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As technologies become increasingly advanced, the digital marketing landscape is in a constant state of evolution and we move one step closer to what was once deemed “science-fiction”. If you consider the recent rise of Artificial Intelligence, you will agree that the winds of change are certainly blowing. It is therefore crucial for marketers to be aware of the latest trends in this fiercely competitive industry and assess whether they can leverage any unique opportunities. As always, we are here to help and have chosen five hot trends that could shape this summer.

Visual Search

This is an emerging trend which allows consumers to search by using the image as the query and aims for search engines to not only recognise the image, but also to understand it.

We have already seen a number of big brands such as Pinterest, Google and Amazon invest in visual search technology and there have been favourable results. One notable example is Pinterest Lens, which uses machine vision to detect objects in pictures and return related photos. Last year, it was said to be receiving over 600 million searches a month. ASOS was also keen to flex its muscle in this market and released its own visual search tool called Style Match, which worked in a similar way to Pinterest Lens. It allows users to snap an item or upload an image from their photo library and receive instant product recommendations.

Although this technology is still in its infancy and text-based search currently remains the main way in which consumers find information online, we could see further increases in visual searches over time due to the lure of instant gratification and effortless discovery. A picture could actually be worth a thousand words in the eyes of the consumer.

Live Streaming

The video streaming industry is estimated to be worth $70 billion by 2021 and live video could play a pivotal role. We have seen a clear shift towards this type of content and as a result, a number of live streaming platforms such as Instagram Live, YouTube Live, Facebook Live and Twitch are all now available to consumers and brands.

If used strategically, live video is still able to benefit brands in a plethora of ways such as creating content that oozes authenticity or providing a unique opportunity of real-time engagement with your target audience. One strong example of effective use of live video is National Geographic’s partnership with AirBnb, which involved providing viewers with exclusively live coverage of the Great American Eclipse. The campaign was a huge success and received millions of impressions across social.

Whether you want to use live video streaming for expert advice, a Q&A session, webinar or something completely different, it is set to remain a strong form of communication for brands.

Augmented Reality

If you are not already familiar, augmented reality (AR) involves using technology to superimpose interactive digital elements on a real world environment – are you still with us? Although it is not a completely new trend, it allows brands to provide their target audience with something that is unique, personalised and interactive and as we all know, just creating something that is personalised for a consumer in this noisy world is crucial.

One popular example of AR in action is Timberland’s virtual fitting room, which aimed to help customers who dislike the inconvenience of trying on clothes in the dressing room. Another notable example is the one and only Pokémon GO. Although it is safe to say the craze has generally cooled – unless you are still searching for Pikachu at your local Tesco – one of the game’s greatest achievements was arguably its power to immerse millions of players into an online experience and lead them about the world, which provided a treasure chest of commercial opportunities for brands.

AR remains a potentially lucrative option for brands and one key reason why it could outpace VR is the mobile phone that you are most likely using right now, if you’re a millennial that is! VR could be seen as being limited as it requires a headset for use, whereas AR is able to be deployed on mobile phones or tablets, thus offering an experience that is arguably far more accessible. This year, it will be exciting to see which brands can effectively leverage AR and build on the success of Niantic’s Pokémon GO.

Chat Bots

With so many of us surfing the web on a daily basis, it would not be surprising if you have already interacted with a chatbot, or read that spooky story about Facebook’s chatbots communicating with each other in another language. But if you’re unsure of what a chatbot actually is, it is a virtual assistant that simulates conversations with humans, which can help a business in many ways such as saving time and most importantly, money.

Although they are not completely new to the digital marketing space, advances in artificial intelligence and in particular, Natural Language Processing (NLP), mean they are becoming increasingly smart at working out what users need and delivering a more interactive, human-like experience. NLP could be described as the secret ingredient for putting the “chat” in “chatbot” and allows a virtual assistant to comprehend what you are saying and how to respond to it.

We could see more businesses adopt this technology and Gartner’s prediction that “25% of customer service operations will use virtual customer assistants by 2020” is certainly possible.

Voice Search

Yes, it is unlikely that 50% of all queries will be voice-based by 2020, but the increasing popularity and usage of voice-enabled devices mean this type of search should not be ignored.

Talking directly to your device can seem strange but this behaviour has been adopted by more consumers due to its sheer convenience. Brands have also been testing the water and notable examples include people being able to order a pizza or an Uber via Amazon’s Alexa. Just like visual search, changes in search habits do not happen overnight, but as more consumers become more accustomed to using voice search, we could start to see real signs of a search evolution.

It will certainly be interesting to see how marketers leverage voice search opportunities and if you are wondering how to optimise for voice search, please take a look at our article which includes three useful tips!

Conclusion

As we can see, communication channels such as live streaming, chatbots and AR are still highly relevant and could increase in importance depending on consumer behavior or technological advances. Another key takeaway is to closely monitor the development of visual and voice search technology, which are both in their early stages but could soon start to have an impact on the way in which customers interact with your product or service.

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How your website performs comes down to more than how high you are ranking on SERPs. There are many technical aspects that make up how your site loads and the content that is displayed to users. 

We’ve covered before that site speed is more important than ever. Here we’ll cover what else you can do to optimise your site to the highest level.

Page Speed

Page speed helps with SEO by developing better and faster crawling, indexation and efficiency. But it is more than that. It also helps with user experience – you don’t want you users to wait for your pages to load. 

A recent study by Kissmetrics.com showed that “47% of people expect your site to load in less than 2 seconds”, and “405 will abandon it entirely if it takes longer than 3 seconds”.  So, can you really afford to have a slow website? 

There are several tools you can use to measure your site speed, many will even give you recommendations on how to improve. This is not an exhaustive list, just some interesting tools which you could benefit from. These include:

  • Page Speed Insights – this is a tool by Google which analyses the content of a web page and then generates suggestions to make that page faster. You will receive a score for mobile the desktop and the mobile versions of your page.
  • Webpagetest.org – this is an open-soured tool where you can see how a particular page loads. Your metrics are displayed in useful charts and visuals and you can also set the test location and the browser.
  • Google Chrome’s Lighthouse extension – this is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages, and it’s another Google tool. This is a great as it provides important data to improve your website using the guidelines and policies of Google itself.
  • Speed curve – this is a paid tool (30-day free trial is available) that shows you how to measure experienced load time and what you can do about them.
Client-side Optimisation Basics

Images are an area where you can save a lot of space and time. Make sure you’ve compressed them as much as possible (without compromising on quality before you upload them. You may be surprised by how much space you can save.

Also, if you’re uploading an image that’s 1280 x 1024 in dimensions but you’re going to resize it on your website to 300 x 240, then you’re missing an opportunity there too. Crop and resize your images before your upload them to shave off unnecessary file size and to avoid adding unnecessary lines of CSS. 

You can also consider using modern image formats such as WebP or jpg-xr which are designed to be more efficient. The only drawback is that these are only supported by Chrome at the moment. 

You don’t need to load all of your files at once. Think about which files you can load asynchronously to prevent blocking the render. Essentially, if it’s not something that is going to be seen or used immediately by your visitors, then it doesn’t need to load immediately. 

Try to minify your files as much as possible. This means shrinking your CSS and JavaScript files etc. Doing this will shorten variables and remove any unnecessary line breaks. 

It’s amazing how much difference changes like these can make. 

Server-side Optimisation Basics

The performance optimisation of your server comes down to:

  • What servers are you using? Are they best suited for what you want to achieve?
  • What does your database and its structure look like when dealing with the queries they have to answer? 
  • Are you using a MySQL database and is that using any type of caching?
  • Are you running fully in HTTP2?
  • Are you sure you’re leveraging browser caching correctly?
  • Have you considered edge caching?

That’s a lot to think about, but it’s worth it! 

The TTFB (Time to First Byte) measures the responsiveness of your server so this is a good metric to look out for when using some of the page speed tools we mentioned earlier. The faster the TTFB then the faster the requested resources can be delivered to your visitors’ browser. 

Broadly, a TTFB below 200ms is good, 500ms is already too long, and 1s or more is bad and needs addressing immediately. 

Another nice win is to use a CDN (Content Delivery Network), such as Cloudflare, for websites with lots of images and other static files. The latency of your users should reduce after this. It’s worth noting that for local sites that are hosted locally, the TTFB may increase if the Cloudflare server is further away. 

When it comes to caching, it’s generally recommended that images are cached for at least a couple of days. 

Hopefully this gives you a good starting point for your web performance optimisation. Once you’ve got these down you can start to look at some more advanced optimisation methods.

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We all know that social media can cause problems for brands in the digital marketing sphere. You only have to recall Blackberry’s comical mistake which saw them tweet from an iPhone. Nonetheless, social media can also be a force for good and has a number of benefits for businesses such as raising brand awareness or humanizing your brand. Below are three of our favourite social media campaigns which reaped favourable rewards for their businesses.  

1. #LikeAGirl

This campaign by Always aimed to re-connect with its young demographic and harness the power of social media. The phrase ‘like a girl’ has previously been used as an insult to make someone feel weak or useless, but Always challenged the use of this expression by creating a video in which people were asked to do things ‘like a girl’ such as running, fighting or throwing. While women, boys and men reinforced the insulting stereotype of acting ‘like a girl’, prepubescent girls challenged it through trying their absolute best. A range of methods such as paid social and influencer outreach were used to spread the video like wildfire across the social web. In order to spark conversation and drive engagement on Twitter, women were encouraged to tweet about the incredible things they do #LikeAGirl. 

What were the results? 

Through effective leveraging of social media, the video gained over 90,000,000 views. Always’ Twitter followers also tripled in the first three months of the campaign, while their YouTube subscribers grew by a whopping 4339%. Nevertheless, their biggest achievement was arguably transforming ‘like a girl’ into a symbol of female empowerment. 

2. Share a Coke 2014 campaign 

This simple, but highly effective campaign, involved replacing Coco-Cola’s famous logo with a number of popular names so consumers could ‘Share a Coke’ with those who mean the most to them. This led to a sharing hysteria and was regarded as one of their finest marketing campaigns. The choice of slogan, “Share a Coke”, acted as a powerful call-to-action, encouraging consumers to share their stories online, as well as buying a bottle of Coke to share. However, there was certainly no sharing when it came to the social media limelight.  

What were the results? 

The campaign’s statistics were impressive; not only did Share a Coke earn 998 million impressions on Twitter, there were also 235,000 tweets from 111,000 fans using the #ShareaCoke hashtag.  

3. Airbnb – We Are Here 

In celebration of the launch of Trips, their new product at the time, Airbnb decided to create a social media campaign that embraced Facebook Live. This led to a 24-hour live feed called We Are Here which was filmed in six cities across the world. Through a unique first-person lens, audiences were able to immerse themselves in a plethora of cultural experiences such as live street dance in Seoul or authentic Venezuelan cooking in Miami. 

What were the results? 

In total, the 6 live streams from around the globe gained 6.2 million views. Furthermore, engagement and views from a number of countries helped to launch their new product. 

Conclusion

All three campaigns show how social media can strengthen both your brand and relationship with target consumers when used effectively. And with the vast number of social network users in today’s world set to increase even further, it is a platform that simply cannot be ignored by businesses. Just make sure you avoid following in Blackberry’s footsteps! 

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Earlier this year, Google announced the introduction of the mobile-first index. This announcement stated that Google will crawl, index and rank a page based on the mobile version of a website, instead of the desktop versions of the site. The introduction and roll-out of this meant that Google would now be more favourable to websites that are responsive and perform well across multiple devices – particularly mobile.

It’s important to recognise that indexing and ranking are not the same thing. Indexing is the process of scanning and storing a web page on a search engine’s index. There are several things you can do to improve the number of pages on your website that are indexed. Ranking is where a search engine assesses the information on its index and establishes which pages best match the search query – a number of factors are used to calculate this, device is only one of them.

Google warned that while it’s true that mobile-first would be a big change, rankings wouldn’t necessarily change. For most websites, as long as their website was optimised, the mobile-first index shouldn’t change much for search engine rankings.

But, Why Does Mobile-First Matter?

Buyers frequently use multiple devices throughout their buyers’ journey. I know I’ve done it, and I’m sure you have too. Perhaps you research your problem on mobile, then later on when you have more time you look into other solutions on a desktop or tablet. Then when you’ve made your decision, you may decide to check-out on a mobile device.

So, mobile-first purely refers to the design and development of a website that prioritises a user’s mobile experience over that on desktop site. It should be responsive.

The fact that the mobile-site is now indexed means that if your website continues to display incorrectly on mobile phones, or if your users cannot easily do they things they’d like on your website; and if it is not optimised correctly, then you will start to be ranked lower on search results pages. Any your competitors could start to overtake you.

Ok, So What Happens If My Website Isn’t Responsive?

Responsive is about making your website easy to use on multiple devices. Essentially, if you don’t have a mobile website, you could be losing out to others that do.

By having a ‘responsive’ website, it means the usability of the website has been adjusted to allow a better performance for users on mobile. The result is that users are much more likely to have a better experience on your website and will therefore spend more time engaging with your content. This is something that Google favours.

A prime example of making a website more responsive is to eliminate tiny buttons, especially those that are too close together, and either remove them altogether or make them larger. You should also have readable text, and no need for horizontal scroll; your content should adapt to the screen size. No one wants to have to scroll unnecessarily and zoom in or out to see or engage with content.

If you change the layout and design of your website so that it responds to the devices your users are viewing your website on, then could be rewarded not only by your users but also by search engines who will respond to the fact that users are spending more time on your site and engaging with more pages and more of your content.

If you’re unsure about the mobile-friendliness of your website, use the Mobile-Friendly Tool by Google.

The number one advantage of a responsive website is the assurance that any user on any device will have the best and most reliable experience on your website.

It’s worth mentioning that some CMS’ (Content Management Systems) have responded better than others to mile first and allow you to customise specific elements. So if you’re seeing a drop in clicks or visits on Google Search Console, it’s worth checking when Google began prioritising the mobile version of your website to see if there is any correlation here. You should have received an email from the Google Search Console Team notifying you when mobile-first indexing was enabled for your website.

Reasons to Have a Responsive Website

It’s more important than ever to have a website with responsive design to:

    • Expand reach to customers and clients on small screens,
    • Create a stable experience that can increase lead generation, sales and conversions,
    • Analytics, tracking and reporting can all be in one location,

Responsive web design does provide a more positive user experience, but it also provides a positive perception of your brand and your business. We’d all like our content to be shared on social media too, right? Well, with responsive design, your content will be easier to share too so it can be seen by more people and helps you to grow a larger and more engaged audience.

Additionally, we know that site speed is a ranking factor. This means that sites that are responsive will generally load faster which is likely to boost your visibility and rankings.

So, while we mentioned earlier that mobile-first indexing won’t directly affect rankings, responsive design should certainly have an impact.

Can you really afford not to have a responsive website?

Mobile first design, simply put, must become the standard for websites.

Get in touch if you’d like more information about this and how to improve the mobile and desktop versions of your websites.

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Indexing is the process of adding pages into search engines. Depending on which meta tag has been used (index vs. no-index), Google will crawl and index your pages accordingly. Indexing ultimately means your pages have been saved in Google’s index. It is worth mentioning that these meta tags can sometimes be ignored, but they are recognised as a directive by Google. 

As SEO’s our aim is to ensure that all of our indexable pages have been indexed by Google – and that our most important pages are being indexed. At the end of the day, without indexing your pages have no way of ranking in SERPs. However, having your pages indexed doesn’t mean that your pages will start to rank.

By working to improve website indexing, we’re aiming to increase the volume of relevant and useful pages that are indexed by Google and to increase the rate of pages being indexed. As Google themselves have stated: “Google doesn’t crawl all the pages on the web, and we don’t index all the pages we crawl.”

Where Do We Begin?

Google Search Console’s Index Coverage report helps you to learn which pages have been index and how to fix the pages that could not be indexed. 

With this report, the intention is to gradually see an increasing count of valid indexed pages as your site grows. So, the best way to do this is to refine what Google has access to through the use of meta tags.

The updated Search Console has some useful features that have eliminated some pain-points and less manual work is involved. In fact, you don’t necessarily even need to have a submitted XML sitemap. 

The updated Search Console also helpfully differentiates between the way it indexes pages and highlights differences. It shows:

  • Any errors blocking pages from being indexed,
  • Pages that have been indexed but has some issues Google is unsure about,
  • Pages that have been successfully indexed,
  • Intentionally excluded pages.

You can also toggle the impressions so see how any of these may have affected your site’s visibility.

So How Do We Fix These?

To help improve website indexing, we’ll look at some of the common errors for each of the above sections and what can be done to resolve them.

Red Pages:

Submitted URL marked noindex – This is an error for Google as it is an inconsistent signal. It essentially means that it has been submitted in the sitemap (and therefore you are asking for the page to be indexed) but has a noindex meta tag (therefore you are asking Google not to index the page). 

Submitted URL blocked by Robots.txt – This is another inconsistent signal as you’re asking for the page to be indexed by including it in the sitemap, but in the robots.txt file you’ve asked Google not to crawl the site.

Submitted URL seems to be a Soft 404 – For this the server is returning a 404 response and the best approach here would be to improve the content. 

Submitted URL not found (404) – This page should be removed from the sitemap and old internal links to this page should be updated.

Redirect error (chains/loops) – Google doesn’t like more than 3 redirection hops and will not follow more than 5. The primary URL should be included in the sitemap and not a link that has been redirected to another. We’d also recommend that all internal links should go to the primary URL. 

Yellow Pages:

Indexed, though blocked by robots.txt – If it was intentional to not index this page, then a noindex page should be used. If it was not intentioned to block this page then remove the page from tobots.txt. 

It’s worth remembering that robots.txt should not be used to hide web pages from Google Search results. 

Green Pages:

Indexed, not submitted in sitemap – If this is an important page then it could be worth adding this to the sitemap. 

Indexed, consider marking as canonical – Canonicals are designed to define a primary URL so review the page and add a canonical if relevant. 

Excluded Pages:

Submitted URL not selected as canonical – Use the URL inspection Tool to see what page (if any) has been selected as the canonical. 

Align your Indexing Signals  

As we’ve covered, many of the issues that are being highlighted by Google are as a result of inconsistent signals. By aligning your signals, you will be much more likely to achieve the primary aims we covered earlier: “increase the volume of pages that are indexed by Google and to increase the speed of pages being indexed.” 

Also, when you made any necessary changes to your site, it’s important to Validate your fixes. This tells Google that they should re-check the error.

Easy Indexing

We all need to make it as easy as possible for Google to crawl and index our websites, and we can do this by providing aligned, clear and consistent signals. 

Remember to make use of Google’s tools and resources to diagnose issues and to exclude or refine less important content through the use of canonicals and noindex. Doing so ensures that the page is still accessible by website visitors and won’t take anything away from your crawl budget.

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If you’ve ever heard someone talk about “link juice” then that is essentially the former, more casual term for sharing link authority. Throughout this blog, we will be using the newer more specific term “link equity”. Let’s look into this in more detail.

What is Link Equity Anyway?

Search engine algorithms can use this, among many other signals, to help calculate page rankings which in turn determines where pages are shown in SERPs. 

Put simply, it is the notion that links can pass authority from one page to another. How much value is passed on depends on the authority of the linking page, the relevance of the topics on both pages, their HTTP status, and much more. 

So to explain this further, we can say that if an authoritative page includes a followed link to an article on a smaller website, search engines can see this as a vote of confidence for the smaller site, and some authority will be passed from the authoritative page to the smaller website through the followed link. The same principal applies to pages on your own website.

So Can I Just Add More Links to My Website?

Not exactly. It doesn’t quite work that way. There are a few significant factors that determine whether or not equity will be passed from link to link, and how much. These include:

1. Relevancy – Google knows what each page is about so will only pass value if the pages are relevant to each other. So, don’t link from a page about vacuum cleaners to a page about how to make the perfect apple crumble!

2. Crawlability – If your robots.txt file blocks crawlers on a page, then the crawler will ignore this page and no value will be passed. Your crawl ability could be affected too. 

3. Authority – Links from websites / pages with more authority will pass more equity than links from websites / pages that are new and have little-to-no authority.

4. Followed vs No-Follow – No-follow links tell crawlers to ignore that link so no link equity will be passed on.

5. Amount of links – It is much better to have a link from a page with fewer links than it is to have a link from a page which also links to hundreds of other pages. 

6. HTTP Status – If a page has a 200 or permanent 301 status then it will retain its equity. 

7. Location on the page – Links from within footers or sidebars don’t have as much weight as those that are within the main body of the page.

The Power of No-Follow

We touched briefly on how no-follow links affect link equity, but there’s a bit more to it than that. 

On the help section of Google Search Console, they write: “In general, we don’t follow them. This means that Google does not transfer PageRank or anchor text across these links.”

Notice how that sentence begins with “in general”? So while most of the time the links are not followed and no equity is transferred, it seems there are exceptions to the rule. We already know there are lengthy decision-tree processes to Google’s algorithm, so it’s plausible they have something similar which dictates if, when, and how much equity gets passes in these situations. 

It could be that in some cases, even when a no-follow link is used, some diminished link equity is passed.

The Effect of a Redirect

Redirects are important. If a 404 HTTP status is found, then there is no link to follow and as such no equity is passed. 

Enter the faithful redirect! 

With redirects, we can ensure that equity is not lost and continues to be passed from link to link. It used to be the case that a diminished amount of link equity was transferred from a redirect, even as much as 15%, but as of February 2016, it was confirmed that that would no longer be the case

But there are different versions of 30X redirects that can be used. 

301 HTTP status mean that the URL has been moved permanently. 


302 HTTP status means that the URL temporarily resides at a different location. 

The good news gets better, Google also confirmed that it no longer matters what redirection method is used for this, and that equity will be passed whether you use a 301, 302, or even a 307 redirect!

How Much Can the Equity Flow?

Equity continues to flow though the different levels on your website and will continue to do so through subfolders but a depreciated rate each time. 

For example, if your homepage has the most link equity, a given amount of that can be passed to your category pages. Then in turn, a percentage of that can be passed to any subfolders and again some equity could also be passed on to any specific pages. This could be a subfolder structure similar to : /clothing/womens/dresses/. 

This is of course providing that these pages are all interlinked. 

If you’re unsure about subfolders, this is a great place to start.

Making the Most of Internal Links

We’ve mentioned that well-linked-to pages, whether they are internal or external to your website, will pass more equity from page to page than those that are poorly linked to. It’s true that external links provide more value, but that doesn’t mean that internal links are value-less. 

Did you know that many pages that earn a fewer amount, or even next to no external links, can still rank well for it’s significant keywords if a domain itself is well linked to? Good right? This is especially true if that page on the domain has links from other influential pages on its domain too. 

The caveat here is that if your page is orphaned or if a domain has no link to it at all, then it will be extremely difficult for it to rank. 

It is possible to use rel=“no follow” to begin to sculpt your equity but some (a.k.a. Rank Fishkin) consider this to be a waste of time and it is possible that Google is aware of similar hacks and ignores them. But there is a smarter and more logical solution.

Identify your most important non-link-earning pages and optimise your internal links from higher equity pages to point to them. You can’t go adding links willy-nilly though, they must be logical links that will make sense to visitors and provide a good user experience. 

Also, if you have pages that are doing particularly well compared to others, why not re-work the content of your lesser-equity-pages and edit the content and apply the principles of the former so that it should start to naturally rank higher. You can also establish a genuine reason to add an internal links and pass equity between the two. 

On top of this, consider leveraging your top level navigation to add link to the less equity pages, or where that is not possible you could create new top level pages which are specifically designed to allow equity to flow better.

Key Takeaways

There we have it, you should now be well-armed to harness your link equity and make the most of your external links. 

To round-off, here are some key takeaways:

    • External links from relevant and influential websites have a higher impact than internal links.

    • Links from unique domains are more important than links from those that have previously linked to you.

    • Links which have relevant anchor text can pass more keyword-focused equity-weight.

    • Links from inside the main body of content pass more value than links found inside the footer or sidebar. They are even more valuable if you have links from within the main pages of the site, as opposed to the blogroll.

    • If a page which has a high number of links also links to you, then this will pass less equity per link than a page which has a lesser amount of links.

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Whether you are happy with your current remarketing campaign, thinking of starting one up or questioning why it’s not going as well as you had hoped, here are a couple of optimisations & alterations that you should be actively considering. These apply to both display and text retargeting campaigns, and whatever you have chosen is best for your business, the first thing you need to consider are the different ways you can alter your ad copies and what products, services and campaigns would best benefit from this.

If you want to show more ads or a different ad to someone who has already visited your site in the past, you’re gonna need Dynamic remarketing. Remarketing has proven to be a highly effective way to maximize conversions. This allows you to show specific ads to all of or your remarketing audience, and this is where it gets really interesting, only to people who visited or performed certain actions on your site. For example, you can advertise a specific product or service to someone who has already visited the page for that particular product, or you can take it even further and only retarget those who have added a certain product to their basket, but never went through with the purchase. In fact, roughly 70% of carts with items in them are abandoned, 1 in 5 calls to a business are abandoned, and 96% of website visitors will leave without taking the marketer’s desired action and you should be intently doing something about this.

Now, this can all get a bit expensive, especially if you’re running multiple campaigns at once, so it’s important not to lose track of what you’re trying to achieve with PPC. For most business, it’s all about clicks and conversions. Get them onto your site, and buying stuff. But of course for many business, it’s also about brand recognition, and remarketing is a power tool for either goal. The customer knows about you because they have been on your site, so let’s keep reminding everyone that we’re an option. The two most likely groups on average, to convert and those that come in through searching for a branded term, and those who come in via a remarketing ad.

Bid modifiers

Bid multipliers are a percentage multiplication of your default keyword bid. For example, if you see that one of your campaigns converts more in a particular location, you can bid more for people in that location! Likewise, if you see that campaign conversion rate drops on Sunday mornings, make it so your ads bid less for this part of the day. Of course it’s not always easy to know what keywords or audience members this applies to, and to what extent you should be modifying your bids.

They key metric to look for when thinking about bid modifiers is often the conversion rate. You can apply multipliers anywhere between -90% and +900%, this may seem like getting the right percentage is a shot in the dark but there is a simple calculation that can be done to reach the exact percent with which to multiply your bids.

For example, let’s say that London has a conversion rate of 7.69% and the campaign average is 5.52%. This results in a +39% bid multiplier. To apply, add London as a targeted location and apply the multiplier directly in the AdWords interface. Now this is a good starting point but this is not a case of ‘set it and leave it’ as you may have to do some adjusting if the CPA is too high after conversions starting appearing on the scene.

If the purpose of your campaign is to drive traffic to your site or your conversion volumes are too low to make a sensible decision on bid adjustments, the same principle can be applied to other metrics such as CTR.

Of course, if you solely base your adjustments on CTR, you’ll want to also factor in engagement metrics such as bounce rate. You don’t want to bid aggressively for a audience with a high CTR if the majority of those users are bouncing! Similarly, if your aware of a particular location or day part with high spend but lack of conversions, applying a negative multiplier will ensure your bid is lowered for poor quality traffic.

As with all optimisation you do in your AdWords accounts, bid multipliers should be reviewed. The landscape of your data and the way each dimension performs will change with time. Make sure to review performance regularly to check your adjustments are having the desired effect. Revisit the data and be sure to recalculate adjustments once they’ve had a chance to work their magic as they will likely need tweaking.

Look over here!

Pretty simple tip, but make it eye catching without straying away from your brand image. This is probably the most important aspect to consider and the most difficult to give clear direction. This facet of ad creation is very much context driven. To succeed at creating something eye-catching requires an in depth knowledge of your customer base and demographics. What else are they interested in? What do they do for fun? What kind of music do they listen to? What industries are they following? Having your finger on the pulse of what your audience finds appealing is key to a successful ad. For display ads, go easy on the text. Use the power of the image to sell your band and services as where possible. And don’t be afraid to mix it up! Some of your ads will perform worse than others, but there is often room for improvement, no matter how small.

Conclusion

In the current PPC climate, it’s no longer enough to just turn on basic remarketing to those who have visited your site before. Bid modifiers, a few killer ad copies and a little bit of knowhow and experimentation go a long way in tallying up those desired conversions. These need to be monitored & adjusted to make sure you’re not pouring your daily budget down the drain. You will not always get it right at first, and you have to be aware of the data is telling and have your fire extinguisher at the ready. If you follow these steps and are attentive to what your account is telling you, the only thing that’ll be burning up is your CPA.

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Since the idea of blogging began back in the hazy days of the early 90s, with pioneer Justin Hall leading the way, they’ve slowly taken over the internet. Nowadays it seems every man and his dog has an area where they can express themselves, be it through sites like WordPress or Tumblr, or if they’re a particularly dedicated man/dog combo, their very own site & domain name. Blogging has become incredibly lucrative, with some plucky writers earning their entire income through the art, and large content-based companies managing to thrive through a combination of PR, paid advertising and a team of talented staff writers.

But it’s not just editorial businesses or lifestyle bloggers who have managed to make the format work for them – it’s also become a great way to drive SEO traffic to a website – regardless of the industry. However, you may question whether a blog really helps SEO that much, or whether it’s an outdated content marketing method. In this article, we will highlight all the reasons why you should still have a blog on your website & what it will do for your company in terms of SEO. Spoiler alert – the fact that I’m writing a blog about why you should write one should give you a hint!

Why do people blog?

Every year, writers churn out blog article after blog article proclaiming the death of the medium, with pithy click-bait titles like ‘Is blogging dead in 2018?’ proving that while blogging may be dead, irony certainly remains alive and kicking. In reality – from a business-sense at least – blogs are even more important than ever, with Google placing a great deal of value on sites that contain high-quality, relevant content.

Since 2011, the so-called Google Panda algorithm update has been addressing the issue of low-quality websites ranking. Since then there have been at least 28 updates to Panda. which have led to a crack-down on thin, duplicate & low-quality content, and a simultaneous impetus within the SEO world to encourage sites to write more valuable, long-form content aimed at providing a good user experience. Today, the Google search results pages feature a far higher amount of well-written, trustworthy sites, and they’re all the better for it.

Should I have a blog on my website?

In light of these relatively recent algorithm changes, given one of the biggest issues Google identified with sites was that they were ‘thin’ on content, this is where a blog can come in handy. There are many reasons why a blog can be useful to your site beyond this though:

1. They can drive new users to your site – By adding blog posts, you’re providing Google with more content that it can index. This content will allow your site to appear in more searches, particularly if you can write about topics which, though still relevant to your industry & brand, are not directly related to your product. 

2. Blogs provide a great trust signal to new users – showing that you’re engaged with your audience and your industry and that you’re transparent about company news and updates.

3. They can help to provide new link-building opportunities – the better the content you create and more engaging the articles, the more potential they have to be shared on other sites.  

While a blog may not drive the majority of your sales, or perhaps not every article you post will end up ranking or bringing in hundreds of views, the results are often more holistic in terms of what a blog will do for a company, and definitely not to be underestimated.

What makes SEO blog articles different?

Blog posting in SEO remains a popular technique to help websites improve their traffic and conversions as mentioned above. The main difference between a normal company news-style blog and an SEO marketing blog lies in the planning that goes into the two. If you want to get your blog on the Google search results, you have to do a little research before starting. It’s not enough to simply write articles that you think are interesting, or that you think others would be interested in too – sometimes the things an individual searches for do not translate to the masses.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t write for writing’s sake, or that these articles wouldn’t do well through other channels e.g. social, but in the world of SEO the aim would be to write with passion and creativity, but also with a strategy and an aim to drive organic traffic and conversions. Sometimes digital marketers and copywriters can come to blows over this delicate balance between maintaining artistic integrity and optimising a blog for SEO. However, with keyword-stuffing a thing of the past and with Google’s algorithm increasingly able to see value in well-written and engaging content, now is the perfect time to be able to do both. If you’ve got a strong copy-team, they shouldn’t find it hard to weave a few key phrases and terms into their work or make an article based around a semantically relevant query interesting.

How to optimise your blog for SEO

Whether your site already has a blog section you think could be better optimised, or you want to start from scratch, here are a few SEO blog tips to get you started & make the most out of your content:

1. As mentioned above, research your topic before writing. Firstly check you’ve not written something similar beforehand, to prevent cannibalisation issues. Then make sure there’s a search volume and ranking potential & make a list of keywords you can target and include in your text. Tools like SEOMonitor’s topical tool are a great way to find new niches. 

2. Make sure your permalink settings are user and Google friendly. Keep the structure simple like www.example.com/news/example-blog-post/. Often the default settings, particularly on WordPress CMS are not best practice and can look confusing.

3. Use descriptive URL slugs. Make sure words are separated with hyphens and the slug is short but descriptive, preferably with a few keywords included as well. I also tend to make sure I never include numbers in the slug either, in case a value used in the article should change in the future e.g. ‘Top 5 Holiday Destinations’ may become the top 6. In this case, I’d make sure the URL slug was ‘top-holiday-destinations’ to avoid a mismatch. 

4. Once written, format the text in user-friendly sections, and make use of keyword-rich headings – ideally the main title should be a H1 and all subtitles should be H2s.

5. Add internal and external links – if possible try to include a handful of internal links to other pages on your site – this helps to improve the crawlability of your site, and gives other articles or pages a better chance of being seen. Including a couple of external links to well-respected sites with high domain authorities who are writing about related topics can also help to provide relevancy clues to search engines.

6. Optimise your page title and meta description. Page titles should be around 55 characters, all in caps, and should describe to the user what the article is about – preferably with a keyword or two thrown in. Meta descriptions have recently seen some fluctuations in length, but including a couple of sentences of around 155-200 characters describing the article and including a call to action will stand you in good stead of improving your click-through-rate and rankings.    

7. Optimise any images used – make sure they’re scaled, optimised, and their file names are descriptive rather than generic. Also make sure you add an image alt tag which describes to the search engine what is shown in the picture – no need to keyword-stuff here – a brief, straightforward sentence will suffice. 

8. Once published share your article – be this through social media channels or through reaching out to other sites who may be interested in reading it, the best way to give your articles a quick boost is through promotion. While social shares have never been proven to be a direct ranking factor, if your blogs are gaining great social engagement, this should also improve your chances of great engagement through organic channels.  

Thus ends my most meta of blog posts about the value of blogging and whether it helps SEO! If you’d like some help writing SEO friendly blog posts or would like more general digital marketing advice for your business, get in touch with us today.

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Before I request an answer to the question above from Alexa, which is sitting right next to me and itching to chat, first allow me to provide some background information regarding voice search technology and explain why an increasing number of consumers are embracing it. 

Voice search – a speech recognition technology allowing people to search through speaking, as opposed to typing terms into a text field – is a booming market and ComScore have even projected that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. 

Although this technology is not completely new, the action of talking directly to a machine has not been a habitual activity among consumers in the past. However, with a vast number of people now using smart phones containing voice activated assistants like Siri and Google Assistant, and the launch of smart hubs such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home, there has been a revolutionary change in consumer behaviour. This shift has also been influenced by advances in speech recognition technology, as illustrated by Google’s voice recognition software, which was said to be 95% accurate last year. 

In terms of what motivates someone to speak to their device, it could be simply explained by the fact it makes their life easier – but how does it do this? Voice search empowers us to search through spoken language, which is much more instinctual than text-only search, and connects us to results which are instant, convenient, and intimate. 

So here it is, Alexa’s take on how voice search is altering the way consumers interact with brands. 

Voice Searches 

Although it is currently difficult to say how people who use voice search generally behave, there is certainly evidence to suggest that voice searches are conversational. Not only did Google say that 70% of Google Assistant queries are expressed in natural language, it also said that voice searches are 30 times more likely than text-based searches to be action queries. 

For example, if you are searching for food on your mobile, your text-based query might be “Best breakfast London”. But with voice search, its conversational nature can change your query, meaning you might ask your device, “Ok Google, where is the best breakfast in London?”, or “Ok Google, which cafés are now open for breakfast?” As a result, queries can be longer and comprised of questions seeking instant answers, which include words like who, what and where. These types of searches lead to conversational interactions with brands, which feel much more personal to the user and can offer deeper insight into user intent for marketers. 

The Rise of Voice Shopping 

Although the voice shopping industry is still in its infancy, it has been predicted that it will grow to an eye-watering $40 billion-plus across the UK and US by 2022, driven in particular by the sale of Amazon smart speakers. There are already a number of examples which demonstrate the eagerness of brands to test the water in this new ocean of marketing – last year saw Walmart and Google partner to allow people to shop through Google Assistant, and Tesco unveil integration with Google Home. However, how is speech enabled shopping altering the way consumers interact with brands? 

Voice Shopping – The Simplified Purchasing Process

This type of shopping could be seen as simplifying the route to purchase, as the need for customers to research or find products is removed. One example is Alexa, which allows customers to do hands-free shopping, and the process is as simple as asking Alexa to reorder cat food, to which it could reply, ‘Ok, cat food. It’s £7.07. Should I order it?’, and then it is down to the buyer to make the final decision. This can benefit both consumers and brands. From the buyer’s perspective, it can make life much easier as it saves them time and even allows them to focus on other tasks. And from a brand’s perspective, it provides a unique opportunity to tap into a new market of voice shoppers. 

However, it is possible that shopping via personal assistants could present some real challenges for brands. Mark Ritson gave a particularly interesting point of view, arguing that assistants like Amazon’s Alexa are making choices on behalf of the consumer, and this could lead to a world in which tech companies own the customer relationship. You could even go one step further and argue that as voice search becomes an established and habitual activity, consumers will start asking Alexa for her personal opinion – I promise that I used the wrong pronoun for ironic purposes. 

Nevertheless, as of now, this is merely speculation, and only time will tell how voice shopping will affect the relationship between consumers and brands. 

Searching Without a Screen 

Further to ComScore’s highly publicised prediction, two years ago, Gartner – a research and advisory company – predicted that 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen by 2020. 

We are yet to see how accurate this prediction is, but technological advances have allowed us to search for information and even complete purchases without looking at a screen, with statistics suggesting that more and more people who own devices like the Echo and Google Home are shopping via voice. As discussed earlier, it is now possible to go shopping without visiting the supermarket, and last year saw Dominoes turn to the Amazon Echo to allow customers to order their pizza through saying, ‘Alexa, ask Domino’s to feed me.’ Crucially, any visual aspects are removed from these types of interactions, and this arguably heightens the importance of brand loyalty and differentiation. If a potential customer is shopping for general products, they might ask, “Ok Google, we need wine”, and the challenge for the marketer is to make them request your brand – ‘Ok Google, please order Barefoot Pink Moscato’. As said by Oliver Wright, managing director at Accenture Strategy, brands need to be ‘top of mind’ in the age of voice tech. 

Voice ads could improve the fortunes of less-known brands in this market and help to create a more level playing field. Although it currently does not look like any of the major players such as Amazon or Google are going to end an ad-free reign anytime soon. It certainly boils down to introducing ads without harming the user experience, so there a number of talking points for marketers. 

From a consumer’s perspective, the thought of being online, browsing the web, and multitasking while your hands and eyes are engaged can seem alluring. And this type of behaviour is set to become more common as an increasing number of people are accustomed to using virtual assistants. Although screen-based search results are not a dying breed, with many people still actively searching in this way, businesses should still consider optimising for spoken results as well. 

How to optimise for Voice Search

Below are three ways to optimise for voice search in 2018 – 

1. Optimise for conversational keywords 

The conversational nature of voice search queries can lead to them being structured differently to text-based queries and appearing as long-tail keywords, which are basically longer phrases in a sentence based format. You could optimise for these keywords by creating a frequently asked questions (FAQs) section on your website, which would help to address any queries. However, it is imperative to think like your customer and understand the types of questions they might ask relating to your business. 

2. Mobile-friendly 

Mobile friendly content is now a more important ranking factor than ever due to Google’s Mobile First index. With an increasing number of people searching via voice on mobile, it is imperative to have a site which is accessible, easy to navigate, and even more importantly, quick to load. A user’s interaction with your site must be positive, and mobile-friendly content will help to reduce the chance of them bouncing

3. Effective local SEO

Having an effective local SEO strategy will enable you to benefit from local queries via voice assistants. Claiming your Google My Business listing can certainly help with this. This will not only enhance your online presence, but also help customers find your business, which is particularly important if a customer asks their voice assistant something like, “Ok Google, where are my nearest barbers?” If you already have Google My Business, ensure it is fully up-to-date. You do not want to lose valuable customers due to providing the wrong address! Another way to optimise for local queries is to have online reviews of your business, which can boost rankings in local search results, as well as potentially influencing purchasing decisions. 

Conclusion 

It certainly looks like voice search is here to stay and we are witnessing a shift towards conversational interactions with brands, which is a direct result of advances in machine learning and the consumer’s desire to search in a way that feels more natural to them. It remains to be seen whether 50% of searches will be voice searches by 2020, but voice search technology certainly presents a number of fresh opportunities and challenges for brands, including SEO. It’s time to stop talking and start thinking. 

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There are only a few ways you can increase your revenue as an ecommerce business: Increase traffic, increase conversion rate or increase order value.

The last one is probably one of the cheapest ways to increase sales in a very short amount of time and can be achieved with cross-selling offers.

What is cross-selling and upselling, and why does it matter?

Cross-selling, in an online context, is the practice of offering additional products or services to a user who have already shown some interest in a purchase.

An example that we will use throughout this article is Amazon, mainly because they are the absolute best when it comes to suggesting products you didn’t even know you needed!

These are products that are related to the initial product and would complement its use. Taking the above example, it would make sense for someone interested in buying a gaming laptop to also buy a gaming mouse or a VR set.

But it could also be an upgrade of the current product selected with an item slightly pricier:

This would be seen as an upsell and has proved to increase revenues for by an average of 10-30%

When should you cross-sell or upsell?

Now that we have seen that cross-selling and upselling is the key to increase your sales, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of it.

First it’s important to understand the psychology behind these techniques to know exactly at what point in the buyer’s decision it is relevant to offer additional products.

As you can see, these are not strategies to incentivize the user to buy in the first place but to push the basket’s value a little higher and provide extra value to the customer.

This is also why you’d see these at a later stage of the buying process, during the checkout for instance (more on that later).

This is exploiting the psychology of the “buyer’s mood” which means that once a customer has already made the decision to buy something and enter this buyer’s state, they are more likely to add an extra item for a few more pounds…

Although not exactly cross–selling, this is for example used at the checkout counter of any shops, when you’ve already bought all your food and can throw that extra chocolate bar in your basket. It is frictionless and takes advantage of your decision fatigue.

Something to keep in mind, however, is to not use this in excess to avoid creating a situation where there are too many options, causing a decision paralysis.

At what point in the journey should you use cross-sells or upsells?

So you’ve figured out at which point of your marketing funnel you could offer cross-sells or upsells to your customer: Sweet!

Now let’s see what the execution looks like with some examples.

Cross-selling on the product page

The first and most commonly used place to add a cross-sell is directly under the current product selected. That’s when you scroll down a little to see the product description and features, and you can also see other related products or simply an upgraded version.

Here is an exemple from eBay

 

Interestingly these could also be bundles and add to a perceived higher value. Everyone likes to think they’re getting a good deal!

This cross-sell should stay very relevant and match the user intent as much as possible since at that stage no buying decision has been fully made yet. 

We don’t want to send the user on an endless quest to get the best product and wear him down too much, turning into a no-sell…

Cross-selling in the shopping cart

The next place to offer an upsell is right after a product has been added to the cart:

From AliExpress

 

Usually visually similar to the first one mentioned, this cross-sell happens after the user has  shown strong intent to buy.

Cross-selling before the order is placed

Finally, a last upsell can be made after some details have already been entered and we have a lot of compliance from the customer.

This is usually extra services such as faster shipping or extra guarantees:

Ultimately where to offer these extras depends on how you design your website and shopping  experience

The key thing to keep in mind is to keep them as organic and native looking as  possible. The last thing we would want to do is to be too greedy and lose the initial sale.

What are the limitations of cross-selling? Cross-selling vs. smart selling

As with everything in business and online marketing, the focus should always be on providing  the most value to the end user. Hence any attempt to trick or manipulate the user is not recommended and has even been proven to be harmful to sales.

You should test different ways to do these and keep a close eye on the user behaviour flow to identify if and when users drop off during the buying process and if this may be caused by an overuse of upsells turning into no-sell.

Indeed, as the Harvard Business Review has mentioned, you want to be aware that this type of offer may attract the wrong kind of customer, increase returns, and not cause an increase in total spend but a reallocation of budget to multiple products and services which will increase your cost.

Essentially, cross-selling, upselling and down-selling practices should only be a gentle nudge  to help the user and over-deliver on its need, not a manipulation tactic to push consumption  and hinder the relationship.

 

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