What Every Marketer Should Know About Social Audience Engagement

Using psychographics and social behavior data, marketers can now go beyond demographic targeting to create completely custom audiences. We can understand what consumers love, what they want, and even what they are going to do next.

On Tuesday, December 15, join Bob Ciccone and Chris Leet of Netbase in this webcast to learn about an innovation called NetBase Audience 3D 3D™ that gives you the entire dimensional social story and a deeper understanding of your audience.

Register now for “What Every Marketer Should Know about Social Audience Engagement,” produced by our sister site, Digital Marketing Depot, and sponsored by Netbase.

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DataHero Adds Support For Google AdWords Reporting

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Marketing analysis and reporting tool DataHero announced an integration with Google AdWords on Monday that offers users access to more than 20 AdWords reports.

“Google AdWords has been the most popular connector requested by our users, especially digital agencies. Now they can analyze data from AdWords along with the other cloud services used every day to measure performance,” said Ed Miller, CEO of DataHero.

datahero adwords repoting dashboardAdWords reports include data on campaign, ad, keyword and search queries, landing pages and geographic performance results. Users can dig into each report to get more granular data on specific elements.

DataHero already enables users to pull data from cloud services such as Salesforce, HubSpot, Google Analytics and Stripe into its drag-and-drop interface.

Stephen Barone, COO at FullFunnel, which tested the the AdWords integration, said in a statement, “With DataHero, we can seamlessly connect performance data from AdWords with landing page and conversion metrics from both HubSpot and Google Analytics all within one easy-to-use platform. This helps us make sense of AdWords spend and ensures we’re using data to drive decision making.”

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Don’t Procrastinate — SMX West Rates Increase Next Week

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You can register for SMX West anytime and get the latest SEO and SEM tactics. But why wait? Register now and save $300.

Join us for the most comprehensive search engine marketing conference anywhere. You get 3 days of tactics, hacks and strategies that will improve SEM and SEO performance. Customize the experience by choosing from more than 60 sessions, keynotes and clinics including:

  • Getting AMPed: What You Need To Know About Accelerated Mobile Pages & Google
  • Mastering AdWords Scripts
  • Beacons: Opportunities, Limitations & How Marketers Can Use Them Today
  • Local Listings: Putting Your Business On The Virtual Map
  • RankBrain: What Do We Know About Google’s New Machine-Learning System?
  • PPC Hacks, Tips, & Tricks – How To Optimize Your Time

Check out the agenda for all of the details.

SMX West is programmed by the editorial staff at Search Engine Land, your source for industry trends, thought provoking analyses and product updates. We guarantee that our programming and quality content will be worth your investment.

Register today and save $300 off on-site rates! You pay just $1595 for all of the sessions, clinics, hot lunches, all-day snacks and networking activities that make SMX an epic experience.

Super early bird rates expire next week. Register today!

Need additional info? Check out these helpful links:

  • Save 10%-20% with team rates.
  • Check out the raves from past attendees.
  • Get a crash course in link building, paid search, and SEO-friendly web design at SMX Boot Camp
  • Take a deeper dive in SEO, AdWords, local search, in-house SEO, personal branding, or user experience (UX) with a pre-conference workshop.
  • Need approval? We’ve made it easy for you with this handy Get the Boss Onboard form.
  • Want to talk? Need more info? Call us at (877) 242-5242 or e-mail us and we’ll get you what you need!

The post Don’t Procrastinate — SMX West Rates Increase Next Week appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Now Get A Second Line Of Structured Snippets In Adwords Text Ads

adwrods structured snippets

Google continues to build on its structured snippets feature in AdWords, which launched in August. Now, up to two lines of structured snippets can display in AdWords text ads.

In the example above, structured snippets are used to showcase both Styles of shutters and Services the advertiser offers. From the blog post:

Now if you select two predefined “Headers” and define two lists of customized values, they can both show with your ads at the same time — whether that’s a combination of styles and brands or destinations and featured hotels. For example, if you’re a retailer that offers window treatments, you might create one structured snippet for the most popular shutter styles and another for the services you offer.

Google adds that each structured snippet enters the ad auction separately, which means both may not show simultaneously. And, like all other AdWords extensions, the more structured snippets you include, “the better the auction is at selecting the best combination of extensions to help improve ad performance.”

The options of headers currently available are:

  • Amenities
  • Brands
  • Courses
  • Degree programs
  • Destinations
  • Featured hotels
  • Insurance coverage
  • Neighborhoods
  • Service catalog
  • Shows
  • Styles
  • Types

In November, Google debuted a short-term set of headers specifically for Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions.

The post Now Get A Second Line Of Structured Snippets In Adwords Text Ads appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Site Redesign & Migration Tips To Avoid SEO & UX Disasters

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Launching a new site is always exciting for those involved. But it can also be intimidating, not least because it is so hard to predict how users and search engines will react to it.

Websites get redesigned, rebranded and migrated for all sorts of reasons, but stakeholders are always going to be interested in the traffic and revenue impact.

Having been involved with several site migrations, I have seen online businesses make the same mistakes time and again. This guide shows how to avoid the most common SEO and UX pitfalls when redesigning, re-platforming or rebranding a website.

When Things Go Wrong

When things go wrong, the main failure is often due to strategic mistakes that take place at the very early stages. Unfortunately, fixing these mistakes after the new site has launched can be very costly.

A site redesign is often seen as the golden opportunity to address multiple known problems that may have cropped up over the years. However, radical strategic shifts can be risky unless there is factual evidence or other signals.

And introducing too many major changes can sometimes backfire. Sites that undergo radical UX changes may end up with frustrated users that find it hard to familiarise themselves with the new site. Similarly, search engines may struggle to crawl, index and rank pages that have been updated or moved but not in an SEO-friendly way.

There are many factors that can hinder success when re-designing or migrating. Here are 12 top tips to make sure your site migration is a success:

1. Choose Clear, Realistic And Measurable Objectives

A common scenario is that a website gets redesigned because it feels dated, but the new site then fails to perform as well as the old site.  The need to design a new site really should be backed up by evidence, e.g., organic search performance has been diminishing due to poor site architecture, CMS lacks certain features that will help increase user engagement, A/B split tests suggest that conversion rates can be improved further and so on.

It is also worth pointing out that the objectives should ideally take into account both SEO targets, such as retaining organic traffic levels or improving key rankings and user engagement targets, reducing bounce rate or increasing conversions. Why? Because the former affects traffic and the latter conversions, and there is no point in trying to improve one without the other.

Examples of SEO objectives include retaining or increasing organic traffic levels and retaining or improving key rankings. And examples of measurable user engagement objectives include increasing user engagement, reducing form dropoffs and reducing exit rate on key pages.

Choosing measurable objectives will also make it possible to define the ideal success metrics.

2. Be Aware Of Your Strengths, Weaknesses And Limits

Each site migration is unique and needs to be treated with a lot of thought and attention. Defining realistic objectives requires good knowledge of your site’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as an in-depth understanding of the competitive landscape. It would be unrealistic to expect organic traffic levels to increase as a result of a site migration if you are competing with bigger and more established brands in a very competitive vertical.

Failing to take the strengths and weaknesses of the online competition into consideration can easily lead to setting unrealistic objectives. Growth in saturated niches can be challenging, and the decision to go ahead with a site redesign needs to balance both the pros and cons.

One thing to bear in mind is that growth is very likely to be the main objective across all your competitors. Make sure you are realistic about your true position in the market. Are you really in a position to challenge your competitors? If not, then investing in a new site is unlikely to yield much return.

3. Take A Data-Driven Approach

Taking a data-driven approach will help you make better design and UX decisions. Analytics data can help identify things such as high- or low-traffic pages, popular or problematic user journeys and the best or worst-performing calls to action.

A data-driven approach will help to prioritise the areas that need to be improved and safeguard the ones that are already performing well.

4. Find The Right Balance Between UX & SEO

For most websites, it is essential to try and find the right balance between UX and SEO. Too great a focus on UX may result in a dip in rankings and traffic, whereas focusing exclusively on SEO can easily hinder user engagement.

Site redesigns led by UX teams often see their organic traffic levels suffer after the new site goes live. On the other hand, site re-designs led by SEOs often see their conversion rates being reduced. In both cases, revenue goes down, and the outcome of the site migration is negative.

Finding the right balance between UX and SEO is essential so you don’t risk losing your hard-achieved rankings or your most loyal customers.

5. Encourage Team Synergies

Site redesigns often involve several individuals or even teams with different objectives and goals: content strategists, UX and CRO experts, web developers, SEOs and data analysts, to name but a few.

Failing to work collaboratively on such a complex project will invariably lead to problems, as one team’s actions may well hinder the goals of another. Similarly, letting one team lead a site migration project (e.g., IT or marketing) can be very ineffective.

The ideal is to establish and encourage a much more collaborative approach between all involved parties as this will help the business meet its objectives.

All teams should be encouraged to feed into the project so they all contribute to the decision-making. In large organisations where a site migration can take several months, building up a multi-disciplinary team can be very beneficial.

With so many different parties involved, effective project management will play a pivotal role in the success of the site migration. With so many dependencies between the different activities, project management can be challenging, but it is vital in making sure each party is delivering what is expected on time.

But because things do not always go as planned, a certain degree of flexibility is also necessary, as long as key deadlines and milestones aren’t hindered. Site redesigns or migrations that don’t involve experienced project managers are prone to failure.

6. Evaluate The New Content Strategy

When not well-thought-out, content strategies can condemn a site migration to failure. The decision to move, remove or consolidate a significant portion of a site’s content without thinking about the consequences on UX and SEO is a classic mistake.

A new content strategy can significantly influence a site’s information architecture, page structure and internal linking. Therefore, it can have a big impact on the various user journeys but also on how search engines crawl the site’s pages.

To avoid coming across nasty surprises later, content strategies need to be discussed and evaluated at a very early stage and before moving into production. The SEO and UX teams should consider the pros and cons of the suggested content strategy, flag any potential issues and make recommendations where necessary. Forecasting traffic loss or identifying user experience flaws at this early stage will be much more beneficial than dealing with these potential issues after the new site has gone live.

7. Test New Design And Features With Real Users

It is surprising how many sites get redesigned or rebuilt without performing any user testing ahead of the  launch. Relying on best practice and common sense alone can be quite risky.

There are many ways to make sure that the new design, taxonomy, site navigation or other essential features are right. First and foremost, user testing needs to be carried out by users who fit the demographics of the site’s real audience.

Large organisations should invest time in testing with real users, whereas smaller ones can get away with remote online user testing, which is very cost-effective. Identifying usability issues in the user journey during the design phase is essential so that any problems can be addressed and resolved before the new site goes live.

8. Find The Right Time To Launch

The agreed timeline needs to be realistic so that it doesn’t act as an obstacle later. A common mistake is to come up with a very tight deadline for going live, without leaving any time to deal with unforeseen circumstances. Site migrations hardly ever go as planned; according to a Forester study the average delay for replatforming projects is 4.2 months. Therefore, factoring in some additional time during planning will almost certainly pay dividends.

Another common mistake is to plan the new site launch close to a business-critical period. For example, retailers should avoid launching a new website anytime between September and December so they do not hinder their site’s performance before the busy pre-Christmas sales period.

9. Be Realistic With Budget And Resources

Budget and available resources always play a big part in the success of a site migration or redesign. Underestimating the amount of work required to have everything ready for a risk-free site launch can have a negative impact on the success of the site migration.

You need to be realistic about what you can achieve with the available budget and resources, but you should always secure some additional budget that could be released to deal with any unforeseen circumstances that may occur. Reducing the scope of the project to keep it on budget can be risky, depending on which activities are left out.

10. Test New Platform Capabilities And Address Weaknesses

Platform or build limitations where moving from one platform to another can impose certain technical limitations; for instance, certain features may not function in an SEO or user-friendly way right out of the box.

An extensive technical SEO and UX audit needs to be carried out during the very early stages, so any technical obstacles are identified and assessed by the SEO & UX teams. If any of these issues are likely to have a big negative impact, they will need to be addressed by the development team prior of launching the new site.

Human error is unavoidable, but testing the site’s technical implementation on a staging server can help with spotting and fixing them before launch. It is worth delaying the new site launch by a few days or even weeks, rather than risking some of your site’s revenue.

11. Make Sure The New Site Is Well Optimized

Launching a new site that is poorly optimised will certainly result in traffic loss. Poor optimisation often comes down to very simple mistakes. Time pressure is a very common reason for the optimisation of a site to be overlooked — a deadline has come and gone, and you need the site to go live. But going live without the best possible optimisation is a mistake.

Lack of expertise is another common reason for site migration failure. Google’s documentation on this subject matter is insufficient and cannot meet the unique requirements and characteristics of every single site.

Complex site migrations can be very challenging because of the number of ranking signals that change overnight. An experienced site migration specialist should be able to come up with a tailored site migration process but also needs to make sure that any potential issues are identified as early as possible.

Predicting how users or search engines will react to a site redesign can be challenging, and relevant experience on this subject matter can be invaluable, so if things do not go as expected, a well-thought-out recovery plan is in place.

12. Benchmark Everything To Measure Success

To be able to measure the success of a site migration some preparatory work needs to be carried out before the new site goes live.

Benchmarking is essential and needs to be as extensive as possible and cover as much as possible:

  • Keyword rankings
  • User behaviour
  • Traffic levels
  • Conversions
  • Backlink data and metrics
  • Crawl errors
  • Indexation levels
  • Crawl rates
  • Site performance

A lot of the above data will no longer be available after the new site has gone live. Missing any of these will just make it difficult or even impossible to measure the success of the new site.

Useful Resources:

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How To Get Google Review Links After The G+ Update

how to get Google review links after the Google Plus update

If you play in the Local arena at all, you’ve probably seen the new Google Plus update and freaked out along with the rest of us. The redesign has completely dumped every “local” element, leaving marketers and business owners scratching their heads.

Various blog posts and forum discussions popped up, with everyone freaking out about lamenting the updates. Is the update still in beta? Will any elements be added back? What about reviews? Where in the world *IS* Carmen Sandiego?

Thanks to a recent post on the Google Advertiser Communities site from Matma B., we now know that Local pages are no longer a part of Google Plus, and the following features are no longer supported:

  • Reviews (more on this in a minute)
  • Stars
  • Categories
  • Directions
  • Photo uploads
  • Interior photos
  • Maps
  • Hours
  • Opentable/app integration

The change isn’t all that surprising, considering how Google has slowly been decoupling Google Plus from all of its different properties. Most Local SEO experts agree this won’t have much (if any) impact on the general public. The only people who ever really visited Google Plus pages were business owners and SEOs.

The general public will now interact with your local business information either in the knowledge box on the right side of brand searches or on the new Local Finder page (after clicking on a 3-pack result). Your new Google business listing page is simply your Google Maps listing.

How To Give Customers A Link For Reviews

The only real shakeup with this update is the fact that the links we’ve been using for customer reviews will be broken. Since reviews aren’t a part of the Google Plus experience anymore, you can’t send customers there to leave reviews. Even worse, everyone’s favorite auto-pop-up-review-box trick (adding &review=1 to the URL) doesn’t work anymore, either.

All of the Local SEO experts started tinkering… links that popped up review boxes worked, but only if a user is signed in to Google. Other links worked regardless of being signed in, but only on desktop. After testing several different variations, a few people created automated tools to assist with review link generation.

Grade.us pushed out the tool that we’ve been using for all of our clients (and recommending to everyone). Head over to their Review Link Generator and follow these steps:

generate Google review link for customers

Once you land on the page, it’s a simple process. Just enter the name of your business and your ZIP code, and click the “Get Google Review Links” button. The system will search all active listings, then provide a list of possible matches.

Get a link for customer reviews after the Google Plus update

Obviously, you’ll want to choose the option that matches your business. In most test cases, we’ve only seen a single option — but expect to see several to choose from if you’re a multi-location business with several locations in the same city.

how to get a link for Google reviews

The system will then spit out a list of five links. Copy the second link, and use that one on your site (or emails) to let customers leave you a review. If you want to get more advanced, you could use a script to detect the operating system being used to serve up the appropriate link, whether a user is on a desktop, Android or iOS.

Now you’ll be able to update your “leave us a review” link on your site, and the rest of the Google Plus update won’t really have much of an effect on your business.

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