10 Blue Links – May 27th, 2016

 

Tie Your Sites Together with Property Sets in Search Console
Google Webmaster Central Blog – May 23rd, 2016

“Search Console is introducing the concept of “property sets,” which let you combine multiple properties (both apps and sites) into a single group to monitor the overall clicks and impressions in search within a single report.”


Competitive Threats to Google and What They Mean for You
Search Engine Land – May 24th, 2016

Yes, even Google has to worry about competition. Fortunately, for users, this incentivizes Google to deliver quality search results, and prevents them from over-commercializing. Fortunately, for SEOs, this means plenty of work for us! But it’s also a good reminder to digital marketers that there are other valuable traffic sources to consider.


The 7 Most Important Questions to Ask of Your SEO Data
Search Engine Journal – May 25th, 2016

Great questions to ask of really any data being used to gauge performance.


Breaking Down Virality: An Analysis of 4 Posts That Went Viral
HubSpot Blog – May 24th, 2016

HubSpot examines four “viral” posts to demonstrate how one viral post can affect traffic, reach, and page rank, and offers a few tips on how to create more sharable content.


The Landscape of Mobile Search is Changing – How Will You Adapt?
Moz Blog – May 24th, 2016

A good overview of mobile trends, strategy adjustments, and where it could all be heading.


5 Brilliant Competitive Advertising Strategies to Outsmart Your Competition
WordStream Blog – May 16th, 2016

How to leverage things like paid ads over competitor content, and social media as a lead source. If someone is interested in a competing product, they’re already proving themselves to be a potential buyer for yours – you just need to get their attention!


Google Releases Free Version of Data Studio Custom Reporting Product
Marketing Land – May 25th, 2016

This week, Google released a pretty cool new data visualization tool that can pull data from sources like Google Sheets, Analytics, and Adwords (among others). We’re especially excited to try it out with the new Google Sheets plugin we’re working on!


Why E-Commerce Sites Should Use Both SE and SEO for Acquisition
Search Engine Watch – May 27th, 2016

Search Engine Watch covers the arguments for paid and organic search strategies for e-commerce businesses. Ultimately, a mix of both is usually recommended, especially for newer businesses.


Google AdWords to Break Up Tablet & Desktop and Enable a Mobile Base Bid
Search Engine Land – May 24th, 2016

“For some advertisers, it has been a growing challenge to scale mobile when bids are handcuffed to a limited desktop multiplier. To address this imbalance, Google announced that advertisers will be able to set individual bid adjustments for each device type, including mobile, desktop and tablet.”


How Much of a Role Does Trust Play on Conversion Rates?
Kissmetrics Blog – May 23rd, 2016

“Customers and prospects want honesty. Ethics. Understanding. They want to feel as if they’re understood and that the company, at the very least, listens to them even if it doesn’t act on every suggestion. It means that in order to convince and convert, you have to get down on the customer’s level and see things from their point of view.”


Bing’s Share of the Search Market is Growing Faster than Google’s
Search Engine Journal – May 20th, 2016

Remember those competitors we mentioned earlier? Last year, while Google’s market share fell by .2%, Bing’s actually rose by .2%. This could simply be a result of Windows 10 growth (as Bing is integrated throughout), but definitely still an interesting trend to keep an eye on.


Have a great weekend!

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Five most interesting search marketing news stories of the week

Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from around the world of search marketing and beyond.

This week we have a round of very exciting changes to AdWords and some stats about the intolerability of video ad formats.

Google AdWords launches new features for mobile ads and maps

As Sophie Loras reported last week, Google has “introduced new tools and features to AdWords to specifically address the consumer shift towards mobile.”

These include:

Expanded text ads for a mobile

Headlines in AdWords will increase from one 25-character header, to two 30-character headers, giving advertisers more room to explain their products and services.

The description line will also increase from two 35-character description lines to one 80-character description line.

Responsive display ads

These are designed to help advertisers with the many different content shapes and sizes across the more than two million publisher sites and apps on the Google Display Network (GDN).

Bid adjustments for device types

AdWords will soon allow advertisers to set individual bid adjustments for each device type (mobile, desktop and tablet).

Connect online and offline with mobile

Google is introducing new local search ads across Google.com and Google Maps to reach consumers as they search for physical business locations.

New ad formats on Google Maps

To make it easier for users to find businesses around them Google Maps will offer promoted pins as well the ability to include details for one off special offers or sales.

You can now tie-up all your web properties together in Search Console

As I reported a few days ago, you can now track the combined search visibility of all your managed web properties.

So all the separate platforms you operate for one single brand – websites, mobile sites, apps – you’ll be able to treat as a single entity. You can even add HTTP or HTTPS versions of the same site and combine multiple apps.

The aggregated data from your properties will be found in the Search Analytics of Search Console and you’ll be able to check everything from clicks, to impressions to CTR, as you would normally with single properties.

Silent ads for the win

Latest research from Wibbitz on the state of video advertising reveal some fascinating – if not obvious – home truths on our tolerance for video ad formats.

45% of people said that muted ads are more tolerable than targeted, autoplay or interactive ad formats.

Also, the survey found that 70% of people won’t watch an ad longer than 10 seconds, 61% admit they always skip video ads and 42% disapprove of autoplay ads.

Bing’s share of the search market is growing faster than Google’s

According to comScore, in April 2016, Bing’s share of the search market rose by 0.2% while Google’s dropped by 0.2%.

Also according to SEJ, “Google’s total share of the US desktop search market has dipped below its previous 64% to 63.8%. Microsoft’s share of desktop search is now sitting at 21.6%.”

Google’s new title and description lengths: ‘it’s just a test’

Google has been experimenting with a variety of expanded title tag and meta description lengths in its SERPs over the last few weeks.

However, as we all expected, Google’s John Muller has this to say about Google’s constant honing of the look of its search results…

So yeah, don’t get too excited.

Related reading

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Google I O 2016 on Google
A graphic showing the old Google logo superimposed over a faint search results page.
Shift London

Winners and losers of Google’s latest mobile friendly update: USA

Last week, Google’s John Mueller confirmed on Twitter that Google’s latest, stronger Mobile Friendly Update has been fully rolled out.

This update is supposed to give an even more powerful boost to mobile-friendly pages.

When we try to figure out the winners and losers of this, it’s actually much easier to identify the losers. This has to do with Google using the same index for both desktop- and mobile-searches.

This means that a small positive change, caused by the website’s SEO or webmaster, can actually improve the visibility of both the desktop and mobile results.

This makes it quite difficult to figure out the if the ‘Mobile Friendly Update #2’ was the cause for the increase.

Nonetheless, I will show you some examples for websites where the update is the most likely cause for success.

As far as the losing websites are concerned, we are able to check for all the problems that Google said webmasters should look out for, when it comes to mobile.

We looked at the mobile visibility for 200 domains for the time frame between April 25th and May 16th, 2016. We only took those domains into account which had a visibility score of at least 3 points for the Mobile Visibility Index.

Here are the most interesting cases:

Losers

1) Instructables.com

instructables.com

Instructables.com crashed from 44.9 points to 12.2 points in the Mobile Visibility Index (a decrease of -70.56%)

This case is very interesting as we can use the new Google Mobile Friendly Tool to analyse their mobile version.

For many URLs there are up to five resources that are blocked to the Googlebot. Some of these blocked resources are from advertisement platforms, but just blocking the resources does not mean that Googlebot might not still see the following during their crawl…

instructables ads

When I visited the website from my iPhone, or using the Google Chrome browser, I was shown some annoying advertisements and there are also some interstitials.

As Googlebot will obviously ignore cookies, it is very likely that Googlebot gets to see these interstitials every time it visits the site. The crash may be caused by either problem.

It not only lost visibility in the USA but also in UK and ES (they also have content in Spanish that ranks on Google.es)

2) Moveflat.com

moveflat.com

Moveflat.com went from a visibility score of 3.272 to 1.929 (a decrease of -41.05%)

This is a very simple case: moveflat.com is simply not showing their mobile website to mobile users, by default. The user must actively click on a link. This makes them a good example when we consider John Müller’s statement:

“The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal – so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank well if it has great, relevant content“

It seems that this website does not belong to the above category.

3) Hipmunk.com

hipmunk.com

Hipmunk.com went from a visibility score of 13.593 to 9.770 (a decrease of -28.13%)

While the people at Hipmunk.com seem very likeable with their chipmunk mascot, they also have some technical problems.

If we run the site through Google’s Mobile Friendly Test, we notice that Google will analyse the desktop version of the page. The sad part is that, if I open the website with my smartphone, I am shown a mobile version of the page.

hipmunk mobile friendly test

If you do not have an appropriate mobile version of your website, or if Google cannot find/access it, you will have problems trying to rank well for mobile searches.

In the next chart you can see the historic ranking data for the desktop and mobile results for hipmunk.com for the keywords “cheapest flights.”

cheapest flights ranking

The red line shows the desktop positions while the blue line shows mobile rankings.

We can see that in the desktop-search they have been ranking in the top 10 for this keyword for a long time, while for mobile they only managed to crack the top 10 results three times, which is actually a pretty good summary of what is happening with the mobile friendly Google update.

Winners

As I said before, it is easier to identify the losers than the winners. While the winners could be where they are because they benefited from Google’s latest mobile friendly update, they could also show an increase because of positive SEO changes.

1) Boardgamegeek.com

boardgame geek

Boardgamegeek.com managed to increase their visibility from 5.774 points to 10.024 (an increase of +73.60%)

This case is interesting as we see a decrease in desktop visibility while the mobile-visibility is on the rise. The amazing thing is that they actually do not have a mobile version at all!

This will likely come back to Jon Mueller’s statement from before that: “even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank well if it has great, relevant content.”

This could definitely be the case for Boardgamegeek, a domain that is already 16 years old, has a massive community of users and a lot of relevant content for the more than 77.000 games they cover.

2) Brainpop.com

brainpop.com

Brainpop.com went from a visibility Index score of 8.973 to 12.950 (an increase of +44.32%)

The target audience for this educational website are young adults, who – as we all know – live glued to their smartphones. In the above chart we can nicely see how they break their negative trend after the update went live.

This shows that the same URL (the mobile update works on a URL level) has a better ranking for mobile than desktop for the keyword “electric circuits.”

desktop vs smartphone

3) Reuters.com

reuters

Reuters.com managed to increase its visibility score from 19.315 to 27.311 (an increase of +41.40%)

In many countries we see news portals sporting a higher desktop visibility, while here we see the mobile visibility come out on top.

If we look at the ranking history below, for the keyword “indian temple”, we see the desktop rankings in red and mobile in blue. In the past, neither ranked very high, but after the update, the mobile version jumped into the top 10.

indian temple ranking

It is very likely that the domain was then able to create positive user signals through their mobile results, which then also helped the desktop ranking. This very much makes sense once we consider that Google only has one index for mobile and desktop.

Juan González is the SEO and Country Manager from Sistrix.

Related reading

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Five ways UX blends with SEO to improve a site’s performance

For many years there has been a debate on whether UX and SEO can really go hand in hand, but this is not the case anymore. Today we’re examining how UX and SEO can make the perfect match.

There’s no need to question nowadays the need to blend UX with SEO when building a website, as none of these two can stand on its own.

User Experience (UX) focuses on target groups of people and usually bases decisions on their design preferences, as well as the industry’s trends, while SEO tends to focus more on the actual site and its data, in order to increase the content’s visibility in search engines.

However, there is a spot that these two meet…

seo and ux

Google made it very clear in its Webmaster Guidelines that even in SEO optimisation, users should be the centre of attention:

Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.

And this is only a reminder on why SEO cannot work in isolation from other factors that affect a site’s performance, especially when the focus of the old days on keyword-stuffed topics is long gone.

Here are five points that remind us how UX can blend with SEO to improve a site’s performance:

1. Creating content for the user

Both UX and SEO should focus on the user and despite the older perception that SEO’s effectiveness depends on keyword and page optimisation, Google keeps reminding us to also think of the users when creating content.

It’s the human element that both users and search engines appreciate, as it indicates that the main goal is to satisfy the user, rather than the engine, although the latter will also favour the specific page in the ranking.

Whether it’s design or optimisation, the emphasis on the users’ needs help a page improve its performance and the audience will reward this effort with an increased time spent on the site.

2. Readability

Content should aim at relevance, quality and engagement, in order to become appealing and thus, convince the users to spend more time on it.

UX can enhance the appeal and the readability of a page and this may boost SEO, as the quality of the content is favouring a site’s crawlability from search engines.

Readability in SEO is the optimisation of the content in order to be clear, relevant, and informative, covering a topic as much as possible, in order to increase the page’s authority for search engines.

What’s more, keywords and on-page optimisation (even with the simplest steps) favour a post’s readability, providing that they are properly applied to enhance the browsing (and crawling) experience.

There’s no need to focus on target keywords anymore to increase the page’s ranking on SERPs, especially if it affects the quality of the content and its readability, as neither search engines, nor users will appreciate it.

Readability for UX is all about pleasing the users that access a page, ensuring that their first impressions will be positive.

A clear structure and a functional page, which works for all devices and browsers, contribute to an improved user experience and increase the chances of creating an engaged audience.

It’s the concise, legible, functional and properly formatted content that defines readability both for SEO and UX, with the combination of the two making a great match that users will enjoy.

3. Visual appeal

Visual content may contribute to the appeal of a page and both UX and SEO focus on its optimisation.

As human beings process visual elements faster than written information, images, videos and any other types of visual content are becoming important to the user experience.

In terms of SEO, visual content can be optimised to help search engines discover it and provide another way of leading traffic to your page through the rise of visual search engines.

User experience understands the importance of including visual content to a page, in order to increase its effectiveness, although it is very important to maintain the right balance, as visual content should not replace the actual text.

Moreover, both SEO and UX advocates agree that large images may affect the browsing experience, as they may disrupt the layout of a page and increase its load time.

Thus, always optimise your visual content, while keeping in mind the different devices, favouring both the desktop and the mobile experience.

4. Usability

ux-788002_960_720

It’s not just the design, but also the functionality of a page that affects the user experience.

An easy navigation allows users to further explore a page and and a proper menu functionality, internal link structure and clear navigation labels contribute to the time the users spend on a page and most importantly, they affect whether they will find what they’re looking for, which was the reason they initially clicked on the page.

What’s more, sitemaps are useful both for users and search engines, as they help the indexing, the navigation and the crawling of a site, which both SEO and UX want.

SEO and UX also agree on the importance of maintaining the right page speed, ensuring that heavy images, ads and faulty functionality won’t affect the time it takes to load a page. As users are becoming impatient with the loading speed of a site, it is critical to measure and improve the page speed, in order to keep the bounce rate as low as possible.

It is also important to test a page’s performance in all the browsers and the devices, aiming for a seamless experience for each user, with an additional focus on mobile users that keep increasing.

Furthermore, accessibility is also significant, both for SEO and UX, and it can be enhanced by ensuring that all pages are useful for readers with visual impairments, for example,  who use screen readers to navigate a page.

Is your content descriptive? Is the navigation checked? Are your images captioned?

5. Retain users

UX aims to provide the site experience that helps users browse and find relevant and informative content and the right navigation pattern can guide them to the next steps in an easy and simple way that seems effortless to them.

Navigation and user paths may ensure that you retain users on your site, and by the time this is achieved, it’s time to think about conversion.

Both SEO and UX should have the idea of conversion in mind, either by turning visitors into loyal users, by encouraging them to subscribe to an email newsletter, or by turning them into clients.

Don’t be afraid to create calls to action that will help the users know what you expect from them. After all, users prefer to have clear guidance, rather than being exposed to multiple options that may paralyse them.

You don’t have to create content by simply having the idea of conversion in mind, but still, it’s the ultimate goal to understand what your audience wants and blend a great browsing experience with your business goals.

How UX and SEO optimisation may enhance a site’s performance

It’s not necessarily complicated to blend SEO and UX to improve a site’s performance, and it’s even more important to understand why these two cannot work independently anymore, at least not with the same effectiveness.

It’s SEO that may lead traffic to the site and help it reach a higher position on SERPs, but it’s UX that will determine whether the traffic can be maintained and converted into the set goals.

Thus, every site trying to improve its performance through UX and SEO should offer:

  • Quality, informative, and relevant content
  • Easy to use structure and simple and effective navigation
  • Optimisation of text and images to please both users and search engines
  • Appealing design that focuses on accessibility
  • Clear call-to-action, both around the users’ next clicks, but also around the desired conversion

Related reading

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Never Miss a Thing: 11 Powerful Social Media Monitoring Tools

This is an updated version of a post originally published in March 2015.

Social media has provided people the ability to voice their opinion on companies, brands, people—in short, anything and anyone. What people say can be good or bad, but that alone doesn’t determine your social media success. The way your company listens and engages with these social media posts is what dictates how those opinions influence your online presence and brand sentiment.

Social media monitoring (also known as social listening) allows you to gain powerful insight into your customers, competitors, and industry influencers. To take full advantage of social media listening, you need to spread your monitoring across several social media channels, and keep a constant watch for new opportunities. However, acquiring these insights takes time, and the use of the right tools.

To help you choose which social media monitoring tools to use, we’ve compiled a list of 11 tools to get you started—all of which are available in the Hootsuite App Directory or the dashboard itself.

Here are 11 effective social media monitoring tools

1. Reddit Keyword Monitor Pro

With over 234 million unique users and 8 billion monthly pageviews, listening and monitoring your brand on Reddit should be part of your social media monitoring strategy. Use the Reddit Keyword Monitor app to monitor who is talking about your brand, business, or competitors. The last thing you want is having some stranger host a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything—a traditional Reddit Q&A session) on behalf of your company, and only finding out after it happened.

social media monitoring tool - Reddit Keyword Monitor Pro

Key features include:

  • Set keywords and phrases you’d like to monitor on Reddit
  • Select to limit keyword searches to posts or comments
  • Share Reddit posts easily across your Hootsuite social networks
  • Quick access to the posts to respond and engage
  • View analytics reports on keyword occurrences over time
  • Monitor unlimited keywords across Reddit

2. Geopiq for Instagram

With a community of over 400 million users (and a  majority age group being 18 to 29), wouldn’t you want to make sure you’re monitoring what people are posting on Instagram? Especially if the demographic of your audience falls in that age range. With the Geopiq for Instagram app you can monitor posts by location, hashtag, or username. The app within Hootsuite allows you to monitor and engage with users that are posting in your area, or an area you choose to follow. For example, you can use this tool for events to see what is being posted and to engage via comments to all those who attended your event.

Geopiq Social Media Monitoring 2

Key features:

  • View pictures being posted to Instagram by location
  • Monitor posts on Instagram by location, hashtag, or username
  • Engage with users by posting comments
  • Share your Instagram photos with your social networks
  • View your photos and a feed of photos for the users you follow, popular photos and your ‘likes’, all in your dashboard
  • View and post comments and ‘likes’
  • View user information: number of photos, plus follower and following count

3. Hootsuite Syndicator Pro

Manage and monitor all your favorite blogs and websites with Hootsuite Syndicator Pro. This tool provides a quick and easy way to view RSS feeds and share them to your social media channels, as well as rich filtering, monitoring and tracking tools, and most important, the ability to track which stories you’ve shared.

social media monitoring tool - Hootsuite Syndicator Pro

Key features:

  • Add streams of articles and stories via RSS feeds
  • Import and export OPML or XML files to add and share your RSS feeds
  • Easily manage large lists of RSS feeds with a rich toolset: set up Groups and filters, mark stories as ‘read’ or ‘unread,’ mark articles as favorite or ‘read it later’
  • Share articles and stories to your social networks, and track the stories you have shared
  • Leverage your Hootsuite teams functionality to assign items to your teammates for follow up
  • Save articles to other sources like Pocket, Evernote, OneNote, Google Drive, Tumblr, and more

4. Reputology

Online reputation management is extremely important and surprisingly easy. It’s crucial that your brand manages its reputation offline and online. With the Reputology app, you can monitor and check major review sites so that you can engage with reviewers and resolve any issues in a timely manner.
social media monitoring tool - Reputology

Key features:

  • Monitor all the major reviews sites: Yelp, Google, Facebook reviews, and more
  • Track activity across multiple storefronts and locations
  • Respond quickly via quick links
  • Email reviews to all relevant parties for proper escalation
  • Keep tabs on how reviews are followed up with by assigning reviews as tasks to users and tagging reviews by status
  • Create user levels with different permissions

5. Hootsuite Insights

What do you get when you combine social media listening, analytics, and powerful social media monitoring capabilities? Hootsuite Insights. This tool allows you to gain powerful real-time insights about your brand; track influencers, stories, and trends; and visualize the metrics, all in one place.
Hootsuite Insights Social Media Monitoring

Key features:

  • More data sources in Hootsuite with results from more than 100 million sources now in your engagement platform
  • Engage directly from stream and take action on previously hidden results
  • Filter and tailor results by sentiment, platform, location, and language
  • Historical coverage: reach into the past to bring a stream of mentions to the forefront of your content and engagement team

6. Brandwatch

The tool’s name says it all—watch your brand with Brandwatch. Strengthen your social media monitoring capabilities with the power of deep listening. With the Brandwatch app in Hootsuite, you can identify key insights from more than 70 million traffic sources across the web, including major social channels, blogs, forums, news and review sites, and much more. Make real-time, informed decisions with Brandwatch and take action on them.
social media monitoring tool - Brandwatch

Key Features:

  • Never miss a mention with data from more than 70 million sources including blogs, forums, social networks, news, videos, and reviews
  • Monitor the tone and impact of brand mentions and surface important issues with Brandwatch’s advanced sentiment and impact scoring
  • Use Brandwatch’s advanced segmentation and filter your streams by authors, categories, tags, priority, and more for more targeted listening
  • Assign and respond to mentions found with Brandwatch instantly from your Hootsuite dashboard

7. ReviewInc

Whether it’s a positive or negative online review, your response should be in the same place as that review. With the ReviewInc app for Hootsuite, view over 200 popular review sites across over 100 countries. Organize positive reviews for sharing on social media sites, and resolve negative issues instantly.

Key features:

  • See a stream of online reviews from over 200 popular review sites in one place, including Yelp, Foursquare and Google Places
  • Monitor multiple streams of reviews, engage with customers, and share positive testimonials of your business
  • Workflow tools allow you to coordinate responses to a review across your teams
  • Multiple account support: manage multiple locations, companies or set detailed filters for the app

8. Synthesio

It’s no secret that social listening arms you with the information you need for deeper insights and better-guided business decisions, and Synthesio is a comprehensive option to help you with this. The tool lets you and your team listen to the social media conversations most important to you, analyze these conversations, and engage with them.

Synthesio

Key features:

  • Monitor multiple mention streams at once
  • Share more efficiently using Hootsuite’s unparalleled share-to-social networks tool
  • Reply, Retweet, or DM with Twitter users directly from the app in Hootsuite
  • Assign mentions to other teams or members of your organization to resolve them

9. Crowd Analyzer

If you or your customers are based in the Middle East, Crowd Analyzer is an invaluable tool for social media monitoring and analytics. As the first Arabic-focused social media monitoring platform, Crowd Analyzer works “through sophisticated natural language processing algorithms” to analyze “Arabic content in terms of relevancy, dialect and sentiment.” Crowd Analyzer not only monitors major social networks, but blogs, forums, and the news as well.

crowd analyzer

Key features:

  • Monitor multiple streams at once.
  • Use more than 60 powerful filters such as language, location, gender, and sentiment to filter through your content.
  • Search your content by keyword.
  • Reply, Retweet, or Tweet directly from Hootsuite.
  • Tag your content directly from Hootsuite and use these tags to drive your analytics on Crowd Analyzer.

10. 76Insights
If content marketing is an important aspect of your Facebook marketing strategy, use 76Insights. This social media monitoring tool measures the resonance of your social media content and breaks down your resonance score, which is the number that measures how much social media engagement someone receives after publishing something.
Social media monitoring tool - 76Insights

Key features:

  • Measure the resonance of your social content
  • See resonance score breakdowns by social network
  • See your content performance with intuitive visualizations
  • Group social accounts into handy watchlists
  • Share the most resonant content with your social networks

11. Hootsuite Pro
On top of all the social media monitoring tools mentioned above, Hootsuite Pro provides social listening capabilities right in the dashboard. Monitor specific keywords, hashtags, regions, and so much more. Stay on top of what people are saying about your brand and listen to your customers and competitors to gain competitive advantage.

Key features:

  • Grow your followers and monitor conversations
  • Save time publishing content to your networks
  • Improve ROI and analyze campaign performance
  • Up to 50 social profiles
  • Access to premium apps
  • One enhanced analytics report
  • Bulk message scheduling

Social media monitoring success starts with Hootsuite. Try it free today!

Sign Up for Free

5 Ways to Use Twitter Polls for Your Business

It seems like you can’t turn anywhere this year without hearing about polls. Who’s leading in the polls? What do the poll results mean for the future? Are the polls rigged? Has the word “poll” lost all meaning? If we’re talking about Twitter Polls, the answer is a resounding “no.”

Twitter polls bridge the gap between customers and brands, giving the latter insight into what the former wants and needs. To help you make the most of Twitter Polls, we’ve put together the following guide.

Why should you use Twitter Polls?

While you can, of course, pose a question to your customers through a traditional Tweet, a poll allows for a much easier and streamlined process for both you and your audience.

As explained by Twitter, “Twitter Polls allow you to weigh in on questions posed by other people on Twitter. You can also easily create your own poll and see the results instantly.” Responding to a poll gives you a chance to share what you’re feeling with other Twitter users, while hosting a poll will provide valuable insight into what your followers think and feel.

Overall, the benefits of Twitter Polls include:

  • Direct social listening opportunities
  • Easy to measure
  • Ease of use for both audience and creator
  • Real-time results
  • Quick customer service feedback
  • Participant anonymity
  • Openness of polls to any Twitter user

Now that you’ve seen some of the benefits of Twitter Polls, the next section will show you how to actually create one.

How to create a Twitter Poll

To help you create your own Twitter Poll, Twitter provides this clear, easy to understand set of instructions.

You can create your own Twitter Poll on the web or in the Twitter app (iOS or Android).

To create a poll on twitter.com:

  1. Click into the compose box at the top of your Home timeline, or click the Tweet button in the top navigation bar.
  2. Click the Add poll icon
  3. Type your poll question into the main compose box. You can use up to 116 characters in your poll question.
  4. Insert your first poll option into the Choice 1 box, and your second poll option into the Choice 2 box. You can use up to 20 characters for each option.
  5. Click + Add a choice to add additional options to your poll. Your poll can have up to four options.
  6. Your poll’s duration defaults to one day. You can change the duration of your poll by clicking one day and adjusting the days, hours, and minutes. The minimum amount of time for a poll is five minutes, and the maximum is seven days.
  7. Click Tweet to post the poll.

Twitter Polls

Knowing how to create a Twitter Poll is the first step in finding polling success, but the following section will give you some actual ideas to try out.

Twitter poll ideas

With the ability to ask any question, your Twitter polls are limited only by your own creativity. What are the questions you wish you could ask each and every one of your customers? What answers (choose up to four) will benefit your business the most? Think about these two important things, and try out any of the following ideas.

Conduct market research

One of the most effective ways of using a Twitter Poll, is to conduct market research. By asking the right questions, you can gain valuable insight into the habits of your followers. You can quickly find out what their pain points are, what they are looking for in a product or service, and what their preferences are. This is also an extremely helpful way to test the waters when developing a new product or service.

Start with broad questions that can be answered with a yes or no such as “Would you be interested in this feature if it were available?” or “Would you buy this if it became available tomorrow?” Then based on the answers you receive with those questions, you can move onto more detailed polls. For deeper insight, ask multiple choice questions such as “Which of these four features is most important to you?” or “Which color of this product do you like the best?”

Content feedback

As a social media and content marketer, there aren’t many things more important to you then what your audience thinks of your efforts. Are they enjoying the content you create and post? What would they like more of? What could they do without?

As EConsultancy explains, “Using polls in this way enables you to ask your Twitter audience a direct question about what they actually want from you, and then you’ll be in a better place to give it to them.” While you, of course, can and have been paying attention to what your audience responds to, this takes more time and effort that the quick and direct use of a Twitter Poll.

Content research

A thoroughly researched piece of content, such as a blog post, is going to build brand loyalty and establish your organization as an authority on a topic—which will undoubtedly impact whether you receive positive or negative feedback. This is where Twitter Polls can come in handy.

Use a Twitter Poll to ask your audience a question you are looking to answer with your content. If you are writing a blog post about a topic, ask your audience a relevant question. Whether you get the answer you wanted or not, you’ll have some interesting insight to add to your post.

Our previous post on Twitter Polls used a great example from The Nieman Lab who polled their audience asking about their use of ad blockers. They then embedded the poll in a blog post and wrote about their results.

Ask questions relevant to your industry

Twitter Polls are a great way of engaging with your community, especially through industry-related questions. In doing this, you have the opportunity to spark conversations amongst participants, attract the attention of other industry leaders, and build credibility.

Asking questions related to your industry, but not specific to your brand, shows that you care about more than just marketing your own product or service. With this comes trust, customer loyalty, and the opportunity to build valuable relationships. Your audience members follow your brand for a reason, so speak to their interests.

Engage around current events and culture

On Twitter, timeliness is king. If there’s a current event, trending pop culture phenomenon, or viral video, try to incorporate a reference to these events with a Twitter Poll—but only if it’s relevant to your brand and voice. For example, when ‘The Dress’ was all the rage, companies and brands took to Twitter to ask their followers what color they thought it to be. I’m not suggesting you jump on every single internet or cultural phenomenon, but on occasion this is a great way to show that you are on top of trends, while attracting new audience members through relevant hashtags.  

Asking questions has always been a great way of getting your audience to interact with your brand and organization. Engagement is one of the most important parts of any social media strategy, and Twitter Polls offer a seamless way to encourage high-quality connections with your community.

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Why ecommerce sites should use both SEM and SEO for acquisition

mighty morphin power rangers

It is well-known that in order to get a good return on investment in terms of marketing, online retailers need to be constantly in front of their customers. However, with the rise of online users, it is important these retailers adopt a multichannel approach.

Despite being similar in that SEM and SEO both aim to improve visibility through rankings on search engines, they do have significant differences.

SEM is a pay-per-click (PPC) service, while SEO improves ranking organically and does not involve paying for search results.

However, with Adobe’s recent Q4 Digital Advertising Report explaining that not only are CPCs in decline in Europe, but click-through rates are on the rise, all signs are pointing to a Paid Search orientated strategy.

Are retailers better off investing their money in SEM or their time in SEO? Let’s explore the arguments for each technique.

Why should ecommerce retailers use SEM?

Quick results

With SEM, results can be achieved relatively quickly. Of course, you will be required to make changes in the AdWords interface, however once this has been done, you can see results almost instantly.

With SEO on the other hand, you will need to implement a longer-term strategy and it can take time to reap the rewards of your efforts.

Better conversion rates

According to New Media Campaigns, PPC holds a slight edge in conversion rates as paid search results are 1.5 times more likely to convert click-throughs from the search engine.

Direct control over your visibility

Even with a significant amount of time invested into SEO, there is no guarantee that you will ever appear in the top spots on search results pages. While the same can almost be said for PPC, bidding plays a huge role in paid search campaigns and increasing your budget can take you so far in improving your visibility on search engines.

Few website optimisations

Although good website structure helps to improve your PPC ranking, it is not incremental to do so to achieve good paid search results. SEO on the other hand, requires that your website’s structure and content are optimised to achieve good results

Why use SEO as well as SEM?

While there are many arguments that may convince online retailers to rely on Paid Search, there are also many benefits to using SEO as well as SEM in their multi-channel strategies.

No direct additional costs

Besides your time and effort, SEO allows you to achieve results without any direct additional costs. SEM on the other hand, can obviously require a significant amount of investment, particularly for competitive keywords.

Organic results more likely to be clicked on

According to the same study by New Media Campaigns, organic results are 8.5 times more likely to be clicked on than paid search results!

Improve brand awareness

With organic results more likely to be clicked on, it is a no-brainer to invest in an SEO strategy. However, another added benefit is the possibility to improve brand awareness.

Presuming that you are able to successfully place your ads in paid search results, also appearing in organic results will help to reinforce your message and improve the visibility of your brand. Over time, the more your brand awareness increases, the more likely consumers are to trust your brand name.

A long-term strategy

It will take time and effort to properly optimise your website for search engines, but in the long term it will help bring you continuous website traffic for free.

Of course, you will need to be sure to keep up-to-date with the latest guidelines to ensure that you are not penalised and your efforts don’t end up going down the drain.

As you can see, there are many advantages to both SEO and SEM, however what is important to take away is that they are complementary techniques. Online retailers are generally encouraged to start by adopting both strategies.

For newly-launched businesses, SEM will accelerate brand awareness, as users start to recognise and trust your brand name. As a first step, it is wise to invest more into SEM while your SEO efforts get off the ground. You can then balance your investments once your organic visibility increases.

Mark Haupt is UK Sales Director at Twenga Solutions and a contributor to Search Engine Watch.

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Three tips to improve your mobile marketing from Nick Wilsdon, Vodafone

While marketers realise the importance of mobile, many of them have yet to catch up with consumer expectations, or realise how SEO and mobile work together.

Everybody knows that it’s the year of mobile (again). Everybody knows that smartphones are behind more and more internet searches. But still, not everybody connects the two.

This winter, experience management platform Sitecore and UK market research company Vanson Bourne surveyed brand marketers all over the world about mobile marketing. While 97% of them agreed that a good mobile experience impacts customer loyalty, only 59% have a solid mobile strategy in place.

Part of that is because purchases haven’t caught up just yet. According to Google research, mobile commerce is particularly prevalent in countries like Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa, where at least 60% of consumers regularly make purchases with their phones. But in many Western nations – including the US, the UK, Belgium, France and Germany – that figure is less than 10.

Vodafone Graph

Nick Wilsdon, lead SEO for the Vodafone Group, believes there’s a symbiotic relationship between mobile SEO and mobile commerce. He believes that marketers excelling at the former will see more of the latter.

“[Too many marketers] haven’t been thinking about their site through mobile and not testing it enough. They don’t function in mobile; the buttons are too small,” said Wilsdon at Shift London. “The mobile web is broken right now. Very few people get it right, but there are a few champions in the area.”

1. Mobile and SEO

Last year, Google famously changed up its algorithm to favour mobile-friendly sites. The search giant has since launched the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative, which was designed to speed up mobile content.

More than three-quarters of people will abandon a site that doesn’t load in five seconds; 40% will X out after three. “Mobilegeddon” was born with consumer behavior in mind and brands that don’t follow along are penalised.

Still, 39% of the marketers surveyed by Sitecore don’t have mobile optimised websites in place. Wilsdon doesn’t believe they realise the kind of effect SEO has on mobile.

“This impacts massively on SEO because Google will give us a ranking benefit for having a fast website. We’ll then get more exposure and then get more traffic,” said Wilsdon. “It dovetails with everything that happens in performance.”

2. The ascension of apps

In the UK and Ireland, the Domino’s app now accounts for nearly half its orders. Wilsdon believes that case study is something marketers should aspire to, as mobile internet activity is increasingly happening in-app.

dominos-uk-app

As a result, Google has been pushing its fast-loading Progressive Web Apps concept for most of the last year.

“We can cache parts of it and do push notifications, and basically make our webpages act more like apps,” said Wilsdon.

Analyzing data from 52 million Android smartphones, Paris-based Cheetah Ad Platform compared app engagement from around the world. Engaging with an average of 53 apps each month, Brazilians have the world’s most competitive app market.

For marketers looking to replicate Brazil’s app engagement, Wilsdon recommends smart app banners, which bridge the gap between the mobile web and apps; and native code, which bridges the gap between marketers and consumers.

“Native code actually interacts with your phone and knows whether you have the app installed already. This goes into app deep linking, which is a massive game changer for the web, which we can now link to specific functionality in apps from SERPs,” he said.

3. The seamless factor

Vodafone pushes Indian consumers toward the app when it’s time to pay their bills. That reduces the number of steps in process, as the app already knows who they are.

myvodafone-india

The strategy there fits in with a larger theme of seamlessness. Making the experience easier is ultimately going to increase customer satisfaction. About 90% of people don’t want to create a new login on a website or stay on a mobile site if they get their login wrong on the first try.

Push notifications are another good – but under-utilised, in Wilsdon’s opinion – strategy for retaining customers and making their lives easier. For example, your website can send alerts to users even when their browser isn’t open, reminding them that they have an item in their cart.

“Previously, we thought of mobile as something to bolt onto our sites. That’s not the case anymore. We have to retool the entire way we’re creating content,” said Wilsdon. “The mobile web is open for business; we now have the tools to make it work.”

This was our inaugural Shift event. Our next one will take place in San Francisco this August – see you there!

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How to write meta descriptions for SEO (with good and bad examples)

What is a meta description? How do you write one? Why are meta descriptions important? Do they actually help with search engine optimisation? What are some good and bad examples?

Following on from our incredibly popular guide 22 SEO essentials for optimising your site, I thought I’d follow up the advice on meta tags and answer all of the above questions.

If you just want a quick guide to optimising meta descriptions, click here to jump to the checklist section.

For the rest of you, first lets talk about meta tags in general:

What are meta tags

As Kristine Schachinger described in our previous guide to meta tags back in 2012, meta tags are HTML elements that provide information about a webpage for search engines and website visitors.

There are two elements that must be placed as tags in the <head> section of a HTML document. These elements are:

  • Title tag
  • Meta description

We’ve already discussed title tags in a separate post last week, and now you’ve mastered that skill, let’s move straight into meta descriptions.

What is a meta description?

The meta description is the short paragraph of text placed in the HTML of a webpage that describes its content. The meta description will then appear under your page’s URL in the search results. This is also known as a snippet.

guide to primavera sound 2016 Google Search

The meta description will also often appear when people share your articles across other websites and social channels.

Methods Unsound meta description on facebook

Where do I add the meta description?

You can add a meta description in the <head> section of your site’s HTML. It should look something like this:

<head>
<meta name=”description” content=”Here is a precise description of my awesome webpage.”>
</head>

You should have complete control of your meta description in your CMS, particularly if you’re using WordPress.

If you use an SEO plug-in, such as Yoast, you can add a meta description to the ‘meta description’ section, and you can preview an example of how it will look in search engine results pages (SERPs):

meta description example

 

Why is the meta description important?

A meta description can influence the decision of the searcher as to whether they want to click through on your content from search results or not. The more descriptive, attractive and relevant the description, the more likely someone will click through.

Are meta descriptions used as a ranking signal?

Google has stated that meta descriptions are NOT a ranking signal. But, again, the quality of the description will influence click-through rate, so it is very important to use this element wisely.

How to write a great meta description

Meta description checklist

Good examples of meta descriptions

Here are a few examples of appealing meta descriptions that tick the above criteria.

‘best burgers in london’

Although the keywords are further down the description than perhaps they ought to be, the reason why this result is so appealing is the way the copy draws you in with emotive (and mouth-watering) language.

best burgers in london

‘captain america civil war review’

This contains markup to show the star rating, the meta description is short, snappy and best of all, contains a call to action.

captain america civil war review Google Search empire

‘meta descriptions’

Things really are getting too meta. Here Moz has managed to exactly describe what a meta description is, within its own meta description, which is terribly helpful. Although do note that the snippet is a lot longer than normally allowed by Google.

meta description Google Search moz

Bad examples of meta descriptions

‘best burgers in london’

I’m not really interested in the history of rubbish burgers in London, I want to know where to get a tasty burger now! This meta description also fails to include the ‘best’ keyword from its own title tag.

best burgers in london Google Search

‘captain america civil war review’

Although there is some rich snippet markup, the text is muddled and merely copies the title tag directly rather than offering a different enticement. It’s also far too long.

captain america civil war review Google Search

‘meta descriptions’

I’m not sure if there’s something blocking Google’s ability to crawl the webpage properly, but a website called ‘High Rankings’ should really know better than this…meta description bad Google Search

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Multimedia Search Engines: Image, Audio & Video Searching

Five competitive advertising strategies to outsmart your competition

It’s often said that competition is good for your business. It pushes you to be your best. Think Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, Visa vs. MasterCard, Xbox vs. PlayStation, or Apple vs. Microsoft.

Of course, part of the fun of rivalry is stealing customers from your rivals. You can do that with the help of advertising!

Today you’ll learn five brilliant competitive advertising strategies you can use to get in front of your competitors’ customers and (with a little work) turn them into YOUR customers instead. *Evil laughter*

competitive-ads-dr-evil-laugh

1. Target Facebook users whose interests include your competitors

Facebook Ads doesn’t offer keyword targeting for your ads and you can’t specifically target people who have liked your competitors’ pages. However, Facebook offers something called interest-based targeting.

On Facebook, interests range from extremely broad (e.g., business or entrepreneurship) to very specific. In this case, your competitor’s name is the specific interest you want to target, because Facebook allows you to choose to target people based on, among other things, brands and products they like.

facebook-interest-targeting-competitive-ads

Type in your competitor’s website URL. Or, if that doesn’t work, you can type in your competitor’s brand name or try a few keyword combinations to figure out best option for reaching their target audience – which is now your target audience!

2. Disrupt your competitors’ videos with YouTube ads

Recently I was on YouTube searching for an AT&T ad. Before I could watch the ad I was looking for, I had to sit through another ad – I know, that’s modern life. But the genius part was that this ad wasn’t for AT&T, but for its competitor, Sprint.

In this ad Sprint explained why it is a better provider than AT&T and highlighted an offer to switch carriers, before I could even see the ad for the brand I had searched for.

To execute this competitive advertising strategy for your own campaigns, create the most watchable TrueView ad you can, adding in how much you’re willing to spend.

There are many targeting options to choose from (e.g., demographics, interests, keywords, remarketing). But today we’re feeling competitive!

You want to target your video ads so that whenever someone searches for the YouTube videos of your competitor that they’ll see your ad first. If you play it right, they might not even watch your competitor’s video!

3. Use your competitors’ emails against them with Gmail Ads

Another brilliantly sneaky competitive advertising tactic you should start using now is targeting people who have recently shown interest in the things your competition sells.

With Gmail Ads (those ads that appear at the top of the Promotions tab of users’ personal email accounts), you can do keyword targeting on your competitors’ brand terms.

As you read this, people who are in the market for your competitor’s products are getting emails from your competitors – and those emails mention your competitors’ brand terms.

For example, if you were competing with Sephora, you could target its brand name as part of a Gmail ad campaign so that every time a Sephora newsletter arrives in someone’s Gmail inbox, your brand ends up in its inbox as well. Obviously, your email should tell Sephora subscribers all about your great competing site and product and why they should check your out.

So if you want to try to steal some sales, target the trademarks of your competitors. Make sure you use an email subject line that will have users clicking your Gmail Ads in droves.

Use only the best-performing subject lines, the ones with the highest open rates – your unicorns. As an added bonus, because these people are already in the market for a competing solution, it’s likely that more people will click on your ads, which reduces your costs.

gmail-ads-templates

4. Reach your competitors’ audiences through the Google Display Network

Google has some great display ad technology. But if you want to beat up on your competition, you need to use Google’s custom affinity audience feature.

Affinity audiences let you target a predefined audience, one that should be more receptive to seeing your ads.

custom-affinity-audience-competitive-ads

To make this work brilliantly, and avoid wasting your ad budget, you’ll want to target the home page of your competitor. AdWords will then figure out the brand trademarks and the behavior of the people who visit and are interested in that domain name (or search for content on related topics).

Let’s use MailChimp as an example: MailChimp is a publication that’s geared toward businesses doing email marketing. So if I’m running a similar business geared toward email marketers,MailChimp visitors would form the basis of our “ideal customer” we want to reach with our own display ads.

This will start the process of getting the right people familiar with your brand and the products or service you provide. And hopefully, with the right message, you’ll start stealing business away from your competitors and experiencing breakout growth.

5. Download & target your competitors’ Twitter followers

There are tools that allow you to download a list of every Twitter follower for any account, such as BirdSong Analytics. You can use these to download a list of all your competitor’s Twitter followers. Costs generally start around $35 and go up the more followers the account has.

Once you have your report, you can use those Twitter handles to create a list that you’ll then upload to Twitter Ads. Make sure to select the option to “add tailored audiences.” Uploading the list will take about 3 hours to process.

You can then create ads to get your business in front of the Twitter users who are already following your competitors and are likely in the market to buy or switch to a similar product or service. Genius, right?

After setting your budget comes the real fun. It’s time to get creative and compose your tweet copy. Important note: Twitter’s “advice” for ad success is kind of a disgrace, so please read my article on How to run a successful Twitter Lead generation campaign.

Don’t let your competitors have all the fun!

Remember, all these competitive ad strategies are putting your business in front of users who are interested in your competitors, which means they’re much more likely to be in the market for your product/service. You just have to show them that what you offer is better than what your competitors do!

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