Friday, 30 June 2017

Why You Should Use LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences

linkedin Why You Should Use LinkedIn's Matched Audiences

In recent years, LinkedIn has expanded to become a worldwide [pillar for professionals, job seekers, employers, networkers, content producers, and learners of all kinds. In fact, it was just recently announced that LinkedIn proudly boasts more than 500 million members from 200 different countries, making it one of the most widely used and recognizable powerhouse platforms available.

Given the widespread popularity of the platform and vast products and services available through it, it’s not hard to understand why advertisers gravitate towards LinkedIn. Recent studies have shown tremendous benefits that come from advertising on LinkedIn:

  • 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn
  • 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content
  • 46% of social media traffic coming to B2B company sites is from LinkedIn
  • 43% of marketers say they’ve sourced a customer from LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn SlideShare reaches 70 million unique visitors a month, making it among the top 100 most-visited website in the world

While those numbers are impressive, they’re certainly not hard to believe. LinkedIn, by its very nature, tends to attract a more pragmatic audience than other platforms. Whereas other social platforms are often used for leisure and recreation, LinkedIn is often used for more serious and deliberate pursuits, making it an ideal place to cash in on purchase intent and lead potential. Now, with a new development in LinkedIn advertising, that will become even truer.

LinkedIn Introduces Matched Audiences

LinkedIn has launched Matched Audiences, which is a set of targeting capabilities that will give advertisers the unique ability to combine LinkedIn’s powerful professional data with their own first-party data. Per a blog post from LinkedIn’s Senior Product Manager,

“With Matched Audiences you can use LinkedIn to retarget your website visitors, market to your contacts from your customer databases and marketing automation platforms, and reach decision makers at target companies for your account-based marketing programs. Matched Audiences helps increase ROI by enabling you to focus your efforts on the audiences and accounts that are most likely to drive revenue.”

Matched Audiences will give advertisers three new targeting tools called website retargeting, account targeting, and contact targeting respectively.

Website Retargeting: This will allow advertisers to re-engage website visitors who have already visited your site on LinkedIn. Using it, you can create target audiences from your website visitors to produce always-on campaigns.

Account Targeting: With account targeting, advertisers can upload a list of target company names and match that against almost 12 million company pages on LinkedIn. This allows advertisers to market to influencers and decision makers at your target accounts (this really caters to the B2B marketing use of LinkedIn we touched on earlier in this article).

Contact Retargeting:  Much like it sounds, contact targeting lets advertisers securely upload a list of email addresses or import lists of contact to engage prospects and contacts on LinkedIn.

The pilot program for these matched audience targeting options showed impressive results with high ROI and lowered costs:

  • 30% increase in CTR and a 14% drop in post-click cost-per-conversion with Website Retargeting,
  • 32% increase in post-click conversion rates and 4.7% drop in post-click cost-per-conversion with Account Targeting, and
  • 37% increase in click rate (CTR) with Contact Targeting

Overall, LinkedIn’s matched audiences present exciting new options that have big earning potential for advertisers.

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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Facebook Endorses Google’s AMP: What You Should Know

socialpic Facebook Endorses Google's AMP: What You Should Know

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen an increasing emphasis on mobile optimization. While mobile optimization has become a total necessity for advertisers and businesses, it has continued to be embraced by other, more established names in the game.

In light of user behavior becoming increasingly mobile-oriented, Google has adapted to include AMP pages in its index. In a previous post, we discussed whether or not Google has started factoring AMP pages into its ranking algorithm as well as the possibility of a “primary” and separate index just for mobile pages. A focus on mobile friendliness and optimization has continued to move forward, and in the meantime, social giant Facebook has endorsed Google’s AMP project.


Facebook recently rolled out its Instant Articles, which allow publishers to create content that browsers can see entirely within the Facebook app without being redirected elsewhere. Facebook will now allow publishers to create content as instant articles, AMP, and Apple News Format using the same markup. It’ll also include customization options.

This comes as an unexpected development from Facebook due to their past tendency to develop their own version of everything. Instant Articles was formerly Facebook’s own version of seemingly instantly rendering content that kept browsers within the network. Now, rather than insisting that publishers use Instant Articles only, Facebook will allow them to create multiple versions of their content across different landscapes.

While this does come as an unexpected move, it’s not all that surprising given the reaction many publishers had to Facebook’s Instant Articles. Many came to see the feature as another step to take to publish content on another platform, and this may very well just be an attempt to lure publishers back to Instant Articles under the guise of having more options. Another problem with the original format of Instant Articles was an absence of monetization possibilities. Over time, it became the less appealing option and was more or less abandoned altogether.

Moving forward, you can probably expect to see more publishers gravitate towards robust usage of Instant Articles, AMP articles, and Apple News formats to ensure healthy content activity. In the meantime, publishers should continue to look at their options pragmatically and keep an eye out for future content developments of this nature.

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Monday, 26 June 2017

Make Way for Google’s Assistant on iPhones: What to Expect

WPA-stock Make Way for Google's Assistant on iPhones: What to Expect

Smart “assistants” have been hugely instrumental in changing user behavior when it comes to search and online browsing. In many ways, the introduction of assistants, such as Siri, Cortana, and Alexa, are what facilitated the rapid explosion of voice search.

As we’ve discussed before here, the majority of teens and adults use voice search on a daily basis, and Google has reported that 20% of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches. Again, this is in large part thanks to the development of digital assistants. As a result, it’s opened up a whole new area of competition and opportunity for brands and businesses, and Google is about to have skin in that game.

At Google’s recent developer conference in California, announcements were made that addressed the widespread use of artificial intelligence and the expansion of the Google Assistant to a broader range of devices. Here’s what’s new.

What’s New

The Google Assistant is about to get a whole lot more powerful. Since the roll out of Google Home a little more than a year ago they’ve expanded the features and capabilities of the Google Assistant to further pull people away from Apple’s assistant, Siri.

Per a Forbes report, the new features include:

  • The Google Assistant will accept keyboard input and Voice input on phones.
  • The Google Assistant will have Google Lens camera input that can identify objects and let you ask questions about them.
  • Google Actions — the thing that lets the Assistant interact with third-party services like Alexa skills — are going to be available on phones.
  • You can call any phone number for free in the US and Canada with Google Home.
  • There are seventy different smart home manufacturers that will work with Google Home, with an open developer platform to add more.
  • Google Home can add calendar events and reminders and other proactivity, and will pulse a light when a reminder is waiting for you.
  • Spotify’s free service is coming to Google Home along with Deezer and SoundCloud.
  • Third-party hardware makers will be announcing new versions of a Google Home-like device.
  • You can also tell Google Home to watch HBO or Hulu on Chromecast on your preferred screen.
  • Google Home will be able to send visual search results to the Chromecast or other screens when appropriate, e.g.: see your calendar for the day.
  • You can now set reminders and calendar events on Home.
  • Google Home is coming to more countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan.
  • Google Assistant will work in more languages: Brazilian, Portuguese, French, German, and Japanese. Later this year Google will add Italian, Korean, and Spanish.

In light of these new features and evolving developments to the Google Assistant, you can expect a continued commitment to accuracy and efficiency. The artificial intelligence technology that Google continues to implement into different products and services will likely open up new areas of competition and opportunity for users and businesses alike. In the meantime, it would be wise to keep an eye on these developments as they are likely to advance and change quickly.

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Friday, 23 June 2017

Content Refresher: 3 Simple Steps to Get More From Your Blog Posts

brainstormingstock Content Refresher: 3 Simple Steps to Get More From Your Blog Posts

As any blogger knows, it can be really frustrating to put your time and energy into creating a blog post only to have so little come from it. Though it’s unlikely that every post will become an overnight success, it’s not unreasonable to hope that something, if even just a follow or share, will come from the articles you write and produce.

On this blog, we’ve covered a lot of different hacks and best practices for writing, topic inspiration, and extending the shelf life of your posts-all things that ultimately facilitate better performance. But if you’re looking to make some small changes today that can help improve the day-to-day performance of your blog posts, then these five simple tips can work for you.

Easy Solutions to Get More Out of Your Blog Posts

  1. Use An Editing Tool

Just by simply using an editing tool, you can clean up your writing and make it more readable. This might sound too simple and obvious to really carry any weight in terms of getting more from your blog posts, but it can actually be the difference in whether or not users continue to read your posts at all. Writing concise yet compelling copy or articles is something that’s important to any industry. Juggling a content calendar with new topics ideas alongside your workflow is a lot going on at once, so it’s easy to understand how attention to the fluidity and function of your writing can fall by the wayside.

An editing tool can not only help clean up grammatical errors and typos but may also help with wording and structure. My personal favorite editing tool is Grammarly, firstly because it’s free and secondly because it polishes writing as efficiently as peer feedback.

  1. Make a Social Sharing Plan

I don’t just mean your cut and dry social sharing that has you share once every week on Twitter, once every month on Facebook, and so on. Different content requires different sharing techniques, and sometimes over-automating that process can be detrimental to how successful your post is. When you feel like you have a really great blog post that’s more useful or stands above the others, try coming up with a social sharing plan that works just for that piece of content.

This could mean a handful of different things depending on exactly what kind of post you’re sharing. For example, if you have a seasonal post that’s related to a holiday or certain time of year, you wouldn’t use the same sharing template you do for all of your other day-to-day posts. Spending a little more time on your social sharing plan for top pieces of content can drastically improve the way it performs.

  1. Create Content Around Conversations

Generating topics and content around active conversations within your industry is a great way to get more out of your work. There always seems to be some kind of buzz and chatter circulating within industries on platforms like Twitter or Reddit. In addition to participating in such conversions, try sourcing blog post ideas from them for later use. That way, when you participate in conversations online that are relevant to your work, you can reference posts you’ve written on the subject.

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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

5 Landing Page Errors to Avoid like the Plague

hv-blog-competitive-analysis 5 Landing Page Errors to Avoid like the Plague

Landing pages are an extremely important part of online advertising because they help drive conversion rates and increase ad efficacy. And if you’ve ever run an ad campaign before, you know that your landing page is often the make or break factor for whether or not a user will end up converting.

You’d think that knowing how much is riding on a landing page would be enough to inspire amazing copy and design, and yet we still see very bad, sometimes awful landing pages all the time. More often than not, when I come across bad landing pages I typically see the same mistakes over and over again. The worst part is that these all-too-common mistakes are normally easy to avoid with a little effort on the front-end.

Don’t let your landing page be one that doesn’t inspire action from customers and ends up losing money. I’ve boiled these landing page no-nos down to a list of the 5 biggest offenders holding back conversions, so check to see if any of them are costing you.

The 5 Biggest Landing Page Errors to Avoid

  1. A Lame CTA Button

If you think about it, the entire purpose of your landing page is to push consumers towards a conversion. In order to make the jump from just being on the page to converting, users have to click on a call-to-action (CTA) button. So, if there are problems with the CTA button on your landing page, you’re essentially shoving users in the wrong direction.

Your CTA button should NOT be hard to find, an ugly or unappealing color, or surrounding by clutter copy or visuals. Rather, it should be clearly visible, an attractive, action-prompting color that the eyes of users will naturally gravitate towards.

  1. Unclear/Crappy Design

There are entirely too many landing pages out there with designs that don’t make any sense. Your landing page should be a direct reflection of whatever ad a user clicked on to arrive at the landing page, not a hodge podge of your business/product information.

If a user gets to a landing page and suddenly forgets what the purpose of the page is, you’re almost certain to lose the transaction. Instead, keep the design simple and focused on exactly what you want customers to do. Whether it’s putting information into a form field or making a purchase, let the design of your landing page reflect the end goal and nothing else.

  1. Slow Loading Page Speed

You won’t have to worry about getting a user to convert if your page takes too long to load. As I’ve said before, it takes 1/10th of a second to make an impression on users. If your landing page-or any page, for that matter- takes too long to load, it’s highly likely that your customers will bounce from the page.

Pages should appear to render instantly across all devices to avoid deterring users from the page. When users are on the page, they should be able to explore freely without any freezing or lagging load times.

  1. Aesthetically Displeasing

No users will take the CTA if the page encouraging them to do so is ugly. And in terms of landing pages, ugliness can mean a lot of things: too much text, bad typography, unbalanced colors, poor design, low-quality images, etc. Any and all of these things are aesthetically displeasing and turn customers off to the end goal.

When in doubt, always opt for the “less is more” mentality. Your landing page doesn’t have to have a pop-art color scheme or paragraphs of text to be effective among your customers. Rather, a pretty and tidy page with high-quality images, a balanced color scheme, and easy to read typography will draw users in.

  1. Too Many Form Fields

Something I see on a lot of landing pages is an excessive number of form fields. This is also a common hiccup in check-out processes that make users abandon their shopping carts. You can get the information you need from users without requiring them to fill in their birth date, blood type, favorite food, and whatever other unnecessary form fields are floating around out there.

Keep your form fields limited to the information you absolutely have to have from users, such as their name and email address, and save the rest for a later survey. It’ll keep the conversion process simple and uncomplicated for users, which will prevent bouncing off the landing page.

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Monday, 19 June 2017

HTTPS Attracts Top Traffic: What You Should Know

hv-blog-security-news HTTPS Attracts Top Traffic: What You Should Know

Note: For those unfamiliar with this subject, SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and signifies a protocol that creates a secure connection between a web server and browser.

In 2014, Google announced that adding on an SSL certificate, also referred to as going HTTPS, would be rewarded with a minor ranking boost. Immediately following that announcement, many websites started making the switch from HTTP to HTTPS, yielding very positive results in the number of safe, secure, verified websites. Since then, that number has steadily grown, so much so that over time HTTPS came to represent 30% of page-1 Google results and, just recently, came to represent over 50% of page-1 Google results.

This report comes to us from Dr. Peter J. Meyers, a marketing scientist at Moz who has steadily been keeping an eye on these growing figures. In reviewing the data behind the adoption rate and increasing number of HTTPS sites, he predicts that HTTPS sites could reach 65% of page-1 results by the end of 2017:

moz1 HTTPS Attracts Top Traffic: What You Should Know

When asked if this increase would eventually result in a further algorithmic boost for HTTPS sites, Google said no, and that just a few months ago they visited the idea and decided against it. But while Google may not be upping the boost behind going HTTPS, there are certainly plenty of reasons that support why you should consider adopting it.

Why Sites Should Consider HTTPS

First and foremost, just because Google says there won’t be a greater algorithm boost for HTTPS sites now doesn’t mean there won’t be later. At this point in time, it seems like Google is pleased with the adoption rate of HTTPS and doesn’t really have to do anything further. However, there’s always a chance going forward that have an SSL certificate will be prioritized in an algorithm, and it’s better to play it safe than sorry.

Google algorithm boosts aside, we’ve talked about the importance of website security before. Any measure webmasters can take to protect their sites from hackers and spammers is a step in the right direction, and that includes going HTTPS. While it doesn’t make websites immune to all hackers, it does help prevent cyber attacks that stem from unsecure web server to browser connections. With the number of hacked sites up 32%, now more than ever is the time to take action and secure your website.

The benefit of going HTTPS goes beyond general website security though; it’s a matter of perception. More and more users look for HTTPS websites because Google Chrome, one of the most commonly used browsers, alerts and warns visitors when they end up on non-secure pages when the pages collect sensitive data. Users value browsing security and privacy, and if their browser is alerting them to a potentially unsecure website, they’re more likely to bounce.

Overall, websites have far more to gain by going HTTPS than they do to lose. The cost of an SSL certificate is cheap, sometimes free, and worth the visible security your website gains. With the majority of page-1 sites already being HTTPS, you might as well follow the trend.

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Friday, 16 June 2017

Is Google using machine learning in AdWords?

robot Is Google using machine learning in AdWords?

If you thought you were done hearing about machine learning, you were wrong. As I’ve discussed in these recent articles, Google has started implementing the use of machine learning in search. By using machine learning to better understand user intent and uncover new search insights, Google is able to roll out increasingly sophisticated algorithms that improve both the quality of search results and the experience of users. So far, artificial intelligence has been used to find patterns and become more sophisticated over time, adapting and evolving like users so that Google can adapt and evolve the search experience to keep up. To many marketers, this initially felt like machine learning would exclusively benefit users and narrow the margin for advertising and SEO. However, Google AdWords recently announced a couple of machine learning developments that will benefit marketers and their efforts.

What’s new?

In-market audiences: In the same way that machine learning has been used to better understand search intent, it is also being used to better understand purchase intent. The step being taken towards this is the implementation of in-market audiences, which allow businesses to target users who have already search within their product and/or services category and are therefore much more likely to make a purchase. Per a statement on in-market audiences from Google, “It analyzes trillions of search queries and activity across millions of website to help figure out when people are close to buying and surface ads that will be more relevant and interesting to them.” This is good news for marketers because it ultimately means less wasted effort target broad audiences and more high-converting effort targeting an audience with specific purchase intent.

Google Attribution: This one isn’t yet available to everybody yet, but when it’s eventually rolled out from its current nest in beta it will likely be a favorite tool for online advertisers. In short, Google Attribution uses machine learning to aggregate data from AdWords, Analytics, and DoubleClick Search to analyze and view the results all in one place:

google-attribution Is Google using machine learning in AdWords?

The goal behind this machine learning innovation is to provide a clear and complete picture to an advertiser that lets them know whether or not their marketing efforts are working. Whereas existing attribution tools were difficult to set up, couldn’t track across multiple user devices, and didn’t integrate well with ad tools, Google Attribution makes it easy. It also makes switching to data-driven attribution easy, which uses machine learning to determine how much credit to assign to each step in the consumer journey (you can learn more about this here). Data-driven attribution follows a consumer from when they first engage with your brand down to the final clicks before a purchase is made. It also analyzes your account’s unique conversion patterns to compare paths of customers that end up converting to those who bounce. You can report, update bids, or move between your advertising channels all from one easy place.


What all these snazzy new updates go to show is that machine learning will be a good thing for both users and advertisers. Everyone stands to get from more efficient search and advertising tools, so online marketers need not fear the doom and gloom chatter occasionally surround machine learning. In the future, we can expect more innovations and updates such as these.

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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Google My Business Updates from This Year (and What They Mean for You)

maps Google My Business Updates from This Year (and What They Mean for You)

If you’re a business with an online presence, then you know how important having a completed Google My Business Listing is. Your Google My Business profile is what gives users the information that will direct them into your store or to your website- things that are hugely important for both local and online businesses.

Much like everything else on Google, Google My Business is also prone to frequent update, with or without notice. In 2017 especially, there have been a number of Google My Business updates to happen that modify and/or improve the way businesses can use it. Below are some of these Google My Business Updates and what they mean for businesses.

Google My Business Updates from 2017

  • Photo & Location Insights

For photos, you can now see insights about how many views, clicks, and follows come from the pictures your business posts. There is also a comparison graph that lets you see how your photos are performing when stacked against similar nearby businesses. With photo insights, businesses can choose to view data within the past 7, 30, or 90 day timeframe.

Through the Google My Business API, businesses can get location insights, including information on location attributes, managing service areas, and viewing location related data insights. This is mainly beneficial for larger businesses with multiple locations, but anyone can learn more about the Google My Business API here.

  • Menu/List of Services

One of the features I think is most beneficial to users is the addition of menus or services to Google My Business listings. To utilize this, businesses must follow Google’s guidelines, which require menus and services to be representative of what’s actually available at businesses and a few rules on linking to other menus or services. This is a great way for businesses to give users all the information they need upfront, potentially driving traffic to their business over another, less complete Google My Business profile.

  • Pending Edits Removal from Google Maps

As you may or may not have already known, there’s been a problem with spammers attacking legitimate business listings by reporting them as spam. It used to be that when a business listing was reported as spam, a pending status appeared in their mobile listing. Shortly after this was pointed out, Google removed the pending edits display for business listings. Now, if a business is reported as spam, the pending status won’t appear until the edit is published.

  • Permanently Closed Listing Removal

Another Google My Business Feature that quietly went away is permanently closed business listings. Such business listings used to appear at the bottom of the listings rankings in the local finder but have since disappeared. Obviously, including permanently closed listings isn’t all that helpful for users looking for something, which is probably why they were removed. Despite being removed from the local listings, permanently closed listings can still be found if a user specifically searches for such a business.

  • Attribution Edits All At Once In One Place

If and when a business accepts the Google attributes update (you probably already have), you can manage and edit all your listed attributes in one place. This can include information such as “has WIFI” or “walk-ins welcome” as well as anything else businesses would want to list as attributes for users to see upfront. This is particularly useful for businesses with multiple locations, as they may want to specify attributes for each location.

The Takeaway

Businesses should take advantage of these updates, because they cater to the needs users have when searching for business listings. Having a full and complete Google My Business listing is often what compels a user to choose one business over another. In having a fully completed listing, users have access to more of the information that fuels their decision making process while businesses can benefit in rankings from having in-depth details available.

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Monday, 12 June 2017

Everything You Need to Know About Bing’s Bots for Local Businesses

bing Everything You Need to Know About Bing's Bots for Local Businesses

We don’t cover search engines other than Google too frequently on this blog, but an exciting new update has worked its way into the lineup: Bing has launched bots for local businesses. Bots have become more common and widely talked about in recent years, especially in terms of how they can be used for search.

It’s a simpler alternative to building an app and bots can also significantly enhance user experience. Bots are often used to meet users where they are already spending time, like Facebook messenger, shopping on a website, or in a game. They’re utility based but also provide a more personalized experience that helps users more directly connect with brands. They’ve been tested for a variety of uses across many different platforms, and now Bing is jumping on board as well. Microsoft has reportedly started to integrate the use of bots into search results with the intent of making the search experience more interactive for users.

The BizBot

Fondly known as BizBots, Bing markets their bots as digital assistants to be used for the online needs of businesses to benefit their users. The bot features include:

  • Automatically answering repeated questions from customers and becoming smarter and more sophisticated over time.
  • Working 24/7 on Bing, Skype with capacity to be embedded on websites.
  • Helping customers make faster decisions to drive business via reservations or ordering (for restaurants).

As an added perk, implementing a BizBot is totally cost, contract, and cancellation fee free. For right now, the bots are only supported for restaurant use.

Why This Is Helpful

Perhaps the best part about Bing’s BizBots is that it doesn’t require anything too demanding or high-tech from business owners. Bing walks you through a novice-friendly set up for the bots and from there, all business owners have to do is answer some commonly asked, structured questions and accept the bot terms of agreement. After the bot is set up, local businesses (again, just restaurants, for now) will show a chat feature in search results:

BizBot Everything You Need to Know About Bing's Bots for Local Businesses

This feature has potential to drive significant foot traffic to local businesses and drastically improve the way users search for businesses near them. Since we know that purchase intent is high when users search for local businesses, having a bot that can quickly answer questions pertinent to that process benefits both people searching and local businesses.

Developments like the BizBot have the power to impact dollars and cents in the most significant way possible for local businesses, and if you consider your own personal experiences as a user, this makes sense. For example, if you look up a local restaurant’s hours, but want to know if they’ll apply on a holiday. Or if you want to visit a popular ice cream shop, but aren’t sure if they accepts cards. Users can ask the bots these questions and get the answers they need quickly, before being deterred from the business by a lack of information.

Whether or not search bots will be adopted by other search engines remains to be seen, but what’s clear is that Bing’s testing of BizBots could potentially be a game-changer for how local businesses optimize.

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Friday, 9 June 2017

Why This Popular Study About Reviews Should Be Taken with a Grain of Salt

YelpStock Why This Popular Study About Reviews Should Be Taken with a Grain of Salt

As of late a Nielsen survey commissioned by Yelp has been circulating. The consumer survey argues that Yelp drives higher conversions than both Google and Facebook and that the overwhelming majority of consumers made a purchase after visiting Yelp. Below are some of the survey highlights.

Review Sites & Yelp

  • 74% of the consumers searching online for a local business turn to consumer online review sites at least monthly.
  • Consumers who use consumer online review sites rank Yelp as the most trusted, most influential and most useful for making a final purchase decision, when compared to other consumer online review sites and excluding search engines and social media platforms.

nielsen1 Why This Popular Study About Reviews Should Be Taken with a Grain of Salt

Purchase Behavior on Yelp

  • 92% of consumers who use consumer online review sites say they made a purchase after visiting Yelp at least sometimes, frequently or almost always.
    • 25% within a few hours
    • 42% within a day or less
    • 79% within a week or less
  • 79% of Yelp users say they are looking for a business they can visit multiple times.
  • 85% of Yelp users share the businesses they find on Yelp with friends at least frequently or occasionally.

nielsen1 Why This Popular Study About Reviews Should Be Taken with a Grain of Salt

The survey goes on to include findings on restaurant ordering and delivery, as well as Yelp’s two cents on what these survey results mean for local businesses. Yelp notes that many consumers make decisions about whether or not they’ll spend money with you based on information found in reviews about your business. This information isn’t new, as most business owners are now aware that the majority of users trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation, especially as it pertains to local businesses. But what these findings do show is a 55% spike in the number of consumers who say they make a purchase within a day or less after looking at Yelp for reviews- a significant increase from Nielsen’s 2014 study commissioned by Yelp.

Something to Consider

While Yelp is generally a reputable source for information, there has been chatter for years that the reviews they share aren’t really unbiased. I’ve heard from more than one business that good reviews seem to get filtered out more than bad reviews unless businesses buy into Yelp advertising. Similarly, I’ve heard from consumers using Yelp that the ratio of good reviews that get posted to bad reviews is suspiciously disproportional. Whether or not these claims are completely true remains a toss-up, but what we do know and have always known about Yelp is that they calculate “conversions” a bit differently than the rest of the SEO community tends to.

Unlike most sites, Yelp counts calls, directions, and clicks on links to businesses as conversions, even if it doesn’t result in a purchase. Counting all of these actions as conversions skews the picture and results Yelp gives users and makes for some not so reliable reporting metrics. While this survey exists separately from that, it’s still important to take this Yelp-commissioned survey with a grain of salt and look at reviews holistically. Online best practices would never have marketers or businesses put all their eggs in one basket, so even if Yelp truly is the greatest source of reviews for consumers it’s still important to look at your reviews cumulatively. Accounting and striving for a balanced review profile across Yelp, Google, Facebook, and any other platform relevant to your business is the best way to use consumer feedback to your advantage.

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Monday, 5 June 2017

Google Extends Audience Targeting: What You Should Know

hv-blog-ppc-ecommerce Google Extends Audience Targeting: What You Should Know

For digital marketers, audience targeting is one of the single most important steps for a winning online strategy. It’s what helps brands strategically narrow their efforts in on their targets and get the insights they need to have more success.

Targeting is especially important for paid search, where having a clearly defined audience matters most because money is on the line. It’s no surprise that Google recently announced developments from the intersection of paid search and machine learning, as more powerful audience insights and targeting developments are underway. Here’s what you need to know from this recent announcement and what it means for digital marketers going forward.

Extending In-Market Audiences:

It’s no secret that a lot of users search the internet with the specific intent of making a purchase. In response to this, Google has started using machine learning findings to better understand that intent and create opportunities for marketers. The machine learning analyzes trillions of search queries and activities across the web and then sorts that data to figure out when people are close to buying and surface ads that will be more relevant and interesting to users.

In-market audiences will use this advanced machine learning to allow marketers to reach people based on their specific interests as they browse pages, apps, channels, videos, and content. Marketers select audiences by categories, such as fashion, travel, or sports, and Google shows their ads to people who are likely to be interested in those categories:

audiencesimage Google Extends Audience Targeting: What You Should Know

Image Source: Search Engine Land

This is a win-win for everyone, because by targeting audiences who are in the market users see more of information that’s relevant to them and marketers channel their efforts into a more direct line of communication. Overall, this will enhance the search experience for users and the advertising experience for marketers to be more efficient, pointed, and hopefully productive.

What This Means for Marketers

In keeping with Google’s continued use of machine learning, this development goes to show how insights and data from artificial intelligence in search will be used to drive new updates, features, and products. As I’ve mentioned before, the use of machine learning to enhance search is not a black and white issue or formula that marketers will be able to find shortcuts around or avoid. Use of machine learning stems from Google’s vested interest in improving the search experience for users and continually narrowing the margin for marketers who game the system. Because machine learning looks for, collects, and analyzes data based on real user behavior, the updates and developments we see from search engines moving forward will be increasingly based on quality and authenticity.

In addition to providing a better user experience, this showcases that marketers also stand to gain from machine learning findings. Among speculation and chatter that machine learning will eventually cause the death of organic search has developed a fear that advancements made by way of artificial intelligence will put marketers at a disadvantage, ultimately crowding them out space to target their audiences. What this development actually shows is that machine learning has the capacity to create as much opportunity for marketers as it does for users, especially in terms of creating opportunity and relationships more specific between users and brands.

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Friday, 2 June 2017

Everything You Need to Know About the Buzz Around Machine Learning

robot Everything You Need to Know About the Buzz Around Machine Learning

Recently we’ve heard more and more about machine learning. The futuristic sounding buzz words of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) draw both intimidation and curiosity, especially within the world of search. Many people have heard about machine learning being used for search, but not everyone has followed its development or knows how it’s actually being used. To address some of those concerns and shed light on how machine learning came to be used for search, here’s an overview of everything you need to know about it.

Why We Have Machine Learning in Search

As I previously touched on in this article, machine learning and artificial intelligence developed to meet the needs of the constantly changing search landscape. Over time, search engines have become increasingly sophisticated to better suit the demands of users. The factors that search engines use to determine search results and understand user intent has expanded significantly, so search algorithms have had to start looking at everything more comprehensively. These algorithms account for and measured all the different factors and tons of data points, naturally pushing search engines to find the most effective and efficient ways to develop.

That push towards efficiency is where machine learning and AI systems come to play. Using AI in search helps process more algorithm and search results findings much faster and more efficiently. The AI is trained to look at everything you’d expect to have a high value for both users and search engines, including content, links, user behavior, trust, citations, patterns, hacks, intent, and more.

How AI Data is used

Based on what information and data is collected by machine learning from the algorithms, search engines then develop new sets of ranking factors and insights that will determine future updates. This is a big deal for search because this AI system is designed to continuously evolve and adapt-just like search.

What This Means for Users Marketers

Because this AI is not a black and white formula but rather a sophisticated system, there isn’t a way to game it. In the past, search algorithms have been formulas with pretty clearly defined edges that people could skirt around. Now that machine learning is being used to drive future algorithms and understand present search patterns, gaming the system or short-cutting through SEO will be a whole lot more difficult.

The inclusion of machine learning in search has the potential to drastically change SEO. In light of that, there will be an even greater emphasis placed on authenticity and quality than ever before. On the user side of things, the search experience will continue to improve and become more refined, producing better quality results and weeding out unhelpful results. For marketers, there’s some speculation that SEO practices will change or die out as a result of machine learning in search. Whether or not that’s true remains to be seen, but what is clear is that AI is actively helping to keep quality results and user experience at the forefront of the ever-changing search landscape.

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