Month: September 2018

How Neural Matching Can Change the Future of SEO

How Neural Matching Can Change the Future of SEO

Google has just celebrated it’s 20th anniversary, which signals another new milestone for one of the world’s largest technology companies. During this milestone event, the company was able to make big and important announcements as well, with announcements like Google Lens being integrated into Google Images, a rebranding of their news feed, and the introduction of activity cards.

These new features aim to make Google an even more versatile search engine that is able to deliver informative and comprehensive results. Google has been launching numerous updates this 2018, and with more bound to arrive, expect the SEO industry to create new strategies and techniques to help make search work better for websites.

Another new and important feature that was announced by Google is the usage of the Neural Matching algorithm. Much of Google’s algorithm is still a mystery for a lot of people, even SEO professionals, and for Google revealing information about it is always big news in the search world. This new piece of information not only expands people’s knowledge about how Google works but also how SEO will be in the future. Here’s what you need to know about the new algorithm and how it shapes the future of SEO.

What we know about Google’s algorithms

Google has never fully disclosed their search algorithm in public, only providing partial information about which part of the search it affects. Some of these algorithm updates over the years include Google Vince and Venice, Google Panda, and Google Penguin. These algorithms have helped us understand Google more, and find out which websites are affected by these updates.

While this new algorithm allows us to find out more about Google’s search engine, it is also a new kind of algorithm, as it uses AI technology to generate and diversify search results for users.

What is Neural Matching?

Neural Matching is an algorithm that utilizes Google’s latest AI technology to be able to generate more diverse search results. This AI technology allows Google to understand and analyze the language much better. One example that was used to demonstrate this new algorithm is the sample query “Why does my TV look strange?”. Google will be able to process the question to provide a result that answers the question properly through understanding it better.

Neural Matching Search Result

AI technology has been one of the things that Google has been putting more focus on this past year, with their demonstration of Google Assistant showing that their technology is able to perform human-like conversations in phone calls and be able to perform tasks independently.

Along with this sophisticated new AI system, Google also published Deep Relevance Ranking using Enhanced Document-Query Interactions. This research paper explains how Ad-hoc Retrieval works, which helps us understand how Neural Matching is accomplished on Google’s search engine. This system uses Document Relevance Ranking, which allows Google to rank documents and be able to track down the best search results and avoid spam other irrelevant results.

How will this shape the future of SEO?

With the implementation of AI into the Google search engine, this would mean that online search becomes more personalized than ever before, as the new algorithm understands search queries much better. This also means the development and implementation of new SEO strategies that will allow Google’s AI technology to allow our websites to be able to rank better in search results.

This makes question-based and exact search terms even more relevant than before, as Google can now understand these questions more deeply, and would be able to generate results that you would not have been able to find before. With voice and visual search becoming more important, having AI technology will surely bring about “smarter” results that would benefit more users and websites.

Other new features

Activity Card

Along with Neural Matching, Google has also introduced Activity Cards, which allows users to be view previous content relevant to their current search query. This will help more users revisit content that they might need, which comes in handy for people using Google for research. Search Collections is another new feature that helps in tracking down previous content. Users can collate articles, images, and videos in a single location, and access them at a later time. This comes in handy when doing content research and guest posting, as it helps gather up different ideas that can be used to create compelling content for a website.

Key Takeaway

AI technology has slowly been improving over the past few years, with AI assistants showing that they can perform multiple tasks, with the potential to do even more in the near future. With the Neural Matching algorithm becoming a part of Google search, we can expect new SEO strategies and techniques that would help future-proof our SEO, and keep our rankings up.

If you have questions and inquiries about Google Algorithms and SEO in general, leave a comment below and let’s talk.

How Neural Matching Can Change the Future of SEO was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Marginal losses: the hidden reason your SEO performance is lagging

Without a structured testing program, our experience shows that it’s very likely that most SEO efforts are at best taking two steps forward and one step back by routinely deploying changes that make things worse.

This is true even when the thinking behind a change is solid, is based on correct data, and is part of a well-thought-out strategy. The problem is not that all the changes are bad in theory – it’s that many changes come with inevitable trade-offs, and without testing, it’s impossible to tell whether multiple small downsides outweigh a single large upside or vice versa.

For example: who among us has carried out keyword research into the different ways people search for key content across a site section, determined that there is a form of words that has a better combination of volume vs competitiveness and made a recommendation to update keyword targeting across that site section?

Everyone. Every single SEO has done this. And there’s a good chance you’ve made things worse at least some of the time.

Dramatic drop from keyword targeting update

You see, we know that we are modelling the real world when we do this kind of research, and we know we have leaky abstractions in there. When we know that 20-25% of all the queries that Google sees are brand new and never-before-seen, we know that keyword research is never going to capture the whole picture. When we know that the long tail of rarely-searched-for variants adds up to more than the highly-competitive head keywords, we know that no data source is going to represent the whole truth.

So even if we execute the change perfectly we know that we are trading off performance across a certain set of keywords for better performance on a different set – but we don’t know which tail is longer, nor can we model competitiveness perfectly, and nor can we capture all the ways people might search tomorrow.

Without testing, we put it out there and hope. We imagine that we will see if it was a bad idea – because we’ll see the drop and roll it back. While that may be true if we manage a -27% variant (yes, we’ve seen this in the wild with a seemingly-sensible change), there is a lot going on with large sites and even a large drop in performance in a sub-section can be missed until months after the fact, at which point it’s hard to reverse engineer what the change was. The drop has already cost real money, the downside might be obscured by seasonality, and just figuring it all out can take large amounts of valuable analysis time. When the drop is 5%, are you still sure you’re going to catch it?

And what if the change isn’t perfect?

The more black-box-like the Google algorithm becomes, the more we have no choice but to see how our ideas perform in the real world when tested against the actual competition. It’s quite possible that our “updated keyword targeting” version loses existing rankings but fails to gain the desired new ones.

Not only that, but rankings are only a part of the question (see: why you can’t judge SEO tests using only ranking data). A large part of PPC management involves testing advert variations to find versions with better clickthrough rates (CTR). What makes you think you can just rattle off a set of updated meta information that correctly weights ranking against CTR?

Our testing bets that you can’t. My colleague, Dominic Woodman discussed our ODN successes and failures at Inbound 2018, and highlighted just how easy it can be to dodge a bullet, if you’re testing SEO changes.

We’re talking about small drops here though, right?

Well firstly, no. We have seen updated meta information that looked sensible and was based on real-world keyword data result in a -30% organic traffic drop.

But anyway, small drops can be even more dangerous. As I argued above, big drops are quite likely to be spotted and rolled back. But what about the little ones? If you miss those, are they really that damaging?

Our experience is that a lot of technical and on-page SEO work is all about marginal gains. Of course on large sites with major issues, you can see positive step-changes, but the reality of much of the work is that we are stringing together many small improvements to get significant year-over-year growth via the wonders of compounding.

And in just the same way that friction in financial compounding craters the expected gains (from this article of the effect of fees on investment returns):

Impact of fees on investment returns

If you’re rolling out a combination of small wins and small losses and not testing to understand which are which to roll back the losers, you are going to take a big hit on the compounded benefit, and may even find your traffic flatlining or even declining year over year.

You can’t eyeball this stuff – we are finding that it’s hard enough to tell apart small uplifts and small drops in the mix of noisy, seasonal data surrounded by competitors who are also changing things measured against a moving target of Google algorithm changes. So you need to be testing.

No but it won’t happen to me

Well firstly, I think it will. In classroom experiments, we have found that even experienced SEOs can be no better than a coin flip in telling which of two variants will rank better for a specific keyword.  Add in the unknown query space, the hard-to-predict human factor of CTR, and I’m going to bet you are getting this wrong.

Still don’t believe me? Here are some sensible-sounding changes we have rolled out and discovered resulted in significant organic traffic drops:

  1. Updating on-page targeting to focus on higher-searched-for variants (the example above)
  2. Using higher-CTR copy from AdWords in meta information for organic results
  3. Removed boilerplate copy from large numbers of pages
  4. Added boilerplate copy to large numbers of pages

Want to start finding your own marginal gains? Click the button below to find out more about ODN and how we are helping clients find their own winners and losers.

CONTACT US TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ODN

Marginal losses: the hidden reason your SEO performance is lagging was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Google Lens Coming to Google Image Search: A Look at the New Features

Google Lens Coming to Google Image Search: A Look at the New Features

Introduced in 2017, Google Lens is one of the newest visual search tools that enable users to be able to receive information through the images that they take. Compared to other visual search engines that are currently available, Google Lens stands out as one of the best. With Google celebrating its twentieth anniversary, one important announcement that they have made is that Google Lens will be coming to Google Images.

With the update scheduled to be launched on September 27, this update aims to provide more functionality into Google Images and make it an even more reliable and versatile visual search engine. With the integration arriving in a few days, here are some of the features that you should know about.

Featured Videos

Google Images aims to provide more quality visual content to its users, and this means integrating video to allows users to have a better context of what they are searching for. Featured videos will be able to show videos related to your image. This comes in handy when it comes to important locations such as buildings and historical landmarks.

Google Images Featured Video

These videos can come from streaming sites such as YouTube, Dailymotion, and Vimeo, with Google ensuring that only the best quality videos would be shown. The addition of featured videos provides another avenue in which users would be able to discover relevant video content, which makes YouTube SEO even more important. This is surely a handy feature that will bring in more traffic to video streaming sites and provides an even more comprehensive amount of information to the users.

Google Image AMP Stories

The Story feature has become more popular due to apps like Instagram (which can be integrated into Facebook) and Snapchat. Providing users with a way to post temporary updates on their profiles became a sure-fire hit, which Google aims to replicate using their new AMP Stories on Google Images. This works in a similar way that Instagram and Snapchat stories would work and helps provide information in a more dynamic and interactive way.

Google Images Stories

Publishers would be able to create their own AMP stories to provide information, while Google AI is also being planned to provide them the ability to create their own as well. These stories will be created for search results related to notable personalities such as athletes and celebrities and would have the same kind of functionality that can be found on other platforms. This means that stories would also have links to more content, which can include images and video.

AMP Stories allows Google Images to become a platform similar to social media sites while providing the users with a more diverse and creative way to access and interact with content.

New ranking algorithm and tags

Another new change that will be arriving at Google Images is a change in the image ranking algorithm. The new algorithm will take into account factors, such as image location, size and prominence, and the authority of the hosting site. This would help prevent users from finding unrelated images, along with being able to find images within a website, which addresses the long-time issue of missing images when users access a website. Website authority ensures that the website is trustworthy and has quality content, which means that you will be getting what you have searched for.

Image tags will also be included, which allows users to be able to look for product images that they might be interested in buying. This can be a big help to e-commerce sites, as they now have a location where they can discover businesses and stores related to their products. Users will also have the ability to create image Collections, which allows them to group certain images together, which Google would take into account in your next search queries. These new features help create a more personalized search and ensure that your image search results would be more on point than before.

Key Takeaway

Google Images is one of Google’s most widely used tools, and with Google Lens integration, it becomes an even more effective visual search tool that provides quality content that us beyond images. With this announcement being a part of Google’s twentieth anniversary, expect more big announcements and new features on Google’s other tools and services.

If you have questions and inquiries about visual search and SEO in general, leave a comment below and let’s talk.

Google Lens Coming to Google Image Search: A Look at the New Features was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

How Not To Get Screwed By Google’s Mobile-First Index

How Not To Get Screwed By Google's Mobile-First Index

Mobile usage has drastically increased over the past few years, with more and more users accessing websites through their devices. This led to Mobile SEO becoming much more important than before. Recently, Google has increased their focus on mobile search, with the Google Speed update adding mobile page loading speed as a ranking factor.

With Google going into a more mobile-first approach, mobile optimization has now become a priority for a lot of websites in order to attain or retain their search rankings. With so many people accessing the internet using their mobile devices, not doing this will lead to poor results, which can definitely screw up your SEO strategy. With that in mind, here are some of the best mobile optimization strategies that will answer your questions.

Should we implement AMP?

Google has been pushing forward to having AMP implemented in numerous websites across the internet, as it allows for a better user experience. In fact, AMP has been integrated into some of Google’s services and tools, which allows for a better performance. AMP integration might sound complicated at a glance, but thanks to tools like the one we have on WordPress, the process can be done much easier and allows us to craft websites that have better performance.

AMP for WordPress

In one of our previous articles, we have shared the effects of AMP to SEO, along with a simple guide on how to implement it on a WordPress powered website. Adding AMP gives your website more viewable on mobile, and improves the loading speed by a considerable margin, which is a big plus for your search ranking performance.

Should you go for Responsive Design?

Along with AMP, Responsive Design allows your website to be easier to view on various devices, especially for mobile. This means that your website adjusts to the size of the screen, ensuring that you would no longer have to do the tedious process of zooming in and out, which really puts a dent in the user experience. This makes your website look more streamlined and cleaner when viewed on any device, which is a definite plus when you want people to stay on your website.

Should you create a mobile version of your website?

Based on our experience, implementing AMP and Responsive Design allows our websites to be viewable on any device, and this means that creating a mobile version of a website would be redundant. While mobile versions of websites are still common around the internet, this tends to restrict content, which means that users might be put off that they are not able to access the full website.

What are the best tools to track Mobile Optimization?

When it comes to conducting website audits and reviews, we use a variety of tools to allow us to be able to view different kinds of data that enable us to determine how well it is performing. Examples of these tools include Google Lighthouse and Woorank, which are website audit tools that allow us to assess website loading speed, meta tags, and mobile friendliness.

Woorank Mobile View

For Woorank, you would be able to get a preview of how the website would look on smartphones and tablets, which helps you see if your AMP and Responsive Design is working. Another handy Woorank feature is the mobile assessment section, which provides you with the best suggestions to further optimize your website. Woorank would point out features such as font size and touchscreen readiness, all of which are important for mobile optimization. Loading speed and time is also taken into account, which shows if your website loads fast enough for positive SEO standards.

Is Social Media Marketing as important as SEO?

The rise in mobile usage can be traced to the rise in popularity of social media sites. The ability to contact people and share content on the go on your mobile device helped establish the mobile market as one of the most successful and profitable technological industries. With social media an important factor, this meant that some of the biggest brands had to take advantage and create marketing campaigns on mobile.

Social media marketing allows users to be able to find your business and website through their mobile devices and is also the best platform to create viral marketing campaigns. However, while social media marketing is important, SEO should still be your top priority. Having a viral campaign might lead people to your site but leading them into a badly optimized one would waste that investment.

Key Takeaway

Mobile optimization has now become a very important element in SEO strategy. While this is still a relatively new and evolving field in search, the rapid development in mobile technology ensures that more changes will be in store in the near future. By answering some of these important optimization questions, you are guaranteed that your SEO would not be negatively affected by Google’s mobile-first approach.

If you have more questions about mobile optimization and SEO in general, leave a comment below and let’s talk.

How Not To Get Screwed By Google’s Mobile-First Index was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

How Shopping On Instagram Can Help Boost Your Business

How Shopping On Instagram Can Help Boost Your Business

Instagram has become not only one of the biggest social media networks in the world, but it has also become one of the most effective marketing tools as well. With numerous brands and influencers making full use of the platform, Instagram is one of the best places to grow your online presence.

Recently, Instagram has introduced a host of new features, such as Instagram Stories and IGTV that helped Instagram become a more versatile platform. This month, another new update has rolled out called Instagram Shopping. This new feature aims to implement e-commerce on Instagram, making it another digital marketplace where brands would be able to reach their audience. Here’s a look at how it works, and how it could help boost your business.

At a glance

The concept of Instagram Shopping can be traced to various sellers and businesses using Instagram as a way for users to view and order their products. This led to more and more users buying their products and completing their transactions on Instagram. With this surge in online shops on Instagram, it is only fitting that an actual shopping feature would be introduced to help these brands sell their products, and help their business grow on their platform. With Instagram Shopping finally launching, users would now have a more convenient way of conducting transactions and lead more users into

How it works

When viewing an Instagram profile of a brand you want to buy, look for images that have a shopping bag icon in the top right corner of the thumbnail image.

Instagram Shopping Icon

After tapping on the thumbnail, you can tap on the image itself to view the price and tap on the icon to get more detailed information about the product.

Instagram Shopping Product

On the product image and description, you have the option of viewing and purchasing it on the business website. Tapping on the description allows you to view more detailed information about the product. The information provides details such as product measurements and dimensions, product material, accessories, and even available colors.

Instagram Shopping Product Description

On the bottom of the description, you would be able to view similar product posts that you might also be interested in. This allows users to be able to look for alternatives and new products that they may like.

Instagram Shopping Related Posts

How Instagram Shopping can boost your business

By using Instagram Shopping, users would not be able to view products much easier and with more detail than before. Along with a more refined way of viewing products, users would now be able to access the website where the products are located and immediately make a purchase. This means that you are not only getting traffic on your Instagram account, but you are also getting more traffic to your website as well. Leading users to your website mean getting conversions after purchasing a product, which helps your business grow purchase after purchase.

Social media marketing on Instagram allows for many opportunities for users to be able to discover your business. By using Instagram Stories, utilizing live video, and even creating interesting video content on IGTV, promoting your business on Instagram offers a good degree of versatility. This also means that your content creation team would be getting really busy, as these Instagram features have to be utilized differently to promote your products.

Instagram is one of the most widely-used social media platforms around, and with Instagram Shopping adding yet another function, it opens up another opportunity for websites to gain conversions and boost their traffic.

Key Takeaway

Instagram Shopping may still be a very new function, but its impact will surely be felt by businesses that utilize it. Through this feature, they can expect more people to access their products on Instagram, while being able to improve their website traffic. Instagram is slowly but surely becoming a versatile social media platform, and more businesses should take notice.

If you have questions about social media marketing and SEO in general, leave a comment below and let’s talk.

How Shopping On Instagram Can Help Boost Your Business was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Magento SEO Best Practices: 7 Traffic Boosting Tips That Work

Ecommerce

Getting to the top of the search results with an ecommerce product page is hard work. If you don’t have all of the right elements in place, it can almost seem impossible at times.

But thankfully, you’re not alone in your quest to get more organic traffic for your product pages.

Entrepreneurs have been at it for decades now, and a few of them just so happen to be good at coding.

In 2008, they created an open-sourced platform called Magento, and it’s been helping technically-savvy entrepreneurs sell their products ever since.

I want to briefly take a look at everything that Magento has to offer and then provide some SEO tips that will help you bring in more traffic if you decide to use it.

So let’s start by seeing how Magento stacks up as an ecommerce platform.

Should You Consider Magento?

Magento is an open-sourced, cloud-based ecommerce platform that boasts a moderate build-time and a user-friendly approach.

Unlike a plugin like WooCommerce, Magento is built to house your entire online presence with minimal issues. That means your website, shop, blog, and everything else will all be through Magento.

This has the added benefit of everything looking and feeling the same across the board. It’s one of the many reasons Magento is flexible for both B2B or B2C selling. And the national brands that use Magento display that quite well.

Magento can also hook you up with order management and omnichannel selling capabilities, which are huge factors for ecommerce stores that want to grow.

Pricing ranges from free to reportedly $22,000/year, but that price tag is very rare. Your biggest cost is your web hosting, so your ultimate price tag is going to be based on how big your site is.

But since Magento is an open source platform, anyone with a knowledge of Php can dig in and utilize every ounce of flexibility it has to offer. Of course, that also means that if you have no knowledge of coding, Magento could be a horrible choice.

But the technical aspects don’t dissuade everyone. As many as 240,000 Magento-powered sites are currently up and running, which is about half the sites run by the popular Shopify platform.

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So for the more technically gifted entrepreneurs, Magento is an enticing platform. With a low-cost barrier and tons of flexibility, it’s hard to see downsides.

But now for the most important question of all: how does it do with SEO?

Is Magento a Good Ecommerce Platform for SEO?

Despite its more technical leanings, Magento is one of the most search engine friendly services when used just as-is. If you were to not change anything at all, you would still have a decent SEO framework.

And with the recent Magento 2.0 (an update of Magento 1), the early adopters see some impressive success.

As of this post, only about 8,000 sites use Magento 2.0, and as many as 500 are in the top 100,000 sites on the Internet.

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Of course, seeing as there are only about 240,000 Magento sites overall (including both Magento 1.0 and 2.0), these statistics aren’t too bad at all. Your chances of ranking are high, which is a major plus.

One of the biggest points in Magento’s favor is that they offer a mobile-responsive site out of the box. That means you’re taking full advantage of Google’s mobile-first indexing with little to no effort.

Another great plus is that you can easily expand to multiple different languages with your site, which improves the world-wide reach of your online store.

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So all in all, Magento is not too bad. The bones are good, and there are a few extra bells and whistles to help you expand.

But the best way to describe Magento in terms of SEO is to compare it to the fictional character Peter Parker (or Spider-Man).

In some cases, Magento has extreme power and can outperform anyone. On the other hand, it also has regular, everyday problems that can trip up your SEO.

That means you’ll still need to brush up on your SEO best practices and keep at least four major tips in mind.

SEO Tip #1: Keep Magento Updated

In 2015, Magento released the second version of their platform known simply as Magento 2.0. With this update, they sought to eliminate many of the common issues that store owners experienced.

As we’ve already seen, Magento 2.0 has been an impressive success so far.

The most significant difference between the two boils down to site speed. Magento 2.0 makes your site much faster than in Version 1.0, which means that users and Google will view it more favorably.

Magento 2.0 also makes it easier to do basic SEO legwork like creating and uploading your XML sitemap.

 

The key is that you have to update to Version 2.0 or start out with it when building your site. If you didn’t know to look for it, you might end up saddled with a needlessly slower site.

SEO Tip #2: Use an SEO Extension

As with many other ecommerce platforms, Magento does have app-like extensions that can be used to enhance your SEO significantly.

One such option for users of both Magento 1.0 and 2.0 is the SEO extension from Mageplaza.

SEO extensions are always a good option because no matter how much you know about SEO it’s still easy to miss something. The right tool will help you minimize these errors and keep your traffic growth steady.

SEO Tip #3: Create Search Friendly URLs

One of the most significant downsides with ecommerce is how many pages you have to create, optimize, and edit on a regular basis. That can lead to some pretty gnarly URLs if you’re not careful.

And in turn, that can impact your SEO. Magento isn’t immune to this issue, and can at times exacerbate it.

When you’re building a URL structure, the most prominent element that impacts your SEO is the path that follows your domain name.

If this isn’t keyword optimized, or if it’s too jumbled and confusing, Google and other search engines won’t know how to analyze it.

That means you could be losing traffic from poorly optimized URLs, which is never good. The only solution is to implement a strategy to make them perfect.

For Magento in particular, it’s recommended to take a three-tiered approach:

  • Category pages: website.com/category/
  • Sub-category page: website.com/category/sub-category/
  • Product page: website.com/category-sub-category/product-name/

If you keep this structure throughout your site, Google will always be able to tell what your page should be about and crawl it appropriately. The same goes for any content marketing you do as well.

SEO Tip #4: Use Best-Practice Navigation Techniques

How your customers use your site plays a major role in your SEO. If it’s difficult to get from one place to another, then Google will notice and dock you on the results page.

In order to combat this, you need to optimize your navigational structure. This means creating a hierarchy of pages that create a logical flow through the site.

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The primary objective here is to creating something called an information scent. This occurs when a user comes to a page, sees the information they want to follow, and then clicks to the next page.

According to research shared in 2003, you can keep people clicking through your site for a long time if you get this correct.

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And when users stay longer, Google will see that as a positive signal for your SEO. But without the right navigation in a place like we saw above, this will never be possible.

SEO Tip #5: Optimize Your Robots.txt File

When you create a site with Magento 2, the robot.txt file will automatically be placed in the root of your store. This file’s purpose is to give direction to search engine crawlers as they assess your site.

So without a doubt, it’s a vital part of your overall SEO.

In Magento 2, you have the ability to dictate what this file says fairly easily. You have four different options:

  1. Noindex, Nofollow – This tells crawlers to not index a page, and not to check for any updates.
  2. Index, Nofollow – This tells crawlers to index your page, but not to check back for updates.
  3. Noindex, Follow – This tells crawlers not to index your page at the time, but to check later back for updates.
  4. Index, Follow – This tells crawlers to both index your page and follow it for updates.

You can update these instructions in the backend of Magento on your admin panel.

For best results, you’ll want to mix and match the instructions above based on what each page does. For example, crawlers shouldn’t need to index or follow cart or checkout pages, as those will be private to each customer.

On the other hand, a product page that you want to update and keep fresh should be both Indexed and Followed. That way, any changes you make to improve SEO can be registered.

SEO Tip #6: Don’t Neglect Your Headers

On your website, each page has a hierarchical setup of headings that rank from <h1> to <h7>. These are a vital part of your SEO, as they are one of the first signals Google looks at when ranking your page.

When you create a product page on Magento, the default setting is to put your logo in the <h1> </h1> area. While that’s generally acceptable for a homepage, it’s not the best practice for your product pages, content, and landing pages.

To fix this, you’ll need to manually change the <h1> area for each of your product pages. Make sure you include keywords in your title as well.

It may sound tedious, but it’s the only way to ensure that your SEO is in the best shape.

SEO Tip #7: Work on Your Loading Speed

Last but not least, it’s essential to do everything you can to ensure that your Magento site is loading as fast as possible.

Slow load times are a well-documented reason for losing traffic and rankings. The longer it takes to load, the higher the rate people will leave your site.

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As I mentioned earlier, loading speed is one of the major pitfalls of Version 1.0, so it’s best to stay ahead of that no matter what version you use.

The best way to optimize your loading speed with Magento is to enable something called flat catalogs if you have Version 2.0. Or the most recent Version 1.0.

To do that, you’ll navigate to the Stores tab, and then change your Configuration settings to enable Flat Cataloging.

With this in place, your site will be able to share its data much faster when a user clicks on a product page. That means you’ll have faster load times and see less bounce related to slow site speeds.

Conclusion

Getting to the top of search rankings may be difficult, but platforms like Magento do their best to make it easy for today’s ecommerce entrepreneurs.

With more than 240,000 Magento-powered sites, it’s hard to see an overwhelming flaw that would turn you away from considering it for your site. It’s easy to use, can build a flexible and powerful website, and has good SEO capabilities with minimal effort.

But just, because it’s good out of the box, doesn’t mean you can just ignore your SEO altogether.

Your best bet is to keep Magento updated at all times, and update to Version 2.0 if you can.

Beyond that, you should look into adding an SEO extension that will help you do most of the basics and legwork for your individual product pages.

It’s also in your best interest to rigidly adhere to a search friendly URL structure. Without it, things will get confusing quickly. When paired with a logical navigation, your site will be easy and pleasant t use.

Next, make sure that you optimize your robots.txt file to ensure that Google knows which pages to index and check for updates. This will increase the crawlability of your site and help Google understand it.

And don’t neglect your headers, as Magento puts your logo in the <h1> section by default. Change this to keyword-based titles instead for best results.

Lastly, make sure you emphasize your efforts to decrease load times. It’s Magento’s biggest pitfall, but it has workable solutions.

In the end, Magento can be an excellent choice for growing any ecommerce business. Brands of all sizes use it, and it has great SEO potential for the taking.

Magento SEO Best Practices: 7 Traffic Boosting Tips That Work was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Google Inbox Shutting Down: How This Affects Gmail

Google Inbox Shutting Down: How This Affects Gmail

By March 2019, Google Inbox, one of Google’s email platforms, will be shut down, with most of its features to be integrated into Gmail. Launched to the public in 2015, Inbox was the platform in which some of Google’s experimental email features were explored, with some of them receiving praise for being innovative and reliable.

With some Inbox features about to arrive in the new Gmail, it is worth taking a look at some of its most popular features and see how it will affect Gmail as a whole. Here are some key features that are bound to arrive soon or have already arrived on our Gmail accounts.

Snooze Emails

One of Google Inbox’s most well-known features is the ability to snooze emails. This allows users to be able to temporarily move certain emails out of their inbox and have the option to check on them at a later time. To make sure that you will not completely forget to read these snoozed emails, users can set up reminders for each email, which helps make it more efficient.

With Gmail most likely going to receive this feature, this comes in very handy, as it ensures that you will not get swamped with the number of emails that you need to view, and only view a specific set of emails for the time being. With our team communicating mainly through our Gmail accounts, this will surely be a welcome addition to our email, as we can have a more organized and coordinated email list that makes sure we won’t miss anything important.

Google Calendar Integration

Google Calendar is one of the most effective Google tools around, allowing you to schedule and remember important dates and meetings, along with being able to share it with your colleagues. For Google Inbox, users have the option of adding a Google calendar button, which allows them to create reminders at an instant, without the need to open the calendar on another tab.

Google Calendar

This handy feature makes doing email and scheduling tasks much easier and smoother, making work much more effective. This feature may soon become a part of Gmail, which is something that many users will enjoy. This helps save time and make sure that your colleagues and team would be able to instantly view any important appointments and reminders.

Smart Reply

One of the more recent new features of Gmail was the addition of Smart Reply. This feature enables users to be able to instantly reply using answers created automatically. This feature helps save time, as you would be able to reply much quicker, making communication much easier.

Smart Reply

While this may be a relatively new feature on Gmail, this was first seen on Google Inbox, where it was used numerous times. In fact, a good percentage of total replies in Google Inbox were generated by Smart Replies. While this feature may still need updates and refinement to craft longer and more elaborate replies, having this option makes communication much more efficient, and with Google improving their AI technology, expect Smart Replies to become even smarter.

Mail Bundling

Perhaps the most important feature that is yet to be fully integrated into Gmail, Mail Bundles are a standard Google Inbox feature. This feature allows users to group incoming emails based on urgency, which allows you to view emails in a more organized manner and making sure that you would be able to reply to the most important message first. While Gmail has its own way of bundling emails, it is not as refined as the one on Google Inbox.

Having a more refined bundling system on Gmail makes going through emails more manageable and keeps each email to a specific category. For example, if I want to separate emails related to work, I can create individual folders for each part of my team, and even our clients. Having a more organized email inbox would allow us to work as a team more effectively, and make sure every need would be addressed without fail.

Key Takeaway

Google Inbox was mostly seen as the experimental alternative to Gmail, with numerous features being tested on a platform in the three years that it has been open to the public. While this may mean we have to say farewell to yet another Google service, seeing its features become a part of Gmail would help create a more effective email interface for users around the world. While Google Inbox remains active, it is best to appreciate what it has done to make the email experience much better.

If you have questions about Google Inbox, Gmail, or SEO in general, leave a comment below and let’s talk.

Google Inbox Shutting Down: How This Affects Gmail was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Optimizing Pinterest for the Buyer’s Journey

Optimizing Pinterest for the Buyer’s Journey

This is a post written by our Seattle intern, Tammy Yu. Tammy is a recent graduate from the University of Washington who majored in Informatics and is soon to be a full time Distiller. 

According to Pinterest, 72% of survey respondents said Pinterest helps them find ideas for their everyday lives, and 1 out of 2 users have made a purchase after seeing a Promoted Pin. With 200 million users monthly, Pinterest is becoming a powerful tool for ecommerce retailers to connect with their current and potential consumers. In this post, I highlight the buyer’s journey and suggest ways to optimize each step in the funnel on Pinterest: awareness, consideration, and decision.

Awareness Stage

At this stage, potential buyers become aware of a problem or opportunity. It’s the light bulb that lights up inside their heads and they realize there’s a problem. This can happen on or off the platform.

On the platform: A user came across a repin of a nice houseplant. This sparked interest in a need for a houseplant.

Off the platform: A user sees a houseplant while visiting a friend’s house. This creates a need for a houseplant.

Although we can’t account for awareness that takes place off the platform, we can account for awareness that takes place on the platform.

Think of this stage as a potential domino effect: one user who shares your pin might bring about awareness and interest in another user. To make your pins engagement-worthy, refer to the next stage, consideration, for more tips.

The awareness stage focuses on growing your reach and gaining more exposure for your pins so that the domino effect can occur.

Collaborate on group boards

Group boards are great for brands looking to gain more exposure on their pins. They’re “owned” by one Pinner, though the board shows up in the profiles of all the collaborators. As a collaborator, your pin to a group board is shown to the users that follow that board. You have the potential to gain more exposure and increase your odds of getting repinned.

Install the Pinterest “Save” button on your site

Installing a Pinterest “Save” button makes pinning images easier for a user and also your marketing/social team.

If a visitor on your site finds an item interesting, the pre-installed save button makes it easy for them to save your product and image to their Pinterest board(s). When one person saves a pin to their profile, their followers can also see the pin, potentially creating awareness in another user.

Rather than uploading a pin manually, you can pin any image on your site by using the save button. Tip: pin from your site, rather that repinning from others. According to Pinterest, it makes your pin more credible.

Consideration

At this stage, potential buyers are researching, discovering, and evaluating their options.

Furthering the houseplant example: the potential buyer searches on Pinterest for more ideas of what kind of houseplant to buy.

Pinterest users need to be able to find your pins before they can consider your products as a possible solution. Make your products relevant to the potential buyer, give them the information they need about your product, and show them how your product can solve their problem to help drive a decision — “yes, I want that product!”.

Use captivating images

High quality image

Pandora

Nothing’s worse than seeing a crappy image on a platform built on visuals. Use high quality images that grab a user’s attention.

Pinterest recommends the following for images:

  • File type: .PNG and .JPG

  • Max file size: 10 MB

  • Aspect ratio: 1.5 (truncates after 2.8 aspect ratio)

Text Overlay

IllustrationDessert

Text overlay can be a faster method to communicate a CTA (call to action) or short descriptive text with the user because it requires the user to look at only your image (which they’re most likely doing already), rather than your pin description. This would also be a good place to use your keyword research, to make the text overlay more relevant to the user. I will talk more about keyword research below!

If you decide to use text overlay, make sure the text does not interfere with the entire image or the corners, especially on top of important elements or products in the image. Doing so will interfere with visual search and results. For anyone without fancy shmancy photo editing programs, try Canva.

Conduct keyword research

Conduct keyword research to improve your targeting and increase your pins’ chances of being seen.

Visual Search

Using visual search, take a picture of whatever it is you’re pinning and see what other results come up. You can learn from other competitors or the suggested keyword terms that appear in search.

Pinterest Guided Search

Type in your keyword in the search bar and press enter. See what other search terms show up below the search bar. You can also learn from competitors and other Pinners to see what they’re using in their descriptions.

SEO best practices for Pinterest

Pinterest is a platform that relies heavily on its search abilities. Optimize your Pinterest components to ensure your profile, boards, and pins can be found in user searches. Use your keyword research here!

Profile

Business Account & Verification

If you haven’t already done so, make sure you set up a business account and “claim” your website. Business accounts give you access to Pinterest Analytics. “Claiming” your website will ensure your profile picture will show up on any pins made from your site. According to Pinterest, verified/claimed accounts will have their pins appear higher in the search results.

Profile Description & Website Link

Create a descriptive profile description to let readers know what your company is all about. Make sure to link your website on your profile as well!

Boards & Sections Names

Consider naming your boards and sections something specific and unique, yet also descriptive of the pins it entails. In a sea of boards all titled nearly the same thing, you want to stand out.

Board Descriptions

Use CTAs in descriptions to help the potential buyer understand what they can gain from looking at your board.

Pins

Headphones

Include keywords in your pin descriptions & img alt tags on website

Pin descriptions are also used as the alt tag for images on Pinterest and vice versa. As a result, a pre-populated pin description will appear when a user saves a pin from your site. When it comes to pin descriptions (and img alt tags), implement the following best practices:

  • Describe the image accurately.

  • Include keywords towards the beginning of your descriptions so that it’s more likely to appear in search results.

  • Use CTAs in descriptions to help the potential buyer understand what they can gain from looking at your pin.

  • Pinterest recommends a description of a maximum of 500 characters.

Links should go directly to the product page

Make sure to link your pins back to your site! If your pin is focused on a product, link to that specific product. Consider using Google Analytics’ URL Builder to keep track of your referring traffic source.

Show how versatile your product is

Have a product that can be used in different ways (e.g. furniture, apparel)? Post several different pins (with different images) to better capture the versatility of your product and how it can be used in different ways and for different people. This will help the potential buyer understand how the product is relevant to them, and ultimately increase your chances of conversion.

Decision

At this stage, your potential buyer has done all the research and has now made the final decision. Here, your focus is to help your buyer purchase your product, should they decide your product best fits their needs.

To continue with the houseplant example: the potential buyer has decided they want to purchase one of your houseplants.

Make purchasing your products easy as possible.

Shorten the buying process to make purchasing easy and painless.

Make use of buyable pins

Buyable Pins allow you to sell products on Pinterest. The great news for ecommerce businesses: it’s free! Buyable Pins allow users to shop and checkout directly on the platform, without having to leave.

Directly link your pin to the product page, rather than the home page.

Linking directly to your product will ensure your potential buyer can find exactly the item they were viewing on Pinterest, eliminating the need to search your website to find the product.

Make checkout as easy as possible on your site.

Although I won’t touch too much on this subject since it takes place off Pinterest, do consider the user flow of purchasing a product on your site. Think about what can be improved about this process and follow UX best practices.

Use Rich Pins

Rich Pins provide more information on the pin, in comparison to traditional non-Rich Pins. At the moment, there are four types of Rich Pins: app, product, recipe, and article. Product Rich Pins give your potential buyer all the information they need to make a purchase: pricing, availability, and a link to buy the product.

Final Thoughts

Personally, one of my biggest pain points about getting ideas from Pinterest, is how incredibly hard it is to find the original source for products. When I come across something I want to buy, I can almost never find where to actually buy the item. Pinterest has made a lot of improvements to help solve this problem through verified businesses, visual search, product/Rich Pins, and Buyable Pins. If you haven’t already, now is the time for ecommerces to market on Pinterest.

Have you already taken the steps to optimize your Pinterest profile for the buyer’s journey? Consider conducting a social media content audit to learn more about your content’s strengths and weaknesses. Want more ways to grow your ecommerce through social media? Check out our post about driving traffic to your site from Instagram.

Optimizing Pinterest for the Buyer’s Journey was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

The Trust Trial: Could you sell an iChicken?

Would you buy an Apple iChicken? Our CEO, Flint McGlaughlin, often jokes that “If Apple released an iChicken, people would be lined up and down the streets to buy it.”

But why?

At some point or another, we’ve all bought a product because of the brand name. But why do we prefer name brand cereal over the store brand? Why are Yeezys so much cooler than the $20 knock-offs on Amazon? Most of the time, it’s because we expect a certain kind of experience from the brands we trust. Cute logos and catchy slogans cannot build a brand powerful enough to sell the world an iChicken. The only way to build an effective brand is to earn your customers’ trust.

Trust, however, is not a static element; it is constantly changing. Every interaction with your value proposition impacts your customers’ trust, and in turn, your brand. Consider, for instance, what might happen after people bought the iChicken. Assuming the metaphorical product is as useless as it sounds, customers’ expectations of Apple would likely be damaged. Next time a new product is released, customers might think twice before jumping in line. Apple may have spent years building trust, but if a brand fails to meet their customers’ expectations, that trust is diminished.

Thus, this raises a more important question for the marketer: How do you build a brand that could sell an iChicken?

The most successful companies in the world do not rely on a brand promise, they cultivate a brand expectation. In order to build a trustworthy brand, marketers must use inference as a tool with which to create an expectation in the mind of the customer, and then deliver on it consistently. But people are not simple, and likewise, this process of earning their trust is not simple.

The Trust Trial

When engaging in a decision-making process, customers begin a subconscious cycle in the mind called “The Trust Trial.” This trial goes through five repeating phases: Customers must (1) observe your offer, in order to form a (2) conclusion about that offer within the context of their own needs, leading them to (3) decide what action they will take. This decision is then paired with an (4) expectation of your offer, which is ultimately calibrated by the (5) experience. Once a customer has experienced your offer, the trust trial restarts.

Let’s take a closer look …

#1. Observation

While it may seem obvious, observation is a complex and important phase for your customers. Customers are not simply looking at your offer, they are searching for your value proposition — a reason to invest interest. Every piece of data presented to your customer must lead them to infer the value of your offer. Marketing cannot make claims, it must foster conclusions. We often focus so much on achieving a conversion, that we forget the many other things our customers are focused on. When a customer is in the observation phase of The Trust Trial, the marketer must present the right data, at the right time, in the right order, within the customer’s thought-sequence, to guide them toward the desired conclusions.

#2. Conclusion

A customer’s conclusions are inferred by the data that has been made available to them. It depends entirely on the marketer to encode their message in a way that the customer comes to two ultimate conclusions: The product can, and the company will. These two conclusions are happening in a sort of micro trust trial throughout the cycle of trust trials. The marketer has value that needs to be perceived and a truth that needs to be believed. Trust is contingent upon the marketer’s ability to foster these necessary conclusions. But the marketer must remember that the conclusion is tentative; it only locks when you experience it. And it must be consistently reinforced.

#3. Decision

The decision phase is more than just the final decision to purchase. While the final decision may be the most important for your bottom line, there are many micro-decisions customers must make first. Customers must decide whether to read past your headline, to click on “learn more,” to fill out a form, etc. If the marketer fails to carefully guide their customer through each of these micro-decisions, then they won’t even make it to the final decision. Using the power of inference, the marketer must leverage the observation and conclusion phases to reinforce, not only the company’s value proposition, but the particular product’s value proposition as well.

#4. Expectation

All of marketing serves to create an expectation in the mind of the customer. Many companies talk about their “brand-promise,” but most customers don’t even know what a brand-promise is. And if it doesn’t exist in the mind of the customer, then it really doesn’t exist at all. Companies should not be focused on creating a brand-promise, but rather on developing a brand-expectation through the consistent experience of the value proposition. Every interaction with your brand develops an expectation in the mind of the customer about what they are going to experience. Whether or not this expectation is met determines the strength of your brand.

#5 Experience

Ultimately, brand is the aggregate experience of the value proposition. Each experience, from the first to the last, compounds to either build or diminish trust. Sometimes, the longer you know someone, the more you trust them. And sometimes, it goes the other way … Consider, for instance, a president who wants to be re-elected. They spend months campaigning, making promises and creating an expectation of how they plan to run the country. Then, after being elected, they fail to keep those promises. Four years later and it’s time for the next election, but the country no longer trusts this president. The experience did not meet the expectation that was created for them. Now, what do you think the chances of that re-election would be? Every experience begins a new trust trial in the mind of the customer and determines the probability of a future engagement. While you can gain your customers’ confidence in the inference process, it is ultimately the experience that calibrates trust — and trust which drives the power of your brand.

An Experiment

We put this concept to the test in an experiment conducted by MECLABS Institute, the parent research organization of MarketingExperiments, with an organization that sells language learning products for people who want to learn a language fast. The group asked MECLABS to run a test with the goal of isolating the variable(s) leading to high order cancellations and fewer people choosing to keep their product.

When analyzing the original page, the team found a small disclaimer hidden beneath all their marketing copy. Their 30-day free trial wasn’t actually so free; for each course you keep during your trial, the company bills you four monthly payments of $64 dollars. The team hypothesized that customers may be missing this disclaimer until it shows up on their bill, leading them to doubt the company’s honesty. If the information was presented earlier in the funnel, customers may be less likely to convert — but the goal of a test is not to get a lift, but to get a learning. So, the team designed a treatment in which the disclaimer was communicated more clearly and emphasized earlier on the landing page. As expected, the results showed a 78.6% decrease in conversions.

While this result didn’t make the company more money, it revealed how their offer may have been misleading their customers. Marketers often tend to prioritize a conversion over the customer relationship, but this mistake can have long-term impacts on a business. You may be able to fool someone with your marketing once, but if you fail to deliver on your promises, you will fail your customers’ trust trial and lose their loyalty — which is worth far more over time than one conversion.

What does this mean for marketers?

The Trust Trial is not a marketing technique; it is the essence of building genuine relationships. Often, marketers forget the human-ness of our customers. We forget that trust is the currency of any relationship. Whether deciding on a college, a spouse or even a cell phone, people must be able to trust they have made the best choice.

If we hope to create sustainable competitive advantage and a lasting brand, we cannot treat customers merely as “leads” and “opportunities” whose sole purpose is to increase our revenue. We must understand and care for each milestone of the customer’s experience of our value proposition. In the end, regardless of the size of your company, your brand depends on your customer relationship, and in order to sustain it, the marketer must earn their customers’ trust. And then earn it again and again.

Related resources

The Prospect’s Perception Gap: How to bridge the gap between the results we want and the results we have

Customer-First Science: A conversation with Wharton about using marketing experimentation to discover why people say yes

Value Proposition: In which we examine a value prop fail and show you how to fix it

The Trust Trial: Could you sell an iChicken? was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

How Google Has Updated Voice and Exact Search Terms This 2018

How Google Has Updated Voice and Exact Search Terms This 2018

Google’s search engine has been at the forefront of the changes made by the company this past 2018, with algorithm updates aiming to optimize search results on both the local and international level. The impact of these algorithm updates has been felt by numerous websites around the world, with some experiencing a surge and drop in rankings in the past few months.

These updates have also helped important types of search, and these include voice search, along with exact search terms. These two types of search have become more common this past year, with the former being bolstered through the use of AI Assistants like Google Assistant. Exact search terms, meanwhile, have become a preferred way of searching by most users, as it helps them look for quality search results more efficiently.

Back then, these types of searches were not as common, with voice search being only a niche feature, and with most SEOs avoiding exact search terms for their websites. However, with today’s set of updates, they have now gained more importance, and have now become a more common occurrence on search engines. Here’s how Google made voice search and exact search terms more important in 2018.

The rise of AI Assistants

One of the most important factors that contributed to the increased use of voice search and exact search terms were the emergence of AI Assistants. These assistants have the ability to be able to accomplish various tasks requested by the user through a diverse array of voice commands that can be recognized. Examples of commercially successful AI assistants include Apple’s Siri, Bixby, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Google Assistant.

When it comes to commands, AI assistants can execute tasks such as open and close apps, set alarms and reminders, start a phone call, send a text message, and even play music and video. With Google announcing that they are planning to enhance their AI technology in the near future, we might also be able to see more AI assistants capable of more complicated tasks, such as interacting with humans through phone calls and be able to execute tasks independently without the need of further supervision.

Google Assistant

Along with this myriad of tasks, AI assistants also have the ability to conduct a voice search. Google Assistant will be able to recognize various user questions and inquiries. For example, I can ask Google Assistant to look for shopping malls near my area, ask for the schedule of the next sporting event, or even ask for some interesting historical trivia.

When it comes to conducting a voice search, exact search terms have proven to be more effective in generating good search results. This led to numerous websites crafting voice search terms, with question-based queries being the most common. Voice search optimization is something that websites and businesses should be aiming to do more, as it is a new way of helping users discover more using search.

Google Ads Update

Google Ads

Google Ads is the new rebrand of Google Adwords, which has helped enhance and refine one of the most popular digital marketing tools. One of the new updates of Google Ads provides an upgrade to the exact search matches. This update aims to make sure that these search terms on ads would be would using similar search queries as well. The old version did not have this feature, which meant that users would only see the advertisement when the exact term would be entered.

The update covers various possible words and phrases related to your exact search term. This makes search more versatile and flexible, along with being more intelligent. While the update is relatively new, there has been a significant boost on clicks and conversions, which means that exact search terms are now more effective than before.

Algorithm Update and Local SEO

Local SEO has been greatly impacted by Google’s recent algorithm updates, with local search terms becoming more searchable than before. With mostly YMYL sites being affected by the August algorithm update, most businesses were able to take advantage of it, and reach higher search rankings. Content quality was also emphasized in the latest update, definitely rocked a good amount of rankings over the past month.

 

Local SEO has also greatly benefited from voice search, as AI assistants are able to provide recommendations of businesses and establishments within the area that you are in. With the increasing number of local businesses worldwide, this local SEO boost comes in very timely.

Key Takeaway

Voice search and exact search terms have now become more important over the past year, with the latest Google updates aiding in its increasing prominence on search engines. This also means that new SEO strategies can be developed, along with making the local search much more effective. With search aiming to become more versatile

How Google Has Updated Voice and Exact Search Terms This 2018 was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing