For most businesses, the summer season means a slow-down in industry events — but for digital marketers, there is no rest! My company was out in force at both The Turing Festival and BrightonSEO this year, both of which represent fantastic forums for knowledge-sharing and networking.
Reflecting on what were hugely insightful conferences, I’d like to run over themes that stood out to me — and how digital marketers can put insights drawn from them into practice.
Attendees of both conferences were spoiled for choice: Speakers from the world’s largest and most inspiring companies, including Google, Moz and Skyscanner, headlined stages. Members of our paid search team were particularly wowed by the session delivered by Wil Reynolds, the founder of Seer Interactive.
Breaking down silos
Wil Reynolds’s background commanded the audience’s attention from the get-go with a story that is still relatively unusual in the marketing world. Originally an SEO expert who turned to PPC, Reynolds suggested that the notion of switching between elements of search marketing shouldn’t be unusual in 2017, but that it unfortunately still is.
Typically, search professionals specialize in either paid or organic search and rarely move from one to the other. However, combining these skill sets can strengthen a marketing team and add value to the services it delivers to its clients.
I think that’s an important lesson for marketers, whether agency or client-side. Integrated marketing strategies are more effective than siloed efforts, and we have no shortage of case studies to that effect here at QueryClick.
Describing how he broke out of his own silo and combined SEO with PPC, Reynolds highlighted how the two areas of search complement each other — a message that resonates with me personally as a marketing professional who recognizes that an integrated approach delivers the strongest results.
A holistic approach
In a modern digital marketing world, however, the merging of skills goes far beyond mastering both SEO and PPC. The way people consume content has drastically changed over the last decade. The rise in mobile media consumption has led to a diverse range of content platforms, and marketers now have extensive opportunities to tailor their messaging and reach their target audiences.
To ensure consistency across platforms, today’s brands demand an integrated approach with a cross-skilled team that breaks down silos, produces more meaningful data and offers them more bang for their buck.
Running organic and paid search campaigns simultaneously (with a single point of truth in reporting) allows integrated marketing teams to define the keywords that have the highest conversion rate and therefore determine the themes that will optimize a brand’s overall digital marketing strategy. To work effectively, however, it must be rolled out across SEO, PPC, social media, PR and conversion rate optimization (CRO), with each team working closely together in order to achieve the brand’s end goals.
Bridging the gap
Of course, there are risks to adopting an integrated approach. There can be a huge disconnect between PPC and SEO campaigns, for example, and work must be done to bridge the gap between both disciplines. Ensuring that the work of the SEO and PPC teams complement each other, and that they can yield valuable data and insights for that work, should result in campaigns that are more targeted and relevant to the brand’s audience.
I’ve written before about how you can integrate paid and organic search behaviour in a blended “Halo” report, and I think it’s just one example where integrating channels provides significant insight value to both channels.
Of course, creating an integrated strategy is an art form as much as it is a science, and without the appropriate tools at hand, it’s not always possible. Power BI, a data visualization tool which can pull deeper integrated organic and paid metrics together, can help marketers present a visual representation of PPC and SEO activity live, allowing both teams to move away from working and reporting in silos and allowing an instantly accessible “single point of truth.”
Get the full picture
During the conclusion of his session at The Turing Festival, Reynolds pointed out that it is important to recognize that SEO and PPC look at the world differently. He described PPC professionals as being akin to “creative accountants,” working to meticulous precision, and suggested that SEOs are more like “poker players,” keeping their cards close to their chest.
Although the skills and mindsets of these specialists are very different, combining both organic and paid results shows the full SEM picture and allows digital marketers to deliver stronger results to their clients. This, in turn, informs the strategy for the whole digital marketing team, from PR to social. If mastered, a data-led, integrated approach is the holy grail of modern search marketing.
In 2017, one of the smartest things you can do for both your content marketing and overall digital marketing strategy is to pay attention to Google RankBrain and how it influences search results and rankings.
SEO is a complex topic that sounds simple, so let’s clarify what it means before we get into the meat of the issue. SEO stands for search engine optimization. Search engine optimization refers to how search engines determine which links are shown first to users.
This determination centers around certain factors in the case of the results stemming from an organic search (non-paid). That’s not all. The benefits and profitability of SEO are even increasing with respect to mobile platforms. SEO refers to the set of factors that determine the search ranking of your landing page and other links in relation to many factors.
Framing the issue is important before getting into the question of why SEO is so important in the first place. Most people intuitively understand that the higher their site’s landing page shows at the top of a search engine’s results page, the more traffic they will receive. In reality, the influence that search engines have over the results you see and the frequency at which search engines are used may surprise you.
The fact of the matter is that search engines generally dictate what gets shown and what doesn’t get shown. Nowadays, search engines appear to have taken on a referencing role based on website relevance in addition to a simple search function. Interestingly, search sites like Google act as both gateways and gatekeepers to the rest of the Internet.
Google controls seven out of every ten searches. Because of this, Google is a gateway that most people use to find other sites that they need. On the other hand, Google is also a gatekeeper based on how it organizes and ranks the links of various websites.
This article will go over five ranking factors used by Google to shed insight into the details of that ranking process. In other words, by reviewing the features of the gatekeeping process, we can implement more robust and effective SEO measures.
1. Provide Useful Content
The more accurate, helpful, and reputable your content is, the better SEO results you’ll get. Simple, right? In theory, good content leads to higher rankings. The problem here is that machines are sorting through and making judgments on what’s good or bad. So you’re really trying to hit a number of things that mimic or approximate good content in your SEO quest. Making small, impactful, and targeted changes is key to creating the type of content attractive to search engines.
2. Write Suitable and Attractive Anchor Text
What’s anchor text? It’s basically the blue underlined stuff that you click on when you browse the Internet that takes you to another related site. Essentially, the HTML code specifies a section of text and associates it with a link to create the hyperlink that we are all familiar with.
So how do you add a bit of flair to your anchor text beyond its depressingly default color of blue? Moz gives a number of suggestions, but in general you just want to want your anchor texts to be pithy, unique, simple, and relevant to the linked page.
Backlines are exactly what they sound like, but like all important SEO features on your site there are both good and excellent ways to use backlinks. The concept behind a backlink is incredibly simple. It refers to the sites that link to your site, or any other site. Let’s say the Wall Street Journal made a link to your website. That’s a backlink.
There’s a number of key things to do when considering backlink quality. These tips relate to making your backlinks more useful to site visitors. You can accomplish this by evaluating a site’s link relevancy through a number of factors like content and online tools. Focusing on real websites, or websites that experience a lot of traffic along with using authority sites will also boost your rankings.
4. Make Your Site Easier to Navigate
This one’s pretty easy to grasp too. Just don’t fill your site up with a much of unnecessary clutter. Clean simplicity is one of the reasons that Google was so successful as a search engine in its earlier stages. You want your site to get to the point. You want to capture your users and have them understand the purpose of your site within seconds. Finally, you’ll need to arrange buttons and widgets around a theme or style that appeals to the visitors for maximum ranking results.
Even Google itself thinks organization and navigation clarity are important in its SEO guide. It emphasizes things like the relationship between clean navigation and search engines and makes suggestions like planning your site around your homepage in order to make visitor browsing more convenient.
5. Consider RankBrain’s Algorithms
The significance of technology appears to have subtly increased to a great degree over the years. Google’s RankBrain is an example of an algorithm has been making waves on the issue of search traffic and rankings.
So how does Google do it? The larger category of technology is called artificial intelligence, coding computer to perform tasks that only humans normally handle. But with the arrival of a type of artificial learning called machine learning, RankBrain has certain elements that are capable of rewriting their own software to get better at ranking the most relevant sites.
The real impact of RankBrain manifests in its ability to interpret human meaning (in searches) to an extent: “RankBrain is designed to better understand the meaning behind the words a person uses and types into his or her search engine because 15% of queries per day had never been seen by Google” (Broadbent, 2017).
With the powerful machine learning technologies guiding SEO and the calculations behind the rankings of site relevance, focusing and studying up on the latest SEO trends across popular platforms has never been more important.
Why organic SEO is not enough and if you want to rank high in search engines you need to do more to grow your online business without just relying on social media
Are you wondering if you should invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to grow your online business? Just Google “Is SEO dead?” and you will get more than 10 million references. In this article, Eddie Madan, CEO of Edkent Media – a digital marketing agency and Toronto web design company shares his views on why you should invest in SEO and digital marketing to get a better return on investment.
Eddie Madan believes that SEO is far from dead. However, he agreed that SEO has changed so radically that people should learn to consider it as more of a branding initiative, and less of a marketing scheme.
Being impartial to this inference and contrary to what you may have heard, organic SEO is yet not dead for many businesses. Many international companies, including the SEO agencies, are still making an improved commitment to investing in the making of a robust and SEO-optimized Web setup that is friendly with the search engines, provided the engines remain dedicated to improving their algorithms with time.
Here are top seven justifications for considering an organic SEO investment for your online business:
1. It Is Still Effective!
Even today, the techniques of boosting Search Engine Optimization still work, as the search engines still consider the On-page and off page SEO. Many case studies have confirmed this, which were conducted after the release of Hummingbird.
According to Eddie, focusing on optimizing the user experience through proper Search Engine Optimization methods and strategies is likely to reward one with a higher rank as well as organic traffic.
2. There Is No Sign of SEO Ending Soon!
Well, SEO is not likely to regarding effectiveness anytime soon. One can conclude this inference by keeping track of how search engines are growing in terms of algorithmic domination. Nowadays, Matt Cutts, former head of spam at Google seems to appear only a few times with some breaking news.
These days, the results of even multimedia content rely finally on keywords. So, the growth is like this: From content to images to videos. This progress points to the sustained success of the SEO techniques.
3. It Is Quite Affordable!
It is a myth that Search Engine Optimization is costly. It might appear to be so initially, but it is not so in the long run. Unlike other digital techniques of marketing such as social media promotion and PPC advertising, SEO provides a significant amount of returns. PPC might provide more returns, and social media might boost your image, but organic SEO is a multi-dimensional core of your online presence.
4. Nobody Can Ignore the Trending Local and Mobile SEO.
The recent trend in the world of SEO is for the local and mobile search optimization. As a forecast, experts predict that the amount of traffic to mobile devices shall exceed that of conventional desktops soon. The growing importance of mobile and local are another indicator that several new efficient techniques should focus more on mobile responsive sites. As mobile becomes a hot area for Search Engine Optimization, we see another reason why optimization is far from dead.
5. Search Engines Are Increasingly Becoming a Reliable Way to Find Information and Things.
Almost around 80-90% of customers are using search engines to look for online reviews before making a purchase. This figure itself says how reliable and handy the search engines are! Even in future; this number is likely to increase, as there is no other fierce competitor at present to overcome search engines.
So, no business would like to leave search engines when it comes to locating them online and buying their products and services. If your online business is one of these, organic SEO is the only healthy way to make it easy for your customers to find you online rather than to find your competitors.
6. Your Competitors are Still Relying on Organic.
Practically, SEO is an everlasting process. If you believe that SEO will end soon or has ended, you are likely to stop all strategies for improving your position and grabbing a higher rank. So, what does this mean? Directly, you are halting the progress of your online business. Indirectly, you smooth the way for your competitor to lead online. Certainly, you would not like to do this by ignoring this valuable tool, would you?
7. Only SEO Optimized Websites Drives Healthy and Updated Content.
Imagine a Web site residing online with the same content and look for a few years. The stale look is likely to lessen your interest in navigating the site- a good website constantly needs maintenance and upgrades of content. This new content can come in the form of new releases, new offers, new images and videos, new color themes, and so on.
Other digital marketing techniques such as PPC and social media marketing are not that useful in updating the content comprehensively on different pages. However, this is something that organic SEO encourages you to do.
Nobody can deny the harmful effects of unhealthy, stale content. Bad content will not only cause you to lose your customers but also your good brand image in the eyes of search engines. Every updated search engine algorithm tends to see an updated site with more respect.
New content, new look, new sharing icons all add to the feel that you want your customers to keep coming back to visit. Search engines love to see returning visitors and will give them a higher ranking for returning visitors.
Well, this is another reason why organic SEO is still worthy of your business investment.
In fact, spending significant time, effort, as well as a reasonable amount of money in organic Search Engine Optimization has become more critical than before. Money and time spent on SEO are worth it, despite the fact that lack of organic keyword data is proving to be somewhat problematic.
Your online business marketing is certainly in need of a useful Search Engine Optimization strategy without which it may become stagnant or futile. In short, organic SEO still deserves to be one of the critical constituents of efforts for online branding.
From its inception in the early 2000s to now, the popularity of targeted pay per click (PPC) advertising has grown dramatically. Due to this popularity and success, many businesses not currently using the system are considering making the move. However, it is important to carefully consider the pros and cons of PPC — and how to create the ideal environment for a successful PPC campaign — before jumping on the bandwagon. When deciding whether or not to involve PPC in your marketing strategy, you must first thoroughly examine your existing business and marketing practices to maximize PPC’s potential.
1. Consider If You Need And Can Handle A Visibility Boost
If sales are slower than you’d like and your business doesn’t appear on the first page of a search engine’s results when you search for the product or service you’re promoting, you may want to consider PPC to increase your visibility. However, you should also make sure that you are prepared for the boost you may receive. Consider if your business can handle an influx of potential customers; if your sales team struggles to follow up with prospects consistently or you have limited resources to increase production, you may want to improve those aspects of your business before exposing it to more consumers. Drowning in more consumer interest than you can handle can be detrimental to your image — and your sales.
You should also consider if your website is ready to maximize the potential of an increase in traffic. Is the landing page aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate? Have you been keeping up to date on the latest data-driven practices regarding web development to maximize your site’s potential? It is important that your landing page and overall website, not just your advertisement, results in conversions. If the site isn’t ready, it may be best to wait before implementing an intensive PPC strategy or you can lose the momentum built by your advertising.
2. Consider Your Target Market
In order to maximize your click-through rate (CTR), you must have a strong understanding of your audience. Users are more likely to click on ads targeted to them, so targeted PPC advertising has great potential. For instance, if your business thrives on local involvement, geotargeting your ads can positively impact your CTR (and, in turn, your conversions). However, if you’re interested in a broader campaign that doesn’t focus on a specific demographic, such as increasing general brand recognition, PPC may be less effective than a carefully-monitored cost per impression (CPI) campaign that does not target specific keywords or locations.
When considering your target market, you should also think about customer value. It’s important that a click on an ad — and the subsequent visit to your site — costs less than what the visit is worth. For instance, if you pay $2 per click for an advertisement but the product you’re selling is only $3, then paying for PPC is not helpful. However, if you pay $2 per click and the product is $600, the profit margin is much wider.
3. Consider Your Budget
One commonly touted benefit of PPC advertising is that it doesn’t necessarily cost much to start, as prices per click can be relatively low. However, it’s important to take care and avoid bidding wars for keywords if your budget is limited, as certain industries’ costs per click can be high. Although projecting a budget for PPC can be difficult, there are several blogs and other tools out there to help simplify the process.
When considering your budget, you should also factor in the cost of having an expert in PPC on your marketing team. PPC can be an involved strategy, as advertisers must keep up with the near-constant changes to Google AdWords, research and list the best keywords, develop campaigns, set up PPC landing pages, and consistently analyze account performance. This can get expensive, so make sure that you consider these costs before implementing PPC.
4. Consider The Possibility Of Combining Multiple Options
Implementing PPC into your marketing strategy should be combined with other efforts. Studies have shown that combining PPC with strong organic search strategies is ideal to maximize profits, as users see a “natural” high ranking on Google (by having your website come up on the first page of a search) as lending legitimacy to a sponsored PPC advertisement. Thoroughly weighing the pros and cons of PPC and CPI advertising and figuring out a combination that works best for your goals will result in the highest number of conversions.
When navigating the murky waters of PPC advertising, it is easy to get swept up in the strategy without first considering your specific business needs. By examining how PPC can affect your business, you can maximize the potential of a targeted audience.
Entrepreneur magazine contributor, Mike Templeman, shares his thoughts on the SEO snake oil being solicited by top agencies and advertisers alike. SEO takes time and like Mike references, there is no “overnight” fix or silver bullet that can take you to the top.
Don’t get burned by a snake oil salesperson when it comes to your company’s SEO needs.Do you know what snake oil is? It’s a term used to describe any product with questionable or unverifiable quality or benefit. If you read this Wikipedia article on the topic, you’ll see that real oil from snakes used to be prescribed as a cure for everything from small cuts on up to arthritis and skin diseases.
And a recent study came out touting that companies will be spending $65 Billion on SEO this year.
Now, as the title to this article would imply, I believe that the SEO industry, and the digital marketing industry in general is full of snake oil salespeople. Individuals who knowingly are selling a product that either will not work for the buyer or that they know is of inferior quality.
Let me explain. I run a marketing agency. I have to hear dozens of horror stories every week about wasted budgets, sites damaged beyond repair, digital campaigns that produce zero results and everything else business owners and marketers are terrified of. These stories are the grownup versions of the campfire stories we told each other as children. Except now, they end in the loss of millions of dollars. Terrifying, I know.
Now, I mentioned that I run an agency, as such you’d think that we’d have a pretty good grasp on marketing. But you wouldn’t guess that if you looked at my spam folder. I receive hundreds, yes hundreds of unsolicited emails every day from marketers promising to take my brand to the #1 spot in Google (total lie). Or to bring me thousands of visitors in a matter of weeks (liar liar pants on fire). They tell me that my site is breaking numerous rules set forth by the search engines and if I don’t fix them my company will die a fiery death (oh really?).
Related: Here’s What Really Matters for SEO in 2016
These are the Exhibit A’s in the snake oil industry of digital marketing and SEO.
To see the Exhibit B’s you’ll need to reach out to an agency of your choice and ask to speak with their sales team. Odds are you’ll end up talking with someone that will guarantee that your wildest dreams will be fulfilled by focusing on SEO. Or maybe they’re a social media agency. If that’s the case, their silver bullet will undoubtedly be social media. Either way, they’ve got the tonic that will cure your website’s disease. And if you act now, you’ll be guaranteed results!
Look, as someone who has worked in SEO and every other digital medium for the last decade or so, I can tell you that there are no silver bullets and that nothing is guaranteed. I also know that SEO doesn’t work for some companies. Just like PPC isn’t for everyone, nor is social media. After all, billboards and commercials don’t work for every industry, so why would digital marketing be any different?
But let’s examine what makes a lot of SEO services snake oil and give you the information you’ll need to protect yourself.
Why is it snake oil?
Snake oil originated in the medical industry. It was used as a cure for ailments. It was easy for salespeople to pull the wool over they’re buyers’ eyes because back in the day, no one really knew what the heck was going on with their bodies. Medical information wasn’t as readily available. And since medical conditions are by nature quite scary, the sufferers were ready to believe anything that was thrown their way.
Well, guess what? The Internet is the new medical industry when it comes to snake oil. You see, the Internet is still not that old. It’s really only become prolific over the last 20 years or so. With that being the case, most people don’t understand the ins and outs of it. Yes, like a medical condition, they can tell when something is wrong. But they’re not really quite sure what the cause of the issue is. Enter the snake oil salespeople.
Whenever there are uninformed customers, there will always be predatory groups looking to take advantage of that situation. And with a 65 Billion dollar industry up for grabs, the streets are running wet with snake oil right now.
Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring an SEO Consultant
What I’ve seen.
While some snake oils can be rather harmless, when it comes to your digital marketing snake oil is anything but. For instance, I wrote an article a few years back about a large company that was removed from the Google search results due to their digital marketing activities. They had some sloppy marketing being done and it ended up making them disappear from the search results. Harmless, right? Wrong. You see, this company relied heavily on their search results for new leads to their call center. This call center was staffed by dozens of people. These people had families, mortgages, and relied on that income.
Well, when the phones just stop ringing one morning, it’s going to be very hard for a company to keep employing an entire sales floor. And while the company did their best to avoid the inevitable, they eventually had to face the facts and they ended up laying off the entire department.
So this one company that unfortunately trusted a snake oil salesperson, ended up having to lay off almost 50 people at a time when the economy wasn’t doing so well. I’m sure there was a lot of financial pain felt by these families.
So, yes, snake oil SEO can be extremely dangerous in today’s digital economy.
How do business owners avoid getting burned?
This is probably the most important part of this article. As I mentioned earlier, the reason these groups are able to prey on consumers is because of the lack of information. To this end, you need to gird yourself with knowledge. Do research on the topic you’ll be discussing with your potential agency partners. Have talking points and specific questions that you’d like answered. By doing this, you’ll be able to avoid the bottom-of-the-barrel snake oil salespeople that can’t even face mild scrutiny.
Related: The Top 4 Reasons SEO Is Dead
Once you’ve weeded those ones out, you’ll want to really do your research on the agencies that have made the first cut. Check the background of the founders, look for third party reviews. Ask them for case studies, testimonials, and references. Do not look at a slick sales deck and assume that because they can put together a decent PowerPoint that they can provide you with proper marketing services. I’ve seen hundreds of dreams crushed on the expectations set by a nice sales presentation. Any group you don’t feel 100 percent comfortable with should be cut after this.
Now that you’ve made it to your third round of choices, you’ll want to watch what they produce for you very closely. Don’t accept an agency that does not give you full visibility into what they’re doing. I can’t tell you how often I see shoddy work being done, and the business owner would have been able to identify that work as being shoddy, but because they weren’t aware it was being done, they had no way of stopping it.
Because of this you’ll want to make sure that the group you’re working with is willing to show you everything they’re doing and will actually take the time to explain and train you on what they’re doing. After all, an informed client is the best kind of client.
And if you follow these steps, you’ll be assured that you’ve probably weeded out all of the snake oil salespeople and you’ll be working with a reputable agency. Now, this doesn’t guarantee that you will get great results. As I mentioned above, sometimes SEO isn’t a solution for all industries and sometimes marketing campaigns don’t result in massive successes. But those are the chances you should be willing to take. If you know you’re working with the right group that does things the right way, then you’re in it together. And the engagement should feel like a partnership, rather then a vendor relationship.
So, as you’re out there trying to spend your marketing dollars wisely, watch for those shady characters that are touting the magical properties of their services. Odds are, there’s a lot of snake oil in their pitch.
The vertical lead generation programs for credit cards, auto insurance, mortgages and travel insurance will start winding down Tuesday, February 23.Google’s lead generation product known as Google Compare, will start sunsetting this week.
In an email sent to partners and acquired by Search Engine Land, the Google Compare Team told Compare partners on Monday night that the product will start to wind down on Tuesday, February 23, 2016. Google Compare will shut down completely in both the US and UK — the two markets where Compare is offered — one month later on March 23.
The email to Compare partners:
From: Google Compare Team
Subject: An Update on Google Compare
Beginning on February 23, 2016, we will start ramping down the Google Compare product, which is currently live in both the US and UK. We plan to terminate the service as of March 23, 2016. As you know, Google Compare (formerly Google Advisor in the U.S.) has been a specialized, standalone service that enables consumers to get quotes from a number of providers for financial products such as car and travel insurance, credit cards and mortgages.
Despite people turning to Google for financial services information, the Google Compare service itself hasn’t driven the success we hoped for. We greatly appreciate your partnership and understand that this decision will be disappointing to some. But after a lot of careful consideration, we’ve decided that focusing more intently on AdWords and future innovations will enable us to provide fresh, comprehensive answers to Google users, and to provide our financial services partners with the best return on investment.
We’re grateful for all the feedback that you have provided over the course of this product’s development, and we are looking forward to partnering with you to achieve greater success in the future.
We will work with you during this transition and beyond. Please reach out to your Google representative if you have any questions and to discuss the next steps.
The Google Compare Team
Google has confirmed the email’s authenticity.
The company only recently began rebuilding the Compare product from the ashes of the Advisor program in the US. The single piece left standing from that initial effort was the credit card offering — savings accounts, CDs and mortgages had all discontinued. Compare for Auto Insurance launched just last March, starting in California. Then Google relaunched Compare for Mortgage quotes in November with Zillow and Lending Tree among the launch partners. Both of those relaunches had limited roll outs. In the UK, Google Compare has been running since 2012 for car insurance, mortgage rates, credit cards and travel insurance.
A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land that while searches on these queries remained high, the product didn’t get the traction it hoped for and revenue was minimal. That’s in part due to the limited availability of the products in both the US and the UK.
In the UK, the Compare product also came under scrutiny in 2014 by the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK financial services industry regulator, when comparison sites complained Google was competing unfairly by placing its own product at the top of the search results. However, any legal concerns did not play a role in the decision to close Compare, we’re told.
What’s next? Google says the focus will primarily be on AdWords and transitioning partners to standard ad products. However, it may still focus on the space and look at new product avenues.
While the move will come as a surprise to many outside the company, apparently internally this decision to terminate Compare is not coming as a shock. The Google spokesperson said the company will help Googlers currently working on Compare find new roles within the company.
The FBI is pressuring Apple to help the agency bypass the iPhone’s security features to unlock the San Bernardino terrorist’s smartphone. Here’s Mark Cuban’s thoughts on the matter.
Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and owner of the basketball team the Dallas Mavericks, says Apple is doing the right thing by refusing to build special software to help the FBIunlock an iPhone belonging to one of the terrorists who carried out the mass shooting in San Bernardino in 2015.
Using a 227-year-old law, the FBI is demanding that Apple write a new version of its iPhone operating system to help the agency bypass the encryption security features in the iPhone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, who along with his wife Tashfeen Malik shot and killed 14 people at a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino on Dec. 2. But Apple has refused to build the backdoor, explaining in a letter released to the public this week that the new iOS program could have disastrous effects on the privacy of every iPhone user.
In a blog post, Cuban writes that if Apple complies with the FBI’s demands it could start rolling down a “slippery slope of lost privacy.” The FBI says it just wants a one-off program to decrypt the locked iPhone, but Apple says once the ability to decrypt an iPhone is created it could be used to unlock any iPhone user’s phone–effectively opening a Pandora’s box that could never be closed.
Cuban says the potential for abuse could threaten the privacy millions of people.
“Every tool that protects our privacy and liberties against oppression, tyranny, madmen and worse can often be used to take those very precious rights from us. But like we protect our 2nd Amendment Right [sic], we must not let some of the negatives stand in the way of all the positives. We must stand up for our rights to free speech and liberty,” Cuban writes.
The major sticking point is that no law exists that would compel a company to write software to crack its own encrypted software, so the FBI is using the All Writs Act of 1789, which George Washington signed during the creation of the federal court system. The Act is a vague catch-all that empowers courts to issue orders even though a law doesn’t exist yet.
Apple is framing the FBI’s use of the law as a dangerous precedent, reminiscent of the NSA’s mass surveillance program revealed by Edward Snowden.
“If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data,” Tim Cook wrote in a customer letter. “The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.”
But Cuban has an answer. Cuban admits he is not one to propose more laws, but he says the All Writs Act is dangerously vague and could lead to the wholesale loss of our nation’s privacy. His answer is to create a new law specifically tailored to this unique situation, which was created by the fact that technology moves faster than law. Check out Cuban’s proposed law below:
“A company can only be compelled to remove any type of security or encryption from a smartphone or tablet, and only a smartphone or tablet, under the following circumstances:
1. There has been an event, with casualties, that has beendeclared an Act of Terrorism
2. There is reason to believe that the smartphone was possessed by a participant in the Act of Terrorism.
3. The smartphone must have been on premise during the event.
4. The terrorist who was in possession of the smartphone or tablet must be deceased.”
As the app ecosystem grows, many marketers are turning their sights towards mobile app marketing. Today’s post provides a high-level view of App Store Optimization, and gives tips on how to break into the rapidly expanding world of apps.
How to Optimize for App Store Search Engines
Let’s dive into search in the app stores, and how the search engines differ based on platform.
First things first; remember I mentioned that the app ecosystem reminds me of the web in the mid-to-late 90’s? Keep that picture in your head when you think of search. App store search hasn’t been “figured out” in the same way that Google “figured out” search on the web. Simply put, we’re still in AltaVista mode in the app ecosystem: something better than Yahoo’s directory provided, but not incredibly sophisticated like Google would become in a few more years.
Just like the web has on-page and off-page SEO, apps have on-metadata and off-metadata ASO. On-metadata ASO include factors totally within your control and are often things dealing with your app store presence. Off-metadata ASO include factors that might not be entirely in your control, but which you can still influence. Here are a few of the most important knobs and levers that you as a marketer can turn to affect your search performance, and some quick tips on how to optimize them.
An app’s title is the single most important metadata factor for rank in ASO. It’s equivalent to the <title> tag in your HTML, and is a great signal to the app stores as to what your app is about. On the web, you want your title to include both a description of what you do (including keywords) as well as some branding; both elements should also exist in the app store. Be sure to include the keywords, but don’t be spammy. Make sure it parses well and makes sense. Example: “Strava Run – GPS Running, Training and Cycling Workout Tracker”
Patrick Haig, our VP of Customer Success, likes to break descriptions down into two sections: above the fold and below the fold (sound familiar?). He says, “Above the fold language should be 1-2 sentences describing the app and its primary use case, and below the fold should have a clear and engaging feature set and social proof.” We’ll dig into some of the differences about the description field across platforms below.
The Keyword Field in iOS is a 100 character field which you can use to tell iTunes search for which keywords you should show up. Since you only get 100 characters, you must use them wisely. A few tips:
- When choosing your keywords, just like on the web, focus on relevancy, search volume, and difficulty.
- Don’t use multiple word phrases; break out to individual words (Apple can combine them for you).
- Don’t repeat keywords that are already in your title (and put the most important ones in your title, leaving the keyword field for your secondary keywords).
- Separate keywords with commas, and don’t use spaces anywhere.
Consumers are finicky. They want apps which are beautiful, elegant, and simple to understand. Your icon is often their first interaction with your app, so ensure that it does a great job conveying your brand, and the elegance and usefulness of your app. Remember, in search results, an icon is one of the only ways you can convey your brand and usefulness. Think of it as part of the meta description tag you’d create in SEO. For example, SoundCloud does a great job with their icon and branding.
The most important rule to remember when creating your screenshots is that they should not be screenshots. They are, instead, promotional graphics. That means you can include text or other graphics to tell your app’s story in an interesting, visual way.
Especially in iOS, where the card layout shows your first screenshot, it is incredibly helpful when an app displays a graphic which explains the app right up front, increasing conversions from search results to viewing the app page and, ultimately, installing the app.
The best app marketers also use their
screenshotspromotional graphics together to create a flow that carries the user through the story. Each graphic can build off the previous graphic, giving the user a reason to continue scrolling and learning about your app.
Here’s a great example of using the screenshots effectively by our friends at Haiku Deck.
Outside of your direct control, you’ll also want to focus on a few things to ensure the best performance in ASO.
Every app has a rating. Your job as a marketer is to ensure that your app gets a great overall rating. Rating is directly tied to performance in app store search, which leads us to believe that rating is a factor in app store search rankings.
Similar to ratings, you want to ensure that the reviews your users write about your app are positive. These reviews will help increase your conversion rate from app page views to downloads.
For a great product to help you increase your rating and reviews, check out Apptentive.
This is discussed further below, but suffice it to say, link building to your app’s page in the app store matters for Google Play apps. Given you all are SEOs, you know all about how to rock this!
How Do iOS and Google Play Differ In App Store Search?
The differences in the platforms mean that there are different levers to pull depending on the platform. Google Play and iOS act completely independently, and often, quite differently. The differences are wide-ranging, but what are a couple of the main differences?
In general, the way to think about the differences is that Google is Google and Apple is Apple. Duh, right? Google has the built the infrastructure and technology to learn from the web and use many different data points to make a decision. Apple, on the other hand, doesn’t have indexes of the web, and comes from a background in media. When in doubt, imagine what you’d do if you were each of them and had the history each of them has.
Here are a couple concrete examples.
Description versus Keywords
In iOS, there’s a keywords field. It’s easy to see where this came from, especially when you think of iTunes’ background in music: a song has a title (app title), musician (developer name), and then needs a few keywords to describe the song (“motown,” “reggae,” etc.). When Apple launched their app store, they used the same technology that was already built for music, which meant that the app title, developer name, and keywords were the only fields used to understand search for an app. Note that description isn’t taken into account in iOS (but I expect this to change soon).
On the other hand, there is no keyword field in Google Play; there is only a description field. Thus, while iOS doesn’t take the description into account, in Google Play the description is all you have, so be sure to do exactly the same as you do on the web: cater your content towards your keywords, without being spammy.
Leveraging PageRank in Google Play
Another big difference in iOS and Google Play is that Google has access to PageRank and the link graph of the web, while Apple does not. Thus, Google will take into account the inbound links to your app’s detail page (for example, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.symantec.mobilesecurity) as a factor in Google Play search, while Apple has no such factor.
How To Measure Success In App Marketing
It’s very difficult to measure success in app marketing in the same way you can measure success in web marketing. This is especially true when you’re working with inbound channels. It’s still early, but it’s continuously getting better, with more tools and services coming out all the time to help marketers understand success. Here are some of the ways I recommend measuring success in the app store today:
Just like on the web, a great way to measure your success in app store search is to track your ranking for specific search terms you care about over time and versus your competition. Rank tracking is incredibly valuable for ASOs to understand their progress.
Top Charts, especially Top Charts within a particular category, do a great job of allowing you to understand your success in relation to the rest of the apps in your category.
Ratings and Reviews
Just as ratings and reviews will help your ASO, they are also great metrics to track over time for how you’re doing with your app marketing. Keep track of what users are saying, how they’re saying it (pro tip: listening to their language is a great way to do keyword research!), and what they’re rating your app.
Taking it one step further, correlating your search rankings to downloads will allow you to understand the effect your increased ASO is having on your app performance. One way we do this is to integrate with iTunes Connect and overlay your search rankings with your downloads so you can visually see how closely related any one keyword is with your downloads. It’s not perfect, but it helps!
Conversion and Revenue
At the end of the day, revenue is the most important metric you should be understanding. Of course, you should be tracking your revenue and doing the same correlation with search performance. In addition, you should watch your conversion rate over time; we often see apps whose conversion rate soars with an increase in ASO because the users are so much more engaged with the app.
Tools And Resources To Use To Help With App Marketing
To conclude this post, I want to quickly talk about some tools and resources to use to help your app marketing process.
Sylvain has written some great content and has some incredible insights into app marketing and ASO on his company’s (Apptamin) blog.
I mentioned Apptentive above, and they really are the best way I know to impact your ratings and reviews, and get great feedback from customers in the process.
In addition to having a great, free, in-app analytics product (Flurry Analytics), as well as an interesting paid advertising product (AppCircle), Flurry also posts some of the most interesting data about the app ecosystem on their blog.
If you’re looking to obtain some amount of attribution for your paid advertising (inbound can’t be split out, sorry!), MobileAppTracking is where it’s at. It allows you to understand which paid channels are performing best for you based on the metric of your choosing. Best of all, you only pay for what you use.
This is, of course, a shameless promotion. That said, our product is a great way to understand your performance in app store search, help you do keyword research, and give you competitive intelligence. We offer a free (forever!) tool for Indie developers and scale all the way up to the largest Enterprise customers.
Now It’s Your Turn–> Visit the link below to get the full list to help guide you along your optimization way!
Even though SEO is a long-term investment, marketers often feel pressured to show progress quickly. Columnist Dan Bagby for Searchengineland provides some ideas for quick wins that can show value while waiting for your longer-term initiatives to start gaining traction.
When you start at a new company as the SEO specialist or pick up a new client, one thing everyone wants is to see quick results. The fact that SEO takes time can be a struggle as you try to show value while also satisfying your own desire to make an impact.
Here are a few SEO techniques that will let your colleagues or clients know you are the real deal, bringing value with your expertise.
1. Win With Featured Snippets
Winning a featured snippet spot can have a huge impact, bringing organic traffic to a page. Although getting featured in the quick answer box is not guaranteed, there is a pretty simple formula for optimizing your content for it.
Start by going to the Google Search Console to find rankings for queries that contain a question — you can do this by filtering for queries containing “how,” “what” or “why.”
Once you have a list of keyword phrases, check search volume and prioritize your list, focusing on the keywords with the highest search volume. If you do not currently rank for any question-related keywords, think of a simple question you can answer, and create the content to answer that question.
Increase your chances of being featured in the quick answer box by making on-page improvements:
- Provide a detailed answer in a bulleted or numbered format that specifically answers the question posed by the search query.
- Add a video to the page that answers the question (with transcription).
- Add additional information that adds more value to the page for the reader.
Once your content has been revised, submit it to be indexed, and share it on Google Plus, so that the changes are noticed quickly. To learn more about optimizing for featured snippets, check out this article by Eric Enge.
2. Optimize Existing Content
It is much easier to improve a strong existing page’s ranking a few spots in the SERPs than it is to get a new (or poorly ranking) page to show quick results.
Knowing that you see the biggest bumps in traffic when you get into the top three results, target content ranked in position 3 to 10. Improving bounce rates or building on pages that are converting can also be a great way to see big gains from a small time investment.
There are several ways to identify which pages to focus on:
- Going back to the Search Console, sort keywords by rank to find keywords ranked between 10 and 3.
- Looking in Google Analytics, find pages with a high bounce rate but decent traffic.
- Also in Google Analytics, find pages with high conversion rates. Check what keywords are driving traffic through Search Console, and focus on optimizing for those keywords.
What can you do to improve these pages and see results quickly? Here are some ideas
- Modifying the basic on-page ranking factors to improve search engine optimization.
- Find internal pages that are related to your target pages, and create new internal links from the related pages to the target pages.
- Share on Google Plus and submit to Google to be crawled.
Crowd Source Content For Quick Links
One way to quickly improve a page’s content (and possibly gain links) is by reaching out to influencers. Keep it simple by asking influencers to contribute to a page you are trying to improve.
For example, if you have a page you wrote about the best places to eat in Austin, you could reach out to food bloggers in Austin and ask them for their opinion on the best new restaurants.
Even more effective is to ask them if they have a blog post about those specific restaurants that you can link to. They will gladly give you content to link to while you get more content to add to your page.
Once the updates are made, let the influencers know by email and via Twitter. This can result in additional social shares and possibly links for the influencers. You can also use this technique when you are creating a brand-new page.
Optimizing For Search Intent
I often find pages ranking well for queries that do not fit the page. For example, I might see an article ranking for queries related to “finding influencers” that is really more focused on how to reach out to influencers. Fixing this will likely improve rank and lower bounce rate.
- If the page does not rank for other keywords, and the keywords currently driving traffic are strategic for your site, rewrite the article completely focusing on those keywords.
- If you want to maintain the article, you can add a section to better answer the query that it already ranks for.
- If the information that would match the search intent does not belong on the page, write a new page that answers the questions, and link to it from the ranking post with keyword-rich anchor text.
3. Improve Rank For Converting Pages
Look at Google Analytics to find the pages that are converting. Use Search Console to find the keywords driving traffic to that page. You can also look at paid campaigns to see top-converting keywords.
Focus on these keywords and pages to see quick results and really prove the value in SEO.
4. Find Competing Content
Check your site for several pieces of content on the same topic and combine the pages. Make sure to redirect URLs so that there is only one page.
5. Fixing 404 Errors
There are several tools that make it easy to find 404 errors. You can fix links by reaching out to site owners that have the broken links or redirect the broken URL to a live page.
While SEO is a long-term investment and can take time to show results, there are always a few things you can do to show quick value. I have included only included a few opportunities here, but there are many other techniques like using other sites to get content ranking quickly. What are some of your techniques to get quick results?
is a long-term investment, marketers often feel pressured to show progress quickly. Columnist Dan Bagby provides some ideas for quick wins that can show value while waiting for your longer-term initiatives to start gaining traction.