3 customer insights gained by keyword research

eyword research isn't dead, but it has changed over the years. Columnist Stoney deGeyter shares how keyword research can be used to gain insights into the needs and interests of your potential customers.

Stoney deGeyter 

Keyword research is underrated. Many SEOs have gotten the idea that keyword research just doesn’t hold the value it once did, especially in today’s environment of voice search, extreme long-tail phrases and so on.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Not long ago, I wrote a post outlining 13 uses for keyword research, but that really just scratches the surface of its value.

Traditionally, keyword research has been performed to better understand what phrases searchers are using to find the content, products or services you provide. But using keyword research for that is akin to treating the symptom rather than the problem itself.

Searchers type particular phrases into search engines based on multiple factors that are relevant to them. The question is, what makes those factors relevant? It’s the underlying motivation — need, desire and/or interest — that makes any particular phrase important. Your goal in performing keyword research should be to determine what that underlying motivation is.

With a little digging into keyword tools and some analysis of the results, you can learn a great deal about the audience using a particular phrase. Armed with that knowledge, you can create content that meets their needs and/or will be of interest to them.

And that is the point of keyword research, isn’t it? To create content that satisfies searchers’ interests, needs and desires? And to do so specifically for the audience you wish to target?

With the right focus, keyword research will help you create content that reaches the widest possible audience, generates more traffic and converts better. All it takes is looking at your keywords, not merely as search words but as information about the searcher.

Here are three things that you can discover using keyword research: Who your audience is, what they are interested in, and what their needs are.

 

Finding your target audience

Do you really know who your target audience is? Many businesses know a great deal about their target market and will even go so far as to create personas to help them zero in on them. But no persona can be fully fleshed out without looking at the keyword data for the products or services you sell.

You can learn quite a bit about your audience just by the keywords they use in the searches they perform. For example, business people will search differently — and use slightly different phrase variations — than students. And students will search differently from hobbyists, who will search differently from information seekers.

If you built your personas focusing on only one of these searchers, you could be missing out on traffic, sales, or even some great exposure that you wouldn’t otherwise get.

At the same time, the phrases themselves can be an indicator for you to know if you are able to provide the value being sought. For example, if you have no videos on your site, you cannot provide value to searchers typing in your keyword plus video. That’s an audience you just can’t (currently) satisfy.

Similarly, if you don’t have the type of detailed information or high-end solutions that business searchers are looking for, you can refocus your content toward the non-business audience.

In all of these searches, the primary keywords are often the same. What changes is the keyword qualifier. Even looking for the same product or service, each audience group will use certain words and qualifiers based on who they are.

Use keyword research to weed out audiences for which you don’t provide value and include those audiences for which you do. By focusing your content toward these audiences, you’ll find that you not only do a better job of targeting your audience but also increasing the value they receive when they come to your website.

Uncovering areas of interest

Now that you know who your audience is, you need to know their particular area(s) of interest. What compelled them to do the search to begin with?

Users have a wide variety of interests, and that’s what keyword research is for — to help you determine all the interests searchers have that you can meet. This knowledge helps you develop targeted content. (For sites with blog posts, these areas of interest are great content fodder that can keep you busy for months or years.)

 

Keep in mind, you’re not just grabbing a phrase and writing content to match. You’re looking through all your search phrases for similarities in these areas of interest in order to write a comprehensive blog post that will satisfy these seekers (or a series of blog posts, depending on the depth of the interest).

By looking at specific interests, you’re able to engage with your audience on their terms, addressing what they really want. This will help you produce better content that improves existing engagement rates.

Meeting searchers’ needs

One of the most important things you can get out of keyword research is finding the various ways that searchers are looking for what you provide. These variations can shed a good deal of light on the searchers’ particular area of interest.

Many businesses don’t look outside their own experience and knowledge in order to understand the different terminology used for the same thing. You may make a widget, but a good number of people might call it a gadget.

 

And for that matter, your widget might have X function, but searchers are looking for Y function. Can you add Y functionality to your widget or create a new widget specifically for that function? And instead of calling it a widget, should you call it a gadget?

Figuring out what your audience needs is critical to ensuring you are able to create content (and solutions!) that will meet them. When it comes down to it, each searcher wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” And it’s your job to tell them!

You hear a lot of talk about writing content that discusses the benefits of what you offer. But what is more important is making sure you’re addressing the desired benefits. Don’t focus on benefits no one wants or needs. Instead, make sure your content addresses the benefits your audience is seeking.

Final thoughts

As you perform your keyword research, you’ll find that there is a lot of crossover between these three categories. It’s not your job to cater to them all, but to find those that will prove to be the most valuable for your business.

Keyword research uncovers a great deal about what you need to know about searchers. Use this information to determine who you should be trying to attract to your site and what type of content will do the job. Stop thinking about keyword research in terms of the phrases themselves, but rather in terms of what these phrases say about searchers and how to reach them.

How to Do PPC if You Run a Small Business: SEMrush Solutions

We at SEMrush are aware that the most precious currency for a small-biz marketer is time. And we are sure there are no “bad” marketing channels; some are just used at the wrong time or in the wrong way.

Juggling them all can be tough, and this is what SEMrush was invented for: to help you make smart decisions by providing valuable data and removing the guesswork from your marketing routine. We want you to save time and valuable resources by approaching each of the main marketing channels the right way. 

If we look at 4 of the popular marketing channels in terms of time/outcome ratio, it could look like this:

 

For a business to survive, they need to get leads and make sales and save as much time as possible while doing so.

It sounds simple, but SEO takes time and being found in organic search isn't always something new site owners can wait on. So, for immediate traffic, most turn to pay-per-click (PPC). However, getting traffic is not synonymous with getting leads.

With an incredibly wide range of targeting options provided by AdWords, it is easy to pick the wrong strategy and end up watching your budget go down the drain (but this can be avoided).

Let’s discover some tricks that will help you plan a smart and well-thought-out PPC campaign with the help of SEMrush tools.

Start With the Right Keywords

Tools to use: Keyword Magic Tool & the PPC Keyword Tool

Once you have decided how much you are ready to spend on PPC, it is time to dive into the keyword research process. If your campaign budget is limited, you may want to set the maximum cost per click (CPC) that you are willing to pay. It is also a good idea to start with the “bottom of the funnel” keywords, in order to target users with high conversion intent.

Picking relevant high-volume keywords with low CPC may seem cumbersome, but with the help of the right tools, it is very doable. We have some examples of how to use the tools to find the right keywords. 

Let’s say you are promoting an online store that sells organic food; we will use this example term as a seed keyword for research. To increase your chances of reaching the users who are likely to make a purchase, you could also use words like “buy”, “cheap”, “delivery”, “near me” etc., in the broad match section. 

 

Don’t overlook the “Exclude keywords” option - it is extremely helpful to filter out irrelevant keywords (for example, cities or countries you don’t deliver to).

You have probably hundreds of possible queries, so now let’s define which of these are worth bidding on. If the keyword has decent search volume (1), reasonable CPC (2) and low competitive density (3), it is definitely a good candidate for your keyword list:

 

Try experimenting with different search terms until you feel you have gathered enough of them. Once you have a collection of terms, you can send them all to the PPC Keyword Tool.

 

(Note: the direct export from Keyword Magic to PPC Keyword tool is available only for paid SEMrush accounts)

The PPC Keyword tool will help you:

  • Organize keywords into groups and campaigns.

  • Filter out duplicate keywords, empty groups, and unnecessary symbols, making your keyword list neat and tidy.

  • Find and remove “cross-group negative” keywords that provoke competition among your own ads and make your CPC grow.

Once these things are done, you will have a keyword list that is cleaned up, organized properly, and contains only relevant keywords.

For more details on how to deal with PPC keyword tool and clean up your keyword list read this guide.

Creating Ads That Work

Tool to use: Ads Builder

The next step is working on ad creatives. There can be hundreds of other advertisers who compete for the keyword you are targeting, so your ad should be relevant and stand out from the crowd.

Besides the golden rule “use keywords in headlines”, there are lots of tricks that can increase your ad’s conversion. These are the techniques we figured out by analyzing the PPC campaigns of Australia’s top online retailers:

 

Once you are finished with building your keyword list with the help of PPC Keyword Tool, you can move on to creating ads without leaving SEMrush.

In the ‘Projects’ section, you will find the new Ads Builder Tool. It will automatically import the campaigns and keyword groups you have created earlier and take you to the next step: creating ads for each group.

 

In the image above you see that Ads Builder Tool can do the following:

  • Make sure you stay within the AdWords character limits (1)
  • Add URL paths and a destination URL (2)
  • Assign the new ad to a keyword group (3)
  • Get an immediate ad preview (4)

The tool also provides you with ad examples of your competitors. Whenever you run out of inspiration, take a look at their ads to find relevant CTAs.

 

Another time-saving feature you can take advantage of is the dynamic keyword insertion. It is especially helpful when you have a wide range of products from pretty much the same niche. Imagine creating separate ads for some dozens of keywords like “organic banana”, “organic avocado”, “organic monstera deliciosa“, etc.

Instead, you can just add a variable to your ad, and AdWords will automatically replace it with the keyword you are targeting:

 

As soon as you are done with composing ads, you can export them, together with the keywords, to AdWords-friendly Excel files.

Give Display Campaigns a Try

Tool to use: Display Advertising Report

Campaigns in Google Display Network are considered more effective for branding purposes. So, if you aim to get leads and conversions, this channel will probably not be your ideal choice. However, it can be useful when you are struggling to narrow down your target audience just using search campaigns.

An example would be if you are targeting small business owners. Whenever they need to find a logistics company, they would just search for “logistics company”; there’s no point for them to add “for small business” to the query. Audience targeting will be your helper in this case.

Also, display campaigns are where you can unleash your creativity and engage people with captivating visuals. With this in mind, the organic food niche is perfect for display campaigns. The audience is easy to define, and the ideas for visual ads are endless. At the same time, it is extremely hard to figure out which of the advantages are worth highlighting.

  • Should you be focusing on professional photos? Mouth-watering recipes? Special deals and discounts?
  • Would it be better to target desktop or mobile users?
  • Which websites would be the best to place your ads on?

In order to save resources and avoid reinventing the wheel, let’s take a look at what other organic food shops do when it comes to display campaigns.

The renovated Display Advertising report will show you how tight the competition in your niche is and how exactly your rivals are attracting customers:

- What types of ads they’re using (1)

- Which websites place their ads (2)

- How exactly their ads look (3)

 

We can explore this report to borrow some nice CTAs for text ads, as well as pick some visual ideas.

Here is the advertiser’s 2nd most effective banner that has been encountered 2,304 times on over 500 websites. Worth analyzing!

 

Click for the full report

Another bonus, you can filter the ads by device (desktop, tablet, mobile) and OS type (iOS vs. Android).

 

This analysis will help you plan a display campaign based on real data, instead of relying on spray-and-pray technique.

Bonus: Seize the Chance to Test User Behavior

PPC is also a fast, yet effective, way to test how user-friendly a page is.

Before you start driving massive traffic to your webpages, consider using a session tracking software. These tools allow recording users’ sessions to help you figure out what problems they are facing throughout their journey (for example, users miss the “Order” button because it gets covered by the chat window, and other cool UX oversights).

At SEMrush, we use Inspectlet. It has up to 100 free session recordings monthly, but for only $39/mo you can extend the limit to up to 5,000 sessions.

Wrapping Up: PPC As a Ground for More

With all the advantages the PPC channel has, there is one aspect you shouldn’t ignore: every click on your ad takes away money from your pocket. So the earlier you start thinking about how to diversify your traffic sources, the better.

5 tools, tips and hacks to maximize your SEO output

Columnist Brian Patterson believes that SEO success depends not only on your knowledge and skills, but on your ability to work efficiently. Check out his five suggestions for increasing SEO productivity.

Brian Patterson 

This article was co-authored by my colleague at Go Fish Digital, Chris Long.

Part of being an effective SEO is being incredibly efficient with the tasks at hand. You just aren’t going to have the time needed to go deeper and continue to add value if you’re spinning your wheels doing manual, repetitive tasks.

Because of this, we have always valued things that can make you more efficient: tools, scripts, automation, and even interns!

Today, we dig deep into our toolbox to pull out five of our favorite ways to maximize your SEO productivity output.

1. Automate Google Analytics data extracts & reporting

Generating monthly reports is one of those repetitive tasks that can consume a day or more at the beginning of the month (especially in the agency world!).

If you’re manually pulling data from Google Analytics, you need to be constantly checking that your date ranges are correct, that you’ve applied the proper segments, that you’re analyzing the right metrics, and that you’ve accessed the primary profile in the first place. Not only would automating this type of reporting save time, but it would also ensure consistency and eliminate mistakes.

And while scheduling reports in Analytics is fine, reporting can really be taken to the next level with the Google Analytics Add-On for Sheets. This add-on is a lifesaver for us during reporting time!

By adding this to Google Sheets, you can pull data directly from the Google Analytics API without ever having to log into the Analytics interface. To start, you’ll need to configure which metrics, date ranges, segments and profile the API should be pulling. Next, you simply run the report; the data is then loaded into your spreadsheet automagically.

The beauty of this whole system is that once you have set up your reporting framework, the amount of time spent gathering Google Analytics data each month should be drastically reduced.

For most of my reports, all I do is adjust the date ranges at the beginning of each month, and I let the API apply all my segments and collect only the metrics I need. I also create charts in the same spreadsheet that reference the cells this data gets pulled into.

With some very minor changes to the spreadsheet each month, I’m able to pull all of the data I need and have it formatted into easy-to-read charts.

This little add-on easily saves me about a day’s worth of work every single month.

2. Find internal linking opportunities with Screaming Frog

Internal links are one of the most underrated ranking factors in SEO. They not only allow you to optimize the destination pages for the exact keywords you want, they also provide a great opportunity to strategically distribute link equity in a way that targets your key landing pages.

Because of this, we’re continually providing clients with recommendations on improving the internal links on their websites. And from this, we have plenty of evidence that it works, even with some of the most competitive keywords there are.

For large and enterprise websites, it can be tough to find every one of those juicy internal linking opportunities awaiting your attention. The good news is that Screaming Frog comes with a “Search” feature that makes finding internal linking opportunities a breeze.

Before running a crawl of a website, simply navigate to “Configuration > Custom > Search” and add keywords you want to optimize for. Screaming Frog will then crawl the whole site and return URLs that use that text in the “Custom” report section. You can run a search for 10 different keywords at a time so you can include the different variations of the keyword you’re optimizing for.

You can also pair this search with Screaming Frog’s Include/Exclude feature to only search for opportunities in specific sections of your website. For improved productivity, I like to use the OpenList extension, which opens all of the URLs at once in separate tabs.

3. Scale keyword research with Merge Words

Google is better than ever at understanding the topic of a web page through its improved entity recognition. Better language processing allows Google to group related terms and understand their context.

This means it’s extremely important to not only understand your core keywords but semantically related terms as well. Keyword strategies revolving around concepts such as TF-IDF are gaining more traction among search professionals.

Google’s improved language comprehension means that your pages are capable of ranking for a much larger set of keywords than the ones they’re optimized for. While this is great for SEO, it can be intimidating to start keyword research with this in mind.

How are you supposed to determine all of the different keyword combinations you should be including in your content? And how are you to know which keywords to actually implement on the page?

Enter the Merge Words tool. This simple tool allows you to add words to three separate columns; then, as the name suggests, it will merge every combination of all of the terms you entered.

Now, instead of spending a great deal of time manually plugging keywords into your keyword research tool, you can quickly combine all of the different identifiers into Merge Words, then copy-and-paste that data into your keyword research tool.

An example of how this could be used is with an aftermarket car parts retailer. They could merge lists of all of the makes/models (Acura MDX, Acura TL, etc.) they provide parts for with all of the products they carry (headlights, seat covers, etc). The result is every combination of make/model with every part they provide (e.g. Acura MDX headlights, Acura MDX seat covers, Acura TL headlights, Acura TL seat covers).

They could then plug this list into the Google Keyword Planner to see what the most searched keywords were.

4. Scale SEO improvements with global changes

image courtesy of Pexels

SEO productivity doesn’t have to just refer to specific tactics to make the collection of data easier. Productive SEOs are also capable of applying this thinking to campaigns as a whole to scale their success. While page-level recommendations can be extremely beneficial, often times it can be tedious and lead to diminishing returns to solely optimize a website on a page-by-page basis.

Especially with larger enterprise websites, it can be hard to move the needle for a website’s organic traffic by just picking at individual pages.

For this reason, I believe the most productive use of an SEO’s time is looking for global improvements. These sitewide improvements can be the most beneficial use of time as the SEO or developers only need to make the change in one location and yet it can impact thousands of pages.

So, how can you identify changes that can be made on a global level? One we do quite a bit is tweak title tag and meta description template logic so that it includes important words, phrases, and modifiers that people commonly search for along with the primary keywords.

Another valuable sitewide improvement is to look for errors that are built into the website template. Once again, Screaming Frog is our best friend. Start by running a crawl of a website, then sort the reports Screaming Frog provides by “Inlinks.” This shows how many links on the site contain that error.

Oftentimes, we’ll find internal 301 redirects or 404 errors that have thousands of inlinks pointing to them. This is a great clue that this error is occurring site-wide, and a simple change to the template can fix this issue across a large quantity of URLs.

5. Make interns part of your company culture

This may sound like cheating, but sometimes a repetitive or tedious process just needs that human touch. We’ve found that these types of tasks are perfect for interns. They get to do real work, and it frees up our team members for more difficult and meaningful work.

Our summer internship program has been a great success, and we work really hard to make the internships a win-win for everyone involved.

The interns benefit because we pay them well and they get great hands-on, real-world experience beyond grabbing coffee and filing documents. Go Fish Digital benefits by having capable hands ready to take on some of the more repetitive tasks that need to be performed manually.

The program is also a great way to identify talent early, and several former interns have gone on to be great full-time team members with the company.

In running the program, here are some of the things we’ve learned that have really helped us run a strong, efficient program:

  • Take hiring interns seriously. Our hiring process for interns is not all that different from hiring full-time team members. There are several rounds, and we do provide a prompt for a work sample. They’ll be in your office for roughly three months and will have an impact on your culture, so make sure it is a positive one.
  • Onboard interns in groups. The “class” of interns tends to build a good bond as they have others coming on in their same situation. It also means you can train once, and get twice (or more) the output when it comes to delivery.
  • Minimize or eliminate work-from-home opportunities for interns. It takes a lot of self-discipline to be just as productive at home as in the office, and while we trust our team with this, we’ve had less positive experiences with interns working remotely.
  • Ensure that the interns are learning valuable skills. They should learn real marketing skills, and they should also learn how to be a good in-office team member.
  • Hold an exit interview with the interns so that you can provide each other with feedback. We actually didn’t do this at first, and a smart intern pointed out that they would really love some feedback on how things went from our perspective. It turns out that though they are less experienced, they also have some great insight from spending time working with the company, so make sure you get their honest feedback on the experience as well.

Final thoughts

Scaling, efficiency, and productivity are core tenants my company — and for good reason.

If you can find a better and faster way to do something, you increase your quality output while freeing up time to do the more thoughtful (and more rewarding) work required to be successful at SEO.

The Best Time to Post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+ [Infographic]

Social media is one of the best ways to amplify your brand and the great content you’re creating. But it isn’t enough to just post content to social whenever you feel like it. Some times are better than others.

So, which one is best?

Unfortunately, there's no perfect answer. Different businesses may find different days and times work best for them. In fact, timing often depends on the platform you're using, how your target audience interacts with that platform, the regions and corresponding time zones you're targeting, and your goals (e.g., clicks versus shares).

 

Download the free social media content calendar template here to plan and organize the timing of all your social media posts. 

 

That said, there is ample data out there on the best times to post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Earlier this year, the great folks at CoSchedule looked at a combination of its own original data and more than a dozen studies on this very topic -- from the likes of Buffer and Quintly, just to name a couple -- and compiled it into the infographic below.

Bookmark this post as a go-to set of guidelines, and refer to it next time you need to find the optimal posting times for your business.

 

The Best Times to Post on Social Media

With many businesses facing a growing global audience, varying time zones have become a growing concern, especially when it comes to the best times to post.

To start, let's take a look at the U.S. About half of the country's population is in the Eastern Time Zone, and combined with the Central Time Zone, that accounts for over 75% of the total U.S population.

Given that sizable share, if you're targeting a U.S. audience, try alternating posting times in Eastern and Central Time Zones -- we'll get into those specific times in a bit.

If you're targeting users outside of the U.S., conduct some research to find out where they live and which social media channels they're using. That kind of data is available through studies like Smart Insights' Global Social Media Research Summary, or We Are Social's annual Digital Global Overview.

1) Best Time to Post on Instagram

Instagram is meant for use on mobile devices. Half of its U.S. users use the app daily, though it would appear that many engage with content more during off-work hours than during the workday.

  • In general, the best times to post on Instagram are on Monday and Thursday, at any time other than 3-4 p.m.
  • The best time to post videos is 9 p.m.-8 a.m., on any day.
  • Some outlets have reported success on Mondays between 8-9 a.m., correlating with the first morning commute of the week for many.

2) Best Times to Post on Facebook

People log in to Facebook on both mobile devices and desktop computers, both at work and at home. How it's used depends heavily on the audience.

  • On average, the best time to post is 1-4 p.m., when clickthrough rates have shown to be at their highest.
  • Specifically, 12-1 p.m. is prime time on Saturday and Sunday.
  • During the week, the same goes for Wednesday at 3 p.m., as well as Thursday and Friday between 1-4 p.m.
  • The worst times are weekends before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m.

3) Best Times to Post on Twitter

Like Facebook, people use Twitter on both mobile devices and desktop computers, both at work and at home. How it’s used also depends heavily on audience -- but people often treat it like an RSS feed, and something to read during down times like commutes, breaks, and so on.

  • Good times to tweet average around 12–3 p.m., with an apex at 5 p.m. -- which makes sense, given that it correlates with the evening commute.
  • Weekdays tend to show a stronger performance, though some niches might have more active audiences on the weekend. 
  • If your goal is to maximize retweets and clickthroughs, aim for noon, 3 p.m., or 5–6 p.m.

4) Best Times to Post on LinkedIn

Roughly 25% of U.S. adults use LinkedIn, largely for professional purposes, during weekdays and the work hours. It's used with slighly less frequency than some of the other channels on this list, with more than half of users visiting less than once a week

  • Aim to post toward the middle of the week, between Tuesday-Thursday.

  • When aiming for a high clickthrough rate, post on these days during times that correspond with the morning and evening commute -- roughly 7:30-8:30 a.m. and 5-6 p.m. -- as well as the lunch hour, around 12 p.m. 

  • Some have also seen a positive performance on Tuesdays, between 10–11 a.m.

5) Best Times to Post on Pinterest

Pinterest users skew heavily female, and 25% of users are active on this channel daily.

  • Interestingly enough, Saturday evenings are said to be the best time to reach users, especially between 8-11 p.m.
  • Some have also seen a strong performance on the later side of Friday afternoon, around 3 p.m. 
  • Contrasting many of the other channels we've listed here, evening commutes tend to be some of the worst times to post to Pinterest. That could be due to the fact that it's not as "browseable," with many pins requiring navigation away from the channel.

6) Best Time to Post on Google+

People love to debate whether or not Google+ is a social media channel worth investing in -- though according to my colleague Chris Wilson, some marketers have experienced success with it.

But if you're going to use it, you might as well do so effectively -- which includes posting at the optimal times.

  • People seem to be most active on Google+ during the start of the workday, between 9-11 a.m.
  • That's especially the case on Wednesdays, around 9 a.m.
  • Some marketers have also seen success during the lunch hour, posting between 12-1 p.m.

There you have it, folks. Happy posting, tweeting, and pinning.

7 features you’ll only find in the new AdWords interface

Advertisers getting used to working in the new UI will find some bonus capabilities.

Ginny Marvin 

ven though the New AdWords Experience (AKA the new user interface) doesn’t quite have feature parity with the current AdWords yet, it actually offers some exclusive features. They can be hard to identify without some hunting, so we’ve gathered them here in one place.

The new interface has been steadily rolling out to more advertisers over the past year, and Google says it will be available to everyone by year-end. Those with access can still navigate back and forth between the two interfaces. It can take some time to get used to the new look and layout, but the new features should give advertisers an added incentive to get comfortable working in the new interface. We also wrote about the handy new visualizations in the interface that can save analysis time.

Here’s a rundown of what’s currently only available in the new UI and some other exclusive new features that will be coming in the months ahead.

Available now

Promotion extensions

Unless you have beta access in the old interface, the only way to access the new promotion extension is via the new UI. Promotion extensions allow you to show and link to a specific offer in text ads. The tag icon in this extension helps it stand out on the page. Here’s what the setup looks like in the new interface:

 

Household income targeting in search

Household income reporting and targeting is available for search campaigns from the Demographics tab in the new interface. In the old interface, household income targets can only be applied via location targeting.

A chart at the top of the page makes it easy to quickly see how your campaigns perform along household income segments. Bid adjustments can be set at the campaign or ad group level. 

Audiences page

A new Audiences page offering a single place to manage audience targeting and optimizations was shown at Google Marketing Next during the productivity portion of the live stream.

I’ll also point out the new terminology used for audience targeting in AdWords. “Target and bid” is now called “Targeting,” and “Target” is more aptly called “Observations.”

 

Coming soon…

There are several new features in the works that will be rolling out to the new interface over the next few months.

Landing page performance

Advertisers will be able to get insights on their various landing pages in one place. The new landing page screen will be similar to the ads and keywords pages. The aim is to help advertisers optimize for better user experiences and improve ad performance, particularly on mobile. This could start showing up in the new interface later this year.

Custom in-market audiences

In-market audiences are coming to Search campaigns. Google will also be launching custom in-market audiences that can be tailored based on the advertiser’s website, campaign performance and business goals. Look for this later this year.

Google attribution

This was the big new product announcement from Google Marketing Next. The new free attribution product will be integrated into the new interface. The exact timing on this is still TBD, but I’m guessing we’ll see it before year-end.

Store sales measurement uploads

Retailers that capture loyalty program emails at the point of sale can import store transactions into AdWords directly or through a third party. Exact timing is still fuzzy, but it will launch in the new UI at some point this year.

And that’s what we know so far. Going forward, we can expect Google to keep rolling out new features in the New AdWords Experience instead of the current interface.

5 common mistakes made by B2B paid search novices

Looking to incorporate paid search into your B2B marketing mix? Columnist Pauline Jakober provides some advice for starting off on the right foot.

Pauline Jakober 

Here’s a common scenario in the B2B marketing space:

You’re a member of your B2B company’s marketing team. As part of that team, you’ve become accomplished in a variety of marketing channels, including email marketing, content marketing, organic search, trade shows and so forth.

But your team hasn’t yet taken the company into the paid search marketing channel. And as the most “digital-savvy” member of the group, you’ve been tapped to head the initiative. You’re excited to take on this responsibility, but you’re also nervous.

Before you start, you should know that when it comes to PPC, B2B marketers tend to trip up in certain specific areas. To give you a leg up, I’m going to describe five common mistakes that B2B paid search novices tend to make and how you can avoid them. Good luck!

Mistake #1: Rushing to launch

Rushing to launch is a common mistake — and an understandable one. When your company has a big promotion or event on the horizon, you want to have your PPC campaigns in place to support it.

This is something I’ve seen many times with our clients. They will set a deadline for launch and insist on sticking to it, even if all campaign elements aren’t in place.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m all for having deadlines. But sometimes a premature launch can do more harm than good.

Most often, when campaigns are launched prematurely, the missing elements are:

  1. Landing pages
  2. Conversion tracking
  3. Integration with other marketing channels

Without custom landing pages in place, your conversion rates are likely to be lower. Sometimes much lower. And this can lead to questions about the viability of your PPC program.

Without conversion tracking, it’s impossible to know exactly how well (or poorly) your campaigns are performing. And it’s hard to justify any marketing program when you don’t have numbers to back it up.

Failure to integrate with other marketing channels can lead to lost opportunities. And even worse, you might end up pillaging your efforts in other channels.

Even if you work with a PPC agency, your marketing and web development teams will still need to take some responsibility for these elements. Yes, we can set up your accounts. We can even select your keywords, write your ad messaging and run them by you for approval.

But some elements — especially post-click elements — require your involvement.

If the delay in implementing these elements is just a couple of days, then that’s usually not a big deal. But anything longer is worrying.

Mistake #2: Making decisions before the data is in

One of the great things about PPC is the ability to make tweaks and changes on the fly with little effort. Few other marketing channels offer this much flexibility.

But this flexibility is also a curse. Sometimes, it’s hard to be patient and wait for more data to accumulate before deciding to change campaign settings and elements.

For example, we had a client who wanted to review and update their ad messaging on a monthly basis. For a high-click-volume account, this wouldn’t be unreasonable. But this client was only getting a handful of clicks every month on some campaigns. We simply didn’t have enough data to inform monthly decision-making. So sure, we could make updates every month, but they would be a shot in the dark.

Therefore, it’s wiser to time your decision-making by activity volume (e.g., “We’ll re-evaluate when we reach x number of impressions and conversions”) instead of by calendar (e.g., “We’ll re-evaluate in a month”).

Mistake #3: Not bidding on brand

In PPC, “bidding on brand” means bidding on your brand name as keywords. So, for example, when a prospect searches your name (e.g., “Acme Business Solutions”), your ad displays with the search results.

As a B2B paid search newbie, you might think that bidding on brand isn’t necessary. After all, your team has optimized your website, and it’s bound to show up in organic search results.

That’s a common conclusion, but it’s also false. I can think of at least four reasons why you should bid on brand:

  1. Organic results + Paid results = Greater brand presence. Combining your organic listing with a paid search ad helps reinforce your brand presence. In fact, to have an organic listing without an accompanying paid aid can lead to questions: “If these guys are so prominent in the market, where’s their ad?”
  1. PPC gives greater control over messaging and click-through pages. While organic listings are great, they’ll never give you the precise control of paid search. With a paid search ad, your marketing team can dictate your exact messaging and click-through pages.
  1. By not bidding, you open ad space to your competitors. If you decide NOT to bid on your brand, that doesn’t mean your competitors won’t. Why make that ad space available to your competitors?
  1. Branded keywords usually cost less. If you’re still not convinced that you should bid on brand, know that branded keywords typically cost much less than unbranded keywords — which should make your decision easier.

Mistake #4: Resisting certain ad networks or tactics

Sometimes, B2B marketing teams have biases against certain paid search ad networks, strategies or tactics.

For example, it’s not uncommon for B2B businesses to refuse to advertise on the Google Display Network. Or they’ll say they don’t want to run AdWords remarketing campaigns.

I’m not sure where these biases come from. Maybe they’ve heard negative things from their associates. Maybe they’ve read something bad online. Or maybe they’ve tried something in the past, got burned and vowed never to do it again.

But you need to remember that paid search is an ever-evolving channel. It changes all the time. And your business changes, too. Consequently, what didn’t work two years ago might work well today.

In addition, every B2B industry, market and business is different. We all have different products, competitors, brand awareness, budgets and regulatory environments. So an ad strategy that was a total dud for one B2B company could be a total winner for another.

Quite simply, you won’t know whether specific ad networks, strategies or tactics will work for your B2B business unless your team gives them a try.

If you don’t have the budget to try everything, then that’s understandable. But often, you can start with one ad network (typically Search) and generate some good results. Then, you can use those results to justify a larger budget and expand into other areas.

If you DO have budget available now, then why limit your results? As a PPC agency, we consistently find that clients who are willing to dedicate a portion of their budget to “experimental approaches” do better over the long run. Because experimentation is the key to discovering effective strategies and getting great results over the long term.

Mistake #5: Going it alone

Perhaps the biggest mistake I see B2B paid search novices make is trying to do everything themselves. I understand this, too. Your marketing director wants to keep PPC management in-house. He or she wants to start small and see how things go. And you want the opportunity to prove yourself and grow your expertise.

And why shouldn’t you? After all, those AdWords “how to” videos make paid search look so easy! Surely you could watch a few, do some reading, and then put together a campaign. And maybe you can.

But then something will happen — your ad gets disapproved, or your leads won’t convert — and then things get a lot more complex and problematic.

The biggest issue with this approach is that it doesn’t provide a true test of what PPC can do for your B2B. And it might just breed the kind of “PPC doesn’t work for us” thinking that becomes very hard to reverse.

Consequently, PPC might be taken off the table entirely — sometimes for years — until someone is brave enough to champion it again. And in the meantime, your competitors benefit from your absence.

Don’t let mistakes derail your B2B PPC marketing

So when striking out on your own with paid search, give your marketing and web development teams the time they need to do things right from the outset. Then, resist making changes until you have a data-backed picture of what’s going on. Be sure to bid on your brand, and don’t take any ad networks, strategies or tactics off the table unless you have a valid reason for doing so.

And most importantly, don’t wait to get outside help if you need it.

SEO case study: Zero to 100,000 visitors in 12 months

Columnist Andrew Dennis outlines the process he used to successfully build up traffic for a brand-new website -- without using any tricks or hacks.

Andrew Dennis on July 5, 2017 at 9:51 am

You need more traffic.

More visitors on your site means more impressions, more signups, more purchases — more revenue.

But how do you capture more traffic from search results that are becoming more crowded, more diverse, and evolving in the way they are delivered?

With SEO, of course!

Today, I want to share a process we’ve developed at Siege Media to earn links and visibility, and to increase web traffic for our clients. I’m going to walk through how we built a site’s SEO strategy from the ground up — growing from zero visitors to 100,000 — and share key takeaways that you can apply to your own strategy.

 

The general outline of our strategy was:

  1. Start slow and take advantage of “easy wins.”
  2. Focus on securing a handful of strategic links to important pages.
  3. Establish passive link acquisition channels to build momentum.
  4. Be intentional about content creation and its impact on search.
  5. Level up over time, and target higher-value opportunities.

Let’s dive into the case study.

Note: We had control over every aspect of the site, making it much easier to accurately attribute organic gains to the SEO work we were implementing, as well as to make SEO recommendations every step of the way. I have also anonymized the data to maintain confidentiality for the website.

1. Starting slow with a new site

Starting with a new site, we understood there were limitations.

At the beginning, we focused on opportunities with low competition and decent traffic value. We used SEMrush to determine traffic value and manual research to gauge competition.

Examining the search engine results pages (SERPs), we looked for results with:

  • bad exact-match domains.
  • a lack of big name brands.
  • low-quality or outdated content.
  • pages with low link counts.

Here is an example of this type of SERP, for [life insurance quotes in California]:

 

You can see that although some big brands are ranking (State Farm and GEICO), there is also a bad exact-match domain result:

 

Clicking this link shows the content quality is pretty low:

 

There are other poor results in the SERP, too:

 

Finding results with these types of pages would give us confidence that we could easily build something searchers would prefer.

Once we identified potential opportunities, we built best-in-class content targeting those specific SERPs. To separate our content from others in the space we used:

  • custom-built graphics.
  • clear, concise, compelling copy.
  • original photography.
  • optimal formatting — font size, column width, scannable text and so on.

By building content that would best answer searcher intent and needs, we set our pages up to be successful in the SERPs.

More resources:

2. Securing a handful of links to important pages

Pages need links to rank in search.

But the number of links needed to be competitive depends on the page, site, niche, type of query and so on. Furthermore, search engines have become more sophisticated in how they evaluate links, placing more emphasis on quality and less on numbers.

What we learned from doing this project is that bottom-of-the-funnel pages really only need a handful of quality links to rank well, and from there, positive engagement signals would further validate the page as an authority in the eyes of search engines.

Of course, securing links to bottom-of-the-funnel pages is extremely difficult because these pages typically aren’t link-worthy. The purpose of these pages isn’t to inform or entertain; these pages exist to drive conversions, and that doesn’t usually compel other sites to link.

There are a few situations where serving direct value to your site aligns with the goals of other websites, and link opportunities exist. These opportunities involve hyper-focused link pages that are relevant to your content.

Using the same insurance example, a page like this would represent a hyper-relevant links page for a company that offers pet insurance:

 

This strategy isn’t sustainable for a long-term, large-scale campaign because these situations are limited. But we learned that you only need to execute on a select handful of these opportunities to be successful with bottom-of-the-funnel pages.

Other opportunities available to bottom-of-the-funnel pages include:

  • egobait — a specific person, brand, product or service, for example, is mentioned on your page.
  • unique product or service — resource pages that list the small number of vendors available.
  • discounts or promotions — the linking site’s audience is eligible for exclusive discounts.
  • local — resource pages exclusive to local vendors and service providers.
  • reviews — pages that review your product or service.

You can’t build a sustainable link acquisition campaign with these tactics, but you can secure a few quality links to your converting pages and drive initial engagement for your site.

More resources:

3. Establish passive link acquisition channels

Link building is really hard.

Link acquisition is a manual process that is ongoing, forever. My favorite description of link building came from former Googler Matt Cutts, who defined it as “sweat, plus creativity.”

Because securing links is so difficult — and we knew we needed links to grow traffic — we sought to establish passive link acquisition channels to amplify all our link-building efforts.

Part of our content strategy was to use high-quality, original photography, and this provided a perfect opportunity to attract passive links. Rather than copyrighting or watermarking our photos, we decided to use a Creative Commons license that allowed others to use the photos as long as they linked back to their original source (on our site).

For example, in the screen shot below, Ars Technica is citing the photo they used for their article.

 

Even massive publications like this need great photos and often turn to Creative Commons or other sites to do that.

Along with having your images cited, other potential ways to earn links organically include:

  • sponsorships and community involvement.
  • compiling original data or research.
  • being interviewed or quoted.
  • building a unique tool.

The key is to create something original, and then make it easy for others to cite (link to) you as the original source.

More resources:

4. Strategic content creation

Content drives SEO success.

It’s possible to secure a few links to bottom-of-the-funnel pages, but you’ll need middle and top-of-the-funnel content to sustainably capture attention and links.

Creating useful content for your audience is always a sound strategy, but you can take it a step further by being intentional and strategic about the content you publish. We maintained a relentless focus on SEO — creating every page with search, and the opportunities available to us, in mind.

To determine opportunity, we compared SEMrush traffic value against competition level.

Using the “pet insurance” example, we can analyze potential opportunities. For example, this site is ranking number one, which SEMrush estimates is worth $31.2K:

 

However, it looks like the competition for this SERP is fairly high with strong results such as Canine Journal, Consumers Advocate, Consumer Report and Nerd Wallet.

To find something less competitive, I’ll try [exotic pet insurance], where Nationwide is ranking number one and has a traffic value of $2.9K in SEMrush:

 

Looking right below the Nationwide result, I can see these pages ranking with bad exact-match domains:

 

Navigating to the page further validates this is a bad result:

 

This represents an opportunity to create content that would better serve users and have a great chance to rank.

Along with manually reviewing the search results, you can also use Moz’s Keyword Explorer tool to get an estimate of the competition and difficulty surrounding various terms and phrases.

Of course, investing into creating quality content is important, but the key takeaway for us was the success we saw from being strategic about the SEO impact of the content we created.

More resources:

5. Leveling up over time

Momentum is key in SEO.

As you build traction with your campaign, SEO tends to have a multiplying effect where your results will build exponentially. As you earn more visibility in search, you begin to attract more visitors — and if you satisfy the needs of those visitors, they will keep coming back (increasing traffic), endorsing your website (links) and sharing how great you are with others (social media, blogs, podcasts and so on).

We recognized our site was building momentum, and after six months of work, we started to raise expectations. We began to target more competitive spaces (which we avoided at the start), and because we had built a strong foundation, we were successful.

We established a solid baseline of authority and trust with our site, giving us the ability to compete for higher-value terms. Seeing early returns, we began taking even bigger bets on the content we created — not only investing in original design and photography but also adding interactive elements such as custom tools and video.

For example, in this screen shot you can see the payoff:

 

We targeted a very competitive, high-volume topic in the summer months of this year, and the result is more all-time highs, beating our previous numbers by a significant margin.

Another strategy that was fruitful was updating and improving old content using “Last Updated” post dates. Whether it be updating copy or adding a video, we found that small updates to existing content helped us in a variety of ways — it provided content freshness, increased click-through rate (CTR) and showed readers the post isn’t outdated.

For example, you can see Brian Dean of Backlinko executing this strategy here:

 

As we started targeting more competitive terms and earning more visibility, we began seeing significant gains in traffic, eclipsing 100,000 visitors by the end of month 12.

More resources: “How your old content can help with SEO” “Link Building Never Ends” Recap We didn’t use any secret tricks or hacks to grow traffic. Rather, we invested in building quality content, and we implemented various link acquisition strategies to match each stage of the project. As the site grew, so did our expectations and goals. To recap, here’s our process for growing traffic: Start slow and take advantage of “easy wins.” Focus on securing a handful of strategic links to important pages. Establish passive link acquisition channels to build momentum. Be intentional about content creation and its impact on search. Level up over time, and target higher-value opportunities. This is a repeatable, scalable process that we’ve found to be effective. Of course, you will need to tweak and adjust this process a bit to fit your unique situation and needs. However, I hope you can take the key lessons we learned from this project and apply them to your own strategy.  

More resources:

“How your old content can help with SEO”

“Link Building Never Ends”

Recap

We didn’t use any secret tricks or hacks to grow traffic. Rather, we invested in building quality content, and we implemented various link acquisition strategies to match each stage of the project. As the site grew, so did our expectations and goals.

To recap, here’s our process for growing traffic:

Start slow and take advantage of “easy wins.”

Focus on securing a handful of strategic links to important pages.

Establish passive link acquisition channels to build momentum.

Be intentional about content creation and its impact on search.

Level up over time, and target higher-value opportunities.

This is a repeatable, scalable process that we’ve found to be effective. Of course, you will need to tweak and adjust this process a bit to fit your unique situation and needs. However, I hope you can take the key lessons we learned from this project and apply them to your own strategy.

 

14 Essential Tips for an Engaging Facebook Business Page

 

Whether you're setting up a brand new Facebook Page for your brand, or you just want to make the most of your existing one, it’s probably a smart move -- Facebook is home to nearly 2 billion monthly active users.

It should be easy enough, right? Just slap together a photo, a couple of posts, and expect the leads and customers to roll on in, right?

Wrong.

If you're not creating a Facebook Page with a comprehensive strategy to get noticed, Liked, and engaged with, the chances of actually generating leads and customers from it are pretty slim. For example, you can’t just choose any picture -- you have to choose one that’s the right dimensions, high-resolution, and properly represents your brand. 

Download our Facebook Live guide to learn how to increase your social following and brand awareness through live video.  

 

But it doesn’t end there -- so we compiled the tips below to make sure you're creating an engaging page that takes full advantage of everything Facebook marketing has to offer.

14 Facebook Business Page Tips

1) Don't create a personal profile for your business.

We’ve come across many well-meaning marketers and entrepreneurs who create personal profiles for their brands, instead of an actual Facebook Business Page. That puts you at a huge disadvantage -- you’re missing out on all of the content creation tools, paid promotional opportunities, and analytics/insights that come with a Facebook Business Page. Plus, a personal profile would require people to send you a friend request in order to engage with you, and the last thing you want to do is make that more difficult for customers.

And while you’re at it -- don’t create an additional public, “professional” profile associated with your business. For example, I already have a personal profile on Facebook that I largely keep private; the practice I’m talking about would be if I created a second, public one under the name “AmandaZW HubSpot,” or something along those lines. People usually do that to connect with professional contacts on Facebook, without letting them see personal photos or other posts. But the fact of the matter is that creating more than one personal account goes against Facebook's terms of service.

2) Avoid publishing mishaps with Page roles.

We’ve all heard those horror stories about folks who accidentally published personal content to their employers’ social media channels -- a marketer’s worst nightmare. So to avoid publishing mishaps like those, assign Facebook Business Page roles only to the employees who absolutely need it for the work they do each day. And before you do that, be sure to provide adequate training to those who are new to social media management, so they aren't confused about when they should be hitting "publish," what they should be posting, if something should be scheduled first, and who they should be posting it as.

To assign these, on your business page, click “Settings,” then click “Page Roles.”

Also, when sharing content on behalf of your brand, make sure you're posting it as your brand, and not as yourself. You can check that by going into your settings and clicking “Page Attribution.”

3) Add a recognizable profile picture.

You'll want to pick a profile picture that’s easy for your audience to recognize -- anything from a company logo for a big brand, to a headshot of yourself if you're a freelancer or consultant. Being recognizable is important to getting found and Liked, especially in Facebook Search. It’s what shows up in search results, pictured at the top of your Facebook Page, the thumbnail image that gets displayed next to your posts in people’s feeds … so choose wisely.

When choosing a photo, keep in mind that Facebook frequently changes its picture dimensions, which you can find at any given time here. As of publication, Page profile pictures display at 170x170 pixels on desktop, and 128x128 pixels on smartphones.

4) Choose an engaging cover photo.

Next, you'll need to pick an attractive cover photo. Since your cover photo takes up the most real estate above the fold on your Facebook Page, make sure you're choosing one that's high-quality and engaging to your visitors, like this one from MYOB's Facebook Page:

Keep in mind that, like profile images, Facebook Page cover photo dimensions also frequently change, so we advise keeping an eye on the official guidelines. As of publication, Page cover photos display at 820x312 pixels on computers, and 640x360 pixels on smartphones.

5) Add a call-to-action (CTA) button.

Since Facebook first launched the feature in December 2014, the options for brands to add call-to-action buttons to their Facebook Page's have vastly expanded. These are things like “Watch Video,” “Sign Up," or "Book Now" -- and each can be customized with a destination URL or piece of content of their choosing.

It’s a great way for marketers to drive more traffic to their websites, or to get more eyeballs on the Facebook content they want to promote. This is a great way for marketers to drive traffic from their Facebook Business Page back to their website. Check out how Mandarin Oriental uses the "Book Now" button in this way, to make it easier for viewers to make reservations.

To add a call-to-action to your Page, click the blue “Add a Button” box.

You'll then be able to choose which type of CTA you want to create, and which URL or existing content on your Facebook Page you want it to direct visitors to. To get data on how many people are clicking it, simply click the drop-down arrow on your button and select “View Insights.”

6) Fill out your 'About' section with basic information, and add company milestones.

We’ve arrived at one of the most important sections of your Facebook Page: the 'About' section.

Although visitors no longer see a preview of your “About” text when they land on your page -- instead, they have to click on the “About” option on the left-hand column next to your content -- it’s still one of the first places they’ll look when trying to get more information about your page.

Even within the “About” section, however, there are many options for copy to add. Consider optimizing the section that best aligns with your brand -- a general description, a mission, company information, or your story -- with brief, yet descriptive copy. By doing so, your audience can get a sense of what your Page represents before they decide to Like it.

You might also want to populate sections that allow you to record milestones and awards -- like when you launched popular products and services -- as well as the day/year your company was founded, or when you hosted major events.

7) Post photos and videos to your Timeline.

Visual content has pretty much become a requirement of any online presence, including social media channels. After all, it’s 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content.

And while photos are a wonderful way to capture moments and an actual look at your brand, you should probably invest a good amount of time and other resources into video. The 2017 State of Inbound report cited video as the “main disruptor,” with 24% of marketers naming it as a top priority.

“Watch video” is one of the CTAs that Facebook allows brands to add to their Pages for a reason -- because it’s becoming one of the most popular ways to consume content. But it’s not just pre-recording videos. According to the social media channel’s newsroom, “People spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live.” So don’t be afraid to give viewers an in-the-moment look at what your organization does, but do make sure you’re prepared.

8) Determine the ideal timing and frequency for your posts.

An important consideration in your Facebook content strategy should be how frequently you post, and when. If you don’t post frequently enough, you won’t look as reliable or authentic -- after all, how much faith do you put in a brand that hasn’t updated its Facebook Page for several months? Post too often, however, and people might get sick of having their feeds flooded with your content.

Here’s where a social media editorial calendar can be particularly helpful. Like any other online content, it can help you establish a schedule for when you share particular posts according to season or general popularity. You’ll probably have to adjust your calendar several times, especially in the earliest stages of setting up your Page, since you’ll want to check the performance of your updates in your Facebook Insights (which you can navigate to via the tab at the very top of your page). Once you’ve observed popular times and other analytics for your first several posts, you can tailor your posting frequency and strategy accordingly.

Wondering how to schedule posts? You can either use an external publishing tool like the Social Inbox within HubSpot software, or the Facebook interface itself. For the latter, click the arrow next to the “Publish” button and click “Schedule Post.”

9) Leverage Facebook's targeting tools.

Facebook allows you to target certain audiences with specific updates -- be it gender, relationship or educational status, age, location, language, or interests, you can segment individual page posts by these criteria.

Just click the small bullseye symbol on the bottom of the post you want to publish, and you can set metrics for both a preferred audience, and one you think might not want to see your content.

10) Pin important posts to the top of your page.

When you post new content to your Facebook Page, older posts get pushed farther down your Timeline. But sometimes, you might want a specific post to stay at the top of your page for longer -- even after you publish new updates.

To solve for this, Facebook offers the ability to "pin" one post at a time to the top of your page. You can use pinned posts as a way to promote things like new lead-gen offers, upcoming events, or important product announcements.

To pin a post, click on the drop-down arrow in the top-right corner of a post on your page, and click 'Pin to Top.' It will then appear at the top of your page, flagged with a little bookmark. Just keep in mind that you can only have one pinned post at any given time.

11) Decide whether you want Facebook fans to message you privately.

If you want your Facebook fans to be able to privately message you directly through your page, definitely enable the messages feature. You can do so by going to your settings, clicking on “General” on the left-hand column, and then looking for “Messages” on the list of results.

Messages-2.png

We recommend enabling messaging on your page to make it as easy as possible for your fans to reach out to you -- but only do so if you have the time to monitor and respond to your messages. Facebook Pages now have a section that indicates how quickly a brand responds to messages, so if you don’t want that section saying that you’re slow to answer, you might just want to skip enabling that feature.

12) Monitor and respond to comments on your page.

Speaking of monitoring the interactions your fans have with your page, don't forget about comments. You can monitor and respond to comments via the 'Notifications' tab at the very top of your page. While it may not be necessary to respond to every single comment you receive, you should definitely monitor the conversations happening there (especially to stay on top of potential social media crises.

13) Promote your page to generate more followers.

Now that you've filled your page with content, it's time to promote the heck out of it.

One of the first things you can do is to create an ad promoting your Page. To do that, click the three dots at the top menu bar above your posts and select “Create Ad.” From there, Facebook will let you start creating an ad from scratch based on your goals -- things like reach, traffic, or general brand awareness. Choose yours, then scroll down and click “continue.”

After that, you can choose your targeted audience (similar to what you did with your promoted posts above), where on Facebook you want it to be placed, and your budget -- you can learn more about paying for Facebook Ads here.

You’ll probably also be asked to add some creative assets or copy. Remember, you’re paying for this, so choose something that’s going to grab attention, but also has high quality and represents your brand well.

14) Finally, measure the success of your Facebook efforts.

There are a couple of ways to execute this step. You can use something like the social media reports tool in your HubSpot software, and you can dig into your Page's Insights, which allow you to track Facebook-specific engagement metrics. Here, you'll be able to analyze things like the demographics of your Page audience and, if you reach a certain threshold, the demographics of people engaging with your page and posts. As we mentioned earlier, the latter is especially helpful to modify your Facebook content strategy to publish more of what works, and less of what doesn't. You can access your Facebook Page Insights via the tab at the top of your page.

How have you set up top-notch Facebook Pages? Let us know in the comments.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in December 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Internet Ad Spend Is About to Surpass TV Ad Spend [New Report]

 

There are few things I look forward to more every year than the release of Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report.

It’s clear, it’s visually interesting, and most importantly, the results are always fascinating -- with tremendous implications for marketers.

 

Meeker’s report is chock-full of data about how the way users operate online is changing. And man, are things changing. Voice queries are replacing the typical internet search, Netflix and other streaming services are replacing cable television, and social media is overtaking traditional cable TV habits.

Another way the internet is changing TV? Advertising. In her report, Meeker predicts that in 2017, spending on internet advertising will surpass spending on TV advertising for the first time -- and eventually exceed $200 billion.

In this post, we’ll dive into how this change is taking place, and what the future of advertising looks like -- in 2017 and beyond.

The State of Internet Advertising in 2017

Here's a visualization of Meeker's prediction -- which also shows the rapid trajectory of internet advertising spend since the 1990s:

Internet Trends 2017 Report from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

As you can see from Meeker’s slide, internet advertising spending will exceed $200 billion this year -- beating TV advertising spending for the first time.

The magnitude of this can’t be overstated -- the first television ad aired in 1941, and the first internet ad was placed in 1994. It took the internet only 24 years to disrupt and outpace the 76-year-old TV advertising industry -- making it almost three times faster and more agile.

Meeker’s report also outlined where the bulk of internet advertising dollars are spent -- and to nobody’s surprise, online advertising is growing at an explosive rate on Google and Facebook (20% and 62% year-over-year, respectively).

Internet Trends 2017 Report from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

This data means that the online inbound marketing world is disrupting -- and outpacing -- the traditional outbound marketing world. But it's reflective of other trends and changes, too.

What the Future of Online Advertising Looks Like

The Future of Online Advertising Is Mobile

Roughly half of all internet ad spending was on mobile advertising in 2016:

Internet Trends 2017 Report from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

And that breakdown is no surprise -- because people are spending more time online -- and more time online on their phones -- than ever before:

Internet Trends 2017 Report from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Meeker's report highlights this trend -- and points out the massive potential for growth in the mobile advertising space. There's an opportunity for $16 billion worth of growth as the amount of mobile online advertising catches up to the time people are spending online on mobile devices:

Internet Trends 2017 Report from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

This gap between time spent on mobile devices and money spent advertising specifically on mobile devices could be indicative of the relatively new mobile advertising space -- advertisers might not yet know how to engage such a new swath of potential prospects.

But it could also be a result of the rapid rate at which mobile ads are reported and blocked, too. As it turns out, internet users -- particularly on mobile devices -- are quick to block ads they're not interested in viewing:

Internet Trends 2017 Report from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

There's a huge opportunity for marketers and advertisers in the mobile online space, but it needs to be carefully and strategically done -- so as not to irritate users enough for them to block those ads. We'll surely continue to see more ads online -- and on our smartphones.

The Future of Online Advertising Is Social

Google is eating up the majority of mobile advertising revenue dollars, but it's followed closely by Facebook. What's more, revenue from ads on Google and Facebook made up 85% of online advertising revenue in 2016:

Internet Trends 2017 Report from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

So, as advertising spending and consumption shifts from TV to online, and specifically to mobile online, keep an eye on where ads start appearing online, too. Facebook online advertising revenue is growing faster than Google ad revenue at 62% year-over-year -- and as it turns out, ads on Facebook drive direct purchases, too:

Internet Trends 2017 Report from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Mobile ads and targeted pins on Pinterest see high purchase rates, too: 

Internet Trends 2017 Report from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

As users continue spending more and more online time within social media apps, advertisers will shift their strategy to create targeted, shoppable ads that live in social media feeds to keep users within apps and mobile devices and to make it easier for them to buy.

The Future of Online Advertising Will Be Closely Monitored

As the rates at which online and mobile ads are blocked by users indicate, many ads are perceived as obtrusive, disruptive, and unhelpful to many people. And it's true -- poor quality ads can drive people away from your site if they create a poor experience for your visitor.

Perhaps that's why Google and Facebook have started taking steps to penalize publishers advertisers that create disruptive, misleading, and otherwise low-quality ad experiences on their platforms in recent years. Mobile and social media advertising offer a lot of opportunity for reward, but marketers and advertisers need to be mindful of the high stakes when they start creating. Pop-ups, overlays, and clickbait could get you penalized and blocked from future success, so stay tuned for more guidance on mobile marketing and social media advertising.

No Mercy / No Malice: Shark Repellent — Fighting Amazon

Shark Repellent — Fighting Amazon 

26 MAY 2017

by Scott Galloway

The markets are a remarkable thing. No one person or firm (theoretically) controls them, and they have lifelike features, but aren’t even machines, much less organic. However, they are a raw reflection of our emotions and actions without makeup. Hold up a mirror to hundreds of millions of people, and the collective reflection can be seen in the real estate, art, coffee, and stock markets.

The market also looks sectors in the eyes and provides unadulterated feedback. Right now, the markets are telling Amazon, rubbing up against $1000/share,“God, you’re hot,” and the rest of retail, “I think you’re dying.” Things are bad in retail — share performance signals the market has decided many / most are going away. 

 

 

The perfect storm has hit retail hard. Specifically, concern over: 

— Stagnant middle-class wages. The greatest source of good in history, the American middle class, was hit so hard it still hasn’t gotten on its feet. 

— People are spending more on experiences vs. stuff.

— A retailer in Seattle is doing really well. 

— There are too many stores. 

Ok, yeah we get it … we (retail) are fucked. So what’s a girl (retail) to do? Some thoughts:[1]

Retool messaging to the street 

Store sales is the metric retailers lead with, and they will move up again in … 2025, after 20 percent of the supply (stores) goes away. Until then, retailers that derive more than 30% of their business online (and there are a lot of them) need to refer to that channel as their core business. As such, their core business is growing double digits, and their primary source of marketing, brick and mortar, sometimes makes money and is getting cheaper, as power shifts from landlords to tenants for the first time in ten years.

Double down on growth & Amazon-immune categories 

— Sephora stores in JC Penney have (sort of) kept the retailer relevant, and drive foot traffic. They also, last week, announced they were introducing a B2B unitto sell mattresses and linens to hotels.

— While Macy’s announced it was closing 68 of its 730 stores in January, at the same time they announced 50 new Blue Mercury doors in the next 24 months. In 2016 they opened four pilot concepts, 18 store-in-stores, and 24 freestanding doors.

— Home Depot has focused its fulfillment capabilities on products with non-favorable ship to weight ratios (80% of Home Depot SKUs weigh more than five pounds), playing offense against Amazon.

Organic intelligence — invest in in-store customer service 

— You know, humans.

— Best Buy blue shirts, Sephora Cast, Home Depot’s golden aprons. 

— Net-a-Porter has embraced messaging, as that’s increasingly how people communicate, and bots are lame.

Omnichannel through a shareholder lens 

— Investments in buy online pickup in store, in-store inventory, and flexible returns make sense but have to have pass a strategic filter.

— For instance Nordstrom found it better to enable free returns, as when they pushed “return in store” they found there was a 2-3 week lag, which in many cases led to the product being already discounted or on clearance. The increase in basket size from getting the consumer in store didn’t offset the pricing challenges of getting the inventory so much later.

 

 

Narrow vs. broad 

Play to Amazon’s weaknesses by curating selection vs. endless aisle assortment. Wayfair has more than 8M SKUs online vs. Home Depot’s 700,000. As Wayfair and Amazon continue to double down on endless aisle, Home Depot has narrowed SKU selection. 

Need for Speed: Supply Chain

Supply chain ninjas have been more disruptive than Amazon. There has been $27.8B in value transfer in apparel from department stores to online pureplays,mostly Amazon, since 2005. Over that same period, H&M and Zara added $28.2B in incremental global revenue. 

Consumers appear to view online platforms as more authentic than department stores. Asos and Farfetch are much stronger on Instagram than traditional department stores. When Fast Fashion puts a buy button on Instagram, engagement increases. When a traditional department store does, engagement decreases. Everything is moving to fast, relevant, and (see point 1) fast. 

Partnerships

Brands and retailers are mostly in this together. When Panzer tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia and Poland, the British, Americans, and Russians became less allergic to partnership. There’s a tendency for traditional retailers to go aggressively at online media opps and paid merchandising to offset traditional shopper marketing dollars that were going in store. Most aren’t doing this thoughtfully, more like throwing spaghetti up against a wall and see what sticks — which pisses off brands. 

Target and P&G are a model for cooperation in the face of the real enemy. When Amazon started drop-shipping from P&G’s warehouses, Target got angry. The reality is if Target had those capabilities, P&G would have presented the same opportunity. Retailers need to more tightly integrate their supply chain with key brand partners and think about flexible / integrated inventory sourcing models. 

Cruel Truth

The cruel truth of capitalism is each firm has finite capital. In the case of most retailers it’s increasingly finite as their stocks plummet. The cheap capital equation of intelligence x receptors is not in most traditional retailers’ favor. To be good or great at everything is to be truly great at nothing and to compromise trying to get there. Decide where you’ll be best in class, and where you’ll be just good enough (e.g., fulfillment). Walmart’s move to end ShippingPass, their Prime copycat for $49/year, this year is evidence of this. Instead Walmart lowered free shipping minimums.

Best Bond Ever 

 

 

James Bond and the 007 franchise hold a special place in the heart of anybody who grew up in the sixties and seventies. It was racy, but there were was little blood. A handsome guy saved the world in the name of the queen with charm and cool technology — 007 had a car that turned to a submarine; we got 140 characters. My favorite: Live and Let Die. Roger Moore’s wit, vs. the brawn of other Bonds, set against a seventies backdrop, and a stunning Jane Seymour, make for a work our grandkids will watch in film school. 

Moore passed away this week. Born to a policeman, he joined the Royal Army at 18 and rose to captain. The oldest actor to play Bond (seven films), and knighted by Queen Elizabeth ll for his philanthropic work, Sir Roger Moore made the most of his 89 years. 

Life is so rich, 
Scott

A nice story about Roger Moore: 

As a seven-year-old in about 1983, in the days before first-class lounges at airports, I was with my grandad at the Nice Airport and saw Roger Moore sitting at the departure gate, reading a paper. I told my granddad I’d just seen James Bond and asked if we could go over so I could get his autograph. My grandad had no idea who James Bond or Roger Moore were, so we walked over and he popped me in front of Roger Moore, with the words “My grandson says you’re famous. Can you sign this?” 

As charming as you’d expect, Roger asks my name and duly signs the back of my plane ticket, a fulsome note full of best wishes. I’m ecstatic, but as we head back to our seats, I glance down at the signature. It’s hard to decipher it, but it definitely doesn’t say “James Bond.” My grandad looks at it, half figures out it says “Roger Moore” — I have absolutely no idea who that is, and my hearts sinks. I tell my grandad he’s signed it wrong, that he’s put someone else’s name — so my grandad heads back to Roger Moore, holding the ticket that he’s only just signed. 

I remember staying by our seats and my grandad saying, “He says you’ve signed the wrong name. He says your name is James Bond.” Roger Moore’s face crinkled up with realisation and he beckoned me over. When I was by his knee, he leant over, looked from side to side, raised an eyebrow, and in a hushed voice said to me, “I have to sign my name as ‘Roger Moore’ because otherwise … Blofeld might find out I was here.” He asked me not to tell anyone that I’d just seen James Bond, and he thanked me for keeping his secret. I went back to our seats, my nerves absolutely jangling with delight. My grandad asked me if he’d signed “James Bond.” No, I said. I’d got it wrong. I was working with James Bond now.

How to compare paid search and organic search without sounding foolish

Which search channel is better: paid or organic? Columnist Andy Taylor argues that there is no simple answer to this question, despite what some practitioners may want to believe.

Andy Taylor on May 25, 2017 at 11:16 am 

ast week, I had the misfortune of encountering perhaps the most misguided thread on digital marketing I’ve ever seen on Twitter (which is saying something), in which an SEO declared unequivocally that “organic search traffic beats paid traffic for every single metric.”

 

To me, these statements seemed outrageous and even inflammatory. But much to my surprise, many SEOs caught onto this thread and were all about it. Et tu, Rand?

 

Realistically, I’m not sure what data can truly back up these far-reaching statements declaring dominance of organic search performance over paid search in every metric. And Rand’s caveat fails to address the real problem of this thread, which is its narrow-minded, one-versus-the-other premise.

In reality, some searchers will click on ads. Others will click on organic links. Marketers should be trying to capture both.

Let’s talk about the current landscape and dive into how there are better, more nuanced ways to look at performance comparisons between paid search and SEO — without all the bluster.

Paid search growth has long outpaced organic growth

It’s no secret to paid search and SEO managers that Google has steadily made updates over the past couple of years that have directly harmed organic traffic, including the addition of a fourth text ad above organic links on desktop, the addition of a third (and then fourth) text ad above organic links on phones, doubling the size of Product Listing Ads on phones, moving the Local Pack to the top of search results, and more.

As a result, overall organic traffic has declined Y/Y for the past several quarters, as shown in this chart from the quarterly Merkle Digital Marketing Report (registration required).

 

You don’t have to take our word for it — take a look at Google’s Q1 2017 earnings report, which showed a 53 percent increase in paid clicks on Google properties Y/Y. Even though that includes other channels, the vast majority is search, and if you think that isn’t coming at the expense of organic — well, you’d be wrong.

I don’t say this because I’m a paid search hack trying to butter up PPC. Our agency manages SEO as well — and does a fantastic job of it. I even lauded the strong organic growth we were seeing a couple of years ago in a presentation at SMX Advanced about Google’s declining paid search click growth at the time. If we were seeing big organic growth overall, I’d be screaming it from the rooftops and saying that every marketer needs to be throwing all their resources at organic.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case — because again, Google has been steadily making changes that directly harm organic search and help to keep paid search click growth strong.

 

So right off the bat, we have one metric that paid search has an advantage in. This is going to vary from brand to brand, but overall, this is the way things are moving for most marketers.

But what about all those other metrics that are supposedly amazing for organic and terrible for paid search? Anyone who understands how to do such comparisons correctly would be careful to provide nuance and specificity in explaining how performance metrics should be analyzed. Unfortunately, Twitter is ill-suited for such details.

Here are two tips for anyone looking to derive meaningful comparisons between paid search and SEO.

1. Segment query types and devices

If most of your organic search traffic is coming from searches for your own brand name, but a smaller share of paid search traffic comes from branded queries, performance is going to vary. Shocking, I know. As such, you should be segmenting traffic and conversion performance by brand vs. non-brand, as well as doing category-level segmentations within those buckets.

This was made harder by the rise of [not provided] obfuscating organic queries in analytics packages, but is still possible using tools such as Google Search Console.

Similarly, organic and paid search might derive different shares of traffic from different device types for a given brand. Device types tend to perform differently in all sorts of metrics, from click-through rate to conversion rate to bounce rate. Thus, this would throw off any overall performance comparisons and require that metrics be broken down by device.

In the case of analysis that declares some overall winner with zero nuance about how data was segmented, it’s almost guaranteed the individual didn’t bother making such segmentations. Declaring such overarching results apply to every brand in existence is just ridiculous.

2. Take advantage of both paid and organic, and measure incrementality

But it’s not just about measuring how paid and organic search metrics compare on any given day. It’s also important to understand how they work together.

Every marketer wants to rank organically for every keyword that they might consider bidding on in paid search, preferably in the top spot. But it’s simply not possible for every site to rank on the first page of organic listings for every single query that might drive value for them.

Similarly, every brand would love to have an ad at the top of the page for every relevant query, but the economics of paid search are limiting. It’s not financially viable to bid to the top position for every term, and in many cases it’s not even feasible to bid to the first page of results given the expected return for a particular query.

So we have a situation where brands would love to have both paid and organic listings (since users are inevitably going to click both types of listings), but in which it’s impossible to actually achieve perfect visibility in both. Understanding how these two types of visibility work together, then, is key.

In the case of brand keywords, it’s certainly possible that a site might be able to pick up all of the paid search traffic it’s getting from brand ads through its organic listings. Of course, this is going to depend on factors such as if competitors are bidding on brand keywords and how many first page organic listings are occupied by the brand, but it’s possible.

Still, we find that the vast majority of brand holdout tests show that organic links do not pick up all traffic that goes to brand ads, such that brand ads have some incremental value. There is no way to say that organic “outperforms” paid when it comes to talking about this incremental traffic — you’re either getting it through ads or you’re not getting it at all. Period.

In the case of a non-brand query in which a site doesn’t even rank on the first page, pretty much all traffic coming from a paid search ad is incremental. Should you try to rank organically for that query? Absolutely, but it doesn’t mean you should forgo paid search just because you heard organic search is better in every metric.

Conclusion: Get rid of search partisanship

What I’m trying to get at here is that marketers should want to be “turned on” for as many different types of search visibility as possible, whether it be paid links, the local pack, the knowledge graph or plain old organic listings. Lauding one channel over another in sweeping statements is ridiculous and actually harms the discussion by completely ignoring important nuances.

What’s worse, pitting one channel against another is incredibly detrimental to moving the conversation forward on how the two channels work together. Given the complicated relationship between paid and organic search that varies from query to query, such search partisanship is only good for those who specialize in one channel to make the case for their specialty.

In that regard, I’m glad I work at an agency that manages both paid and organic search optimization, such that we can feel free to laud the benefits of both and talk about challenges and concerns in equal measure. We’re all about working across channels to squeeze every possible ounce of value out of search, whether it’s paid or organic, while single-minded folks clutch the pearls of the one channel they know how to manage.

In short: Be open-minded, think critically, and understand the nuances of comparing paid and organic search.

9 Inbound Marketing Stats You Need to Know in 2017 [New Data]

The inbound movement has always been about one thing: being relevant and truly helpful to your audience.

This approach shouldn't change, but as technology and internal company relationships change, marketers and salespeople must learn how to adapt to better serve their customers.

To better understand how our relationships with consumers and coworkers are changing, we collected data from more than 6,300 marketers and salespeople from around the globe, which we've compiled in the 2017 State of Inbound report. It examines the relationship between company leadership and employees, details on collaboration between marketing and sales teams, and a look at what the industry’s foremost marketers are adding to their strategy in the coming year.

Check out the full report here, or view some of the most interesting highlights below.

9 Stats You Need to Know From the 2017 State of Inbound Report

1) 68% of inbound marketers believe their organization's marketing strategy is effective. [Tweet this]

Last year, we started to examine marketers' thoughts on their organizations' marketing strategy and found that inbound marketers are much more likely to be satisfied with their organization's approach.

We're happy to report that this trend continued. 68% of inbound marketers believe their organization's marketing strategy is effective. However, the majority of outbound marketers (52%) do not think their strategy is effective.

2) 1/3 of marketers think outbound marketing tactics are overrated. [Tweet this]

It’s not simply the effectiveness of the inbound philosophy that encourages us, but the success of inbound when compared to alternative methods. Each year, marketers tell us that outbound practices are overrated.

While we admit we might be a bit biased, when we cut the data, marketers agreed. According to this year’s data, 32% of marketers rank outbound marketing practices such as paid advertising as the top waste of time and resources.

 

3) C-level executives and individual contributors disagree about the effectiveness of their organizations' marketing strategy. [Tweet this]

Over the years, we've continued to examine the relationship between marketers and salespeople. This year, we discovered an interesting trend in the data: Company leadership and individual contributor employees are struggling under a growing corporate chasm.

This means that leadership and employees often view their company, its performance, and its future very differently. For example, while 69% of C-level executives believe their organizations' marketing strategies are effective, only 55% of individual contributors agree. Leaders who want their business to grow must learn how to effectively communicate the organization's vision and goals with their employees.

4) Marketers struggle most with metrics-driven challenges. [Tweet this]

Marketers find tracking and making sense of their metrics a challenge. This year, 63% of marketers admit that their top challenge is generating enough traffic and leads. This is followed by 40% who struggle proving the ROI of marketing activities and 28% who are trying to secure enough budget.

All three of these top challenges are metrics-driven. Without the proper tools to track concrete campaign results, these areas will continue to be a struggle.

SOI-blog-top-challenges4.png

 

5) Organizations with an SLA are more than 3X as likely to be effective. [Tweet this]

When we began publishing this report nine years ago, much of our data revolved around the adoption of inbound marketing. As the message spread, we began to see why it’s crucial for both marketing and sales teams to adopt the inbound methodology together. One of the main ways this is done is through a service-level agreement (SLA).

Despite the fact that only 22% of organizations say they have a tightly-aligned SLA, the benefits of having one are clear: 81% of marketers with as SLA think their marketing strategy is effective. In fact, there is no combination of factors more strongly correlated with marketing success than being both inbound and having an SLA.

 

6) 38% of salespeople say getting a response from prospects is getting harder. [Tweet this]

While marketers struggle with tracking the metrics of their campaigns, salespeople admit that getting a response from prospects is a growing challenge. However, as you dive deeper into the data, you see the problem starts long before salespeople begin contacting prospects.

38% of salespeople say that they struggle most with prospecting. While there is an abundance of new technology and platforms to help salespeople connect and develop relationships with prospects, many are finding it difficult to incorporate this technology into their daily routine. In fact, 19% of salespeople say they're struggling to incorporate social media in their sales process, and 13% say using sales technologies is now harder than it used to be.

7) Marketers think video and messaging apps have the potential to disrupt. [Tweet this]

As marketers prepare for the future, many plan to use a variety of content publishing platforms. In the past, content marketers poured their efforts into their email, website, and blog strategies. But with the rising trend of content decentralization, marketers are now seeing the benefit of publishing on a variety of channels.

In our study, marketers are paying more attention to video’s global appeal, with 48% planning on investing in YouTube and 39% looking to add Facebook video to their strategy. In addition, many marketers are experimenting with messaging apps, while others continue to focus on more visual platforms such as Instagram.

But don’t think the age of the blog is over. 53% of respondents say blog content creation is one of their top inbound marketing priorities.

 

8) 45% of salespeople say they spend over an hour performing manual data entry. [Tweet this]

Getting a response from prospects is not the only challenge salespeople are facing. According to our 2017 data, 45% of salespeople say they spend over an hour performing manual data entry. Another 23% of salespeople say their biggest challenge using their CRM is manual data entry.

The more time salespeople spend on data entry, the less time they have to do what they are skilled at: closing deals. Not only is manual data entry time consuming, it can also be detrimental to the business. Storing contacts in an unorganized way or not properly using a CRM can lead to a disjointed sales strategy. Businesses should look to sales tools that include automation, integrate with their other platforms, and provide insight into the full customer journey.

9) Marketers and salespeople don't see eye to eye on the quality of marketing-sourced leads. [Tweet this]

We know there's a disconnect between marketing and sales teams around the definition of a quality lead, but this year's report shows a drastic gap.

59% of marketers say they provide salespeople with very high-quality leads, but only 25% of salespeople agree. In fact, the majority of salespeople -- from the C-suite to individual contributors -- rank marketing leads last, behind referrals and sales-sourced leads. This data continues to highlight the importance of SLAs.

 

Want more data-backed insights? This is just a preview of the State of Inbound report. Download the report for free to discover how inbound marketing and sales is evolving.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

4 critical areas to consider when performing AdWords audits

AdWords audits are a great way to win business and check on the health of an account, but columnist Matt Umbro notes that there are some aspects of an audit that are easily overlooked or underexplored. Don't make these mistakes!

Matt Umbro on May 12, 2017 at 12:41 pm 

Auditing a prospective client’s Google AdWords account is a tried-and-true sales tactic when hoping to win business. By reviewing accounts, missed opportunities may be found, while issues with campaign structure, settings and optimizations can be addressed. Many agencies have checklists and/or specific areas they review when auditing accounts. However, as AdWords becomes more complex and new features are released, the traditional audit doesn’t cut it anymore.

In this post, I’ll address areas that are often neglected or not given enough thought when auditing AdWords accounts. Some are more technical than others, but the theme is that one size doesn’t fit all. Too often, our preconceived notions don’t allow us to view accounts in a different light. Understand and be open to how accounts are set up as you conduct your audits.

Here are four common issues marketers run into when auditing AdWords accounts:

1. Misunderstanding conversion tracking

One of the first items to be reviewed is how conversion tracking is set up. After all, conversion metrics tend to give the most insight into client goals. Along with making sure the conversion pixel is firing correctly, an audit will assess the various conversion types and how they are performing. A good place to begin is the “Conversions” section within the “Tools” tab. You can see how conversions are categorized.

 

It’s then imperative to look at the actual web pages on which the conversions are occurring. Often, the URL will include some variation of “thank you” or “confirmation.” For example, www.example.com/thanksor www.example.com/order-confirmation. When the URL contains this form of confirmation, it’s easy to determine that the conversions are legitimate. But as more sites become responsive and utilize IFrames, they may not include a separate confirmation URL.

Historically, if you saw a URL in the web pages section that didn’t appear to be a confirmation page, your first thought may have been that it was a pageview conversion. For example, the URL www.example.com/email-newsletter contains the signup form and isn’t the confirmation page. Thus, conversions may be inflated because the pixel is firing on the form, giving an inaccurate representation of performance. Though this scenario still happens, there tends to be another explanation.

Some sites don’t have confirmation pages. Whether through an IFrame or the syntax of the site, when a form submission or purchase occurs, the URL resolves back to itself. Even though www.example.com/email-newsletter appears to contain the signup form, it’s actually the conversion as well. Here is where platforms such as Google Tag Manager or Google Analytics come into play. These platforms have the ability to track button clicks as conversions and showcase this data in AdWords.

If you see what looks like a pageview conversion, it’s imperative that you investigate how it is tracked. It could very well be that the button click is the conversion. Instead of telling the potential client that conversions are inflated, you’ve done your research to know how the conversion is set up.

2. Focusing too much on efficiency without considering volume

A few years ago, I analyzed an account’s efficiency against volume in an attempt to find the sweet spot. I wanted to see what the ideal balance was for hitting account goals but also increasing conversion volume. Needless to say, in many cases, either efficiency or volume needs to be sacrificed to improve the other. For example, if you want to bid on top-of-funnel keywords that are more expensive in an effort to capture additional traffic, your ROI will most likely decrease. This concept is important to understand when auditing accounts.

Audits look to uncover wasted spend. In a vacuum, there is nothing wrong with this philosophy. However, we know that many factors come into play when analyzing account performance. As an example, a keyword that has seen 100 clicks with one last-click conversion may at first seem to be ineffective, but when digging deeper, we may find that:

  • the keyword is assisting in the overall conversion funnel.
  • only 20 clicks have come from mobile, including the click that resulted in the conversion.
  • the landing page doesn’t continue what is stated in the ad copy.

Unless you conduct in-depth research, your audit won’t uncover these findings. The days of the all-in-one audit automation through Excel or other tools are gone. Though these tools still provide valuable data, they only scratch the surface. Solely reviewing efficiency is too basic a view when there are many variables to consider.

3. Disregarding mobile

I think we’re in the seventh or eighth “year of mobile,” but judging by many AdWords accounts, you wouldn’t know it. I constantly see accounts that have negative -100% bid modifiers on mobile devices, don’t have mobile ads, or aren’t making sound decisions based on the data. More often than not, accounts I audit see more mobile traffic than they do desktop and tablet.

In many cases, there is an absence of a mobile strategy. The audit should point out recommendations that will help the client have a more effective mobile presence and lead to better conversion rates.

Now that advertisers are again able to create mobile-specific campaigns, it’s worth discussing if a breakout is worthwhile. Since mobile bid modifiers can be set at the campaign and ad group levels, and advertisers can use IF statements to write mobile-specific ads, device-specific campaigns aren’t as necessary as they once were. My rule of thumb is to test a mobile-specific campaign if roughly 70 percent of impressions come from mobile devices.

There are still benefits to creating mobile-specific campaigns, including the ability to:

  • set keyword level bids at the mobile level instead of a using a bid modifier.
  • write mobile ads without using IF statements or ad customizers.
  • write mobile-specific ad extensions without having to check off the mobile-preferred option.

It amazes me that mobile isn’t taken more seriously, but an audit should uncover actionable insights that will point the account in the right direction.

4. Not running a search term cross-pollination report

Continuing the theme of digging below the surface, cross-pollination reports list which queries are triggering ads in multiple ad groups. Let’s look at a scenario where I have two ad groups around “coffee tables” and “oval coffee tables.”

 

Each of the keywords is in modified broad match. Therefore, a search for “oval coffee tables” could trigger an ad in either ad group. The solution would be to add “oval” as a negative keyword in the “coffee tables” ad group. By taking this step, we deliberately tell Google from which ad group we want our ad to show.

It’s one thing to say that the account structure is sound, but it’s another to prove it. If the cross-pollination report shows that few queries are triggering ads in the wrong ad groups, the structure is in good shape. Conversely, if many of the same queries are triggering ads in multiple ad groups, there is an issue with targeting and organization.

Final thoughts

Audits give great insight into how accounts are performing, but most don’t address larger account concerns. I challenge you to look at and ask questions related to themes and not just concrete numbers. It’s more important to discuss why efficiency and volume fluctuate instead of making an absolute statement such as, “If we cut x spend, our ROI will increase by y.” Or review how mobile is impacting the overall funnel, rather than just saying, “The mobile bid modifier should be x.” Though the tactical aspect has its merits, audits should lead to strategy discussions.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

How Google assesses the 'authority' of web pages

Google has no single authority metric but rather uses a bucket of signals to determine authority on a page-by-page basis.

Danny Sullivan 

 

Google’s fight against problematic content has drawn renewed attention to a common question: how does Google know what’s authoritative? The simple answer is that it has no single “authority” metric. Rather, Google looks at a variety of undisclosed metrics which may even vary from query to query.

The original authority metric: PageRank

When Google first began, it did have a single authority figure. That was called PageRank, which was all about looking at links to pages. Google counted how many links a page received to help derive a PageRank score for that page.

Google didn’t just reward pages with a lot of links, however. It also tried to calculate how important those links were. A page with a few links from other “important” pages could gain more authority than a page with many links from relatively unremarkable pages.

Even pages with a lot of authority — a lot of PageRank — weren’t guaranteed to rocket to the top of Google’s search results, however. PageRank was only one part of Google’s overall ranking algorithm, the system it uses to list pages in response to particular searches. The actual words within links had a huge impact. The words on the web pages themselves were taken into account. Other factors also played a role.

Calculating authority today

These days, links and content are still among the most important ranking signals. However, artificial intelligence — Google’s RankBrain system — is another major factor. In addition, Google’s ranking system involves over 200 major signals. Even our Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors that tries to simplify the system involves nearly 40 major areas of consideration.

None of these signals or metrics today involve a single “authority” factor as in the old days of PageRank, Google told Search Engine Land recently.

“We have no one signal that we’ll say, ‘This is authority.’ We have a whole bunch of things that we hope together help increase the amount of authority in our results,” said Paul Haahr, one of Google’s senior engineers who is involved with search quality.

What are those things? Here, Google’s quiet, not providing specifics. The most it will say is that the bucket of factors it uses to arrive at a proxy for authority are something it hopes really does correspond to making authoritative content more visible.

One of the ways it hopes to improve that mix is with feedback from the quality raters that it employs, who were recently given updated guidelines on how to flag low-quality web pages.

As I’ve explained before, those raters have no direct impact on particular web pages. It’s more like the raters are diners in a restaurant, asked to review various meals they’ve had. Google takes in those reviews, then decides how to change its overall recipes to improve its food. But in this case, the recipes are Google’s search algorithms, and the food is the search results it dishes up. Google hopes the feedback from raters, along with all its other efforts, provides results that better reward authoritative content.

“Our goal in all of this is that we are increasing the quality of the pages that we show to users. Some of our signals are correlated with these notions of quality,” Haahr said.

Authority is primarily assessed on a per-page basis

While there’s no single authority figure, that bucket of signals effectively works like one. That leads to the next issue. Is this authority something calculated for each page on the web, or can domains have an overall authority that transfers to individual pages?

Google says authority is done on a per-page basis. In particular, it avoids the idea of sitewide or domain authority because that can potentially lead to false assumptions about individual pages, especially those on popular sites.

“We wouldn’t want to look at Twitter or YouTube as, ‘How authoritative is this site?’ but how authoritative is the user [i.e., individual user pages] on this site,” Haahr said.

It’s a similar situation with sites like Tumblr, WordPress or Medium. Just because those sites are popular, using that popularity (and any authority assumption) for individual pages within the sites would give those pages a reward they don’t necessarily deserve.

What about third-party tools that try to assess both “page authority” and “domain authority?” Those aren’t Google’s metrics. Those are simply guesses by third-party companies about how they think Google might be scoring things.

Sitewide signals, not domain authority

That’s not to say that Google doesn’t have sitewide signals that, in turn, can influence individual pages. How fast a site is or whether a site has been impacted by malware are two things that can have an impact on pages within those sites. Or in the past, Google’s “Penguin Update” that was aimed at spam operated on a sitewide basis (Haahr said that’s not the case today, a shift made last year when Penguin was baked into Google’s core ranking algorithm).

When all things are equal with two different pages, sitewide signals can help individual pages.

“Consider two articles on the same topic, one on the Wall Street Journal and another on some fly-by-night domain. Given absolutely no other information, given the information we have now, the Wall Street Journal article looks better. That would be us propagating information from the domain to the page level,” Haahr said.

But pages are rarely in “all things equal” situations. Content published to the web quickly acquires its own unique page-specific signals that generally outweigh domain-specific ones. Among those signals are those in the bucket used to assess page-specific authority. In addition, the exact signals used can also vary depending on the query being answered, Google says.

How to Repost on Instagram: 4 Easy Ways to Reshare Content

Where most social media feeds are almost distractingly busy -- full of photos, videos, and text updates from friends and brands you follow -- Instagram is different because you can only look at one post at a time.

And while this simple, clean interface makes to easy to focus on the beautiful photography and interesting videos on Instagram, it also leaves something to be desired: the ability to easily repost other users' content

Download our essential guide to Instagram for business for more helpful tips and tricks.

But fear not: for every problem, the internet has afforded a solution. We tested out four different ways to repost content on Instagram in a few simple steps. All of these methods are free, but some require you to download an app from the iOS App Store or Google Play first.

How to Repost on Instagram: 4 Methods to Try

1) Use Repost for Instagram

Download Repost for Instagram for iOS or Android devices to share content from other Instagram users from your mobile device. Here's how to do it:

 

Open your Instagram app, and find a photo or video you'd like to reshare.

 

(Psst -- do you follow HubSpot on Instagram?)

Tap the ... in the upper-right hand corner of the post. Then, tap "Copy Share URL."

Open Repost for Instagram. The post you copied will automatically be on the homepage.

 

Tap the arrow on the right-hand side of the post. There, you can edit how you want the repost icon to appear on Instagram.

 

Tap "Repost." Then, tap "Copy to Instagram," where you can add a filter and edit the post.

                   

Tap "Next." If you want to include the original post's caption, tap the caption field and press "Paste," where the original caption will appear with a citation.

 

When you're ready to share the post, tap "Share" as you would a regular Instagram post. Here's how the post appears on your Instagram profile:

 

2) Use InstaRepost

Download InstaRepost for iOS or Android devices to share content from other Instagram users from your mobile device. Here's how to do it:

Open InstaRepost, log in using your Instagram credentials, and authorize it to access your account information.

 

InstaRepost will only show you a small selection from your Instagram feed. If you know what post you're looking for, head to the search magnifying glass to look at the Explore tab or enter a username. 

Once you've found a post you want to reshare, tap the arrow in the lower right-hand corner. Then, tap "Repost," then "Repost" again.

Navigate to your Instagram app, and tap "Library." The post will be saved to your camera roll.

 

Add a filter and edit the post as you would any other. Then, tap "Next."

 

Tap the caption field to paste the original caption. The repost won't include a citation, so we suggest adding one by typing "@ + [username]." Then, press "Share."

 

Here's how the post appears on your Instagram profile:

 

3) Use DownloadGram

DownloadGram lets Instagram users download high-resolution copies of Instagram photos and videos to repost from their own accounts. Here's how to do it:

Open your Instagram app and find the post you want to repost. Tap the ... icon in the upper-right hand corner of the post and click "Copy Share URL."

 

 

Navigate to DownloadGram and paste the URL into the field. Then, tap "Download."

 

Tap the green "Download Image" button that will appear further down the page.

 

You'll be directed to a new web page with the downloadable image. Tap the download icon, then tap "Save image."

 

 

Return to your Instagram app. The image will be saved to your camera roll, so edit it as you would any other Instagram post.

 

The repost won't include a citation, so we suggest adding one by typing "@ + [username]." Then, press "Share." Here's how the post appears on your Instagram profile:

 

4) Take a Screenshot

This method doesn't require any or other websites to repost on Instagram. It's worth nothing that this method only works for reposting photos. Here's how to do it:

Find a photo on Instagram you'd like to repost, and take a screenshot:

  • For iOS: Press down on the home and lock buttons simultaneously until your screen flashes.
  • For Android: Press down on the sleep/wake and volume down buttons simultaneously until your screen flashes.

Tap the new post button in the bottom-center of your Instagram screen. Resize the photo so it's properly cropped in the Instagram photo editor.

 

Edit and filter the post like you would any other Instagram post.

 

The repost won't include a citation, so we suggest adding one by typing "@ + [username]." Then, press "Share." Here's how the post appears on your Instagram profile:

 

Do It For the 'Gram

Now that you've learned how to repost on Instagram, you can diversify your profile with content sourced from friends, family, and brands. Use the methods above -- being sure to cite the source of the original post -- to quickly and easily reshare your favorite content. And if you're looking for more ideas for sourcing and creating Instagram content for your brand, download our free guide to using Instagram for business here.

Do you use any of these methods to repost on Instagram? Share with us in the comments below.

 

Content Marketing Best Practices: Content Writing in 2017

I don’t like the concept of “optimizing content for search engines.” It kind of gives you the wrong idea about the process: as if you are supposed to write content for flesh-and-blood readers and then, constrainedly, optimize it for bots.

Many writers do so. But instead, these days you’d better keep the requirements of SEO in mind before and while you create your piece of content. This doesn’t mean you should make your content machinelike - it’s about understanding how your article’s vocabulary and structure can influence your rankings.

We’re going to talk about three aspects a writer should consider in 2017 in order to write a good piece of content that will also attract more organic traffic.

  • Semantically related words
  • TF-IDF
  • Featured snippets

Semantically related keywords

The release of the Hummingbird algorithm back in 2013 made the topic of semantic search extremely important. Here’s an explanation provided by Danny Sullivan:

Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.

Semantically related keywords are one of the signals to Google that the page matches the meaning of the query and, thus, the searcher’s intent.

Let’s say, you are searching for “city bike.” You can easily guess which one of the two articles below will be more likely to satisfy the searcher’s needs (unless the searcher is Jay-Z):

So, to keep up with Hummingbird’s requirements, you basically need to find relevant words to build your article around to show Google that your content is really valuable by understanding the language your users speak, the terms they use, the questions they ask and the formats they prefer.

Easier said than done, of course. But not impossible. There are several ways to approach this challenge.

Start by taking a look at the SERP. Pages from Google’s top 10 tend to have a lot in common in terms of content. Quite often, you’ll be able to identify these similarities at a glance, like with the query “best city bike”:

1. Lists and guides rule the SERPs
2. Adding a year to a title definitely helps

Next, find out if there are terms that Google considers identical to your target keywords. For example, here we see that Google seems to treat “best city bike”, “best urban bike” and “best commuter bike” as the same term.

Also, explore autocomplete suggestions. These are probably the most exhaustive source of real people’s questions, pains and problems. You can use many of them as ready ideas for your articles:

Grabbing these data manually can take a lot of time. There are tools that scrape, organize and sort related words and Google suggestions: see them in the “Tools to Use” section at the bottom.

TF-IDF

You’re probably asking yourself at this point: OK, I’m sure that words like “and”, “the” and “with” can be found on every page in the Google top 10. Does that mean I should use them to get higher rankings?

Not at all. And this is where TF-IDF comes in.

The term TF-IDF is an abbreviation of “term frequency - inverse document frequency.” The two parts of this abbreviation are two separate metrics used to calculate how important a word is to a specific document.

TF (term frequency) defines how often a word is found inside a document; IDF (inverse document frequency) stands for how often the word is encountered in a larger set of documents, often called a “corpus.” IDF is meant to reduce the weight of words used frequently within the corpus that have little importance (articles, prepositions, etc.). This way, less weight is given to terms with a high TF and IDF and more weight is given to terms with a high TF and a low IDF.

So why is this concept essential for a writer these days?

At first sight, TF-IDF may seem like a scientific explanation of why keyword stuffing is important. You identify a nice keyword (for example, “city bike”) with a clearly low IDF, you put it into every paragraph of your article and show Google that your content is super-relevant compared to your rivals’.  But it doesn’t work like this. Google’s algorithms are trained to identify pages stuffed thoughtlessly with keywords and penalize them.

There are several SEO tools that use TF-IDF for keyword analysis. For example, SEMrush’s SEO Ideas and SEO Content Template tools rely on TF-IDF to provide you with a list of words to use in your content - your list will be sorted automatically according to the number of documents each word was encountered in.

Featured snippets

So you gathered a beautiful set of semantically related words, made sure these words have a good TF-IDF, and you expect your content to make it to the first page of Google and boost your organic traffic.

But there’s a risk that almost no one will click on your properly optimized snippet with a catchy headline, because there’s someone who monopolized the first screen and captured all the searchers’ attention.

This “someone” is a featured snippet.

Featured snippets -- so called “zero positions” -- are the boxes shown right below the number of results found for your query. The goal of featured snippets is to provide you with content that fulfills your request without your having to click on any search result.

Most of featured snippets actually monopolize the first screen. As a result, the click-through rate of the content within it increases drastically - some studies report a four-fold CTR growth- and the other pages in the top 10 don’t get as many clicks as before. This is why organizing your content to appear in the featured snippet is crucial.

How to optimize your content to earn a featured snippet

There are actually no sure-fire recipes to get your content into this box. However, some tactics have worked for SEOs and are worth trying.

Identify your pages that already rank in the top 10

If you start by figuring out which of your website’s pages are already ranking well and concentrating on those, it will save you dozens of hours. Sad but true, only a miracle can make you appear in a featured snippet if you’re currently in the 98th position. Google tends to pick the pages from the top 10 for featured snippets. If you are in the top 5, even better.

Target question-based keywords and provide structured answers

It’s easier for Google to understand the searcher’s intent from the query “how to draw a dog” than from the query “dog drawing” (are you looking for beautiful drawings of dogs or do you want to draw a dog yourself?). Besides questions, there are words that narrow down a search intent quite a lot: “best”, “recipe” and “instructions” for example.

When it comes to answers, write the way you speak. The easier it is to understand, the better. “How to cook spaghetti? - Start with boiling water...”.

If a query starts with “how to” breaking your article down into steps is a must: use numbers or subtitles to divide your content logically.

Make sure to use header tags properly

Search engine bots love clear markups and flawless code. If they can easily scan the structure, extract the most valuable information and index it properly without spending any additional crawl budget, it definitely helps you get higher rankings. A correct use of H1-H6 tags is crucial if you want your content to be included in the featured snippet. Some SEOs, including Barry Schwartz, recommend also using Schema.org Markup.

Keep working to take snippets from your competitors (and defend your spot once you got one)

Nobody can guarantee that once a page gets into the featured snippet box, it will stay there forever. Google can remove your website (see this case study by Glenn Gabe) and replace it with another one, or just leave the page without a snippet (which is actually what happened with the “best city bike” SERP while we were working on this article):

Analyze what you could improve on your page and keep working. When it comes to highly competitive keywords, it’s really worth the candle.

Tools to use: SEMrush solutions

There are a number of SEMrush tools that can help automate the most time-consuming parts of your work. Let’s take a look at how they do it:

SEO Ideas

SEO Ideas tool helps you identify semantically related words. But there’s one important detail: it only gives you the words used by your successful rivals from Google’s top 10. There’s no point in analyzing hundreds of SERPs for a given keyword. Why look at those who are ranking lower than you?

You can find insights on semantically related words in the “Semantic Ideas” section:

They come with a detailed analysis of how many rivals use each of these words and how frequently each of them is encountered on their pages:

SEO Ideas will also notify you if any of your website's pages are ranking in the top 10 and have a good chance of appearing in featured snippets, with actionable recommendations on how to improve these pages:

SEO Content Template

If you just need to optimize the text on a single page without going too deep into detail, SEO Content Template is an extremely actionable yet simple tool. Simply enter one or more target keywords and the tool will analyze the first 10 pages from Google that rank for these keywords, and give you recommendations on:

  • Semantically related words to use on your page
  • The readability score you’ll need to achieve
  • Text length
  • Relevant backlink sources
  • Basic SEO recommendations, like length of page title and meta description

You can also get some insights on how to organize your content without leaving the tool - we’ll show you excerpts of your rivals’ texts with your target keywords highlighted:

Keyword Magic

It would be nice if you could type in a target keyword and see the semantically related words separated into groups, get quick estimations of search volume, keyword difficulty and competition level in one tool. Oh, and see the SERP features triggered by each keyword as well.

This tool does exist. Keyword Magic tool makes it easier by showing you all the information in one tab.

If you need more data, for example, the click potential or average difficulty for a keyword group, use the “Export to Keyword Analyzer” option.

How to write content that succeeds in 2017: Key Takeaways

  • Spend time on keyword research and defining an SEO-friendly structure before you actually start writing. Stuffing ready articles with keywords and adding subtitles just because you need to will seem unnatural, both for humans and search bots.

  • Focus on adding valuable words associated with your topic instead of repeating the same keyword throughout your article.

  • Use multiple sources to enrich your list of related keywords. Explore your and your competitors’ social media pages for keyword ideas and questions to answer. Conduct a TF-IDF analysis. Ask your technical support to observe and note the terms your customers really use.

  • Make good use of tools to automate the research processes.

  • Many actionable takeaways can be easily found by simply looking at SERPs. You can discover which content formats are used by your top 10 rivals or borrow some nice ideas for headlines.

  • Use lists and “step-by-step” formats to increase your chances of earning a featured snippet. “Keyword-based question + direct and concise answer” is another proven format for getting into the featured snippet box.

  • If you write an evergreen piece of content (a guide, for instance), don’t hesitate to mention the current year in the title. You’ll eventually get back to this article to update it, so a “2016 guide” can then be renamed a “2017 guide” when you add new valuable information to it.

  • You can’t earn a featured snippet unless you’re already ranking high. To get results faster, start by optimizing the pages that are already ranking in the Google top 10 for your target keywords.

  • Pay careful attention to your formatting, tags and markups. Make sure these are used correctly and make your content clear, structured and easily crawlable for Google bots.

  • If your competitor has already earned a featured snippet for your target keyword, it’s not written in stone. Any other website can replace theirs sooner or later, so why not yours?

Passing the mic to you

Have you already incorporated these best practices into your everyday content routine? Or do you consider them newfangled or too far removed from the actual work of a content creator? Let us know in the comments!

[By Elena Terenteva] [From SEMrush Blog]

Advice From CMOs: Stop Saying 'Digital' and Practice Straight Talk

The U.K.'s Marketing Society gathered chief marketing officers together to discuss what they regard as the elephants in the room that make for uncomfortable conversations. Here's what they talked about at an Advertising Week Europe panel:

"Stop using the word digital," said Zaid Al-Qassab, chief brand & marketing officer of telecommunications group BT. "The word is causing enormous problems in clients and agencies and the work we're getting."

Mr. Al-Qassab said that in the old days when he did print and billboard ads, he wasn't called a "paper marketer" as he is called a "digital marketer" today. The word digital moves the focus to clicks and likes, rather than customers, and is used heavily in briefs sent to agencies, he said, leading to 300 social media ideas from the agency, and clients asking for something that will "go viral."

David Wheldon and Zaid Al-Qassab Credit: Shutterstock/Advertising Week Europe

David Wheldon and Zaid Al-Qassab Credit: Shutterstock/Advertising Week Europe

"Write a brief that's about your customer and business results you hope to achieve," he admonished. "Let's talk about target audience and how to sell to them."

Lisa Gilbert, an American who moved to London about five months ago as chief marketing officer at IBM for the U.K. and Ireland, advocates what she calls straight talk.

"It gets rid of ambiguity and gets straight to the truth," she said, conceding straight talk might be considered rude and that there are cultural nuances to consider. "But if used with care it can be an amazing tool. You have to have the courage and emotional fortitude to deliver straight talk. It's hard to have honest conversations."


David Wheldon, chief marketing officer of Royal Bank of Scotland, said he actually has a small elephant in the office meeting room precisely to remind people not to ignore the elephant in the room. He said he also serves as president of the World Federation of Advertisers, and in that capacity he finds that digital practices aren't transparent enough about how data is being used. He also has concerns about ad fraud.

Lisa Gilbert Credit: Shutterstock/Advertising Week Europe

Lisa Gilbert Credit: Shutterstock/Advertising Week Europe

As marketing head of a bank, "We need to be transparent. You need to know what we're doing with your money," he said, adding that he'd like to see other parts of the marketing ecosystem held to the same standard.

Dave Trott, an outspoken longtime creative director, said "All the ads are done for clients and the sole job of ad agencies is to do work clients like. Clients call this collaboration. It's not collaboration. It's obsequiousness."

Mr. Trott cited a study that found 89% of advertising isn't noticed or remembered. He said that with total U.K. adspend at $26 billion, that's billions of dollars "of background wallpaper."

He also criticized marketers for allowing very junior clients to judge campaigns in the early stages, often knocking out the riskiest work so that senior clients only see a few ideas at the end and wonder why the agency didn't do better.

In rebuttal, Mr. Wheldon stressed marketers' responsibility to train less experienced execs: "You don't get great future clients by saying 'I'll do all that and you can bugger off'."

[By Laurel Wentz] [From Advertising Age]

Will my organic rankings suffer if I don’t have a blog?

A client wants to develop a content strategy so they can rank for more keywords but isn’t sure if they can muster the resources to create a blog. Sound familiar?

When budgets are tight, it’s often tempting to put more money behind your paid media campaigns; after all, you can actually see which ads and optimizations are generating the most revenue each month.

Earned media is not so cut-and-dried. However, creating and developing blog content should be regarded as a long-term investment. And as any good financial advisor will tell you, it’s best to start saving early. There is evidence to suggest that investing in a blog today will pay dividends for years to come.

Why should I have a blog?

No matter if your website is focused on e-commerce, lead-gen or self-service, there is what I like to call a “finite keyword set” that constrains you, whether you realize it or not. This concept of a finite keyword set is dictated by the fact that you want to serve the most relevant content to users at all times. By this notion, you would never post a recipe for lemon ricotta cookies on your fashion e-commerce site. (Or would you? We will revisit this idea later.)

Ideally, at the most basic level, your website should provide an expert level of knowledge about your subject matter — this will help ensure you meet Google’s quality guidelines. However, if your goal is to truly dominate the SERPs and outrank the competition, you need to start thinking outside the box to expand the breadth and depth of your content.

Simply put, a blog allows you to gain search engine results page (SERP) real estate, which can provide additional touch points for users to discover your brand. In creating new content, you will inevitably be expanding your keyword set — though I highly recommend performing keyword mapping (using Google’s Keyword Planner tool) and pre-planning your strategy to avoid keyword overlap and URL confusion.

Do note that recent changes have made it increasingly more difficult to get accurate keyword data from Google. In order to see “normal” search volume ranges, you will need to have a significant amount of ad spend with Google. It may be helpful to sync up with your paid search team to create a workaround.

SEO’s role in the conversion funnel

It’s no coincidence that appearing more times in the SERPs can lead to an increase in click-through rate; however, it’s important to fully understand the role that SEO plays in the conversion funnel. If you’ve ever heard an SEO lament that the last-click attribution model fails to give proper credit, this is because SEO is frequently used for discovery/awareness purposes. Knowing this, you may decide to create certain informational landing pages using more general keywords as opposed to long-tail.

When a consumer enters the funnel, they might not even realize they’ve begun their buying journey. Some consumers will begin their journey by researching the product or service they want and comparing offerings across brands. However, others might be looking to solve a problem — and while reading helpful answers, they discover the need to make a purchase.

The strategy here is to assist and educate consumers in their most vulnerable moments while they’re still brand-agnostic. Organic search campaigns will have a different impact on consumers depending on when they interact with them.

In the model below, we can see that both social campaigns and organic search are the first touch points a user will interact with. This tends to vary by industry, but the important thing to note is that while having an early organic presence is crucial, SEO still assists with conversions during other phases of the purchasing process.

Expanding breadth & depth of content

When creating content, ask yourself what consumers might be searching for before they need your product. For example, if you sell stainless steel cookware, a common question might be, “Are Teflon pans bad for your health?” Here, the consumer may be researching out of sheer curiosity — or potentially researching to purchase. In either scenario, creating a blog post about this topic not only educates the consumer, but also increases the likelihood that they will keep your brand top of mind when it comes time to purchase.

While creating educational/persuasive content can easily align with your brand, it’s also important to create content focused on semi-related topics, which helps to expand the scope of your keyword relevance. To begin the ideation process (keeping cost in mind), it’s helpful to thoroughly study your competitors’ blogs to get a sense of the topics they cover. It’s also worthwhile to dive into their backlink profile and see if they’ve captured the interest of high authority sites and publications (you can even reach out to some of these sites if you see a good opportunity).

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive solution, there is a host of paid platforms that can help you identify gaps in your own content; however, this may be cost-prohibitive.

While publishing content on expected topics will help to grow your keyword set, the best way to cast your net is by covering loosely or indirectly related topics. Think back to the e-commerce example from above. Time and time again I defer to Nordstrom and their success with creating recipe blog posts that rank for a substantial number of keywords.

On the surface, there may appear to be some dissonance between these two ideas. The focus here is not on the product mix itself, but rather on understanding consumers on a more fundamental level and positioning oneself as “helpful” even before users have entered the discovery phase.

While Nordstrom uses this page to drive consumers to their in-store restaurant, let’s assume that this were not the case. When developing loosely or indirectly related content, start by creating a user persona that can help you visualize your consumers’ lifestyle, behavior and needs.

For the purposes of this example, we’ll assume the following:

  • Nordstrom customers are rather affluent (HHI $100,000+).
  • Mostly female, tend to skew a bit older (36–45).
  • The average customer is a stay-at-home mom with children.
  • She occasionally entertains and likes to bake from scratch.
  • She’s willing to pay more for something if it will save her money in the long run.

With this information, it’s no coincidence that Nordstrom has chosen to post a recipe for “Best From-Scratch Lemon Ricotta Cookies.” In order to tie this to their product mix, Nordstrom could easily link this page to the bakeware landing page. However, someone searching for a recipe is looking to satisfy an immediate need and probably isn’t looking to take out their credit card.

The strategy here is to appear as frequently as possible in the SERPs for your target consumers, helping them solve their everyday dilemmas. Nordstrom knows that consumers who have more frequent interactions with their brand are likely to keep it top-of-mind when they need to purchase. According to a 2013 global Nielsen study, 60 percent of consumers prefer to buy new products from brands familiar to them.

The key takeaway here is the SERP real estate that was able to be realized. This recipe page ranks for 266 keywords, 16 of which appear on page 1!

Obtaining featured snippets

As an added benefit, creating a blog will increase the chances of your content appearing for featured snippets and quick answers. The benefits of featured snippets are that even if your page does not rank in position 1, it can still appear above all other search results — as in the case of another recipe from Nordstrom.com.

While many rich snippets are dependent on structured data markup, featured snippets are organically pulled from your on-page content, which reduces the need to constantly monitor your markup implementation. Google has yet to release official guidelines for obtaining snippets, but there are several studies that outline how to improve the chances of your pages appearing and provide industry-specific tips.

At minimum, your page should focus on a target query — this will be the keyword for which you want the snippet to appear. In this example, it’s “shrimp and asparagus risotto.” Looking at the Domain Authority of the website that currently holds the featured snippet is a good way to assess your level of competitiveness.

Final thoughts

In short, content creation, particularly blogs, is critical if you want to expand your brand presence. As an added benefit, an influx of fresh content requires Google to regularly crawl and index your site, and fresh content is a consideration when Google ranks your page in search results. Moreover, if your website lacks on-page content due to aesthetic purposes, a blog is an excellent way to augment your content offerings and target specific queries.

While it may be intimidating to commit to a blog, know that a weekly or biweekly content cadence may be all you need to start seeing return visitors. If you’re unsure where to begin, start by creating a list of evergreen vs. seasonal content, and capitalize on any upcoming topics that would be of particular interest to searchers. If creating a blog is out of the question, creating informational landing pages will also aid in your keyword efforts.

So, how does this pay dividends? The long-term goal is to obtain backlinks in some capacity. Not only will this help to increase your Domain Authority, it will increase exposure across the web and help drive traffic to your site. Most importantly, if you’ve been lacking social content (or posting without adding much value), share your new content and make sure to engage your followers in the conversation. After all, user feedback may be some of the most valuable.

[By Stephanie LeVonne] [From Search Engine Land] 

Facebook Bots 101: What They Are, Who's Using Them & What You Should Do About It

Back in April 2016, Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of Facebook's Messenger Platform -- a new service that enables businesses of all sizes to build custom bots in Messenger.

In the days following the announcement, the tech and marketing space lost its mind. Thousands of articles were penned about the news, each one speculating on what an open Messenger platform could mean for businesses.

Why all the ardor? For starters, Facebook Messenger already has about 900 million monthly active users worldwide. Not registrants. Not people who got forced to download it when Facebook spun it out of the standard Facebook app. We're talking about active users who have adopted Messenger as a primary communication channel.

Anytime a company as forward-looking as Facebook opens up a platform as heavily adopted as Messenger it should raise eyebrows. So the early excitement, well, it's justified. But what comes next is entirely undefined. And as marketers, we have an exciting opportunity to help shape it.

As Zuckerberg put it in his keynote, "No one wants to have to install a new app for every business or service they want to interact with.” And bots are much different than disjointed apps. In other words, building into the already popular Facebook Messenger app could enable businesses to get in front of customers without that added friction.

At least, that's the potential ...

What Is a Bot?

"Bot" is a generalized term used to describe any software that automates a task. Chatbots, which anyone can now build into Facebook Messenger, automate conversation -- at least the beginning stages of it.

What's special about the bots you can build on Facebook Messenger is that they're created using Facebook's Wit.ai Bot Engine, which can turn natural language into structured dataYou can read more on this here, but in short, this means that not only can bots parse and understand conversational language, but they can also learn from it. In other words, your bot could get "smarter" with each interaction.

You've undoubtedly heard of artificial intelligence (AI). And this is a type of AI. Natural language interface is common in most chatbots, but by opening up the Messenger Platform and providing developer tools like the bot engine, Facebook has made building an intelligent bot easier.

How People Find Bots in Facebook Messenger

So, now comes the classic marketer question: If you build it, will they come?

The answer? Maybe.

Users are able to search for companies and bots inside Facebook Messenger by name, so you'll probably get some users that way. But, as with any new pathway into your company, you're likely to find that adoption of this communication channel within your customer base won't happen without some promotion. Facebook is trying to make that easier for businesses and organizations as well.

Here are a few tools and updates they've released to help simplify that connection:

Messenger Links

If you've created a Page for your business on Facebook, Messenger Links will use your Page’s username to create a short link (m.me/username). When someone clicks that link -- regardless of where they are -- it will open a conversation with your business in Messenger.

Customer Matching

If you have phone numbers for customers and pre-existing permission to reach out to them, you can find them on Facebook Messenger via customer matching. Conversations initiated through customer matching will include a final opt-in upon the first Facebook Messenger communication.

                                                         Image Credit: Facebook

                                                         Image Credit: Facebook

Messenger Codes

Messenger codes are unique images that serve as a visual thumbprint for your business and bot on Messenger. If you are familiar with Snapchat codes, these visual cues act in the same way, redirecting anyone who scans them using Messenger to the corresponding company page or bot.

                                             Image Credit: Facebook

                                             Image Credit: Facebook

Messenger Buttons

You can embed these buttons, provided by Facebook, into your website to enable anyone who clicks them to start a Messenger conversation with your company.

                                            Image Credit: Facebook

                                            Image Credit: Facebook

For all of the above, if you haven't developed a bot, the result will be a standard Messenger-based conversation. So you'll want to be sure you're monitoring that channel.

5 Examples of Branded Facebook Messenger Bots

Written definitions of bots are one thing, but sometimes it helps to understand how a bot works in action. Let's take a look at a few early examples ...

1) 1-800-Flowers

The example Mark Zuckerberg lauded in his keynote was the ability to send flowers from 1-800-Flowers without actually having to call the 1-800 number. A user, Danny Sullivan, subsequently tried it by sending flowers to Zuckerberg himself and documented the five-minute process here.

The bot took Sullivan through a few floral options and then confirmed shipping details.

                                                    Image Credit: Marketing Land  

                                                    Image Credit: Marketing Land  

2) Wall Street Journal

With the Wall Street Journal bot, users can get live stock quotes by typing "$" followed by the ticker symbol. They can also get the top headlines delivered to them inside of Messenger.

3) HP

HP created a bot for Messenger that enables users to print photos, documents, and files from Facebook or Messenger to any connected HP printer.

                         Image Credit: HP  

                         Image Credit: HP  

4) Facebook M

Facebook is releasing its own bot for Messenger, a personal assistant bot named "M". M can answer a wide range of requests -- from restaurant recommendations, to complex trivia, to last-minute hotel rates in the city.

Its flexibility is due to the fact that M is actually a bot-human hybrid. As Facebook’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer told Recode: "It’s primarily powered by people, but those people are effectively backed up by AIs." While the bots act as a first line of defense in fielding questions, the difficult questions are quickly routed to human assistants.

                                                      Image Credit: The Next Web

                                                      Image Credit: The Next Web

 

5) Healthtap

Healthtap is an interactive healthcare provider that connects users to advice from medical professionals. On the heels of the platform announcement, Healthtap created a bot that enables users to type a medical question into Facebook Messenger and receive a free response from a doctor or browse articles of similar questions.

You can see here how the conversational interface works. The user in this example is inquiring in natural language about a specific health concern. From the user's standpoint, this is similar to texting a friend.

            Image Credit: mobihealthnews

            Image Credit: mobihealthnews

This set up also helps the company filter inbound requests by solving some patient questions with existing responses first and then surfacing unique queries for live response.

(Intrigued by these examples? Engadget has a longer list of bots that are either released or under development for Facebook Messenger.)

Should You Build a Bot?

Ah, see that's not the sort of question I can answer for you. Building a bot for Facebook Messenger, like any marketing or product endeavor, is going to take resources -- mainly staff time and expertise -- and may not result in the outcomes you'd like to see.

That said, here's my best guidance for how you can answer the question for yourself:

Do you have a clear use case?

One of the biggest reasons so many companies went astray in building apps for their businesses is that they saw it as just another version of their website. They didn't take the time to study how being on a mobile device would change the types of interactions their customers would want to have with their company.

Some tasks are just not well-suited for mobile. As a result, many apps sat unused. When you're thinking about a use case for Facebook Messenger, make sure you're thinking about it from the standpoint of the customer or user, not from the company's standpoint. That's the real driver of use.

Is your audience on Facebook?

This question is often too quickly dismissed by companies that see Facebook as a purely social platform, rather than one for businesses. Even if your audience doesn't currently use Facebook for business needs, you need to start by determining whether or not the potential is there.

If you have an audience who uses Facebook heavily in their personal lives, they're likely to adopt Messenger as a communications tool. And how they use Messenger may expand beyond how they use Facebook. Today, usage of messaging apps has actually outpaced that of social networks. And as new use cases arise, behavior evolves with them.

Can you support inbound inquiries from Messenger?

Don't open a communication channel with your prospective and existing customers if you can't support it. Even with the automation of a bot, you'll still need to carve out time to 1) promote it 2) monitor any questions your bot can't answer and 3) keep tabs on the overall customer experience you're creating with it.

If you've thought through the above three questions and think you've got a good foundation for a Facebook Messenger bot then dive in. There's a benefit to being an early adopter in this space. And as a newly open platform, Facebook Messenger needs thoughtful and strategic companies to shape it.

Have you used any branded bots on Facebook Messenger? What's your favorite use case? Share your thoughts in the comments.

[By Meghan Keaney Anderson] [From HubSpot]