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FLoC is coming — Here’s what we know so far

Google has positioned its third-party cookie replacement squarely between advertisers and users, and both sides are worried.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from

Google Florida 2.0 Algorithm Update: Early Observations

It has been a while since Google has had a major algorithm update.

They recently announced one which began on the 12th of March.

What changed?

It appears multiple things did.

When Google rolled out the original version of Penguin on April 24, 2012 (primarily focused on link spam) they also rolled out an update to an on-page spam classifier for misdirection.

And, over time, it was quite common for Panda & Penguin updates to be sandwiched together.

If you were Google & had the ability to look under the hood to see why things changed, you would probably want to obfuscate any major update by changing multiple things at once to make reverse engineering the change much harder.

Anyone who operates a single website (& lacks the ability to look under the hood) will have almost no clue about what changed or how to adjust with the algorithms.

In the most recent algorithm update some sites which were penalized in prior “quality” updates have recovered.

Though many of those recoveries are only partial.

Many SEO blogs will publish articles about how they cracked the code on the latest update by publishing charts like the first one without publishing that second chart showing the broader context.

The first penalty any website receives might be the first of a series of penalties.

If Google smokes your site & it does not cause a PR incident & nobody really cares that you are gone, then there is a very good chance things will go from bad to worse to worser to worsterest, technically speaking.

“In this age, in this country, public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed. Whoever molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial decisions.” – Abraham Lincoln

Absent effort & investment to evolve FASTER than the broader web, sites which are hit with one penalty will often further accumulate other penalties. It is like compound interest working in reverse – a pile of algorithmic debt which must be dug out of before the bleeding stops.

Further, many recoveries may be nothing more than a fleeting invitation to false hope. To pour more resources into a site that is struggling in an apparent death loop.

The above site which had its first positive algorithmic response in a couple years achieved that in part by heavily de-monetizing. After the algorithm updates already demonetized the website over 90%, what harm was there in removing 90% of what remained to see how it would react? So now it will get more traffic (at least for a while) but then what exactly is the traffic worth to a site that has no revenue engine tied to it?

That is ultimately the hard part. Obtaining a stable stream of traffic while monetizing at a decent yield, without the monetizing efforts leading to the traffic disappearing.

A buddy who owns the above site was working on link cleanup & content improvement on & off for about a half year with no results. Each month was a little worse than the prior month. It was only after I told him to remove the aggressive ads a few months back that he likely had any chance of seeing any sort of traffic recovery. Now he at least has a pulse of traffic & can look into lighter touch means of monetization.

If a site is consistently penalized then the problem might not be an algorithmic false positive, but rather the business model of the site.

The more something looks like eHow the more fickle Google’s algorithmic with receive it.

Google does not like websites that sit at the end of the value chain & extract profits without having to bear far greater risk & expense earlier into the cycle.

Thin rewrites, largely speaking, don’t add value to the ecosystem. Doorway pages don’t either. And something that was propped up by a bunch of keyword-rich low-quality links is (in most cases) probably genuinely lacking in some other aspect.

Generally speaking, Google would like themselves to be the entity at the end of the value chain extracting excess profits from markets.

This is the purpose of the knowledge graph & featured snippets. To allow the results to answer the most basic queries without third party publishers getting anything. The knowledge graph serve as a floating vertical that eat an increasing share of the value chain & force publishers to move higher up the funnel & publish more differentiated content.

As Google adds features to the search results (flight price trends, a hotel booking service on the day AirBNB announced they acquired HotelTonight, ecommerce product purchase on Google, shoppable image ads just ahead of the Pinterest IPO, etc.) it forces other players in the value chain to consolidate (Expedia owns Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire & a bunch of other sites) or add greater value to remain a differentiated & sought after destination (travel review site TripAdvisor was crushed by the shift to mobile & the inability to monetize mobile traffic, so they eventually had to shift away from being exclusively a reviews site to offer event & hotel booking features to remain relevant).

It is never easy changing a successful & profitable business model, but it is even harder to intentionally reduce revenues further or spend aggressively to improve quality AFTER income has fallen 50% or more.

Some people do the opposite & make up for a revenue shortfall by publishing more lower end content at an ever faster rate and/or increasing ad load. Either of which typically makes their user engagement metrics worse while making their site less differentiated & more likely to receive additional bonus penalties to drive traffic even lower.

In some ways I think the ability for a site to survive & remain though a penalty is itself a quality signal for Google.

Some sites which are overly reliant on search & have no external sources of traffic are ultimately sites which tried to behave too similarly to the monopoly that ultimately displaced them. And over time the tech monopolies are growing more powerful as the ecosystem around them burns down:

If you had to choose a date for when the internet died, it would be in the year 2014. Before then, traffic to websites came from many sources, and the web was a lively ecosystem. But beginning in 2014, more than half of all traffic began coming from just two sources: Facebook and Google. Today, over 70 percent of traffic is dominated by those two platforms.

Businesses which have sustainable profit margins & slack (in terms of management time & resources to deploy) can better cope with algorithmic changes & change with the market.

Over the past half decade or so there have been multiple changes that drastically shifted the online publishing landscape:

  • the shift to mobile, which both offers publishers lower ad yields while making the central ad networks more ad heavy in a way that reduces traffic to third party sites
  • the rise of the knowledge graph & featured snippets which often mean publishers remain uncompensated for their work
  • higher ad loads which also lower organic reach (on both search & social channels)
  • the rise of programmatic advertising, which further gutted display ad CPMs
  • the rise of ad blockers
  • increasing algorithmic uncertainty & a higher barrier to entry

Each one of the above could take a double digit percent out of a site’s revenues, particularly if a site was reliant on display ads. Add them together and a website which was not even algorithmically penalized could still see a 60%+ decline in revenues. Mix in a penalty and that decline can chop a zero or two off the total revenues.

Businesses with lower margins can try to offset declines with increased ad spending, but that only works if you are not in a market with 2 & 20 VC fueled competition:

Startups spend almost 40 cents of every VC dollar on Google, Facebook, and Amazon. We don’t necessarily know which channels they will choose or the particularities of how they will spend money on user acquisition, but we do know more or less what’s going to happen. Advertising spend in tech has become an arms race: fresh tactics go stale in months, and customer acquisition costs keep rising. In a world where only one company thinks this way, or where one business is executing at a level above everyone else – like Facebook in its time – this tactic is extremely effective. However, when everyone is acting this way, the industry collectively becomes an accelerating treadmill. Ad impressions and click-throughs get bid up to outrageous prices by startups flush with venture money, and prospective users demand more and more subsidized products to gain their initial attention. The dynamics we’ve entered is, in many ways, creating a dangerous, high stakes Ponzi scheme.

And sometimes the platform claws back a second or third bite of the apple. charges merchants for fulfillment, warehousing, transaction based fees, etc. And they’ve pushed hard into launching hundreds of private label brands which pollute the interface & force brands to buy ads even on their own branded keyword terms.

They’ve recently jumped the shark by adding a bonus feature where even when a brand paid Amazon to send traffic to their listing, Amazon would insert a spam popover offering a cheaper private label branded product: tested a pop-up feature on its app that in some instances pitched its private-label goods on rivals’ product pages, an experiment that shows the e-commerce giant’s aggressiveness in hawking lower-priced products including its own house brands. The recent experiment, conducted in Amazon’s mobile app, went a step further than the display ads that commonly appear within search results and product pages. This test pushed pop-up windows that took over much of a product page, forcing customers to either click through to the lower-cost Amazon products or dismiss them before continuing to shop. … When a customer using Amazon’s mobile app searched for “AAA batteries,” for example, the first link was a sponsored listing from Energizer Holdings Inc. After clicking on the listing, a pop-up window appeared, offering less expensive AmazonBasics AAA batteries.”

Buying those Amazon ads was quite literally subsidizing a direct competitor pushing you into irrelevance.

And while Amazon is destroying brand equity, AWS is doing investor relations matchmaking for startups. Anything to keep the current bubble going ahead of the Uber IPO that will likely mark the top in the stock market.

As the market caps of big tech companies climb they need to be more predatious to grow into the valuations & retain employees with stock options at an ever-increasing strike price.

They’ve created bubbles in their own backyards where each raise requires another. Teachers either drive hours to work or live in houses subsidized by loans from the tech monopolies that get a piece of the upside (provided they can keep their own bubbles inflated).

“It is an uncommon arrangement — employer as landlord — that is starting to catch on elsewhere as school employees say they cannot afford to live comfortably in regions awash in tech dollars. … Holly Gonzalez, 34, a kindergarten teacher in East San Jose, and her husband, Daniel, a school district I.T. specialist, were able to buy a three-bedroom apartment for $610,000 this summer with help from their parents and from Landed. When they sell the home, they will owe Landed 25 percent of any gain in its value. The company is financed partly by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Mark Zuckerberg’s charitable arm.”

The above sort of dynamics have some claiming peak California:

The cycle further benefits from the Alchian-Allen effect: agglomerating industries have higher productivity, which raises the cost of living and prices out other industries, raising concentration over time. … Since startups raise the variance within whatever industry they’re started in, the natural constituency for them is someone who doesn’t have capital deployed in the industry. If you’re an asset owner, you want low volatility. … Historically, startups have created a constant supply of volatility for tech companies; the next generation is always cannibalizing the previous one. So chip companies in the 1970s created the PC companies of the 80s, but PC companies sourced cheaper and cheaper chips, commoditizing the product until Intel managed to fight back. Meanwhile, the OS turned PCs into a commodity, then search engines and social media turned the OS into a commodity, and presumably this process will continue indefinitely. … As long as higher rents raise the cost of starting a pre-revenue company, fewer people will join them, so more people will join established companies, where they’ll earn market salaries and continue to push up rents. And one of the things they’ll do there is optimize ad loads, which places another tax on startups. More dangerously, this is an incremental tax on growth rather than a fixed tax on headcount, so it puts pressure on out-year valuations, not just upfront cash flow.

If you live hundreds of miles away the tech companies may have no impact on your rental or purchase price, but you can’t really control the algorithms or the ecosystem.

All you can really control is your mindset & ensuring you have optionality baked into your business model.

  • If you are debt-levered you have little to no optionality. Savings give you optionality. Savings allow you to run at a loss for a period of time while also investing in improving your site and perhaps having a few other sites in other markets.
  • If you operate a single website that is heavily reliant on a third party for distribution then you have little to no optionality. If you have multiple projects that enables you to shift your attention toward working on whatever is going up and to the right while letting anything that is failing pass time without becoming overly reliant on something you can’t change. This is why it often makes sense for a brand merchant to operate their own ecommerce website even if 90% of their sales come from Amazon. It gives you optionality should the tech monopoly become abusive or otherwise harm you (even if the intent was benign rather than outright misanthropic).

As the update ensues Google will collect more data with how users interact with the result set & determine how to weight different signals, along with re-scoring sites that recovered based on the new engagement data.

Recently a Bing engineer named Frédéric Dubut described how they score relevancy signals used in updates

As early as 2005, we used neural networks to power our search engine and you can still find rare pictures of Satya Nadella, VP of Search and Advertising at the time, showcasing our web ranking advances. … The “training” process of a machine learning model is generally iterative (and all automated). At each step, the model is tweaking the weight of each feature in the direction where it expects to decrease the error the most. After each step, the algorithm remeasures the rating of all the SERPs (based on the known URL/query pair ratings) to evaluate how it’s doing. Rinse and repeat.

That same process is ongoing with Google now & in the coming weeks there’ll be the next phase of the current update.

So far it looks like some quality-based re-scoring was done & some sites which were overly reliant on anchor text got clipped. On the back end of the update there’ll be another quality-based re-scoring, but the sites that were hit for excessive manipulation of anchor text via link building efforts will likely remain penalized for a good chunk of time.

Update: It appears a major reverberation of this update occurred on April 7th. From early analysis, Google is mixing in showing results for related midtail concepts on a core industry search term & they are also in some cases pushing more aggressively on doing internal site-level searches to rank a more relevant internal page for a query where they homepage might have ranked in the past.


Reblogged 1 year ago from

11 Social Media Calendars, Tools, & Templates to Plan Your Content

What do cross-country road trips, wedding speeches, and social media marketing have in common? Planning.

You could improvise all three, but it’s better to have a plan for what direction you’re heading — especially when developing your social media content strategy.

By now, most marketers recognize that social media plays an integral role in an effective inbound marketing strategy. And with so many social networks to manage and publish on, it’s important to stay organized and have a plan for when and what you’re going to share on these platforms.

The Benefits of Using a Social Media Content Calendar

We’re all busy. And when we’re busy without a plan in place for the tasks we have to get done, things inevitably slip through the cracks. Social media content is no exception.

Just like with blogging, a successful social media strategy requires regular publishing and engaging with followers to see positive results — whether that be in terms of SEO, brand recognition, lead generation, or all three.

So, if you’re not already using a social media content calendar, hear me out:

  1. Calendars help you get organized to avoid the dreaded scramble when things come up. With a social media calendar, marketers can plan out posts for entire weeks or months in advance, which frees up working hours to strategize for the future — and to dash off any posts about breaking news in your industry. Otherwise, you’ll spend valuable time each day searching the internet for that day’s content to share, which is a known productivity killer.
  2. A calendar helps you plan for each social network to customize posts instead of spamming all platforms with the same message. Social media marketers should take the time to craft custom messages for each network, and doing this in advance will save time throughout the week and ensure you’re being thoughtful and intentional when you do post.
  3. Calendars can help you track performance and plan for future posts. Without a calendar, social media marketers are publishing content into the void and are unable to track big-picture and past performance. With a calendar, marketers can look back and analyze which content performed best so they can adjust their strategy accordingly.
  4. With the help of a calendar, marketers can plan for holidays and observance days, such as National Cat Day, when they can tailor their content and engage with a wider audience.

Now that you understand the merits of having a social media content calendar in place, check out our list of top tools to stay organized and on top of your game.

Social Media Content Calendar Tools to Plan Your Messaging

1. HubSpot’s Downloadable Template for Excel

Content Calendar

Social media calendar ideas organized on an Excel spreadsheet

Download This Template

Marketers might already use Excel for different types of reports and data analysis in their roles, but it’s a highly useful tool for social media content calendar organization, too. Excel can be customized according to whatever priorities or metrics a team is focused on, so it’s a great tool for planning ahead.

The good news? We’ve already done the heavy lifting for you by creating a free, downloadable social media content calendar template using Microsoft Excel. Marketers can use this template to easily plan out individual social media posts — monthly or annually — while keeping an eye on bigger picture events, holidays, publications, and partnerships.

  • Use the Monthly Planning Calendar Tab above to get a bird’s-eye view of what’s coming down their content pipeline in a given month.
  • In the Content Repository tab, users can record the content they’re publishing on this tab to keep track of which pieces have been promoted and to easily recall older content that can be re-promoted on social media.
  • On the Social Network Update tabs, users can draft and plan out social media posts in advance. These tabs are for organizational purposes, and the content of the posts themselves must be uploaded into a social media publisher.

For more on how to use the templates, check out this in-depth guide from my colleague Lindsay Kolowich.

This free resource can be used to draft social media posts, or it can be bulk-uploaded into a publishing app to maximize efficiency. (HubSpot customers: You can use this spreadsheet to organize content and upload it directly into Social Inbox. For instructions on how to do so, check out the template’s cover sheet here.)

2. Google Drive

Content Calendar and Asset Organization

Google Drive has several helpful features that make it easy for social media marketers to build out an effective content calendar.

Here’s an example of how a team might use Google Calendar to track both their editorial and social media calendars to make sure they’re aligning posts with new blog content. These calendars can be easily shared with multiple teams to avoid scheduling conflicts and ensure that campaigns are aligned.

Social media calendar organized on Google Calendar

Marketers can also use shared Google Sheets to schedule posts on social media, track the status of different pieces of content, and assign tasks to team members — all on the same platform as their calendar.

Social media calendar ideas listed on Google Sheets

With the help of Google Docs, users can keep comments all in one place and can collaborate on different projects without emailing back-and-forth or having to schedule a meeting. This is a particularly useful feature when editing content for social media, which may need to be drafted and approved quickly.

Google Docs document with projects listed and comments on those projects

(HubSpot customers: You can link your Google Drive account to your HubSpot portal to easily upload files from Drive into your HubSpot software.)

3. Loomly

Content Planning, Creation, Publishing, and Calendar

loomly social media calendar feature

Image Source

If you want more mileage out of a content calendar than publishing dates, you can turn to an all-in-one content planning and publishing platform such as Loomly.

Loomly offers tools beyond the management of content, going even so far as to provide post inspiration and ideas to help you create content. It also allows you to manage your content assets, schedule posts, manage them in both a list view and a calendar view, and analyze what’s working.

Their most robust feature set, though, includes a collaboration and approval environment so that teams can submit mockups, provide comments, see version logs, and flag for approval. This can help you streamline for efficiency when it may otherwise seem as though there are “too many cooks in the kitchen” on a particular project.

4. Trello

Task Management and Content Calendar

Social media calendar ideas organized on a Trello calendar

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Trello is another organizational tool that’s highly effective for team collaboration. Trello also offers a full calendar view (shown above) which makes it easy to visualize what content is going out, and when. More specifically, social media managers can use Trello’s flexible assignment “cards” and customizable “boards” and “lists” to map out to-do lists, manage a content calendar, plan a campaign, and house ideas from a brainstorm.

But you’re not limited to just one structure: Users can customize boards according to their needs. For example, a team could create a board to organize social media posts for a given week, on a specific platform, or post ideas around a topic, such as a campaign or awareness day.

Trello cards allow for a ton of customization as well. You can track progress toward completing a checklist, which could be useful for social media marketers looking to track campaign progress.

Additionally, Trello cards can be assigned to different team members, marked with due dates, and commented on. Users can even customize labels with different publication statuses so the entire team can see the progress of their social media posts and when they’re due on the calendar. The labels could also indicate different social networks that content is being published on.

5. SproutSocial

Social Publishing and Content Calendar

social publishing and content calendar using sprout social

Sprout Social’s social media calendar and publishing tool makes it easy for teams or individuals to plan and schedule all of their social posts. You can schedule content to automatically post to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more.

You can also tag each social post and add notes to better track and report on your posting strategy and campaigns. Additionally, their publishing suite includes a tool called Optimal Send Times which analyzes your social media data and automatically publishes at a time your audience is most engaged.

6. Evernote

Content Calendar, Task Management, and Asset Organization

Social media content calendar on Evernote

Evernote is a note-taking app that marketers can use to keep track of all the moving parts that comprise a social media campaign.

The tool also features yearly, monthly, weekly, and hourly logs, which make it easy to keep track of when you’re publishing content on social media, when you’re producing blog content, and other team-wide priorities. (Evernote offers customizable templates for each of these that can be downloaded into the app.)

Another useful feature? Evernote’s Web Clipper extension for Chrome. Marketers can use this tool to easily save links to their Evernote Notebook for sharing later on.

The Evernote mobile app also boasts some interesting features to help marketers keep their social content ideas straight. For example, you can easily snap a photo and save it to your Evernote files for review later.

This feature is of particular valuable for social content creators looking to maintain a backlog of photos to publish on Instagram.

7. Hootsuite

Social Publishing and Content Calendar

hootsuite social publishing calendar features

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Hootsuite offers a built-in Planner tool to help you create campaigns, identify publishing gaps, and collaborate with your content creation team. Its primary features are in social publishing so that you can release content to your networks in advance, but it also has rich features for collaboration and post approvals. You can even curate content from other sources without logging into your account. Once your content is created, you can preview it with the Composer tool, which displays according to each social network’s unique format.

8. Agorapulse

Social Publishing and Content Calendar

agorapulse social publishing calendar feature

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Similar to Hootsuite, Agorapulse offers social publishing tools and a content calendar so that you can manage your social media accounts with ease. This includes scheduling (or rescheduling), queuing, and bulk uploading posts, which is incredibly helpful for those who do quarterly or monthly content plans. What makes Agorapulse different, though, is its social inbox that allows you to manage all the interactions from various platforms in a single place. After all, content isn’t just a one-and-done activity; it’s about building awareness and engagement with your readers as well.

9. StoryChief

Content Planning and Distribution

storychief smart calendar feature

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If you want more from your content calendar than simply knowing when posts go live, StoryChief is a good option. With StoryChief’s smart calendar, you can better strategize and plan your content strategy across channels. It not only displays your timetable; it also allows you to assign collaborators to tasks and filter by campaign. StoryChief self-describes their tool as a “content distribution platform” that unifies analytics and publishing across multiple channels for a more simplified approach to content creation. Best of all, it syncs with your favorite calendar apps as well as HubSpot.

10. ClearVoice

Content Creation and Management

clearvoice editorial calendar

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So what about content planning and creation? ClearVoice offers content creation tools to fit into your workflow. While their big claim to fame is their Talent Network Search which allows you to find and connect to content creators to work on your projects, ClearVoice also has features for task management for internal and external collaborators. You can create, edit, and approve projects in an interface that makes editorial management easy. They also have a dashboard and dynamic editorial calendar with plenty of interactive functionality, and there’s integrations with other popular software.

11. Zerys

Content Creation and Management

zerys content calendar feature

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Zerys is another platform that matches you with your ideal content creation freelancers. However, it markets itself as a platform dedicated to content success, offering features for content planning, production, publishing, promotion, conversion, and analytics. You can manage unlimited content projects, plan keywords and titles for blog content, hire writers, and view all deadlines on an integrated calendar. Your in-house writers can use the platform, too, with the project management features that Zerys offers. It also integrates with HubSpot so that publishing is a breeze.

Social Media Templates

HubSpot’s Social Media Calendar Template

If you’re new to setting up social media calendars, HubSpot offers a pre-made, free, and downloadable template that you can use to schedule out full weeks of posts. 

HubSpot's Free Social Media Calendar Template

HubSpot’s Social Media Content Calendar Template for Startups

This template is very similar to the one seen above but also has tabs that work as a repository for content ideas. The template also includes helpful tips for posting on specific social media networks. 

Social media idea repository tab on Social Media Calendar template from HubSpot

If you’re aiming to get all of your ideas down in order to develop a big-picture plan for your social assets, we recommend starting with this template. 

Getting Started on Your Social Media Schedule

Now that we’ve reviewed a few helpful tools to kick your social media strategy into high gear, experiment with them. Every social media team is different, and it could be a combination of these tools that helps you execute your strategy efficiently to drive ROI. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

social media content calendar

Reblogged 1 year ago from

How to do ASO in 2021: App Store Optimization Tips

Wondering how to do app store optimization in 2021? We’ve put together the top 7 ASO tips & tricks that will help you enhance your organic growth strategy.


Reblogged 1 year ago from

Five ways to innovate your ecommerce sales funnel

30-second summary:

  • Pandemic-driven lockdowns have driven a lot of businesses online pushing the competition and increasing demand for more conversion optimization solutions
  • One of the most effective ways to increase your sales is to revamp your cross-selling tactics
  • To get more people down the sales funnel, you need to include off-site activities into consideration, that is, when your customer interrupts their buying process and how to return them to your site
  • To better understand (and meet) your customer journey, use semantic research of your target search query
  • Finally, keep analyzing your site’s sales funnel using Google Analytics

As more and more small businesses are going through digital transformation, there’s an emerging demand for new ways to attract and engage customers.

As online shopping is becoming a norm, both the competition and customers’ expectations are quickly growing.

How to create a more effective ecommerce sales funnel? Here are few fresh ideas:

1. Revamp your product recommendations

Cross-selling (that is, showing related products on all stages of the sales funnel) is one the most important – yet often neglected – components of the sales funnel. 

Did you know that cross-selling accounts for more than a third of Amazon’s revenue? Based on the public company’s data, 35 percent of what people buy on Amazon comes from product recommendations based on AI-driven algorithms.

No wonder Amazon is using cross-selling all over the site – from product pages…

All of these cross-selling blocks are included on a single product page.

Source: Amazon

…to checkout pages using different methods to match a customer to better products:

Ecommerce sales funnel optimization tips - Revamp product descriptionsSource: PayKickstart

Cross-selling comes in many forms, including:

  • Personalized upsells: These usually show up on product pages to urge the customer to buy something they didn’t initially intend. These can be driven by the customer’s prior buying habits or the buying habits of other customers who have bought the current product
  • Product bumps: Showing matching products right on the checkout page
  • Email-driven upsells: Automated emails sent immediately after you pay encouraging you to buy more to add to the same delivery

Ecommerce sales funnel optimization tips - Email upsellingSource: Screenshot by author, March 2021

While cross-selling is a great way to increase your average order value, it’s getting harder and harder to convince customers to fall for it. To innovate your cross-selling strategy, you may try to:

  • Personalize your product recommendations
  • Try new formats (for example, testimonials, Instagram carousels, stories)

Dialogue AI is an ecommerce solution that implements both of the above by showing product recommendations based on individual browsing data as well as turns them into captivating stories.

Ecommerce sales funnel optimization tips - Using search intent and AI to recommend productsSource: Dialogue AI

Dialogue combines cross-selling with AI-powered personalization and story-telling. It is also a fully-scaled solution that requires minimum work. The platform keeps you informed on key marketing metrics through a handy dashboard:

DashboardSource: Screenshot by author, March 2021

2. Make your customer support part of the sales funnel

The ideal buyer’s journey looks like this: They land on a product page, add it to a shopping cart, submit their payment details and wait for the product to arrive.

Obviously, it doesn’t always look like that. Customers’ journeys are often interrupted, and in many cases, they are interrupted by customers themselves who get distracted or come up with questions they need answers to before completing the purchase.

The truth is, no matter how well you set up your knowledge base, many people will still want to contact your customer support team before buying. This is where lots of buying journeys may be interrupted unless you set things up properly.

Set up email follow-ups

Any customer interactions should be recorded and there always need to be personalized follow-up based on the customer’s action (i.e. whether they ended up completing the purchase or not).

Depending on your current CMS platform, you may already have access to email automation that would allow personalized follow-ups.

Ecommerce sales funnel optimization tips - Set up follow up mails

Screenshot Source: Sleeknote

Brand your customer support team’s emails

This is something that is actually missing in the screenshot above. It is important to both personalize and brand your email follow-ups to gradually grow brand recognizability and ultimately generate more repeat sales.

Remember – Your emails mean to bring your customer back to your site. It needs to revive the interrupted buying journey, so links to your site are essential. At the bare minimum, add a clickable logo and a detailed email signature prompting your customer to take an action.

3. Mind your brand-driven search query

What is it that tends to interrupt your buyers’ journey? If it’s not reaching out to your customer support, it is usually:

  • Checking your product reviews
  • Looking for your coupon codes or special deals

To better understand your customers’ journeys outside of your site, research your branded keywords (i.e. those keywords that contain your or your product name). Google Suggest is a good place to start:

Ecommerce sales funnel optimization tips - Rank for branded search queriesSource: Screenshot from Google, of March 2021

These are all as-you-type search suggestions that may impact your customers’ journey. Make sure your pages and off-site assets rank #1 for all of these.

Start viewing all of these queries as part of your sales funnel. Do you have a landing page (or landing pages) that would do a good job getting people to continue their journey on your site? Or do you rely on third-party sites to do that?

The latter is not the wisest decision. 

Remember that these queries are often used in the middle of the funnel (right before your customer completes their purchase), so this should also be reflected in the copy.

3. Create search intent-driven copy

Whether your landing (i.e. product) page relies on organic traffic or not, using search intent to drive your copy creation is a good idea. Semantic-analysis-driven search intent analysis is the only method we have to predict customers’ expectations prior to being able to analyze the actual user on-site behavior.

Semantic analysis will help you understand your customers’ journeys better:

  • What is it they may be looking for and where may their research take them?
  • Which products may they also be interested in?
  • How to catch their attention better?

All of these questions can be answered by semantic research. Text Optimizer is the easiest tool to use here: It will grab Google’s search snippets returned for your target search query and return underlying concepts that will help you create a better-targeted copy or copies:

Semantic analysisSource: Screenshot from Text Optimizer

It is also a good way to rank your pages higher in Google, but that is beyond the scope of this article…

To this end, also don’t forget Google’s most recent recommendations on providing better information for shoppers.

5. Analyze your sales funnel

Finally, monitoring your sales funnel is a must, obviously. While conversion monitoring is not usually included in SEO metrics, most SEO analytics platforms can provide sales funnel analysis. As such, Google Analytics provides a comprehensive conversion tracking that includes sales funnel visualization.

  • To start, use this guide to set up conversion tracking in your Google Analytics
  • Then, proceed to Conversions -> Goals -> Funnel Visualizations to analyze your sales funnel:

Analyze your sales funnel to optimize your ecommerce salesSource: Screenshot from Google Analytics, March 2021

Google Analytics will show where your customers are heading instead of completing their buying journeys.

Don’t forget the basics!

Fundamentally, it all comes to providing a user experience that customers want to return to. That being said, the more happy customers, the better!

Source: DigitalEagles

So while working on your sales funnel, don’t overlook the basics: Keep an eye on your customers’ feedback, monitor your brand mentions, and always strive to optimize a better customer experience.


Innovation is an integral part of digital marketing. Global lockdowns have changed shopping behaviors dramatically and increased demand for digital transformation and innovation. Hopefully, the five steps above will help you make your ecommerce sales funnel more effective.

Ann Smarty is the Brand and Community manager at She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.

The post Five ways to innovate your ecommerce sales funnel appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 1 year ago from

How to Send an Apology Email

how to send an apology email

When your business makes a mistake, you need to act quickly. A sincere apology email can often help to fix the damage.

But the stakes are high. Use the wrong words in your apology email, and you might anger your audience.

To avoid disasters like this, we gathered 6 brilliant examples of companies saying “sorry.” Consider this the Hall of Fame of Apology Emails. Use them as a guide if you ever need to send a heartfelt — or even humorous — sorry.

When should you send an apology email?

Before sending an apology email, evaluate whether the situation calls for it.

Ask yourself two questions:

  • Would subscribers be inconvenienced or confused if I don’t send an apology?
  • Did I (or my business) offend or upset my audience by doing something wrong?

If you respond with a “yes” to either question, you should send an apology email.

Different mistakes require different responses. Here are examples of apology emails for some of the most common mistakes businesses make.

If you forget to carefully review and test your emails, you might end up sending an email with broken links or typos. It happens quite a bit. (Pro tip: Test your emails before you send them.)

If you did this, send an email to give people the correct information and to apologize for the mistake.

BuzzFeed sent a newsletter with the wrong link. They quickly sent an apology email with the right link and a lighthearted explanation.

Apology email due to a previous broken link

The wrong audience

Accidentally send an email to the wrong list or segment? Don’t panic, we’re all human.

That’s exactly what Uberflip admitted to in their apology email to subscribers who received information about a webinar they did not RSVP for.

uberflip apology email

Accidental email sends

If you hit send too early or deliver an email you never meant to send, keep calm and send an apology.

If the email you accidentally sent is funny (Let’s say it contains nothing but a cat.), you can even make your apology humorous, like Fab’s purrfect email below.

example of a follow up email due to an accidental email send

Missing information or details

Forgot to include important information or details in your email? Send a follow up email to correct your mistake.

Notice how Really Good Emails apologizes for sending another email in the same day and shares the information they forgot.

email following up apologizing for missing information

Tech issues

Technology doesn’t always work. If your website goes down or you’re dealing with another tech issue that affects your audience, email them to apologize and give an update on what’s happening.

Joanna Wiebe, founder of CopyHackers, sent an apology email after her webinar platform failed to work during her presentation on apology emails. (I think she jinxed herself.)

marketing email apologizing for technical issues

Wine Insiders also experienced technical difficulties on their website. As the email explains, the mistake wasn’t caught in a timely manner due to a company holiday, so they made up for it by extending a limited-time deep discount.

Wine Insiders apology email

Broken products or poor service

A bad experience with your company can destroy your relationship with a customer and lead to negative reviews of your product or service.

If a large group of customers have a bad experience because you delivered a poor product or service, the negative impact is magnified. But you can send an apology email to help alleviate the damage.

After delivering defective products to their customers, Passion Planner emailed their audience an apology and an offer for a full refund.

email apologizing for bad experience

Serious mistakes

If you’ve made a serious mistake, own it. No excuses. Apologize and explain how you’re addressing the issue so it doesn’t happen again.

Check out the apology email AirBnb sent for a serious mistake below.

airbnb with error in email

How to write an apology email subject line

Not sure what to write in your subject lines? Try one of these tips.

Be direct.

Explain exactly what happened and what you’re doing about it.

Example: Passion Planner

Subject line: Trouble with Eco? We Hear Your Concerns.

Mention your mistake.

Be clear about the mistake you made right in your subject line.

Example: Really Good Emails

Subject line: We forgot some stufferoo

Be human.

Everybody makes mistakes. As long as you haven’t made a serious one, use a human tone, like Buzzfeed, and maybe even add an emoji.

Example: BuzzFeed

Subject line: Let’s try this again…🙈

Make amends.

Apologize for your mistake with a gift. But be sure to hint at it in the subject line, or subscribers won’t know what they’re missing.

Example: Wine Insiders

Subject line: Oops! Our mistake – your reward!

Related:Your Guide to Writing the World’s Best Email Subject Lines

Own your mistakes.

It’s much better for your brand to apologize than to say nothing when a mistake happens. Plus, it’s the right thing to do.

Need help writing other emails? Download our free What to Write in Your Emails guide. It includes 45+ fill-in-the-blank email templates.

AWeber is an email marketing platform that’s enabled more than 1,000,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs create and send emails people love.

Ready to send beautiful emails your subscribers will love? Get started with AWeber Free today!

Additional reporting by Amanda Gagnon & Kelly Forst

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The post How to Send an Apology Email appeared first on AWeber.

Reblogged 1 year ago from

Research: The integration of SEO and PR

30-second summary:

  • Experts have told us for a few years that SEO and public relations (PR) need to merge
  • Are SEO and PR really integrating “in the wild”?
  • In case you too searched the web about how this and found nothing considerably valuable, here are some answers for you
  • Founder and CEO of Organic Growth, Kevin Carney surveyed 184 SEO and PR professionals across brands, agencies, and consultants
  • Dive in to discover more on the state of SEO and PR integrations in the industry

We’ve been hearing for a few years now that SEO and public relations (PR) need to merge. The primary reason given is that they have similar goals, as well as similar strategies and tactics. It is sometimes argued that some aspects of SEO are PR, in an age when publishing has become comparatively low-cost. So much so that anyone can become a publisher, and due to the advent of content marketing, brands now have to.

I searched the web for information about how this integration is going, or not. I found nothing I considered to be of value on this topic. So I decided to create this article after collecting information from SEO and PR professionals to get a clear picture of our industry.


I created a survey, then used Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to reach out to SEO and PR professionals. This resulted in 78 survey responses. I waited a month, went back to HARO, and got 91 more. I then shared my survey in a few SEO and PR groups on Facebook, which resulted in 15 more. I got 184 survey responses in total.

When I started I had arbitrarily decided I wanted 200 survey responses but decided to stop at 184 rather than do another round of HARO or Facebook group outreach.

Of course, all surveys have some level of bias

In this instance, the bias occurs for the following reasons:

  • I designed my survey with my preconceived notions of what questions mattered most
  • I looked for people in nooks and crannies of the internet where I felt it would be easy to find willing participants
  • People who took my survey self selected

Does this mean my data is flawed? No more than any other set of data collected via most surveys, but it is possible that had I surveyed only SEO folks, or only PR folks, that I would have gotten different data, and I just want that stated upfront. I believe my data is relevant, but by no means is it the final word on this topic.

So, is this integration of SEO and PR happening?

In a word, yes.

So now let’s look at the charts whose underlying data lead me to believe this is true.

Initial questions were very objective

This first set of charts show the answers that were pretty cut and dry, and not so much a matter of opinion.

The breakdown of survey participants

Survey participants categorized themselves as representing brands, representing agencies, or being consultants who represented various clients. Below is the breakdown.

As you can see, it’s a pretty good split with agencies slightly outnumbering brands.

SEO and PR integration survey participant categories

Do agencies publish articles about SEO and PR or SEO vs PR?

I was personally curious what percentage of agencies feel the topic of PR and SEO or PR vs SEO is important enough to publish articles about. It was surprisingly few.

Content publication stats on SEO and PR or SEO vs PR

What percentage of participants have one integrated team?

A lot more than I expected: 71 percent to be precise.

SEO and PR are not one integrated team

Do firms without one integrated team have both SEO and PR?

To my surprise, the answer tends to be, “no”. Team sizes within this group tended to be smaller, which likely accounts for this.

Within this group, 35 out of 52 companies had teams of three members or fewer, which means only 17 companies had teams of four members or larger. Only four companies had teams of more than 20 people.

SEO PR integration team data

For firms with two teams, how closely do they work together?

While this includes only 16 firms, I do not see a strong pattern here. Perhaps this is due to the small data sample, or perhaps the question is too subjective for everyone to have a common understanding of how close “closely” is.

Stats on team integration

The following statements were completely subjective

I asked the survey participants to rate how much they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about PR and SEO. Every statement was rated on a ten-point scale where 10 means strong agreement and one means strong disagreement.

Can SEO be separated from PR?

As you can see, the bulk of participants feel they can not.

They can not be separated

What is the primary focus?

I was thinking that some firms put PR ahead of SEO and consider that SEO supports their PR efforts, whereas other firms put SEO ahead of PR and consider that PR supports their SEO efforts.

I was expecting these two charts to be mirror images of each other and I am surprised that they don’t.

Is PR used to boost SEO

What surprised me the most is not either chart by itself, but that they do not mirror each other. I had thought the two questions were opposites of each other, which to me at least means the charts should be mirror images of each other.

While there is a pretty strong consensus shown by the “We do SEO” chart, this is not shown by the “We do PR” chart.

Are SEO and PR equally important?

There is strong agreement with this idea.

SEO and PR are equally important

Are PR and SEO separate functions?

There is a consensus leaning to “no”, they’re not.

They are separate functions across the industry

Is link building the PR of SEO?

In the spirit of full disclosure, this is something I believe to be true. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe there are good and bad forms of link building, but I suppose there are also good and bad forms of PR.

That this statement was shared with the participants reflects a bias of mine. Having said that, I consider participant responses to be validating.

Link building is the PR of SEO

In closing

The SEO-PR integration is happening, and so far has happened more than I expected would be true.

My next thought is “What does this all mean?”

Should we change the way we’re doing what we’re doing as a result?

For this, I’m interested in feedback from readers. What do you think?

Kevin Carney is the Founder and CEO of the boutique link building agency Organic Growth.

The post Research: The integration of SEO and PR appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 1 year ago from

8 Email Marketing Trends That Can Supercharge Your 2021 Strategy

Email has become a mainstay in the world of online marketing, used by SaaS and eCommerce businesses alike as a strategy for converting customers and gaining traction. While 2020 may have been a tumultuous year for business, it has pushed email back to the forefront of digital marketing campaigns and made it one of the…

The post 8 Email Marketing Trends That Can Supercharge Your 2021 Strategy appeared first on Benchmarkemail.

Reblogged 1 year ago from

Content Marketing and Thought Leadership: What's the Difference?

Though they are often conflated, content marketing and thought leadership are not the same. Learn more about their differences and similarities–along with how to use both content types–in this article. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

Reblogged 1 year ago from

How to Select Meaningful B2B SEO Keywords

Posted by Cody_McDaniel

It’s no secret that B2B marketing is different than B2C. The sales cycle is longer, there are multiple stakeholders involved, and it’s usually more expensive. To market effectively, you need to create content that helps, educates, and informs your clientele. The best way to do that is to identify the keywords that matter most to them, and build out content accordingly.

To find out how, watch this week’s episode of Whiteboard Friday! 

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi and welcome to another Whiteboard Friday. My name is Cody McDaniel, and I’m an SEO manager at Obility. We are a B2B digital marketing agency, and today I want to talk about selecting meaningful B2B SEO keyword targets and the process and steps you can take in your own keyword research.

So B2B is a little bit different than you would see in your normal B2C types of marketing, right? The sales cycle or the length of time it takes to actually make a purchasing decision is usually a lot longer than you would see just buying something off Amazon, right? It’s going to take multiple stakeholders. Individuals are going to be involved in that process. It’s going to be usually a lot more expensive.

So in order to do that, they’re going to want to be informed about their decision. They’re going to have to look up content and information across the web to help inform that decision and make sure that they’re doing the right thing for their own business. So in order to do that, we have to create content that helps, educates, and informs these users, and the way to do that is finding keywords that matter and building content around them.

1. Gather seed list

So when we’re developing keyword research for our own clientele, the first thing that we do is gather a seed list. So usually we’ll talk with our client contact and speak to them about what they care about. But it also helps to get a few other stakeholders involved, right, so the product marketing team or the sales team, individuals that will eventually want to use that information for their clients, and talk with them about what they care about, what do they want to show up for, what’s important to them.

That will sort of help frame the conversation you want to be having and give you an understanding or an idea of where eventually you want to take this keyword research. It shouldn’t be very long. It’s a seed list. It should eventually grow, right? 

2. Review your content

So once you’ve done that and you have a baseline understanding of where you want to go, the next thing you can do is review the content that you have on your own website, and that can start with your homepage.

What’s the way that you describe yourselves to the greater masses? What’s the flagship page have to say about what you offer? You can go a little bit deeper into some of your other top-level pages and About Us. But try to generate an understanding of how you speak to your product, especially in relation to your clients in the industry that you’re in. You can use that, and from there you can go a little bit further.

Go through your blog posts to see how you speak to the industry and to educate and inform individuals. Go to newsletters. Just try to get an understanding of what exists currently on the website, where your efficiencies may be, and of course where your deficiencies are or your lack of content. That will help you generate ideas on where you need to look for more keywords or modifications in the keywords you have.

3. Determine your rankings

Speaking of which, with the keywords that you currently have, it’s important to know how you stand. So at this point, I try to look to see how we’re ranking in the greater scheme of things, and there are a lot of different tools that you can use for that. Search Console is a great way to see how potential users across the web are going to your website currently. That can help you filter by page or by query.

You can get an understanding of what’s getting clicks and generating interest. But you can also use other tools — SEMrush, SpyFu, Ahrefs, and Moz, of course. They’ll all give you a keyword list that can help you determine what users are searching for in order to find your website and where they currently rank in the search engine results page. Now usually these lists are pretty extensive.

I mean, they can be anything from a few hundred to a few thousand terms. So it helps to parse it down a little bit. I like to filter it by things like if it has no search volume, nix it. If it’s a branded term, I don’t like to include it because you should be showing up for your branded terms already. Maybe if it’s outside the top 50 in rankings, things like that, I don’t want that information here right now.

4. Competitive research

I want to understand how we’re showing up, where our competencies are, and how we can leverage that in our keyword research. So that should help the list to be a little bit more condensed. But one of the things you can also look at is not just internal but external, right? So you can look at your competition and see how we’re ranking or comparing at least on the web.

What do they use? What sort of content do they have on their website? What are they promoting? How are they framing that conversation? Are they using blog posts? All that information is going to be useful for maybe developing your own strategies or maybe finding a niche where, if you have particularly stiff competition, you can find areas they’re not discussing.

But use that competition as a framework for identifying areas and potential opportunities and how the general public or industry speaks to some of the content that you’re interested in writing about. So once you have that list, it should be pretty big, good idea of the ecosystem you’re working with, it’s important to gather metrics.

5. Gather metrics

This is going to contextualize the information that you have, right? You want to make informed decisions on the keywords that you have, so this metric gathering will be important. There are a lot of different ways you can do it. Here at Obility, we might categorize them by different topic types so we can make sure that we’re touching on all the different levels of keyword usage for the different topics that we discuss in our content.

You can look at things like search volume. There a lot of different tools that do that, the same ones I mentioned earlier — Moz, SpyFu, SEMrush. There’s a great tool we use called Keyword Keg, that kind of sort of aggregates all of them. But that will give you an idea search volume on a monthly basis. But you can also use other metrics, things like difficulty, like how hard it is to rank compared to some of the other people on the web, or organic click-through rate, like what’s the level of competition you’re going to be going up against in terms of ads or videos or carousels or other sort of Google snippets.

Moz does a great job of that. So use these metrics, and what they should help you do is contextualize the information so that maybe if you’re pretty close on two or three keywords, that metric gathering should help you identify which one is maybe the easiest, it has the most potential, so on and so forth. So once you have that, you should be getting a good understanding of where each of those keywords lives and you should be selecting your targets.

6. Select target keywords

Now I’ve run through a ton of clients who former agencies have sent them a list of 300 to 400 keywords that they’re trying to rank for, and I cannot stand it. There’s no value to be had, because how can you possibly try and optimize and rank for hundreds and hundreds of different variations of keywords. It would take too long, right? You could spend years in that rabbit hole.

What we try to do is focus on maybe 30 or 40 keywords and really narrow down what sort of content is going to be created for it, what you need to optimize. Does it exist on your website? If not, what do we need to make? Having that list makes a much more compartmentalized marketing strategy, and you can actually look at that and weigh it against how you’re currently deploying content internally.

You can look at success metrics and KPIs. It just helps to have something a little bit more tangible to bite down on. Of course, you can grow from there, right? You start ranking well for those 20 or 30 terms, and you can add a few more on at the end of it. But again, I think it’s really important to focus on a very select number, categorizing them by the importance of which ones you want to go first, and start there because this process in content creation takes a long time.

7. Consider intent

But once you’ve selected those, it’s also important to consider intent. You can see I’ve outlined intent here a little bit more in depth. What do I mean by that? Well, the best way that I’ve seen intent described online is as an equation. So every query is made up of two parts, the implicit and the explicit. What are you saying, and what do you mean when you’re saying it?

So when I think of that and trying to relate it to keywords, it’s really important to use that framework to develop the strategy that you have. An example that I have here is “email marketing.” So what’s the implicit and explicit nature of that? Well, “email marketing” is a pretty broad term.

So implicitly they’re probably looking to educate themselves on the topic, learn a little bit more about what it’s about. You’ll see, when you search for that, it’s usually a lot more educational related content that helps the user understand it better. They’re not ready to buy yet. They just want to know a little bit more. But what happens when I add a modifier on it? What if I add “software”? Well, now that you would have intent, it may mean the same thing as email marketing in some context, but software implies that they’re looking for a solution.

We’ve now gone down the funnel and are starting to identify terms in which a user is more interested in purchasing. So that type of content is going to be significantly different, and it’s going to be more heavily implied on features and benefits than just the email marketing. So that intent is important to frame your keywords, and it’s important to make sure that you have them in every step of your purchasing funnel.

The way that I like to usually look at that, and you see it everywhere, it’s an upside down triangle. You have your top, middle, and bottom level pieces of content. Usually the top is going to be things like blogs and other sorts of informational content that you’re going to be having to use to inform users of the types of topics and things in the industry you care about.

That’s probably where something like “email marketing” would exist. But “email marketing software” is probably going to be sitting right here in the middle, where somebody is going to want to make an informed decision, relate it to other pieces of content on competitor websites, check those features, and determine if it’s a useful product for them, right? From there, you can go a little bit further and move them into different types of content, maybe email marketing software for small business.

That’s far more nuanced and specific, and maybe you’ll have a white paper or a demo that’s specifically tailored to businesses that are looking for email marketing in the small business space. So having content in three separate spaces and three different modifications will help you identify where your content gaps are and make sure that users can move throughout your website and throughout the funnel and inform themselves on the decision they’re trying to make.


So with that, this should give you some idea of how we develop keyword research here at our own agency, and I hope that you guys can utilize some of these strategies in your own keyword research wherever you are out in the world. So thanks again for listening. Happy New Year. Take care.

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Reblogged 1 year ago from