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Jingle all the way: What will 2021 mean to the advertising world?

30-second summary:

  • Despite the overall doom and gloom, some industries actually skyrocketed in 2020.
  • 2021 is supposed to dot some i’s and cross some t’s in the field of transparency and first-party data solutions.
  • Live streaming related to gaming and sports is a huge advertising-friendly zone that is expected to expand further in 2021.
  • Header bidding solutions for OTT and CTV, new attribution, and monetization features are the advertising technologies that will gather momentum in 2021.
  • AI and ML predictive algorithms will further revolutionize personalization in the advertising world.

Surreal, eye-opening, melancholic, thought-provoking… 2020 has been like no other year in this century so far, as those wearing t-shirts with an “All I want for Christmas is 2021” logo will eagerly confirm. And though there’s a lot to be done before all pieces of the 2021 puzzle can be put together, the upcoming year has many hopes to fulfill. No pressure, 2021, but you’d better be good! On this cautiously positive note, let’s briefly revise 2020 based on the insights from the ‘OTT Executive Summitbefore we can warmly welcome the upcoming year. Read on for foresight on the future of advertising.

Looking back at 2020

The reality of 2020 dictated new rules, values, people’s habits, and a new outlook on what “normal” was. Unsurprisingly, despite the overall doom and gloom, some industries, which fit in this transformed layout really well, actually skyrocketed. They say every cloud has its silver lining, and that was true even for 2020.

Take for instance CTV, whose ad spend increased by 19% this year, according to IAB, primarily due to the pandemic and mass lockdowns. 

“TV forever has been a top funnel media, a media that you used to drive awareness but not to drive purchase. What’s so interesting about Connected Television is that it gives an opportunity to be both, a powerful branding media as well as a media that is very appealing to marketers who are trying to drive actual outcomes,”

Scott Rosenberg, SVP/GM of Platform Business at Roku

Digital devices, including the CTV ones, to a certain extent, became the guardians of people’s mental wellbeing. This fact is backed up by the Leichtman Research Group’s report that counted 400 million Connected TV devices in the US earlier this year. 

Another curious outcome of the pandemic is the shift that occurred in the way viewers started consuming OTT content. Nielsen shared their insights on the growing trend of co-viewing, as people were tied to their homes and family members for a long period of time.

The developments of the Internet and 5G networks added even more points to CTV’s score, making the market magnetic for app developers. As a result, streaming soared, turning 85% of Americans into streamers, according to Roku. 

“Streaming for the first time is overtaking live TV,” Andrew Hare, Senior Vice President, Research at Magid Associates, Inc

In addition to the accelerated number of subscribers of existing streaming services, outlined by eMarketer, the industry has seen a true upswing in the launch of new platforms, like Apple TV +, HBO Max, Disney +, Paramount +, Quibi (currently shut down), and others. 

“The streaming war up until this point has been really between the Big Three [Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu], however, with the entrance of all these high profile services from Disney, Apple, Warner Media, NBCUniversal, and others we could be seeing a huge upset of the hierarchy moving forward. And the interesting thing is that a lot of these new services have taken different approaches, trying to tackle the Big Three,”

Steve Nason, Research Director at Park Associates

With a CTV viewing time growth by 81% in 2020, as per Nielsen, and the abundance of entertainment opportunities CTV has in its goody bag, consumers admittedly started to have fewer problems with ads. Provided that ads could be the only price they would have to pay for the content. 

“Consumers found our service and services like ours really viable. Ad-supported became a really good way of getting your news and your movies, and perhaps your content library,”

Colin Petrie-Norris, CEO at Xumo

“43% of US adults have paused a show they were watching to go purchase or consider the product that they just saw on screen. The conditions are very ripe between the consumers’ unwillingness to go to physical retail as well as more advanced ad products that can put the right ad in front of you at the right moment, have it be actionable,

Scott Rosenberg, SVP/GM of Platform Business at Roku

In fact, eMarketer’s Q3 report highlighted an increase in AVOD revenue by 31% in 2020. This means that well-established AVOD platforms, such as Pluto TV, Xumo, Vudu, Crackle, and Tubi, will soon have to share the space with many newcomers, willing to hit the jackpot by adopting AVOD or a hybrid model that combines SVOD and AVOD features.

“Two-thirds of all viewing time is on ad-supported platforms. For the first time 53% of people 18+ said they watch at least one AVOD service. 51% in the US tell us they would prefer an advertising-based free model versus a subscription with no ads or EST [Electronic Sell-Through],

Andrew Hare, Senior Vice President, Research at Magid Associates, Inc

Looking forward to 2021

Though mysteriously staring at the crystal ball to see the future is always fun, eMarketer shared a few clues to make anyone’s predictions a bit more grounded. Following eMarketer’s estimates, the CTV ad spends will reach $11.36 billion in 2021, which is around 40% higher than the year before that. Additionally, 2021 will bring a reduction in Connected TV CPMs due to a meteoritic rise of supply. Without having our heads in the clouds, let’s take a closer look at where this may take us from different perspectives of the CTV landscape.

1. Transparency

Privacy concerns have consistently been the internet’s stumbling block. Users want to know who collects what data and for what purposes. Looks like a few years after the introduction of GDPR, 2021 will finally dot some i’s and cross some t’s in this area. Since Google announced its plan to opt-out third-party cookies from the Chrome browser, the advertising world has been restlessly trying to come up with a new unified first-party data approach for all its channels. As advertisers aim to secure their access to consumers, direct deals via PMP (Private Marketplace) or PG (Programmatic Guaranteed) punched above their weight. And though these are effective ways of reaching audiences, they risk leaving smaller players out of the loop. In the meantime, the connected TV arena moved the question of transparency from high priority to critical. Hopefully, 2021 will bring some clarity to unified solutions for delivering first-party data to advertisers. Alternatively, we have good chances to watch further fragmentation of the market (which is not good) stitched together with progress in addressability (which is good).

2. Investments

Streaming of all shapes and sizes continues to soar, and 2021 is expected to reveal its potential even fuller. Live streaming, especially related to gaming and sports, offers marketers a unique opportunity to reach out to a growing segment of esport streamers and watchers, who in 2020 constituted 92% of the US and UK Generations Z and Y populations, based on the data from GlobalWebIndex. Certainly, anchoring consumers at home did oil the wheels and contributed a great deal to this trend. Outside of sports and gaming, another streaming playing field, that is gaining momentum as we speak, is certainly AVOD. A snowballing effect with which streaming services sprang up made watchers tight-fisted and less opposed to ads. This tendency is likely to stay the course. Therefore, if there is a perfect time and place to make the most of advertising budgets, it will undoubtedly be streaming in 2021. 

3. Formats

Provided that customers’ attention span was eight seconds in 2020, as stated by Oracle, it’s obvious that capturing this attention will only get harder for brands with time. This is where engaging formats will come in handy. Browsable galleries, shoppable ads, carousels, TV-to-Mobile elements, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), these are just a part of the mantra for all advertisers out there. The only way to walk customers through all the stages of the funnel is to stay creative, up-to-date, and make their experience lightweight, yet memorable. As for the channels, it’s worth going out on a limb and adopting an omnichannel strategy that will include DOOH (Digital Out-of-Home), which has been rocking the boat of digital advertising for quite some time now. Given that consumers are expected to spend much more time out of their homes to make up for 2020, if/when restrictions are relaxed in 2021, experimenting with new formats would be the way forward.

4. Advertising technologies

Due to the fact that programmatic, as a transaction method is going to reach $5.72 billion in 2021, according to eMarketer, the talks about scaling up header bidding solutions for OTT and CTV have a clear rationale behind them. This technology will enable buyers to access dynamic auctions, while publishers will be able to send ad requests to multiple buyers and improve their monetization results. Furthermore, 2021 will surely expose marketers to more attribution and promotion opportunities, be it showcasing customer journey for OTT channel owners with the Attriboost analytics software or providing across-the-board monetization capabilities through Allroll’s self-serve platform. Staying at the forefront of the AdTech innovation curve will open doors to windfall profits.

5. Intelligent automation

A recent focus on a minimized face-to-face human interaction fuelled interest in automation powered by AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning). This ultimately sowed the seeds of acceptance and made these technologies more approachable for businesses. In the context of Connected TV, the advancements of AI-led to the kickoff of ACR (Automatic Content Recognition), which originated from smart TV players, for example, Samba TV, Samsung Ads, and LG’s Live Plus. Their predictive algorithms create an additional layer of personalization for CTV viewership. Taking into consideration how personalization is worshipped by marketers, beyond a shadow of doubt, ACR will play an important part in the CTV industry in 2021.

Takeaways

The time to say ‘goodbye’ to 2020 has come. Digital space, in line with the rest of the world, has gone through a lot of rethinking and reinventing, demonstrated resilience and agility, trying to foresee and comfort consumers in every single shift in their behavior. These changes, however, mapped a whole new outlook for 2021. Data privacy, investment opportunities, engaging formats, advertising, and automation technologies will run the digital world in 2021 in an even more exciting manner than before. So, fasten your seatbelts, and let’s go!

Alex Zakrevsky is the CEO of Allroll marketing platform for CTV/OTT channel owners. Innovator, product lover, CTV, and programmatic enthusiast. He believes that the quality of the product always wins.

The post Jingle all the way: What will 2021 mean to the advertising world? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 1 year ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

What is a Dofollow Link?

The easier it is for potential customers to find your site in search engine results, the more traffic (and sales) you’ll generate.

As a result, there’s a kind of constant content competition underway as website owners and administrators look for ways to stand out from the crowd and improve search engine optimization (SEO).

Gone are the wild, wild west days of the World Wide Web where keyword spamming and content stuffing were the norm to drive search engine interest.

Now, brands need to focus on more tightly-controlled metrics — such as Google’s PageRank — to boost their online appeal and push their site listing closer to the first page, first result pinnacle.

While part of this effort comes down to writing relevant, accurate, and interesting content, there’s another key component: Dofollow links. With the right approach, these links can help leverage great content into higher PageRank and better search results.

Here’s how they work.

What is a dofollow link?

PageRank is effectively a weighted score that uses links to assign points — the more points, the better your site rank, and the better your SEO. Often referred to as “link juice” by online marketing professionals because of their ability to “flow” through websites with the right linking structure, getting these points is a priority for any site owner.

The problem? Almost immediately after their introduction, getting points in any way possible became the strategy of many unscrupulous marketers.

The easiest way to achieve this aim? Leaving comments on the posts of popular websites that contained links back to client sites, in turn boosting their profile. The more reputable the linking site — think well-respected retailers or news organizations — the bigger the link juice boost.

By default, these links were “dofollow” — they instructed search engines to follow the link back to the originating site and boost its PageRank. To solve the growing problem of spam links the “nofollow” link was created: Site admins could add an HTML tag:

… to any link on their site, which instructed search engines not to follow the link back to its destination and, in turn, not boost its PageRank.

Today, dofollow links remain an important part of SEO strategy — getting a “backlink” from a reputable site can significantly boost PageRank values and help brands stand out. The introduction of nofollow links, meanwhile, offers more control for site admins.

For example, most comment sections now include nofollow tags by default, and page creators can choose to add nofollow tags to blog posts and other articles. Changing these links from nofollow to dofollow is easy, but requires that destination site owners contact linking site admins and ask for the change.

How to Make a Dofollow Link

In most cases, no action is required to create a dofollow link. If your site is linked to by another site and they don’t choose to add the nofollow tag, search engines will naturally arrive at your page and increase your overall PageRank.

The same is true if you’re including links on your own site. For example, you may choose to add links to other reputable sites within your own content and allow search engines to follow these links.

If you’ve been asked by another brand to include their links on your page or are moderating blog comments, meanwhile, you may want to turn on automatic nofollow tags where possible or ensure that all links include the nofollow tag until you’re sure it makes sense to follow the link back.

This is especially critical if other links lead to low-quality or keyword-stuffed content, since this can reflect poorly on your own site.

Put simply? When it comes to external links from reputable sites that lead back to your page, dofollow is ideal. Links leading outside your site and linked from your own posts or attached to comments on your content should only be dofollow if the outgoing link site is reputable and relevant.

What tools are available for dofollow links?

Wondering if a link is dofollow or nofollow? If it’s on your own site, you can check the HTML code from your CMS admin page to determine if the nofollow tag is present, but what happens when the link comes from another, external site? Since you can’t see or edit their code, you can’t be certain if links are dofollow or nofollow.

In this case, it’s worth using dofollow link checker tools to determine if links will boost your PageRank or not.

Examples include:

The first tool is a web-based tool that checks entire pages for nofollow and dofollow links. Moz MozBar is a Chrome extension, while SEOquake is offered for both Chrome and Firefox. Link Analyzer, meanwhile, is a standalone tool that doesn’t require a specific browser. Each of these tools is free and works by following any links to your site to determine if they’re nofollow or dofollow, then reports the results.

Should I dofollow an external link?

Here, the answer depends on two factors: Where does the link lead, and what are the benefits if you opt for dofollow? Ideally, any dofollow links point search engines to content that’s current, relevant and accurate, in turn providing “link juice” for both the external site and your own website.

There may be cases where reciprocal dofollow links are a good idea, especially if you’re looking to expand site traffic and the external site has a similar ranking to your own page. Ideally, you want a mix of nofollow and dofollow links on your page to ensure search engines don’t view your content as simply a vehicle for PageRank points.

How long will it take Google to recognize a dofollow link?

While there’s no hard and fast answer here since search engine spiders crawl a significant volume of pages each day, dofollow links are generally recognized by Google within two to four days after being posted.

If your site has low traffic volumes and the dofollow links you’re creating or receiving come from similarly small webpages, it could take more time for PageRank to recognize these links. If you’re fortunate enough to receive a backlink from a highly-ranked site, meanwhile, you may see the benefit in just a few days.

Dofollow links remain a critical aspect of SEO and search ranking efforts, but must be used strategically to deliver substantive benefits.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

Take your campaigns to deeper levels by disrupting the peace

30-second summary:

  • A controlled chaos mindset helps brands and smart marketers recognize the inherent biases that tend to guide research and execution.
  • The first pieces to get cut from budgets are the listening and planning portions of the planning process, which creates several problems for marketers.
  • Max Braun, associate director of experience planning at RAPP, gives five steps for shaking out the biases, gaining a more accurate perspective on the customer, and driving true innovation.

Controlled chaos. Is that the state of our union? Perhaps, minus the “controlled” part. But, seriously, this is not a political essay of any kind. It’s an assertion that the key to a more inclusive and innovative customer experience is embracing a controlled chaos mindset, which allows brands and smart marketers (such as yourself) the chance to recognize the inherent biases that tend to guide research and execution.

Business leaders are often asked to make incredible gains in a very short time. As a result, they seek to leverage efficiencies by preventing chaos and reducing the number of inputs in the planning process. They prefer to make smaller gains over a shorter span of time to demonstrate that they are competent leaders, which is an understandable defense mechanism.

Taking the time to understand the problem is critical to coming up with a strategy. Unfortunately, the first elements to get cut from budgets are usually the evaluation and listening portions of the planning process. Eliminating these portions results in several problems for marketers:

  • We begin to confuse a marketing goal with strategy, resulting in creative work that thinks only as hard as your wallet.
  • We open our planning process to only the quantitative and qualitative data that already exists within our organizations. This means that any bias already in the process and within the company will only deepen over time. If we use biased data to identify the problem, then it figures that biased data will inform the solution and reinforce the marginalization of disenfranchised customers.
  • Although these approaches may be easier to sell to the organization because they occur in a language that is familiar to brand and product managers, they don’t offer anything new to the outside world.

The overall result is lackluster innovation and short-sighted creative work. The better approach is to embrace a manageable level of chaos to shake out the biases, build a more accurate perspective on customers, and drive true innovation. Controlled chaos is just a well-organized process that manages a much broader array of clutter in the evaluation stage of any planning project. Rather than fixating on a single insight too early, or on a small segment of existing data, marketers should look at a much wider array of input and take bold actions to disrupt the market.

Good reasons aplenty

Injecting controlled chaos into the planning process results in plenty of benefits when it’s correctly managed and the appropriate amount of time is allocated to collecting and evaluating your research. By injecting more qualitative and quantitative data into your evaluation, you increase the chances that you uncover not only new but inclusive insights that consider the perspectives of a more diverse group, not just the “general market consumer.” The work that shows up to the market is more honest about the brand, product, or service, and your customers feel less like they’re being “sold” and more like they’re being “invited.”

There are good examples of this approach. One of my favorite recent examples is Apple’s “Behind the Mac” campaign. Apple seems to always get it right, but what makes these campaigns powerful is that it could have easily set up the Mac to take credit for making history on Vogue. Instead, Mac is simply in the background as a device that makes doing the work a bit easier. The real story is of Tyler Mitchell, the first Black photographer for Vogue’s cover, and Mac is only there to support his story.

Another great product experience shaped by controlled chaos is the app Bumble. It doesn’t just advertise with inclusivity; Bumble builds it into the end product and addresses gender and racial bias head-on. Whether you’re looking for your best friend, a casual date, or the love of your life, Bumble has created a one-of-a-kind user experience that makes it the second-most-used dating app in the U.S. (and catching up to Tinder fast) at more than 5 million monthly active users.

These products and campaigns wouldn’t work if leadership and marketers hadn’t drummed up a moderate level of chaos in the development stages. Two recent examples come to mind when thinking about the repercussions of streamlining the planning process and not taking the time to foster deeper insights.

The first is practically unknown. Facial-recognition software developers build face-identification algorithms that are widely used by world governments, municipalities, and law-enforcement agencies. But what happens when you include only white faces into the equation? Simple: The algorithm does not accurately detect anyone else’s faces. That embarrassing oversight ruins the customer experience. Striving for “order” introduces (and reinforces) biases in our data.

The second is more widely shared but is a pure example of what happens when you don’t empower your organization with representative leadership. Adidas has leveraged Black superstars in its marketing for decades, but due to its culture of excluding a diverse group of leaders in the decision-making and planning processes, the brand missed an important road sign. There’s a fine line between elevating the voices of people of color and appropriation. Even a well-intentioned strategy can fall apart without proper consideration.

Encouraging more upheaval in your campaigns

If your organizational thinking could use a little controlled chaos, here are five steps you can take to effectively mix things up:

1. Take ample time

You need to allow yourself a significant number of hours just to collect and evaluate data. Whatever time you think you need for getting and evaluating sufficient research, double — nay, triple — it. Too many people get so eager to solve the problem that they just jump into whatever data already exists, forgoing any additional insight that could be out there.

2. Diversify the data

Don’t just ingest more data; ingest more types of data. For example, don’t just look at how many leads come from one webpage. Instead, look at everything together, including how those leads got to the page in the first place. It might reveal a flaw in the way you’re capturing the data.

3. Consider all parties

Make it a point to bring the perspective of non-buyers into your planning process. It’s important to consider your base, but too often, we consider non-buyers “rejectors” when they might not be invited to the table to experience your brand in the first place. This could expose a bias you weren’t aware of by showing you a consistent trend in customers who avoid your brand. Always ask yourself “why” and speak up when you notice these discrepancies.

4. Embrace individuality

Limit categorization as much as possible. While it’s human nature and good data science to find and define patterns in a heap of customer data, too much categorization results in broad generalizations that may overlook important behaviors and perspectives. Rather, look at every possible need and motivation that a customer has and establish a range of possible outcomes.

5. Spread the power

Give decision-making abilities to a more diverse group of leaders. Too often, we think of diversity by just having people of color in the room. That’s wrong. We not only need diverse employees to be present in the planning process so we can consider their points of view, but we also need them to feel empowered to make the kinds of changes needed to drive insightful work. It’s not just about saying you’re an ally. It’s about actually taking the necessary steps to invest in change.

Max Braun, associate director of experience planning at marketing and advertising agency RAPP, is a strategist with experience leading passion brands like Slack, Google Cloud, and McDonald’s through award-winning experience transformations.

The post Take your campaigns to deeper levels by disrupting the peace appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 1 year ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

Email Validation APIs: Why They’re Worth It and How to Get Started Using One

Email is, without a doubt, the premier communication method of our time. People check their inboxes constantly. Last year, almost 300 billion emails were sent and received daily, according to Statista. So it’s no great surprise that email marketing has surpassed all other types of digital marketing. Aside from the ubiquity of emails, it’s also…

The post Email Validation APIs: Why They’re Worth It and How to Get Started Using One appeared first on Benchmarkemail.

Reblogged 1 year ago from www.benchmarkemail.com

Maximize Return During Tough Times Through Testing

Posted by timaj100

We are living in a fast-moving time with new technology, ever-evolving social and political landscapes, and a pandemic on top of that. Any predictions about what to expect in 2020 for marketers was no doubt lightyears off what we’re experiencing now.

So what can we learn from this year as we move forward? You can bet things will continue to change and evolve in unpredictable ways. What worked last year might not work now. Heck, what worked last week might not work next week! How, then, can you be sure you’re getting the most out of your marketing efforts?

Evolving and finding opportunities

There are a few ways you can try to stay on top of things. No matter what, having a strategy for post-COVID is important.

Learn from others

For one, pay attention to those around you. Learn from your peers and competitors. Some may be sharing: read blogs, watch webinars, consume all you can in your space. But you can uncover even more by doing things like conducting a competitive analysis of other sites, advertising messaging, advertising spend, and content creation.

Learn from yourself and adapt

Pay attention to your own analytics and results closely. Take in what you are seeing and adapt. Have a willingness to branch out and pivot strategy based on what the data is telling you. Again, something that worked before may not be working now, and vice versa.

Always. Be. Testing.

Knowing for sure what is going to work for your business, in your space, and at this particular time is a tough task. So the only way to find out for sure and stay on top of the changing trends is testing. We’re all vulnerable right now — and any time tough circumstances fall on us. Figuring out a new course of action, whether it is macro marketing decisions or micro adjustments, is key.

What to test

It’s easy to sit here and say “test to see what works and go with that”, but that can mean a lot of things. As I tie this back into maximizing your return during tough times, let’s talk about where to start first as you look to elevate your marketing and drive revenue and return.

Too often I see brands being timid in times of crisis. There is something to be said about caution, but testing and learning shouldn’t be a risk — it’s an opportunity.

The reality is, every industry is being affected in different ways in 2020. But challenging times come for us all, and when they do, focus on these few areas first.

Advertising

Advertising is always one of the first areas I look to when testing. It’s a fantastic testing ground that is often more controlled, and in which it’s easier to identify new, successful opportunities. You can look at ad copy, keywords, landing page content, calls to action, audiences, and different strategies altogether within the advertising platform.

We’ve measured positive results for clients in varying industries and in different platforms by changing aspects of the ads we ran.

For an SMB bike helmet retailer, we focused on creating social media ads during the peak of the pandemic that showcased a single rider as opposed to a group, typically in a more open environment instead of the city. Copy was also shifted to emphasize things like “embrace open space” and alluded to socially distanced riding without explicitly saying.

Due to the economic uncertainty of the time, our client scaled back the budget by nearly 44% in April, contributing to a 43% decrease in overall impression share. Despite this overall decrease, the click-through rate (CTR) increased by 61% in that month, the return on ad spend (ROAS) jumped from 0.25 to 1.34, and overall purchases more than doubled.

We saw similar results in a PPC campaign for a network security client. As many employees began working from home, we needed to position our client as a security solution provider for remote workers. Competition rose during the pandemic, which resulted in higher click costs and, despite increasing the overall ad spend, fewer clicks.

To improve our ads, we updated the copy to speak to users in need of remote security solutions and included free trial messaging. We also moved away from taking users to the homepage, instead directing them to a product-specific landing page that served as a remote worker solution hub. Doing this helped to focus the user’s path of exploration to pages that are more relevant to them at the time versus a homepage where their scope of exploration is wider and less tailored.

Making these adjustments in our paid ad campaigns increased the CTR by 11% and conversions by 31%. And since we were sending users to a more focused landing page and not the homepage, the user’s path to conversion was shortened and the conversion rate increased by 44%.

Use your advertising as a way to learn and inform other marketing efforts. A great example of this is ad copy headlines. Consider A/B testing headlines to see which is more captivating and clickable, and then roll those findings out to title tags on the SEO side of things to see similar benefits there.

Content

Run A/B tests for different aspects of your on-site content. Conversion rate optimization is a powerful tactic. This might mean trying new copy, new design, new imagery, new calls to action, or simply title tags and on-page SEO updates. Really everything on your site, in your emails, or any pieces of content you have created falls into this category. I’m not suggesting overhauling things, but don’t just stick with the tried-and-true when the industry and users are changing around you.

To give you an idea of what testing can do, Portent ran an A/B test for a client to see which of two forms performed better, the original form they had been using or a modified version, which removed non-pertinent information from the top of the form.

Switching to the modified form increased form fills by 6% across all devices and a 14% increase on mobile devices. On top of that, phone calls increased by 22%—all from a simple A/B test.

Goals

Experiment with different ideas of what a conversion even is. If sales are down, consider something like driving more email sign-ups as an alternative. It may not be the primary end goal, but can still add value and contribute to your marketing funnel.

If lead form submissions are down, consider driving traffic to a white paper download, or some alternative value-add to the end user. As primary conversion points slow, look for other ways to drive value and build to the future productively.

Promotions

More specific to the e-commerce space traditionally, testing new and creative promotions and sales may help provide a much needed lift in conversion rates. In today’s space specifically, many customers are experiencing tough times, too. Something as simple as offering a discount, even if it’s a small one, could be what is needed to get them to purchase. You may need to get creative with your promotions to drive people to your site, especially when competition is fierce.

A streaming service client ran a campaign in April when competition in the streaming industry was extremely high. To really stand out against competitors, most of which were offering free trials or adding new content, we needed to take a different approach. We offered to pay someone to do what they were already doing during quarantine—bingeing TV.

This campaign resulted in the site gaining over 1,200 new links and media coverage on various online outlets, driving nearly 154,000 referrals to the site (a 634% increase in referral traffic period over period). Overall, we saw an 86% increase in organic traffic period over period and there were over 343,000 new sessions on the site, more than 83% of which were new users. We also offered an extended free trial during the campaign, resulting in over 650 conversions.



Outside the e-commerce space, find ways to lower the barrier to entry and boost conversion rates in the short term. That might mean pushing traffic to more simplified forms or just asking less of the individual converting. In circumstances like what we are currently experiencing, something is better than nothing.

How to test

The “how” of testing is very easily its own post with many layers to it, from user research to focus groups. For most that are trying to maximize return for their business, that can be overcomplicating things. That said, there are some simple things you can easily do to test smarter and learn quickly.

Research

To start, do your homework. As mentioned before, do competitive research and learn from others. Review the keyword landscape and understand search trends so you can make updates to copy and content intelligently. Know your audience and personas before making updates.

This is essentially taking the guesswork out of it. If you are going to the trouble of testing something new, have research and data to support your hypothesis.

Use tools

Marketing testing tools come in many different shapes and sizes. There really is something for all situations. Here are a few great tools that can help you accomplish the following:

Hopefully, you’ve been using some of these or your own preferred tools already. Lean into your tools—they will make things easier and help you drive results more quickly.

Don’t rush

Set your tests up as scientifically as you can and require statistical significance before drawing conclusions. It’s easy to get impatient and quickly make changes when you see results coming in. But, let the data do the talking and give your tests time to run their course.

Have a testing budget

Remember: this is a test! It’s easy to see results that you don’t want, panic and pull the plug. If you are investing in testing, have a budget that allows for that.

Set clear goals and expectations

Before you start your test, define success. What are you trying to accomplish? Make sure all stakeholders have the same set of expectations for what you are trying to discover and what goals your test supports.

Wrapping it all up

Tough times happen. Many businesses are facing them right now and will likely continue to. Don’t give up hope. Do your research and be nimble. You can find where your biggest pain points are and thoughtfully test solutions.

And remember, testing never ends. It’s an ongoing process in the continuous quest to drive the best results you can.

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Reblogged 1 year ago from feedproxy.google.com

What You May Have Missed: Moz Resources to Prioritize Community Learning and Professional Development in 2020

Posted by clschwartz

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a wild ride. If you’re like me, you’ve missed some exciting news or even taken some time away from all things digital when it felt like the world was just too much. At Moz, we created a lot of helpful content in 2020, publishing community resources, reports, and guides across topics like local SEO analytics, competitor analysis, keyword research, campaign management, and more. With all that coming your way, there’s bound to be some oversight. Here’s a recap of what you might have missed in the chaos that has been 2020.

The State of Local SEO Industry Report 2020

The State of Local SEO Industry Report 2020 provides a snapshot of local SEO — both before and during COVID-19 — helping you understand the trends, ideas, and biggest challenges shaping your work in the new decade.

We found that 43% of respondents thought there weren’t enough quality resources to train teams and clients. That insight led to some of the resources we created this year, and those we’ll be launching in early 2021.

How to Rank on Google

The freshly updated How to Rank on Google 25-step master checklist walks you through how to rank a page, from page ideation all the way to traffic pouring into your Google Analytics account. This framework for beginner to intermediate SEOs provides everything you need to get started.

The Keyword Research Master Guide

The Keyword Research Master Guide helps you understand exactly what content to create to best help achieve business goals and target relevant traffic. This guide provides concrete keyword research workflows that act as a practical place to start, and introduces intermediate and advanced SEO techniques that will help you step up your keyword game.

The Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet

An enhanced web dev cheat sheet, this updated resource has been downloaded tens of thousands of times by SEOs and developers alike, to better align on the goals between both types of practitioners. It’s the go-to tool to explain technical and on-page best practices, and is easy to digest by all.

Other content you may have missed

Our favorite Marketing Scientist, Dr. Pete, published deep, technical research on Youtube and Google to understand how video is served in the SERP (shocker — we learned that there’s little room for competition when it comes to video and Google), as well as Google Core Update analyses to understand the impact and implications of Google’s algorithm changes.

In addition, we transitioned MozCon to a virtual platform, doubling the number of attendees of previous years and providing the most cutting edge insights and strategies from leading marketers across the country.

As most marketing work moved home due to lockdowns around the globe, so too did our Whiteboard Friday episodes. These included videos from SEO expert Britney Muller’s house as she took us through a series of link building tips and tricks, as well as guest presenters like Joy Hawkins, who showed us which GMB fields actually affect ranking from her makeshift film set in her living room.

Moz’s commitment to the digital marketing community has helped the company thrive in a challenging year, but community-building means more than just business success. Moz has taken stances on diversity, equity, and inclusion by making a statement and taking action to support the Black Lives Matter movement, publishing diversity and gender in SEO reports with Nicole DeLeon of North Star Inbound, and making historic changes to the board of directors with the addition of Asia Orangio and Tara Reed.

As we turn the corner into 2021, we expect the challenges to continue, but remain hopeful that things will improve. No matter what surprises the new year has in store, we’ll be here to support you with resources and tools to help you improve your SEO proficiency and reach your goals. You’ll see a new course from Moz Academy, a guide on local SEO, and much more. If you have any suggestions on what resources would be helpful to you, please let us know in the comments below.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 1 year ago from feedproxy.google.com

Some early observations on the Google December core update

Some of these observations are based on the quality raters guidelines, the past core updates, and sound SEO advice.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Marketing the COVID vaccine faces familiar challenges

Selling the COVID vaccine will require personalized and empathetic messaging.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.marketingland.com

How to Prevent Redirect Chains from Destroying Your SEO

Have a website? Then you’ve likely heard about search engine optimization (SEO) — the process of making your site easier to find, crawl, and rank for search engines.

The better your SEO, the higher your website ends up on search engine ranking pages (SERPs) — as a result, the greater the chance of your site being noticed by potential customers.

And with 68% of all website traffic coming from organic and paid searches — rather than through social media shares and other marketing channels — the right SEO strategy is critical.

Many SEO techniques are straightforward: Don’t keyword stuff. Keep your content relevant. Improve your website’s user experience (UX) by cutting complexity and boosting speed. But other metrics also matter.

Case in point? Redirect chains. These interconnected Internet issues cause problems for search engine spiders, frustration for users, and potential problems for your page ranking.

But what exactly is a redirect chain? Why is it potentially problematic? And how do you find and remove these unintentional website course corrections? Here’s what you need to know.

Learn about what web optimization is and how to do it with this free course. 

What is a redirect chain?

A redirect chain occurs when there’s more than one redirect between the initial link users click on and the eventual destination page.

There are two common types of redirects: 301 and 302.

301 redirects happen when the destination page permanently links to a new URL and 302 redirects point to temporary pages while new content is created or websites are built. From an SEO perspective, both are treated the same.

Consider a backlink from a reputable site that leads to a page on your site, which we’ll call URL A. If users click on the link and are taken directly to URL A, it’s considered to be a single 301 redirect. Perfect.

But what happens if the content on URL A needs a refresh? You update the content with URL B, then set URL A to redirect users to the new page. This causes a redirect chain — your backlink leads to URL A which redirects to URL B. Add new pages and the chain gets longer and longer, and longer…

Two Reasons for Redirects

In most cases, redirect chains are unintentional, and they typically happen for one of two reasons:

1. Content Updates

Since changing backlinks on other sides isn’t easy — you’d need to get in contact with the site owner, ask them to amend the link, and hope they have the time to do so — it’s often quicker to simply redirect the initial backlink to a new URL. As websites grow and content changes, however, the number of steps between the initial click and eventual destination can increase dramatically.

2. URL Specifics

Redirect chains also occur when businesses rapidly scale up their website and small issues with URL specifics turn into larger redirect problems. For instance, consider the URL:

http://www.yoursite.com/products

Since it lacks the https now expected for secure website browsing, you update the URL to:

https://www.yoursite.com/products

This creates a redirect, but there’s another issue — no trailing slash after “products”. So what happens? You amend the URL again:

https://www.yoursite.com/products/

The result? You’ve gone from one to three redirects with only minor changes. Combined with new content generation and applied to your site at scale, it’s easy to see how redirects can quickly get out of hand.

The Negative SEO Impact of Redirect Chains

What’s the big problem with redirect chains, anyway? Since the links point users and search engine crawlers in the right direction, what does it matter if it takes a few extra steps?

As is turns out, large redirect chains can significantly impact your spot in SERPs for three reasons:

1. Link Juice Loss

The “boost” your site gets from reputable backlinks is often called “link juice” — the more juice you get, the better for your search rankings.

With just one redirect from a backlink to your site, you get 100% of the juice. Add another 301 redirect and you’re getting (on average) about 85% of the link juice. Add another and you get 85% of 85%, or just over 72%. The more links, the less juice.

2. Reduced Site Performance

It makes sense: The longer the chain, the more time it takes your destination page to load as browsers work their way through link after link. And with site performance now a critical factor in boosting SEO, more redirects mean lower rankings for your page.

3. Crawling Concerns

Search engine bots will only crawl so much before giving up. Called their “crawl budget”, most smaller websites don’t need to worry about search spiders spending their entire budget before reaching the end of the site — unless redirects start to ramp up.

The bigger and more numerous your redirect chains, the longer it takes for search engines to reach the end. Eventually, they’ll just stop looking.

Also worth mentioning are redirect loops. Here, initial links lead to URL A, then URL B and the URL C, and then back to URL A — causing a loop. Eventually, browsers stop redirecting and users end up with no content. Not surprisingly, your SEO suffers.

How to Find Redirect Chains

While you could go through your site manually and evaluate every page, every link, and every redirect, this is both time and resource-intensive — especially if you’re in the middle of site expansion or rolling out a new content strategy.

Best bet? Use online redirect checker tools to determine where your links are working as intended and where they create potentially problematic chains. Some popular solutions include:

1. Redirect-checker.org

Simply type in your http:// or https:// URL to discover any 301 or 302 redirects for a specific page. This free tool is great if you’re only worried about specific URLs but isn’t ideal for checking your entire site.

2. Sitebulb

Sitebulb delivers a host of reports that evaluate how crawl-friendly your site is, where redirect issues exist, and how links are distributed across your site. Sitebulb offers a 14-day free trial followed by a monthly subscription model.

3. Screaming Frog

The SEO Spider from Screaming Frog lets you find broken links, audit link redirects, and discover duplicate content. SEO Spider comes in both free and paid versions — the biggest difference is that the free version will only crawl 500 URLs while the paid version offers unlimited redirect reports.

4. DeepCrawl

DeepCrawl bills itself as the “world’s best website crawler” and offers three plans: Light, Light Plus, and Enterprise. The Light plan is designed for one project and 10,000 URLs per month, while Light Plus offers 40,000 URLs, and Enterprise comes with unlimited redirect reconnaissance.

How to Remove a Redirect Chain

Once you’ve found redirect chains, removing them is straightforward — simply change the redirect link of the first destination page to the final URL rather than pointing it toward another redirect.

In practice, this means changing the redirect of URL A, in our example above, to URL C rather than URL B — in turn, skipping the middle step and ensuring your site doesn’t lose any link juice or SEO ranking. If URL B is still backlinked by other sites, you can leave its redirect to URL C intact. If it only exists as a bridge between the older URL A and the newer URL C, it’s worth removing redirects entirely and deleting or archiving the page.

Remember — every 301 redirect after the initial jump costs your site approximately 15% of potential link juice. Fill your SERP cup by cutting down redirects wherever possible.

How to Prevent Redirect Chains

To prevent redirect chains from building up over time, it’s worth regularly checking your site with redirect tools like those mentioned above. It’s also a good idea to keep a record of new URLs as they’re created — either by using a shared spreadsheet or by leveraging automated tools for this purpose — to help ensure that new URLs are connected to the first 301 redirect rather than those further down the chain.

Breaking Bad (Chains)

Although it’s not possible to entirely avoid redirect chains from backlinks and other dofollow sources, SEO starts to suffer the longer these chains become. Best bet? Use robust redirect tools to find long-tail chains, break them into smaller pieces wherever possible, and develop URL management frameworks to reduce redirect risks.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

10 free SEO tools for discoverability

When creating content online, it’s important to have a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy alongside your content strategy. Doing so will ensure your posts are as optimized as possible. SEO tools can help you identify ways to improve the discoverability of your site.

SEO can seem daunting to novices, but there are several free SEO tools are are just as powerful as their paid counterparts.

Here’s a breakdown of 10 of the best free SEO tools and software.

Best free on-page optimization tools

Rank Math Plugin

Rank Math is a WordPress plugin that helps you optimize your website content. It lets you add meta titles, descriptions and structure your data more easily. Simply download and install this plugin to your WordPress website to begin using it.

Benefits

Rank Math gives your content an SEO score for each page. When you indicate what keyword you’re targeting, this plugin suggests ways to increase your ranking for that keyword. You can also identify and fix dead links on your site and redirect URLs to new pages.

Screenshot of the Rank Math WordPress plugin

Yoast SEO Plugin

The Yoast SEO plugin makes it easy to optimize your WordPress site and identify gaps in your content. If your site runs on WordPress, install and activate the Yoast plugin to begin.

Benefits

The Yoast plugin allows you to improve and modify your content in three ways: SEO, readability and social. With Yoast, you can set meta descriptions, titles, canonical URL, and label index/no-index pages and other backend settings on your site. This plugin will assign every post a readability score by measuring sentence and paragraph length and other criteria. And Yoast also has excellent features to help you improve the shareability of your posts on social media. 

Screenshot of Yoast SEO WordPress plugin

Best free keyword research tools

Google Trends

As the name suggests, Google Trends helps you track the popularity of topics and trends in your industry over time. Use this tool to identify current trends and use that information to craft a timely and relevant content marketing strategy.

Benefits

Google Trends gives you a clear picture of how specific trends change over time and how people’s searching patterns around it change. To use Google Trends, start by typing in a keyword. You’ll see the interest in that topic over time, which regions show the most interest, and other keywords people are searching for related to that query. This tool works best when combined with other keywords to show comparisons of trends over time.

Screenshot of Google Trends dashboard for they keywork "football" and its trend ranking over time and by U.S. region

Ahrefs Keyword Generator

Ahrefs’ Keyword Generator is a lite version of Ahrefs full tool and will show you the top 100 related keyword ideas when searching a keyword or phrase. To use this free tool, enter up to 100 keywords or phrases in the search bar. You’ll see a list of the top 100 keywords related to your search as well as their search volume from when the data for that keyword was last updated, and keyword difficulties for the first 10 keywords on the list.

Benefits

This tool gives users a taste of what Ahrefs’ full tool can do and is perfect for people who want to explore some industry keywords. In addition to the keywords, you can also see the top 50 questions related to that keyword.

Screenshot of Ahrefs Keyword Generator and results for the keyword "social media"

Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest is a free SEO tool that helps users generate new keywords and content ideas. This tool will give you a high-level overview of the keyword you’re searching for. It’s a great tool to use when looking for new ways to fill your social media or content calendar because the tool also shows you related long-tail keywords and suggests content ideas based on the keyword.

Benefits

When you do your keyword search, you’ll see the monthly keyword search volume, how competitive it is to rank for, and the average cost per click. The tool will also provide you the average number of backlinks that a site should have to rank for that keyword.

Screenshot of Ubersuggest keyword tool for the keyword "yoga"

Best free SEO tools for analytics

Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC), previously known as Google Webmasters, helps you understand how Google crawls and indexes your site. To use the Google Search Console, create an account and add your website as a property within the account. Once you’ve added your domain, verify you’re the site owner before you can access all of its features.

Benefits

There are several features to highlight about Google Search Console, one of which is that it can help you diagnose technical errors on your website. It can also help you understand what keywords or content are ranking for your site.

Screenshot of Google Console dashboard

Bing Webmaster Tools

An often overlooked tool, Bing Webmaster also has a full suite of analytics to help you analyze your website and search analytics. Create your free Bing Webmaster Tools account, add your website and verify your ownership of the site. Then create or upload your sitemaps. Once complete, you’re able to start optimizing your site and its content using Bing Webmaster Tools’ features and suggestions.

Benefits

Bing Webmaster Tools can provide useful keyword research, reporting, and can crawl your website to identify issues. It’s a good way to get a virtual second opinion on your site or find any new information that Google Search Console didn’t reveal.

Screenshot of Bing Webmaster Tools dashboard

Google Analytics

To know if your SEO efforts are working, you need to analyze your site’s findability to see where your traffic is coming from. You may notice a spike in traffic after making post optimizations, but that traffic could be coming from another source like social media. Google Analytics provides you with in-depth details about your website visitors, as well as real-time activity.

With an existing Google account, sign into Google Analytics and connect with your website. To get the most helpful SEO information, pair it with your Google Console account. When you link the two tools, you’ll be able to see the keywords people are using to find your site, identify your click-through-rates on those keywords and more.

Benefits

Google Analytics lets you see how people interact with your website. Using Google Analytics, you’ll be able to see how many people are visiting your site, where your traffic is coming from, how long people are spending on the page and so much more.

Screenshot of Google Analytics

Best free tools for link building

Ahrefs Backlink Checker

Like their Keyword Research tool, Ahrefs Backlink Checker is a free version of their full tool that shows you the top 100 backlinks to any website you search. To use this tool, enter a URL into their search bar and you’ll see the site’s domain rating, the number of backlinks, and the number of referring domains.

Benefits

This free tool is great for some light backlink checking as well as analyzing your competitors. Even though you’re limited to viewing 100 links, it’s still a great place to start. You’ll see the total number of backlinks, links from referring domains, the site’s Domain Rating, and its URL rating.

Screenshot of Ahrefs Backlink Checker homepage

SEM Rush

Similar to the other tools mentioned above, SEM Rush has a free version of their robust tool. Not just for link building, SEM Rush can provide help with keyword research, on-page SEO audits, content optimizations, rank tracking and much more. Create a free account and access these features.

Benefits

The SEM Rush’s Backlink Analysis and Link Building Tool provides you an in-depth look at your backlink profile. The free version limits you to 100 domains in the Link Building Tool but you’ll be able to identify your referring domains and backlinks overtime, including gains and losses, and your backlink authority score. The tool helps you identify areas to improve your link building efforts or where you can gain more visibility online.

Screenshot of SEM Rush's backlink analytics tool

Final thoughts on free SEO tools

While SEO is a crucial part of the content process, it works best when combined with other marketing strategies like content and social media marketing. You’ll get the most out of your optimizations when using both SEO and social monitoring software together. And these free SEO tools help you build a foundation to these strategies.

Throw in some social media keyword search tools and you’ll be able to cast an even broader net to learn more about what your audience wants. For more on how to marry your social media and SEO strategies, check our post on how SEO can inform social media marketing and vice versa.

This post 10 free SEO tools for discoverability originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feedproxy.google.com