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Monthly Archives: February 2016

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Here Are The Top 7 Reasons You Should Attend MarTech

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By Search Engine Land

MarTech: The Marketing Tech Conference is right around the corner and we’re excited to share this incredible experience with you. If you haven’t registered yet, take a moment to review the top 7 reasons you should attend this year’s conference in San Francisco, March 21-22:

  1. Actionable content. MarTech sessions will help you:

    • Maximize the return on your marketing technology investments;
    • Implement a marketing culture that is responsive, agile and drives business success;
    • Manage people and processes to create brilliant online experiences for your customers.
  2. Accomplished presenters. Conference Chair Scott Brinker and the MarTech advisory board selected speakers based on their expertise and willingness to share. You get two days of presentations, case studies and expert panels – so many that Scott Brinker, our conference chair wrote an insider’s guide to this year’s conference.
  3. Vendor agnostic. MarTech isn’t tied to any marketing platform or technology. MarTech will help you choose the technologies, and effectively implement the culture and processes that ensure results.
  4. Active community. MarTech will be the largest independent gathering of marketing technologists in North America. Connect with others who speak your language and are facing and overcoming your challenges.
  5. Meet more than 100 solution providers. The MarTech expo hall will be packed with companies providing comprehensive marketing clouds to task-specific point solutions. Need a solution? See who’s exhibiting.
  6. hacking_marketingScore a FREE copy of Scott’s book. Every paid full-access attendee will receive a complimentary copy of Scott Brinker’s new book, Hacking Marketing. Scott will be doing book signings at the opening reception on Sunday evening and during the networking reception on Monday evening.
  7. Save big as a team. Make this year’s conference a team affair! MarTech is an ideal experience for executive and marketing management, marketing operations and IT staff to share. Take advantage of our team rates and save 10%-20%.

Register for an All Access Pass and pay just $1695. You’ll get access to all of the sessions, networking events, expo hall, breakfasts, snacks and hot lunches at an exceptional value.

Register now and reserve your place at MarTech!

See you there!

-The MarTech Conference Team

The post Here Are The Top 7 Reasons You Should Attend MarTech appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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SearchCap: Bing’s Search Wave, Mobile Page Speed Insights & Leap Day Google Doodle

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By Amy Gesenhues

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

From Search Engine Land:

Recent Headlines From Marketing Land, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Internet Marketing:

Search News From Around The Web:

Industry

Local & Maps

Search Marketing

Searching

SEM / Paid Search

SEO

The post SearchCap: Bing’s Search Wave, Mobile Page Speed Insights & Leap Day Google Doodle appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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SEO & The Zero Moment of Truth

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By Marcus Miller

80% of success is showing up.

Woody Allen

Fifteen years ago, the marketing messages we received were all thrust at us via TV, radio, print, PR and word of mouth.

Now, everything has changed. We no longer take the marketing messages delivered to us at face value. We take matters into our own hands and seek out information on the products we wish to purchase.

For marketers, every one of these search moments is an opportunity to help shape the decisions your customers make.

In this post, I take a look at these crucial moments of truth and how we as marketers can capitalize on them. In particular, I look at one of the newer additions to this thinking — what Google is calling the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) — and how our always-on internet connections and mobile devices are driving purchase decisions as never before.

Moments Of Truth

In 1981, the then-CEO of the struggling Scandinavian Airlines suggested a change to the prevailing customer service philosophy, which became known as Moments of Truth. These moments were focused on really dealing with the emotional needs of the airline’s customers during customer service interactions.

The company could experience thousands of these moments throughout any given day, and a positive interaction could result in a favorable feeling towards the brand and continued loyalty. Customer loyalty would then lead to profits in subsequent interactions. Increased customer service focusing on emotionally charged moments led to more brand loyalty and further business. Soon, the airline was struggling no more.

Fast forward 35 years, and the only thing that has changed is everything. Customer touch points with brands have multiplied: smartphones, social media, search engines, reviews, live chat, email, phone or in person. There are now many more moments of truth, and dealing with the emotional needs of the customer is more important than ever over multiple touch points.

People expect answers quickly, via multiple channels. And we — as marketers, businesses and brands — must provide the information they seek.

First Moments Of Truth

The First Moment of Truth (FMOT) is a concept proposed by Procter & Gamble in 2005. If you’re unsure what P&G is, the company owns a portfolio of brands that you will most certainly know, some of which are products that you likely buy and have in your house right now.

The FMOT relates to that moment when a potential customer experiences a product on a store shelf (physical or digital in 2016). In this micro-moment, the brand has the best possible chance of creating an unplanned or impulse purchase and converting a browser into a buyer. Impulse purchases are largely emotionally driven, so this is achieved by appealing to the customer’s senses, values and emotions at the point of sale (POS).

If you have ever wondered why the supermarket moves everything around, then you will find answers in the studies conducted into impulse or unplanned purchases. Certainly, there are indications that reducing shopper efficiency results in more time in store, more product interaction and more unplanned or impulse purchases.

In our modern marketing environment, the First Moment of Truth is not restricted to viewing products on shelves. It could also occur in a variety of instances, such as:

  • A customer viewing a range of products on a store shelf or in a POS display.
  • A potential diner viewing a restaurant menu in the window.
  • A customer visiting the website of a potential service provider for the first time.
  • A traveler looking for hotel ratings and reviews for a trip away.
  • An office manager comparing prices for a printer toner.

It’s important to realize that this is not the beginning of this customer’s journey, and the first moment of truth is essentially crunch time. This is where the presales marketing and branding rubber hits the road. In most cases, a user would have been exposed to a stimulus — be that some advertising or even possibly word of mouth — that set up the FMOT.

Second Moment Of Truth

The second moment of truth is when the customer uses your product. Whether this is eating the meal that sounded so good on the menu (FMOT) or shaving with the shaving foam that promises no skin irritation.

This is where your product or service has to deliver on the promises made by your marketing. Fail at the second moment of truth, and your chances of repeat customers are slim.

Third Moment Of Truth

This is the moment of advocacy. Much like a typical sales funnel, we must go from awareness (stimulus) through to the sale, and ideally, to post-sale recommendation. This is where you transform a customer into a fan. This is where you build true brand loyalty.

In the real world, generating advocacy often requires a business process to stimulate those happy customers to review you or share positive feelings on your social media channels.

The Zero Moment Of Truth

Whether we are shopping for cars, hobbies or holidays, the internet has changed how we decide what to buy. Now, after the initial stimulus and before users reach the First Moment of Truth, they will encounter multiple decision-making moments that Google calls the “Zero Moment of Truth,” or ZMOT for short.

The Zero Moment of Truth was initially conceived on the back of a study conducted by Google in 2011. The study determined that the customer journey is changing:

  • 50 percent of shoppers used a search engine to research a product or brand.
  • 38 percent comparison shopped online (reviews, prices and so on).
  • 36 percent checked out the brand/manufacturer’s website.
  • 31 percent read online endorsements, reviews or recommendations.

This was in 2011, and smartphone adoption has only grown ever since. In fact, a follow-up study in 2014 showed that users are grabbing their smartphone to research a product even earlier now, and there are even more touch points on the way to a purchase.

The Zero Moment of Truth is this new moment that sits between a stimulus (ad) and the FMOT. Let’s say a mother sees an ad detailing how important an eye test is for children. Where in the past she might call the optician from the ad directly, today she would pull out her smartphone and begin to research the best brands, prices, reviews and (in the case of local) business locations.

The ZMOT can happen on search engines and social networks, and the net result is a more confident and well-informed purchase decision.

The 2011 study indicated that 79 percent of consumers use a smartphone to help with shopping, and 83 percent of mothers claim to do online research after seeing a TV ad. Given the age of these stats and the stratospheric rise of smartphones and the mobile internet, we can only imagine these statistics are conservative at best.

The takeaway here is that users now conduct research, read reviews, compare brands, talk to friends, watch videos, interact on socially driven sites (from Facebook to Trip Advisor), read news and even visit brand websites to make decisions — and all of this is done at the Zero Moment of Truth.

A New Marketing Model

The basic concept here is that the customer journey is now broken into hundreds of micro-moments. Want-to-know moments, want-to-go moments, want-to-do and want-to-buy moments. What is the best mortgage product in 2016? What is the best dog shampoo? What is the best UK mountain bike brand? Where do I buy a sled? Where can I buy a guitar tuner?

The following diagram shows where the ZMOT exists in this newly proposed model:

ZMOT - from stimulus to advocacy

It is these micro-moments that represent the Zero Moment of Truth and present an opportunity for your brand to get in front of a potential customer. As an example: This morning, whilst researching tinnitus for a friend, I stumbled across an article detailing how diet affects the condition. The article was published by a company that produces a range of tinnitus supplements.

I am now aware of these supplements, and if the company is as savvy as their content marketing would suggest, then I will likely see remarketing and offers to drive me towards their digital storefront and the First Moment of Truth when I decide whether to buy.

In fact, I will likely go away and conduct further ZMOT research. I will search for the brand. I will read up on the specific products. I will look for reviews. I will look for customer testimonials (on the brand site but also on specific forums where I feel they may be more trustworthy). I will look for alternatives. And, being a bit (lot) of a geek, I will likely look into the science and studies that back up the claims made by the product.

My ZMOT for this product will be a fairly lengthy research process. I could imagine a few hours and lots of reading. For some purchases, this will be much quicker. For major purchases — from technology to cars — it may be a process that takes place of days, weeks or even months.

In addition to the studies, it would be foolish to ignore the fact that Google is in direct control of what must be the greatest consumer insight platform the world has ever seen: billions of queries every single day along the entire spectrum of the customer journey.

Whilst some of this information is available via tools like Google Trends, Google Insights and the Google Keyword Planner, we can only imagine the analysis done by Google itself to better hone its ad products. As such, we should pay attention to these studies and determine what we can do to better help the products, businesses and brands we service as marketers in this fast paced environment. (I am also a big fan of tools like Übersuggest and AnswerThePublic.com for aiding in the research of customer questions.)

Users no longer wait for what they need. We can search, educate ourselves and make purchases at any time. Patience is at an all-time low, and we can act immediately and expect to find relevant, useful content to aid us in our decision-making process. It is these micro-moments that shape our needs and inform our purchase decisions. Businesses that do the best job of helping users in these Zero Moments of Truth will beat out the competition.

What do we do, as marketers, to leverage this information? How do we help our prospective customers reach their goals (ideally with our products)? How do we ensure that we understand the customer journey and that we are there during the multiple touch points that help a consumer make a purchase decision?

SEO, Content Marketing & Moments Of Truth

In simple terms, this is a game of content marketing. Customers have questions, and we must have the answers.

In reality, delivering those answers may need a more nuanced approach, and we must use the armaments provided to us to promote our content. The exact approach will vary depending upon business, location and too many variables to cover here (social media, search ads, display ads and content amplification are at least a start in the right direction).

However, we can loosely categorize the types of content that our users need at each stage of this new user journey and buying cycle. You can then take this framework to research the specific questions that your prospects have at each stage of this newly revised customer journey model.

The Zero Moment Of Truth

Content at the Zero Moment of Truth needs to be self-serve information regarding your product, industry, category and service. You need to understand the needs of your audience, and then present this in a format they can easily access. For example:

  • Customer questions in blog or video formats.
  • Content on your blog, industry blogs.
  • Content on popular video sites like Youtube.com.

This kind of content predominantly answers questions. What is the best HDTV? What is the best TV brand? Do I need an LED or OLED?

At this stage, being present in multiple locations and formats is how you win the ZMOT.

The First Moment Of Truth

At this point, the shopper has likely got a solid idea of what they are looking for, and content should support and reinforce the purchase decision. Such content might include:

  • Product Specifics — Delivery, specifications, FAQ and so on.
  • Special Offers — Clinch that deal when the customer is primed with a special offer.
  • Reviews80 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • Testimonials — Real customers talking about your products.
  • Case Studies — Show how your product made the difference it promises.
  • Social Media Engagement — Actively responding on social channels is critical here.
  • Customer Support — Allow your prospects to easily ask questions via your website (real-time chat, support forms and so on).

When we are looking at credibility, it is crucially important to review the landscape and understand all the potential locations for presenting a positive reputation. Again, this will be completely unique depending on your location and industry, so you have to get inside your customer’s head and start looking around (Customer profiling can be a useful tool here).

I am huge a believer in the power of online reputation and credibility, and I talk about that a little more in my super credibility post over here.

The Second Moment Of Truth

The second moment of truth relates to your customer using your product or service and ideally, having a great experience. Their experience can easily create negative or positive feedback that feeds into the Zero Moment of Truth for future customers, so it is critical to support and encourage advocacy at this stage.

Here are some content types that can support the Second Moment of Truth:

  • Product FAQ — Help customers with common questions or problems.
  • User Guides — The more complex the product, the more support you should provide here.
  • Social Media — Most folks won’t read, so be sure to be active and direct them to your FAQ/Guides.
  • How-To Guides — Support customers in the advanced use of your products.
  • Questionnaires — These can help mine feedback for future improvements and improve all your moment of truth marketing.

The second moment of truth is all about helping your customer have a smooth experience with your product, whether that is a razor or a holiday, a burger or a mountain bike. Be there to answer all questions and support those users, and you are ensuring a positive second moment of truth (and brand experience).

The Third Moment Of Truth

The third moment of truth is after the experience. This is when you move a customer towards becoming a true fan and advocate of your brand. Some nurturing is needed here, and instances of stellar customer support can help.

Let me give you an example: I have two boys, ages nine and four. They both have the same kind of teddy, and both are called Jacko. They have each had this same teddy since birth (one Jacko is nine, one Jacko is four). A few weeks back, we left both Jackos in the bedroom at Center Parcs after our short visit to one of their holiday villages. The boys were crestfallen.

I called up Center Parcs expecting very little — but I was in for a surprise. Not only did they have both bears, but they had already packaged them up and were sending them back to us in the post.

This Third Moment of Truth means that when I talk about this holiday now, I advocate for the brand with a positive message about my experience rather than thinking back to some of the more scandalous pricing in the park (they have problems at the Second Moment of Truth).

Mobile Optimization

By now, this should be pretty obvious, but having a mobile-optimized site and ensuring you provide a solid experience on mobile devices should be at the forefront of your ZMOT strategies.

Turning up is half the battle, but if users are then put off by content that is not optimized for their device, then you will lose the chance to influence those users.

Embrace The Pre-Journey

Ads are no longer as effective as they once were. They have a purpose, and that purpose can be to act as a stimulus. But without fully embracing the pre-purchase journey (or “ZMOT,” for the cool kids), your efforts here will fail to reach their true potential.

Ultimately, to win at the ZMOT, you must provide the information your prospects need — and you must provide it where they are looking for it and in a format they can easily access across multiple screens and devices.

SEO & ZMOT

SEO has become such an umbrella term of late that it can tough to frame where SEO fits into the picture. My vision of SEO includes how potential customers interact with search engines. How do they search for your products or services? How do they search for the problems, wants or needs your products or services solve? How do they look at you from a credibility perspective?

What we like to do is own all of this. Own everything that could factor in a ZMOT of FMOT decision. A useful tool for this is to create customer profiles. In these profiles, consider all of the search terms that users would possibly use during all stages of the buying cycle. All of the search terms that customers would use for a ZMOT or FMOT search.

Use tools like Übersuggest and AnswerThePublic.com (and any keyword research tool of choice) to really dig into the questions your users have at the Zero Moment of Truth.

Again we can return to this “80 percent of success is simply turning up” idea that, to a large degree, SEO and PPC is built upon. I like to go further than that, though. Turning up is no good if you are dishevelled and drunk. Ensure that you are there to nail the 80 percent, but then ensure that people are saying great things about you to get that other 20 percent dialed in.

Use the search engine to help you research your customers. Use the search engine to get a clear understanding of everywhere you need to be. Then, ensure you turn up and look good. Forget 80 percent — We want 100 percent marketing to really win big at the ZMOT and beyond.

The ZMOT For Local Businesses

We work with business of all shapes and sizes. A single-location business. A multi-location business with national coverage. Whatever your size, moments of truth matter.

Whether you are a music shop in Leicester or a plumber in Birmingham, your customers are looking for you and searching around the problems you help solve. You may not be able to rank organically for big questions, but you can certainly rank around ZMOT questions like “best music shop in birmingham” or “plumber birmingham reviews.”

Remember, this visibility is not restricted to your own site. Simply considering all the ways a consumer may compare providers and ensuring you are presenting a solid reputation will often put you head and shoulders above the competition.

Reviews. Testimonials. Business information. Opening hours. Phone numbers. These can all be ZMOT searches. This does not always have to be complicated. You must be absolutely certain that your technical SEO is dialed in and Google understands your business.

Someone with water streaming down from their ceiling knows what they need, but that’s not to say they don’t want to make a split-second smart decision — and they now have the power to do so. A search for “plumber birmingham reviews.” From reviews to a call. One device. An informed purchase. Completed in moments.

If you want to get a little more sophisticated, search, social and display ads offer a wealth of opportunity. Whether you use paid ads to promote content that answers a potential customer question with a special offer at the end or you show a banner for your business with a special offer on an existing piece of content, you must think about your users. Consider where they are, and make sure you are there (ideally with an offer).

Remember: 80 percent of success is simply showing up at the moment of truth.

All Of This Has Happened Before

In many ways, this is nothing new. We have always had a sales funnel. We have had the consideration stage. We have always researched products.

However, the Zero Moment of Truth provides a useful tool for thinking about the customer journey and unearthing ways we can help and market to our customers earlier in the buying cycle.

The dwell time at Zero Moment of Truth is longer than ever before. The touch points are more numerous. The opportunity is clear. Are you showing up at ZMOT searches for your customers?

Summary

It’s important to clearly understand what has changed here and how the internet and mobile devices have streamlined access to information. Previously, we would have seen an advert (stimulus) and then moved directly to the product or service (FMOT). We would have visited the car dealership. We would have had to trust the salesman.

Now, we don’t need to trust the experts. We can be the experts. We can conduct our own research. Find the best price. Find the best service, and then make a well-informed decision. We don’t need to accept the price the car dealer offers, us as we have researched the real price that they will let the car go for, and we certainly don’t need to take that 2005 model they are pushing, as we know that has a common issue.

Google, Facebook and the big players here have not changed the game. We have changed the game. Consumers. We want better, and we now have the tools to do better. We have the tools to become more informed in our purchases. Products must be better. Businesses must be transparent. The weak will falter. The strong will prosper. And customers will grow ever smarter in their purchase research.

As marketers, we have to help our consumers in their quest for information. We have to be there at the Zero Moment of Truth, and we have to support users through the first, second and third moments to help create new moments of truth for new prospects.

The post SEO & The Zero Moment of Truth appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Bing’s “Search Wave” Showcases Search Volume For 2016 Presidential Candidates

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By Amy Gesenhues

Bing is gearing up for tomorrow’s Super Tuesday state primaries with the launch of its new “Search Wave” feature, a search tool that showcases search volume for each of this year’s presidential candidates.

Building on the Bing Elections that rolled out in December of last year, Bing says the new election feature provides a “window into public search interest for each candidate.”

The new feature offers at-a-glance candidate search numbers overall, as well as the ability to break down candidate search volume by state, age and gender.

Here’s a look at the “Search Wave” feature, filtered by state and party:

Bing Search Wave filter

Users can also drill down to see overall search volumes for individual candidates:

Bing Search Wave candidate

Powered by its Bing Predicts technology, the “Search Wave” feature is part of the site’s broader election experience which includes candidate pages, a political index and election timeline. Users can access the tool by searching on Bing for “candidate search volume.

The post Bing’s “Search Wave” Showcases Search Volume For 2016 Presidential Candidates appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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The Need For Speed: 7 Observations On The Impact Of Page Speed To The Future Of Local Mobile Search

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By Wesley Young

Having a mobile website in and of itself sets an SMB apart from almost half of its competitors. The Local Search Association (LSA) issued a report commissioned by BuzzBoard titled “Mobile: Ready — or Not?” in January 2016.

BuzzBoard’s research found that 47.3 percent of SMBs do not have mobile-ready sites. The report also notes another 2015 study by RBC Capital Markets that reflects an even lower rate of adoption — it found 67 percent of SMBs’ sites are not mobile-ready.

Those with mobile websites arguably stand to double the audience of those without mobile sites. According to comScore’s “Global Mobile Report,” virtually half of all traffic to the top 100 digital media properties are mobile only.

The LSA and BuzzBoard report notes that in October 2015, Google stated that over 50 percent of search globally is on mobile. And surveys by LSA and Thrive Analytics reflect that mobile is even more important for local search — 60 percent said they usually use a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) when looking for local information online.

Mobile devices used to look up local information 60% of the time

The problem for those without a mobile site is twofold. First, consumers demand it. Google reports that 57 percent of users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site, and 40 percent go to a competitor after a bad mobile experience.

Second, you’ll get fewer visits with a non-mobile site. Three months after Google launched its new algorithm last year that penalized the mobile search rank of web pages that were not optimized, almost half of non-mobile-friendly web pages experienced a loss in page rank.

Website page rank change post-mobilegeddon

Yet Google is constantly tweaking and updating its algorithm. So what’s next? How can savvy SMBs stay ahead and maintain their competitive advantage? One area to review is the speed of your mobile website. This is an area Google is taking an increasingly closer look at, especially with the launch of its new Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), discussed in more detail below.

Below are seven observations and tips about the importance to a local business of its mobile website’s speed and how to outpace your competitors by maintaining a positive and responsive user experience.

1. Consumers Want Speed

Consumers don’t just want mobile websites, they want fast mobile websites. Consumer attention spans are growing shorter. Consumers abandon websites if they take too long to load, with 40 percent abandoning a site if it takes more than three seconds to load.

And their patience with mobile sites is even less than that for sites accessed via a desktop. Yet the median load time for the top 100 retail mobile sites was 4.33 seconds, as measured in 2013 by Radware, increasing to 4.8 seconds in 2014.

That 1+ second might not seem like much, but slow pages was the number one user complaint about mobile sites. According to Radware’s 2014 State of the Union for Mobile eCommerce Performance, every one-second delay impacts bounce rate, conversion rate, cart size and page views.

Impact of a 1 second delay in mobile load time

2. Speed Is A Google Ranking Factor For Mobile

Early reports stated that page load speed did not affect page rank on mobile websites as part of Google’s Mobilegeddon. Yet, anecdotally, observations about Mobilegeddon seem to contradict those reports.

Based on an analysis of client sites, Colin Guidi, director of SEO at 3Q Digital, said, “Visiting these sites via a mobile browser and slower processors shows that page speed and load time seems to be a heavier weighted ranking factor over this new mobile-friendly update.”

Studies also appear to support those observations. Searchmetrics released a report post-Mobilegeddon that demonstrated a strong correlation between page speed and page rank.

And now, Google itself has come out this year stating that Google favors faster sites. Further, David Besbris, AP Engineering of Google Search, asserted on the AMP Project page that “Speed has always been a cornerstone of Google Search.”

I think it’s safe to operate under the presumption that speed matters when it comes to local mobile search.

3. Google Has Set The Bar High

Google wants to maintain its market share in search by making sure that consumers like their user experience with sites pulled up in its search results.

Since consumers want a fast web experience, Google is pushing websites to make sure they meet those expectations, and it has set the bar high. Google’s standard is for mobile web pages to render in less than one second on a mobile network. One second is an extremely high standard when you consider, per above, most retail mobile websites mobile take more than four seconds to load.

It might also seem unfair given the number of factors that website operators do not have control over, such as the user’s network speed. Nevertheless, Google offers a PageSpeed Insight tool to measure a website’s performance and provide tips on improving poor scoring areas.

The illustration below is an analysis from that Google PageSpeed tool of a website that scored poorly. It provides both recommended and suggested fixes that would help speed up the site.

Google PageSpeed Insights example

Source: Google PageSpeed Insight Tool

4. New, Speedier Mobile Web Page Formats Are Being Introduced

Google is competing to keep users on the mobile web when they are increasingly spending time on apps. Platforms like Facebook and Snapchat are developing more ways to consume content within their apps and are providing a slick user experience to take user time away from the web, where Google dominates.

Facebook isn’t even trying to be discreet about its goal for Instant Articles, a format developed for publishers last year to speed up content delivery. It states, “We built Instant Articles to solve a specific problem — slow loading times on the mobile web created a problematic experience for people reading news on their phones.”

Google quickly fought back by announcing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), a new open-source framework that renders web pages to load almost instantly by making pages lighter-weight in data and by having Google cache the pages on their server.

Google also is beating Facebook to the punch by announcing the official launch date for AMP as February 24, 2016, ahead of Facebook’s April 12 release of Instant Articles to all publishers.

The videos below demonstrate the difference between AMP articles and regular mobile web articles. The demo was done on my daughter’s Motorola G (2nd Gen) smartphone using AT&T’s 3G mobile network.

The first video is of me using Google’s live demo at g.co/ampdemo with the search topic “Sports” on Chrome. In the second video, I click on links to web pages from the search topic “Sports” using regular Google mobile search on Chrome.

It is clear that the AMP articles loaded much more quickly and smoothly, usually in just a second or two, even with video. The regular mobile web pages took much longer, and I experienced quite a bit more jerkiness waiting for images or video to load. The user experience is night and day, as you can see for yourself.

5. Local Businesses Must Adapt, Too

Much of the initial push for almost instant page loads such as AMP are being tested by the large publishers. It’s easy to foresee, however, that the formats offered by Google and Facebook will quickly be adopted by national brands and become the consumer standard.

Unfortunately, once consumers experience the speed of these new formats, it will be tough for them to look back. Consumers will soon expect all their online mobile experiences to match that. Failing to keep up will result in losing customers who grow increasingly impatient.

According to a 2013 Harris Interactive survey, when faced with a negative mobile shopping experience, 33 percent of shoppers head to a competitor’s site, and 30 percent will never return to the offending website.

That negative shopping experience is a moving target, though, and consumer expectations change relative to what they become accustomed to. Soon, having a mobile website won’t be enough — local businesses will need to adapt their mobile websites to load as quickly as those of national brands.

6. Heavier Content Is Dragging Us Down

Contrary to public perception of the advances in technology, many online mobile experiences are actually getting slower.

According to Radware’s Mobile eCommerce annual reports, the median time to load increased from 4.33 seconds in 2013, to 4.8 seconds in 2014, to 5.5 seconds in 2015. The reason for that decline in speed is that today’s average web page contains much more data than before, as graphics, video and more complex functions crowd sites.

Radware found that the median page increased by almost 70 percent in both size and page complexity between 2014 and 2015. The extra data makes improving load speeds a technical challenge.

Even today’s recommended format, responsive design, can struggle with page load times. While the format does adjust for better viewability on mobile screens, behind-the-screen adjustments might slow down the user experience sufficient to affect bounce rate.

7. Some Basic Tips For Speeding Up Your Website

Nevertheless, with some sound website planning and savvy web tech expertise, there are many ways to ensure your mobile website is not cluttered with speed-killing weight and inefficient functions. Here are some tips to help you explore ways to speed up your mobile website.

  • The weight or size of your web page is a key factor in affecting load times. Minimize the number and size of files that must be downloaded when your page is loaded.
  • Images and video are heavy. Use compression tools and other size-reducing utilities to lighten the amount of data that must be loaded.
  • Avoid heavy formats for your page. Flash is already strongly discouraged for most mobile applications, but Google’s AMP also controls third-party Javascript so that it doesn’t interrupt page load.
  • Optimize your font for page load. Some fonts can be surprisingly large, and being smart about your selection and strategy for how they are used can improve speed.
  • Optimize the timing of when certain items on your page load. For example, content below the fold that isn’t viewable until the user scrolls down the screen can be delayed to load after content above the fold. Also, preloading can be timed so that content is loaded during inactive breaks before the user gets there.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the ways Google recommends to improve web page performance and that it utilizes in AMP to speed up the mobile web experience. Much of the “how” is rather technical, and you should consult with your web developer to execute your strategy to speed up your site. He or she will likely have additional solutions to suggest.

But understanding the issues is half the battle. Ideally, you can continue to make sure customers have a great user experience on your site that will reward you with more business. Outpacing your competitors is one sure way to stay ahead.

The post The Need For Speed: 7 Observations On The Impact Of Page Speed To The Future Of Local Mobile Search appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Why Is There A Leap Day? Today’s Google Doodle Sheds Light On Leap Year’s Extra Day

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By Amy Gesenhues

Today is Leap Day, and Google is marking the special occasion – an extra day that comes around every four years – with an animated Leap Day Doodle featuring three bunnies in a row.

As explained on Google’s Doodle blog, Leap Day happens every four years (unless the year is divisible by 100) to keep our calendar in sync with the Earth’s rotation around the sun.

Without Leap Day, we’d be out of sync by about six hours per year.

Today’s Leap Day Google doodle is being displayed on Google’s homepages around the world and leads to a search for, “why is there a leap day?

Designed by doodler Olivia Hyuhn, Google shared some of Hyuhn’s early 2016 Leap Day Doodle sketches, like this one:
Google leap doodle sketch

Another draft was closer to the final Doodle, with a leaping frog jumping from one lily pad to the next.

google leap doodle sketch2

In the end, Hyuhn switched out the leaping frog with three bunnies, one marked with today’s date squeezing between the usual last day of February and first day of March.

Google doodle leap year 2016

In addition to being a leap year, Google notes 2016 is also special because it’s 11111100000 in binary.

The post Why Is There A Leap Day? Today’s Google Doodle Sheds Light On Leap Year’s Extra Day appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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