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When we analyze the state of search, we normally look at specific national markets. That’s because each country’s Google index has its own algorithm, tailored to the behavior of its users. But sometimes it’s good to zoom out and take a global perspective. The Searchmetrics SEO World Rankings show which websites dominate across national boundaries. Bringing together data from 10 countries, the infographic crowns the most visible domains and the biggest winners over the last 12 months, and reveals what has changed around the world since last year’s World Rankings.

You can find out your domain is performing and where it is ranks amongst your country’s top domains here – check it out for free:

Test Your Performance!

The post SEO World Rankings 2018 – The Top Global Domains and Big Winners appeared first on Searchmetrics SEO Blog.

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Most anyone with experience in content marketing has heard the adage that content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. As humans, we love to get ahead of ourselves despite the endless slew of cliches and parables:  ‘don’t count your chickens before they hatch’; ‘Don’t try to walk before you can crawl’;  and  ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’.

Content marketing is no exception to the rule. You have to take time to nurture your content  strategy to see measurable results, but the amount of value it can add to your marketing efforts is priceless — if it’s done well. In our latest Memo to the Modern Marketer, we explore why asking  “How long does content marketing take?” is the wrong question, and look to finding the right way to make your content strategy successful. 

How Do We Build Trust?

In marketing, you hear things like “brands people trust” or “brand loyalty” ad nauseam. Trust is one of the cornerstones of a brand’s success and longevity. According to a study published in the Journal of Global Strategic Management, there’s a correlation between brand loyalty and gaining new consumers, reducing marketing cost, and creating trade leverage — but building that trust with content takes a lot of time. It’s similar to how you might earn trust with friendships. You learn about someone by talking to them and understanding them, demonstrating respect, being consistent with behavior, and nurturing positive interactions. Those things can’t be done in one meeting and they can’t be done with one blog post.

Producing strong content through your blog or social networks lends you an opportunity to start that conversation and appeal to your audience on an emotional level. What you publish gives potential customers information about you, your product, your values and your expertise. These are the things you should think about while you’re putting together your content strategy and as you start writing and creating content.

Walking Before You Run

If you’re publishing content, no one’s going to read it if you don’t promote it. If you don’t know where to begin, start with your employees. Employee advocacy can be very powerful – your team can tweet your content, pin it and share it.

It’s a built-in social network that’s already on your side. Chances are that someone in your colleagues’ networks wants to read what you’re writing and buy what you’re selling. Getting that content in front of them is exponentially easier when your employee is already an entry point.

Global data collector Nielsen reports 84% of consumers surveyed value recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising, and 77% are likely to make a purchase after hearing about it from someone they trust.

Consider the example of online retailer Zappos. It makes Twitter training and using social media part of the onboarding process. While we don’t know if there is a direct correlation between the employee advocacy program and the success of its content, Zappos significantly outperforms its direct competitors from a visibility standpoint.

Employee advocacy is especially important if you want to keep costs down for your Facebook promotion. You can pay for a boost in reach, but Facebook limits organic reach for brands — so if you’re sharing from your company page, even your biggest fans may not see your post. But if your team members post from their personal accounts, their Facebook friends may have a better chance of seeing it, reading it and sharing it.

How Do We Build Momentum?

If maintaining a blog is part of your content marketing plan, one of the most important actions you can take is to publish and share quality content consistently. When and how often depends on how much you can devote to your blog. To build up your momentum, posts should be published at a comfortable cadence for your audience. One reason is because most people are on a schedule and they have to build in activities like reading time, dinner time and exercise time to fit that schedule. Once they fit you into that schedule, you can stay on their radar if you keep publish at a time they expect it. Then, when you have a hit, you can build on the momentum around it.

Broadcast TV executives mastered the scheduling strategy back when viewers had to wait to watch a TV show when it aired on its special night. Take Roseanne, for example. It’s set for a reboot this year, but it broke comedy ground in the 1980s and ‘90s, and it may not have been as visible if it weren’t picking up audience momentum from the already popular Who’s the Boss? on Tuesday nights. Roseanne then built up a bold audience of its own and became the highest rated show in the U.S. in its second season. It stayed in its time slot where it dominated TV ratings until its seventh season.

The media landscape was much different back then, but the crews behind the show are building up momentum with a lot of media hype ahead of its second coming. It will be interesting to see how the show’s 2018 revival will do with the internet and social media working to boost it.

How Do We Build Bridges?

SoulCycle bulldozed its way into the fitness industry in 2006 and, unlike some of its competitors, it made a point of combining a unique community experience with indoor cycling workouts. The soul society adventure started in the studio where members are encouraged to linger and mingle with other riders post-workout. Later, that spilled over onto the internet, where the content marketing team took over to bring participation online with different elements that clearly sets it apart from its competitors.

Music is an important component of the rides, and instructors from different markets share their Spotify playlists through the blog, creating additional opportunities to build bridges between the business and its community. That’s only part of its digital efforts; the blog has a robust set of videos on different workouts and positions for the bikes used at the studio. The blog also provides healthy recipes, inspiration through rider stories and general workout tips.

A look at SoulCycle’s Visibility graph shows initial success with the strategy. However, you can see a SoulCycle visibility decline as the year progresses, while Peloton’s SEO efforts appear to be gaining traction. This may be attributed to Peloton’s in-home, on-demand classes. That’s be something SoulCycle’s content marketing team may want to keep in mind as they refine their strategy throughout this year.

How Do We Build Credibility?

The best way to get on Google’s good side is to create quality content. The masters of the search universe have been trying to hammer this into the minds of marketers since the early days of digital marketing when keyword stuffing spoiled the user experience.

Search engines want users to be able to find information they’re looking for. Google and others encourage anyone publishing content to be an authority on information they distribute. To demonstrate expertise, it helps to incorporate information into content from trusted sources, and link back to them. For instance, if you’re writing a blog post on hacks for getting over a cold, include facts from the Centers for Disease Control like “adults suffer from 2-3 colds each year.”

The CDC is a government agency that is widely trusted by media organizations for facts and analysis on health. Including its information and a link in a blog post shows that you’re putting effort into providing solid information for your readers. Google picks up on this and will reward you in higher rankings than you might not benefit from if you didn’t include the information.
Technological updates and the internet may move fast, but marketers shouldn’t count on seeing a return on their efforts at the same speed. Taking the time and give attention to the details that get you to the finish line. The best strategies incorporate addressing the needs of  potential customers and tailoring content to fit them. Data can be a good friend in accomplishing both.

The post Memo to the Modern Marketer: How Long Does Content Marketing Take – And Why That’s The Wrong Question appeared first on Searchmetrics SEO Blog.

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In September 2017, Google responded to the European Commission’s allegations of market manipulation by implementing major changes to its shopping service. But how much has Google Shopping really opened up the market? Following up on our analysis of Google Shopping and its competitors from before these changes, this report analyzes the new-look Google Shopping in two of the largest European markets: Germany and the United Kingdom. Other companies can now bid for product listing ad (PLAs) places but 99.6% of all PLAs in the UK are still “By Google.

As the changes case This report looks at the following questions:

  • What changes has Google made to its shopping service?
  • How are Google Shopping’s competitors performing in organic search?
  • How visible are Google Shopping’s competitors in the new-look Shopping Units?
  • Have all eCommerce sectors been affected in the same way?
How Google Shopping has changed

To meet the European Commission’s demands issued in its anti-trust statement in June 2017, Google overhauled its Shopping Units, both on the business side, shifting its shopping operations into a separate financial entity, and in terms of functionality, with other companies now able to bid for places in the Shopping Units. Since September 28 2017, each ad in the Shopping Unit indicates which comparison service is providing it.

In this example, all visible Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are “By Google.” According to Richard Stables, of price comparison site Kelkoo, as many as 99% of results are held by Google, suggesting that little has effectively changed in terms of Google’s dominance.

Therefore, we investigated how frequently rival comparison services appear in the Shopping Units on Google desktop search throughout December, and compared results across five of the biggest eCommerce sectors. First results for UK and Germany are in the charts below.

Percentage of PLAs “By Google

This already shows differentiation across countries and sectors, e.g.:

  • In all sectors, there are far more competitor PLAs in Germany than in UK: 2.0% overall compared to 0.4%,
  • In both markets, cosmetics and electronics are the sectors with the most competitor presence in the Shopping Units,
  • In the UK, less than 0.1% of furniture PLAs are held by competitors.

More, deeper analysis of Google Shopping results is presented later in this report.

Jump to More Google Shopping Results

Background: Searchmetrics Google Shopping study

In September 2017, Searchmetrics published a special SERP Integration study that focused on the development of Google Shopping since 2013. The growth of Google’s own product comparison service was analyzed alongside the online performance of shopping comparison services in three European markets, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Download the Study!

The study looked at the anti-trust case brought by the European Commission against Google, and investigated how the data reflected the accusations. The conclusions were, broadly speaking, that the European Commission had painted a very one-sided picture of the impact of Google Shopping on its competitors, whereas the data suggested a much more complex, and far less cut-and-dried situation.

Overall Organic Search Visibility of Competitors

The online performance of Google Shopping’s competitors’ was tracked using the organic desktop search visibility (Searchmetrics’ SEO Visibility) of other domains that offer comparison shopping services, focusing on June 2013 to June 2017.

The following charts show the combined overall organic search visibility of Google Shopping’s competitors (23 domains in UK, 26 in Germany) since the end of June 2017. The major change to Google Shopping that was made at the end of September is also indicated.

The trend since June 2017 shows that Google Shopping’s competitors in both markets have continued to lose organic search visibility, both prior to and following the revamp at the end of September.

Breakdown and definition of the shopping market

The organic visibility of the competitors gives us a good guide of how the websites are performing overall. However, for deeper insight into any strengths and weaknesses, we need to create a more precise definition of the market. This is particularly important when assessing Google Shopping’s dominance and the fate of its competitors.

Therefore, to analyze the online shopping market, we have broken it down into five sectors, corresponding to five of the largest product categories for eCommerce in Europe, as listed, for example, in an annual report published by postnord.

  • clothing/footwear
  • home electronics
  • books
  • cosmetics, haircare and skincare
  • home furnishings/furniture
Make-up of Google Shopping Units

Having established the sectors to analyze, we can investigate the Google Shopping Units in each sector. The results are based on an analysis of desktop search results for 500 popular, high-volume keywords corresponding to each eCommerce category, making 2,500 keywords in total for each market. The data was taken at four points throughout December, the month with the highest turnover for the eCommerce industry.

Above, we presented the proportion of PLAs that are “By Google” and the proportion that are owned by competitors. Here, we can also show:

  • How many Shopping Units are exclusively “By Google” and how many include at least one competitor PLA,
  • How many adverts (PLAs) are shown per Shopping Unit,
  • Which competitors are best represented in the Shopping Units in each category.

The results for the German market are also included for comparison.

Proportion of Shopping Units that are exclusively “By Google” and proportion which include competitors

% of PLAs biggest competitor

Average No. of PLAs per Shopping Unit

Different types of Shopping Unit

In addition to the make-up of the Shopping Units, we also analyzed how often each type of Shopping Unit is displayed. The different types of Shopping Unit, and their frequency in the UK and German markets, are shown below.

Single Ad PLAs (either above or to the right of SERPs, often in a carousel)

Shop Boxes that expand to a number (usually 10) of PLAs from one domain

One-line PLAs, listed to the right of the SERPs

Conclusions: Google Shopping continues to dominate

Our analysis of the UK market clearly shows that Google Shopping is extremely dominant within the Shopping Units, with over 99% of ads in all five sectors.

Nevertheless, there is differentiation along product category lines.

Market share

  • Google Shopping’s UK competitors do best in the cosmetics sector, both, though even here they only occupy 0.7% of all PLAs.
  • The UK furniture sector has the most PLAs per Shopping Unit (27.92), yet over 99.9% of these PLAs are by Google, meaning that all other players are genuinely invisible.
  • The sector with the most UK Shopping Units including at least one competitor PLA is electronics, with 10.8% of mixed (Google/other) Shopping Units. However, in total only 0.6% of ads are held by competitors.
  • The only UK sector with a Shopping Unit exclusively populated by a competitor is furniture.

Numbers of PLAs

  • For books keywords in the UK, only 5.2 ads are shown on average in a Shopping Unit, the least of all sectors.

Competitors

  • The biggest single competitor in any one sector is lyst.co.uk, though with 0.4% of fashion PLAs, they can hardly be considered a significant player.

Types of Shopping Unit

  • The vast majority of Shopping Units (98%) are made up of Single Ad PLAs, either above or to the right of the organic search results.

Clearly, it is still very early days in this new era of Google Shopping, but the service’s competitors are struggling on both fronts. There are differences across sectors but overall, the competitors’ organic search visibility is declining and they have as yet no meaningful presence in the Shopping Units. Certainly, the fact that Google seems to be holding all the cards and pulling all the strings in its paid services underlines the importance of organic search, and suggests that this is where marketers should be focusing their attention.

Comparison with Germany

Google Shopping’s UK competitors can perhaps draw some hope from the situation in Germany, where Google only occupies 98% of the PLAs. This is still an almost uncontested majority, yet it does mean that German competitors have five times as much representation in the Shopping Units as their UK counterparts.

At a sectoral level in Germany, we see 35.7% of electronics Shopping Units including at least one competitor, and 0.2% of Shopping Units with only competitors.

At ad level, competitors own over 2% of PLAs in the electronics, cosmetics and furniture sectors.

Finally, Germany has more diversity in how Shopping Units are displayed, with far more shop boxes and one-line PLAs than the UK. Around 90% are Single Ad PLAs.

The post Google Shopping: Is the Revamped Comparison Service Fairer to Competitors? appeared first on Searchmetrics SEO Blog.

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If you haven’t heard of Bitcoin or the world of cryptocurrency, you’ve been living under a rock. The digital currency craze has moved out of the shadowy world of money launderers and other bad actors into the mainstream. Now, cryptocurrencies are just about on everyone’s wishlist as a means for getting rich quick. In our latest Memo to the Modern Marketer, we delve into how cryptocurrencies really could become a cash cow for savvy marketers.

Fire, Fury and a Digital Craze

Let’s face it, cryptocurrencies are a hot topic. In 2017,  JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon publicly called Bitcoin a fraud and threatened to fire any of his employees found trading the cryptocurrency. South Korea and China reportedly are threatening to ban trading in all cryptocurrencies. The Chicago Board Options Exchange in December unwrapped futures trading on the digital currencies. Just this month, Eastman Kodak Co.’s shares skyrocketed when it announced its own cryptocurrency, while others tumbled at the same time.

So are cryptocurrencies the future, or an exercise in futility?

Amid red-hot debate about whether it’s a bubble or balloon, the $370 billion market cap for all cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, recently surpassed that of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. Now trading in the low five-figure range, Saxo Bank global macro strategist and famous Bitcoin bull Kay Van-Petersen predicted to Bloomberg in December that Bitcoin prices will hit “$50,000 – $100,000 within the next six to 18 months.”

A Marketer’s Tool

Bitcoin is not just reflecting the ups and downs of the mainstream economy. It represents a new way of doing things. Marketing is at the center of that. 

Big Data and social media interactions are the new oil. But how do you measure their value as the new basic unit of the world economy? Saoud AlHumaidhi, who is launching a cryptocurrency fund in Kuwait,  in a YouTube video explains how the internet will become an economy of value, where people are assets and their transactions are currency.  

At this point for marketers, it might help here to define Bitcoin. It is not ‘money’ in the traditional sense. It is a time-stamped, encrypted ledger called a blockchain that records online transactions, with economic and social media values, as well as data connected to those actions. In that sense, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can bring a lot to the marketer’s toolbox because marketing today creates value around relationships and how well you connect, directly or indirectly, to others.  

While some were shocked to note a recent Deutsche Bank study that suggests the most interesting aspects of Bitcoin lay in its blockchain and applications that can arise out of them, the view omits the true value it offers. Cryptocurrencies equal blockchain plus community.  

Bitcoin guru Andreas Antonopoulos famously stated: “Bitcoin is the internet of money – and currency is only the first application.” He has argued for years that Bitcoin lets developers rethink how things work in our entire system.  

In this new paradigm, each cryptocurrency has many different applications besides financial ones. You can vote electronically with Bitcoin, build global stock markets, crowd fund, reinvent trust mechanisms, and more. You can store information on the blockchain with your authorship and a provenance that can never be refuted. 

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are rarely also discussed as a marketing tool that measures the value of earned media, and eventually the value of all business interactions and social traffic on the internet.   

Big Thoughts on the World Wide Web

That’s where cryptos are going. A cryptocoin’s value potentially measures the value of the internet itself – and every single conversation and transaction – a never-ending ambient sociality that takes place online. Every community and every brand can have a cryptocurrency and blockchain that suits their purposes, and the blockchain will measure the value of consumers’ online lives and interactions.   

As decentralized technologies, cryptocurrencies have no other authority with which they are affiliated. While governments are attempting to control Bitcoin, in principle there is no central institution or regulatory body with authority over Bitcoin or other cryptos. All there is is the technology. If one coin dies, another arises as a cloned version of the same technology, but with different branding, reliant on the strength of its developer team and supporting community. The way a coin survives online, primarily through trades in the exchanges, and chatter on social media, is as a pure, earned media entity. 

Thus, for all the talk of bitcoin being a trustless network, it works with people, and it is an economic value mechanism that is directly connected to social media activity. Bitcoin’s value measures how well the coin does online in individual peer-to-peer transactions and communications. If the Petrodollar was once the standard for global trade, cryptos are the Social Media Dollar. 

Dogecoin: Earned Media Pioneer or “Making Money Fun” 

Each cryptocoin is connected to one or more online communities and related initiatives and businesses, and to the coin’s communications, development strategies, and branding. Dogecoin was the best early example of this. 

In 2014, Dogecoin proved that pure branding and social media traction could combine in measurable, earned media value in a cryptocoin. It used memes and online viral chatter to build value. Its tech was minimal. It was just a Bitcoin clone. But its branding was fantastic. It started in Australia not as a financial scheme but as a branding joke about Bitcoin.

Posted in 2014 on Twitter by graphic designer Jackson Palmer, he asked what a cryptocurrency should have as its logo. A Japanese kindergarten teacher’s dog, a 2010 photo taken off her blog, went viral, and only then was Palmer’s dog branding paired with programmer Billy Markus’s cryptocoin.  

The aim was to get away from Bitcoin’s dark underground reputation and to attach a friendly coin to a joke meme to make money. After that, Dogecoin’s community created a simplistic language that the dog would use to talk about the economy (“such profits”), which also went viral, and little slogans about the coin value (“to the moon!”). The coin appealed to kids who grew up during the recession and felt they faced impoverished futures. The dog promised them “riches” that would come “so easy.”

Money was fun again. 

In 2014, a social media thread on Reddit about Nascar driver Jose Wise’s aim to get a sponsor for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway morphed into a clarion call for Dogecoin owners. They quickly forked over $55,000 worth of the digital currency to sponsor Wise’s Ford Fusion.  

That same year, Dogecoin backers raised $25,000 to send the Jamaican bobsleigh team to the winter Olympics.  

On January 7, Business Insider reported that Dogecoin has a market capitalization over $2 billion.

Kodak Reborn 

Marketers need look no further than Kodak’s announcement to see just how fast business can change for the better with the right embrace of cryptocurrencies. In 2012, Kodak declared bankruptcy – a casualty of the switch from film-based photography to digital.

Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke turned the tables in January, embracing digital over real-world solutions (more precisely, embracing digital to create a real-world action plan to save Kodak). The company announced it had partnered with Wenn Digital to create a photo-centric cryptocurrency called KODAKCoin and a blockchain service called KODAKOne.  The move would create a new marketplace for digital photographer, letting them manage rights and fee payments for their photographs, with Kodak taking a cut.

The How-To Guide of Earned Media

Within hours of the  announcement, Kodak’s stock price doubled, jumping over 127% in value. And in a flash, suddenly Kodak was innovative again, helping all the independent micro-producers in an industry that sorely needed help.  

The news flew across mainstream news outlets and social media, amplifying the initiative. The Financial Times saw this announcement as part of a trend; several companies are juicing their shares with what the FT calls a “blockchain pivot.”  On Google Trends, ‘Kodak’ and ‘Kodak coin’ and ‘Kodak blockchain’ were all breakout topics on the day of the announcement.  

It’s important to see that Kodak did much more here than just provide Bitcoin or another crypto (its own) as a payment option. It didn’t just use crypto in a one-time marketing campaign.  

Kodak used cryptocurrency technology to create a new economic ecosystem. Everyone knows that images drive content on the internet, and all those image producers would love to be able to tag their content with a rights statement and get paid. Make the process easy enough, and ‘producers’ could be everyday people who take photos and put them up on social media, and amateur photographers on sites like Flickr or Instagram – not just the professionals with their own websites or contributors to stock image sites. 

Kodak located the online social community in its industrial sector, and with minimal effort, used blockchain and coin capabilities to build a new captive economy inside that sector, placing itself at the center of that economy. This earned media marketing masterstroke moves way beyond product sales, making that economy something worth investing in, because KODAKCoin’s value will represent the collective economic value of the entire photographers’ community it mobilizes. The initial coin offering sale (ICO) to fund the project takes place on January 31.

In a departure from cameras, Kodak also plans to get into the hardware side of cryptocurrencies. Crypto veterans were skeptical of Kodak’s related announcement that it will start selling Bitcoin mining rigs, mainly to profit the company. But even if that sideline fails, this example shows how Kodak has tapped the unbelievable power of earned media on the internet.  

You Decide 

Kodak’s example – and others from companies as diverse as the Long Island Iced Tea Corp and Hooters  – show what happens when savvy marketers harness cryptos in earned media strategies. 

It would be better not to think of blockchain-brand-boosting as a short-term gimmick and instead a new way of marketing.  With cryptos and blockchains, marketers can decide how to build a new social media ecosystem with embedded marketing and sales. The blockchain brings several new capabilities to that ecosystem, not least non-site-specific earned media functionality and profit for a brand.  

Without having seen the product and its design, Kodak’s blockchain license tags for photos at least could have this potential capability: the cryptocoin and blockchain licensing app is downloaded to desktop or (more likely) mobile. The user takes a photo. No matter what site a user visits, they can upload, circulate and tag any personal photo with Kodak’s license and KODAKCoin fee payment for photo usage automatically and permanently embedded in the image. The brand will actively follow the photographer, then the unleashed photo, across the internet. If the photo is shared, a fee must be paid. If the photo goes viral, the profits increase virally. 

 The SEO Value in Cryptocurrency

Finally, with these tools, SEO and SEM tactics will become an even more important part of the strategy to improve the value of earned media.  If every piece of information about your company or marketing initiative can be embedded with branding and monetized before you set it loose on the internet, and you combine that with a plan to optimize that content’s visibility, your profits on the content as it travels online will predictably increase. In this case, Kodak has given only one example of blockchain marketing potential. 

In other words, if you thought you couldn’t measure the value of earned media in SEM, consider Bitcoin technology as the tool to solve these problems and deliver clear, economically measurable ROI of social media relationships, one interaction on the blockchain at a time.  

 

The post Memo to the Modern Marketer: Why Bitcoin Could Redefine Earned Media appeared first on Searchmetrics SEO Blog.

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What do Netflix, ebates.com and thesun.co.uk have in common? They’re among the top 100 domains that enjoyed rich rewards in 2017. Which domains took the biggest hits in search Visibility? Searchmetrics in our annual Google Winners & Losers study dived into our data to uncover the top 100 winners and the biggest losers, analyzing their performance in the context of the most significant search trends and changes of 2017 – including Google Updates, mobile index and content quality.

The data

For this study, we analyzed the development of SEO Visibility for all domains listed in our US index tracked over the course of 2017. The list is ordered according to the absolute increase or decrease seen by the website, when comparing the level at the end of 2017 with that of January 1st. We have filtered out adult and illegitimate streaming sites, as well as domains that have migrated.

Top 100 Winners in 2017

Publishers and encyclopedias were the SEO Visibility success stories of 2017. More than half of the top 100 winners on Google.com regularly publish articles on general interest topics, tech or video content as their core business. The runner-up category in 2017 was encyclopedias (including dictionaries, translation sites etc.), who saw enormous increases in their SEO Visibility over 2016.

Rank Domain Gain of SEO Visibility absolute Gain of SEO Visibility in % Industry
1 youtube.com 1890062 8% Media&Events
2 merriam-webster.com 1530828 43% Encyclopedia
3 wikia.com 1499434 60% Encyclopedia
4 dictionary.com 1461674 37% Encyclopedia
5 wiktionary.org 1402039 77% Encyclopedia
6 thebalance.com 1242337 new Media&Events
7 britannica.com 1178391 122% Encyclopedia
8 thesaurus.com 1128342 121% Encyclopedia
9 genius.com 1017911 162% Other
10 imdb.com 938491 11% Media&Events
11 usnews.com 934378 122% Media&Events
12 glassdoor.com 833539 101% Jobs
13 thespruce.com 789330 new Media&Events
14 netflix.com 641224 298% Media&Events
15 tripadvisor.com 537854 25% Other
16 softonic.com 529229 75% Other
17 collinsdictionary.com 506015 466% Encyclopedia
18 cambridge.org 497174 59% Other
19 ebates.com 494899 1191% Shopping
20 thoughtco.com 474379 new Media&Events
21 tvtropes.org 472487 176% Encyclopedia
22 theguardian.com 470823 35% Media&Events
23 target.com 470572 43% Shopping
24 oxforddictionaries.com 459019 57% Encyclopedia
25 geniuskitchen.com 451083 new Media&Events
26 spotify.com 433896 65% Other
27 usatoday.com 417641 43% Media&Events
28 thesun.co.uk 411011 344% Media&Events
29 lifewire.com 388797 53% Media&Events
30 urbandictionary.com 380528 18% Encyclopedia
31 mapquest.com 369930 49% Other
32 washingtonpost.com 354692 35% Media&Events
33 poki.com 327492 186% Other
34 cnbc.com 321863 56% Media&Events
35 healthline.com 315664 27% Media&Events
36 niche.com 310086 141% Other
37 khanacademy.org 302840 58% Other
38 billboard.com 301997 43% Media&Events
39 cnn.com 300447 18% Media&Events
40 latimes.com 294390 35% Media&Events
41 independent.co.uk 293324 132% Media&Events
42 bbc.com 288138 50% Media&Events
43 groupon.com 280787 24% Shopping
44 theverge.com 275764 67% Media&Events
45 ranker.com 274782 150% Other
46 nypost.com 275246 79% Media&Events
47 seekingalpha.com 273678 293% Media&Events
48 people.com 256276 26% Media&Events
49 macys.com 253795 41% Shopping
50 nih.gov 251641 22% Other
51 hulu.com 250780 56% Media&Events
52 medicinenet.com 247817 24% Media&Events
53 ew.com 236260 88% Media&Events
54 foxnews.com 226718 39% Media&Events
55 cbsnews.com 222460 54% Media&Events
56 commonsensemedia.org 222645 80% Media&Events
57 deadline.com 218977 66% Media&Events
58 bloomberg.com 218323 29% Media&Events
59 medicalnewstoday.com 215002 41% Media&Events
60 fortune.com 216359 49% Media&Events
61 ldoceonline.com 206537 327% Encyclopedia
62 variety.com 203903 46% Media&Events
63 microsoft.com 192272 11% Other
64 mozilla.org 187595 44% Other
65 walmart.com 184843 10% Shopping
66 chicagotribune.com 183058 52% Media&Events
67 techcrunch.com 178816 59% Media&Events
68 buzzfeed.com 177901 38% Media&Events
69 engadget.com 175813 68% Other
70 investopedia.com 175317 31% Media&Events
71 vice.com 174461 91% Media&Events
72 247sports.com 174314 275% Media&Events
73 bleacherreport.com 172586 43% Media&Events
74 npr.org 171098 28% Media&Events
75 newsweek.com 170135 186% Media&Events
76 livestrong.com 169636 77% Media&Events
77 zillow.com 169045 34% Shopping
78 live.com 166073 33% Other
79 rottentomatoes.com 165358 13% Other
80 retailmenot.com 165023 12% Shopping
81 tripsavvy.com 164500 new Media&Events
82 reverso.net 164418 195% Encyclopedia
83 indeed.com 162933 15% Jobs
84 aarp.org 159958 102% Media&Events
85 agame.com 157387 52% Other
86 delish.com 158025 74% Media&Events
87 gizmodo.com 155307 48% Media&Events
88 sciencedirect.com 154658 162% Media&Events
89 businessinsider.com 153736 27% Media&Events
90 mayoclinic.org 153451 11% Media&Events
91 bestbuy.com 152577 14% Shopping
92 spanishdict.com 149513 48% Encyclopedia
93 snopes.com 148612 102% Encyclopedia
94 techradar.com 147519 71% Media&Events
95 deezer.com 146344 71% Other
96 coolmath-games.com 145811 48% Other
97 pagesix.com 143935 99% Media&Events
98 autotrader.com 140567 49% Shopping
99 vevo.com 140429 93% Media&Events
100 ebay.com 134447 7% Shopping

What does it all mean? The cream rises to the top. Companies that focused on delivering quality content, either on differentiated and focused content or on the SEO structure of the site, saw big rewards in the world of Googledom.

Selection of Losers in 2017

In the following, we have identified several domains that fall into the loser category. These are sites that saw a severe drop in their organic visibility during the course of the year. Most domains included here have lost at least 20% of their visibility. However, this does not necessarily mean that the pages have also lost traffic or turnover; it is an indicator of how well represented these domains are in the organic (unpaid) search results of Google.com.

Domain Loss of SEO Visibility absolute
Loss of SEO Visibility in % Industry
reddit.com 1339420 -54% Social Media
tumblr.com 994315 -79% Social Media
pinterest.com 922648 -23% Social Media
giphy.com 763932 -85% Other
reference.com 635112 -99% Q&A
azlyrics.com 569666 -37% Music/Lyrics
tv.com 523543 -70% Media&Events
about.com 453124 out Media&Events
vimeo.com 428151 -50% Media&Events
thefreedictionary.com 422815 -27% Encyclopedia
myspace.com 348804 -68% Social Media
perezhilton.com 340110 -77% Media&Events
wsj.com 332114 -43% Media&Events
addictinggames.com 330743 -56% Other
allmusic.com 328659 -40% Other
infoplease.com 313584 -67% Encyclopedia
alexa.com 292892 -89% Other
makeuseof.com 267649 -73% Media&Events
last.fm 258315 -55% Other
patient.info 250604 -62% Media&Events
msn.com 217784 -29% Search / Portal
justjared.com 218154 -54% Media&Events
drugs.com 203119 -25% Other
metrolyrics.com 190898 -28% Music/Lyrics
popsugar.com 190342 -42% Media&Events
autoblog.com 188263 -65% Media&Events
inquisitr.com 173651 -85% Media&Events
consumeraffairs.com 167121 -40% Other
wordpress.com 161463 -34% Other
foursquare.com 161074 -64% Other
cinemablend.com 158786 -67% Media&Events
dailymotion.com 155299 -43% Media&Events
instructables.com 148539 -57% Media&Events
mapsofworld.com 147512 -76% Other
quora.com 147189 -38% Social Media
nymag.com 144320 -38% Media&Events
babylon-software.com 139714 -91% Other
hotmail.com 115109 -52% Search/Portal
goodsearch.com 133433 -46% Shopping
Winners and Losers by Industry

To identify the industries and relevant trends for the winners and losers whose Visibility on Google.com changed in 2017, we extended our industry and data sample. Instead of using the top 100 winners and a selection of losers, we have categorized the 250 domains with the greatest increase in SEO Visibility, and the 250 with the greatest decrease.

Publishers (media & events) made up 57% of the biggest winners in 2017, and 8% were shopping websites. The proportion of encyclopedias (including dictionaries) amongst the winning domains stood at 9%:

Of the websites that lost out in 2017, 44% are also from publishing (media & events), while shopping websites also comprise 12% of losers:

This shows that there has been much fluctuation within industries: 57% of the winners are publishers, but so are 44% of losers. It is similar with shopping websites. They make up 8% of winners but also 12% of losers. Another area represented in both categories is software/games: 6% of winners and 6% of losers.

Let’s now look at the differences and try to find out which industries really won or lost.

  • Amongst the winning domains, there are clear gains for encyclopedias and dictionaries. Google increased the presence of these domains in its SERPs in 2017, so that 9% of the winning domains belong to this industry. Large increases in SEO Visibility were experienced by domains like dictionary.com, britannica.com and thesaurus.com.
  • When we look at the losers, we see that many of them come from the category search/portal – domains like msn.com. Another group that is well-represented amongst the losers is music/lyrics – e.g. azlyrics.com or metrolyrics.com. Several social media websites are also found in the loser list. In fact, the top 3 losers were all social media websites: reddit.com, tumblr.com and pinterest.com.
Analysis: 2017 Search Trends

Google Updates, mobile-first index, content quality and ads. Here is a quick summary of the most important search trends of 2017, and an analysis of their impact on SEO Visibility.

Impact of Google Updates

The following graph shows the average SEO Visibility of the winners and losers on a weekly basis throughout 2017. We have included the most important Google Updates:

Phantom V Update: Though unconfirmed by Google, early February saw an algorithm update: Phantom V. The update targeting quality led to drops in Visibility – e.g. for foursquare.com – or significant increases – for domains like tvtropes.org. This update helped these websites take their place in the year’s top lists. Many websites affected by Phantom V had already been hit by earlier iterations of the Phantom, e.g. myrecipes.com:

  • Fred Update: Another update that was not confirmed by Google bears the nickname “Fred”. This came in calendar week 11, which was the most turbulent of the year. According to searchengineland, ad-heavy websites with low-quality content were worst affected by this update.
  • Dictionary Update: In June 2017, an update created (more) Visibility improvements for dictionary domains. URLs for dictionaries improved their rankings first and foremost for short-tail keywords that could have various different user intents,
  • Google User Localization Update: Since October 2017, users are given search results based on their current physical location, regardless of the top-level domain (e.g. Google.com/Google.co.uk) they enter into the address bar.
Big wins for dictionaries

As mentioned above, online enyclopedias and dictionaries are amongst the biggest winners of 2017 (besides publishers). The trend that has seen Google ranking these domains for short-tail keywords that do not have one clear user intent (e.g. to purchase) continued throughout the year. As a result, six positions in 2017’s top 10 list of winning domains are dictionaries. Here are a few examples of how selected encyclopedias fared in 2017:

Towards the end of 2017, these domains started to lose momentum, so we will have to wait and see what Google has in store for dictionary websites in 2018.

Losers losing even more on mobile

Domains that lost out in 2017 also saw bigger drops in Google’s mobile index..

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Every new year brings a new set of challenges to content marketers. Just when you think you’ve created a solid content strategy, Google tweaks its search engine, other technology companies make countermoves, and new marketing innovations blow your best intentions to pieces. Don’t count on 2018 to be different. In the first of our new Searchmetrics blog series, Memo to the Modern Marketer, we take a look at key technologies and themes that will shape winners and losers throughout the year.

Video: Big Moves on the Small Screen

Video sharing sites YouTube and Vimeo have been around for more than a decade, giving both amateur and professional videographers a global audience. Since then, the platforms have exploded, forcing marketers to up their content game. Now it’s not just for advertisers and producers — any company worth its valuation is producing video content.

Why? According to a report from Cisco, video will make up 82% of internet traffic by 2021. That means if you’re not using video in your content efforts now, you’re already behind the curve. It’s a no-brainer — if you’re scrolling through Facebook, a video on autoplay is more likely to grab your attention over a catchy headline. Joining Facebook, Google is set to launch video autoplay in the Chrome browser this month. That could make it even harder for marketers to see impact with traditional earned media and SEO campaigns.

Though video and video communication through the internet is nothing new, it’s sparked new video content innovation. Ten years ago Google introduced video chat, but it wasn’t until August 2015 that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson produced the very first Facebook Live event. Since then, marketers and publishers have been using Facebook and Instagram Live to increase social visibility. LinkedIn introduced native video in July, while 2017 saw an uptick in TV news stations using it to supplement their live broadcasts.

Facebook Live with Dwayne Johnson

Facebook reports that users spend three times more time watching Facebook Live videos than regular videos, corroborating a study from New York Magazine and Livestream that found 82% of users prefer live video to social posts. That same post found that 80% of those surveyed would rather watch live video than read a blog when it comes to branded content.

The Upshot: Live videos in 2018 will only get better — you can expect to see more thought-out, well-produced native videos.

Virtual Reality: Can You See it Now?

It was only a matter of time for virtual reality/augmented reality to reach the world of content marketing. Several museums, including The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., let you experience art through virtual reality. An accompanying mobile app helps people tour through galleries — but the Smithsonian developed its VR program that  even people who aren’t using a VR headset can use the app.

A Smithsonian Institute photo depicting its VR experience

Google also is firmly in the game. In 2017, the search giant launched its “Expeditions” program to partner with educators in the use of augmented reality as a teaching tool. Apple CEO Tim Cook also has said he places a lot of faith in augmented reality as a world-changing technology.

Sure, there’s plenty of skeptics who point to high prices for both AR and VR tools (Apple’s augmented-reality enabled iPhone X retails for $1000, and the Oculus Rift for $400), but Facebook and other technology giants are working hard to bring down the cost of such devices for mass market consumption. Then, too, there are some off-brand headsets on the market for a little as $15.

Voice Becomes A Cacophony

More and more homes are being equipped with voice-activated devices, and more content is being delivered through these devices with audio rather than the visual delivery common to our computer screens. While content writers are already trained to read user questions as we might hear them, writers may soon have to answer questions as people might say them to adapt to Google Home and Amazon’s Echo.

Device like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home are creating a new SEO and marketing channel, and will require much more study to understand their effect on search, SEO expert Bartosz Góralewicz said in a previous Searchmetrics post.

Search aside, some publishers are already dipping their toes into voice-activated waters to enhance their marketing efforts. For its September 2017 issue, Vogue partnered with Google to deliver special content to Google Home devices that supplemented celebrity interviews with Jennifer Lawrence, Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams and Nicole Kidman. Users were able to ask Assistant on Google Home questions about the celebrities, with the device returning answers from the interviewers that included information that didn’t make it into print and online articles.

The Upshot: As publishers get more comfortable with such new devices,  expect to see diverse content and highly adaptive search strategies.

VISUAL: Instagram Stories vs Snapchat

There seems to be no end to the new ways users can create their own content and share it. Marketers can do it too, in a way that’s not as intrusive as traditional advertising.

Take Instagram Stories. Introduced by Facebook to compete with Snapchat for millennials’ attention, brands such as GoPro, General Electric and NASA are creating “stories” they hope catch potential customers’ eyes.

NASA used Stories to visualize and explain some of the major hurricanes in 2017 and with the last frame of the story, it used a swipe as a call to action to bring users to its website.

The numbers point to a big potential market in social marketing. Instagram reports that users under 25 now spend more than a half hour a day on Instagram, and those older than 25 use it about 24 minutes a day. For businesses, Instagram also claims one in five organic stories gets a direct message. Meanwhile, Snapchat is struggling to please marketers. In a series of studies conducted by RBC Capital and Ad Age, Snapchat only performed better than AOL when it was compared to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, YouTube, and Yahoo.

The Upshot: While you may have to invest in more talent to create compelling visuals to incite curiosity and engagement, you’re still bypassing the expense of traditional advertising and directly communicating with the market you’re targeting.

Volume: Less is More?

The idea of “fake news” seems to have impacted how users are consuming content. With internet users more cautious about what they read, 2018 may be the year to scale back on the volume of content you’re producing and throw more energy into creating content to build trust.

Millions of blog posts are created each day, making it increasingly difficult to cut through all the noise. That doesn’t mean you should stop creating content. Rather, content creators will be expected to focus on publishing high-quality content that’s hyper-focused and highly segmented.

The Upshot: It’s still is top-of-the-funnel marketing, but creating hyper-targeted content may help you fill in the content gaps where new technologies with rich content are sapping up audiences that read traditional content.

Get on the Innovation Train

These are just a few of the innovations content marketers will have to adapt to in 2018. It’s going to be an exciting year — there’s a lot to work to do within a number of mediums to make your brand stand out. If you have ideas on what you think we’ll see in content marketing for the year ahead, let us know!

The post Memo to the Modern Marketer: Five Content Trends Shaping 2018 (Hint: They All Start with ‘V’) appeared first on Searchmetrics SEO Blog.

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What does it actually mean when we say that Google uses Machine Learning algorithms? In our latest Unwrapping the Secrets of SEO, guest contributor Olaf Kopp explains what exactly this refers to and where neural networks are applied in Google Search. Webmasters and SEOs take heed: you’re key to helping provide Google’s algorithms with training data.

This article is the last in my series on Machine Learning. The previous Unwrapping posts can be found here:

Part 1: How Google Interprets Search Queries

Part 2: It’s All Semantic For Google Search

Part 3: How Does Google’s Knowledge Graph Work?

Unwrapping the Secrets of SEO

As discussed in the article, The Semantic Web (German), systems based on the innovations of Web 2.0, which make information identifiable, categorizable, measurable and sortable according to context, are the only way to get on top of the flood of information and data.

But pure semantics is not enough here because it depends on statistical methods. Semantic systems require the predefinition of classes and labels in order to classify data. Moreover, it is difficult to identify and create new entities without manual help. For a long time, this could only be done manually or with reference to manually maintained databases like Wikipedia or Wikidata, which prevents scalability.

Because of this, digital gatekeepers need increasingly reliable autonomous algorithms to manage these tasks. In the future, self-learning algorithms based on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning methods will play an ever-more important role. This is the only way of guaranteeing that outputs/results comply with expectations while also retaining scalability.

Rise of the Machines

Before I go into the role of Machine Learning in Google Search today, it is important to understand how Machine Learning works. In my explanation, I will only scratch the surface of the topic because I’m not a trained mathematician or computer scientist and I lack more detailed knowledge of how such algorithms are constructed.

Machine Learning can be considered part of the field of Artificial Intelligence. The term “intelligence” does not quite apply in relation to Machine Learning because it is not so much about intelligence, but more about patterns that machines or computers can recognize, and about accuracy.

Machine Learning deals with the automated development of algorithms based on empirical data or training data. As a result, the focus is on the optimization of results or improving predictions based on learning processes.

Google’s application of Machine Learning

These algorithms are also often used at Google for the classification and clustering of information, and for making predictions on this basis. According to its own statement, Google relies on Supervised Machine Learning, which means that at different points in the Machine Learning process, humans pre-classify and evaluate results.

According to their own statements, Google uses deep neural networks with at least five layers, which is then referred to as Deep Learning. Using neural networks of this depth makes it possible to automatically and independently create new model groups, which again greatly increases the scalability

Machine Learning can be used wherever Google has to assign labels or comments to data, and/or has to run clustering, which would be too laborious manually. Up to now, the use of Machine Learning in Google Search has only been confirmed by RankBrain. However, I can also imagine Machine Learning already being used for the clustering of documents in the indexing process. If you would like to know more about Google, AI, and Machine Learning, I recommend my article, Significance of Machine Learning, AI & RankBrain for SEO & Google (German), with interesting opinions from respected colleagues like Markus Hövener, Kai Spriestersbach, Marcus Tober and Sebastian Erlhofer.

Google Also Learns Thanks to the Help of Webmasters and SEOs

The development of a semantic database in the form of the Knowledge Graph, but also generally with the identification of entities, depends a lot upon the help of external persons, such as webmasters and Wikipedia editors. In general, however, Google’ long-term aim is to be able to independently retrieve data that can interpreted, so that the Knowledge Graph project does not stall.

This is also apparent in the Knowledge Vault project. The Knowledge Vault was unveiled by Google in 2014 as an inactive development project that was supposed to make use of web crawling, Machine Learning, structured and unstructured data, to build up the largest knowledge database in the world. In addition, there is to date no information on whether and how far Google already actively uses this database. But I hypothesize that the Knowledge Graph already obtains information from the Knowledge Vault. More on this can be found in the article, Google “Knowledge Vault” To Power Future Of Search.

I assume that Google has a great interest in recognizing information for the Knowledge Graph without the assistance of external people – and ideally automated. There are already some clues here that Google repeatedly supplies human-verified training data for its own Machine Learning systems in order to identify and classify entities more quickly.

For example, Google also double-checks the information for the medical boxes of professors and doctors at Harvard and the Mayo Clinic before they are published in Knowledge Graph boxes. This manual proofing could also be used with Supervised Machine Learning for the improvement of algorithms. Google could also provide the self-learning algorithms with feedback from the search evaluators (Quality Rater), as these could be another source of valuable training data.

Structured Data as Human-Verified Training Data for Google’s Algorithm

Another example of how Google is increasingly trying to operate independently from webmasters is the rel-authorship markup. To my mind, this markup had only one purpose for Google: the identification of patterns that are used for particular types of entities. The information and mark-ups were created or populated by people (primarily SEOs and webmasters) and were therefore verified training data that Google could feed into their Machine Learning algorithms to create model groups for authors according to these patterns.

Thus, it is not surprising that Google eventually stopped pursuing the projects rel-authorship or Freebase. Freebase was initially filled with data that people added according to a basic semantic framework. This gave Google both a semantic playground and enough human-verified training data for the Machine Learning algorithm. But Freebase was only a short-term means to an end.

How Structured Data became Obsolete for Google Shopping

In my opinion, this will also happen in the next few years with a large proportion of all structured data, as soon as Google no longer needs it. This is also just human-verified training data, which could become obsolete at some point.

The fact that structured data could be only a waypoint and that Google would ideally like to dispense with this input in the form of tagging by webmasters and SEOs, is also demonstrated by the latest developments in Google AdWords or Google Shopping.

AdWords advertisers who ran a shopping feed in the past few months received a mail with the following text:

“As of October 30, 2017, the most up-to-date information on pricing and availability of your articles will be determined based on annotations for structured data or additional information (if no structured data is available). Therefore, your customers benefit from increased usability of Google Shopping.”

If you sometimes look at Google Shopping’s help, you will find the following wording regarding the shopping feeds:

“Advanced extractors are able to find price and availability information on a product’s landing page. They use a combination of statistical models and machine learning to detect and extract product data from your website independent structured data markup.” Source: https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/3246284?hl=en

This shows how, over the past few years, Google has learned via Machine Learning to interpret content automatically and independent of structured data, and to assign the content a class. Through this process, the shop-providers were an important help, who spent the last years obediently tagging their shopping feeds with structured data. Verified training data for Google Shopping’s hungry Machine Learning algorithm.

This goal is clearly stated by Google, straight from Gary Illyes:

“I want to live in a world where schema is not that important, but currently, we need it. If a team at Google recommends it, you probably should make use of it, as schema helps us understand the content on the page, and it is used in certain search features (but not in rankings algorithms)… Google should have algorithms that can figure out things without needing schema …” Source: https://searchengineland.com/gary-illyes-ask-anything-smx-east-285706

In addition, I have to mention that in the same quotation Gary denies whether schema.org data is being used as training data. This contradicts my assumption.

“No, it’s being used for rich snippets.”

Conclusion: Machine Learning Steps towards Semantic Understanding
  • Google wanted to introduce semantic search with the Knowledge Graph and the Hummingbird algorithm. Today, however, it is clear that the goal of a semantic understanding has long failed to develop due to a lack of scalability.
  • Given the enormous volume of search queries and documents, the semantic classification of information, documents and search queries is only practical in combination with Machine Learning systems. Otherwise the sacrifices in performance are too great. Also, this has been made possible thanks to the energetic help of SEOs and Webmasters, who tag information manually themselves.
  • The ability to make predictions regarding what a user would like when they enter a previously unknown search term in the search bar is only possible through Machine Learning.

The post Unwrapping the Secrets of SEO: The Role of Machine Learning in Google Search appeared first on Searchmetrics SEO Blog.

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Content is like pizza. Everyone says they love it, but any particular piece can vary a lot. Few want a pizza thats gone cold by the time its delivered and even fewer want content thats lost its freshness by the time its ready for publication. Read on to find out how to generate fresh content thats guaranteed to get your readers taste buds tingling – and be gobbled up by search engines.

“BREAKING NEWS!”

In our media-swamped environment, it’s not just cable news anchors who love to yell “BREAKING NEWS” at every possible opportunity.

Image Source

Online, being one of the first outlets to be picked up by Google’s (News) crawler for a certain topic will obviously give you an edge when looking to attract people searching for the latest information. This justifies the scramble on newsdesks around the world to get stories loaded from the wire into their content management systems and jazzed up with an eye-catching image as quickly as possible.

But – by its very nature – news can only be breaking for so long. A much more sustainable content strategy, particularly for most sites with names that aren’t “AP”, “Reuters” and “twitter.com/realdonaldtrump”, is to provide content that’s relatively fresh, but on topics that nevertheless have some kind of extended traction. An example would be the end-of-season tournament in men’s tennis, the ATP Finals. More specifically, the 2017 ATP Finals.

The tournament itself ran from November 12–19, but, as the search volume seasonality shows, audience interest grew slowly from June thru September, and really exploded in October.

For terms like this, anyone using average monthly search volume (as is available in tools like Google’s Keyword Planner) to guide their strategy is wasting their time. The only meaningful traffic will come in the month or months when your audience is interested. This is what your content marketing strategy has to reflect.

Yesterday’s data won’t perform today

One huge challenge content marketers face when creating content for a new topic is that it’s hard to get any useful data. No database in the world (besides Google’s own index) can automatically include everything as soon as it’s picked up by the Googlebot, which logically means that things will have lost at least some of their freshness by the time a search database has incorporated them.

Until now.

With the “on-demand brief” feature of the Searchmetrics Content Experience, content planners can now pull up real-time data on any keyword they can think of, replete with all the insights needed to define a fully-fledged content brief. This is what your writers need, not just to create not just great content, but to create content that search engines will love too.

The data in the on-demand brief lets you check the characteristics of pages that are ranking for up-to-the-minute topics and optimize your content accordingly. You don’t have to dig out your landing page about the 2016 Finals and hope that the same criteria will help this year’s text rank – you have the data you need to produce content that will rank in 2017.

Speeding up workflows

A second challenge with attempting to create new content that picks up a topic at the moment people start searching for it is turnaround times. Depending on how content marketing is structured in an organization, a content manager or online marketer may not work with in-house content creators, but will often call on a contracted content writer to create the text. This means issuing a brief and can often require considerable back-and-forth before a blog post is ready to go online.

Every misunderstanding in the brief, every redrafting or revision of the text costs time and can delay publication. What is worse, with topics that are supposed to be fresh, new blog posts and articles are being picked up by search engines all the time, so long delays will increase the data gap between your brief and the actual competitive environment.

Quick turnaround is therefore essential and anything that speeds up workflows can make a vital contribution to success. One great way of slowing down your contract writers is making them use a tool or piece of software they’re not familiar with. You take them out of their comfort zone and everything will take them three times as long. But, if you want them to write predictably successful content, then they need to use the Searchmetrics Content Experience, right?

Right.

You can square this circle by providing your content writers with the Word add-in that lets them access all the topic and keyword data they need, without giving up their spellchecker, format templates and customized keyboard shortcuts.

This saves them time, saves you time, and can dramatically speed up publication.

Coordinating writers for real progress

Another thing that can cause a real drop in freshness is when your writers don’t sync up properly during the content creation process. Even a shortish blog post may have more than one person working on it, and it can be a content marketing nightmare bringing the different chunks together, assessing what should go in and what should go out. Particularly when deadlines are tight, this can be a rushed, messy task, and time constraints can force decisions that may both diverge from the original plan. This might be a decent strategy for getting things published, but it isn’t the way to generate compelling, quality content.

One feature of the Searchmetrics Content Experience that helps tidy up this mess is the Version History. This lets anyone with access to the content view how it has progressed, with the development of the Content Score instantly comparable between different versions.

If a content revision has been made, the content manager can see if the writer has just added meaningless waffle to pad out the word count, or if there has been genuine benefit to the Content Score. A writer who improves the text gets credit for it – and a content manager can see exactly what the improvements have been made. All this speeds up the time it takes to go from first draft to high-quality content piece that’s ready for publication.

It may sound stale but efficient workflows keep content fresh

Fresh content doesn’t have to rely on an Oval Office insider leaking to you live from a Pentagon security briefing. You can create content that is relevant today if your workflows are focused on efficiency, and your performance metrics are based not on guesswork or projections from past results, but on genuine live data pulled directly from the SERPs. Going back to my pizza analogy, having live data is like having the freshest ingredients, but you also need the right workflows in place to make sure your content is still piping hot when it hits the plate.

The post Memo to the Modern Marketer: In Google’s World, It’s About Creating Content That’s Fresh appeared first on Searchmetrics SEO Blog.

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Every new year brings a new set of challenges to content marketers. Just when you think you’ve created a solid content strategy, Google tweaks its search engine, other technology companies make countermoves, and new marketing innovations blow your best intentions to pieces. Don’t count on 2018 to be different. In the first of our new Searchmetrics blog series, Memo to the Modern Marketer, we take a look at key technologies and themes that will shape winners and losers throughout the year.

Video: Big Moves on the Small Screen

Video sharing sites YouTube and Vimeo have been around for more than a decade, giving both amateur and professional videographers a global audience. Since then, the platforms have exploded, forcing marketers to up their content game. Now it’s not just for advertisers and producers — any company worth its valuation is producing video content.

Why? According to a report from Cisco, video will make up 82% of internet traffic by 2021. That means if you’re not using video in your content efforts now, you’re already behind the curve. It’s a no-brainer — if you’re scrolling through Facebook, a video on autoplay is more likely to grab your attention over a catchy headline. Joining Facebook, Google is set to launch video autoplay in the Chrome browser this month. That could make it even harder for marketers to see impact with traditional earned media and SEO campaigns.

Though video and video communication through the internet is nothing new, it’s sparked new video content innovation. Ten years ago Google introduced video chat, but it wasn’t until August 2015 that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson produced the very first Facebook Live event. Since then, marketers and publishers have been using Facebook and Instagram Live to increase social visibility. LinkedIn introduced native video in July, while 2017 saw an uptick in TV news stations using it to supplement their live broadcasts.

Facebook Live with Dwayne Johnson

Facebook reports that users spend three times more time watching Facebook Live videos than regular videos, corroborating a study from New York Magazine and Livestream that found 82% of users prefer live video to social posts. That same post found that 80% of those surveyed would rather watch live video than read a blog when it comes to branded content.

The Upshot: Live videos in 2018 will only get better — you can expect to see more thought-out, well-produced native videos.

Virtual Reality: Can You See it Now?

It was only a matter of time for virtual reality/augmented reality to reach the world of content marketing. Several museums, including The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., let you experience art through virtual reality. An accompanying mobile app helps people tour through galleries — but the Smithsonian developed its VR program that  even people who aren’t using a VR headset can use the app.

A Smithsonian Institute photo depicting its VR experience

Google also is firmly in the game. In 2017, the search giant launched its “Expeditions” program to partner with educators in the use of augmented reality as a teaching tool. Apple CEO Tim Cook also has said he places a lot of faith in augmented reality as a world-changing technology.

Sure, there’s plenty of skeptics who point to high prices for both AR and VR tools (Apple’s augmented-reality enabled iPhone X retails for $1000, and the Oculus Rift for $400), but Facebook and other technology giants are working hard to bring down the cost of such devices for mass market consumption. Then, too, there are some off-brand headsets on the market for a little as $15.

Voice Becomes A Cacophony

More and more homes are being equipped with voice-activated devices, and more content is being delivered through these devices with audio rather than the visual delivery common to our computer screens. While content writers are already trained to read user questions as we might hear them, writers may soon have to answer questions as people might say them to adapt to Google Home and Amazon’s Echo.

Device like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home are creating a new SEO and marketing channel, and will require much more study to understand their effect on search, SEO expert Bartosz Góralewicz said in a previous Searchmetrics post.

Search aside, some publishers are already dipping their toes into voice-activated waters to enhance their marketing efforts. For its September 2017 issue, Vogue partnered with Google to deliver special content to Google Home devices that supplemented celebrity interviews with Jennifer Lawrence, Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams and Nicole Kidman. Users were able to ask Assistant on Google Home questions about the celebrities, with the device returning answers from the interviewers that included information that didn’t make it into print and online articles.

The Upshot: As publishers get more comfortable with such new devices,  expect to see diverse content and highly adaptive search strategies.

VISUAL: Instagram Stories vs Snapchat

There seems to be no end to the new ways users can create their own content and share it. Marketers can do it too, in a way that’s not as intrusive as traditional advertising.

Take Instagram Stories. Introduced by Facebook to compete with Snapchat for millennials’ attention, brands such as GoPro, General Electric and NASA are creating “stories” they hope catch potential customers’ eyes.

NASA used Stories to visualize and explain some of the major hurricanes in 2017 and with the last frame of the story, it used a swipe as a call to action to bring users to its website.

The numbers point to a big potential market in social marketing. Instagram reports that users under 25 now spend more than a half hour a day on Instagram, and those older than 25 use it about 24 minutes a day. For businesses, Instagram also claims one in five organic stories gets a direct message. Meanwhile, Snapchat is struggling to please marketers. In a series of studies conducted by RBC Capital and Ad Age, Snapchat only performed better than AOL when it was compared to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, YouTube, and Yahoo.

The Upshot: While you may have to invest in more talent to create compelling visuals to incite curiosity and engagement, you’re still bypassing the expense of traditional advertising and directly communicating with the market you’re targeting.

Volume: Less is More?

The idea of “fake news” seems to have impacted how users are consuming content. With internet users more cautious about what they read, 2018 may be the year to scale back on the volume of content you’re producing and throw more energy into creating content to build trust.

Millions of blog posts are created each day, making it increasingly difficult to cut through all the noise. That doesn’t mean you should stop creating content. Rather, content creators will be expected to focus on publishing high-quality content that’s hyper-focused and highly segmented.

The Upshot: It’s still is top-of-the-funnel marketing, but creating hyper-targeted content may help you fill in the content gaps where new technologies with rich content are sapping up audiences that read traditional content.

Get on the Innovation Train

These are just a few of the innovations content marketers will have to adapt to in 2018. It’s going to be an exciting year — there’s a lot to work to do within a number of mediums to make your brand stand out. If you have ideas on what you think we’ll see in content marketing for the year ahead, let us know!

The post Memo to the Modern Marketer: Five Content Trends Shaping 2018 (Hint: They All Start with ‘V’) appeared first on Searchmetrics SEO Blog.

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Here’s the thing about predictions: you’re only a sage if they come true. That doesn’t stop us from betting on who will win the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Oscars or Super Bowl. And it certainly doesn’t stop us from making educated guesses about what awaits us in the coming year in the world of search. We asked a few SEO and online marketing experts what topics they see dominating the digital agenda, and how they see Google’s search results pages changing. Read on to rate their predictions.

We asked a number of digital experts for their answers to the following questions:

  1. What are the three digital marketing trends that will have the biggest impact in 2018?
  2. What advice would you give someone in 2018 who wants to launch a new website or re-assess their online priorities? Which measures deserve the most attention and what can people now afford to scale back?
  3. How are the SERPs going to change over the next year? Which elements of the search results are going to become more visible and which are going to lose prominence?

Here’s what they had to say:

Jacob Kildebogaard

Search and Social director, Partner, AMBITION

Top trends in 2018: Use of data, automation and quality content.

My advice: If you want to launch a new website, you need to do your homework, conduct a keyword analysis, make a quality website with quality content and – best of all – take advantage of the opportunities making a new website offers. Focus on load time and user experience, on all devices.

The changing SERPs: The trend is continuing towards Google wanting to answer the user’s question on the search results page already. Longer descriptions is just one of the changes it’s making to do this – showing more text on the SERP. This means that space is becoming more and more limited. Four ads at the top, other kinds of results, and now larger snippets per website. This all means ranking at position 6 is already where the users fingers are hurting by scrolling.

Kevin Gibbons

CEO, BlueGlass

Top trends in 2018:

1. Integrated content marketing approach – in 2018, I would expect to see brands continue to evolve and centralize content with other marketing channels. By making content a key part of the customer journey at each buyer phase, it will be much easier to prove the full value of content across all channels to measure and prove the real business value.

2. Mobile first – when planning any annual SEO roadmap, you have to look where Google is going, and for the last few years you simply can’t ignore mobile. Mobile-first is the latest iteration, which means that responsive websites are now the minimum barrier to entry. Brands need to think about how consumers interact with mobile devices differently and adapt to behaviors, not just via websites, but also apps – to ensure they capture the full mobile experience.

3. Voice search – 2017 has been a big learning curve for voice search, and seen a land-grab for the devices, of which Amazon’s Alexa is significantly winning to-date. In 2018, a continued growth in popularity of voice searches is likely, and brands need to be thinking about how people could be using voice queries within their niche, and how they can offer value to become the best result.

My advice: Think about your users first and foremost. Who are you targeting? What do you want them to achieve? To win at SEO in 2018, you need to be the best result. This means providing great content for your users, across all devices – rather than simply having well optimized content for search engines. Most importantly, you’ll be engaging in the best way possible with your visitors. And as a by-product of this, you’ll likely be rewarded by Google for providing the best experience.

The changing SERPs: Looking at where Google has been focusing over the last year gives a lot of clues on where they are heading. Mobile-centric results across all devices, including desktop, has been an important theme – and I would expect to see the range of featured snippets to continue rising in popularity, where users don’t have to click on a listing because Google shows them the answer they need within the results page. For brands, that means they need to think about how they can be that featured snippet listing – optimizing more heavily for answer boxes, schema, local and more.

Marcus Pentzek

Teamlead SEO, United Digital Group

Top trends in 2018:

1. Marketing automation in combination with big data using AI (including on-page automation in altering texts on the website due to user behavior and onsite automation to automatically optimize internal linking structure). Maybe this more of a 2025 vision, but 2018 may see first steps in this direction.

2. Marketers and developers learning how to use digital voice assistants and natural voice search, helping Amazon, Google etc. to bring their toys to new evolutionary heights.

3. Holistic Landing Pages (HLP) getting shorter and only becoming some kind of “new age” doorway pages for keywords with uncertain user intention. Users to then be forwarded (by user actions like clicks on call-to-actions) to pages more tailored to specific intents.

My advice: Know your target group. Know their user intent. Speak their language. Structure your website well. Make use of the technologies your users expect – still keep fall-back technologies if your target search engine (mostly Google) is not capable of properly interpreting your state of the art choice. Concentrate on good content that focuses on your user (and still bears the signals a bot can interpret well). Prepare good seeding strategies so people (and search engines) get to know your content.

The changing SERPs: I think individualized search results will get stronger in 2018. Google will improve its understanding of your search sessions, so you might get (slightly) different search results than a colleague when you say, “Hey Fred, go to Google and look for XYZ”. Google’s focus on page speed tools, information and support might also have an influence on the individualization of the search results. If you are using a slower internet connection, Google might focus on displaying faster (or even AMP) websites in their search results. For non-individualized search results, I expect to see more answer boxes during the first half of the year and fewer in the second half (as Google learns which answers users don’t accept). More and more, users’ local intention searches are switching to mobile and generic searches are made on desktop. Google will recognize this by decreasing the amount of local one-boxes on desktop search and shifting them to mobile results.

Nikolaj Mogensen

Head of Quisma

Top trends in 2018: Data-driven content marketing, marketing automation and SEO.

My advice: If launching a new site in 2018, make sure your hygiene and governance are in order, making sure redirects are done properly and the new website is fully optimized for technical SEO. Apart from that, try to take a data-driven approach to your information architecture by looking at search behavior. Also look at which content assets and tools your new website should have by looking at link and social data from similar websites and niches. In general, always be looking at the ROI of your activities by measuring traffic, leads, rankings and overall performance of your website and its content.

 The changing SERPs: We will see Google experiment even more with its knowledge graph and featured snippets. Apart from that, I expect Google to experiment and go even more into specific intent areas like travel, flights etc.

Christian Doeleman-Lassen

Head of SEO, IIH Nordic

Top trends in 2018: Every digital marketing tool will try to integrate some form of AI into their products. We won’t see the full value of artificial intelligence in any tool in 2018, however. The same way we saw mobile overtake desktop last year, we will see a shift from text search to voice search. Hopefully not in an open office environment – that would be awkward – but from people speaking to their mobile phones, home speakers and other devices. The use of data in marketing will explode. Companies that can use data to understand consumer behavior and intent better than their competitors will have a big advantage.

My advice: Search engine optimization is not an isolated game anymore. Content marketing, social media, paid advertising, email marketing and SEO should all be part of your digital strategy. Understand where the different channels overlap and how they can leverage each other’s strengths. Collect data from all your efforts and use it strategically to fine-tune your strategy.

The changing SERPs: The increase in voice and image searches will be a driver to a more diversified search result. I expect Google will use microdata and schema markup to create richer snippets, which will, even more than they do already, let the users find their answers directly in the SERP without having to click through to the websites. Understanding your users and the intent of their searches will be more important than ever before.

Scott Tehrani

SEO, Content & Communications Director, twentysix

Top trends in 2018: I see a tech renaissance coming with SPAs, PWAs and headless CMSs. SPAs (Single Page Applications) are web apps that load a single HTML page and dynamically update as the user interacts with it. SPAs are fast and easy to navigate for users, while developers benefit from templates that allow them to customize, test and optimize pages efficiently.

Google is also really pushing Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) – and for good reason. You can have your website work like a native mobile app – accessible from the home screen. Say ‘hello’ to full screen browsing and push notifications, and say ‘goodbye’ to maintaining web, iOS and Android codebases.

I expect more businesses to adopt headless Content Management Systems (CMS), from which they can publish content to a host of digital platforms: web, mobile apps, in-store displays, VR, wearables and IoT devices. Ultimately, these technologies enable us to create better user experiences and will keep technical SEOs in a job for years to come. Win – Win.

Studies show we’re obsessed with research and look up every little thing. SEOs and Google have long talked ‘Content is King’ but the research obsession will make it “Emperor.”  Expect mass digital storytelling and heaps of video in various formats.

Voice search isn’t going away. We’re at peak mobile penetration and the next frontier is “the battle of the living room.” Next year, Apple plans on entering the fray, but I don’t see actual voice search mechanics changing too much.

The changing SERPs: Google recently lost six advertising slots so they need to keep the SERPs appealing for advertisers. One way is to ensure people spend more time on page. Therefore, expect to see Google continue its move towards becoming an answer engine, with deeper, more visible integrations across a wider keyword set – not just core commercial terms but more long-tail conversational terms.

Shopping should become more prevalent. The Knowledge Graph and the PAA will continue to evolve and aggregate and embed more content from multiple sources, including YouTube. Local business listings will be huge in a mobile-first SERP and go back to acting as a two-way social channel for brands. I predict PPC to move to five slots, as data will show we are getting more comfortable scrolling on larger-screened devices. Hopefully, the longer organic snippets will stay if Google’s test data holds up. Expect all sorts of UI tests.

Finally, here’s my sketch of what the SERP might look like.

So that’s what our experts think? What delights (and horrors) do you think 2018 will bring?

The post Google Trends: Experts Predict 2018 Happenings in the World of Search appeared first on Searchmetrics SEO Blog.

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