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SearchCap: AdWords parallel tracking, Google Attribution & local search updates

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By Barry Schwartz

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:

The post SearchCap: AdWords parallel tracking, Google Attribution & local search updates appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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10 ways to generate links with online influencers

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By Kevin Rowe

You may be thinking that no one wants to share your content, but the opposite is actually true: Because they post so often, online influencers are always looking for interesting content to share. All you have to do it research, create and position the right content opportunities to influencers so they will want to start working with you.

If you’re not sure what angle your organization should take to work with online influencers, consider the following angles: unique content sharing, product promotion, sponsorships and relationship building.

You’ll also want to be sure you are familiar with the FTC Guidelines surrounding influencer disclosures, as well as Google’s guidelines on the issues.

Produce unique content

Producing fresh content that is engaging and interesting to your target audience is what entices industry influencers to share. In addition to “how-to” posts, consider creating studies and long-form content and developing discussions that push industry issues. Because content is so competitive, it’s crucial to take an angle that is different from everyone else’s, whether that is a point of view or a niche topic.

Recent research by Sumo found that only 20 percent of all content is even read, on average — so it’s key to bring your A-game in order to have people actually read it. Here are some ways you can bring in more readers:

1. Publish unique research

Stone Temple Consulting does a good job of this in the search marketing industry. They frequently release unique studies using research that their own team gathered. As a result, they are known as thought leaders in the SEO community, frequently keynoting and authoring books about search.

If something is trending or new in your industry, consider creating a study around it. Poll your email list or readers for survey responses, or run data tests to figure out how new technology works best. Not only does this provide unique value to the readers, you’ll often get more inbound links, because it’s exclusive findings that aren’t found anywhere else.

2. Go niche and in-depth

Anyone can write a blog post about a broad topic, like “How to Start a Blog,” but it takes a unique approach — like “How to Start a Blog in One Hour For Less Than $100” or “How to Start a Product Review Blog in The Pet Industry” — to make it stand out. If you want to be found for common industry terms, figure out how you can “niche down” your content. Go beyond the basics and create multiple pieces of content that can cover different angles in depth.

3. Create controversy

Every industry has controversial or touchy topics. Without being too gauche, consider what you can write about that will let you be the “devil’s advocate” and provide a unique perspective that no one has tackled before. HubSpot recommends writing from an angle that will resonate with your audience and to ensure that you can back up your points with data.

Similarly, if there’s a topic that is dividing industry experts, cover it from an angle that fits for your company. Marketo recommends finding a piece of content that you don’t exactly agree with and write a rebuttal. Having a piece of content as inspiration makes it easier to write and can draw more audience interest.

Offer free products

When done right, offering free products can help to spread your products by word of mouth. Product recommendations have a lot of trust value for online users. According to research by BrightLocal, 84 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Here are some ways you can give away your products to influencers.

4. Provide samples for review

Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find industry influencers in your target market, and reach out to them to see if they’d like to try out the product in exchange for a review. To make your campaigns get more influencers for less cost, try going after the mid-size influencers who aren’t at the top level, with 100,000 followers or more. Instead, target users with 100 to 10,000 followers. They will be more willing to work with you, since they likely aren’t approached as often as the upper-level influencers. In addition, make sure the influencers follow proper FTC guidelines for disclosure.

5. Free products only for the influencer’s audience

In addition to a review, you can also offer to give away products to the audience of the influencers. Once they share their review, they can host a giveaway on the blog post that allows users to enter to win more free products. Here’s an example from the healthy living blog “Peanut Butter Fingers,” which teams up with Chicco to do a car seat review and informational safety post. At the end of the post, they did a sponsored giveaway:

giveaway for link building

Often, the influencer is responsible for running the content and choosing the winners, and the company will send out the products once the content is over.

6. Run contests to win free products

Another free product option you can do is product giveaways. This harnesses networks of all sizes, as you can give users more entries into the giveaway if they share it to their networks. Make sure you are following all giveaway regulations and policies for applicable social media platforms, and you have a list of giveaway rules on your website. If you want users to share using multiple platforms, use a service like WooBox or Rafflecopter.

Sponsorship

In addition to free posts, you can also spend some of your budget sponsoring or running ads on influencers’ websites. This varies by website, but some influencers offer sidebars, ads, email newsletter mentions or sponsored blog posts. If they don’t have the ideal sponsorship available on their website, it doesn’t hurt to propose an alternative arrangement. Most influencers are open to offers, provided it’s not intrusive and offers value to their audience.

7. Sponsor a post for them to publish

Some websites will take sponsored posts that are written by the sponsor or by a dedicated staff member. Usually, costs are higher if the influencer has to write the content himself or herself. A sponsored post might be something like a walk-through of a product or a new feature. It is paid content, but it showcases value to the audience by covering a topic or service they are interested in. Search Engine Land offers this, calling it “Sponsored Content.

8. Sponsor their blog in general

Many influencers also accept ongoing sponsorships for their website. What this covers varies, but it could include a sidebar ad, mentions on specific pages or blurbs on other online mediums, like social media or email. Creating this type of relationship not only gets you more exposure, it also gives you an in with the influencer to start a conversation around other ways they can share your content.

Build actual relationships

Starting a conversation is key toward long-term influencer outreach success. By building relationships with influencers, you can work together to come up with new and fun ways to share your content and promote your products or services. Besides reaching out online directly, you can also seek to get to know them and support their goals. A collaborative approach will lead to a better relationship.

9. Support their goal by mentioning them in other articles you write

A relationship isn’t one-way. A partnership is one where you are also supportive of the influencer and what they are trying to build with their own website and online platform. When applicable, mention influencers in industry roundups, in quotes or as examples in the content you’re writing. Recommending them to your audience on social media by tagging them can also get their attention and show that you are supportive of their brand as well.

10. Meet up with them at an event

Besides striking up a supportive relationship online, try meeting influencers in person to get the conversation going. Attend industry networking events, conferences or trade shows and look for influencers that could help you promote your content and products. Oftentimes, non-corporate speakers at conferences have their own companies and websites, and blogging conferences (like BlogHer) are full of influencers who are open to partnerships with brands.

By building relationships with influencers in different ways, like product giveaways and reviews, sponsorships, and unique content, you can get your offerings in front of more audiences. This leads to better website traffic and sales. While it may take some experimentation to figure out the best influencers to work with, influencer outreach can be an effective part of any link-building — and more importantly, traffic-generating — campaign.

The post 10 ways to generate links with online influencers appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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A brief history of Google’s most important local search updates

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By Brian Smith

Deciphering the Google algorithm can sometimes feel like an exercise in futility. The search engine giant has made many changes over the years, keeping digital marketers on their toes and continually moving the goalposts on SEO best practices.

Google’s continuous updating can hit local businesses as hard as anyone. Every tweak and modification to its algorithm could adversely impact their search ranking or even prevent them from appearing on the first page of search results for targeted queries. What makes things really tricky is the fact that Google sometimes does not telegraph the changes it makes or how they’ll impact organizations. It’s up to savvy observers to deduce what has been altered and what it means for SEO and digital marketing strategies.

What’s been the evolution of local search, and how did we get here? Let’s take a look at the history of Google’s local algorithm and its effect on brick-and-mortar locations.

2005: Google Maps and Local Business Center become one

After releasing Local Business Center in March 2005, Google took the next logical step and merged it with Maps, creating a one-stop shop for local business info. For users, this move condensed relevant search results into a single location, including driving directions, store hours and contact information.

This was a significant moment in SEO evolution, increasing the importance of up-to-date location information across store sites, business listings and online directories.

2007: Universal Search & blended results

Universal Search signified another landmark moment in local search history, blending traditional search results with various listings from other search engines. Instead of working solely through the more general, horizontal SERPs, Universal Search combined results from Google’s vertical-focused search queries like Images, News and Video.

Google’s OneBox started to show within organic search results, bringing a whole new level of exposure that was not there before. The ramifications on local traffic were profound, as store listings were better positioned to catch the eye of Google users.

2010: Local Business Center becomes Google Places

In 2010, Google rebranded/repurposed Local Business Center and launched Google Places. This was more than a mere name change, as a number of important updates were included, like adding new image features, local advertising options and the availability of geo-specific tags for certain markets. But more importantly, Google attempted to align Places pages with localized search results, where previously information with localized results was coming from Google Maps.

The emergence of Places further cemented Google’s commitment to bringing local search to the forefront. To keep up with these rapidly changing developments, brick-and-mortar businesses needed to make local search a priority in their SEO strategies.

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2012: Google goes local with Venice

Prior to Venice, Google’s organic search results defaulted to more general nationwide sites. Only Google Maps would showcase local options. With the Venice update, Google’s algorithm could take into account a user’s stated location and return organic results reflecting that city or state. This was big, because it allowed users to search anchor terms without using local modifiers.

The opportunity for companies operating in multiple territories was incredible. By setting up local page listings, businesses could effectively rank higher on more top-level queries just by virtue of being in the same geographic area as the user. A better ranking with less effort — it was almost too good to be true.

2013: Hummingbird spreads its wings

Hummingbird brought about significant changes to Google’s semantic search capabilities. Most notably, it helped the search engine better understand long-tail queries, allowing it to more closely tie results to specific user questions — a big development in the eyes of main search practitioners.

Hummingbird forced businesses to change their SEO strategies to adapt and survive. Simple one- or two-word phrases would no longer be the lone focal point of a healthy SEO plan, and successful businesses would soon learn to target long-tail keywords and queries — or else see their digital marketing efforts drop like a stone.

2014: Pigeon takes flight

Two years after Venice brought local search to center stage, the Pigeon update further defined how businesses ranked on Google localized SERPs. The goal of Pigeon was to refine local search results by aligning them more directly with Google’s traditional SEO ranking signals, resulting in more accurate returns on user queries.

Pigeon tied local search results more closely with deep-rooted ranking signals like content quality and site architecture. Business listings and store pages needed to account for these criteria to continue ranking well on local searches.

2015: RankBrain adds a robotic touch

In another major breakthrough for Google’s semantic capabilities, the RankBrain update injected artificial intelligence into the search engine. Using RankBrain’s machine learning software, Google’s search engine was able to essentially teach itself how to more effectively process queries and results and more accurately rank web pages.

RankBrain’s ability to more intelligently process page information and discern meaning from complex sentences and phrases further drove the need for quality content. No more gaming the system. If you wanted your business appearing on the first SERP, your site had better have the relevant content to back it up.

2015: Google cuts back on snack packs

A relatively small but important update, in 2015, Google scaled back its “snack pack” of local search results from seven listings to a mere three. While this change didn’t affect the mechanics of SEO much, it limited visibility on page one of search results and further increased the importance of ranking high in local results.

2016: Possum shakes things up

The Possum update was an attempt to level the playing field when it came to businesses in adjoining communities. During the pre-Possum years, local search results were often limited to businesses in a specific geographical area. This meant that a store in a nearby area just outside the city limits of Chicago, for instance, would have difficulty ranking and appearing for queries that explicitly included the word “Chicago.”

Instead of relying solely on search terms, Possum leveraged the user’s location to more accurately determine what businesses were both relevant to their query and nearby.

This shift to user location is understandable given the increasing importance of mobile devices. Letting a particular search phrase dictate which listings are returned doesn’t make much sense when the user’s mobile device provides their precise location.

2017 and beyond

Predicting when the next major change in local search will occur and how it will impact ranking and SEO practices can be pretty difficult, not least because Google rarely announces or fully explains its updates anymore.

That being said, here are some evergreen local SEO tips that never go out of fashion (at least not yet):

  • Manage your local listings for NAP (name, address, phone number) accuracy and reviews.
  • Be sure to adhere to organic search best practices and cultivate localized content and acquire local links for each store location.
  • Mark up your locations with structured data, particularly Location and Hours, and go beyond if you are able to.

When in doubt, look at what your successful competitors are doing, and follow their lead. If it works, it works — that is, until Google makes another ground-shaking algorithm change.

The post A brief history of Google’s most important local search updates appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google expanding Attribution beta to hundreds more advertisers

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By Greg Finn

Earlier this year, Google announced a new product that generated a lot of buzz among advertisers: Google Attribution. This new platform is slated to help marketers see how higher and mid-funnel interactions impact conversions and tame the cross-device, cross-channel conundrum. Google is now rolling out this program to hundreds of advertisers this week.

Google is touting successful initial beta tests with brands using Google Attribution. Companies like HelloFresh claim a 10 percent increase in conversions since using Attribution. Karl Villanueva, head of paid search and display at HelloFresh, said this about the initial beta: “With Google Attribution, we have been able to automatically integrate cross-channel bidding throughout our AdWords search campaigns. This has resulted in a seamless change in optimization mindset as we are now able to see keyword and query performance more holistically rather than inadvertently focusing on only last-click events.”

The rollout of Attribution hopes to shine a light on the true paths users take before the conversion finally happens. Right now, Google’s attribution modeling in AdWords “Attribution” under the Conversions tab is limited to AdWords data. The new Attribution product provides more cross-channel data than what’s available in Google Analytics to help assign credit to the true path of a sale. Attribution also features Google’s machine learning-based data-driven attribution model.

It should be noted that this rollout isn’t global, but for select advertisers. If you’d like to to be notified when Google Attribution is available to you, Google has created a quick form to keep you in the know. You can check to see if you have access by attempting to log in to Google Attribution, and over the coming months, Google will be inviting more advertisers to Attribution.

The post Google expanding Attribution beta to hundreds more advertisers appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Search in Pics: Danny Sullivan the Noogler, Google’s upside down room, a Google Sukkah & more

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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.

Danny Sullivan wearing his Noogler hat:

Source: Twitter

A Google Sukkah at the NYC office:


Source: Twitter

The upside down room at Google Australia:


Source: Instagram

A Google fireplace:


Source: Twitter

Google San Francisco office 10 year anniversary cake:


Source: Twitter

The real Google RankBrain:


Source: Twitter

A Google lookout:


Source: Instagram

The post Search in Pics: Danny Sullivan the Noogler, Google’s upside down room, a Google Sukkah & more appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google AdWords to roll out ‘parallel tracking’ to speed up mobile landing page delivery

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By Ginny Marvin

Google’s been working to speed up mobile web experiences on several fronts, AMP being the most visible of these efforts. On Wednesday, the company announced a change to the way it will handle tracking parameters appended to AdWords landing page URLs.

Processing tracking codes can bog down page load time by “hundreds of milliseconds” and hurt campaign performance, says Google. Instead of processing the tracking with the landing page, Google is introducing “parallel tracking” to process the tracking URL, the AdWords click tracker and possible redirects in the background while the user goes straight to the landing page.

Currently, the tracking URL, AdWords click tracker and any redirects load before the user sees the landing page. Google says it’s seen the change help improve page load times by several seconds for users on slower networks.

Parallel tracking will start rolling out later this year and become the default tracking method in early 2018. It will initially be optional and only available for Search Network and Shopping campaigns.

Third-party trackers

Advertisers working with third-party tracking template providers should check in with them about this change now, because the providers may have to make updates to accommodate parallel tracking.

Google says it is working with some “key partners,” but “[p]roviders will need to make changes to their platform that could take several months to complete, so it’s important to get started early.”

The post Google AdWords to roll out ‘parallel tracking’ to speed up mobile landing page delivery appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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SearchCap: Bing Ads new overview, Pinterest search ads & RIP Link Moses

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By Barry Schwartz

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:

The post SearchCap: Bing Ads new overview, Pinterest search ads & RIP Link Moses appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) conquer the competition for shoe retailer

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By Damian Rollison

In the highly competitive footwear vertical, no season matters more than late summer, when shoppers spend $27 billion on supplies and clothing for the coming school year.

According to the Deloitte back-to-school survey for 2017, some 55 percent of that spend, about $15 billion, is devoted to clothing and accessories. Late summer may be only the second-biggest shopping season of the year in the United States, but for verticals like footwear, it’s number one.

A top shoe retailer came to Brandify (disclosure: my employer) for a solution to boost local store visibility online. To achieve the retailer’s goal, we worked in collaboration with SEO consultant Steve Wiideman to implement Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for the retailer’s nearly 500 US stores.

The open-source AMP Project, led and heavily promoted by Google in collaboration with Twitter, WordPress, Pinterest and LinkedIn, defines a lightweight standard for publishing web pages that makes them load very quickly on mobile devices. The standard includes special implementations of HTML and JavaScript, as well as the concept of an AMP Cache, which is a repository for serving pages converted to AMP.

Google’s AMP Cache is by far the biggest, and since early 2016, Google has been featuring AMP results prominently, first at the top of the mobile SERP in “zero position,” and later in the year as part of the ordinary list of search results. Google has reported that pages converted to AMP typically load in less than half a second and use one-tenth of the data used by the same page in non-AMP format.

It would seem like a no-brainer to use AMP for local store pages, and yet the local search industry has been slow to adopt the standard. During the first phase of the AMP Project’s rollout, it was believed that AMP, with its stripped-down publishing format, was only suited to news sites and blogs, where presentation of text content is the main point of the web page.

This began to change when eBay launched 8 million AMP product pages last summer, proving that e-commerce sites could benefit from fast page loads and simplified presentation. As Brafton’s Ben Silverman wrote on his company’s blog, “The auction site’s confident leap into the world of the accelerated mobile experience proves that fast-loading, neatly formatted, easy-to-use content is the best way to drive conversions and sales.”

We were eager to bring the benefits of AMP to our multilocation brand clients, and the shoe retailer’s request for a boost in traffic created a good opportunity. The switch to AMP involved a modest redesign of the local page layout for the brand, though because the retailer already preferred simplicity and utility in its web pages, the changes did not need to be dramatic.

The possibilities for interactive content are limited with AMP, and the presentation must remain simple, but developers and brands should not shy away from AMP for that reason. After all, quick access to relevant information is what mobile searchers want.

This supposition was borne out by the results for the shoe retailer. Even though AMP implementation by itself is not considered to be a ranking factor, the improvement in page design and load time correlated with a notable increase in session traffic.

Comparing the 20-day periods before and after the launch of pages converted to AMP on July 27 of this year, we saw an increase, period-over-period, of 32 percent in overall session traffic. What’s more, the impact was noticeable almost immediately on July 28, one day after launch.

Screenshot of Google Analytics showing AMP deployment on July 27 and subsequent spike in sessions.

The year-over-year results were even more dramatic, with sessions increasing 45 percent between July 28 and August 17, 2017 over the same period in 2016. Other factors may have contributed to this increase, but the immediate jump in traffic upon AMP launch is hard to deny as evidence of AMP as an isolated and significant contributor.

We also examined the retailer’s Google My Business (GMB) Insights and found a possible add-on effect. Greater prominence of local pages for the retailer seems to correlate with increased views and actions on Google listings for the brand.

Comparing the 20 days before and after launch, we saw a 9.4 percent increase in customer actions for the retailer’s Google listings, such as clicking to visit the brand website, requesting directions and clicking to call. Moreover, comparing the first 20 days after the launch of pages converted to AMP to the same period one year before, we measured a 21.3 percent increase in customer actions.

GMB Insights for shoe retailer shown in the Brandify dashboard

The implication of this result is that Google can connect pages hosted within its own AMP Cache with their corresponding website links in a store’s GMB listing. Performance of one’s business website is a known ranking factor for local listings, and AMP appears to be a great weapon for boosting local as well as organic results.

The retailer benefited significantly from the switch to AMP over a remarkably short period of time, ensuring the brand would remain at the forefront of consumer attention during the competitive back-to-school season. During the time period of the AMP campaign launch, no other significant changes were made to the retailer’s local campaign, so we feel we can claim with confidence that barring any external factors, AMP was the major driver of the positive results we measured.


Want to learn more about this case study and others related to AMP? Join us in New York for our SMX East search marketing conference, and be sure check out the “AMP: Do or die?” session, featuring the author.

The post Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) conquer the competition for shoe retailer appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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