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How the global lockdown is changing user behavior and digital consumption

30-second summary:

  • Social media apps, online games, streaming content, and other digital media content together have managed to take away the maximum share for the time users are spending in the Lockdown period. 
  • Ecommerce is the “new normal”, we will see a huge shift in the buying-selling sector after the world has recovered from COVID-19.
  • Apps and services with a subscription model are seeing a rise in their revenue.
  • As per a report by the Guardian for the UK, Facebook has witnessed 300 new local Coronavirus support groups, whose combined membership now totals more than a million people.
  • More detailed pointers on how global lockdown is changing user behavior and digital media consumption.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the world to stay inside their homes. This has further forced them to spend more time reading, streaming, and consuming online content. As per a report, the number of minutes spent by readers on news sites has increased by roughly 46% when compared to the data pertaining to the same time last year. With social distancing and self-isolation being practised by a major part of the world’s population, this has become the new normal.   

Social media apps, online games, streaming content, and other digital media content together have managed to take away the maximum share for the time users are spending in the Lockdown period. People working from home are also high consumers of video conferencing and collaboration apps such as Microsoft Teams. Overnight, it is apps like Zoom that have become the primary social platform for millions of people. 

Online learning has further brought families to the common avenue of digital content consumption. This will cause a major overall shift in user behaviour. This also changes the way brands and influencers will do their business with the new-normal audience. As per a study, the majority of social media users now believe that the fact that they are confined to their homes, their social media usage habits will increase significantly. And that’s true.

Top digital media consumption trends amidst global lockdown

  • Video calling is at the centre of digital consumption.
  • Geographical locations experiencing strict lockdowns are the ones experiencing huge spikes in digital consumption.
  • Online gaming is the world’s favorite pastime.
  • Ecommerce is the “new normal”, we will see a huge shift in the buying-selling sector after the world has recovered from COVID-19.
  • Companies mandating remote working for employees is further bringing these trends to a full circle. 
  • Gen Z is consuming more online video content.
  • Millennials are all about content across various media types, that is, online video, online TV, and broadcast TV. 
  • Gen X is more into watching TV as well as online TV content.
  • Apps and services with a subscription model are seeing a rise in their revenue.

Source: Visual Capatalist 

The fact that we are experiencing the atrocities of COVID-19 and the hope to recover from it someday has also brought about the realization that things will change and the fear will keep lurking. A Mckinsey study in China has brought about the finding that even after the outbreak ends, consumers are likely to go online for their shopping needs, be it grocery. So, here’s how the global lockdown is changing user behavior and digital media consumption. 

The rise of online communities 

Communities had so become a thing of the past, but that was pre-coronavirus times. With everybody forced to stay home, the anxiety meters have been high and there are just so many communities coming up in a tryst to support the people. This has further strengthened the existence of online communities.  

As per a report by the Guardian for the UK, Facebook has witnessed 300 new local Coronavirus support groups, whose combined membership now totals more than a million people. People are becoming a part of several quarantine communities that help them stay sane by offering enough engagement through live chat and other communication means. 

Online hangouts 

Social engagement and hanging out with friends is something that the people simply give up. Human interaction is one of the basic needs. People are still wanting to be able to hang out with their friends and loved ones from the comfort of their homes using tools of the technology. For example, going out to the movies has been replaced by the use of services such as the ‘Netflix Party’.  

Zoom video calls have also managed to become the primary video call service used by the netizens for work as well as leisure purposes. To meet the demand, Whatsapp recently brought the update of adding up to 8 people on a video call. The need of the time, aye.

Fighting fake news 

The time before the COVID-19 effects completely dawned upon us, people really had little consideration about fake news updates floating over the social media. It was always a fly-by moment that people chose to shrug off. However, with what now lies in front of us, new digital media consumption wave has made people more sensitive to the way they perceive new information updates. They are open to consuming verified news instead of just any news piece floating out there. The global lockdown has definitely helped people identify the threats posed by Fake News and to not fall for it.  

Quarantine internet activities

If you are an active part of the internet quarantine parade, you must have definitely come across some sort of Instagram or Facebook challenge by now. If not, you must have definitely witnessed how people are going crazy about cooking. The kitchen now seems to be the best quarantine activity hangout for families, with YouTube becoming the best navigator for trying out new DIYs and food recipes.  

The outbreak has changed entertainment habits.

Here’s a breakdown of the most popular activities in quarantine

  • Watching more news coverage 
  • Watching more shows/films 
  • Spending more time socializing as a family 
  • Spending more time on social messaging 
  • Hobbies/pastime have found their way back 
  • Cooking is the new international hobby 
  • Videogames, mobile gaming engagement is set to reach record levels 

Global digital acceptance and adoption 

All of us know people in our lives who were immune to social media and technology and their acceptance as a way of life. However, COVID-19 has changed this legacy thought process for many and brought them on-board with the idea of trying out these things for good. Therefore, we see a large number of boomers joining social media or simply indulging with the tools of technology around them.  

Conclusion

The digital environment has changed and so have people’s digital media consumption habits and patterns. Brands are trying to evolve and react relatively quickly to the change reflected by the surge in social media consumption as it unfolds. The new normal is here with the massive shift in consumer behavior that highly impacts brands, influencers, and businesses forever. 

The post How the global lockdown is changing user behavior and digital consumption appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 11 months ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

Seven tips for full funnel SEO in 2020

30-second summary:

  • Improving their organic search presence is the top inbound marketing priority for 61% of marketers.
  • It’s imperative that today’s marketers leverage paid search at every stage to create more sophisticated strategies because greater sophistication means less wasted budget and higher quality conversions. 
  • Erica Magnotto gives a crisp breakdown and categorization of how to make your sales and marketing funnel work through SEO.

Improving their organic search presence is the top inbound marketing priority for 61% of marketers. But many are unaware their tried-and-true search engine optimization tactics have lost their potency thanks to today’s more fluid marketing funnel.

Every marketer knows the marketing funnel: The famous upside-down triangle used to visualize the customer journey from “awareness” at the top to “action” at the bottom. Paid search is typically considered a lower-funnel tactic used to nudge customers toward a conversion. But in today’s digitally-dominated landscape, paid search plays a more integrated role. 

It’s imperative that today’s marketers leverage paid search at every stage to create more sophisticated strategies because greater sophistication means less wasted budget and higher quality conversions. Here are seven tips to plug in paid search throughout your customer relationships in 2020.

Phase one: Awareness

If you’re currently investing in awareness channels, you’re likely using a combination of programmatic display, video, social and influencers to connect with your audiencesBut don’t overlook paid search, which is also effective at driving new users to the website through competitor and educational campaigns.  

1. Competitor campaigns 

If a customer is looking for your direct competitor, it’s likely they’re in need of your services as well, so bidding on competitor terms is a great way to capture your competitor’s customers. Keep in mind though these keywords are usually expensive and receive lower quality scoresthey can help inform customers of their options within your industry. 

2. Brand education 

Customers looking to educate themselves on a particular product or service are likely to go to Google firstUse this knee-jerk reaction to send web traffic in your direction by adding specific content on your website that answer their questions. Blogs, white papers, FAQ pages, and industry updates are valuable forms of customer education that can develop brand awareness and promote trust with your audience. Even better, you can combine branding and lead generation by gating some of this content to collect user information that can later be repurposed for email marketing, retargeting, lookalike audiences and more. 

Phase two: Interest

After a user visits the website and gains familiarity with your brand keep your brand top of mind through retargeting list search ads and audience bidding.  

3. Retargeting List Search Ads (RLSAs)

RLSAs can help drive repeat visits to your website by directly targeting and bidding on those previous website visitors. These campaigns typically use tailored messaging, such as a discount, countdown or reminder to complete an action on your website, to create urgency. RLSAs can also be used with the brand and non-branded terms to entice user action in the decision phase of the funnel. 

4. Audience bidding

Marketers should consider applying in-market audiences to campaigns on observation mode to develop a clearer image of how each audience segment performs. Segments that perform or convert at a high level indicate interest from that grouping of potential customers and, therefore, are worth a higher investment through the use of bid modifiers. Bid up on these audiences to garner a stronger return. 

Phase Three: Decision

Invest in your brand terms to protect yourself from competitor interference once potential customers have made the conscious decision to engage with your brand. You can also implement extensions to impart more influence during the decision stage and garner increased user engagement. 

5. Bid on brand terms 

Brand terms serve two purposes in SEO: visibility and defence. First, it’s important to remain relevant to the SERPs by being represented in organic and paid results. Second, while you have the flexibility to bid on competitor terms, the competition can bid on your terms as wellBy creating a dedicated brand strategy for search, you can help cut down on competitors showing up in place of you.

6. Use extensions 

Extensions such as site links, callouts and structured snippets place more ads on SERPs, giving your ads more opportunity to influence in the decision of customersMarketers should use as many relevant extensions as possible to improve click-through-rates (CTRs) and higher quality scores. 

Phase four: Action

Search engines can optimize toward conversion action through automated bidding after users take action on your website through a paid ad. 

7. Automated bidding

Conversion or action data that are stored in Google or Microsoft Ads is repurposed to support automated bidding like Target Cost Per Action (CPA), Maximize Conversions or Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). These features support a variety of conversion goals through Google’s AI automation. Creating accurate conversions in your account is essential during the final step of the funnel.

Paid search is a foundational channel for driving lead generation initiatives, as it has vast capabilities. Search plays an integral role in every stage of the marketing funnel – not just at the top. Consider connecting with your in-house team or agency partners to revamp your paid search strategy for 2020 to ensure you are leveraging search across the funnel, and, ultimately, boosting the channels’ benefit to your bottom line.  

Erica Magnotto is Senior Search Engine Marketing Manager at R2i. 

The post Seven tips for full funnel SEO in 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 11 months ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

Why brands should consider audio marketing as consumers settle into life at home

With behavior shifting, the audio market’s growth offers a unique environment for brands to stay top of mind with consumers.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Reblogged 11 months ago from feeds.marketingland.com

Which Types of Live Video Are People Actually Watching? [New Data]

In 2019, global internet users watched 1.1 billion hours of live video. That equates to 12,557 decades of online content.

And the craziest part? People will probably spend even more time streaming content in 2020.

The statistic above is just one of many that shows how popular live video is becoming. And, with any social media or online video trend, marketers are taking notice and learning how to implement it in their own tactics.

If the mounting research about live video has intrigued you, you might be asking more questions about live video in the near future.

Specifically, you might be wondering, “Which types of live content are driving people to tune in?”

To figure out what’s driving the world to watch multiple lifetimes’ worth of content in one year, I decided to conduct a Lucid survey of over 400 consumers to learn which types of content they watch the most.

Which live videos do consumers actually watch?

If you’ve followed live stream trends, you might think content that focuses on entertainment such as behind-the-scenes content, or video game streaming, might make the top of the list as the most popular type of live content.

However, when I asked consumers, “Which type of live video are you most likely to watch if you see it on one of your social network feeds?”, their answers surprised me.

The top three live videos that people say they’re most likely to click on actually emphasize content that’s educational or allows viewers to learn something new.

In fact, the type of live videos consumers are most likely to view is “A Q&A with an influencer, celebrity, or expert in your industry,” which received nearly 30% of the votes.

Below is a quick look at the top four live video types that polled consumers selected:

Data Source

Live video formats that consumers were less interested in were behind the scenes video streams, theatrical stories with a script or plotline, and virtual conferences or events. These topics received between three to eight percent of the votes.

While the least popular types of live video focus more on gaming and entertainment, the top three formats are informational and can be used by brands to discuss their industry, grow awareness, or highlight a product online.

Below, I’ll walk you through the three most common live video formats, note how you can leverage them as a marketer, and offer branded live video examples to inspire you.

3 Types of Live Video Consumers Love Watching

Live Q&As

Live Q&As can be affordable to produce, engage multiple audiences at once, allow you to interact with your fans, and highlight your brand’s expertise at the same time.

If you host a Q&A with an influencer or thought leader, you boost the chances of their followers tuning in to comment with questions or learn more about the guest. In the process, they’ll learn a bit about you and your brand. If you appear on a Q&A, the host’s audiences will learn more about you and potentially get the opportunity to interact.

Can’t book a thought leader or influencer? You can also coordinate Q&As with experts from your own company. This will allow experts in your industry to learn about a topic your employees are highly skilled in. This provides audiences value and allows them to engage with your brand in a new way. Additionally, prospects and customers that view this type of live video will see the depth of knowledge that your team has, which might result in them trusting the quality of your product.

Product Tutorials

While brands have been recording, editing, and publishing online product demos and tutorials for years, this process can also take place on live platforms.

Although a pre-recorded product tutorial has the benefit of being edited, a live product tutorial authentically highlights a product with no added editing.

Here’s an example of a live product tutorial streamed by The Nail Prop Shop which highlights tools that help consumers paint their nails like professionals:

In the product tutorial above, you’re seeing how the product and the host authentically without edits, artificial lighting, or anything else that could boost the aesthetics of the product. Because of this, you can easily imagine what it would be like to use the product in your own life.

Educational Content

People crave knowledge. And, even when you don’t directly discuss your product or service, you can leverage your audience’s curiosity by launching live how-tos or explainers related to your industry.

For example, if you’re marketing a restaurant, you might create a recipe or food-related how-to video. Or, if you’re marketing a fitness brand, you might stream a workout that audiences can try.

Like Q&As, a how-to or explainer gives you the opportunity to show off your brand’s range of knowledge and expertise in your industry. Audiences who see this content might value your expertise and trust your brand because its team has shown a strong understanding of the industry and what audiences want to learn about.

Here’s an example of a live how-to streamed by Planet Fitness. Rather than discussing what customers can get from a gym membership, a trainer from the gym shows audiences workouts that they can use to stay in shape — even outside the gym.

Creating Your First Live Video

If you’ve been inspired by the data or the videos above and are interested in coordinating your first live video, here are a few things you should consider before going live:

  • Picking the Right Plattform: Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Twitch, TikTok, and LinkedIn offer a live video feature. Before you go live, research the audiences of each platform to determine which will best align with your own targets.
  • Planning and Rehearsing: Once you go live, people will immediately be able to watch your content. To prevent any major blunders, you might want to rehearse prior to streaming or create an outline of what you plan to do while live.
  • Including Interactive Elements: To engage with audiences further, consider encouraging them to ask questions or share their thoughts in the video stream’s comment section. Try to answer a few of these questions or respond to one of the comments to show viewers that you’re interested in what they have to say.

To lean more about the things you should check before going live, check out this helpful guide.

Reblogged 11 months ago from blog.hubspot.com

24 LinkedIn Stats That Marketers Need to Know in 2020

With nearly 700 million active users in 2020, LinkedIn’s expanded from a networking site for professionals to one of the top social media platforms.

By now, most of us have used LinkedIn to market our brands, post industry thought leadership, or look for our dream jobs.

As LinkedIn’s continued to evolve by adding new features, like live video, it’s steadily grown its user base. While the LinkedIn audience still skews towards career-minded professionals, the industries, interests, and demographics represented on the platform have become much broader since its launch.

Aside from LinkedIn’s user growth, it’s also continued to expand on advertising opportunities, which has helped make it the second most used platform of B2B marketers.

Today, it’s becoming quite clear that LinkedIn isn’t just for people in executive corporate roles. With millions of company pages and individual members, there’s a discussion, post, or professional network for almost anyone on this channel.

But, despite LinkedIn’s growth and advertising opportunities, many marketers or brands still worry that the platform is still too formal or corporate for their audiences.

The truth is — LinkedIn could very well be one of your most underrated marketing channels.

If LinkedIn’s growth has caught your attention and you want to determine if it’s audiences and ad offerings are right for you, it’s important to do some research before devoting more time and resources to this network.

To get you started on your LinkedIn research, here are 24 need-to-know stats about the platform’s audience, growth, and most common marketing tactics.

LinkedIn Stats to Know in 2020

General LinkedIn Stats

  • In Q2 of 2020, LinkedIn revenue increased 21 percent year-over-year (LinkedIn)
  • In 2019, LinkedIn made more than 6.8 billion in revenue. (LinkedIn)
  • LinkedIn has more than 690 million active users. (LinkedIn)
  • In Q1 of 2020, LinkedIn sessions increased 22 percent year-over-year. (LinkedIn)
  • Marketing Solutions is LinkedIn’s fastest-growing segment. It grew 44 percent year-over-year in Q1. (LinkedIn)
  • LinkedIn received 30 billion sessions from its members in 2019. This was a year-over-year increase of 27 percent. (LinkedIn)
  • In 2019, LinkedIn was voted the most trusted network. (Business Insider)

Source

  • In March of 2020, professionals watched more than four million hours of LinkedIn Learning content — a nearly 50% increase month-over-month. (LinkedIn)
  • LinkedIn Live streams have increased by 158% since February 2020. (LinkedIn)
  • More than four million LinkedIn members were hired through the platform in 2019. (LinkedIn)
  • LinkedIn’s Talent Insights service, launched in 2019, got more than 1,300 customers in its first year. (LinkedIn)

LinkedIn Demographics

  • 57% of global LinkedIn users are male. (Statista)
  • 25% of U.S. internet users say they use LinkedIn. (Pew Research Center)
  • While 34% of those between 25 to 30 and 33% of those aged 30 to 49 say they use LinkedIn. (Pew Research Center)
  • 45% of internet users who make more than $75,000 annually use LinkedIn while only 25% of those in the $50,000 to $74,999 range use the platform. (Pew Research Center)
  • 50% of internet users with a college degree or higher use LinkedIn. (Pew Research Center)
  • Four out of five LinkedIn members drive business decisions at their companies. (LinkedIn)

Marketing Tactics and Lead Generation

  • LinkedIn is the second most popular platform of B2B marketers, followed by Facebook. (Social Media Examiner)
  • As of January 2020, 663.3 million users have been reached by LinkedIn Ads. (We Are Social)
  • Data shows that the most engaging LinkedIn posts are published on Wednesdays between 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and noon, Thursday at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., and Friday at 9 a.m. (Sprout Social)
  • LinkedIn’s lead conversion rates are 3X higher than other major ad platforms, including Google Ads. (LinkedIn)
  • Roughly 15% of marketers are creating content for LinkedIn. (HubSpot)
  • Only 10% of marketers say they’re investing in LinkedIn. (HubSpot)
  • In a study of over 5,000 businesses, HubSpot found that traffic from LinkedIn generated the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate at 2.74%, almost three times or 277% higher than both Twitter (.69%) and Facebook (.77%). (HubSpot)

Mastering LinkedIn Marketing

Because LinkedIn is a slightly different audience from other major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat, you’ll want to understand the audience before investing time or resources into a campaign or advertisement. Be sure to keep the stats above, as well as emerging research about the platform and its audiences, in mind as you prepare your next social media strategy.

If you’re looking for more inspiration or hard research to help you guide your LinkedIn strategy, check out this great post which highlights the most engaging topics and posting strategies on the platform. If you’re more interested in boosting your personal profile and network on LinkedIn, here’s a guide on how to become a LinkedIn thought leader.

Reblogged 11 months ago from blog.hubspot.com

The Plain-English Guide to GCLID

90% of all web searches happen on Google, which means, if you’re a marketer, you should probably know the ins and outs of Google Ads

I’ve opened Google to search for something at least five times today. And every one of those times, I’ve seen at least two ads on every results page. No matter the wide range of my searches — from vegan snickerdoodles to makeup brands and HTML codes — I was met with Google advertisements.

From a business perspective, Google Ads is amazing for lead generation. It’s a pay-per-click platform that helps you boost visits to your website. With Google Ads, you can create targeted ads that will be shown to a segmented audience.

Google Ads allows you to track the traffic, metrics, and conversions of your ads without switching to Google Analytics.

Let’s begin by talking about GCLID more in depth.

What is GCLID, and how do you use it?

If you are unsure of the number of conversions you’re earning from your ad campaigns or want more insight into how to improve the performance of your ads, you may want to look into Google Click Identifier.

A GCLID is generated every time an ad is clicked and the user is redirected to a landing page. GCLID communicates data to Google that will be sent to Ads and Analytics, like the pages per visit and the amount of time spent on the website as a whole.

When you track ads, you can monitor their real-time performance. You can optimize ads for better performance. Ads can be tracked by adding tags, like GCLID.

GCLID which helps you streamline tracking ad performance and gives you end-to-end conversion performance. This post will teach you all about GCLID and how it can fit into your Google Ads strategy.

When you have GCLID turned on, you’ll be able to track extensive details of the end-to-end conversions you’re earning with specific campaigns.

If you use auto-tagging, (also known as GCLID), you’ll be able to track more dimensions than with manual tagging, including how your keyword is being matched to search queries, the ad group associated with the keyword, the URL ID, the ad format, and the distribution network.

Below is an example of the amount of features available to you with auto-tagging:

Ultimately, these metrics, available to view as a full report in Analytics, will help you improve the quality of your ads.

Let’s talk a little more about how tagging works.

Manual tagging vs. auto-tagging in Google Ads

You can tag ads manually or have Google track for you using auto-tagging.

Manual tagging is completed by adding a unique UTM code into your tracking data in Google Ads. While both GCLID and manual tagging allow you to obtain unique analytics about ad performance, there are differences.

Keep in mind this important note from one of HubSpot’s paid ads managers, Nicole Ondracek, about manual tagging: “Manual tagging overrides GCLID auto-tagging when used, but it’s good to have auto-tagging turned on so you can see all the data and dimensions possible when looking in Google Analytics.”

If you use manual tagging in Google Ads, you’ll be able to access data for these dimensions, including Source, Content, Medium, Campaign, and Keyword. Ondracek notes, “We look at all of the interactions, like clicks and impressions, in the Google Ads interface, and if we want to see further conversions, we look in Analytics using the manual UTM tracking.”

GCLID helps to keep all of those reporting features in one channel which means less back and forth for you.

Now that you have a deeper understanding of the differences between tagging, let’s talk about how to enable GCLID.

How do you enable GCLID tracking?

Setting up GCLID is pretty easy. First, access Google Ads, click “Settings,” > “Account settings,” > “Auto-tagging.” From there, select “Tag the URL that people click through from my ad,” and save your changes.

Then, make sure your Google Ads and Analytics accounts are linked. Learn how to do that in this ultimate guide. Want the abbreviated version? In Google Ads, click “Linked Accounts” under Setup, which is located in the Tools icon.

You’ll also have to activate Google signals, which will import those conversions across the two channels. From there, check your reports in Ads by creating reporting columns based on the metrics you want to follow.

To access your GCLID data in Analytics, go to the left sidebar and click “Acquisition,” > “Google Ads,” > and the type of campaign you’re checking. In this case, I chose “Video.”

How to find GCLID metrics in Analytics

From this screen, keep track of the ROI you’re earning from each GCLID you have. Additionally, sort your GCLIDs by campaign goal, or click on a specific GCLID to learn more details about how it’s performing by the hour as well as specific web behavior concerning that URL.

GCLID is meant to help you organize and keep track of your ad performance. It’s a tool to help you optimize your campaigns so you can improve them as they’re running. When you use GCLID, you are personalizing your Google Suite dashboard to benefit your company.

How do you plan to fit GCLID into your Ads strategy?

Reblogged 11 months ago from blog.hubspot.com

Click Share Vs Impression Share – Which One Should You Care About?

Which one does Google care about more? How to use demographics to decrease cost, increase click share, and be rewarded by Google.

Read more at PPCHero.com

Reblogged 11 months ago from feedproxy.google.com

The data-driven approach to making backlink analysis decisions

30-second summary:

  • The pandora’s box opened when the link building game got out of control at some point ultimately leading to lower-quality but better-linked pages on top of search results – and that’s when Google started taking counteractions.
  • Whether you or Google like it or not, backlinks remain the crucial part of Google’s algorithm, and consequently, backlink analysis remains the most important step to organic visibility.
  • However, everyone in our industry keeps facing the same question again and again: How to tell good links from the bad ones?
  • All of the SEOs working with sites with more than 20 pages and brands with more than $200 budget know that looking at each backlink is hardly possible.
  • Is there a data-driven approach to link building? Ann Smarty helps you create a data-driven backlink analysis strategy.

Backlink analysis has always been one of the toughest tasks of digital marketers and one SEOs have never really found an agreement upon.

And Google has never been really too helpful in ending that debate once and for all.

A quick look into the history of link building

A decade or so ago Google had told us to get other webmasters to link to our pages and even provided us with a tool – PageRank Toolbar – to measure the effectiveness of our link building efforts.

That’s when the Pandora box was opened and no one has been able to close it ever since.

The link building game got out of control at some point ultimately leading to lower-quality but better-linked pages on top of search results – and that’s when Google started taking counteractions.

Penguin updates and manual penalties followed discouraging the site owners from attempting to manipulate Google’s algorithms. “Get backlinks” in Google’s guidelines was revised into “Build high-quality content”, and “link building” acquired a “spammy tactic” connotation.

Yet, no matter how much Google is trying to push away the “link building” agenda, digital businesses are unable to put it aside. In fact, the more Google is fighting bad links, the more emphasis it puts on backlink analysis and acquisition services.

Whether you (or Google) like it or not, backlinks remain the crucial part of Google’s algorithm, and consequently, backlink analysis remains the most important step to organic visibility.

In fact, backlink analysis is helpful on both fronts:

  • Identifying and removing/disavowing low-quality links, those probably sending poor signals to Google, may trip a filter and revive previously earned high rankings.
  • Identifying high-quality link acquisition methods will improve rankings.

While the importance of backlink analysis is clear to everyone who is not living under the rock, everyone in our industry keeps facing the same question again and again: How to tell good links from the bad ones?

When you look at a backlink, you can mostly tell whether it is natural and helpful. But all of the SEOs working with sites with more than 20 pages and brands with more than $200 budget know that looking at each backlink is hardly possible.

There’s simply no business implications for “tell it when I see it” concept. So what to do?

Is there a data-driven approach to link building?

I was actually inspired to write this article by stumbling across this article on data-based decision making listing multiple benefits of using data over instincts when making business decisions.

Today, the top companies around the world use data to make decisions about their business. The reason they’re leading the way is that they’ve gained a strategic advantage over their rivals simply by shifting their focus to data rather than relying on business acumen alone. 

The question is, how does this apply to link building?

Simply put, link building and backlink acquisition are crucial for any business presence and visibility in organic search results. This means they fall under the “business decisions” category which means they are basically unthinkable without data to support them.

But while we recognize the importance behind data, which data can we use to make link building and link removal decisions.

Ever since Google’s toolbar PageRank has been deprecated, marketers have no reliable ways to automatically tell a good link from a bad link.

Or do they?

Focusing on a single source of data is dangerous

Lots of marketers are content to judge a link page quality by looking at one particular source, like Moz DA.

And if you have a hard time explaining to anyone why they shouldn’t rely on any particular number, let me make it very easy for you:

None of the current numbers assessing the authority of a web page or a quality of a particular backlink comes from Google.

Do you need a more convincing argument?

It should be clear to any business owner at this point: You cannot achieve success with one of the marketing channels by 100% relying on a third-party source.

Yet, good link building data exists

In fact, when we say don’t trust numbers when it comes to link building or analysis, we mean “no one source”.

Solid link building data exists and not using it means missing valuable growth opportunities.

The smartest link building approach is about learning to combine multiple data sources and learning to identify patterns (to embrace or avoid).

There are multiple backlink research sources including link-only ones (Majesting and Link Assistant) and multi-feature platforms (SEMrush and Ahrefs). There are also newer platforms that are entering the industry that are worth looking at. Serpstat is the most recent example that claims to include one trillion backlinks for 160 million domains:

This is how different two backlink databases can be: 50% on average.

Source: Serpstat

At Internet Marketing Ninjas, for every backlink we acquire, we pull a crazy amount of data, including:

  • Number of domains referencing a linking page (based on all of these: Ahrefs, SEMrush, Majestic, and Moz)
  • Number of links from Wikipedia pointing to that domain
  • Stats on the author assigned to the linking page (number of pages they authored, number of quotations from all over the web, and more)
  • Number of .gov and .edu links pointing to the linking page
  • How many other links that page has

Again, none of those stats is useful on its own but when looking at all of those numbers, you can be pretty confident of the value of that link.

To help you create your own data-driven link building decisions, here are a few helpful tools and resources:

  • Use multiple tools. I know it may be costly but some free or freemium alternatives may help. Many of these plugins, for example, are free and lots of them include the link analysis component.
  • It’s time we rethink how we measure influencers for SEO.

Conclusion

Backlink analysis is the most misunderstood task in our industry. You will see absolute extremes floating around: From experts solely relying on Mox DA to those denying the value of any number whatsoever.

Yet, the task cannot be successfully accomplished without accumulating and assessing data, so the answer is in embracing a holistic approach, that is, using a lot of data sources and making your decisions based on all of them.

Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on twitter @seosmarty.

The post The data-driven approach to making backlink analysis decisions appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 11 months ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

COVID-19 has altered paid search: How marketers can adjust strategies

30-second summary:

  • Since shelter-in-place rules were enacted, the way people use the internet has changed. They’re consuming more media and increasing web research and browsing. 
  • Paid search strategy is not one-size-fits-all. Each vertical must be treated differently, as some industries like ecommerce have seen improved performance while others have seen a declined performance. 
  • A pandemic is not the time to cut ad budget. Instead, investing in advertising now should pay dividends when the market normalizes. 
  • Ensure your ad copy is appropriate for the landscape. That means even going back to a campaign that started before the pandemic to update any language that isn’t applicable to the current landscape. 
  • Marketers must stay flexible and agile during this time and monitor what’s working or not working and creating a quick plan to adjust. 

When COVID-19 began spreading across the U.S., marketers scrambled to figure out how to respond. Sudden work-from-home mandates, cancelled business trips, postponed conferences and frozen budgets threw a wrench into usual expectations and plans. Users’ needs and online behaviours have changed in tandem, forcing marketers to meet them on their new terms.  

Search is more important than ever now because people are spending almost all of their time at home and online, consuming media, researching, browsing and shopping. According to Forbes, total internet hits have surged by 50% to 70% with people under lockdown, while 32% of people say they are spending longer on social media. Hours spent in non-gaming apps are up as people turn to TikTok, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter to keep entertained, connected and informed. To stay relevant in these turbulent times, it’s imperative that marketers maintain their paid search presence while adjusting to the needs of the moment.  

Vary strategy by vertical 

While no industry is immune from the impact of coronavirus, businesses are affected differently and should adapt their paid search strategies accordingly. Industries like B2B and ecommerce have seen improved performance, while industries like travel and healthcare have struggled with poor results.  

The fact that healthcare is struggling may seem paradoxical, given the overwhelming need for healthcare services right now. While hospitals are busy with COVID-19 patients, people who don’t have the virus are avoiding medical centres, hospitals, and non-essential medical services like bariatric surgery and physical therapy.

Users are shifting their searches for their healthcare needs. Notably, people under shelter-in-place orders are seeking to receive care while staying in their homes. eMarketer published data from CivicScience which found that between February and March 2020, the number of U.S. adults who reported intent to use telemedicine rose from 18% to 30%. As a result, healthcare providers have to switch their offerings – along with their messaging – to emphasize virtual and telehealth services. The same is true for many restaurants as they pivot to pick up or delivery only.  

The situation is different for B2B companies

The situation is different for B2B companies, which have longer sales cycles. While businesses like restaurants are worried about running out of money now, B2B companies are concerned about how they’ll fare months and, in some cases, years from now. The instinct may be to cut down on marketing budgets to save money, but extreme changes in paid search strategies can have long-lasting effects on performance. During this time, it’s important B2B companies continue filling the funnel and building brand awareness to alleviate large sales gaps that can occur later in the year.  

Financial service-related searches are surging

Financial service-related searches are surging right now as people explore their options for economic relief like loans. Many companies in this space are smartly increasing their ad spending and shifting the bulk of it toward campaigns that push their best performing service lines. The same is true for ecommerce companies, especially those that sell household products and cleaning supplies, loungewear, cooking equipment, workout gear and entertainment items like board games and puzzles. Shares of Hasbro, for instance, have soared. For these companies, the adjustment is less about the offerings and more about the messaging.  

Don’t stop advertising when times are tough 

There are universal principles for how to optimize paid search strategies that apply to marketers in every industry. The first is not to neglect paid search, even during difficult times. The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) recently ran a survey which found 81% of large advertisers deferred planned ad campaigns and cutting budgets due to the coronavirus pandemic. Of those surveyed, 57% said they had decreased budgets greatly or somewhat due to the virus outbreak; however, cutting out advertising or marketing completely can make the road to recovery more challenging.  

Experts advise not to stop advertising during a downturn. Evidence from recent economic downturns like the 2008 housing crash show that companies come out stronger in the end if they continue investing in brand awareness. According to Google, “Even in categories where consumers have pulled back spending right now, creating a branding impact now will have a halo and pay dividends when the market normalizes. Research and historical examples of economic downturn have shown this to work.” It’s important to keep investing in your brand and branded keywords, regardless of industry. The last thing an organization wants is competitors monetizing on branded search results.  

Every cent counts these days. Not only is paid search cost-effective with a low barrier to entry, but it also enables companies to be extremely agile. A company can get a campaign up and running pretty quickly, run tests, collect data and easily alter the messaging as things change day-to-day. Marketers can also see the results of engagement, click-through rates and conversions in real time, so they know whether their investment is paying off. COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation, so testing and learning are critical during this volatile time in the market.  

Best practices for paid search 

For any marketer thinking about how to adjust during COVID-19, here are a few best practices for how to optimize paid search.

1. Pivot messaging

Messaging needs to be both accurate and appropriate for the current landscape. Confirm that messaging is updated with current business hours and offerings, and revise CTAs away from messages like “Visit in-store.”  

2. Keep an eye on the tone of messaging

Is your copy appropriate or empathetic? An ad for booking a vacation package could feel out-of-touch. Customers will be turned off by companies that seem like they are trying to profit or gain from the pandemic, so craft communication to focus more on brand identity and values. Businesses can also use marketing to let customers know how they are responding to the pandemic. A construction firm or ecommerce company could talk about safety practices for workers, for example.   

3. Adapt offerings to what your customers need

As mentioned above, healthcare companies are moving to telehealth, restaurants are moving to pick up, delivery and B2B companies are repurposing content planned for conferences into virtual webinars. Marketers should be connecting with customers virtually to let them know how you are supporting them.  

4. Adapt your strategy to your customers’ changing digital behaviour

During the quarantine, desktop usage has increased. Conversely, the rise of remote work conditions and people being less on-the-go has caused mobile search traffic to decline by nearly 25%. We’ve all become accustomed to a mobile-first world, but given the predominance of desktop, it’s especially important to ensure all search ads and landing pages are optimized for both mobile and desktop.

Move fast 

This pandemic has caused so much of what used to be normal out of the window. Whereas before, marketers might have used a multiphase process for developing campaigns that involved planning and back-and-forth and feedback, now they have to act fast to keep up with the rapidly changing world. Marketers need to craft campaigns that are affordable, cost-effective and agile – and that means paid search.  

As marketing and advertising professionals, we’re all trying to figure this out together as we go. There is no roadmap or rules, but there’s no doubt that staying flexible and using this time to connect with customers is a smart strategy.

 Brianna Desmet is Media specialist at digital and demand gen agency, R2i.

The post COVID-19 has altered paid search: How marketers can adjust strategies appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 11 months ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

3 Common Reasons Your Emails Land in the Spam Folder

No one wants their emails to wind up in the spam folder. 

But did you know some of the most common reasons emails go to spam are also the most preventable? 

AWeber’s CEO and Founder Tom Kulzer joined The Hustle & Flowchart podcast to share his top tips for entrepreneurs — including how to dodge the spam folder and improve your email deliverability. 

Here are his top 3 tips:

1. Encourage interaction and engagement. 

Have human conversations over email. Start a conversation with your subscribers by encouraging them to reply with their thoughts about a question or with feedback.

“Have a genuine reason for your audience to reply to your email. And make sure that if they do reply, you don’t send a canned response. Engage with people — they’re people,” said Kulzer.  

Plus, Kulzer cautions that lack of engagement over time can indicate to internet service providers — like Yahoo!, Gmail, or Outlook — that your audience isn’t interested in your content.  

“While you might have your audience’s permission to email them, they may not have opened a message from you in a while. The longer your contacts go without engaging with your emails, the more likely it is to have an impact on whether internet service providers deliver your messages to the spam folder.” 

Running a re-engagement campaign will let you get a sense of who is truly interested in keeping in touch — and who’s not. Look at your stats, and clear your list if they’re truly not active subscribers. 

Related: Winning back subscribers with re-engagement emails

2. Never use link shorteners. 

There’s no reason to use link shortener services in emails.  

Tom explains, “Many people use link shorteners to make the link look cleaner in an email. But if you have a visible URL in your emails — shortened or not — email service providers are going to rewrite the link behind the scenes so that the sender can track click through rates. 

This rewritten link and the redirect can be a sign that the message is fraudulent and is more likely to be sent to spam.”

An easy fix? Link words in your email, rather than including the full link address or using link shorteners. Use language such as ‘click here to contact customer support,’ or ‘read more here.’ Not only will it help you avoid the spam folder, it will look better, too.

3. Set expectations before people subscribe. 

On your email sign up form, tell people exactly what they’ll receive as subscribers before they join your list.

“One of the most common reasons emails land in the spam folder happens before you even press send,” said Kulzer. “On your sign up form, explain how often your subscribers are going to hear from you, what they’re going to get, and what they’ll receive after delivering the lead magnet you promised in your form.”

By setting expectations with your audience up front, they’ll be less likely to mark you as spam because they know exactly what to expect. 

Want to learn more about avoiding the spam folder — and how your email service provider impacts deliverability? Kulzer dives deep into the topic of email deliverability — and provides some technical insight — on the Hustle & Flowchart Podcast below. 

How to Ensure Your Mailing List Sees Your Emails

Or, find it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. 

Have questions? Our team is available 24/7.

Reach out to us at [email protected] for email deliverability assistance. 

The post 3 Common Reasons Your Emails Land in the Spam Folder appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.



Reblogged 11 months ago from blog.aweber.com