Google Panda 4.1- How’s it different from last 26 updates?

Google Panda 4.1 is the 27th update that rolled out in the last week of September. The news was confirmed last Sunday through a Google+ post by Pierre Far. A slow rollout has been reported that may take a week at least to put into effect completely.

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The search giant seems to have discovered new signals based on user feedbacks & webmasters views and panda 4.1 will evaluate content based on that. The new Panda is believed to have better eye for low quality content. As per the announcement made by Google the update is expected to boost the search engine rankings of small and medium sized sites that offer good quality content.

Around 3-5% queries based on location are affected till now. It’s tough to predict the actual loss and benefit caused by panda 4.1 yet but this list of winners & losers by search metrics gives an overview of immediate impact of the update.

Do you know how Google Panda 4.1 has affected your website?

Request for Website Check to know

As an SEO firm, Ably Soft has analyzed all aspects of the latest Panda update and we view it as a stronger version of Google Panda 4.

Tell us how you faced this update and share your opinions below in comments.

7 Usability Metrics that define the Success Rate of your Website

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It depends on many factors how a technical expert classifies good or bad website based on its usability status. Basically, the idea is to check how easily the users can browse a website.

How would you rate your Website Usability out of ten?

We come across many websites that believe they are doing pretty well on usability grounds but still they struggle to meet their business goals. Such websites are found to be lacking on elementary levels when checked by website analysts and fail to please the visitors.

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Follow this checklist of usability metrics to decide where your site stands:

  1. Page Load Time

How quickly your web pages load and serve the purpose of a visitor matters a lot in making him interested in your site. Users expect to fetch information within few seconds of every click whether it’s a video, contact form or product details. If your website fails to offer quickness, it may fail to engage users too.

  1. Navigation

A good navigation is one that does not let users think much about where to go. It must be intuitive so that visitors can easily find all the important sections of a website. This leads to better decision making.

  1. Search Options

Do you offer easy search option to visitors? It must be easily noticeable and have space at least for 25 characters. Although it is essential to offer convenient search box on any page wherever advanced search is required (like blog section) yet it has utmost value for an online store to make product search easy. It may be frustrating for users, if your search bar is not noticeable or fails to handle long tail semantics.

  1. Above the Fold area

This is the area where a user pays most of his attention right after reaching a website. If your top fold does not solve his purpose, he may not like to scroll down. Having a clear and actionable above-the-fold can win 80% of users’ trust instantly. Your above the fold section should clearly handle the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) part for visitors to engage them.

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  1. Conversion Funnel

First thing that decides the strength of your conversion funnel is a Call to action. Improper or abundant CTAs reduce your chances to convert a visitor into lead or buyer. A CTA must consist of a strong statement and a well designed button to prompt the visitor to take action (click). Second element that states weakness of a website’s conversion funnel is the inclusion of unnecessary steps. Users do not like to take much pain once they have decided to buy. Your conversion rate cannot go up if you are asking for more information or trying to force any information on them after they click on ‘action button’. 3-4 easy steps are enough for a smart conversion funnel to convert visitors.

Also Read: 4 Points to be followed by Every SEO Company to Boost Traffic & Sales

  1. Links

Not just the placement but the color of a website’s links too matter. Usually we notice blue color for links on a page but that’s not a compulsory thing. The prime motive of color & position is to make the links descriptive. If your links stand out on a page they can easily be sited too.

  1. Page Layout

Do you have a different layout for every page? Irregular layout scheme kills uniformity and brings down the usability score of a website. Things like navigation bar, color scheme, typography should be treated unvaryingly to avoid confusion in users.

All the above said elements contribute to website usability equally. So, the businesses meant to meet the business goals while delivering client satisfaction cannot afford to miss any of these standards. Meeting user requirements is the topmost goal of a website and to accomplish this, it has to be perfect from users’ point of view. As design development expert, Ably Soft follows this rule of thumb and specializes in making websites fit for businesses as well as their target audience.

Is your website not performing up to your expectations despite of a good looking design?

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Tell us what other problems you face in improving your website performance. Our team will respond to your queries with the needful solutions. If you have something else to add to this post, you can share your opinions below in comments.

Amazon Delivery Drones – Get Ready to Receive Orders in 30 Minutes

Amazon is all set to test its delivery drones in India. The service that is expected to deliver goods within 30 minutes at every doorstep will be tested in Mumbai & Bangalore first. The drones will not carry orders above 2.26 kg & are expected to be seen around festive season in October.

Although announced in 2013 by Amazon, the service is likely to get launched by 2015 in USA as FAA’s rules have to be met before that. India has less tough laws to govern civil aviation so for Amazon, India is believably the right place to carry out this testing.

Same day delivery was already a highpoint for Amazon and with this 30 minutes delivery it’s going to raise the bar even higher. With Flipkart expanding its prospects in Indian retail, it’s tough to predict whether Amazon’s move to test delivery drones in India is directly related with easy aviation rules or hints to the brimming ecommerce competition.

Share with other shoppers – What do you expect out of this quickest delivery service? Tell us in comments.

Top 10 Social Media Blogs

Are you looking for some good social media blogs to read? Look no further!

Our fifth-annual social media blog contest generated over 600 nominations.

Our panel of social media experts carefully reviewed the nominees and finalists. Each of the social media blogs were analyzed based on a number of factors, including content quality, post frequency and reader involvement.

With that in mind, here are 10 social media blogs to put at the top of your reading list.

#1: Jon Loomer

Jon Loomer consistently delivers long-form articles, videos and detailed educational content that share an impressive depth of Facebook marketing knowledge.

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Jon Loomer’s blog is enthusiastic, helpful, detailed and well-illustrated.

#2: RazorSocial

RazorSocial explores social media tools and technology with well-illustrated, detailed posts written by Ian Cleary.

razor social blog

RazorSocial’s useful content is delivered with no-nonsense, practical, actionable, step-by-step instructions.

#3: Socialmouths

Socialmouths, authored by Francisco Rosales, gives readers down-to-earth social media advice that can be applied to practical and tactical uses.

socialmouths blog

Socialmouths publishes how-to articles with examples and case studies.

#4: Post Planner

Post Planner provides a witty yet intelligent and actionable collection of easily consumable Facebook marketing posts.

post planner blog

Post Planner’s well-formatted and easy-to-read posts include useful examples and images.

#5: Dustn.tv

Dustn.tv‘s Dustin W. Stout shows readers how to become better social media storytellers.

dustn.tv blog

Dustn.tv shares excellent case studies and how-to articles.

#6: Danny Brown

Danny Brown publishes timely, informative and in-depth marketing advice and SlideShare decks.

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Danny Brown’s easy-to-read blog posts are smart and thoroughly cited with third-party links.

#7: Boom Social

On Boom Social, Kim Garst provides conversational posts, advice and case studies on social media marketing.

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The content on Boom Social is easy to read and speaks directly to the reader.

#8: Jenn’s Trends

Jenn’s Trends is where Jenn Herman uses simple, concise language to deliver personal perspectives on social media trends.

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Jenn’s Trends has an engaging style that is easy to digest.

#9: Top Dog Social Media

Top Dog Social Media, the blogging home of Melonie Dodaro, focuses on what’s happening in social media.

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Top Dog Social Media publishes tips in Q&A format and a mix of personal and professional posts.

#10: Simply Measured

Simply Measured focuses on trends and measurement in the social media space.

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The content on Simply Measured benefits any social media marketer.

Source –  Top 10 Social Media Blogs

Expedia Becomes A New York City Hotel After Google’s Pigeon Local Update

Google released a major local search algorithm update, we named Pigeon. Google told us the new algorithm will lead to a more useful and relevant experience for searchers seeking local results.

But like with any new algorithm launch, there are always bugs, unexpected outcomes and less relevant results.

A search for [New York Hotels] in Google brings up the local carousel, with hotel options you’d expect, and some you wouldn’t expect.

We have the Sheraton, Hilton, Marriott and others. But we also have Expedia, the travel search engine, coming up as a hotel you can purchase a stay at for a night or two. Why?

If you looked at Expedia’s Google+ local listing you would have seen it is listed in the travel category. Someone at Google recently changed it to a “Corporate Headquarters” category. This should fix the issue and no longer bring up Expedia in the search results for that query, over time.

Google was made aware of the issue and they acknowledged that this is not the expected outcome from the new local search algorithm. They are indeed working on fixing the results and improving them over time.

Source –  Google: Web Search | Top News

 

How to Use Visual Content for Real-Time Engagement

Is visual content part of your social media strategy?

Is your content flexible enough to engage fans in real time?

Your audience is never more primed to share content than when they’re “in the moment” at an event, on location or while experiencing your brand.

In this article I’ll show you four ways you can use visual content to motivate real-time interaction.

Why Real-Time Interaction

If you want fans to take an action (e.g., share an image, post a picture or enter a contest), you need to tap into the moments when they’re most likely to do it. And those moments are usually during an event, not after.

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People aren’t likely to share when the excitement is over and they’re back home on their computer faced with more deadlines and too much content to sift through.

Here are four ways you can tap into real-time experiences to engage your audience with visual content and encourage them to take action.

#1: Make It Easy to Shoot and Share

Do you have a physical place of business? There’s no better time to ask someone to share visual content about you than when they’re on location experiencing your brand.

The 1888 Hotel in Sydney has been dubbed the “World’s First Instagram Hotel” because the staff actively encourages guests to document their stay in real time via Instagram.

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A fitting title for a hotel named 1888—the same year Kodak’s Box Roll camera was released to the market.

The hotel uses everything at their disposal to motivate people to share as much visual content as possible. They have a custom hash tag, a fun place for selfies, iMacs with featured photos, photo walks and Wi-Fi and iPads in every room for frictionless sharing.

As soon as guests arrive at the hotel, they can start their visit by taking a fun selfie. 1888 Hotel features a selfie space with classic picture frames ready for Instagram action.

Guests at 1888 Hotel can’t resist the selfie corner and love getting creative with hash tags.

The hotel encourages guests to tag their photos with #1888hotel so they can see their photos streamed live to two iMac computers in the lobby, as well as on the hotel’s website.

The hotel encourages even more participation by choosing a photo of the month and rewarding the photographer with a free night’s stay.

Guests love seeing their images showcased on the two iMacs in the lobby.

But why stop at hotel selfies? 1888 Hotel worked with local bloggers to develop an Insta-walk that showcases the most “Instagrammable” locations in the local Pyrmont and Darling Harbour area. Guests are encouraged to take the walk during their stay and share images to Instagram (with the hotel’s #1888hotel hashtag, of course).

Got some time before your room is ready? Take a stroll with Instagram!

The Insta-walk is a brilliant idea because guests don’t just use the hotel hashtag in their photo captions, they also use other popular Australian travel hashtags, resulting in further exposure for the hotel.

Wi-Fi is paramount to frictionless sharing, so the 1888 Hotel provides free Wi-Fi in the lobby and guestrooms. But they take it one step further than most businesses: They provide access to an iPad in every room, complete with social sharing functionality, ready to go.

Take every opportunity to make it easy for your audience to share in real time.

General Manager Andrew Adams-Smith believes real-time marketing is a big part of 1888 Hotel’s success since opening in 2013. “Instagram is integrated into our whole culture. All of our staff members have Instagram accounts and anyone can reply to posts.”

1888 hotel doesn’t do any advertising, relying solely on social media and earned media (free PR). As such, 1888 Hotel is a great example of the power of real-time visual content.

#2: Ask for Contributions

If your business is completely online, you can still ask fans to share visual content about where they are and what they’re doing at a particular moment. For example, podcasts are entirely audio, but with a little creativity, hosts can incorporate visual content in fun ways.

You’re most likely familiar with Mike Stelzner’s Social Media Marketing Podcast if you follow this blog. Recently Mike ran a contest to win a copy of his book Launch and 30 minutes of “ask me anything” Skype time with him.

Mike announced the contest during the podcast and asked his listeners to take a picture of where they were when they listened to the show and share it in the comments. The result? Almost 400 comments and counting. Approximately 100 of those comments were photos from around the world like this one:

Even if your business is digital only, you can motivate fans to share pictures.

Sometimes asking your fans to share is all it takes to get a new kind of interaction and draw attention to your business. Make sure you ask everyone to use a specific hashtag so you can track the engagement and respond in real time.

#3: Expect the Unexpected

It’s hard to plan memorable moments. They just happen. Be ready to respond quickly to unexpected events because your timing is part of creating awesome content that fans want to share while the event is still happening.

Remember the famous 2013 Oreo Tweet? Ad agency 360i took just 5 minutes to conceptualize, design and caption the image that was tweeted worldwide just 10 minutes after the power went out at the Super Bowl.

Oreo set the bar for rapid response with visual content—the tweet was a hit and the online chatter continued overnight.

Being a first responder with visual content can massively increase your chances of engagement. Fans look to join in on the conversation as it happens.

#4: Plan Ahead

Prepare to lead or join conversations that are popular with your community by planning targeted content ahead of events.

Dunkin’ Donuts does this extremely well—so well, in fact, they’re often referred to as the brand that hijacks events with content, whether it’s the World Cup or the Grammy Awards.

By planning ahead, Dunkin’ Donuts is able to join in on (or initiate) popular conversations:

The good news is that any business, no matter how small, can identify the events customers are most interested in and then post about them.

Casey Lightbody, a marketing consultant from Brisbane, has a target market of international women for her Empowered Women network. She released this image on Facebook early in the morning on International Women’s Day:

Plan ahead! Make and share an engaging image related to a current event.

Even though hers is a relatively new business page, Casey was able to achieve a significant number of shares.

Source –  How to Use Visual Content for Real-Time Engagement

 

SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

It’s only fitting we return home to the USA for this month’s edition of SEJ’ SEOlympics – it is the month we celebrate our independence and all. However, we’ve opted to break the list up into regions – starting with blogs located on the East Coast. This way we won’t leave out any of the phenomenal marketer blogs in America.

But, before we get into the list, here’s some interesting stats surrounding content marketing in North America.

Based on research conducted from the Content Marketing Institute, 9 out of 10 marketers were using content marketing in 2013. Marketers also increased the number of marketing tactics they used from 8 to 12. Furthermore, the use of social media for content marketing jumped from 74% to 84%. Finally, marketers increased their content marketing budgets from 26% to 33%.

There is clearly a lot going on in the USA marketing world.

Don’t be surprised if more marketers in the United States jump on the content marketing bandwagon during the remainder of 2014.

To help you along your journey, here are 10 spectacular marketer blogs based out of  the Eastern U.S. put together using subjective criteria like voice, content strategy, and quality.

If we forget to include a blog that you feel is worthy of this list please feel free to add your suggestion in the comment section below.

Finally, the following list is in no particular order. Enjoy.

map SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

Seth Godin probably doesn’t need an introduction. But just in case you’re not familiar with this best-selling author, here’s a brief bio.

Godin was in Mt. Vernon, New York. He graduated from Tufts University and later earned a MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In 1986, he launched his first business Seth Godin Publications from a New York City studio apartment. Over the years, Mr. Godin has founded, or co-founded, Yoyodyne and Squidoo, was Yahoo’s vice president of direct marketing, authored 20 books, developed the idea of “permission marketing,”and hosts the podcast the Startup School on Earwolf.

And there’s also his blog.

Seth’s Blog is one of the most influential blogs for marketers. He keeps things short and gets right to the point. Besides teaching you a lot about marketing, Seth’s Blog can show you how to blog effectively everyday.

SEER Interactive

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SEER Interactive was founded in Philly back in 2002 by Wil Reynolds. Originally, SEER was just one a man operation that focused on search. Over time, SEER Interactive has built a team of talented and innovative people who have experience in search marketing, SEO, and analytics. However, what makes this agency unique is the team uses analytics to help companies land those important leads.

The SEER Interactive blog posts informative posts everyday of the week focusing on everything from creating engaging content to improving PPC performance. One example of an awesome recent post is “Launching An Infographic: 7 Steps To Success.”

While not directly related to the posts featured on the blog, we really enjoy the fact the profile picture of every team member is from their childhood. It’s a fun little feature that proves why SEER Interactive was named the Top Workplace by Philly.com.

Chris Brogan

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Boston resident Chris Brogan has become a respected journalist, marketing consultant, and speaker on all things social media marketing. He’s also a best-selling author. His 2009 book Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust was a New York Times bestseller. Mr. Brogan also founded PodCamp and Kitchen Table Companies. He’s president of Human Business Works and also serves on the board of advisors of HubSpot.

Mr. Brogan also happens to run a popular blog, which was once included in the Top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150.

What we really like about this blog is that Chris asks: “What do you SEEK from me? Not what I’m selling. What do you SEEK? What are you hoping to glean? When you come here, you say, “If I read X, I’ll be able to do something in my world HERE (where?).”

That’s a refreshing approach for a blog designed to help your business grow.

Internet Marketing Ninjas

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We doesn’t enjoy a story about a company launched in a basement? That’s what happened when Jim Boykin founded We Build Pages in 1999. Over the last decade, the name was changed to Internet Marketing Ninjas, and today their team of 100 employees works out of its office in Clifton Park, New York. Notable employees include the incredible Community and Brand Manager Ann Smarty.

The Ninja Army, however, is what makes this blog stand out. The team has experience in a number of fields ranging from sales, customer service, content writers, design, social media, and even an IT team. In short, the Internet Marketing Ninjas blog is a one-stop destination for all your marketing needs.

Chief Marketing Technologist Blog

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Prior to launching this blog in 2008, Scott Brinker earned a BS in computer science from Columbia University, as well a MBA from MIT and an master’s degree in computer science from Harvard University. Throughout his career, Mr. Brinker has developed apps for CBS Sportsline, Tribune, the Miami Dolphins, and Fujitsu, founded a web development agency, and co-founded ion Interactive, a software company that tests post-click experiences.

The Chief Marketing Technologist Blog focuses mainly on posts, webinars, and videos in marketing data, management, tactics, and software. One of the most popular, and interesting, posts was the discussion on how “Strategy, marketing, and technology are all intertwined.”

Heidi Cohen – Actionable Marketing Guide

2014 07 02 20 33 58 Heidi Cohen Actionable Marketing Guide SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

Heidi Cohen’s Actionable Marketing Guide has been included in Social Media Examiner’s “Top 10 Social Media Blog” for two consecutive years (2012, 2013). And there’s a really good reason for that; Cohen uses her past marketing experience to explain and breakdown all of the latest marketing trends.

This blog does an excellent job of discussing topics related to social media marketing, mobile marketing, and content marketing. And don’t worry if you’re a newcomer to online marketing. Heidi also posts articles that provide insight on the basics of marketing and ideas on blog posts.

When she’s not busy on her blog, this New York City resident is also a professor, journalist, and speaker.

Convince and Convert

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Jay Baer has rather impressive resume. Since 1994 he has consulted over 700 brands including power house brands like Nike and Caterpillar. In 2008 he launched his fifth marketing firm Convince and Convert. The blog has since become a favorite and trusted source in the industry. In fact, it was ranked as the worlds #1 content marketing resource by the Content Marketing Institute.

Besides Baer (who happens to live in Bloomington, Indiana) the Convince and Convert blog also features posts from the talented 8-person team, along with the occasional guest blog. You can expect everything from how to gain brand advocates to using social media to create personal connections to how to run a SMS campaign.

B2B Marketing Insider

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West Chester, Pennsylvania, resident Michael Brenner has been involved with leadership, marketing, and sales for over 20 years – including positions at SAP as VP of Global Marketing and Content Strategy and Head of Digital Marketing for SAP Americas. He also founded the social news site Business 2 Community and the thought-leadership blog Business Innovation.

The B2B Marketing Insider blog features posts surrounding content marketing, strategy, social media, demand generation, mobile, and search marketing. The blog is used to discuss the latest ideas, topics and strategies that can help businesses improve sales, leads and customer loyalty.

Annielytics

2014 07 02 20 40 49 Annie Cushings Blog Covering Analytics SEO and Data Visualization SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

Annie Cushing clearly loves analytics – it’s in the blog name, after all. But what can you do with analytics? Cushing uses analytics to improve sales and social media campaigns by providing easy to understand blog posts that are short and sweet.

This Cherry Hill, New Jersey, resident posts frequent articles full of useful tips, tricks, and strategies you can use to gather and visualize data, especially with Google Analytics and Excel. You may not think analytics is a big deal, or even interesting, but this blog will prove otherwise.

MarketingSherpa

2014 07 02 20 42 03 MarketingSherpa Blog SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

Based out of Jacksonville, Florida, Marketing Sherpa is a unique marketing blog. It provides surveys, case studies and data that can be used for all of your marketing campaigns. The blog also hosts lots of informative videos, as well as topics that range from LinkedIn to email marketing.

Source – Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

Content Marketing Optimization: Focus on ‘Critical Few’ Metrics

A growing problem with the rapidly rising tide of data content marketers are swimming in these days is it’s becoming much easier to become overwhelmed and drown. Much like an inexperienced swimmer struggling to stay afloat in the water as it rises overhead, problems are often rooted in not knowing what to do next. What’s even more unfortunate is when we drown in data, there are usually no lifeguards to save us.

However, the great news is we can learn to swim, and this is precisely why I like to remind the organizations I partner with to focus on what Avinash Kaushik refers to as the “critical few” metrics of success. This suggestion always resonates deeply with marketers.

The critical few metrics strategy involves focusing on no more than three or four ways to measure the business outcome of the work we do in content marketing. The fewer, the better — this is one area where you will get bonus points for keeping it simple!

The beauty of the critical few metrics concept is it forces us to think about business outcomes instead of obsessing over the full complement of raw data typically available to us when we log into our analytics platforms. In addition, focusing on outcomes allows us to communicate more successfully with leadership — business decision-makers love to hear about outcomes… and tend to glaze over when presented with raw data. How many times have you shared the most recent numbers with someone in leadership, only to hear them say something like, “That’s great… but what does a higher number of sessions mean to the business?

The tricky part is knowing which critical few metrics will be most important to your organization. While this varies across business types for far too many reasons to address here, for content marketing optimization purposes, we can certainly make a couple of assumptions as we explore the subject in more detail. Hopefully the knowledge gained will help you find your own critical few and grow incrementally better at measuring and communicating success.

It’s all about the Benjamins

Some friends and I were feeling quite patriotic as we stood around at our Fourth of July barbeque and eventually found ourselves discussing the Declaration of Independence and the idea of truths that are self-evident. Later that evening, as I lay in bed (wide-awake and wishing I had exercised less freedom over the amount of grilled meat and ice cream I had consumed), this conversation led me to ponder business truths that (I hope) are self-evident — particularly my personal favorite: Business truly is all about the money. To be successful, every single thing we do in any business, whether we’re selling hot dogs and hamburgers or strategy consulting services, must have a direct line to one overriding business need: creating economic value.

In the name of simplicity, it may be tempting to call the creation of economic value the first of our critical few metrics of success. However, I think we can get away with digging just a little deeper. Just below the surface there are two separate but equally important functions that roll up to creating economic value:

  1. Increased revenue (marketing and sales)
  2. Increased profitability (finance and operations)

Revenue: Many incredibly talented and valued content marketers can get tripped up on the revenue side of things. After all, truly exceptional content marketing is about creating quality content, not direct economic benefit (right?). It’s a long game, where we care more about engagement and less about selling. And even when we think about our work in the context of conversion, we are really just thinking about moving leads into and through the top of the funnel. Phases of the buying cycle are often referred to as awareness, consideration, and deliberation — not “getting the user to click the ‘buy now’ button.”

As both a content creator and a strategy consultant who helps marketers decide on the right mix of tactics for communicating with their customers, I naturally have mixed feelings. In an ideal world it would be wonderful if all we were measured on is clarity of message, grammatical quality and/or production value, and whether it’s going to help anybody. The truth is much less difficult to measure, but it’s not as simple as more sessions, a lower bounce rate, or longer duration page views.

In the context of sales, the secret to determining what the critical few measures are for any organization lies in understanding what a typical customer’s buying cycle looks like — and it’s even better if you know what it looks like for each of your buyer personas.

If you ask your organization for this information and they don’t have it, there’s no need to despair. It just means it’s time to stop the presses and generate a customer journey map that illustrates the phases a customer will encounter as they go from first becoming aware they have a need for your products or services all the way through to the point of purchase and beyond. Once armed with this knowledge, it’s truly easy to come up with the outcomes-based metrics your company’s leaders want to see and hear as a result of your content marketing.

Profitability: The other aspect of creating economic value I mentioned earlier is profitability. It may also be necessary to do some digging to understand how content marketing is ultimately impacting this end of the business, but it will almost certainly be worth it.

For instance, let’s say it costs your company $5 to print and ship a big, full-color brochure. If the how-to blog your content marketing team publishes leads to 100,000 potential customers downloading the brochure as a PDF (i.e., saving you printing and shipping costs), that’s a $500,000 argument for the efficacy of your work.

Another great example is the cost of email lists. Purchased from a reputable supplier, a high-quality, legitimate source of targeted, opt-in email addresses can be as high as $1,000 CPM, or $1 per email address. If that same how-to blog your group is publishing generates 10,000 new, legitimate and needed email subscribers a month then, as you may realize, you just saved the organization $120,000 per year (never mind how much more qualified your organically grown email list will be).

Use critical few metrics to rally the team

Improved reporting to leadership is obviously important, but there are other reasons to do a better job of understanding the critical few metrics and their role in content marketing optimization. For instance, once armed with a clean and simple understanding of the business impact content marketing is having on your organization’s top and bottom line in the aggregate, it’s a great time to leverage this information to get your content team excited about the work they do as individuals and as a team.

When I first began my career as a content creator, I wrote for a fairly high-traffic online magazine but was not paid for my work. I had an interest in writing, but no formal education or experience. This ad-supported publication had a need for content and a willingness to give me a crash-course in essential writing skills, so long as I was willing to take direction without argument.

At the time, the lack of pay didn’t bother me, and the relationship worked. But truthfully, what really excited me — and kept me going as my writing improved and the value of instruction decreased proportionately — was very simple: Once a week, the publisher sent out a report to all the contributors that included top content and engagement with content for the week, as well as aggregate numbers about the continued growth of the publication’s viewership. On a side note, this email also contained the publication’s weekly reminder of the editorial calendar for the coming weeks — something we paid much closer attention to, since it was attached to the numbers.

Later in life, when I started getting paid to write, I contributed to a trade publication that did not share any information about the downstream outcomes associated with our work. In spite of being paid, it wasn’t long before it became very challenging to prioritize my work for them and remain interested in the subject matter. I suggested they share traffic data to rally the team, but they couldn’t understand why this information would matter to us. Making the situation worse, I eventually learned (through unofficial channels) about the tremendous economic value some of my work had created — work that I was not being credited for within the organization. My disinterest turned to resentment, and we eventually parted ways. I don’t know if they recognized the loss in financial terms, but I know they were very sorry to see me leave. Sadly, what was done was done, and it was hard to bounce back from the damage this simple lack of openness had created.

Recently, I helped another organization grow an incredibly successful content marketing department with internal contributors whose full-time responsibilities lay elsewhere. This group started with only three people, but leadership celebrated their individual victories across the organization openly and often. Before long, half of the company was interested in learning how they could spend their personal time contributing, and this dramatic increase in content with virtually no overhead led to many revenue opportunities that closed at a better rate than those from all their other channels.

In case it isn’t clear, the dynamic at play in this situation is competition, and it works very, very well. Creative people are much more competitive than most of us might think.

Whether your organization’s content team is staffed with part-time volunteers, internal subject matter experts with other full-time responsibilities, or a dedicated team of paid content creators, it’s very likely they will have a genuine and consistent interest in understanding the impact and value of the time they spend creating content. The great news is, once you have worked out the critical few metrics for your organization it’s a trivial task to segment your content marketing optimization efforts by a team, a content contributor, or even individual content items. The other great benefit to sharing numbers with contributors is they get a chance to see what works and what doesn’t. In a healthy environment, this should quickly set up a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement to the benefit of all parties.

Wrapping it all up

Hopefully this post has provided a few ideas on how to get started with taming the data dragon. This is no trivial task, so don’t be discouraged when you realize your content marketing optimization efforts have been focused on the wrong things. Part of setting up a data-driven content marketing team is promoting a culture of continued improvement, and this starts at the top. Give yourself permission to get started with measurement whether you are sure about what’s being measured or not. Also, get comfortable with the idea of gathering data from multiple sources. Clickstream analytics are only part of the picture.

In closing, we’d like to know: What are the critical few metrics by which you measure the value of your organization’s content marketing? What are the ways you’d like to measure? Is it a challenge to communicate ROI to leadership at your organization? What did I miss in this conversation?

Source – Content Marketing Optimization

3 Mindset Shifts: Get More SEO Out Of Your Content Marketing

Google is constantly working to provide users with a better experience, and marketers are constantly trying to adapt to these changes. Content-based SEO creates a compelling blend of authentic content and search engine eye-candy, but it also necessitates mastering both worlds (content marketing and SEO) instead of trying to rely on just one.

And Google is continuing to push the SEO community in that direction. Content marketing has been gaining acceptance as an SEO practice ever since Panda was rolled out — and with the release of Hummingbird, some content marketers have now become better at SEO than the long-time SEO practitioners that haven’t stayed ahead of these changes.

Whether you call yourself an SEO, a content marketer, or something in between, here are three key paradigm shifts you will need to understand in order get the most SEO out of your content.

Keywords & User Intent: Content For Every Combo

Keywords have always been an essential element of an effective SEO strategy, but their role is evolving. Yesterday’s SEO strategy would order a piece of high quality content for every keyword you’re working with. Today, keywords aren’t enough anymore; or rather, keywords aren’t the whole picture.

Take, for example, the top four results from a Google search for [content marketing strategy] (as depersonalized as I could manage):

content_mktg_search_results

How in the world can Google justify giving its top four spots to the same website?

Obviously, authority and popularity are factors. The Content Marketing Institute is the fastest growing B2B media company and is a well-known, respected authority on content marketing. But it’s rare to see 2 results from the same domain on page 1, let alone positions #1, #2, #3 and #4. Something else must be going on here — and that something is user intent.

Look closely:

  • The first result is about developing a detailed strategy.
  • The second gives a basic definition.
  • The third provides a simple framework.
  • The fourth promises a source of updated, new information.

A user looking for detailed instructions will want the first link, while someone just starting out might prefer the third result. If someone is just looking for a basic definition he will click on the second result, while a user who needs a recently updated resource may be looking for the fourth one. Google provides all four, because all four are trusted and popular, and because they all speak to a unique user intent.

How do you determine the different user intents of a single keyword? Google it! Then examine the SERPs and think through why the algorithm chose to display those specific links. The results represent Google’s best guess at the user’s intent for that search (and Google has a lot of data behind those “guesses”). Are there landing pages and resources on your website that mirror each one? Are there any user intents that are missing? Any unmet needs that you can fill?

Keyword percentages are so 2000s. Today, the cool kids are aligning content with keyword and user intent combinations.

Optimize For Intent: Targeted Blog Posts

SEO used to develop blog content strategies around keywords, and then optimize each post for those words and phrases. But when blogs are optimized for keywords alone, this kind of traffic happens:

blog_organic_traffic

Most of the posts on this popular blog drive no more than a handful of organic search visitors. But what happened on July 24?! We could filter through that post and try to duplicate every nuance, and never get the same result — because, from an SEO standpoint, that post probably just got lucky. It managed to hit that sweet spot where keyword optimization and user intent collide, and they really found their audience on search results. (And we’re pretty sure it was luck, because almost all of the posts on this blog failed to drive any noteworthy organic search traffic for many months.)

Now, here’s a look at the organic traffic to that same blog throughout the rest of the year as the authors began to focus on keywords and user intent.

keywords_user_intent

Keyword optimization alone simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Google’s not looking for keywords — it’s looking for useful content that outperforms the competition. Crafting content to meet a specific user intent (and still meet the needs of your blog’s editorial calendar and social media strategies) does take more work, but blogs posts that attract organic traffic each and every day for months and even years to come are very much worth it.

The Future Of Content-Based SEO

Sound easy so far? Well, don’t get too comfortable. Even as marketers expand their content strategies to include combinations of keywords and user intent, Google is still segmenting — still perfecting their people modeling.

Google is uniquely positioned at the intersection of search and social (and more), which means the amount of user data at their fingertips is massive. Their understanding of user behavior is allowing their services to infer user interests – so even if they don’t have much data on you, but they know who your friends are, they can target content for you based on your friends’ interests.

In other words, Google is the epitome of Big Data, and that means Google’s search results will only become more fine-tuned and even more personalized.

What we know for certain right now is that the data giant is building “audiences” based on websites visited, user information provided to Google partners, and third-party data. These “audiences” are convenient for traditional marketers because they can easily choose to send ads to a very targeted group. Regarding SEO, it’s further evidence that Google is collecting and organizing user data from all over the web, and the content in search results will become more and more tailored to each unique IP address (far more than geo-localized personalization).

Designing SEO content for each combination of keyword and user intent is a great first step, but the day is coming when we will need to consider content for every keyword + user intent + audience/persona combination. That’s right, my friend: Google is only going to get smarter.

Everybody Wins, Probably

It may seem daunting. Most marketers aren’t necessarily cheering Google on in their conquest of the online world, because this amount of data – enough to create such advanced affinity and market segmentation – is enormous, frightening, and perhaps even monopolistic. The end result, though, is the potentially for everybody to win. Users get better search results, traditional marketers get better ad campaign results, and content marketers that develop smarter content strategies earn more traffic. But sorry guys, there are still no guarantees in the wild world of SEO.

Source – Get More SEO Out Of Your Content Marketing

Yahoo Search Share Falls Below 10 Percent For “All-Time Low”

We’re on the cusp of new comScore U.S. search market google-bing-yahoo-logosshare data for June. According to financial analyst notes, releasing the numbers early, desktop search declined for the fifth consecutive month after a period of growth in mid-2013.

The big headline, however, is what we’ve been anticipating: Yahoo’s share has now fallen below 10 percent. This is an “all-time low.” The combined Yahoo-Bing “search alliance” share remains flat at 29 percent. Bing has grown almost entirely at Yahoo’s expense.

Here are the figures for June:

  • Google: 67.6 percent
  • Bing: 19.2 percent
  • Yahoo: 9.8 percent
  • Others: 3.4 percent

These figures do not include mobile search, which is an increasingly large share of overall volume. Mobile now drives more than 30 percent of total US internet traffic.

Paid search growth was one of the bright spots for Yahoo in an otherwise disappointing Q2 earnings release. Yahoo paid search brought in $403 million in Q2, a 5 percent increase vs. $385 million in Q2 last year. Obviously eroding PC search volumes will dampen Yahoo’s future growth opportunity.

StatCounter mobile search

According to StatCounter, Yahoo has a 9.3 percent share of the US mobile search market. Google dominates at 85 percent and Bing’s share is 5.5 percent.

Source – Yahoo Search Share Falls Below 10 Percent For “All-Time Low”