Search Engine Optimization: SEO News

Google’s ban on payday & high-interest loan ads going into effect now

Search Engine Land - Wed, 07/20/2016 - 2:33pm
After a week's delay, the ban on predatory lending ads for AdWords advertisers is beginning to roll out. The post Google’s ban on payday & high-interest loan ads going into effect now appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Five simple user experience tweaks for better conversion

Search Engine Watch - Wed, 07/20/2016 - 7:03am

Sometimes the functionality and user experience (UX) on a website can make or break a business.

Things like mobile optimization or page load-time are talked about so often in the SEO world purely because a user will have no hesitation leaving if they are not having a positive experience on your website. It’s that simple.

That being said, not all “good” websites are created equal.

The more research that is done on user experience, the more we learn about optimizing for better conversion results, and the more we realize that user experience is more than just a fast site that seems simple to use.

Five tweaks that improve user experience

GoodUI.org constructed a project on user experience and has developed 75 “good ideas” that produce amazing results when it comes to UX.

All the data has come from real websites and brands/businesses that have decided to share their data for project analysis on user experience. Reading some of their tips was like finding gold.

After looking over their ideas, along with other recent research, below is a list of five user experience tweaks that you can make to see better conversions because of improved user experience that so many are still missing:

1) Optimize the “repetition” of call-to-action buttons

One of the most impressive discoveries has been in regards to repetitive layouts with CTA (call-to-action) buttons.

The only thing that was changed in these tests from a control page was an additional CTA button at the bottom of the page as well as the top of the page.

In the data set that GoodUI developed, this was shown to have an 84% median effect for conversion on product pages. So, rather than just having the CTA button that you want users to click at the top of the page, add and additional CTA at the bottom and you are much more likely to see results.

The screenshot below shows the study’s results:

2) Social testimonials = business descriptions and content

User engagement is a huge part of ranking organically, so the more you can get people talking about your brand in a positive way, the better it is for your SEO. Why not use this to your advantage?

One of the best ways that you can improve user experience is to use social testimonials on your site rather than solely providing descriptions that you have written.

Testimonials have been proven to help conversions because users feel as though they can trust the experience of others. This one tweak can make a substantial difference for how your brand is perceived.

Take for example this beautiful Xero Accounting Software testimonial page:

Visitors can click through videos and hear directly from other users about their experience with the product and see quotes immediately next to the video.

This is a really great way to use social testimonial rather than talking about the positive aspects of your product or service yourself.

The videos from Xero are also really high quality and show that they are committed to telling the story and perspective of their clients, which is really impressive to people who are deciding whether to give you their business.

3) Recommend products or services (over others you offer)

Have you ever been at a restaurant where something is highlighted as a staff or chef recommendation on the menu? Or perhaps you’ve come across an item that is a “popular” choice by others?

Recommending a certain product or service over an equal display has been shown to increase conversion.

When people are given too many choices they can often have a difficult time making a decision. When this situation occurs, people are often likely to turn to recommendations and are more likely to follow-through with a purchase.

If your company offers a variety of products or services this may be something you want to consider. It is an easy tweak and can really improve user experience on product pages.

4) Provide fewer fields to fill out

If you want to get more people signed-up or on your mailing list, sometimes the best way to go is actually fewer fields at once.

In many cases you can eliminate fields and still get the information that you need.

Ask what is really necessary to get a visitor on your email list (it is usually just their name and email) and consider moving other question fields to another area after they are signed up.

This particular user experience tweak was shown to have a +7.6% medium effective rate. The result when altering this format (vs a control with multiple fields) was +53% more quotes with fewer fields.

In the example from Women’s Health magazine above, all the site asks for (at least initially) is the visitor’s email in order to get access to a 21-day workout. This is the perfect way to get people on your mailing list without bombarding them with too many fields to fill out.

5) Clean layout and fewer borders

Lastly, one of the most successful tweaks you can make is having a clean layout with fewer borders. So many sites have side bar, top bar, bottom bar options… and it can be totally overwhelming for users to navigate the site.

Remember, the goal is to direct people where they should go without all of the guesswork. Take for example the website layout below:

The site utilizes a clean and focused format, which draws the visitor to the action they want them to take.

For example, they present a few pieces of content and then ask the user to “scroll down or die.” By doing this they can use an infinite scroll form and not require the user to have all of the information in their immediate visual field. This obviously makes things a lot clearer and intentional.

Borders compete for attention with real content—plain and simple. There is really no reason to overwhelm a user with them, and in fact, you are more likely to get a positive result from visitors in terms of conversion if you adjust to a cleaner presentation.

What do you think of these tweaks? Do you intend to implement any of these yourself? Let us know in the comments section below—we would love to hear from you!

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for HigherVisibility, a full service SEO agency, and a contributor to SEW. You can connect with Amanda on Twitter and LinkedIn

RankBrain’s potential effect on your paid search campaigns

Search Engine Watch - Wed, 07/20/2016 - 6:26am

Just weeks ago, Google announced that it would be releasing improvements to its Dynamic Search Ads, making its targeting even more precise and relevant than before.

But one example from the announcement caught my attention: “Ads that point to a landing page about iced coffee makers will be less likely to show for less relevant searches like ‘iced coffee’.

What gave me pause here isn’t that Google is getting better at understanding queries on a small scale, but that it is doing this in alignment with Google’s understanding of your page content.

This, to me, hints at the use of Google’s RankBrain artificial intelligence, which utilizes machine learning to analyze query intent.

Previously, analysis of RankBrain has focused on how it assesses organic relevance. However, some focus should now shift over to how this AI impacts the paid portion of the search results page.

How RankBrain may effect paid search

To be clear, I don’t work at Google and thus I have no idea if RankBrain is truly behind the new targeting mechanism. That said, I would like to walk through what I believe is the most likely scenario going on here.

What makes this most interesting – as it relates to the machine learning feedback mechanism – is the process used when creating campaigns with the assistance of AdWords.

The advertiser provides the website that they want to drive traffic to, and Google then analyzes the pages and creates an ad campaign based on the perceived content on those pages. The advertiser can then adjust the campaign to fit their perceived goals.

One method used in performing these adjustments is to include negative keywords. (Negative keywords tell Google that the advertiser does not want their ads to appear for queries that include those words, phrases, or exact string of words.)

In thinking about the ways in which the use of negative keywords will impact RankBrain’s machine learning, the potential feedback from millions of advertisers with millions of pages of content should vastly improve the AI’s ability to provide more precise ad targeting.

As RankBrain learns what is and what isn’t acceptable to certain advertisers (not only at the query level but also based on site content), it becomes increasingly powerful.

What does this mean for advertisers?

It means if you haven’t already been studying SEO processes and utilizing best practices when building your landing pages, it is definitely time to start.

Creating landing pages that focus on a specific theme – and adequately communicating that theme as close to the top of the page as possible – will be even more important than ever.

As an advertiser, RankBrain effectively gives you a bit more leeway to help Google hone in on what your page is about. When you give Google a clear sense of what you are providing, it will better help you reach the right audience.

The benefits to advertisers could extend even beyond the aforementioned Dynamic Search Ads. The insight that RankBrain gleans from landing pages and associated keyword targets, determined from the initial Dynamic Search Ads data set, can reasonably be applied at a basic level to the other AdWords search auctions.

This enhanced relevancy can help advertisers reach conversion-ready queries and increase click-through rate, thus allowing for better utilization of ad spend.

My advice for advertisers is to get your landing pages RankBrain-ready:

  • Understand your audience.
  • Give your pages clear, unique themes.
  • Use alternate keyword variations throughout your copy that still relate to the page theme.

These are methods that have always been helpful to successful search advertising in the past, but they become even more important moving forward.

Kevin Gamache is Senior Search Strategist at Wire Stone, an independent digital marketing agency for global Fortune 1000 brands.

How to verify your Twitter account in 10 steps

Search Engine Watch - Wed, 07/20/2016 - 4:20am

Twitter has announced it will now let any of its users apply for the much sought after blue badge of verification.

But there are still a number of criteria you must fulfil in order to be accepted into the Twitter pantheon.

Luckily it’s nothing nearly as taxing as ‘being just as popular as Katy Perry’ or ‘being just as terrifyingly unpredictable like Kanye West’.

Here’s a handy guide to everything you need to do to achieve blue tick* status.

Please note: I don’t personally have a verified account. The following guidelines may not guarantee you a verification badge. A Twitter verification badge will not make you a better/happier/more popular person. A Twitter verification badge isn’t a substitute for genuine emotional self-worth, you’re thinking of Pokemon Go. Now that everyone has access to a Twitter verification badge, it will probably feel a bit hollow when you’re given one. 

What does verification mean?

It lets people know that your Twitter account is both of the following:

  • Of public interest
  • Authentic

At first its main use was to help users determine between genuine celebrities and their countless imitators and parody accounts, but soon afterwards any high profile user with tweets of particular note in any field of interest became eligible for verification.

It stood as a badge of authority.

Previously you couldn’t actually apply for the verification label, you were just offered it by Twitter when they ‘noticed’ you.

However all that has changed as of this week…

How do I get my Twitter account verified?

1) First you’ll have to personally determine whether your account is “of public interest.”  This may take some soul searching and uncovering of some hard truths, but if you’re a regular contributor to online publications and can prove your identity by linking to other genuine online profiles, you’re in with a chance.

2) Sign in to Twitter on your desktop, head to your profile page, click ‘Edit Profile’ and make sure you have the following details filled in:

  • Make sure your name is genuinely your name (or your stage name)
  • A profile photo featuring your own face
  • A header photo
  • A bio
  • A website linking to your work
  • Your birthday

3) Save changes.

4) Next, click on your little thumbnail profile picture on the top right corner to launch the pop-up menu, and click Settings.

5) In Settings you’ll need to do the following:

  • Verify your mobile number
  • Confirm you email address

You’ll probably have already confirmed your email when you signed up, but it’s a good idea to check now that it’s your current one.

To verify your mobile number, head to Mobile on the bottom left menu, then add your number. You’ll receive a text with a six digit number you’ll have to enter here to confirm.

6) Set your tweets to public in the Security and Privacy settings.

You should now be ready to submit your account for verification.

7) Submit your request to verify your account by clicking this form.

8) Make sure you’re signed in to the Twitter account you wish to be verified for.

9) You will then need to provide at least two URLs to websites that will help identify you (I’ve chosen my author page at SEW and my Contently page) and you will also need to provide a 500 character explanation on why you should be verified.

10) Click next, check your details, and click confirm.

Other things to be aware of
  • Twitter will respond to your request via email.
  • If your request is denied, you can submit another request 30 days after receiving the email.
  • The blue verification badge appears next to your name wherever it appears on Twitter and in search results.
  • Accounts that use the verification badge as a part of the profile photo or background photo are subject to permanent account suspension.
  • Verification badges may be taken away if you change your Twitter handle.
  • A verified badge does not imply an endorsement by Twitter.

*I know, the tick is technically white on a blue background. The use of ‘blue tick’ annoys me as much as it annoys you.

Digital Leaders Q&A: Sandeep Menon, global marketing director for Google Play

Search Engine Watch - Tue, 07/19/2016 - 10:33am

Sandeep Menon, based in California, is global marketing director for Google Play, the app and digital content store for Android users that offers apps, games, a music subscription service, TV and films on demand, and ebooks.

We caught up with him to find out about his business priorities, how the marketing function is evolving, and the key skills and tools marketers need to excel at Google.

Broadly speaking, what are your key business goals? And what are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?

In the Google Play ecosystem, there are three main entities that we focus on – our users, our developers, and our content partners (music labels, artists, movie studios, etc). One of our main business goals is keeping these three parties happy with the service we offer.

As for KPIs, I care a lot about the number of engaged users on our platform. We keep an eye on metrics like the number of people using our music service, the number of people using our video service, and then also other key metrics, such as revenue from our apps and games business, and from our digital content businesses.

What would you say are the biggest challenges in your role?

One of our main challenges is ensuring our teams are constantly innovating to keep up with the pace of change in the technology arena.

Another interesting challenge is ensuring that everything we do can be scaled globally, while catering to the needs of each of the 130+ countries that is supported by Google Play.

How would you say the marketing function is evolving within your organisation?

At its core, the role of marketing in an organisation has not changed, but how we go about doing it has been completely disrupted by digital.

It’s worth remembering that basic emotions, and the core things people care about, do not change. People still want to go out with friends and have fun, they still care about their families, they still get angry about things. What does change is how we express that.

For example, just 15 to 20 years ago, when you went on holiday what you would probably do is send a postcard from there to share how wonderful the holiday was. Right now, you could share that same experience of “hey I’m having a great time”, and “this is a beautiful place” in so many different ways.

At Google our focus has always been on connecting our users with the great products we develop.

Which tools or software do you find most useful in your role?

Following on from what we said about challenges earlier, one of our biggest challenges is ensuring the flow of information. How do you make sure that ideas are shared quickly, and that the collaborative nature of the organisation is preserved, even though you are thousands of miles apart?

The most powerful tools we have are simple platforms like Google Docs, which allow me to share an idea and get input from people in 40 countries within 24 hours.

One of the things we are passionate about at Google is giving everyone the opportunity to come up and try out ideas, whether you’re a junior marketer who started six months ago, or a seasoned veteran.

What do you see as the most significant trends in digital marketing over the coming years that might have an impact on the marketing function?

Marketers are spending a lot of money on getting the message out, but even now, we’re still not completely sure of how precisely targeted those messages are. There’s still a lot to do in the field of measurement, and that is one significant change that I see coming. I think that over the years we’ve had great progress in the area of measuring campaign effectiveness but there’s still a lot to do.

The second trend is getting better intelligence. As processing power improves, the kind of insight we could get is going to be fundamentally different from what we had before.

While we still do a lot of consumer surveys and similar studies, there are a lot of smart tools coming that can accurately predict the key consumer insights that we need to be focusing on.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in a senior marketing role at Google?

During my time at Google, I’ve observed that in both marketing and in other functions, the people who have been most successful are those who are passionate about technology.

At heart we are a technology company, and no matter what your background you should be genuinely excited about technology and the power of technology to change things for the better. Passion is core for being effective in any role in Google – especially a marketing role.

The second thing we talk about a lot is our very collaborative culture that’s less “top-down”. As a marketer, you should be very effective in cross-functional collaboration. Some of the best people I have seen are those who can work with everyone – from engineers to comms people.

You might say that generally for an organisation to be successful you need a cross-functional leader, but I see it much more pertinent in a company like Google.

If there is such a thing, how does the typical working day look for you?

I start most days talking to my colleagues in EMEA, spend the middle part of the day with my team in the US, then towards the evening, when APAC wakes up, start my interactions with them.

I spend most of my time in discussing our plans, campaigns and actions with my team members, but wish I spent more time around consumers – that’s one area I wish I could do more of.

Finally, do you have any advice for people who want to work in the digital industry?

In digital, we see new trends and technologies emerging constantly. This at times can be confusing.

These trends keep changing – what’s important for those who want to be creative marketers is that they understand the power of data and how data can influence thinking and they develop the ability to combine these insights with great storytelling.

Daily Search Forum Recap: July 18, 2016

Search Engine Roundtable - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 4:29pm

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today...

Google Teaches Searchers How To Register To Vote

Search Engine Roundtable - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 4:29pm
Google added a new answer in search to help searchers figure out how to register to vote. If you search on mobile for [register to vote] or similar queries...

Google Featured Snippets: Bullet vs Table Form

Search Engine Roundtable - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 4:29pm
@ChrisRussell shared an example of a featured snippet in Google that is in the form of a nicely structured table. That isn't new but I wanted to show you how quickly featured snippets not only come and go for specific sites or queries...

Google Maps Business Verification Via Email Address?

Search Engine Roundtable - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 4:29pm
Google Maps recently tested the ability to verify your business using video verification but Google is constantly testing different methods of business verification. Kiran C Kumar posted on Twitter that he is receiving an option to verify his Google My Business listing via email...

Google Shows How Many Minutes People Spend At Venues

Search Engine Roundtable - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 4:29pm
Over the weekend Brian Barwig and @NortheasternExt both notified me on Twitter that Google is now showing a new feature in the Google Maps local listings for how long a person typically spends at a specific venue...

Daily Search Forum Recap: July 15, 2016

Search Engine Roundtable - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 4:29pm

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web...

Search Buzz Video Recap: Google Local Algorithm & Updates, Penguin Status, SEO & AdWords Changes

Search Engine Roundtable - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 4:29pm
This week in search, we saw changes to the Google local algorithm and results. We also reported on how it doesnât seem there was a massive Google update earlier this week. We ran a poll on Penguin, do you think it will run again...

Google Testing Card Style Sitelinks

Search Engine Roundtable - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 4:29pm
John Lincoln @johnelincoln shared a photo with me of a new style for Sitelinks in the mobile results. They look like the people also search for blocks we covered some time ago, but now they are used for Sitelinks...

Q&A: Google, Will You Run Penguin Again? We Never Said We Won't Run It Again.

Search Engine Roundtable - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 4:29pm
Yesterday I ran a poll asking if you think Google will run Penguin again, most of you think yes, they will but a nice number think they won't. Truth is, Google has said and implied many times Penguin will run again, specifically the real-time version of Penguin...

New EU Antitrust Claims Against Google Over AdSense & AdWords

Search Engine Roundtable - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 4:29pm
The news broke yesterday morning that the EU is going after Google again for antitrust issues on their AdWords and AdSense programs. This is the third of such in about a year. This one says Google's advertising products had restricted consumer choice...

Google Local Map Results Getting More Hyperlocal?

Search Engine Roundtable - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 4:29pm
Over the past couple weeks, I've been seeing sporadic reports from some local SEO experts that the local results are becoming more "hyperlocal" and/or fewer results are showing for local specific queries...

Daily Search Forum Recap: July 14, 2016

Search Engine Roundtable - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 4:29pm

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today...

Google Update Signs From Trackers But The Community Is Quiet

Search Engine Roundtable - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 4:29pm
We are living in a weird time - typically when I see the community begin talking about a potential Google update and it is real - the trackers, such as Mozcast and others, will light up the next day with signs as well...
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