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Monthly Archives: April 2016

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SearchCap: Bing Ads updates, latest Windows 10 release & the Jelly relaunch

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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:

Link Building

Local & Maps

Searching

SEM / Paid Search

SEO

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Google Celebrates 10 Milestones During 10 Years of Google Translate by @SouthernSEJ

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By Matt Southern

Google Translate is now 10 years old. When it first launched it supported only two languages and has now gone on to support over 100 languages. In addition, the user base grew from just hundreds, to hundreds of millions. In celebration of this achievement, the company took to the official Google blog to highlight 10 milestones Translate has reached since its launch 10 years ago. Here is a recap of each. 10 Google Translate Milestones in 10 Years Translate breaks down barriers. An example given is how a community in Canada is using Translate to communicate with a refugee. Over 500 […]

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Maximizing your mobile impact

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By Amy Bishop

Whenever people talk about mobile search, one of the first things that always comes to mind is location, location, location. Since mobile phones are… well, mobile, these devices open up opportunities to target consumers who may otherwise have been hard to reach.

Proximity

According to a Consumer Barometer Survey, 82 percent of smartphone users utilize search engines to look for a local business. This is evidenced by the growing number of searches containing “near me,” as shown in the graph below. According to Google’s internal data, 88 percent of “near me” searches happen on a mobile phone.

Because of this, there’s an opportunity to leverage mobile phones to bring people in-store. Consider setting up campaigns with a hyper-targeted radius around brick-and-mortar locations and bidding up the mobile modifiers.

You can also use a lot of different lists to be more specific about exactly who you might want to bid on (e.g., email subscribers, previous purchasers) or just to bid higher on those people, even if still bidding on a broader group. (For more tips on bringing customers in store, check out this article.)

Moreover, mobile phones offer a unique opportunity to engage consumers in-store. According to a different study, “Consumers in the Micro-Moment,” by Google and Ipsos, once in store, 82 percent of smartphone users consult their phones while deciding what to buy. Keep that in mind as you build mobile content — ensure that the content is helpful and that in-store offers are present, in addition to online offers.

Micro-conversions

I am a big proponent of micro-conversions — and not just on mobile. The ultimate goal (the primary conversion point) should always be the priority, but if you can’t get that, get something. It is a common misconception that any on-page actions outside of the primary goal will detract from the overall conversion rate.

The primary conversion point should still be prioritized within the layout with a noticeable call to action. If a consumer isn’t ready to purchase, though, or if they would prefer not to complete the process on a phone, then it is good to have secondary give-and-take opportunities.

These opportunities should offer the consumer a chance to learn more about the product and be valuable enough to build interest in the advertiser’s brand while still giving the advertiser an opportunity to get something in return, such as an email address (even if without additional contact information).

If nothing else, getting the consumer into a remarketing list based upon the action that they took (like watching a video or signing up for an email newsletter) is better than nothing at all.

Facilitate conversions

This piece can’t be emphasized enough: Often, converting on a mobile phone is cumbersome. It is highly likely that dev work put toward facilitating mobile conversions will have a positive ROI — if the traffic is there.

One of the best tips that I’ve heard regarding landing page optimization is to watch one of the least savvy people you know try to convert. This is especially good advice on mobile, where people are notoriously less patient. Be mindful of the number of pages that need to load, where the calls to action are and how easy it is to use buttons and navigation without accidentally clicking nearby links or buttons.

Take special care with mobile forms. Optimizing mobile forms goes well beyond the placement on the page and the number of fields in use. Optimization also includes the logistics of filling out the form, such as which keypad (numbers vs. letters) appears for different fields and ensuring that the fields are easily visible when typing.

There is hardly anything more frustrating than attempting to fill out a form on a mobile phone while the keyboard covers the field, making it hard (or impossible) to see what you are typing. As part of a greater mobile guide, Google put together some great tips for making forms easier to use on mobile phones.

Understanding customer preferences

As you work to facilitate conversions, it is important to learn which conversions customers seem to prefer. Monitor how consumers use your site. Which actions are they performing most frequently? Do your primary conversion points have suffering conversion rates? If so, is this a typical part of the consideration phase, or is it a result of a misalignment between customer preferences and available options?

To be fair, business implications make it impossible to offer certain conversion types — or handle them well. If your company isn’t able to handle high call volumes, then it wouldn’t be a smart move to try to push people to the phone.

However, if your consumers seem to be much more willing to call instead of filling out the form, then it might be worthwhile to identify opportunities for your company to become better equipped at handling calls, potentially by partnering with an external resource or by setting up an IVR (interactive voice response system).

Sometimes, we get a little hung up on pushing customers down the path that is most convenient for the business without considering the potential ROI improvement that could come with making an internal shift to better align with customer preferences and expectations.

Tracking mobile consumers

According to a Google/IAB study titled Our Mobile Planet, 40 percent of consumers who do research on a smartphone will later go on to make a purchase on a desktop. Not only does this place an emphasis on showing up — being there to grab consumers as they enter the funnel — it also underscores the importance of tracking consumer engagements that happen elsewhere.

For illustration, Google shared the graph below, which comes from their own internal data (from 2015), which highlights the increase in conversions when cross-device attribution is in place.

Tracking indicators such as store locates, getting directions and reviewing business hours can provide some context around intent. Coupon downloads and redemptions can also be a great way to connect online and offline sales.

Tracking in-store visits through software and beacons is also a valuable option for retailers that drive a significant volume of traffic through stores. The topic of beacons warrants much more coverage than can be provided in this article, and in fact, there was a great SMX session about beacons. If you didn’t get a chance to attend, you can check out the recap here.

Last, but certainly not least, one of the best methods of tracking site visitors (mobile or not) is to get them into your CRM. As I mentioned in previous sections, if you can help to facilitate conversions in a manner that makes engagement convenient for the consumer, that’s the ideal situation.

Realistically, that might not always result in an immediate sale, but if you can capture information that will allow you to track that person via email address or another unique identifier, you can get a better understanding for how different touch points impact the bottom line.

The bottom line is that mobile advertisers need to be able to connect the dots and think outside the box as it applies to mobile’s role in the purchase path. Leaning too heavily on immediate sales isn’t always the best means of measurement.

Don’t forget the apps

Mobile provides a unique opportunity to connect with customers on a deeper level: through apps! There are many, many unique ways to leverage apps to help build brand loyalty and engage existing loyalists, such as providing useful content, promoting offers, storing logins, facilitating e-commerce and allowing consumers to access purchase history, wish lists and favorite items.

If your company has an app, take advantage of app-install ads and app extensions to get it in front of your customers. Moreover, understanding the value of your app as it pertains to customer loyalty and lifetime value will help you to establish and increase ROAS based upon installs.

The post Maximizing your mobile impact appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Callout and Review extensions now available in Bing Ads

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By Ginny Marvin

Bing Ads rolled out callout and review extensions last week. The new ad extensions are available in all Bing Ads markets with the exceptions of Hong Kong and Taiwan. The ad shown above features both of these new extensions.

Callout Extensions

Advertisers can add up to 20 callouts in their campaigns and ad groups, and must have a minimum of two callout extensions for them to display.

One thing to note is that Bing says the format in which callouts show can vary. In the ad above there are actually two lines of callout extensions showing in this ad — one with dot separators (starts with “Free Cancellation”) and one with dash separators (starts with “The 20 best hotels in Chicago, IL”).

Review Extensions

Reviews for review extensions must come from “reliable, well-established and trusted sources”. The review must appear on the review landing page — and advertisers are not charged for clicks on those links. The reviews can be paraphrased, but must accurately represent the original review.

The ad above — with two lines of callouts and extended sitelinks — has a review extension enabled with a review from the World Travel Awards.

You can set up both of these from the ad extensions tab in the Bing Ads UI.

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The #1 Reason Why Position #1 Doesn’t Matter

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By Rachel Lindteigen

That’s right — position #1, the elusive goal for so many SEOs, may not matter so much anymore. Crazy statement, right? Trust me… follow me for just a minute.

The screen shot below shows what Google refers to as a featured snippet, also known as a direct answer. (It’s also one I searched recently when baking, realizing I forgot to buy self-rising flour and hoping I wouldn’t have to go back to the store. Anyway, moving on… )

self-rising_flour_direct_answer

As you can see, the direct answer information is displaying above the initial search result. I don’t even have to click on the link to find the answer I need. I’m able to see that if I pull the baking powder and salt out of the cupboard, I can save myself a trip to the store.

While this is great for the end user, it means that MyRecipes.com provided me the information I needed, but I never visited their site. In many instances, however, the consumer is still going to visit the website because they need more information than what’s displayed in the direct answer.

So why does position #1 not matter as much? While the direct answer shown above does come from the #1-ranked website for the search query, it doesn’t always work this way. The direct answer is pulled from the site with the best answer, and Google doesn’t seem to care how it’s ranked.

In the example below, the featured snippet has been pulled from the #3-ranked result. (Not that I’ve ever searched this particular query in a sleep-deprived moment during the past year… )

when-will-baby-sleep-direct-answer

Can you imagine the difference in traffic for the #3 result with the direct answer vs. the #1 result without? Normally, the top organic ranking would have the highest click-through rate; however, the direct answer is likely taking traffic from the top result here (if not getting the majority of the clicks).

It’s important to optimize the content on all of your properties, not just your website. Yes, you really do need to include full content descriptions on your social profiles, because you never know what Google’s going to deem the best candidate for a direct answer.

In the example below, Google has chosen a featured snippet from a video on Pottery Barn’s YouTube channel for the search query, “how to hang drapes.” A page from Pottery Barn’s website that contains tips and how-tos for hanging drapes is #1 in the SERP — but because they’ve optimized their YouTube video description, it’s been selected as the direct answer. This benefits Pottery Barn in the long run, because now they have more real estate above the fold.

how-to-hang-drapes-direct-answer_1

The video is embedded in their website, along with additional supporting content on hanging drapes. Pottery Barn’s how-to guides provide a great information resource for customers, and that’s likely why Google’s rewarding them with both the featured snippet and the #1 position in the SERP.

how-to-hang-drapes-direct-answer

The featured snippet is pulled from the video description on YouTube:

pottery-barn-you-tube

So, what does all of this have to do with your SEO content strategy? When you provide useful information that’s easy to follow and understand, it could be used as a featured snippet in Google search results. If that happens, you will likely see a boost in traffic to your site — perhaps even more than the top organic result.

If you have optimized your site and your social channels, you can potentially gain a bigger portion of the SERP landscape through the featured snippet and position #1 ranking. However, even without #1, if you have the featured snippet, you are essentially the new #1.

Now that you understand the reward, you need to determine how to go after the direct answers. Start by searching Google for some of your target keywords (especially long-tail variations that take the form of a question) and find out if these queries trigger a featured snippet.

If these searches do produce direct answers, look at the sites that are obtaining them and evaluate what they’re doing differently. If you have the right information on your site to answer the query, double-check your setup. Do you have a dedicated page for each question with comprehensive, high-quality content? Or do you answer the question as part of a larger FAQ page? You may need to make some changes in order to win the featured snippet placement.

Direct answers are still relatively new, and they’re not on all queries. You may find that they’re starting to add them for queries related to your vertical, but the number of questions being answered is limited. Remember, even if a particular query doesn’t trigger a direct answer now, it may in the future — so you can always start creating content with that in mind.

Keep in mind that featured snippets are more commonly found on informational queries rather than transactional ones, so optimizing your content for direct answers will primarily be for the purpose of capturing searchers at the top of the funnel. In other words, plan your content accordingly; don’t try to use product pages to obtain featured snippets unless it’s appropriate to do so.

Position #1 isn’t as important as being the direct answer. Focus on creating great content that’s useful to your audience, and target the queries that would send someone to your site. While simple answers such as “what is a substitute for self-rising flour” may not drive tons of traffic, queries like “how to hang drapes” will likely drive traffic and quite possibly revenue in time.

The post The #1 Reason Why Position #1 Doesn’t Matter appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Why SEOs should not ignore Bing Webmaster Tools

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By Tony Edward

Before I make my case about using Bing Webmaster Tools, I want to preface the conversation with a couple of statements:

  • You should be optimizing your website based on Google’s guidelines and best practices, because they have the larger market share for search.
  • By no means am I advocating the use of Bing Webmaster Tools in lieu of Google Search Console. Rather, I’m suggesting the use of both, Google Search Console being the primary source and Bing Webmaster Tools the secondary.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about leveraging Bing Webmaster Tools. As an SEO Account Manager at Elite SEM, many times when onboarding new clients, we learn that they don’t have Bing Webmaster Tools set up. The majority of the time, it’s because the client is not aware of the tool or does not feel Bing is important.

So, you may thinking, why would I need to pay attention to Bing if Google has the majority of the market share? Here are some reasons.

Bing is still a major source of organic traffic

While Google may be your primary source of your organic traffic, Bing is almost certainly your second-highest source. Even if Bing accounts for only 20 percent to 30 percent of your monthly organic traffic, would you be willing to lose that traffic, which may be generating leads or revenue? My guess is probably not.

The image below shows an analytics breakdown from one of my clients for their Q1 2016 performance year over year. As you can see, Bing is the second-highest source of traffic and contributed to overall organic traffic growth year over year.

Bing Organic Search Traffic

Bing is expanding

Did you know that Bing powers Yahoo’s and AOL’s organic search results? The Yahoo partnership has been in effect since 2010, and the AOL partnership took effect in January 2016. So Bing’s reach is actually much larger than what is usually reported.

Here is comScore’s Desktop Search Engine Rankings from February 2016:

ComScores Search Engine Rankings

As you can see, Bing had 21.4 percent market share, but that number does not include the Yahoo or AOL numbers.

Even without Yahoo and AOL numbers, Bing’s market share has been increasing steadily year over year. It’s up from 19.8 percent in February 2015 and 18.4 percent in February 2014.

Bing Webmaster Tools offers unique data and tools

Bing Webmaster Tools provides additional site diagnostic reports and testing opportunities. Though the platform has many similar features and tools to Google Search Console, some features and tools can only be found in Bing. Either way, it’s helpful to use these tools to check your performance in Bing organic search and perhaps obtain data that Google has missed.

Some of the ways I leverage Bing Webmaster Tools are as follows:

1. Monitor site security

Both Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console have a security monitoring feature. However, neither is 100 percent perfect, so it’s good to have two sources to review security issues such as a malware. Most recently, I wrote an article which highlights a malware warning from Google — the warning itself did not provide any details and was not particularly helpful, so this is an area where Bing data could be useful.

Bing Webmaster Tools Security Monitoring

2. Monitor crawl & indexation performance

Sometimes you may see crawl or indexation performance issues in Google Search Console. You can use Bing Webmaster Tools reports to get a larger picture of what may be causing the issues. It will also allow you to see if it’s a Google-specific issue or involves all search engines. Keep in mind Bing Webmaster Tools reports includes Yahoo data, as well.

Bing Webmaster Tools Crawl Indexation Reports

3. Keyword research & optimization recommendations

Bing has two new tools that are still in beta but can help provide keyword ideas and on-page SEO recommendations.

  1. Keyword Research Tool. This tool is very similar to the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool. However, it provides organic keyword data versus paid data.

Bing Webmaster Tools Keyword Research

  1. SEO Analyzer Tool. This tool provides SEO feedback and recommendations for the web page that is entered. It also provides a rendering of the page source, which is similar to the Fetch tool in Google Search Console.

Bing Webmaster Tools SEO Analyzer Tool

There is also a Markup Validator tool that is in beta, which you can use to test structured data.

Conclusion

There are lots of new features and enhancements in Bing Webmaster Tools. I would highly recommend setting this up for your website.

By monitoring both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools on an ongoing basis, you will have more data at your disposal and gain a more holistic view of your organic search performance.

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Search in Pics: Kangaroos, Russo brothers & new napkins at Google

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By Barry Schwartz

In this week’s Search In Pictures, here are the latest images culled from the web, showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have and more.

Kangaroo at Google this week:

Source: Google+

Russo brothers visit Google London:

Russo brothers visit Google London
Source: Google+

New napkins at Google London:

New napkins at Google London
Source: Twitter

European Google Shop:

European Google Shop
Source: Google+

Jon McLaughlin plays at Google:

Jon McLaughlin Plays At Google
Source: Google+

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