The Gate Escape: Rescuing Your Best Content from a Life Behind Lead-Gen Forms

The Search Agents Feed - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 09:41

Many companies create whitepapers and reports based upon original research. These unique assets have the potential to capture organic traffic. All too often, though, the content is kept behind lead-generation forms, an impenetrable barrier for search engines. As SEOs, we find ourselves trying to pull some gated content out into the light of day. Clients often resist this, as their sales and marketing departments rely upon forms to build leads lists.

How can SEOs convince clients to loosen the reins a bit and make high-quality content available to the masses -– and search engines? A strategic approach is key. Here are five ways to identify which gated content deserves to be set free, and how to frame your argument.

 

1. Focus on content that encourages conversions

 

First, set aside ranking position, CTR and bounce rates for a moment — most clients are focused on conversions. It makes a lot of sense, then, to liberate content likely to attract clicks from prospective customers. These bottom-of-the-funnel assets tend to cover topics of little interest to the layman.

Think about the person who would search for “data validation best practices.” At the very least, he or she is probably in the IT field. They may even be in a position to purchase software. A cloud-computing company would want this prospect to be aware of their products. An SEO could easily make the case that it’s counterproductive to gate a report on cloud computing if a higher ranking could put the company in front of more leads.

 

2. Target rankings that are rightfully yours

 

Second, there’s a good possibility that someone else has already “leaked” your client’s gated content in the form of an article or blog entry. Writers register for the report, then cite the facts and figures on their own website. They get the ranking based on your client’s hard work –- and there’s not much you can do about it. If this is the case with one of your client’s assets, sharing the offending article should remove all objections to keeping the source material hidden away.

 

3. Bring Featured Snippets into the conversation

 

Winning a Featured Snippet can help your content punch above its own weight. Review gated content for assets that lend themselves to a Featured Snippet. The prospect of ranking at position zero could be attractive enough to make your client think twice about hiding a whitepaper away. Also, it’s a tangible accomplishment that they can show to their boss.

 

4. Get more mileage from “old” assets

 

Next, review gated content from past years that might still have value. It’s probably fallen off the client’s radar. Allowing full access to a report from 2014 lets search engines crawl the asset and gives users a taste of what to expect if they register for the latest version. Many clients are more willing to share older assets that aren’t the focus of a current campaign.

 

5. Split the difference

 

Just because we prefer a certain approach doesn’t mean it’s the correct course of action for the client. Push too hard against gated content, and they may dig in their heels. Luckily, there’s a middle-ground that doesn’t require handing over an entire asset, no questions asked.

Creating a high-quality blog post about a recent report may help you earn rankings that would be lost behind a lead-gen form. Include excerpts, bulleted lists and/or infographics that get the main point of your research across. Do not write a 300-word sales pitch and post it — nobody wants to read that. The blog entry is meant to convince visitors that registering for the full report is worth their time and effort.

Putting your best content on display is often a high-wire act of balancing good SEO with business goals. Taking a strategic approach to showing off unique assets can help improve a site’s rankings and convince users that your reports -– and products -– are worth their time.

The post The Gate Escape: Rescuing Your Best Content from a Life Behind Lead-Gen Forms appeared first on The Search Agency.

The Gate Escape: Rescuing Your Best Content from a Life Behind Lead-Gen Forms

The Search Agents Feed - Mon, 10/09/2017 - 08:56

Many companies create whitepapers and reports based upon original research. These unique assets have the potential to capture organic traffic. All too often, though, the content is kept behind lead-generation forms, an impenetrable barrier for search engines. As SEOs, we find ourselves trying to pull some gated content out into the light of day. Clients often resist this, as their sales and marketing departments rely upon forms to build leads lists.

How can SEOs convince clients to loosen the reins a bit and make high-quality content available to the masses -– and search engines? A strategic approach is key. Here are five ways to identify which gated content deserves to be set free, and how to frame your argument.

 

1. Focus on content that encourages conversions

 

First, set aside ranking position, CTR and bounce rates for a moment — most clients are focused on conversions. It makes a lot of sense, then, to liberate content likely to attract clicks from prospective customers. These bottom-of-the-funnel assets tend to cover topics of little interest to the layman.

Think about the person who would search for “data validation best practices.” At the very least, he or she is probably in the IT field. They may even be in a position to purchase software. A cloud-computing company would want this prospect to be aware of their products. An SEO could easily make the case that it’s counterproductive to gate a report on cloud computing if a higher ranking could put the company in front of more leads.

 

2. Target rankings that are rightfully yours

 

Second, there’s a good possibility that someone else has already “leaked” your client’s gated content in the form of an article or blog entry. Writers register for the report, then cite the facts and figures on their own website. They get the ranking based on your client’s hard work –- and there’s not much you can do about it. If this is the case with one of your client’s assets, sharing the offending article should remove all objections to keeping the source material hidden away.

 

3. Bring Featured Snippets into the conversation

 

Winning a Featured Snippet can help your content punch above its own weight. Review gated content for assets that lend themselves to a Featured Snippet. The prospect of ranking at position zero could be attractive enough to make your client think twice about hiding a whitepaper away. Also, it’s a tangible accomplishment that they can show to their boss.

 

4. Get more mileage from “old” assets

 

Next, review gated content from past years that might still have value. It’s probably fallen off the client’s radar. Allowing full access to a report from 2014 lets search engines crawl the asset and gives users a taste of what to expect if they register for the latest version. Many clients are more willing to share older assets that aren’t the focus of a current campaign.

 

5. Split the difference

 

Just because we prefer a certain approach doesn’t mean it’s the correct course of action for the client. Push too hard against gated content, and they may dig in their heels. Luckily, there’s a middle-ground that doesn’t require handing over an entire asset, no questions asked.

Creating a high-quality blog post about a recent report may help you earn rankings that would be lost behind a lead-gen form. Include excerpts, bulleted lists and/or infographics that get the main point of your research across. Do not write a 300-word sales pitch and post it — nobody wants to read that. The blog entry is meant to convince visitors that registering for the full report is worth their time and effort.

Putting your best content on display is often a high-wire act of balancing good SEO with business goals. Taking a strategic approach to showing off unique assets can help improve a site’s rankings and convince users that your reports -– and products -– are worth their time.

The post The Gate Escape: Rescuing Your Best Content from a Life Behind Lead-Gen Forms appeared first on The Search Agency.

When Good Analytics Goes Bad

The Search Agents Feed - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 14:37

Try as we might, sometimes data tracking doesn’t work the way we expect it to. I sat down with our technical account manager extraordinaires, Roberto Reyes and Abhiram Bhagwat, to ask about the most common mistakes they see with pixels, data tracking, attribution and what they recommend doing to avoid errors in tracking that could result in inaccurate reporting.

 

Problems with Pixels

 

Pixels are the backbone of analytics, but they are not as simple to implement as it seems. Multiple vendors use different formats for their pixels, and require different implementations, even if they’re tracking the same event. When implemented improperly, pixels may not fire, misfire or cause a conflict with another pixel.

The knowledge of the person implementing the pixel is often the most important factor in making sure it works properly. Sometimes a developer will assume one pixel is the same as another pixel, and put it in the wrong place. Or sometimes the person implementing the pixel will assume one pixel has similar installation requirements as another, and not install it properly. Pixels aren’t cookie cutters, so we see the best outcomes when the account manager and tech team work together to make sure the pixel is installed properly in the right place.

 

Deciding What Data to Track

 

Pixels are one piece of the entire data-tracking system, but they are not the most important element. The most important part of data analytics and pixel placement is figuring out which events to track in the first place. Some clients want to track everything, which results in data overload. Other clients only want to track the sale, but that doesn’t provide the full picture of how customers move through the conversion process.

We recommend finding a middle ground between tracking every micro-conversion and tracking only the final conversion. Part of that decision stems from strategy. Abhiram and Rob prefer to see a strategy for each channel that will be tracked to make sure there is consistency between naming conventions and tracking processes for each.

 

Attribution Varies Across Platforms

 

In the old days, clicks were attributed only to the last source of the conversion. Now there are multiple attribution models, and multiple platforms on which to view them. Further compounding the challenge is the fact that each platform sees the data slightly differently.

Each person viewing the data needs to understand how to read it and how to compare two different data sources. Don’t try to compare exact numbers, because they won’t always match. But you should be able to see similar trend lines on each platform with the same attribution model. If one is out of whack, then you know there’s a problem with the tracking — which brings us to our next point.

 

Marketing Automation Headaches

 

Marketing automation is the hot topic in analytics circles, but it’s easier said than done. The key to marketing automation is consistency. For example, if the team can identify patterns in URLs, then they can create rules in Google Sheets to manage your tracking. If each URL follows a different pattern, then everything must be manually created.

Obviously, marketing automation saves time, money, and effort, but you must consider your data tracking needs from the beginning of the development process to achieve that goal. Pixels should not be the last piece you insert. If you build in scalable hooks, everyone will be happier.

 

Communication and Planning Save the Day

 

Communication is the biggest area of failure that Abhiram and Rob encounter. Always maintain communication with the technical account management team. They can help you figure out whether changing something in the middle of the path will break the tracking at the end. They can also help you ensure that what seems like a minor change won’t disrupt the whole process and make troubleshooting easier. For example, if a developer changes a function, but the same function is used in other areas of a site, it could affect how other pixels fire and the analytics team may not be able to quickly identify that as the source of the error. However, if you tell them the plan before making the change, they could tell you what to watch for.

Planning is the second component of effective communication. Use a project plan for every campaign and make sure analytics is a part of that plan. Talk early and often about the plan and what elements need to be considered.

 

Back-up Systems Save the Data

 

Each client needs multiple data-tracking systems as a back-up. Back-up systems help in two ways:

 

  • Ensuring data doesn’t get lost
  • Identifying the source of the problem if one system is different from the others
  •  

    By having a backup, you can quickly see if a pixel is misfiring on a single system. You can also verify reporting to ensure the rest of the data tracks properly, or fill in the errors produced by that misfiring pixel.

     

    Above All: Be Vigilant

     

    Abhiram and Rob’s top tip is to remain vigilant. Analytics is not a set-it-and-forget-it enterprise. One small change can change everything. Avoid errors by:

     

  • Conducting regular audits, quarterly at a minimum
  • Setting up rules and alerts so you will know the second an error occurs
  •  

    In a perfect world, analytics would always work seamlessly, but as long as people are managing the process, there will be errors. We hope these above tips will help your team avoid some of the simplest mistakes that make good pixels go bad.

    The post When Good Analytics Goes Bad appeared first on The Search Agency.

    When Good Analytics Goes Bad

    The Search Agents Feed - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 13:04

    Try as we might, sometimes data tracking doesn’t work the way we expect it to. I sat down with our technical account manager extraordinaires, Roberto Reyes and Abhiram Bhagwat, to ask about the most common mistakes they see with pixels, data tracking, attribution and what they recommend doing to avoid errors in tracking that could result in inaccurate reporting.

     

    Problems with Pixels

     

    Pixels are the backbone of analytics, but they are not as simple to implement as it seems. Multiple vendors use different formats for their pixels, and require different implementations, even if they’re tracking the same event. When implemented improperly, pixels may not fire, misfire or cause a conflict with another pixel.

    The knowledge of the person implementing the pixel is often the most important factor in making sure it works properly. Sometimes a developer will assume one pixel is the same as another pixel, and put it in the wrong place. Or sometimes the person implementing the pixel will assume one pixel has similar installation requirements as another, and not install it properly. Pixels aren’t cookie cutters, so we see the best outcomes when the account manager and tech team work together to make sure the pixel is installed properly in the right place.

     

    Deciding What Data to Track

     

    Pixels are one piece of the entire data-tracking system, but they are not the most important element. The most important part of data analytics and pixel placement is figuring out which events to track in the first place. Some clients want to track everything, which results in data overload. Other clients only want to track the sale, but that doesn’t provide the full picture of how customers move through the conversion process.

    We recommend finding a middle ground between tracking every micro-conversion and tracking only the final conversion. Part of that decision stems from strategy. Abhiram and Rob prefer to see a strategy for each channel that will be tracked to make sure there is consistency between naming conventions and tracking processes for each.

     

    Attribution Varies Across Platforms

     

    In the old days, clicks were attributed only to the last source of the conversion. Now there are multiple attribution models, and multiple platforms on which to view them. Further compounding the challenge is the fact that each platform sees the data slightly differently.

    Each person viewing the data needs to understand how to read it and how to compare two different data sources. Don’t try to compare exact numbers, because they won’t always match. But you should be able to see similar trend lines on each platform with the same attribution model. If one is out of whack, then you know there’s a problem with the tracking — which brings us to our next point.

     

    Marketing Automation Headaches

     

    Marketing automation is the hot topic in analytics circles, but it’s easier said than done. The key to marketing automation is consistency. For example, if the team can identify patterns in URLs, then they can create rules in Google Sheets to manage your tracking. If each URL follows a different pattern, then everything must be manually created.

    Obviously, marketing automation saves time, money, and effort, but you must consider your data tracking needs from the beginning of the development process to achieve that goal. Pixels should not be the last piece you insert. If you build in scalable hooks, everyone will be happier.

     

    Communication and Planning Save the Day

     

    Communication is the biggest area of failure that Abhiram and Rob encounter. Always maintain communication with the technical account management team. They can help you figure out whether changing something in the middle of the path will break the tracking at the end. They can also help you ensure that what seems like a minor change won’t disrupt the whole process and make troubleshooting easier. For example, if a developer changes a function, but the same function is used in other areas of a site, it could affect how other pixels fire and the analytics team may not be able to quickly identify that as the source of the error. However, if you tell them the plan before making the change, they could tell you what to watch for.

    Planning is the second component of effective communication. Use a project plan for every campaign and make sure analytics is a part of that plan. Talk early and often about the plan and what elements need to be considered.

     

    Back-up Systems Save the Data

     

    Each client needs multiple data-tracking systems as a back-up. Back-up systems help in two ways:

     

  • Ensuring data doesn’t get lost
  • Identifying the source of the problem if one system is different from the others
  •  

    By having a backup, you can quickly see if a pixel is misfiring on a single system. You can also verify reporting to ensure the rest of the data tracks properly, or fill in the errors produced by that misfiring pixel.

     

    Above All: Be Vigilant

     

    Abhiram and Rob’s top tip is to remain vigilant. Analytics is not a set-it-and-forget-it enterprise. One small change can change everything. Avoid errors by:

     

  • Conducting regular audits, quarterly at a minimum
  • Setting up rules and alerts so you will know the second an error occurs
  •  

    In a perfect world, analytics would always work seamlessly, but as long as people are managing the process, there will be errors. We hope these above tips will help your team avoid some of the simplest mistakes that make good pixels go bad.

    The post When Good Analytics Goes Bad appeared first on The Search Agency.

    How to Be Efficient in Paid Search with Automation

    The Search Agents Feed - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 11:30

    It is said that time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters. This stands true even when it comes to paid search management and optimization.

    In that regard, relying on manual control is sometimes not very helpful as it either leads to errors or is simply too time-consuming. When we figure out smart ways of automating work, we can finish more in less time and with higher accuracy.

    Let me list out some of the ways in which we have been automating paid search management both successfully and effectively.

     

    Automated Rules

     

    Most paid search platforms now allow you to set up automated rules. Some are basic like those that allow you to activate/pause ads, keywords and campaigns. Others even help you automatically change bid strategy and budgets based on conditions you set. For instance, you could set an automated rule to move keywords automatically to a “Target CPA”-based bid strategy based on performance. Or you could shift keywords to a “Position”-based bid strategy if the average position is greater than the required one.

     

    Scripts

     

    When it comes to the use of scripts, unfortunately, only AdWords allows you to set those up. This feature is not yet available on Bing. The developers’ page of AdWords provides the technical details on creating and implementing scripts. There are some sample scripts available, too. However, if you have a technical resource with JavaScript knowledge, you could customize your script, as well. These could help you run basic checks like those for 404 errors with landing pages, finding queries mapping incorrectly to keywords, tracking quality score changes and more. What also helps is that you can set these up on a recurring frequency, so monthly optimization tasks can be run without you having to spare time to run these checks.

     

    Custom Formulas

     

    Again, this is a feature that quite a few platforms provide. The secret lies in knowing how to use it. The most basic custom formulas could be used to calculate weighted conversions based on what’s important to a client. For instance, if you are tracking multiple touchpoints on a website ranging from those who sign up for a newsletter to those who create an account, you could assign weights based on importance. If, based on client conversations, you realize that 20 percent of those who sign up for a newsletter end up creating an account, you could create a “Total Conversions” column that assigns a 20-percent weightage to the conversion point. That way, you can measure the true value of paid search better. You could even use advanced custom formulas that help notify/send alerts based on performance. For instance, The Search Agency uses a formula that measures ROAS changes over a 7-day period compared to 30-day averages. If there is a drop in the ROAS based on the criteria we set (e.g. more than 25 percent), it sends an alert. This can be done for any metric like impressions, clicks, CPA, transactions and more.

     

    Ad Customizers/Sales Countdowns

     

    AdWords has done an impressive job in terms of allowing you to customize ads based on feeds or sale date. Let’s say you’re a real estate company offering different price ranges based on geo. Now, instead of creating customized ads for every geo and highlighting the price range, you can upload a feed in “Business Data” section of AdWords that pulls in the right price range based on the geo. All you need to do is create ads with the right syntax and upload an updated feed sheet regularly. Needless to say, the time savings are huge. Similarly, if you had to set up ads that show the number of days remaining for a sale to end, you wouldn’t want to do that daily. Sales countdown ads allow you to do just that, creating ads on their own based on the details you initially provide.

     

    Web Queries/Macros

     

    Each platform today provides tools to create automated reports. Some, like DoubleClick, help you create web queries that, when inserted into Excel, pull refreshed data. This has saved us hours of work in terms of running manual reports for daily, weekly and monthly account summaries. DoubleClick also has a feature called Executive Reports that allows you to create customized reports with beautiful graphs and charts. Again, all you need to do is create one template and then run it based on requirement. It pulls in the latest data on each run and feeds it automatically into graphs and charts. In cases where platforms don’t have these features available, having a resource with VisualBasic skills helps a lot. This resource could help create advanced reports with macros that automate these reports for you. We use one that does a thorough check on the account’s health and outputs reports segmented by device, brand/non-brand, day parting, geo analysis, etc. Imagine running these individually on each of your accounts!

    The benefits of these automated tools/features cannot be emphasized enough. Using these are essential to stay on top of the game when it comes to smart account management.

    The post How to Be Efficient in Paid Search with Automation appeared first on The Search Agency.

    How to Be Efficient in Paid Search with Automation

    The Search Agents Feed - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 08:18

    It is said that time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters. This stands true even when it comes to paid search management and optimization.

    In that regard, relying on manual control is sometimes not very helpful as it either leads to errors or is simply too time-consuming. When we figure out smart ways of automating work, we can finish more in less time and with higher accuracy.

    Let me list out some of the ways in which we have been automating paid search management both successfully and effectively.

     

    Automated Rules

     

    Most paid search platforms now allow you to set up automated rules. Some are basic like those that allow you to activate/pause ads, keywords and campaigns. Others even help you automatically change bid strategy and budgets based on conditions you set. For instance, you could set an automated rule to move keywords automatically to a “Target CPA”-based bid strategy based on performance. Or you could shift keywords to a “Position”-based bid strategy if the average position is greater than the required one.

     

    Scripts

     

    When it comes to the use of scripts, unfortunately, only AdWords allows you to set those up. This feature is not yet available on Bing. The developers’ page of AdWords provides the technical details on creating and implementing scripts. There are some sample scripts available, too. However, if you have a technical resource with JavaScript knowledge, you could customize your script, as well. These could help you run basic checks like those for 404 errors with landing pages, finding queries mapping incorrectly to keywords, tracking quality score changes and more. What also helps is that you can set these up on a recurring frequency, so monthly optimization tasks can be run without you having to spare time to run these checks.

     

    Custom Formulas

     

    Again, this is a feature that quite a few platforms provide. The secret lies in knowing how to use it. The most basic custom formulas could be used to calculate weighted conversions based on what’s important to a client. For instance, if you are tracking multiple touchpoints on a website ranging from those who sign up for a newsletter to those who create an account, you could assign weights based on importance. If, based on client conversations, you realize that 20 percent of those who sign up for a newsletter end up creating an account, you could create a “Total Conversions” column that assigns a 20-percent weightage to the conversion point. That way, you can measure the true value of paid search better. You could even use advanced custom formulas that help notify/send alerts based on performance. For instance, The Search Agency uses a formula that measures ROAS changes over a 7-day period compared to 30-day averages. If there is a drop in the ROAS based on the criteria we set (e.g. more than 25 percent), it sends an alert. This can be done for any metric like impressions, clicks, CPA, transactions and more.

     

    Ad Customizers/Sales Countdowns

     

    AdWords has done an impressive job in terms of allowing you to customize ads based on feeds or sale date. Let’s say you’re a real estate company offering different price ranges based on geo. Now, instead of creating customized ads for every geo and highlighting the price range, you can upload a feed in “Business Data” section of AdWords that pulls in the right price range based on the geo. All you need to do is create ads with the right syntax and upload an updated feed sheet regularly. Needless to say, the time savings are huge. Similarly, if you had to set up ads that show the number of days remaining for a sale to end, you wouldn’t want to do that daily. Sales countdown ads allow you to do just that, creating ads on their own based on the details you initially provide.

     

    Web Queries/Macros

     

    Each platform today provides tools to create automated reports. Some, like DoubleClick, help you create web queries that, when inserted into Excel, pull refreshed data. This has saved us hours of work in terms of running manual reports for daily, weekly and monthly account summaries. DoubleClick also has a feature called Executive Reports that allows you to create customized reports with beautiful graphs and charts. Again, all you need to do is create one template and then run it based on requirement. It pulls in the latest data on each run and feeds it automatically into graphs and charts. In cases where platforms don’t have these features available, having a resource with VisualBasic skills helps a lot. This resource could help create advanced reports with macros that automate these reports for you. We use one that does a thorough check on the account’s health and outputs reports segmented by device, brand/non-brand, day parting, geo analysis, etc. Imagine running these individually on each of your accounts!

    The benefits of these automated tools/features cannot be emphasized enough. Using these are essential to stay on top of the game when it comes to smart account management.

    The post How to Be Efficient in Paid Search with Automation appeared first on The Search Agency.

    The Exact Match Conspiracy

    The Search Agents Feed - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 09:35

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (or roughly three years ago), Google decided to do away with exact match keyword targeting. You can still bid on exact match terms in AdWords, but you can’t stop AdWords from opting you into closely-related queries in the process. AdWords got rid of the option to opt-out of close match variants on keywords in the fall of 2014. The reasons, no matter what side of the aisle you sit, can be debated ad nauseum. But what cannot be debated are the effects that this has on keyword matching.

     

    Impact on keyword matching

     

    A few months ago, when looking into my clients’ campaigns, I noticed a change in queries associated with exact match terms. They seemed less like variants of the keywords I was bidding on and more like broader, similar-intent-based keywords. Queries like “car rental” on exact match were now matching to “rent a car.” Granted, the intent is the same, but the advertiser’s lack of control seems to have grown larger.

    Looking through the last 12 months of search queries on exact match terms, I noticed a slight change over time. Based on observations of a couple of my accounts, May 2017 is when advertisers’ reins seemed to loosen a little more. For other accounts, this occurred as far back as last fall. What was once a running list of plurals and misspellings being deemed close variants slowly became a list of similar-intent queries with misspellings around the original keyword and the broader intent of that keyword. Is this a case of the algorithm getting smarter and being able to understand a person’s intent and better accommodating that? Or is this Google finding ways to create larger auctions with more advertisers?

    It used to be that advertisers had to keep a close eye on the accounts they manage, diving deep into search query reports for relevant keywords to expand into, tightly controlling pure broad match terms to mine for relevant keywords and spending time combing through Google’s keyword planner for the right set of keywords. Advertisers still need to keep a close eye on their accounts — Google has simply taken a couple of those things off their plate. With keywords automatically opted into close match variants, Google’s machine learning will find similar auctions that your keywords can show for. As the reins of keyword matching have been eased, so too has our own oversight.

    Advertisers have had little choice but to allow Google to place more people in more auctions over time through its close variant matching. This helps all three participants in an AdWords auction: AdWords sees an increase in the number of advertisers trying to get into an auction, thus making it more competitive and expensive; advertisers gain a wider range of auctions available to them with less work to be done on their end; finally, the user who has typed in the query is served more advertisers that are relevant to his or her search intent. Again, who benefits more is merely a matter of on what side of the aisle one sits.

    The good news in this new, intent-based, close variant world is that there is always a better way. With proper vigilance by the advertiser, this unspoken easing of close variant keyword matching can be navigated and properly managed.

     

    Taking back the reins

     

    It is important to ensure that you have tightly-knit ad groups. The smaller the keyword set within the ad group and the more similarly intent-based that keywords within the set are to each other, the easier they will be to manage. I used to be of the mindset that all keywords within an ad group should be similar in intent, but that you can have 10 to 12 keywords and their close variants within the same ad group. No longer is that possible. Ad groups should not contain more than six to eight keywords at most, with the majority of ad groups having even smaller keyword sets than that.

    Once these ad groups are set up in this structure (with smaller, tighter-knit keyword sets), search query reports are a must. Weekly search query reports should be run for the first three to four weeks to ensure that the basics are covered. Once the ad groups reach a level of stability, set a cadence of once every three to four weeks to look for close match variants that your exact match keywords are matching with. Set up exact match forced negatives in those ad groups to negate them. If they perform, have those keywords in their own ad groups.

    The key is to have ad group-level forced negatives to ensure that you are only bidding on terms within the account and all queries are being properly funneled to the appropriate ad group. Since the slightly looser definition of “exact match” took hold on a few of my accounts this past May, I discovered several instances of queries within campaigns matching to multiple keywords. That means, in those instances, I was potentially bidding up against myself, driving up my own CPCs.

    This new, similar-intent world can easily be managed with some initiative to get ahead of your keywords and negatives list, followed by the vigilance to constantly monitor it once it’s stable. It’s easy to let exact match terms go unnoticed in search query reports, but it’s important to monitor those, as well, as that could mean a significant difference to overall performance. If 80 percent of your account comes from 20 percent of your keywords, most of which are exact match, it would serve you well to ensure that those are always up to snuff.

    The post The Exact Match Conspiracy appeared first on The Search Agency.

    The Exact Match Conspiracy

    The Search Agents Feed - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 02:31

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (or roughly three years ago), Google decided to do away with exact match keyword targeting. You can still bid on exact match terms in AdWords, but you can’t stop AdWords from opting you into closely-related queries in the process. AdWords got rid of the option to opt-out of close match variants on keywords in the fall of 2014. The reasons, no matter what side of the aisle you sit, can be debated ad nauseum. But what cannot be debated are the effects that this has on keyword matching.

     

    Impact on keyword matching

     

    A few months ago, when looking into my clients’ campaigns, I noticed a change in queries associated with exact match terms. They seemed less like variants of the keywords I was bidding on and more like broader, similar-intent-based keywords. Queries like “car rental” on exact match were now matching to “rent a car.” Granted, the intent is the same, but the advertiser’s lack of control seems to have grown larger.

    Looking through the last 12 months of search queries on exact match terms, there was a slight change over time. For a couple of accounts, May 2017 is when advertisers’ reins seemed to loosen a little more. For other accounts, this occurred as far back as last fall. What was once a running list of plurals and misspellings being deemed close variants slowly became a list of similar-intent queries with misspellings around the original keyword and the broader intent of that keyword. Is this a case of the algorithm getting smarter and being able to understand a person’s intent and better accommodating that? Or is this Google finding ways to create larger auctions with more advertisers?

    It used to be that advertisers had to keep a close eye on the accounts they manage, diving deep into search query reports for relevant keywords to expand into, tightly controlling pure broad match terms to mine for relevant keywords and spending time combing through Google’s keyword planner for the right set of keywords. Advertisers still need to keep a close eye on their accounts — Google has simply taken a couple of those things off their plate. With keywords automatically opted into close match variants, Google’s machine learning will find similar auctions that your keywords can show for. As the reins of keyword matching have been eased, so too has our own oversight.

    Advertisers have had little choice but to allow Google to place more people in more auctions over the course of time through their close variant matching. This helps all three participants in an AdWords auction. AdWords has an increase in the number of advertisers trying to get into an auction, thus making it more competitive and expensive. Advertisers have a wider range of auctions available to them with less work to be done on their end. Finally, the user who has typed in the query has more advertisers that are relevant to his or her intent. Again, who benefits more is merely a matter of on what side of the aisle one sits.

    The good news in this new, intent-based, close variant world is that there is always a better way. With proper vigilance by the advertiser, this unspoken easing of close variant keyword matching can be navigated and properly managed.

     

    Taking back the reins

     

    It is important to ensure that you have tightly-knit ad groups. The smaller the keyword set within the ad group and the more similarly intent-based that keywords within the set are to each other, the easier they will be to manage. I used to be of the mindset that all keywords within an ad group should be similar in intent, but that you can have 10 to 12 keywords and their close variants within the same ad group. No longer is that possible. Ad groups should not contain more than six to eight keywords at most, with the majority of ad groups having even smaller keyword sets than that.

    Once these ad groups are set up in this structure (with smaller, tighter-knit keyword sets), search query reports are a must. Weekly search query reports should be run for the first three to four weeks to ensure that the basics are covered. Once the ad groups reach a level of stability, set a cadence of once every three to four weeks to look for close match variants that your exact match keywords are matching with. Set up exact match forced negatives in those ad groups to negate them. If they perform, have those keywords in their own ad groups.

    The key is to have ad group-level forced negatives to ensure that you are only bidding on terms within the account and all queries are being properly funneled to the appropriate ad group. Since the slightly looser definition of “exact match” took hold on a few of my accounts this past May, I discovered several instances of queries within campaigns matching to multiple keywords. That means, in those instances, I was potentially bidding up against myself, driving up my own CPCs.

    This new, similar-intent world can easily be managed with some initiative to get ahead of your keywords and negatives list, followed by the vigilance to constantly monitor it once it’s stable. It’s easy to let exact match terms go unnoticed in search query reports, but it’s important to monitor those, as well, as that could mean a significant difference to overall performance. If 80 percent of your account comes from 20 percent of your keywords, most of which are exact match, it would serve you well to ensure that those are always up to snuff.

    The post The Exact Match Conspiracy appeared first on The Search Agency.

    The Exact Match Conspiracy

    The Search Agents Feed - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 02:30

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (or roughly three years ago), Google decided to do away with exact match keyword targeting. You can still bid on exact match terms in AdWords, but you can’t stop AdWords from opting you into closely-related queries in the process. AdWords got rid of the option to opt-out of close match variants on keywords in the fall of 2014. The reasons, no matter what side of the aisle you sit, can be debated ad nauseum. But what cannot be debated are the effects that this has on keyword matching.

     

    Impact on keyword matching

     

    A few months ago, when looking into my clients’ campaigns, I noticed a change in queries associated with exact match terms. They seemed less like variants of the keywords I was bidding on and more like broader, similar-intent-based keywords. Queries like “car rental” on exact match were now matching to “rent a car.” Granted, the intent is the same, but the advertiser’s lack of control seems to have grown larger.

    Looking through the last 12 months of search queries on exact match terms, there was a slight change over time. For a couple of accounts, May 2017 is when advertisers’ reins seemed to loosen a little more. For other accounts, this occurred as far back as last fall. What was once a running list of plurals and misspellings being deemed close variants slowly became a list of similar-intent queries with misspellings around the original keyword and the broader intent of that keyword. Is this a case of the algorithm getting smarter and being able to understand a person’s intent and better accommodating that? Or is this Google finding ways to create larger auctions with more advertisers?

    It used to be that advertisers had to keep a close eye on the accounts they manage, diving deep into search query reports for relevant keywords to expand into, tightly controlling pure broad match terms to mine for relevant keywords and spending time combing through Google’s keyword planner for the right set of keywords. Advertisers still need to keep a close eye on their accounts — Google has simply taken a couple of those things off their plate. With keywords automatically opted into close match variants, Google’s machine learning will find similar auctions that your keywords can show for. As the reins of keyword matching have been eased, so too has our own oversight.

    Advertisers have had little choice but to allow Google to place more people in more auctions over the course of time through their close variant matching. This helps all three participants in an AdWords auction. AdWords has an increase in the number of advertisers trying to get into an auction, thus making it more competitive and expensive. Advertisers have a wider range of auctions available to them with less work to be done on their end. Finally, the user who has typed in the query has more advertisers that are relevant to his or her intent. Again, who benefits more is merely a matter of on what side of the aisle one sits.

    The good news in this new, intent-based, close variant world is that there is always a better way. With proper vigilance by the advertiser, this unspoken easing of close variant keyword matching can be navigated and properly managed.

     

    Taking back the reins

     

    It is important to ensure that you have tightly-knit ad groups. The smaller the keyword set within the ad group and the more similarly intent-based that keywords within the set are to each other, the easier they will be to manage. I used to be of the mindset that all keywords within an ad group should be similar in intent, but that you can have 10 to 12 keywords and their close variants within the same ad group. No longer is that possible. Ad groups should not contain more than six to eight keywords at most, with the majority of ad groups having even smaller keyword sets than that.

    Once these ad groups are set up in this structure (with smaller, tighter-knit keyword sets), search query reports are a must. Weekly search query reports should be run for the first three to four weeks to ensure that the basics are covered. Once the ad groups reach a level of stability, set a cadence of once every three to four weeks to look for close match variants that your exact match keywords are matching with. Set up exact match forced negatives in those ad groups to negate them. If they perform, have those keywords in their own ad groups.

    The key is to have ad group-level forced negatives to ensure that you are only bidding on terms within the account and all queries are being properly funneled to the appropriate ad group. Since the slightly looser definition of “exact match” took hold on a few of my accounts this past May, I discovered several instances of queries within campaigns matching to multiple keywords. That means, in those instances, I was potentially bidding up against myself, driving up my own CPCs.

    This new, similar-intent world can easily be managed with some initiative to get ahead of your keywords and negatives list, followed by the vigilance to constantly monitor it once it’s stable. It’s easy to let exact match terms go unnoticed in search query reports, but it’s important to monitor those, as well, as that could mean a significant difference to overall performance. If 80 percent of your account comes from 20 percent of your keywords, most of which are exact match, it would serve you well to ensure that those are always up to snuff.

    The post The Exact Match Conspiracy appeared first on The Search Agency.

    Treating People Well Matters, Part I

    The Search Agents Feed - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 08:59

    Let me start by saying that I am not perfect — in fact, I’m far from it. Anyone who knows me well will agree with that sentiment perhaps a little too wholeheartedly than I would prefer, but as I grow older, I become more comfortable accepting who I am — warts and all. That being said, few people I know would disagree that I try hard to do what I think is right and try hard to treat people with compassion and respect.

    I would like to believe that a lot of who I am was instilled in me as a child, strongly due to my parents, both through their words and their deeds. They sacrificed a lot to provide me with the best education possible, and despite the financial strain they incurred, they always provided a loving and nurturing environment. I have, to this day, never seen my parents argue angrily with each other. Debate about opinions and facts was an everyday occurrence, but never attacks against each other — or other people, really.

    With that backdrop, I have decided to write a series of blog articles in which I share some of the lessons I have learned over the years how to treat people well. I believe them to be valuable, but each reader will have to make that assessment for themselves. These pieces of advice are provided in no particular order, but I can honestly say that I strive to apply all of them in my everyday life as much as possible, fully knowing that I fail to live up to them more often than I would like. Like I said, I am not perfect.

     

    Lesson #1: Listen more, talk less

     

    I read an article on Sales Hacker recently (thank you, Google!) that cited a study they had conducted. The study found the most successful sales people were those who spoke 43 percent of the time and listened to their prospective customers 57 percent of the time. The worst performing sales people spoke about 66 percent of the time, which I’ve found, through my experience, is absolutely the case. The more we learn about a prospect’s issues and concerns, the more we can tailor a solution that actually meets or exceeds their needs. If we can’t find a solution, we should not move forward because we will both be disappointed by the outcome.

    Listening more when selling is clearly helpful, but I believe this notion of listening — really listening — helps one not only understand what someone is actually saying, but helps them provide more thoughtful insights, as well.

    How often have you been in a meeting with colleagues where a few people speak a lot, some people listen and, of course, some people are on their device du jour, not listening or caring much about what is going on around them? While I have participated in many of those types of meetings and sometimes lead them (ouch — not something I like to admit), I am often amazed by what ideas or thoughts come out of the mouths of the people who really listen, really think about what they want to say and really provide terrific insight. Over the years, I have found that when one of those rare people speaks, everybody listens. The talkers quiet down, the listeners strain forward to hear and the “Devicers” look up and take note as if the meeting just started. And over time, whenever those listeners choose to contribute, their contributions are listened to carefully and frequently sway the day. Be that listener as much as you can — eventually, you’ll find people will recognize you for it and admire you for your insight and thoughtfulness.

    I have talked about this concept of “actually listening” and think it is worth expanding upon what I mean by that phrase for a moment. To me, it is about being an active listener versus a passive one. An active listener focuses fully on the person who is speaking, looks at them and engages with them. You can see it in their faces, in their physical attention and in how they can identify the right moment to comment or to acknowledge the receipt of their information using verbal cues.

    Passive listeners are generally people who are present but whose minds are occupied by other things. I have had meetings with passive listeners many times and I know they are not actively listening because they are actively doing something else. In today’s world, that typically means texting or emailing on a device. As I have gotten older (and, as my wife will say, more crotchety), my tolerance for “Devicers” has decreased significantly. I don’t have enough time in the day to waste any of it with people who are not interested in speaking with me. Their status as one of these “Devicers” does not make them a bad person at all — it just means what I want to speak about is not priority for, and that’s okay.

    So, the next time you are having a conversation, I encourage you to put your device down, look at the person who is speaking and really think about what they are saying. Ultimately, I believe you will both be richer for it.

    The post Treating People Well Matters, Part I appeared first on The Search Agency.

    Treating People Well Matters, Part I

    The Search Agents Feed - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 03:00

    Let me start by saying that I am not perfect — in fact, I’m far from it. Anyone who knows me well will agree with that sentiment perhaps a little too wholeheartedly than I would prefer, but as I grow older, I become more comfortable accepting who I am — warts and all. That being said, few people I know would disagree that I try hard to do what I think is right and try hard to treat people with compassion and respect.

    I would like to believe that a lot of who I am was instilled in me as a child, strongly due to my parents, both through their words and their deeds. They sacrificed a lot to provide me with the best education possible, and despite the financial strain they incurred, they always provided a loving and nurturing environment. I have, to this day, never seen my parents argue angrily with each other. Debate about opinions and facts was an everyday occurrence, but never attacks against each other — or other people, really.

    With that backdrop, I have decided to write a series of blog articles in which I share some of the lessons I have learned over the years how to treat people well. I believe them to be valuable, but each reader will have to make that assessment for themselves. These pieces of advice are provided in no particular order, but I can honestly say that I strive to apply all of them in my everyday life as much as possible, fully knowing that I fail to live up to them more often than I would like. Like I said, I am not perfect.

     

    Lesson #1: Listen more, talk less

     

    I read an article on Sales Hacker recently (thank you, Google!) that cited a study they had conducted. The study found the most successful sales people were those who spoke 43 percent of the time and listened to their prospective customers 57 percent of the time. The worst performing sales people spoke about 66 percent of the time, which I’ve found, through my experience, is absolutely the case. The more we learn about a prospect’s issues and concerns, the more we can tailor a solution that actually meets or exceeds their needs. If we can’t find a solution, we should not move forward because we will both be disappointed by the outcome.

    Listening more when selling is clearly helpful, but I believe this notion of listening — really listening — helps one not only understand what someone is actually saying, but helps them provide more thoughtful insights, as well.

    How often have you been in a meeting with colleagues where a few people speak a lot, some people listen and, of course, some people are on their device du jour, not listening or caring much about what is going on around them? While I have participated in many of those types of meetings and sometimes lead them (ouch — not something I like to admit), I am often amazed by what ideas or thoughts come out of the mouths of the people who really listen, really think about what they want to say and really provide terrific insight. Over the years, I have found that when one of those rare people speaks, everybody listens. The talkers quiet down, the listeners strain forward to hear and the “Devicers” look up and take note as if the meeting just started. And over time, whenever those listeners choose to contribute, their contributions are listened to carefully and frequently sway the day. Be that listener as much as you can — eventually, you’ll find people will recognize you for it and admire you for your insight and thoughtfulness.

    I have talked about this concept of “actually listening” and think it is worth expanding upon what I mean by that phrase for a moment. To me, it is about being an active listener versus a passive one. An active listener focuses fully on the person who is speaking, looks at them and engages with them. You can see it in their faces, in their physical attention and in how they can identify the right moment to comment or to acknowledge the receipt of their information using verbal cues.

    Passive listeners are generally people who are present but whose minds are occupied by other things. I have had meetings with passive listeners many times and I know they are not actively listening because they are actively doing something else. In today’s world, that typically means texting or emailing on a device. As I have gotten older (and, as my wife will say, more crotchety), my tolerance for “Devicers” has decreased significantly. I don’t have enough time in the day to waste any of it with people who are not interested in speaking with me. Their status as one of these “Devicers” does not make them a bad person at all — it just means what I want to speak about is not priority for, and that’s okay.

    So, the next time you are having a conversation, I encourage you to put your device down, look at the person who is speaking and really think about what they are saying. Ultimately, I believe you will be both be richer for it.

    The post Treating People Well Matters, Part I appeared first on The Search Agency.

    Treating People Well Matters, Part I

    The Search Agents Feed - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 03:00

    Let me start by saying that I am not perfect — in fact, I’m far from it. Anyone who knows me well will agree with that sentiment perhaps a little too wholeheartedly than I would prefer, but as I grow older, I become more comfortable accepting who I am — warts and all. That being said, few people I know would disagree that I try hard to do what I think is right and try hard to treat people with compassion and respect.

    I would like to believe that a lot of who I am was instilled in me as a child, strongly due to my parents, both through their words and their deeds. They sacrificed a lot to provide me with the best education possible, and despite the financial strain they incurred, they always provided a loving and nurturing environment. I have, to this day, never seen my parents argue angrily with each other. Debate about opinions and facts was an everyday occurrence, but never attacks against each other — or other people, really.

    With that backdrop, I have decided to write a series of blog articles in which I share some of the lessons I have learned over the years how to treat people well. I believe them to be valuable, but each reader will have to make that assessment for themselves. These pieces of advice are provided in no particular order, but I can honestly say that I strive to apply all of them in my everyday life as much as possible, fully knowing that I fail to live up to them more often than I would like. Like I said, I am not perfect.

     

    Lesson #1: Listen more, talk less

     

    I read an article on Sales Hacker recently (thank you, Google!) that cited a study they had conducted. The study found the most successful sales people were those who spoke 43 percent of the time and listened to their prospective customers 57 percent of the time. The worst performing sales people spoke about 66 percent of the time, which I’ve found, through my experience, is absolutely the case. The more we learn about a prospect’s issues and concerns, the more we can tailor a solution that actually meets or exceeds their needs. If we can’t find a solution, we should not move forward because we will both be disappointed by the outcome.

    Listening more when selling is clearly helpful, but I believe this notion of listening — really listening — helps one not only understand what someone is actually saying, but helps them provide more thoughtful insights, as well.

    How often have you been in a meeting with colleagues where a few people speak a lot, some people listen and, of course, some people are on their device du jour, not listening or caring much about what is going on around them? While I have participated in many of those types of meetings and sometimes lead them (ouch — not something I like to admit), I am often amazed by what ideas or thoughts come out of the mouths of the people who really listen, really think about what they want to say and really provide terrific insight. Over the years, I have found that when one of those rare people speaks, everybody listens. The talkers quiet down, the listeners strain forward to hear and the “Devicers” look up and take note as if the meeting just started. And over time, whenever those listeners choose to contribute, their contributions are listened to carefully and frequently sway the day. Be that listener as much as you can — eventually, you’ll find people will recognize you for it and admire you for your insight and thoughtfulness.

    I have talked about this concept of “actually listening” and think it is worth expanding upon what I mean by that phrase for a moment. To me, it is about being an active listener versus a passive one. An active listener focuses fully on the person who is speaking, looks at them and engages with them. You can see it in their faces, in their physical attention and in how they can identify the right moment to comment or to acknowledge the receipt of their information using verbal cues.

    Passive listeners are generally people who are present but whose minds are occupied by other things. I have had meetings with passive listeners many times and I know they are not actively listening because they are actively doing something else. In today’s world, that typically means texting or emailing on a device. As I have gotten older (and, as my wife will say, more crotchety), my tolerance for “Devicers” has decreased significantly. I don’t have enough time in the day to waste any of it with people who are not interested in speaking with me. Their status as one of these “Devicers” does not make them a bad person at all — it just means what I want to speak about is not priority for, and that’s okay.

    So, the next time you are having a conversation, I encourage you to put your device down, look at the person who is speaking and really think about what they are saying. Ultimately, I believe you will be both be richer for it.

    The post Treating People Well Matters, Part I appeared first on The Search Agency.

    AMP vs. Progressive Web Apps: Which is Right for Me?

    The Search Agents Feed - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 09:32

    With mobile-first indexing in full swing and the web being driven primarily by mobile searches, businesses can no longer afford to fall behind with their mobile web presence. Separate mobile subdomains are now largely a thing of the past and ordinary responsive websites may be headed in that direction as well. Truth be told, the title of this article is a trick question. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Progressive Web Apps (PWA) work hand in hand. It may be that your business can benefit from both.

    Although we have covered AMP in other articles (“Google Begins Implementation of Mobile-First Indexing,” “Content Optimization for a Mobile World“), a quick recap is in order. Accelerated Mobile Pages are a technology that allows pages to load very quickly, to the point that page load times should feel instantaneous. They do this by cutting out extraneous JavaScript, statically sizing page elements and using asynchronous loading.

    A major benefit to using AMP is that you can improve load times on specific pages without having to redo your entire site. Simply create an AMP template for a given content type and use a rel=”amphtml” tag on the non-AMP version of the content to ensure that the AMP version is accessible to search engines. The AMP version then points back to the non-AMP version with a canonical tag.

    Progressive Web Apps, on the other hand, create an app-like experience through the use of modern web features. As the name suggests, they use browser feature detection to implement progressive enhancement, ensuring compatibility across platforms. This assurance is increased by the use of responsive design, which allows PWAs to be used regardless of device form factor.

    Despite providing an app-like experience, including the ability to be launched from the home screen of a mobile device, PWAs can be easily shared via an ordinary URL. Best practices indicate avoiding the use of escaped fragments (URLs containing “#!” or “#”) in favor of the same type of clean URLs that would be used for any well-optimized webpage.

    PWAs should also be crawlable in the same way that ordinary websites are crawlable. Google recommends the use of server-side rendering, where all dynamic content is computed prior to being served to the user. A hybrid rendering model can be used as well, where some amount of rendering occurs after the initial page load in the form of asynchronous requests. Client-side rendering should be avoided if at all possible. If hybrid rendering or client-side rendering are used, the History API should be used to help with navigation.

    Several other considerations are required as well:

    • PWAs should be secured via HTTPS.
    • Service Workers should be implemented so that the app can work offline or over a poor connection.
    • Canonicals should be used across all pages mirroring a piece of content.
    • If an AMP version of a page exists, rel=”amphtml” should be implemented, just like it would be on a normal website.

    So how do you know when you can benefit from AMP and when you can benefit from developing a PWA? For content that is not too media heavy and does not require lots of custom JavaScript, AMP is an option. Although AMP is full of rich and powerful features, it is at its best with static content such as blog articles or recipes. AMP can definitely be used for e-commerce and other interactive websites, but there are limitations to work around, which might be challenging or costly in some cases.

    Highly dynamic and interactive websites can benefit greatly from Progressive Web Apps. The benefits of PWAs are most noticeable when the focus is on user engagement and experience, rather than purely getting content to the user as quickly as possible. If your business model involves users coming back to interact with your site regularly, investing in the development of a PWA will be well worth your efforts.

    As you contemplate whether moving forward with PWAs and AMP is right for you, some of Google’s case studies may serve as an inspiration. Both can be powerful tools to improve both site performance and user engagement, but you must be careful to implement them properly.

    The post AMP vs. Progressive Web Apps: Which is Right for Me? appeared first on The Search Agency.

    AMP vs. Progressive Web Apps: Which is Right for Me?

    The Search Agents Feed - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 03:00

    With mobile-first indexing in full swing and the web being driven primarily by mobile searches, businesses can no longer afford to fall behind with their mobile web presence. Separate mobile subdomains are now largely a thing of the past and ordinary responsive websites may be headed in that direction as well. Truth be told, the title of this article is a trick question. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Progressive Web Apps (PWA) work hand in hand. It may be that your business can benefit from both.

    Although we have covered AMP in other articles (“Google Begins Implementation of Mobile-First Indexing,” “Content Optimization for a Mobile World“), a quick recap is in order. Accelerated Mobile Pages are a technology that allows pages to load very quickly, to the point that page load times should feel instantaneous. They do this by cutting out extraneous JavaScript, statically sizing page elements and using asynchronous loading.

    A major benefit to using AMP is that you can improve load times on specific pages without having to redo your entire site. Simply create an AMP template for a given content type and use a rel=”amphtml” tag on the non-AMP version of the content to ensure that the AMP version is accessible to search engines. The AMP version then points back to the non-AMP version with a canonical tag.

    Progressive Web Apps, on the other hand, create an app-like experience through the use of modern web features. As the name suggests, they use browser feature detection to implement progressive enhancement, ensuring compatibility across platforms. This assurance is increased by the use of responsive design, which allows PWAs to be used regardless of device form factor.

    Despite providing an app-like experience, including the ability to be launched from the home screen of a mobile device, PWAs can be easily shared via an ordinary URL. Best practices indicate avoiding the use of escaped fragments (URLs containing “#!” or “#”) in favor of the same type of clean URLs that would be used for any well-optimized webpage.

    PWAs should also be crawlable in the same way that ordinary websites are crawlable. Google recommends the use of server-side rendering, where all dynamic content is computed prior to being served to the user. A hybrid rendering model can be used as well, where some amount of rendering occurs after the initial page load in the form of asynchronous requests. Client-side rendering should be avoided if at all possible. If hybrid rendering or client-side rendering are used, the History API should be used to help with navigation.

    Several other considerations are required as well:

    • PWAs should be secured via HTTPS.
    • Service Workers should be implemented so that the app can work offline or over a poor connection.
    • Canonicals should be used across all pages mirroring a piece of content.
    • If an AMP version of a page exists, rel=”amphtml” should be implemented, just like it would be on a normal website.

    So how do you know when you can benefit from AMP and when you can benefit from developing a PWA? For content that is not too media heavy and does not require lots of custom JavaScript, AMP is an option. Although AMP is full of rich and powerful features, it is at its best with static content such as blog articles or recipes. AMP can definitely be used for e-commerce and other interactive websites, but there are limitations to work around, which might be challenging or costly in some cases.

    Highly dynamic and interactive websites can benefit greatly from Progressive Web Apps. The benefits of PWAs are most noticeable when the focus is on user engagement and experience, rather than purely getting content to the user as quickly as possible. If your business model involves users coming back to interact with your site regularly, investing in the development of a PWA will be well worth your efforts.

    As you contemplate whether moving forward with PWAs and AMP is right for you, some of Google’s case studies may serve as an inspiration. Both can be powerful tools to improve both site performance and user engagement, but you must be careful to implement them properly.

    The post AMP vs. Progressive Web Apps: Which is Right for Me? appeared first on The Search Agency.

    AMP vs. Progressive Web Apps: Which is Right for Me?

    The Search Agents Feed - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 02:32

    With mobile-first indexing in full swing and the web being driven primarily by mobile searches, businesses can no longer afford to fall behind with their mobile web presence. Separate mobile subdomains are now largely a thing of the past and ordinary responsive websites may be headed in that direction as well. Truth be told, the title of this article is a trick question. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Progressive Web Apps (PWA) work hand in hand. It may be that your business can benefit from both.

    Although we have covered AMP in other articles (“Google Begins Implementation of Mobile-First Indexing,” “Content Optimization for a Mobile World“), a quick recap is in order. Accelerated Mobile Pages are a technology that allows pages to load very quickly, to the point that page load times should feel instantaneous. They do this by cutting out extraneous JavaScript, statically sizing page elements and using asynchronous loading.

    A major benefit to using AMP is that you can improve load times on specific pages without having to redo your entire site. Simply create an AMP template for a given content type and use a rel=”amphtml” tag on the non-AMP version of the content to ensure that the AMP version is accessible to search engines. The AMP version then points back to the non-AMP version with a canonical tag.

    Progressive Web Apps, on the other hand, create an app-like experience through the use of modern web features. As the name suggests, they use browser feature detection to implement progressive enhancement, ensuring compatibility across platforms. This assurance is increased by the use of responsive design, which allows PWAs to be used regardless of device form factor.

    Despite providing an app-like experience, including the ability to be launched from the home screen of a mobile device, PWAs can be easily shared via an ordinary URL. Best practices indicate avoiding the use of escaped fragments (URLs containing “#!” or “#”) in favor of the same type of clean URLs that would be used for any well-optimized webpage.

    PWAs should also be crawlable in the same way that ordinary websites are crawlable. Google recommends the use of server-side rendering, where all dynamic content is computed prior to being served to the user. A hybrid rendering model can be used as well, where some amount of rendering occurs after the initial page load in the form of asynchronous requests. Client-side rendering should be avoided if at all possible. If hybrid rendering or client-side rendering are used, the History API should be used to help with navigation.

    Several other considerations are required as well:

    • PWAs should be secured via HTTPS.
    • Service Workers should be implemented so that the app can work offline or over a poor connection.
    • Canonicals should be used across all pages mirroring a piece of content.
    • If an AMP version of a page exists, rel=”amphtml” should be implemented, just like it would be on a normal website.

    So how do you know when you can benefit from AMP and when you can benefit from developing a PWA? For content that is not too media heavy and does not require lots of custom JavaScript, AMP is an option. Although AMP is full of rich and powerful features, it is at its best with static content such as blog articles or recipes. AMP can definitely be used for e-commerce and other interactive websites, but there are limitations to work around, which might be challenging or costly in some cases.

    Highly dynamic and interactive websites can benefit greatly from Progressive Web Apps. The benefits of PWAs are most noticeable when the focus is on user engagement and experience, rather than purely getting content to the user as quickly as possible. If your business model involves users coming back to interact with your site regularly, investing in the development of a PWA will be well worth your efforts.

    As you contemplate whether moving forward with PWAs and AMP is right for you, some of Google’s case studies may serve as an inspiration. Both can be powerful tools to improve both site performance and user engagement, but you must be careful to implement them properly.

    The post AMP vs. Progressive Web Apps: Which is Right for Me? appeared first on The Search Agency.

    The Best Content for E-Commerce Websites

    The Search Agents Feed - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 10:11

    Regardless of the products or services you sell on your e-commerce website, an effective content marketing strategy is a great way to market your brand in addition to the products you sell. While having this type of strategy is not something highly regarded as a driving force behind sales and higher revenue, the benefits of including a well-thought out content marketing strategy can stretch beyond what you may think. SEO research has shown that companies utilizing an e-commerce content marketing strategy are statistically higher to convert than ones who are not. Overall, content marketing does have the potential to act as a driver of traffic and sales to your online store. If you’re selling products or services on the web and not taking advantage of content marketing, you may want to reconsider your position.

    But what are some of the ways to approach a content marketing strategy? While many specialize in selling their products and doing so on the web, many often simply do not know where to begin, or what type of content to create. In this post, we will dive into a few of the best types of content for e-commerce businesses.

    Why Have an E-Commerce Content Strategy?

    There are loads of possibilities when it comes to content marketing and how it can assist customers along their consumer decision journey. Just a few of the benefits of having e-commerce related content include helping to sell products and services, keeping customers informed, giving helpful tips and advice, building trust and authority on topics (with both users and search engines) and giving you new content to share to followers on social media. Creating content around your craft can help attract new customers and retain existing ones.

    The following are different types of e-commerce content to consider.

    How-to Content

    How-to content is often effective in informing new and existing customers. Perfect for companies selling niche products, this type of content brings in people interested in a particular topic or item and shows them how to use it and why to use it.

    An example would be a company that sells musical instruments both online and in store. Creating how-to content that teaches potential customers various music lessons is the perfect opportunity to attract the exact type of customer desired: those interested in music. By becoming an authority figure on music and knowledge of music, more and more customers are likely to associate musical instruments with your brand.

    Often best utilized with videos, how-to content teaches your audience something they didn’t know before while also precisely extending your brand name to your desired audience. These may not be the most quickly converting customers, but they are likely to think of your brand when the time comes. The use of videos brings us to our next point.

    Video Content

    Video content if often considered the best and most useful content with regards to e-commerce and it is not surprising why that is. Informative videos living on social platforms such as YouTube, product pages and other areas of a website are an excellent way to market, demonstrate and explain the products you are selling. When users are researching products and services, they often seek out informative videos over text, as videos are easier to absorb and understand over reading blocks of text. Also, videos are a great way to showcase products that include any kind of technical know-how.

    Using the music example from above, a visual representation demonstrating an electric guitar, its look, its features, and the sounds it makes are incredibly more powerful than simply reading about its features and sound possibilities on a page of text. Potential customers are much more likely to make a personal connection to the product they are considering when they can see it in use.

    An example of both video content and how-to content is the website Repairclinic.com. Repair Clinic specializes in selling repair equipment for various kitchen, lawn and household appliances online. They make in-depth videos both onsite and on YouTube providing instructional repairs for common problems to various appliances. Their video content offsite links to specific parts and other relevant areas of their website. How-to videos are the perfect way to capitalize on two types of sought after content.

    Capitalize on the Latest Trends

    As opposed to evergreen content, which is created to have a long shelf life, timely content utilizes trending topics, events, seasons and more. To be successful in creating trending content, you must strike while the iron is hot and research to understand the various nuances of your vertical. Creativity is key here as you must be quick at understanding the changing environment as it pertains to your industry.

    Get creative and write blogs, articles and create video content about what’s happening in your industry and how this relates to your products and services. Let’s use a winter sports example. Every four years the Winter Olympics kick off and interest around winter sports peaks, as you can see by this Google Trends snapshot.

    As you can see, interest around the query “winter sports” peaks in February of 2006, 2010 and 2014, the exact time of the Winter Olympics. Let’s assume that interest around each individual sport peaks at the same time, as well. Now, let’s pretend you own a company that sells sporting gear and operate an e-commerce website that sells your products. If you are pushing hard by creating quality content around these topics (articles, blogs, videos, etc.) before, during and after the Olympic Games, you are likely doing your best to capitalize on this rare, seasonal uptick in interest.

    Be sure to pay attention to the news and other events going on in your industry, because there are likely opportunities you may not even be aware of that are waiting to be taken advantage of.

    When creating content for e-commerce, the possibilities and opportunities are rich. Be sure to do your market research and look for news, recent blogs and articles, and pay attention to the world around your niche to best capitalize on the changing environment to best bring traffic to your products. Remember the SEO essentials when creating content by using keyword-rich headings and text. Share your content to your followers on social. And, of course, do not forget to drive your visitors to related pages and products within your site through internal linking. Remember, by formulating a solid content strategy around your products, you’re increasing your likelihood of attracting more traffic and increasing the likelihood of that traffic converting. All good things!

    The post The Best Content for E-Commerce Websites appeared first on The Search Agency.

    The Best Content for E-Commerce Websites

    The Search Agents Feed - Wed, 07/19/2017 - 13:59

    Regardless of the products or services you sell on your e-commerce website, an effective content marketing strategy is a great way to market your brand in addition to the products you sell. While having this type of strategy is not something highly regarded as a driving force behind sales and higher revenue, the benefits of including a well-thought out content marketing strategy can stretch beyond what you may think. SEO research has shown that companies utilizing an e-commerce content marketing strategy are statistically higher to convert than ones who are not. Overall, content marketing does have the potential to act as a driver of traffic and sales to your online store. If you’re selling products or services on the web and not taking advantage of content marketing, you may want to reconsider your position.

    But what are some of the ways to approach a content marketing strategy? While many specialize in selling their products and doing so on the web, many often simply do not know where to begin, or what type of content to create. In this post, we will dive into a few of the best types of content for e-commerce businesses.

    Why Have an E-Commerce Content Strategy?

    There are loads of possibilities when it comes to content marketing and how it can assist customers along their consumer decision journey. Just a few of the benefits of having e-commerce related content include helping to sell products and services, keeping customers informed, giving helpful tips and advice, building trust and authority on topics (with both users and search engines) and giving you new content to share to followers on social media. Creating content around your craft can help attract new customers and retain existing ones.

    The following are different types of e-commerce content to consider.

    How-to Content

    How-to content is often effective in informing new and existing customers. Perfect for companies selling niche products, this type of content brings in people interested in a particular topic or item and shows them how to use it and why to use it.

    An example would be a company that sells musical instruments both online and in store. Creating how-to content that teaches potential customers various music lessons is the perfect opportunity to attract the exact type of customer desired: those interested in music. By becoming an authority figure on music and knowledge of music, more and more customers are likely to associate musical instruments with your brand.

    Often best utilized with videos, how-to content teaches your audience something they didn’t know before while also precisely extending your brand name to your desired audience. These may not be the most quickly converting customers, but they are likely to think of your brand when the time comes. The use of videos brings us to our next point.

    Video Content

    Video content if often considered the best and most useful content with regards to e-commerce and it is not surprising why that is. Informative videos living on social platforms such as YouTube, product pages and other areas of a website are an excellent way to market, demonstrate and explain the products you are selling. When users are researching products and services, they often seek out informative videos over text, as videos are easier to absorb and understand over reading blocks of text. Also, videos are a great way to showcase products that include any kind of technical know-how.

    Using the music example from above, a visual representation demonstrating an electric guitar, its look, its features, and the sounds it makes are incredibly more powerful than simply reading about its features and sound possibilities on a page of text. Potential customers are much more likely to make a personal connection to the product they are considering when they can see it in use.

    An example of both video content and how-to content is the website Repairclinic.com. Repair Clinic specializes in selling repair equipment for various kitchen, lawn and household appliances online. They make in-depth videos both onsite and on YouTube providing instructional repairs for common problems to various appliances. Their video content offsite links to specific parts and other relevant areas of their website. How-to videos are the perfect way to capitalize on two types of sought after content.

    Capitalize on the Latest Trends

    As opposed to evergreen content, which is created to have a long shelf life, timely content utilizes trending topics, events, seasons and more. To be successful in creating trending content, you must strike while the iron is hot and research to understand the various nuances of your vertical. Creativity is key here as you must be quick at understanding the changing environment as it pertains to your industry.

    Get creative and write blogs, articles and create video content about what’s happening in your industry and how this relates to your products and services. Let’s use a winter sports example. Every four years the Winter Olympics kick off and interest around winter sports peaks, as you can see by this Google Trends snapshot.

    As you can see, interest around the query “winter sports” peaks in February of 2006, 2010 and 2014, the exact time of the Winter Olympics. Let’s assume that interest around each individual sport peaks at the same time, as well. Now, let’s pretend you own a company that sells sporting gear and operate an e-commerce website that sells your products. If you are pushing hard by creating quality content around these topics (articles, blogs, videos, etc.) before, during and after the Olympic Games, you are likely doing your best to capitalize on this rare, seasonal uptick in interest.

    Be sure to pay attention to the news and other events going on in your industry, because there are likely opportunities you may not even be aware of that are waiting to be taken advantage of.

    When creating content for e-commerce, the possibilities and opportunities are rich. Be sure to do your market research and look for news, recent blogs and articles, and pay attention to the world around your niche to best capitalize on the changing environment to best bring traffic to your products. Remember the SEO essentials when creating content by using keyword-rich headings and text. Share your content to your followers on social. And, of course, do not forget to drive your visitors to related pages and products within your site through internal linking. Remember, by formulating a solid content strategy around your products, you’re increasing your likelihood of attracting more traffic and increasing the likelihood of that traffic converting. All good things!

    The post The Best Content for E-Commerce Websites appeared first on The Search Agency.

    The Best Content for E-Commerce Websites

    The Search Agents Feed - Wed, 07/19/2017 - 12:16

    Regardless of the products or services you sell on your e-commerce website, an effective content marketing strategy is a great way to market your brand in addition to the products you sell. While having this type of strategy is not something highly regarded as a driving force behind sales and higher revenue, the benefits of including a well-thought out content marketing strategy can stretch beyond what you may think. SEO research has shown that companies utilizing an e-commerce content marketing strategy are statistically higher to convert than ones who are not. Overall, content marketing does have the potential to act as a driver of traffic and sales to your online store. If you’re selling products or services on the web and not taking advantage of content marketing, you may want to reconsider your position.

    But what are some of the ways to approach a content marketing strategy? While many specialize in selling their products and doing so on the web, many often simply do not know where to begin, or what type of content to create. In this post, we will dive into a few of the best types of content for e-commerce businesses.

    Why Have an E-Commerce Content Strategy?

    There are loads of possibilities when it comes to content marketing and how it can assist customers along their consumer decision journey. Just a few of the benefits of having e-commerce related content include helping to sell products and services, keeping customers informed, giving helpful tips and advice, building trust and authority on topics (with both users and search engines) and giving you new content to share to followers on social media. Creating content around your craft can help attract new customers and retain existing ones.

    The following are different types of e-commerce content to consider.

    How-to Content

    How-to content is often effective in informing new and existing customers. Perfect for companies selling niche products, this type of content brings in people interested in a particular topic or item and shows them how to use it and why to use it.

    An example would be a company that sells musical instruments both online and in store. Creating how-to content that teaches potential customers various music lessons is the perfect opportunity to attract the exact type of customer desired: those interested in music. By becoming an authority figure on music and knowledge of music, more and more customers are likely to associate musical instruments with your brand.

    Often best utilized with videos, how-to content teaches your audience something they didn’t know before while also precisely extending your brand name to your desired audience. These may not be the most quickly converting customers, but they are likely to think of your brand when the time comes. The use of videos brings us to our next point.

    Video Content

    Video content if often considered the best and most useful content with regards to e-commerce and it is not surprising why that is. Informative videos living on social platforms such as YouTube, product pages and other areas of a website are an excellent way to market, demonstrate and explain the products you are selling. When users are researching products and services, they often seek out informative videos over text, as videos are easier to absorb and understand over reading blocks of text. Also, videos are a great way to showcase products that include any kind of technical know-how.

    Using the music example from above, a visual representation demonstrating an electric guitar, its look, its features, and the sounds it makes are incredibly more powerful than simply reading about its features and sound possibilities on a page of text. Potential customers are much more likely to make a personal connection to the product they are considering when they can see it in use.

    An example of both video content and how-to content is the website Repairclinic.com. Repair Clinic specializes in selling repair equipment for various kitchen, lawn and household appliances online. They make in-depth videos both onsite and on YouTube providing instructional repairs for common problems to various appliances. Their video content offsite links to specific parts and other relevant areas of their website. How-to videos are the perfect way to capitalize on two types of sought after content.

    Capitalize on the Latest Trends

    As opposed to evergreen content, which is created to have a long shelf life, timely content utilizes trending topics, events, seasons and more. To be successful in creating trending content, you must strike while the iron is hot and research to understand the various nuances of your vertical. Creativity is key here as you must be quick at understanding the changing environment as it pertains to your industry.

    Get creative and write blogs, articles and create video content about what’s happening in your industry and how this relates to your products and services. Let’s use a winter sports example. Every four years the Winter Olympics kick off and interest around winter sports peaks, as you can see by this Google Trends snapshot.

    As you can see, interest around the query “winter sports” peaks in February of 2006, 2010 and 2014, the exact time of the Winter Olympics. Let’s assume that interest around each individual sport peaks at the same time, as well. Now, let’s pretend you own a company that sells sporting gear and operate an e-commerce website that sells your products. If you are pushing hard by creating quality content around these topics (articles, blogs, videos, etc.) before, during and after the Olympic Games, you are likely doing your best to capitalize on this rare, seasonal uptick in interest.

    Be sure to pay attention to the news and other events going on in your industry, because there are likely opportunities you may not even be aware of that are waiting to be taken advantage of.

    When creating content for e-commerce, the possibilities and opportunities are rich. Be sure to do your market research and look for news, recent blogs and articles, and pay attention to the world around your niche to best capitalize on the changing environment to best bring traffic to your products. Remember the SEO essentials when creating content by using keyword-rich headings and text. Share your content to your followers on social. And, of course, do not forget to drive your visitors to related pages and products within your site through internal linking. Remember, by formulating a solid content strategy around your products, you’re increasing your likelihood of attracting more traffic and increasing the likelihood of that traffic converting. All good things!

    The post The Best Content for E-Commerce Websites appeared first on The Search Agency.