Digital Marketing News: Mobile Beats Desktop, YouTube Stories, Facebook for Kids?

CMO Ad Spend 2018

TopRank Marketing has partnered with Onalytica for the Women in Tech: Hot Topics and Influencers List for 2018. The list features influencers in the categories of Artificial Intelligence, FinTech, Blockchain, BigData, IoT, EdTech, MarTech, InsurTech, Virtual Reality, and Cyber Security. Onalytica Blog

Study: 80% Of Brands Plan To Boost Video Spending In 2018. Of course Facebook and Google dominate video advertising with Facebook accounting for 39%, and Google’s YouTube, 27% of digital video ad spend. The cost of producing targeted high-quality videos is prohibitive, and many marketers rely on agencies to create the ads. MediaPost

Facebook tests tool to make it easier for businesses to send message blasts on Messenger. Facebook is internally testing a tool called Messenger Broadcast that businesses would be able to use to send message blasts to people who had conversed with their accounts on Messenger. Of course that wouldn’t work of Messenger is down (see above). MarketingLand

Black Friday Twitter engagements totaled nearly 785M. Black Friday-related terms and hashtags on Twitter had a total message volume of 1,982,019 and a potential reach of 27.5 billion. “potential”, ha! What’s interesting is that 63% of the messaging came from mobile devices and 37% from the web. MarketingDive

Email Generates $1.6 Billion On Cyber Monday (But Search Rocked It). Cyber Monday was the largest online sales day in history with sales increasing to $6.59 billion. Mobile continues to grow as an integral component of retail marketing, as revenue driven by smartphones reached a record $1.59 billion. Search was crowned the overall winner of the shopping bonanza with 41.7% of online sales. . MediaPost

YouTube is testing its own version of Stories. YouTube announced it’s rolling out the Community tab to all creators with more than 10,000 subscribers as well as a new feature called “reels”, which is like Instagram or Snapchat Stories. Reels allow creators to stitch together short videos shot from their mobile devices and add things like filters, music and text. Engadget

Mobile Ad Spend Surpasses Desktop Spend. Mobile is now the world’s second-largest ad medium expected to reach $98.3bn in 2017, representing almost a quarter (23%) of worldwide advertising expenditure. WARC

There are now 25M active business profiles on Instagram. It looks like my favorite network for personal use is finally growing up into the business world. Instagram also says that more than 80 percent of Instagram accounts follow a business, with 200 million users visiting a business profile every day. TechCrunch

New Facebook App for Children Ignites Debate Among Families. While there is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, known as Coppa, that requires services aimed at children to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting information, how long before kids figure out how to “hack” that permission? I’m not a fan of this at all. New York Times

63% of B2B marketers currently buy advertising programmatically. Not only are B2B marketers combining programmatic and data to drive their ad buying and audience targeting, they’re also turning to data to drive their integrated marketing campaigns. In fact, almost 80 percent of respondents said they either use or want to use a solution that integrates ad tech and mar tech. Dun & Bradstreet (client)

Google is testing an answers carousel within the search results snippets. Even less reason to click through: Google has started testing and potentially rolling out a new feature in search that shows a carousel with a list of answers directly within the search results snippets. Search Engine Land

2018 Digital Marketing Plans Survey Summary Report. Highlights include: Social media marketing, content marketing and the marketing technology that drives these tactics, are most effective marketing tactics. The most critical challenge to the success of a digital marketing plan is data quality and 93% of digital marketing budgets will increase in 2018, with 41% increasing significantly. Ascend2

Content is the No. 1 contributor to an overall good event experience for IT buyers. Four out of five IT buyers say they are more likely to visit a booth if they have heard of, read about, or connected with an exhibitor before an event. This is why conference ebooks make so much sense! MarketingProfs

Global AR & VR revenues to grow from $4.1 billion in 2016 to $79.4 billion in 2021. ARtillry Intelligence has devised a disciplined and non-biased revenue forecast for AR & VR, segmented into their product areas: enterprise AR/VR and consumer AR/VR. From Pokémon Go to applications in manufacturing and design, it looks like the AR & VR space is coming in to its own. ARtillry

Sprout Social Acquires Social Analytics Firm Simply Measured. The social analytics market is expected to grow to $9.54 billion by 2022 and with Simply Measured full-funnel analytics, Sprout Social is certainly moving in the right direction to capitalize on that growth. Sprout Social Blog

On the Lighter Side

Facebook Messenger Went Down Globally and Everyone Freaked Out. On Tuesday this week thousands of users reporting problems according to the Down Detector website, which logs reports of online service failures. Of course when one network is down, users flock to another to complain. In this case hundreds of users flocked to Twitter to vent their frustration. Fortune

Instagram adds content warnings for koala selfies. If you click on an offending hashtag like #koalaselfie, #lionselfie #koalahugs or #tigerpet, a new warning will pop up. “You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment,” the warning reads. CNN Tech

TopRank Marketing in the News

  • Ashley Zeckman – Why Brands Should See Ideas Everywhere (podcast) – Brand Driven Digital
  • Ashley Zeckman – Revolutionary Females in Marketing to Follow on Twitter – Devrix
  • Rachel Miller – 35+ Most Influential Women Leading B2B Marketing Technology – Data Captive Blog
  • Rachel Miller – Women in Martech: Hot Topics and Influencers List – Onalytica Blog
  • Rachel Miller & Lee Odden – Top 100 Social Media and Marketing Influencers – Digital Scouting
  • Lee Odden – 2018 Predictions on the Future of Customer Experience – Adobe CMO.com
  • Lee Odden – How to Apply Influencer Marketing Principles and Boost Your Sales – LinkedIn Sales Solutions Blog (client)
  • Lee Odden – LinkedIn Presents: The Future of Advertising Agencies (video) – LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog (client)

What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week?

Be sure to stay tuned until next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories. Also check out the full video summary with Tiffani and Josh on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.


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The highs and lows of enterprise SEO: Which strategies paid off best in 2017?

As we come to the end of 2017 and embark on the inevitable dozens of review articles looking back over the past year of search, it’s as good a time as any to reflect on SEO strategy.

What are the greatest challenges being faced by the industry as a whole? What have been the biggest successes? What are companies of different sizes setting as their top priorities for SEO strategy – and how well is it paying off?

To find out, link-building and content marketing agency North Star Inbound, in partnership with seoClarity and BuzzStream, set out to “take the temperature” of enterprise SEO.

They surveyed 240 SEO specialists across the USA from both in-house and agency teams, in a bid to discover how and where enterprise SEO teams are spending their budgets, their most pressing issues, their biggest stumbling blocks, their perception of their own success, and more.

The results shed an intriguing light on what different companies consider to be most important about SEO, how they go about tackling those issues, and which SEO tactics pay the greatest dividends – particularly in terms of how these findings vary across businesses of different sizes, and between in-house and agency SEOs.

So what were the key findings, and what do they mean for the way that SEO is being carried out in 2017-8?

Resources for enterprise SEO: What are they, and where are they going?

How much of a company’s budget and workforce typically gets allocated to SEO? And where do enterprise SEO teams primarily focus their time and attention?

Unsurprisingly, larger companies tend to outspend smaller firms when it comes to SEO, but the study found that companies‘ SEO budgets cover the whole range – meaning there is definitely no “magic number” for SEO spend.

The good news (at least for SEOs!) is that the most popular budget was also the largest: 27% of respondents reported that they had a monthly budget of more than $20,000 for SEO. Close to a fifth of companies (19%) had between $5,000 and $10,000 to play with, while a very similar percentage (18%) were allocated less than $1,000.

Perhaps surprisingly, 11% of large companies (with 500+ employees) fell into this bracket – though of course, it’s not just about what you spend on SEO, but how you spend it.

What about people power? The study found that the most common size of SEO team is 2 to 5 members – regardless of the overall size of the company. Two fifths of respondents surveyed (42%) reported working in an SEO team of 2 to 5, while close to a third (32%) had 6 or more people in their team. Nearly a quarter of companies (23%) said that the responsibility for SEO falls on a single person.

Regardless of resources, companies seemed to broadly agree on their priorities for SEO. When asked to rank four areas of SEO in order of priority, respondents from companies of all sizes reported that their top priority was technical SEO.

Second, third and fourth priorities were – again regardless of company size – content development, traffic analysis, and link building, respectively.

But maybe enterprise SEOs should be putting more emphasis on link-building, as survey respondents overwhelmingly described it as the most difficult SEO strategy to execute. Well over half of respondents (58%) ranked it top out of a list of eight, with small companies (with 1-100 employees) feeling the pain most of all.

Why is link-building proving such a tough nut to crack? Let’s look at how enterprise SEOs are tackling link-building.

All about link-building

Well over half of survey respondents reported that link-building was their most difficult strategy to execute, although there were some noticeable variations by size. 68% of small companies rated link-building as the most challenging part of SEO, followed by 62% of medium-size companies and 42% of large companies.

But the difficulties associated with link-building aren’t preventing SEOs from investing in it. 85% of respondents, across all business sizes, reported that they will be maintaining or increasing their link-building budgets this year.

Large companies were most likely to be maintaining their link-building budgets, with 49% reporting they would be keeping their budget for link-building “about the same”, while small companies were most likely to be increasing their budget.

Link-building can be done in a huge number of ways, but there were clear frontrunners for the most effective strategies. SEOs from small, medium and large firms all reported that public relations is their most beneficial tactic for link-building, though for small company SEOs, guest posts came a very close second.

Other effective strategies included infographics (third-most effective for large companies of 500+ employees), local citations/directories (which came in third for small companies), and resource links (which ranked third for medium-sized companies, joint with local citations).

Paid links and comments were universally rated as the least effective strategies by all respondents, though this may also be due to a lack of employing these tactics in the first place – Google penalizes almost all types of paid links, and discourages systematic blog commenting as a method of link-building.

Which companies have been seeing the most success with link-building as an SEO strategy? When asked to rate their most successful strategy over the past 12 months, respondents overwhelmingly pointed to technical on-site optimization: 65% of large companies, 67% of medium-sized companies and 53% of smaller firms rated it as their most effective SEO tactic.

For small companies, blogging and link-building follow close behind, with 35% of SEOs from small firms reporting success with blogging for SEO, and 33% reporting that link-building was their most successful tactic. This was not so for large companies, for whom link-building ranked a distant 6th out of 7 SEO strategies, with just 14% saying it was their most successful strategy.

We know that small firms are more likely to have increased their budgets for link-building in the past year, so perhaps this extra resource towards link-building is making all the difference. But this is something of a chicken-and-egg style conundrum: are small companies allocating more budget towards link-building because it’s successful, or are they successful with link-building because of the extra budget?

Small companies are also more likely to be employing local-level link-building tactics such as local directories or citations. Link-building at a local level can be highly effective when carried out correctly, so perhaps this added emphasis on local SEO is making the difference for enterprise SEOs at small firms.

Finally, which KPIs are SEOs using to track their success with link-building? The favored metrics are Moz Domain Authority and Page Authority, together with the number of linking root domains (both used by 52% of SEOs).

The relevance of the linking page is third-most-used at 47%, while Majestic’s “Trust Flow” metric trails behind on 27%.

Agency vs in-house: Who’s winning at SEO?

Of the 240 SEO specialists surveyed for the study, two-thirds were in-house SEOs, while the remaining third worked for an agency. What differences in approach and outlook did the survey find between these two groups?

When it comes to organizational challenges, agency and in-house SEOs differ slightly on what they consider to be the most pressing issues. Agency SEOs are more likely to encounter challenges with finding SEO talent (44% reported this as their most challenging obstacle) or demonstrating ROI (41%).

For in-house SEOs, developing the right content was their most pressing obstacle (reported by 42% of respondents), while demonstrating ROI was again a key challenge, faced by close to two-fifths of in-house SEOs (37%). Agency SEOs were least likely to struggle with allocating the right resources, with only 18% reporting this as a top organizational challenge, while in-house SEOs struggled least with securing budget (21%) but were more likely to encounter challenges in allocating it (31%).

But the real differences came in the way that agency and in-house SEOs perceived their own success. Agency SEOs were vastly more likely to be confident about their own success: 40% of agency respondents rated themselves as “Successful – we’re absolutely crushing it” compared with just 13% of in-house SEO teams.

However, perhaps in-house SEOs are just modest, as almost half (49%) rated their SEO success as “Positive – we’re doing well enough” (versus 39% of agency SEOs).

In-house SEOs were also more likely to report being “frustrated” with their SEO outcomes (the lowest possible rating) than agencies – 8% of them gave their SEO efforts this rating, compared with only 3% of agency respondents.

Key takeaways

What do the findings from the study tell us about the state of enterprise SEO? While SEO will always depend somewhat on the individual circumstances of an organization, there are some broad conclusions we can draw from the data.

  • SEO as a discipline appears to be well-resourced overall, demonstrating that companies consider SEO a branch of marketing worth investing in. The challenge is therefore more often deciding how and where to allocate those resources, rather than a lack of resources.
  • Technical SEO is a top priority and a top source of success for enterprise SEOs, while companies seem less sure of where they stand with link-building. Many are putting budget into it without necessarily being satisfied with or confident in the results.
  • While some SEO mainstays (like technical on-site SEO) are effective regardless of company size, the effectiveness of SEO strategies often depends on the size of a company, with smaller companies seeing much more success with strategies like blogging than larger organizations.
  • Agency SEOs are much more likely to feel confident in their SEO success than in-house teams, in spite of reported difficulties with securing the right talent for SEO. However, both in-house and agency SEO teams face difficulties with proving the ROI of SEO, showing perhaps that this perceived success can be difficult to translate into hard numbers for the benefit of the higher-ups.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com

5 Outdated Content Marketing Tactics (And What to Do Instead)

Can I interest anyone in an iPhone? No, not the iPhone 8 or X. I’m talking about this bad boy:

No takers? But it has a 320X480 pixel screen, 128 Mb of RAM, and a single 2-megapixel camera! Back in 2007, this was the hottest phone on the market. People lined up in front of stores just to get their hands on one.

You get the point: State of the art quickly becomes laughably outdated. What used to thrill a consumer’s soul is now something we wouldn’t give a toddler to play with.

That kind of obsolescence isn’t limited to the tech industry, of course. The cycle from next-big-thing to the dustbin is even faster in online content. Yet many content marketers are using tactics that, while they once worked, are now as outdated as that original iPhone. What’s worse, some of us are still in the flip-phone stage.

If you’re using any of the following content marketing tactics, it’s time for an upgrade. Here’s what doesn’t work, why it doesn’t, and what you should try instead.

Ditch These Outdated Content Marketing Tactics

1. Broad and Shallow Content

Content used to be about sheer bulk rather than quality. Search engines prioritized sites that had a lot of keyword-rich (more on that later) content. Whether that content was actually useful didn’t matter. So writers churned out blog posts like they were getting paid by the word – and sometimes, we actually were.

But search engines have gotten smarter, and our content needs to get smarter, too. Pride of place in the SERP goes to content that actually serves a purpose for an audience. Shallow content gets few clicks, low time on page, and high bounce rates. All of these factors push your content down to the hinterlands of Google’s Page 2 (or lower).

What to Do Instead: Content can no longer be a commodity, churned out in a word factory. We need handcrafted artisan content. It takes longer to create, but you don’t have to make as much of it, either. Focus your resources on a few pillar pieces that deliver real value. Content that inspires readers to spend time on the page, explore further, and share with others will beat commodity content every day of the week.

2. Single Keyword Stuffing

In the days of bulk content, a sure-fire way to get search engines‘ attention was stuffing in keywords wherever they would fit. Keywords were stuffed in every header, every paragraph, multiple times in a sentence, and then in invisible text at the bottom of the page for good measure. It didn’t add anything useful to the content—in fact, it actively made the content worse – but it helped get eyeballs to your site.

Now, though, you’re likely to get the opposite effect from keyword stuffing. Google actively recognizes spammy keyword usage and moves that content down in the SERP.

What to Do Instead: Don’t focus on a single keyword. Start with a topic for which there is proven search demand. Then create a keyword group of similar terms, related topics, and long-tail derivatives. Use your keyword group to inform your content outline. Then, as you write your comprehensive, best-answer content, you will naturally include the relevant terms without stuffing them in. That way, you’re optimizing for humans and search engines alike.

3. Clickbait Headlines

Never has a tactic been so maligned and so effective as clickbait headlines were a few years ago. “7 of the Coolest Kazoos in the UK – Number 5 Will Shock You!” “They Said He Couldn’t Play His Kazoo at School – You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!” Sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed drove millions of views with these headlines, and marketers were quick to pick up on the trend.

The problem is, if everything is “shocking,” “mind-blowing,” or “brain-melting,” nothing is. Readers caught wise to the hyperbole and stopped clicking through. Upworthy is still around, but has a fraction of the audience. Buzzfeed is still going strong, but only because they ditched the breathless headlines and focused on great content.

What to Do Instead: Offer a clear benefit to the reader in your title. Don’t promise a life-changing, unbelievable experience – promise to meet a specific need, and make sure you fulfill that promise.

4. Focusing on Bottom of Funnel Content

One of content marketers‘ biggest challenges is proving how their content contributes to a purchase decision. So it makes sense that, historically, we’ve concentrated efforts on content designed to close a deal. That is, content that’s more, “Why Our Kazoos Are the Best,” rather than “Why Kazoos Are a Vital Part of an Orchestra,” or even, “Our 10 Favorite Kazoo Players.”

It’s true that bottom of funnel content is easier to tie to revenue. But without top of funnel content, you won’t have an established audience for the bottom of funnel stuff. You can talk about how great your product is out the kazoo, but who’s going to read it?

What to Do Instead: Most of your audience is going to be in the early stages of the decision-making process. To strike the right content marketing balance, use the funnel image as your guide – create the majority of your content for top of funnel, a little less for mid-funnel, and less still for the very bottom. Then make sure each piece of content has a next step that leads the reader further down the funnel. Or kazoo.

5. “Viral” Content

There’s a potent high to having a piece of content go viral. Millions of impressions, thousands of shares, maybe even local news coverage, all organic and all free – it’s definitely intoxicating. When viral videos cracked the mainstream consciousness, marketers went chasing that high. And some of us are still trying to catch it.

As I’ve said before, viral is not a content marketing strategy. It’s a pleasant but unpredictable side effect of good content, and it’s ultimately irrelevant to your goals. How many of those millions of viewers are interested in your product? And how many just want to laugh at a dog playing a kazoo?

What to Do Instead: Don’t aim your content at the broadest possible audience and hope it goes viral. Focus on your most relevant audience and make a strategic plan to reach them. We use an integrated marketing approach that includes:

  • Best-answer, comprehensive content with SEO built in
  • Influencer co-creation for amplification
  • Social media amplification
  • Paid, highly targeted advertising

Get with the Now

The original iPhone was a technological marvel in 2007. Now, you’ll find it in a museum of technology, or on eBay as a “classic collector’s item.” But you won’t find it in anyone’s hip pocket.

Make sure your marketing stays up-to-date: Ditch outdated tactics like shallow, product-focused content and upgrade to valuable, customer-focused content, strategically planned and amplified.

Need help getting to the next generation of content marketing? We’re here for you.


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Source:: toprankblog.com

Highlights from TechSEO Boost: The key trends in technical SEO

Although most search conferences contain some sessions on technical SEO, until now there has been a general reluctance to dedicate a full schedule to this specialism.

That is an entirely understandable stance to take, given that organic search has evolved to encompass elements of so many other marketing disciplines.

Increasing visibility via organic search today means incorporating content marketing, UX, CRO, and high-level business strategy. So to concentrate exclusively on the complexities of technical SEO would be to lose some sections of a multi-disciplinary audience.

However, the cornerstone of a successful organic search campaign has always been technical SEO. For all of the industry’s evolutions, it is technical SEO that remains at the vanguard of innovation and at the core of any advanced strategy. With an average of 51% of all online traffic coming from organic search, this is therefore not a specialism that marketers can ignore.

Enter TechSEO Boost: the industry’s first technical SEO conference, organized by Catalyst. Aimed at an audience of technical SEOs, advanced search marketers and programmers, TechSEO Boost set out to be a “technical SEO conference that challenges even developers and code jockeys”.

Though the topics were varied, there were still some narrative threads through the day, all of which tie in to broader marketing themes that affect all businesses. Here are the highlights.

Towards a definition of ‘Technical SEO‘

Technical SEO is an often misunderstood discipline that many find difficult to pin down in exact terms. The skills required to excel in technical SEO differ from the traditional marketing skillset, and its aim is traditionally viewed as effective communication with bots rather than with people. And yet, technical SEO can make a significant difference to cross-channel performance, given the footprint its activities have across all aspects of a website.

The reasons for this discipline’s resistance to concrete definition were clear at TechSEO Boost, where the talks covered everything from site speed to automation and log file analysis, with stops along the way to discuss machine learning models and backlinks.

Though it touches on elements of both science and art, technical SEO sits most comfortably on the scientific side of the fence. As such, a precise definition would be fitting.

Russ Jones, search scientist at Moz, stepped forward with the following attempt to provide exactly that:

This is a helpful step towards a shared comprehension of technical SEO, especially as its core purpose is to improve search performance. This sets it aside slightly from the world of developers and engineers, while linking it to the more creative practices like link earning and content marketing.

Using technology to communicate directly with bots impacts every area of site performance, as Jones‘ chart demonstrates:

Some of these areas are the sole preserve of technical SEO, while others require a supporting role from technical SEO. What this visualization leaves in little doubt, however, is the pivotal position of this discipline in creating a solid foundation for other marketing efforts.

Jones concluded that technical SEO is the R&D function of the organic search industry. That serves as an apt categorization of the application of technical SEO skills, which encompass everything from web development to data analysis and competitor research.

Technical SEO thrives on innovation

Many marketers will have seen a technical SEO checklist in their time. Any time a site migration is approaching or a technical audit is scheduled, a checklist tends to appear. This is essential housekeeping and can help keep everyone on track with the basics, but it is also a narrow lens through which to view technical SEO.

Russ Jones presented persuasive evidence that technical SEO rewards the most innovative strategies, while those who simply follow the latest Google announcement tend to stagnate.

Equally, the sites that perform best tend to experiment the most with the latest technologies.

There are not necessarily any direct causal links that we can draw between websites‘ use of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), for example, and their presence in the top 1000 traffic-driving sites. However, what we can say is that these high-performing sites are the ones leading the way when new technologies reach the market.

That said, there is still room for more companies to innovate. Google typically has to introduce a rankings boost or even the threat of a punishment to encourage mass adoption of technologies like HTTPS or AMP. These changes can be expensive and, as the presentation from Airbnb showed, fraught with difficulties.

That may go some way to explaining the gap between the availability of new technology and its widespread adoption.

Jones showed that the level of interest in technical SEO has increased significantly over the years, but it has typically followed the technology. We can see from the graph below that interest in “Technical SEO” has been foreshadowed by interest in “JSON-LD.”

tech_seo_trends

If SEOs want to remain vital to large businesses in an era of increasing automation, they should prove their value by innovating to steal a march on the competition. The performance improvements that accompany this approach will demonstrate the importance of technical SEO.

Everyone has access to Google’s public statements, but only a few have the ability and willingness to experiment with technologies that sit outside of this remit.

Without innovation, companies are left to rely on the same old public statement from Google while their competitors experiment with new solutions.

For more insights into the state of technical SEO and the role it plays in the industry, don’t miss Russ Jones‘ full presentation:

Automation creates endless opportunities

The discussion around the role of automation looks set to continue for some time across all industries. Within search marketing, there can be little doubt that rules-based automation and API usage can take over a lot of the menial, manual tasks and extend the capabilities of search strategists.

Paul Shapiro’s session, ‘Working Smarter: SEO automation to increase efficiency and effectiveness‘ highlighted just a few of the areas that should be automated, including:

  • Reporting
  • Data collection
  • 301 redirect mapping
  • Technical audits
  • Competitor data pulls
  • Anomaly detection

The above represent the fundamentals that companies should be working through in an efficient, automated way. However, the potential for SEOs to work smarter through automation reaches beyond these basics and starts to pose more challenging questions.

As was stated earlier in the day, “If knowledge scales, it will be automated.”

This brings to light the central tension that arises once automation becomes more advanced. Once we move beyond simple, rules-based systems and into the realm of reliable and complex automation, which roles are left for people to fill?

At TechSEO Boost, the atmosphere was one of opportunity, but SEO professionals need to understand these challenges if they are to position themselves to take advantage. Automation can create a level playing field among different companies if all have access to the same technology, at which point people will become the differentiating factor.

By tackling complex problems with novel solutions, SEOs can retain an essential position in any enterprise. If that knowledge later receives the automation treatment, there will always be new problems to solve.

There is endless room for experimentation in this arena too, once the basics are covered. Shapiro shared some of the analyses he and his team have developed using KNIME, an open source data analysis platform. KNIME contains a variety of built in “nodes”, which can be strung together from a range of data sources to run more meaningful reports.

For example, a time-consuming task like keyword research can be automated both to increase the quantity of data assessed and to improve the quality of the output. A platform like KNIME, coupled with a visualization tool like Tableau or Data Studio, can create research that is useful for SEO and for other marketing teams too.

Automation’s potential extends into the more creative aspects of SEO, such as content ideation. Shapiro discussed the example of Reddit as an excellent source for content ideas, given the virality that it depends on to keep users engaged. By setting up a recurring crawl of particular subreddits, content marketers can access an ongoing repository of ideas for their campaigns. The Python code Shapiro wrote for this task can be accessed here (password: fighto).

You can view Paul Shapiro’s full presentation below:

Machine learning leads to more sophisticated results

Machine learning can be at the heart of complex decision-making processes, including the decisions Google makes 40,000 times per second when people type queries into its search engine.

It is particularly effective for information retrieval, a field of activity that depends on a nuanced understanding of both content and context. JR Oakes, Technical SEO Director at Adapt, discussed a test run using Wikipedia results that concluded: “Users with machine learning-ranked results were statistically significantly more likely to click on the first search result.”

This matters for search marketers, as advances like Google’s RankBrain have brought machine learning into common use. We are accustomed to tracking ranking positions as a proxy for SEO success, but machine learning helps deliver personalization at scale within search results. It therefore becomes a futile task to try and calculate the true ranking position for any individual keyword.

Moreover, if Google can satisfy the user’s intent within the results page (for example, through answer boxes), then a click would also no longer represent a valid metric of success.

A Google study even found that 42% of people who click through do so only to confirm the information they had already seen on the results page. This renders click-through data even less useful as a barometer for content quality, as a click or an absence of a click could mean either high or low user satisfaction.

Google is developing more nuanced ways of comprehending and ranking content, many of which defy simplistic interpretation.

All is not lost, however. Getting traffic remains vitally important and so is the quality of content, so there are still ways to improve and measure SEO performance. For example, we can optimize for relevant traffic by analyzing our click-through rate, using methods such as the ones devised by Paul Shapiro in this column.

Furthermore, it is safe to surmise that part of Google’s machine learning algorithm uses skip-gram models to measure co-occurrence of phrases within documents. In basic terms, this means we have moved past the era of keyword matching and into an age of semantic relevance.

The machines need some help to figure out the meanings of phrases too, and Oakes shared the example of AT&T to demonstrate query disambiguation in action.

at_and_t

Machine learning should be welcomed as part of Google’s search algorithms by both users and marketers, as it will continue to force the industry into much more sophisticated strategies that rely less on keyword matching. That said, there are still practical tips that marketers can apply to help the machine learning systems understand the context and purpose of our content.

JR Oakes‘ full presentation:

Technical SEO facilitates user experience

A recurring theme throughout TechSEO Boost was the relationship between SEO and other marketing channels.

Technical SEO has now sprouted its own departments within agencies, but that can see the disciplined sidelined from other areas of marketing.

This plays out in a variety of scenarios. For example, the received wisdom is that Google can’t read the content on JavaScript websites, so it is the role of SEO to reduce the quantity of JavaScript code on a site to enhance organic search performance.

In fact, Merkle’s Max Prin posited that this should never be the case. The role of an advanced SEO is to facilitate and enhance whichever site experience will be most beneficial for the end user. Often, that means working with JavaScript to ensure that search engines understand the content of the page.

That begins with an understanding of how search engines work, and at which stages technical SEO can make a difference:

search_engines

Prin also discussed some useful technologies to help pinpoint accessibility issues, including Merkle’s fetch and render tool and the Google Chrome Lighthouse tool.

Another significant area in which technical SEO facilitiates the user experience is site speed.

Google’s Pat Meenan showcased data pulled from the Google Chrome User Experience Report, which is open source and stores information within BigQuery.

His research went beyond the reductive site speed tests we usually see, which deliver one number to reflect the average load time for a page. Meenan revealed the extent to which load speeds differ across devices, and the importance of understanding the component stages of loading any web page.

The load times for the CNN homepage showed some surprising variation, even between high-end smartphones such as the iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy S7 (times are in milliseconds):

load_times

In fact, Meenan recommends using a low- to mid-range 3G smartphone for any site speed tests, as these will provide a truer reflection of how the majority of people access your site.

Webpagetest offers an easy way to achieve this and also highlights the meaningful points of measurement in a site speed test, including First Paint (FP), First Contentful Paint (FCP), and Time to Interactive (TTI).

This helps to create a standardized process for measuring speed, but the question still remains of how exactly site owners can accelerate load speed. Meenan shared some useful tips on this front, with HTTP/2 being the main recent development, but he also reiterated that many of the existing best practices hold true.

Using a CDN, reducing the number of HTTP requests, and reducing the number of redirects are all still very valid pieces of advice for anyone hoping to reduce load times.

You can see Pat Meenan’s full presentation below:

Key takeaways from TechSEO Boost

  • Technical SEO can be defined as “any sufficiently technical action undertaken with the intent to improve search performance.”
  • Automation should be a central concern for any serious SEO. The more of the basics we can automate, the more we can experiment with new solutions.
  • A more nuanced understanding of Google’s information retrieval technology is required if we are to achieve the full SEO potential of any website.
  • HTTP/2 is the main development for site speed across the web, but most of the best practices from a decade ago still hold true.
  • Improving site speed requires a detailed understanding of how content loads across all devices.

You can view all of the presentations from TechSEO Boost on Slideshare.

This article was originally published on our sister site, ClickZ, and has been republished here for the enjoyment of our audience on Search Engine Watch.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com

5 Ways Influencer Marketing Drives Performance Across the Customer Lifecycle

blockchain influencers SAP

Much of what we hear about influencer marketing is centered around reach and engagement objectives. This is not unlike the early days of social media marketing programs where platform capabilities and user behaviors created a perfect storm for connection and interaction.

Fast forward to today and we’ve certainly learned that social media is not a silo of communication, but more of a universal truth when it comes to where people spend their time to discover, consume and interact with content.

Influence brings that same universal truth in terms of something that affects us all. From a marketing context, influence is the ability to affect action and since virtually every person with a phone is empowered to publish, everyone has some degree of influence.

So where does that broader view lead us when developing an influencer content marketing strategy that’s optimized to attract, engage and convert? To help answer that question and extend optimization to retention and advocacy, here are 5 states during the customer journey and how influencer marketing can play a part for better results.


“The opportunity for consumer engagement spans the entire journey and influencers can play an important role in each moment of truth.” @BrianSolis
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Attract

Contribution inspires promotion. The obvious value here is that working with influencers on content can inspire promotion of the content collaborated on. Reaching the audience of an influencer with content that is relevant and credible can be incredibly valuable for brands that want to attract hard-to-reach customers.

Follow the leader advocacy. Influencers that are advocates often inspire other influencers and customers to advocate for the brand as well. This can be architected with contests where the content with the most social engagement wins, but basic follow the leader behavior in an organic way is effective too.

Retargeting influencer interest. When followers of an influencer that the brand co-created content with match a customer profile, marketers can retarget those followers who have interacted with the influencer content with more context than a buyer simply visiting random websites.

A great B2B example of an Attract approach to influencer co-creation is this interactive experience for SAP Leonardo (client). 32 influencers contributing their expertise on topics ranging from artificial intelligence to blockchain technologies. With over 1.8 million impressions and 100% influencer share rate, this content collaboration project exceeded reach expectations.

Engage

Creator talent drives interaction. In the B2C world, creators are plentiful and by creators I mean people will great media creation skills AND the charisma to attract an engaged audience. Creators can bring unique talent to the planning, creation and promotion of content that brings a fresh perspective and higher engagement to an otherwise tired marketing mix.

Authenticity drives engagement. When microinfluencers also represent the customer that a brand is working to engage, the authenticity and voice of the customer that they bring to content collaboration can result in more content interaction and sharing.

Relevance is essential in all things marketing and when the influencer’s audience and the brand channel for promotion match well, then engagement is more likely to be high.

Tom's of Maine - Mavrck
An impressive B2C Engage example would have to be Tom’s of Maine that focused on micro-influencers to create and amplify content on social channels. Results per 1,000 micro-influencers activated: 6,496 likes, shares and comments; 1.7 million friends reached, 4,270 survey responses captured. You can read the full case study on the Mavrck site.

Convert

Trust motivates. Few things motivate conversion more than trust and the essence of what makes someone influential is that their community trusts them. Therefore, trusted influencers who are involved with brand content that is mid to end of funnel focused can help increase conversions.

Familiarity brings confidence. Another thing about relevance is that influencers that have a reputation for recommending products and services have developed familiarity with their audience for that behavior. Working with a new brand and talking about a topic or a product / service (with appropriate ad disclaimers) can inspire transaction.

Credibility is believability. The more credible a brand’s content is, the more likely it is to persuade and inspire action. Influencers can bring that credibility.

Modern Digital Commerce
A B2B pilot project we implemented for Oracle included a formidable 68 page ebook called the Executive’s Handbook to Modern Digital Commerce which featured influencers including Brian Solis, Stephen Monaco, Ed Cleary, Stewart Rogers and other B2B digital experts. The credibility of this ebook produced in combination with industry experts resulted in exceeding the conversion rate goal by 260%.

Retain

Bring utility to the community. Expanding the scope of who is influential to customers and community, brands can engage with influencers to participate in their community on everything from general best practices or tips to how to get the most out of the brands‘ product/service.

Employees are influential too and showcasing staff in brand content can help humanize the brand with customers.

Infotain customers to stay. Engaging creators to develop useful content that is also entertaining for customers can go a long way towards retaining those customers. These can be routine communications to announcements or updates.

I think a great B2C example of Retain focused influencer content is the recent British Airways safety video featuring famous celebrities including Mr Bean (Rowan Atkinson), Gordon Ramsay, Gillian Anderson (yes, she’s British), Thandie Newton, Sir Ian McKellen and a few more. I flew BA multiple times in a short period recently and this video was definitely a watchable part of the experience for me as a customer.

Advocate

Activate advocates. Bringing it back to reach through brand advocacy, brands can expand their view of influence to customers and activate those who show brand love to support sharing the good news.

Influential customer stories are powerful. Customer testimonials alone are great. Testimonials with customers that are influential, either personally or the brand, can go a long way towards supporting advocacy efforts.

Incentivize the good news. Incentives for referrals amongst influencers can inspire advocacy, but there must be an ad disclosure if compensation has been, or could be paid for that promotion effort.

For this one, I’ll use a personal example. I am a customer of BuzzSumo and I’m also an influencer who advocates for the brand. Most of this I do organically in presentations all over the world, in articles like this, in interviews and by sharing Steve Rayson and BuzzSumo’s content through my social channels on Twitter and LinkedIn. Steve reaches out to me from time to time for quotes, to do a webinar or speak at one of his events. I was also one of the first to cover the Brandwatch acquisition of BuzzSumo. I can’t say how much value BuzzSumo has gained from my influencer advocacy, but I’m guessing it’s very much in the black 🙂

So, instead of thinking about influencers on the day you publish that amazing content you’ve worked so hard on, consider a more strategic approach that puts influencers in a partnership position to collaborate from the start. When you map out the stages of your customer journey and the content needed to help buyers make that journey, think about how working with influencers, experts and advocates can add that special sauce to your marketing mix.

Think about how the addition of credible experts with active audience engagement can add valuable perspective, inspiration, promotion and trust for conversion to your marketing content – across the entire customer lifecycle: attract, engage, convert, retain, advocate.

Of course if you would like to explore the true benefits of when the Content Marketing World and Influencer Marketing World intersect, well, that’s what we do at TopRank Marketing. We focus mostly on B2B influencer content programs but would be happy to chat about any projects you have in mind and then point you in the right direction.


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The post 5 Ways Influencer Marketing Drives Performance Across the Customer Lifecycle appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Source:: toprankblog.com