality.
The status quo won’t last, and that’s why marketers need to be worried. No one wants to be stuck in the internet slow lane, or beholden to ISPs – with few options for legal recourse if those ISPs make moves that could hobble your business.
The Gorillas Unleashed
In the past two years the Title II status of ISP and cable companies tied the hands of ISPs such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon by labelling them public utilities. With the removal of these regulations. the telecom giants now have free reign over how they charge their customers. Lifting the net neutrality restrictions means that they can censor, slow, or prioritize internet content for users on their network.
It goes without saying that without regulation, the internet could look like a very different place for consumers and marketers in the very near future. Net neutrality advocates have been sounding alarms that the federal government is giving internet providers too much control over how online content is delivered.
For small businesses, the end of net neutrality could see dramatic shifts in traffic, sales and how enterprises go about online marketing. The current online environment allows open-source software, startups and consumers to compete for the spotlight without needing to pay more to ISPs than anyone else. Businesses are on an even footing – with some of the only costs associated with having a website being web hosting and domain name registrations.
Internet marketing and the SEO industry has developed in this equal yet competitive atmosphere. With ISP’s now having the ability to change the rules, marketers will need to be more flexible and adaptable. They’ll need to quickly think of new strategies and tactics to drive traffic and convert.
These changing times may also stifle innovation as it will be harder for the next generation of online services to compete – if, for instance, they have to pay to be placed in a so-called ‘internet fast lane’ to be found by internet users.
A Future Being Written?
Here are some ways that the repeal of the regulations could affect the internet as we know it:
Big Money Deals – large businesses with the financial resources and connections will strike deals with ISP’s to ensure that they receive preferential treatment. Attention will go to the highest bidder, meaning big businesses will be able to easily eliminate their smaller competition.
Quality – with ISP’s able to steer traffic rather than search engines, traffic will go to those with the biggest budget rather than those creating quality content. This will lead to a drop in content quality standards, whilst e-commerce prices will skyrocket to make up for the cost.
The End of SEO – Marketers would need to change their tactics from targeting customers searching for products online. They would need to utilise major websites with the highest access to users, in order to gain the most conversions. This could see the end of traditional SEO tactics.
Those are worst-case scenarios, to be sure. Then, too, Internet Service Providers will have the power to block or slow down the loading speed for sites that they consider rivals, which will lead to higher bounce rates for the sites affected. Further, they can also cooperate with certain businesses and companies to guarantee a faster loading time for their websites, therefore putting competitors at a disadvantage.
Social Media & Content Marketing
If service providers created plans packaged into types of browsing, creating content directly on social media may become the norm. Users may need to be on a higher-priced plan to click through to shared links, so content hosted directly on Facebook or Twitter would be seen by more users.
Since profitable companies can invest more on internet services to assure that their content is the first one to be seen, companies with less capital will struggle.
Every marketer is aware of the fact that content and social media marketing are the best channels for driving traffic. Even if you have great content, though, readers might not be able to access it under the revoked net neutrality rules.
If SEO is no longer your friend without net neutrality, you’re deprived of one of the key tools for being able to compete with larger, deep-pocketed rivals. Instead of selling products directly on your own website, eCommerce companies will have better luck finding customers by selling on established platforms such as Amazon or Ebay. They get a cut of your sales, and could gain leverage to take an even larger cut over time.
Since the first email was sent and the first search was completed, the internet has been a place where everyone stood on equal footing. Every business – from small mom and pop shops to large corporations – had the opportunity to start and promote their business.
ISPs are stating that not much will change from the current operating standards, but the fact is that the end of net neutrality has great potential to negatively affect consumers. It’s in the best interests for consumers, business owners and marketers to defend net neutrality.