Kategorie-Archiv: SEO

Harness the power of integrated CRO and social media

stat - CRO

30-second summary:

  • Promote brand awareness if you want customers to know you exist.
  • Collect social reviews and testimonials like you’re collecting candy.
  • User-generated content builds authenticity which means higher conversions.
  • Stay up to date on customer support so your leads are happy.
  • Use the FOMO (fear of missing out) concept to your advantage.

Do you have a new content marketing agency or ecommerce business? Or are you getting irrelevant traffic that doesn’t convert from your marketing campaigns? Is your business model just not resonating with your audience?

Perhaps, it is time to shift your focus on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and social media marketing.

Social media is where your audience lives these days. According to Oberlo, about 45% of the world population is on social media.

Source: Oberlo

But note that getting traffic from social media is only winning half the battle of scaling your business.

Regardless of whether you’ve got a SaaS startup, a cute pet toy company, or even if you’re just a drop shipper, you need to convert that traffic to drive sales.

And it will happen only when your audience takes the desired action like buying a product or signing up to your newsletter.

Thus, your business should focus on increasing the number of visitors who complete a conversion.

The process is known as Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

Here’s what Skylar Reeves, founder of Ardent Growth, has to say about the benefits of CRO

“One of the biggest benefits of conversion rate optimization is the sheer ROI it can deliver without a linear increase in budget. There are often many small changes you can make to your marketing or advertising strategy that can increase your conversion rate dramatically – and that can make a huge difference to your annual revenue.”

By integrating CRO and social media, your business not only gets good traffic but increases sales as well.

Let’s have a look at how you can leverage integrated CRO and social media for your business:

1. Create brand awareness

Online awareness about your brand will be created when people find you on search engines, via paid advertising, earned media, social media, link building, and more.

For instance, you can use social channels like Facebook to create brand awareness since it’s the most widely used social channel with 2.6 billion monthly active users.

Flipping the script, you can earn great brand mentions on popular blogs in your space, increasing brand awareness to relevant audiences:

CRO - create brand awareness

Source: uSERP

If your company primarily caters B2B, an awesome tactic would be utilizing LinkedIn automation tools to generate leads from the popular social networking service. If you’re struggling to plan out your brand-building strategy, then try using product roadmap software.

Platonik’s Fraser McCulloch says,

“There are an estimated 7.5 billion searches a day on Google, the world’s biggest buyer research tool, figure out what problems prospects are searching for and give them solutions; that’s a better way to build a brand that people want.”

When you set up a social media account, you can optimize your account descriptions and keep it active and interactive with relevant content that converts. It will help you to get more traffic to your landing pages and, more than likely, conversions.

Mobile Marketer found out that 90% of people purchase from brands they follow on social media.

And of course, by connecting with your audience in real-time via social channels, you will be building a good relationship with them.

2. Get social reviews

CEO of Transcription Outsourcing LLC Ben Walker backs the importance of social reviews quite bluntly

“What I do — and what you should do — is use social proof to help convince new clients that your service is up to par.”

There is a good 72% percent of people who won’t take any action until they read reviews. The same poll suggests that 5% of users say they don’t trust businesses that don’t have reviews.

Search Pros founder Isaac Hammelburger has utilized customer reviews on his site and has been met with what seems to be an obvious success

“I’ve been able to increase lead gen calls by more than 20% after I started including reviews and testimonials on my site. Most companies can also boost their bottom line by leveraging this aspect of credibility.”

Clearly, social and client reviews can be a great tool to boost conversions. And it isn’t just for leads. Reviews are especially important for online course creators as well to establish both trust and credibility of what they’re trying to sell to their audience.

take social reviews to improve CRO

Source: OneHourProfessor.com

However, there are different ways to collect social reviews. First and foremost, use Google Analytics to check and focus on getting reviews on the platforms that are getting the most traffic.

If you are using the Facebook channel, ensure to activate the Review Tab and make it visible.

To do that, go to ‘Page Settings‘ and scroll down to the ‘Templates and Tabs‘ option.

Find the Reviews tab and turn it on.

Source: Facebook

Once you do that, whenever your customers review your product or service, the ratings will appear on Google searches.

Most importantly, make sure to respond to all the reviews for better customer experience and to receive even more reviews.

Plus, don’t hesitate to ask for reviews one-on-one.

Other tactics you can try are using an email marketing service to ask newsletter subscribers for feedback, offering incentives, placing CTAs on your site asking for reviews, and promoting the reviews you already have.

Also, don’t delete the negative reviews. It shows that you are transparent. Instead, use negative reviews to your advantage by addressing the issues and apologizing for the poor user experience.

3. Create user-generated content

There’s no doubt that the content that comes directly from users in your niche market has immense ability to drive sales. In a Stackla study, 80% of people said that user-generated content has a huge impact on their purchasing decisions.

Plus, your consumers are 2.4 times more likely to see your content as authentic if it is user-generated as compared to content generated by your business.

user generated content (UGC) helps improve CRO

Source: Stackla

This means that user-generated content also succeeds in building customer trust and establishing your brand as a leader in the field.

Running a hashtag contest on Instagram, asking intriguing questions by creating polls and quizzes are also great ways to create user-generated content.

For instance, an animal pet supplies retailer in the USA generated over 1,500 entries in 25 days by holding a hashtag contest.

Petco Instagram example

Source: Petco Instagram

It’s quite apparent that user-generated content is an excellent way of generating traction and boosting conversion rates.

Also, share your user-generated content on Instagram stories since they are designed to drive purchases. The combo of the immediacy of Stories and the staying power of Highlights will let you create a permanent album. This way, potential buyers can keep viewing the user-generated posts until they make a decision to head to your website to make a purchase.

You can also use Facebook to post engaging videos with the possibility of going viral.

4. Offer superior customer support

Companies are not only competing with prices and products but customer support and building relationships as well.

You could use communication platforms like Ringblaze and other Vonage alternatives that can help with offering a competitive customer experience.

But these days, customers are not only willing to do business with companies that offer great customer support but are also willing to pay more.

In fact, 69% of American customers claim they would spend more money with companies that provide better customer service.

With the presence of social media, offering great customer support has never been easier.

When you offer customer support on social channels, you can be present wherever your customers are. You just have to make it a point to answer all the queries that your customers post on social media as quickly as possible.

And trust me, your customers do want a quick response.

Look. 42% of consumers expect a reply from a brand on social media within 60 minutes, and well over half of consumers are less likely to buy from a brand that leaves questions on social media unanswered.

You don’t want that to be the case with your brand!

Thus, whenever any issues crop up and users are dissatisfied with your service or product, they might leave negative feedback. Ensure to act on them and resolve the issue as fast as possible.

Moreover, you will have to know when to take an issue offline. There are instances when you might require personal data from the customer, or you will need to answer a series of questions. In such cases, it’s a better idea to move the conversation offline.

5. Optimize the landing page experience

It is known that mobile conversion rates are lower than desktop. You get more traffic from mobile, but it lags behind the desktop when it comes to conversions.

There are different reasons for this.

In addition to having more options to design a more attractive page layout on a desktop, it’s easier to navigate a site and view images on a bigger screen. Also, consumers are more likely to purchase on the desktop when the process is less complicated.

In this case, you can use CRO to improve the landing page experience for the target audience coming from social media.

A company found out that their lead rate started boosted by 19% after they designed a site explicitly for mobile visitors coming from a social media site.

So consider designing a landing page specifically for mobile visitors coming from social media sites. It will definitely help boost engagement.

6. Create a FOMO

If statistics are anything to go by, over half of social media users suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

create a FOMO to increase CRO

Source: Skyword

You can use this phenomenon to your advantage by deliberately creating FOMO and driving sales.

For instance, you can add an element of social proof to your regular product image for a Facebook ad to drive common-phenomenon-versions. Even if your audiences don’t know you, seeing a celebrity endorsement or a review from real users will pique their curiosity which may generate shares and leads.

Another trick to make your content go viral is to create a sense of urgency by putting a time limit on the product or service you’re trying to sell.

It will make people excited to buy your product, and they wouldn’t want to miss out on the opportunity. You can use terms like “Only 24 hours left!” or “Offer ends tonight!”

Here’s an example by an Amazon seller:

Amazon example

Source: Amazon

Ecommerce giant Amazon uses their Deal of the Day and countdown timer trick to influence customers to take action right away.

Wrapping up

In this digital age, where people mostly spend their time online on social networking sites, it will benefit your business immensely to leverage the power of integrated CRO and social media.

As every marketing campaign starts by creating awareness, using social media channels to build brand awareness, and implementing social media strategies like getting social reviews, UGC, optimizing the landing page experience, improving customer support, and creating FOMO.

If implemented correctly, CRO and social media integration will lead to better conversions and increased sales.

The post Harness the power of integrated CRO and social media appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com

Top strategies behind link building success

30-second summary:

  • Link building starts from on-page SEO
  • Get your on-page SEO right by working on pillar and cluster pages
  • Blend your on-page success with off-page SEO strategies
  • Link building is not about the quantity
  • Create a 12-month plan to maximize your off-page SEO success

SEO is more important than ever. As online usage is increasing and consumers‘ heads are turning to online purchases, it’s vital to have a strong search presence for your business. Your ranking and authority will determine whether you’ll get more visits from prospective customers. Link building can help you build your ranking and authority by earning valuable links.

Quality is crucial that’s why you need to aim for relevant content that will make your earned link more important.

So how do you get started with off-page SEO?

NO-BS have earned more than 50,000 contextual links after working with 5,000 websites for link building so they launched a helpful guide on how to build a strong off-page SEO strategy.

Let’s look at the takeaways.

Content created in partnership with NO-BS.

Start with your on-page strategy

You can’t work on your off-page strategy without building your on-page SEO strategy first.

Your site should be optimized for the best results so that you make the most of the links that you’ll learn.

Thus, you should prioritize working on quality content, target keywords, page speed, mobile optimization, and metadata among others.

User experience is very important. You can’t rank high on SERPs without providing the best experience to all users.

Here are a few ideas to get started with on-page SEO.

Create pillar and cluster pages

The pillar and cluster model was first introduced by HubSpot several years ago. It’s an extremely helpful way to organize your content based on the main themes and topics to make your SEO strategy more structured.

For example, if you’re working for a branding agency, a pillar page could be about ‘brand building‘ and a cluster article could be ‘5 tips to be authentic when building your brand‘

Think of the pillar pages that define your business and start organizing your current content based on clusters that fit in the pillar pages.

Working on the pillar and cluster pages can help you both with on-page and off-page SEO as you are building your authority through relevant content.

Build themed link funnels

Once you work on your pillars, it’s time to build your themed link funnels.

Link funnels can help you build topical authority starting from your pillars and moving it up to your conversion pages. It’s the best way to link your on-page and off-page strategy to get the best results out of them.

Now it’s time to build different tiers of your links that you can also use in your future content.

First of all, start by building your pillar pages. Think of the main themes that define your site’s content. Your pillar pages should be the pages that you ultimately want to lead everyone to.

It’s the page that will bring everyone closer to any sort of conversion. You can include testimonials, social proof, details of your services, etc.

The next step is to work on your content clusters.

Your content clusters should be pages that are somehow relevant to your pillar page. They are not as broad as your pillar page but they still have a connection to it.

All your content clusters should link to your pillar page.

Your links should be in two to three tiers to help you organize your content and they should be somehow linked back to your cluster page.

This is a useful strategy to blend on-page and off-page optimization.

Once you have your themed links ready, start exploring new ways to diversify your content and your links.

Work on the anchors, experiment with different types of content and always make sure you create unique content.

Now it’s time to improve your off-page SEO strategy.

Create a 12-month off-page strategy

The best way to build your off-page strategy is to work on a 12-month plan. You have more chances to be successful once you document your strategy.

NOBS have created a template with some examples of content and ideas on how to use the spreadsheet.

Here are a few of the ideas to consider.

Identify your top keywords

Start by identifying your most important keywords. You should sort them out in clusters as part of your on-page strategy.

Add each keyword to a pillar and explore the keyword difficulty for each one of them.

Come up with blog ideas for your pillar pages

Work on blog title ideas that could match your pillar pages. This way you are creating the URL for each page.

Add more topics to the relevant pillar to make it easier when creating new clusters.

Create a plan for your links

Set up a plan for the content you’ll create for the pillar pages. There’s no need to create all your posts at once! Expand your plan to the tier 1 and tier 2 links for each of your clusters.

Don’t make your strategy too complicated, you can focus on one cluster at a time and less competitive keywords.

Pay attention to the anchor text

Be careful with your anchor text. Make sure that the text you choose is relevant to the link you use on each cluster article.

You don’t need to aim for exact-match keywords, it’s better for the link to be naturally placed in the text.

Track the links you’ve earned

Keep track of the number of links that you’ve earned. It makes it easier for you and your team to keep track of your progress.

There’s no need to aim for large volume links at once. It’s better to start gradually with 1-2 links per month.

To find out more about the tactics to boost your off-page strategy, download the guide ‘How to design a strong off-page SEO strategy‘ here.

The post Top strategies behind link building success appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com

Inside Influence EP07: Pierre-Loïc Assayag from Traackr on Influencer Marketing Technology


Pierre-Loic-AssayagScrow: A conjunction of „scale“ and „grow“, which is a word I made up to talk about the value of technology when it comes to ramping up the impact of B2B influencer marketing.

When B2B marketers think about how to „scrow“ the success of their influencer marketing, they often start by looking beyond spreadsheets from transactional to more relationship driven influencer models. To support these efforts they often seek influencer marketing platforms.

There’s a lot to uncover when it comes to understanding what role technology plays in identifying, engaging, implementing and measuring influencer collaborations. Lucky for us, in this 7th episode of Inside Influence, we have Pierre-Loïc Assayag, CEO and Founder at Traackr to share his experiences plus a few relevant statistics from the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report about how B2B marketers are using technology (or not) for their influencer marketing programs.

In this 7th episode of Inside Influence, Pierre-Loic and I talk about:

  • Influencer Marketing in 2008 and 2021
  • The business case for pandemic era B2B influencer marketing
  • Crawl, walk, run options for influencer marketing software
  • Influencer Marketing Success: Is it the software or Marketing technology?
  • Skills needed to maximize influencer marketing platform ROI
  • How influencer marketing software enables Always-On influencer engagement
  • New updates to Traackr
  • The future of influencer marketing tech and martech integration
  • How B2B brands can justify dedicated internal influencer marketing leaders

Here are a few highlights on those topics with the full video interview embedded below.

What would you say the business case is for B2B brands engaging in influencer marketing in our current environment?

Pierre-Loic: So first and foremost, I’d say, „what else you got?“ If you look at the tools available to a B2B marketer and you apply them in the context of a pandemic where people are not allowed to travel to go to events, whether they’re small venues or big venues, where just a whole bunch of other offline activities that we use to perform on a regular basis are just gone, those tools are not available anymore. So, in many ways what you are left with are the digital tools. The thing that has historically worked is influence marketing. In there I would include things like PR and analyst relations too, because they’re all versions of influencer marketing. And your own content.

You need a community of people that are there to both amplify (your voice) and compliment it. That’s influencer marketing. @pierreloic

In other words, what do you need to succeed? You need your voice and that voice to have a personality, to have a message that you give to communicate. And you need a community of people that are there to both amplify it and compliment it. That’s influencer marketing.

The pandemic and the strain on budgets in companies…really forces everybody to face the music and stop focusing on vanity metrics and start focusing on results. @pierreloic

There’s not been a better time for influencer marketing to strive. If anything, the pandemic and the strain on budgets in companies that are B2B and B2C, I find personally extremely helpful because it really forces everybody to face the music and stop focusing on vanity metrics and start focusing on results. It’s been a long time coming and I’m glad that we’re here from that vantage point.

What are some of the major trends you’re seeing with B2B brands in how they are evolving the use of influencer marketing?

Pierre-Loic: I’d say 2020 and the coronavirus crisis was a proxy for things that were already on the way that have really accelerated.

We’ve seen longer-term partnerships being formed between influencers and brands a lot more than we did before. @pierreloic

The first one is the move from transactional tactical influencer marketing to relational and more long-standing relationships. We’ve seen longer-term partnerships being formed between influencers and brands a lot more than we did before. There’s a lot less focus on just purely campaigns. That’s one trend that was there before, but it’s really been put into focus.

One that really transcends influencer marketing is this idea of values driven purchases. In the B2C world it’s happened a lot for some time now. You’ve seen the Nike ads from two years ago with Kapernick. But now you have a lot of brands that have started standing up for something. In the B2C world it’s a trend that has accelerated, but was there before. For B2B it’s somewhat new.

Some of the social movements in 2020 have really put an emphasis on the notion of brand purpose and how important that is to guide their decision, to interact with employees, partners, influencers, etc. That trend is also touching on influencer marketing because the only way it works is if it is received as being authentic for your community. The way you can get that seal of endorsement is through your community of influencers.

Our research found that 50% of the most successful marketers use influencer marketing software vs. just 25% of the least successful. Is this about influencer marketing software by itself or is it more about the overall ability of a company to use technology in an integrated marketing mix?

Pierre-Loic: I think you need to have technology in order to harness the amount of data that you need and to mix it with your other data sets in order to figure out your best practices. We’ve been advocating data driven, influencer marketing for just about a decade now. It’s really important that companies start immersing themselves in the richness of the data in order to learn their best practices.

I’m genuinely curious about the other 50%, if they don’t have access to this. I don’t know how you access it manually. That said, I’m not sure that it’s something special about influencer marketing software. I think it has more to do with a relationship between a company and their use of technology and marketing technology.

At the end of the day, success at scale only happens when you have a piece of software that powers your influencer marketing, that you can connect with your other data sets. @pierreloic

At the end of the day, success at scale only happens when you have a piece of software that powers your influencer marketing, that you can connect with your other data sets on the CRM side, etc. It’s true of every level. It’s true for reporting purposes. It’s also true in the way you build your marketing attribution models.

At a very small scale you can do all this manually. It’s not that big of a deal, but the minute you start seeing a sign of success at that very small scale, then you’re going to need to equip yourself. Not just with a piece of influencer marketing software, but with the ability to start merging your datasets together.

For that you have a piece of technology that you can connect with as you do with a Traackr, but you also need the skills of people that are able to build these dashboards, to create these data lakes, that they retrieve data from via attribution models. So there’s a layer of complexity that just goes with the world that we live in. Instead of deflecting or sidetracking that complexity, my advice would be to embrace it.

In our research, we found that 60% of companies running always-on influencer programs were very successful vs. only 5% who do periodic or intermittent campaigns. What role does influencer marketing software play in an Always-On approach?

Pierre-Loic: Good question. Software plays two roles really and you’re absolutely right about the stat. I’m not surprised by the results that you found. We have the same kind of data that shows that the response of an influencers audience is a function of how authentic the message from the influencer is, which itself, is a reflection of the duration of the partnership.

The response of an influencers audience is a function of how authentic the message from the influencer is, which itself, is a reflection of the duration of the partnership (with the brand). @pierreloic

In other words, if tomorrow I’m starting to promote TopRank Marketing, everybody’s going to believe me because I’ve talked about you guys forever. So there’s nothing that feels „off“ about my communication. But if I start talking about a different topic or different brand, it will feel inauthentic to people who may listen to me. Right? So, so I completely agree with the finding.

With regards to software, there are two ways in which software is helpful. One is how you vet influencers, how you select your influencers to work with. What you want to find are people that will be on the fast lane of being able to build that relationship early. These are people that have endorsed either your brand or what you stand for as a company.

Finding people that already have a voice that is credible in the same topic area, even if they haven’t mentioned your brand or if they’re just a fan you just didn’t know, happens quite often, surprisingly. It gives you a leg up when you start these partnerships. In that selection process, technology is very important because you can take a look back at their communication, you can do it at scale and find the people that are the best match for you.

And then software is also helpful in the relationship building. So, you know, Traackr acts as a CRM for influencers, where as an organization you may not know Lee Odden, but probably somebody else at my company does. It’s good to know that we already have the beginning of a partnership. It also gives brands an opportunity to engage an influencer on a very regular basis. Even if your department or marketing is not doing something this month, there’s probably somebody else that is. Just being able to bring visibility into the true partnership between an influencer and a brand is quite useful.

To see the full Inside Influence interview with Pierre-Loïc Assayag, check out the video below:

If you would like to connect with Pierre-Loic further about B2B influencer marketing, you can find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Next up on Inside Influence, we’ll be talking to Srijana Angdembey, Director, Social Media Marketing at Oracle about

Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence B2B Influencer Marketing interviews:

The post Inside Influence EP07: Pierre-Loïc Assayag from Traackr on Influencer Marketing Technology appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Source:: toprankblog.com

Four digital marketing strategies to prepare for a wild holiday season

30-second summary:

  • Ecommerce has become an increasingly important element of any business, but it is more important than ever going into the 2020 holiday season.
  • With the plethora of brands vying for ad space online, companies must make the most of their marketing budgets by adjusting their digital strategies.
  • Socium Media CEO Owen Loft offers four tips for breaking through the noise to get in front of your customers and boost sales this holiday season.

Retailers already set up for online sales had an immediate advantage, but others quickly fell behind. Instead of reaping profits from consumers who have chosen to shop from home, retailers without online infrastructures have missed out on booming sales opportunities. Online shopping was already trending upward before the pandemic, but the pandemic pushed the shift from physical to ecommerce ahead by five years.

Businesses cannot afford to overlook digital. But one question remains: How can they bolster their online presence and get in front of their target customers in the current landscape?

Holiday season 2020: A perfect storm of competition

Reaching customers who have flocked online has become more challenging (not to mention costly) as large retailers take control of valuable advertising space. And big-box stores aren’t the only ones driving up the cost of digital advertising — political candidates have sunk more than three billion dollars into campaign advertising this year.

Major retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart are taking more online-centric approaches to holiday shopping this year. Many have already announced that they will keep their physical stores closed on Thanksgiving. Some will even remain closed on Black Friday or offer limited shopping hours, pushing customers to stay home and shop online.

With the coronavirus pandemic stretching into the fourth quarter of 2020, major elections, and the holiday season, marketers have major competition for valuable online ad space.

Revamp your digital marketing strategy to reach customers at home

To break through the noise and make the most of your marketing budget in the current environment, you must adjust your digital marketing strategies. Here’s how:

1. Prepare for the early rush

In years past, Black Friday signaled the start of holiday shopping. This year, however, Amazon’s annual Prime Day — typically held in the summer — was rescheduled to early October due to the pandemic. Some experts predict this will be the starting point for holiday shopping in 2020, which amounts to roughly an extra month and a half of holiday-related advertising and deals.

Another reason for the early start? Getting ahead of anticipated shipping delays. Some businesses already have felt the coronavirus-related strain on deliveries; pair that with additional demand, and customers will probably start shopping early to make sure their gifts arrive on time for the holidays. It will be more important than ever to start your holiday marketing efforts early. You’ll also want to communicate shipping cut-off dates clearly on your website so customers can plan their purchases accordingly.

2. Leverage your email lists

With major events converging at once — COVID-19, the 2020 election, and the holidays — consumers will be bombarded with ads across the internet. Considering this perfect storm, it might be easier to reach your target customers in their inboxes. And if they subscribe to your business’s emails, it means they’ve had positive experiences and trust your brand. They’ll be more likely to order from you, a known quantity, rather than the thousands of other retailers jockeying for their attention.

3. Highlight gift-able items in your ads

Some items in your business’s inventory simply won’t wrap well, while others are practically made to be gifted. Analyze your inventory and determine which products would fit in a gift guide for your business.

To do this, harness the data you already have. Which products are popular with your customers? What were your top sellers during the 2019 holiday season? You should also research consumer trends to see what up-and-coming products will be popular this year, which will allow you to highlight them in your marketing.

Once you’re armed with that knowledge, make sure you have adequate inventory of those products — even if those items aren’t your typical bestsellers — and plan your marketing strategy around them. With high-quality images and video and updated ad copy ready to go, those products are sure to fly off the shelves.

4. Be flexible

While online shopping is by no means new, ecommerce in the time of COVID-19 is unprecedented. Retailers — even major ones — can’t predict how consumers will behave this year. With a slew of retailers staying closed during the traditional holiday shopping times, some consumers may shift to ecommerce for everything. Others may decide to play the waiting game in hopes that physical stores reopen before the holiday season kicks into gear.

Because it’s impossible to know precisely what consumers will do, your tried-and-true marketing methods may not work. If you don’t already, prepare some contingency marketing plans in case you need to pivot quickly and try a new strategy to reach your customers.

Ecommerce has steadily become an important part of business, but this year it is absolutely critical. With a veritable trifecta of competition due to the pandemic, election, and holiday season, marketers must reassess their digital marketing strategies to ensure they can reach customers and boost sales.

Owen Loft is Co-founder of Socium Media, a performance-focused digital marketing agency specializing in paid search, paid social, and SEO. He can be found on LinkedIn.

The post Four digital marketing strategies to prepare for a wild holiday season appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com

The rise of vertical search engines

30-second summary:

  • Google’s rise as the dominant search engine has left the industry undisrupted for 20 years.
  • The number of use cases for search are infinite meaning Google’s information lacks depth in some cases.
  • Vertical search engines support unique workflows and provide domain expertise.
  • Specialized search for consumers is well established but B2B search is rapidly growing due to a “digital exhaust” effect.
  • B2B search helps fuel SMB’s and the mid-market because more businesses get found.

On October 20, 2020, the Justice Department sued Google, an Alphabet subsidiary, claiming the company’s internet search platform is an illegal monopoly that is harmful to both competition and consumers. The case aims to prove that Google’s position as a dominant search provider limits consumer choice and partnerships with companies like Apple suppresses competition. Taking on Big Tech has been a mainstay in the national conversation ever since the 2016 Presidential election, but this is the first antitrust action taken against Google. While we might not reach the end of this story for years, the DOJ’s suit signals a larger shift in the search industry, which hasn’t been disrupted in over 20 years. The unintended consequence of Google’s conquest to broaden search is limited depth for some. Businesses tend to be affected more than consumers because of how results are ranked. Therefore, in the wake of Google’s antitrust suit, a new market for specialized information has emerged.

Shifting dynamics

In 1998 Google processed 10,000 search queries per day – roughly 3.65 million annually. The official Google Zeitgeist reported 1.2 trillion searches in 2012, the year it was published. That trend would eventually stabilize to an estimated 2.3 trillion searches per year in 2020.

Despite its size and tremendous growth, web search dynamics have begun to shift. Google has taken a super-aggregator and partnership approach to many growing verticals. Google Maps, for example, aggregate Booking.com, TripAdvisor, and Yelp. Google Shopping and Google Finance are aggregators for ecommerce and financial information, respectively. Vertical search has always been at odds with aggregators, wanting to be found but also wanting direct traffic. Vertical search engines have built their own mobile apps to lure users away from the Google search bar.

Defining a vertical search engine

A vertical search engine is a search engine that focuses on a specific domain, or vertical. Think of LinkedIn for people search, Zillow for housing search, or Kayak for travel search. The benefits of using a vertical search engine are:

  1. More precise information due to narrowed scope
  2. Calibrated systems for providing users with vertical expertise
  3. Purposefully designed to facilitate a specific task or workflow

The third point is particularly noteworthy, especially when comparing vertical search engines to Google. It’s unlikely that you’re searching for car prices and inventory for fun. The price tells you if you can afford it; location information tells you where the nearest dealership is. Search is part of a workflow. Google, in most cases, acts as a middle man, guiding users from point A to point B.

Like web search, vertical search also supports various workflows. Where they differ is providing users with both the pathway and tools to complete an intended action. Here’s an example: Zillow users start by searching for homes, weighing data on home prices and taxes against other factors like school districts and proximity to work. The user’s workflow ends with an appointment for an open house with the listing agent. Workflows differ greatly depending on someone’s need, which is why the market for vertical search engines is so vast.

In recent years Google has attempted to compete with certain consumer search workflows. Google Flights, a Kayak competitor, brings users closer to booking travel all within one platform. Interestingly enough, Google’s purchase of ITA Travel in 2011 (which became Google Flights) was reviewed and cleared with the DOJ. If history is any lesson, Google is surely capable of competing with certain vertical search engines and capturing market share for consumer-based search. Business to business search, however, is a different ballgame.

The need for B2B search tools

There is a gap in the B2B search market. The gap exists, in part, by the design of Google’s search algorithm, which ranks websites based on five key factors. You’ll find the most popular business websites, but not every business website. More importantly, results might not provide the right business.

B2B search is beginning to transform, however. The amount of digital exhaust has increased drastically over the last few years. The emergence of Shopify, Squarespace, and others have decreased the barrier to entry for businesses on the internet. In 2014 the internet surpassed one billion websites and two billion is within reach. Having a website is one thing, but getting found is another. Companies must invest in website tools and resources and consistently optimize website content. Not to mention, it takes time to accumulate domain authority. If you’re a small business in a constrained economy, this looks like a tall order.

Google’s ranking algorithms, limited workflows, and surface-level information create an opportunity for B2B search engines across multiple functions. For example, ThomasNet (www.thomasnet.com) is an industrial sourcing platform connecting procurement professionals and industrial manufacturers. Drugdu (www.drugdu.com) operates medical device databases citing access to over 1,000,000 products.

With so much focus on small businesses this year due to COVID-19, it should be noted that B2B search products are good for SMBs, thus good for the economy. Tools like ThomasNet and Drugdu even the playing field, allowing small businesses to be found. Information also tends to be more trustworthy because of the general absence of advertising and crowdsourced information reduces reliance on individual company databases.

The big picture

The last antitrust case presented against a large technology company was in 1998 when Microsoft was, ultimately, found guilty of abusing monopoly power. Over the last two decades, Google has emerged as the clear leader in consumer search, but they’ve failed to extend their reach into vertical search engines. That void has since been filled with dozens of specialized search engines, platforms that mostly benefit small to mid-sized businesses. The advantages for users are clear: focusing on a limited set of data accelerates workflows and supplies better information. As the Google saga unfolds, vertical search engines are well-positioned to grow by facilitating business-to-business commerce.

Andrew Bocskocsky is a software expert, CEO, and Co-Founder of B2B search engine Grata.

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Source:: searchenginewatch.com