Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from the worlds of search, search marketing, and beyond.
In this week’s round-up, we have two big changes for mobile on Google, plus some more insight into a change that Google made to its AdSense policy recently.
And if you’ve ever thought about switching off from technology altogether, it turns out you’re not alone: more than 30% of internet users have taken a ‘digital detox’ in the past year.
Al Roberts reported for Search Engine Watch this week on how Google is taking aim at sites with annoying mobile interstitials (an item which displays before or after the expected content, like a pop-up ad) by penalising them with lower rankings.
Starting on 10th January 2017, Google will adjust its algorithm so that sites “where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.”
A post on the Google Webmaster Central blog provided some examples of techniques that Google thinks are harmful to the user experience on mobile:
In the same blog post in which Google laid out its plans to penalise unfriendly interstitials, Google announced that it would be getting rid of the ‘mobile-friendly’ label which has been a mainstay of the mobile search page for the past two years.
Designed to help users find content “where the text and content was readable without zooming and the tap targets were appropriately spaced”, Google has decided that the ‘mobile-friendly’ label has outlived its purpose now that 85% of pages in the mobile search results now meet this criteria.
Score one for the mobile web!
Google was recently spotted changing its ad placement policies for AdSense to remove the ‘ad limit per page’ section. Search Engine Journal reported on the change this week, and contacted Google to confirm that it had indeed removed the limit on advertising.
From Search Engine Journal:
Using the WayBack Machine, you can see that the policy once read as follows:
“Currently, on each page AdSense publishers may place:
– Up to three AdSense for content units
– Up to three link units
– Up to two search boxes
Publishers may not place more than one “large” ad unit per page. We define a “large” ad unit as any unit similar in size to our 300×600 format. For example, this would include our 300×1050 and 970×250 formats, our 750×200 and 580×400 regional formats, and any other custom sized ad with comparable dimensions.”
Now, you can see in Google’s current ad placement policies that the ‘ad limit per page’ section has been removed. It has been replaced with a section titled ‘valuable inventory’, which cautions site owners not to let the amount of ads on a page exceed the amount of actual content. Doing so may result in Google limiting or disabling ads served on the page until appropriate changes are made.
Search Engine Journal’s article delves into Google’s reasons for the change, which includes reducing the amount of slideshow-based content designed to get around the ad limit, and encouraging advertisers to use new mobile-friendly ad units.
SEJ writer Matt Southern considers whether publishers might begin to abuse their advertising privileges now that the limit has been lifted. But I can’t help noticing that the new guidelines also make the terms under which Google can penalise content a lot more subjective.
Will this cause problems for publishers when they run afoul of rules they didn’t even realise have changed?
Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative continues to evolve. At the beginning of this month, Google announced that AMP support is being rolled out across the entire organic search results page on mobile. Kenny Chung has taken a detailed look at who benefits from implementing AMP in the wake of the update.
Now, The SEM Post’s Jennifer Slegg has reported on a change that might make implementing AMP more appealing to businesses and marketers: AMP now supports A/B testing.
“If you have been wanting to do some A/B testing on your AMPlified page performances, AMP is now supporting a new which gives publishers flexibility to test variations of pages. This is especially good news for those publishers wanting to monetize better as well as for advertisers that are currently testing out using AMP for landing pages.”
You can read the full announcement on AMP’s blog here.
AMP results featured in organic mobile search
Finally, we have some interesting revelations from Ofcom’s 2016 Communications Market Report about the popularity of ‘digital detoxing’ in the UK. According to the report, 15 million UK internet users, or 34%, have spent a period of time offline in order to strike a healthier balance between technology and offline life.
The report also found that digital detoxes were most popular with the most wired-in age group: 16-24-year olds, 52% of whom have taken a digital detox in the past year. On the flip side, 34% of internet users say they “would definitely not like to do a digital detox”.
Luke Richards gives more details about the report’s findings on digital detoxing and what they mean in his article for Search Engine Watch.
Persistence is the quality that often gets attributed to any type of success in marketing and sales. Most professionals will tell you that you have to repeat the same message over and over again until you get satisfactory results.
But is this really true? What if your message is wrong?
This is where corporate storytelling comes into play.
Stories have existed since the dawn of time and were used to entertain and educate. They are one of the strongest driving forces in the universe being able to start revolutions, unite people and bring joy. Good stories persist throughout the ages.
When it comes to corporate storytelling, the principles are the same as with traditional stories. The main difference is that you are using them to promote a product or a service or to position a brand.
Stories usually come in a form of text. However, it is also possible to tell a good story about your company through a video. In fact, as videos become more and more important in terms of SEO, corporations slowly turn to this type of promotion.
Here are some of the main elements of a good corporative story and reasons why we introduce them.
Similarly to classic fairy tales, every story requires a main protagonist. They will overcome all the obstacles. At the same time, this person has to be relatable. In the end, if we are unable to connect to them, we will soon lose interest.
Some companies use subtle messages indicating that the main protagonist is in fact the consumer. You are the one that needs to overcome obstacles by using a certain product or service.
One of the biggest challenges of modern marketing comes in a form of short attention spans. Given that we are living in a world littered with advertisement where everything is easily attainable, there are only a handful of things that can truly shock us or attract our attention.
That being said, good plot is the necessity which will leave a reader (or a viewer) intrigued waiting to see what will happen at the end.
Dynamic storytelling is imposed by the modern society. In order to intrigue the reader, there has to be some kind of a twist. Drama is necessary as a method that will involve reader emotionally attaching him to a product.
If you are promising more than you can deliver, consumers will see your story as a ploy and will not get hooked. The message has to be believable.
Besides that, it also has to be simple. Otherwise, the consumer might not understand the meaning behind it. Lastly, it has to be consistent. This is not as important for an individual message; however, it is crucial if you wish to build a brand.
As you can see, the elements of a corporate story coincide with those of a classic one. However, the reason for its existence is completely different and one may even call it selfish. Nevertheless, you cannot deny its power.
Each time there is a new and revolutionary product being launched, a mass of people will gather in front of the stores. All of this is a result of good storytelling.
People are not that attracted to the product itself. Instead, they are intrigued by all its benefits. In a sense, by purchasing said item, they will have a sense of achievement.
As we previously mentioned, they will be emotionally engaged in a story that the company presents. They will feel as the main protagonist managing to overcome all the obstacles and finish their quest.
However, do not think that consumers are foolish or gullible. They will only acquire a product or a service that will help them improve their life.
Regardless of a story, you have to have a “hook” that will persuade them why something that are you are offering will have such an incredible impact on their lives. Like with all marketing campaigns, the consumer is at the forefront.
Creating a great video or article is only the beginning. Your product represents the basis upon which the story is being told. But, if there is nobody to receive the message, all your efforts will be in vain.
Always remember that corporate storytelling is directed towards revenues. That being said, the more people read your story, the higher the chances to make additional profit.
When creating content, you have to consider SEO. With that in mind, your content has to look impressive, to be well written, to consist relevant information and most importantly, to be sharable. To sum it up, it has to be link-worthy.
Your story has to inspire people. You have to create an impression that by sharing your content, individual is able to help others. This is crucial because everybody wants to feel like a hero. And with your story, they are able to be just that.
Liking and sharing needs to be a part of a story. Furthermore, you have to find a way to reward the reader for passing on the message. That way, you are providing all the experience which the real story provides: creation of a hero, plot twist, anticipation and reward for protagonist’s sacrifices.
If you wish to create a brand consciousness, you have to create a story that can continue on. It can come in several parts or it can be created in a way so that a viewer anticipates additional messages.
This way, you are able to keep individual engaged for a longer time and instead of connecting to a particular product, he will become emotionally attached to a brand.
Keep in mind that promotion of a brand requires some additional considerations. If one of your stories is bad or if it doesn’t provide the necessary stimuli to a reader, the entire campaign may flop.
Similarly, the message needs to be clear and consistent so that the person can connect the dots between the individual stories. Risks are much higher but so are the rewards.
Storytelling is and will remain one of most impactful ways of promoting your content. All of us are emotional beings and we like to let our imagination run free. Stories are an amazing catalyst that ignites that passion and imagination letting us visits those magnificent worlds.
By exploiting those emotions, you are able to position your product in their minds creating an emotional need for your product which is usually much stronger than the rational one.
Nikolay Stoyanov is one of Bulgaria’s top SEO experts with more than eight years of practicing SEO and a contributor to ClickZ.
This article was previously published on our sister website ClickZ.
Is your social media marketing campaign a little lackluster? Are you getting results, but not nearly to the scale you would prefer?
Many marketers face this problem, especially given the constantly evolving nature of social media.
What makes social platforms so unique is that they are impacted almost entirely not by the features they provide, but how people use them.
Twitter was developed to be a micro blogging platform, but users constantly find ways around the character restriction.
Facebook was meant for only communicating with people the user knows in real life, but the average user now has dozens of people they have never met on their feed.
Since social media is ultimately defined by how it is used at any given moment, it can be hard to customize a marketing campaign to properly meet its complexities. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible; with the right tools, it become infinitely easier to achieve.
Here are seven innovative social media marketing tools that you have to check out.
Yotpo has just launched a cool Instagram tool to play with. I don’t really think there’s an alternative. The tool lets you search Instagram using as many search terms as you want within one search results page.
You can interact with search results in two ways:
Finally, you can display curated Instagram photos on your product pages using Yotpo widget that helps you convert more visitors into customers and building loyalty.
Content curation is a pretty steady part of social engagement at this point. But it is also one of the more time consuming, and that means your ability to take part in it, while still focusing on proper branding, is a little bit limited.
I like UpContent because it makes the process a million times easier and faster. They have some really great filters that customize your searches beyond the usual ‘most related’ and ‘most recently uploaded’. Plus it integrates with both Hootsuite and Buffer, both tools most of us have at this point.
When are you most active on Twitter? What have your favorite influencers been up to? What are the stats of the competition on the social network? Introduce answers all of that and more, with nothing but a Twitter handle and approximately ten seconds of analysis time.
Find out anything you need to know about someone’s Twitter habits, including your own. It makes customizing your strategy much easier, if you know what others are doing. This tool will make relationship building and lead generation on Twitter much easier!
Facebook has been opening their chatbot service up to brands on a mass scale, and a lot of people are taking advantage of it. Unfortunately, making automated chatbots can be a difficult process. We are talking about artificial intelligence, after all. If you don’t have the expertise to make an AI, or the money to hire someone to do it for you, what you need is a tool that makes it easier.
Wiserbots is that tool. It guides you through the process, automates much of it, and lets you make a smarter bot to boot.
There are actually several LinkedIn apps that you can choose from, and any one of them might be useful to you. But my personal favorite is LinkedIn Job Search.
Did you know that almost two-thirds of Fortune 500 CEOs prefer LinkedIn as their choice social network. This makes Linkedin a goldmine for finding a dream job in an interesting startup!
You can search out jobs in your professional network, get notified of new career opportunities and use your existing connections to be approved. If you want to find a better way to network on a B2B level, this is definitely how to do it.
You will get access to various tricks on how to improve your employability by completing your profile, adding achievements and requesting recommendations. Writing a solid Linkedin resume is actually huge. I’ve always envied people who can describe their career path with lots inspiration and creativity. I am not like this. I hate talking about myself.
Here are some tips on improving your Linkedin profile if you are on a job hunt and planning to use the app.
What if you could create tailor made posts, properly researched and hashtagged, for 3 – 5 days ahead of schedule, and do it all in 20 minutes max? Well, you would probably lose your mind, because scheduling posts is one of the most annoying and time consuming parts of social media marketing, right?
BundlePost allows you to do this, automating much of the process so you can do more, in less time, with better results. Leaving your time open to engaging in a meaningful way with your audience.
It may sound kind of funny, but out of everything that drives me crazy about social media marketing, it is moving images and videos from one place to another. Because Instagram only works on mobile, it throws off my entire process. I hate using the Hootsuite mobile app, which is how I was doing things before.
Now I just sync up all of my media through all of my accounts and devices using PhotoSync. It has made my days much less frustrating.
Do you have an innovative social media marketing tool you think belongs on this list? Have you used one of the tools above? Let us know in the comments.
If you want your m-commerce project to deliver the results you’re expecting, context should be front and centre of your design.
Across all industries, mobile traffic is eating into PC web traffic in a big way, even in economies which have a large installed base of consumer PCs.
But ecommerce sites aren’t seeing mobile web visitors, particularly those who use smartphones, converting to mobile shoppers with the same success as PC shoppers.
As Andy Favell writes in ClickZ Intelligence’s new report, ‘The DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 2: The 12 Pillars of Mobile Design’:
“It is fair to conclude that conversions would be higher if the m-commerce experience on the web was better designed with smartphone users in mind. M-commerce sites that crack this will sell more.”
One of the most consistent mistakes made with mobile site design is a failure to take into account the differing circumstances, needs and intentions of smartphone users; in other words, their unique context.
The difference between smartphone and PC users isn’t just a smaller screen size – it’s a whole new set of variables.
Google’s guidelines for its search quality evaluators emphasise the importance of taking context into account for mobile users.
So how does context impact the way you cater for m-commerce customers, and what can you do to tailor your design to their needs?
A customer using a PC to access your website is likely to be doing so in a limited number of settings. Most often they’ll be at home or at work, possibly in an internet café, or using a laptop somewhere like an airport or coffee shop.
Even if you imagine that they might be out and about, there are still relatively few plausible scenarios in which they could be logging in, and they don’t differ from one another that wildly.
But with mobile, and particularly smartphones, the number of possible scenarios suddenly increases exponentially. Your customer could be travelling, working, moving around the house and multi-tasking, walking to your location, walking to a rival‘s location…
In each case, the context drastically alters the way in which this customer might be approaching and interacting with your site.
Andy Favell explained in a recent article for ClickZ, ‘When will responsive websites respond to user context?’ why cross-platform homogeneity – taking the same approach to design across differing platforms – doesn’t make sense.
“Cross platform homogeneity forgets two massive things:
And that’s just the start of it. Now consider:
Taking a user’s context into account is considered to be a no-brainer for targeted advertising, and the conversions it delivers prove that targeting works.
Facebook has achieved great success from advertising thanks to its ability to fine-tune its adverts according to who a user is and what they might be doing.
Image by Bablu bit, available via CC BY-SA 4.0
Google is increasingly using the data it collects on users and their search histories to contextualise the results it provides them and make them more relevant. And programmatic advertising is currently making waves with the promise of being able to determine at high speed who to target based on digital cues received about the user.
The online world is increasingly trending towards high levels of personalisation as our ability to gather and interpret data about users improves. And for m-commerce, this also seems like the logical next step.
As Favell writes in ‘The DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 2′:
“If adtech has the ability to target ads on mobile websites at visitors, surely m-commerce sites should use the same types of technology and listen to the same digital signals in order to prioritise the most appropriate content, offers and services, and make the user journey as easy and frictionless as possible?”
In part two of the ‘DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site’ report, Andy Favell gives a series of tips on how to personalise your mobile offering to users whilst not over-targeting to the point that users find it irritating. He advises:
The epitome of a personalised m-commerce experience is a site that adapts fully to user context, based on signals such as who a person is, where they are, what device they are using, what they like and what they are doing.
While there are very few examples of websites who are doing this well at the moment, the concept isn’t too far-fetched.
A handful of retailers in the US have already invested in developing native apps which deliver a different experience to the user when they are away from a store versus when they are in-store.
The most innovative of these will switch to “Store mode” as the shopper enters a store location, activated by geotechnologies like bluetooth beacons.
A number of US retailers have personalised their m-commerce offerings with a dedicated “store mode”, which includes features such as scanning products to check pricing and availability | Image by Intel Free Press, available via CC BY-SA 2.0
DMI’s 2015 ‘In-store Mobile Experiences’ report sets out why a properly personalised in-store mobile experience can be so beneficial to retailers.
According to the report, 82% of high-income shoppers said that an improved mobile in-store experience would make the shopping experience better. And 74% of young people aged 18-35 said that they would spend more money at a store that provided an improved in-store mobile experience.
Standout performers in the US – which included Walgreens, Home Depot, Nordstrom, Walmart, Target and American Eagle among other brands – offered in-store features such as scanning products to unlock information on pricing and product availability; integrating loyalty programs into the in-store experience; in-store mapping; product recommendations; and reserving a dressing room.
These are all location-dependent personalisation features, but there are other mobile signals you can use to divine information about your user’s context and tailor your m-commerce site to them in subtle ways.
In ‘The DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 2′, Ronan Cremin, CTO of DeviceAtlas, writes:
“Apart from the really obvious one (location) there are other possibilities like detecting if a user is literally on the move or not (accelerometer), is the battery low etc. etc.
One important point about all of these contextual cues is to use them as hints rather than hard deciding factors because the cost of getting things wrong based on an incorrect assumption is high.
It’s really dangerous to make assumptions about what a user wants, so I think that the best thing to do is make prioritization decisions over ordering of features rather than adding/removing features entirely.”
Subtle cues about a user’s state like battery level can be used to personalise your m-commerce site | Image by Martin Abegglen, available via CC BY-SA 2.0
As both Favell and Cremin point out, it’s important not to go overboard with personalisation, as too much can risk alienating the user, especially if wrong assumptions are made.
But don’t let this put you off trying altogether. Context is everything in mobile design, and even small adjustments can go a long way towards creating a frictionless user experience and improving your m-commerce sales and conversions.
You can read the full ClickZ Intelligence reports here:
This article has been adapted from a post originally published on our sister website ClickZ: Why context is king in m-commerce.
Before you dive into keyword research for your site, you should know about these common mistakes that many businesses and SEO firms make.
Avoiding these mistakes can save you time, help you re-think your marketing strategy, and drive the right customers to your site.
People often pick keywords with high search volumes in their field, but don’t pay enough attention to the relevancy of these keywords to their target customers. You need to choose keywords that match your customer’s concerns.
For example, if you’re targeting affluent families who are searching for good schools for their kids, you shouldn’t pick keywords like “low cost public schools ny” or “affordable schools ny”. These families aren’t searching for those keywords. Instead, you should optimize for keywords such as “best schools ny” and “elite boarding schools ny”
Each of your target customers have different needs and concerns, and they use different words when they search. You need to understand your customers and the language they use. Remember, each searcher has an intent, and is looking for something. Your page needs to provide the answer.
If you have a large site with lots of possible keywords combinations, you might be tempted to optimize for every little combination you can, in an attempt to cover them all. For example: type, color, price, size, etc. Do the math. This can lead to an unlimited amount of possible keywords.
Many of these lengthy combinations have low search volumes, with no one even searching for them. Also, targeting too many keywords can distract you from most important keywords.
Focus on the keywords that have good search volumes and the potential to drive business. Keyword quality is more important than keyword quantity.
Don’t aim at generic keywords, or too specific keywords. It’s best to start with niche keywords that people use to search and buy your products/services.
These are the “low-hanging fruit” keywords that lead to customers who are easiest to close first. What are the highly specific long-tail keywords that pertain to your industry? Google calls this the “I want to buy” moment.
Once you have your best keyword groups, you can always expand them to target broader groups with various search intents.
Example of a niche keyword: “art class for kids”
Another mistake that large websites often make is focusing on only a few top keywords. You only see this kind of approach in black-hat SEO claims, like “get top rankings for 30 big keywords” because black hat tactics (such as link networks) are often used to push rankings for a single keyword at a time.
Trying to compete for “leather womens shoes” would be a waste of time for many businesses
An online marketplace with over 100,000 pages of content once asked us to do SEO for their list of 30 keywords. This SEO strategy just doesn’t make sense. 100,000 pages should be optimized for 300,000 – 500,000 keywords, in order to drive a big amount of traffic and grow the business.
We often follow a simple rule of thumb: each page should be optimized for 3-5 keywords, so the number of keywords is roughly planned by the amount of content.
When beginning keyword research, most people look at the main pages and major sections of their website, and then start to look for keywords for those pages.
They then optimize those same pages for the keywords they found. The problem is that you can miss out on a lot of great keywords that the current site structure and site content hasn’t covered.
The purpose of good keyword research is to find all possible keywords that your prospective customers are using to find you, and that has nothing to do with your site structure.
Your customers might be looking for very relevant content to your business, that’s not on your website at all! When doing good SEO, you should actually have to modify your site structure, and create entirely new sections and pages that are better optimized for the right keyword groups.
For a school consulting website, we found many strong keywords for a specific audience, like “boarding school for boys” and “boarding school for girls” which were not on the site at all.
We created new sections and pages for these important keywords. Had we relied on the existing site structure, we’d miss out on many of these valuable keywords.
Once you’ve grouped your keywords, you need to figure out where to place them on your website. This process is called keyword allocation, and it’s a critical step in the keyword research process.
A common mistake is adding irrelevant keywords to pages whose content doesn’t match the keywords, or pages that don’t match the search intent.
For example, users who search for “boarding schools in usa” are usually from overseas. Therefore, the page optimized for that keyword should indicate the value for international families who want to send their kids to US schools.
On the flip side, users who search for “top private schools in upper east side nyc” are usually people who understand the neighborhood, so the page content should adhere to their different needs. The keyword “boarding schools for girls” should be allocated to a page that concerns school girls.
It’s not simply about putting keywords on a page, it’s about matching each keyword with search intent and web page copy.
Mike Le is the Co-Founder and COO of CB/I Digital, a digital agency in New York that offers digital marketing and digital product services for clients. You can connect with Mike on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Speed can make more of a difference to the success of your online business than anything else, yet very few people talk about it.
If you can increase the speed of your site, traffic can increase and conversion can double.
Here I won’t just be talking about your website speed, but the overall “speed experience” of your online business.
A 2015 Microsoft study that surveyed 2,000 people and monitored brain activity of 112 additional people with EEGs, revealed that the average human attention span has reduced to eight seconds, from 12 seconds in the year 2000.
Interestingly, declining attention spans is affecting online transactions as well. Here are some interesting statistics on what happens when you delay people’s access to your website:
The above statistics point clearly to the impact site speed has on conversion and traffic, but it doesn’t end there. It isn’t a secret that Google now uses site speed as one of its ranking factors.
If you run an online business, making speed a priority can single-handedly double your traffic and conversions. Here are some tips for you:
The very first step towards ensuring a faster experience with people who interact with your brand online involves optimizing your site load time.
As established by some of the stats listed above, website speed plays a core role in whether people stay on your website or buy from you.
In fact, an Akamai study found that 47% of people expect a web page to load within two seconds. Here are some ideas to make your site load faster:
Many website owners focus only on desktop visitors and ignore mobile visitors. The interesting fact, however, is that there are more mobile internet users today than desktop internet users. This is why it is very important for you to create a mobile version of your website.
Mobile devices do not have the same capacity as desktop computers, so websites – in the original form they are designed for desktop visitors – will take much longer to load on a mobile phone than on a desktop computer even with the same internet speed.
By creating a much smaller mobile site, or by optimizing your site to be responsive for all devices, you can deliver a much faster website to mobile users.
Research shows that 75% of people would love to have a progress bar, or some sort of indication of their level of progress, when using a website.
Even when you’ve done your best, you can’t control everything – issues happen when it comes to technology. Sometimes there will be a delay from your payment processor, or your website might just be unusually slow.
Regardless, people are more likely to leave your website – if it is slow – when they are uncertain of how long it will take for their issue to be resolved. The solution to this is to use a “completeness meter.”
A completeness meter, such as a progress bar, will let users know how much longer they have to wait before their issue is resolved; due to the fact that they are now certain about how long they have to wait, they feel a lot less impatient and are likely to continue with their transaction on your site.
Most people think about site load time as the only factor to consider when optimizing a website for speed, but that’s far from it. Even your sign up forms and checkout pages matter.
If you want people to respond more to your offer, reduce the number of hoops they have to jump through; this mean you should reduce the number of form fields users have to fill, the number of questions you ask users, and the number of pages they have to go through. This will result in a much faster experience for your users, and less is more in this case.
Most importantly, you should optimize your customer support response time.
Research shows that 53% of people expect brands to respond within an hour of reaching out to them on Twitter. Research also shows that people expect you to respond to their emails within 24 hours.
Usually, customers can still request a refund if they are not satisfied. Most importantly, disgruntled customers can do a lot of damage to your brand by spreading the word about their bad experience to others.
Speed optimization doesn’t just end with your website; it is important to maintain a quality attitude to speed even after people become customers.
John Stevens is the CEO of Hosting Facts. He’s a regular contributor to Entrepreneur, Adweek, Internet Retailer and SEW.
Emojis have taken over a significant part of online communication, with people using them in order to express a feeling, a taste or an interest without using a long written description.
The term ’emoji’ has become so popular that it was named by Oxford Dictionaries as Word of the Year for 2015, which means that we were not surprised when we noticed an increase of branded messages including emojis.
It’s common for brands to attempt to be part of a trend, and some of them excel in it, but there’s always the risk of trying too hard and in no relevant context.
According to Socialbakers and its analysis of the top 500 brands, 59% of them included emojis in their tweets in 2015, while also 40% of them included them in their Facebook posts.
Image source: eMarketer
Appboy analysed the brands using its service and saw an increase of 777% on the use of emojis in branded campaigns from 2015 to 2016.
Meanwhile, 92% of the online population has used emojis at least once, which proves how the small symbols turned into the new internet slang.
Image source: Emogi
It’s interesting to observe the reasons that people use emojis and it seems that it’s not just about being fun and casual. In fact, people may use an emoji in order to improve online communication, to be understood, to add a sentiment, or simply to express themselves as fast as possible in the most appropriate way.
This becomes important for brands, as it may help them understand the motives behind the emoji use for their target audience and whether they should start adding them to their marketing messages.
Image source: Emogi
Emojis may help a brand add a personal element to its marketing messages and create an additional appeal to its audience, but this doesn’t mean that every case is similar.
Before you jump on the excessive use of emojis as a way to increase your relevance, you may need to consider:
Thus, the use of emojis depends on:
and it may be adjusted depending on the set content strategy, or a particular campaign.
Moreover, there’s also the case of using emojis in an email marketing campaign, which leads to further debate on whether they are adding value to your message.
Once your brand is ready to include emojis in its next campaign, you might need some inspiration on the best possible uses to do so. Or else, you may need to learn from other brands’ mistakes on what to avoid.
Domino’s has created one of the most popular emoji-related campaigns when it asked for customers to order pizza by tweeting the relevant emoji. People had to sign up through the site to enable the option of ordering through Twitter and from that point, a simple tweet featuring the pizza emoji led to an instant order, which was confirmed through a direct message.
Thus, a simple symbol was easily incorporated in their sales funnel and the audience turned into customers in the most creative way.
— Domino’s Pizza (@dominos) May 12, 2015
General Electric decided to create the #EmojiScience campaign last year to celebrate World Emoji Day, proving that “there’s science in everything, even emoji”.
They created the website emojiscience.com, presenting emojis in the form of the periodic table of elements, with each emoji leading to further information, backed by science and creativity.
The links were not only directing users to the custom site, but also to GE’s social accounts and its relevant posts, creating an impressive multi-channel campaign that couldn’t stay unnoticed.
Can you guess this great moment in #EmojiScience?
— General Electric (@generalelectric) July 17, 2015
Chevrolet created another highly discussed emoji campaign, by promoting the launch of 2016 Cruze in a press release exclusively produced by emojis. The result was both unique and confusing and that’s why the company created relevant videos helping the users decipher its message.
The campaign led to a 18x higher engagement rate on Twitter, 166.000 views on Youtube, 21.7 million views on paid social and display advertising, along with a significant media coverage, proving that authenticity and creativity can be rewarded.
WWF launched the first emoji-based fundraising campaign, raising awareness about protected animals and that’s why it included 17 emojis for the #EndangeredEmoji Twitter campaign, encouraging people to use them in their tweets. Every tweet was equal to a donation of £0.10, with the original post numbering 35.841 retweets and 11.187 likes.
We’re using #EndangeredEmoji to save real animals from extinction. Please retweet to sign up and help. pic.twitter.com/hX1p1GEDZ9
— WWF (@WWF) May 12, 2015
Taco Bell launched a campaign to ask for a taco emoji and its Change.org petition led to more than 30,000 signatures for its request!
By the time the taco emoji appeared, Taco Bell had already more than 600 gifs and photos to celebrate its arrival, while it also launched a limited edition of Doritos Locos Taco holster to celebrate its victory.
Moreover, Taco Bell proved that it really liked the idea of a taco emoji as part of its marketing campaigns and that’s why it also created the #TacoEmojiEngine, an engaging way to interact with its customers (while promoting the taco emoji and its brand).
The #TacoEmojiEngine is live. Tweet us a + any other emoji and see what we send you. pic.twitter.com/xB5XYse3yD
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) November 9, 2015
Coca Cola was the first brand to try out the custom paid emojis on Twitter and it wanted to celebrate it by breaking a record with its #ShareaCoke campaign.
It partnered with Twitter hoping to break the record for the “World’s Largest Cheers”, encouraging people to use the #ShareaCoke hashtag and discover the newly created branded emoji.
Ready for some fun? Tweet #ShareaCoke to help set a new @RecordSetter record for the world’s largest cheers. *clink!* pic.twitter.com/9UmY5WrVKE
— Twitter (@twitter) September 17, 2015
The creative concept led to more than 170,500 mentions globally in the first 24 hours, breaking the fun record of the world’s largest cheers, while the “hashflag” remained for the brand’s next campaigns.
This was the first time that many brands realised how a single emoji may extend their reach in an impressive number in just 24 hours, offering numerous opportunities for new campaigns.
You came, you tweeted, you set a record. Thanks for coming together for the Largest Twitter “Cheers!” #ShareaCoke pic.twitter.com/5kSnKC6t9K
— Coca-Cola (@CocaCola) September 18, 2015
Bud Light came up with a simple yet effective idea for the celebration of the 4th of July in 2014, creating an American flag out of emojis. The post led to 142,477 retweets and a further engagement with users replying through the use of relevant emojis.
— Bud Light (@budlight) 4 July 2014
Disney wanted to celebrate the launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the best possible way and this also included the launch of custom emojis on Twitter, turning the popular characters into unique emojis.
Twitter collaborated with Disney and Lucasfilm for the launch of the special emojis months before the release of the movie, which helped expand the buzz around the movie even more with thousands of Twitter users experimenting with the new emojis.
What’s more, Disney recently narrated Star Wars through emojis, in a video which was certainly creative, leading to almost 9k retweets and 13k likes.
It’s true. All of it. @StarWars: #TheForceAwakens gets the emoji treatment. https://t.co/dnsqcFfr3g
— Disney (@Disney) May 2, 2016
Goldman Sachs wanted to feel relevant and closer to a younger generation, so it decided to add a series of emojis to achieve it.
The problem is they probably didn’t consider the case of emoji fatigue, which led to a tweet that was widely spread for the wrong reasons.
How #millennials‘ life choices will reshape the #economy: http://t.co/GDzFHl9f8w +=➡↪
— Goldman Sachs (@GoldmanSachs) March 6, 2015
McDonalds has created a campaign named “Good Times” in order to improve the brand’s affinity with its audience.
This led to numerous billboards made up by emojis, describing unpleasant scenarios and how the brand could overturn a bad day. The idea was clever, the concept of the campaign was interesting, but as with every campaign, there’s always the element of surprise.
Haha, sorry @McDonalds but you’ve been done! #graffiti #Bristol pic.twitter.com/fCnwYXL1g3
— Ian Grainger (@Graingeri) July 8, 2015
A graffiti artist in Bristol decided to edit a billboard to add another emoji to the brand’s story, implying that the quality of the chain’s food is not leaving you that happy in the end after all.
It was a matter of time until the first tweet led to a great number of retweets, turning the “edited” campaign viral, affecting the brand’s initial campaign.
Of course, it’s not the emoji to be blamed, but it’s still a useful lesson that every brand should keep in mind when creating its next ambitious campaign.
Last but not least, it’s easy to become obsessed with emojis, both as a user and a brand, but you always need to find an optimal balance.
Make sure you monitor the latest trends, analysing your audience’s reactions to examine what they really expect from your brand.
Keep in mind, emojis should be used in order to enhance the positive sentiment towards your brand, rather than alienate the audience and create a controversial result.
A different version of this post was originally published on our sister site ClickZ: a complete guide to emoji marketing.
How are you recruiting new employees?
Are you using job recruiters? If so, you know their finder fees are ridiculously high. Typically it will cost you 20% of your new employee’s first year salary.
Isn’t there a cheaper route? Why can’t we just find employees through social media?
When you think recruiting and social media, most people think of LinkedIn. Many companies believe this myth that you have to do all your recruiting on LinkedIn.
Honestly, LinkedIn is a site most people use only when they’re out of work and searching for a new job. So your search for employees on LinkedIn will actually end up excluding people who aren’t actively job-hunting.
Often the best employees already have jobs. Some of the greatest employees we’ve hired actually weren’t even looking to change jobs!
Facebook is the platform where everyone spends the most time. More than a billion people log into Facebook every day.
You can encourage your employees to share job openings on their Facebook page. But this won’t accomplish much. Your organic reach on Facebook is limited to friends of your employees.
You need people who live near your office. You need people with certain skills.
The number of people who are actually qualified for any open job is low. It’s highly unlikely that your current employees will be connected with someone who is absolutely perfect for the job – and even if they are, that person could easily miss it in their news feed.
If you’re serious about adding top talent to your team (fast), you need to reach a bigger audience on Facebook. You need to use Facebook Ads.
Any great Facebook Ad needs great visuals. So my biggest goal was to make WordStream look cool to future employees.
I took some photos during a company party to help highlight our culture and show off a few of our people. In the ad copy, I said that WordStream was hiring for all departments, listed a few of our amazing perks, told people to message me if they were interested, and linked to our job page.
And then I posted it to my wall and boosted it with Facebook Ads:
This is where the ad targeting comes in. People who have heard of you may not realize they’re in your key demographic and that you’re hiring.
Facebook’s ad targeting is mind-blowing. You just have to know exactly who you’re looking for when you’re recruiting for new team members.
For most companies, location is critical. So you can do geographic targeting within a few miles of your office:
Demographics are another critical element of Facebook ad targeting.
What age group are you targeting? If you want someone who is entry-level, you’ll want to target a younger crowd (early to mid-20s).
In addition, you can target your ads so they show based on a Facebook user’s employer, job title, industry, and office type:
Want someone with a certain educational background? You can add education-level targeting.
Interests are another important aspect of Facebook ad targeting. You can target your recruitment ad to people who have certain interests.
For example, I targeted my ads to people who were interested in stuff like C++ programming, inbound marketing, and PPC, because people who are interested in these things would also be interested in finding and applying for a great new job that aligns with their passions.
You can even use remarketing to reach people who have visited your site before and are already familiar with your brand.
After all the targeting options for the ad I created, I narrowed down my market, and it was actually quite large (almost 40,000 people reached) plus super relevant.
First off, check out the relevance score on this ad: a 7 out of 10.
The relevance score shows you how well your audience responds to your ad.
Engagement on this ad was awesome:
This is pretty incredible engagement for a recruitment ad!
On Facebook, engagement is the key. The higher your engagement, the higher your rewards from Facebook.
This is why you need to know exactly who you want to hire. Targeting your audience based on the demographics, interests, and behaviors that fit your open position will result in more relevant ads and higher engagement.
Had I simply targeted this same post to anyone with a Facebook account, the results would have been far less impressive. The engagement rate would be lower and the costs would be higher.
That’s because the higher your relevancy score, the lower your cost per engagement will be.
In addition to winning big with our new hire, Justin, the same Facebook ad attracted interest (and about 20 resumes) from several other good applicants.
Ultimately it was actually much cheaper in our case to have found our talented hire through Facebook rather than using a recruiter or LinkedIn ads. So next time you’re looking to fill a role in your company, give Facebook Ads a try.
Facebook ads + $200 and great targeting = awesome hires!
This article was originally published on the WordStream blog, it’s reprinted with permission: How to use Facebook Ads to recruit top talent.
Video content has skyrocketed over the past few years, and therefore it’s time to examine how adding SEO to your videos can impact rankings.
Video is everywhere and this is both a blessing and a curse, especially if you’re trying to stand out from the rest of the crowd at the top of search engine results pages. So consider the following video SEO tips to help put you ahead of the competition…
As common as it may sound, your content should be relevant to your audience, adding value that will convince the users to dedicate the right time to watch your video. The more quality videos, the bigger the chances to serve as an authority, build a trusting relationship with your audience and increase the conversions.
If you are creating video content to improve the ranking of your site, then you need to host the video to your own domain, in order to ensure that search engines don’t direct the traffic to another site.
Let’s say for example that you prefer to upload the video on YouTube and add a link back to your site in the description. This may be a good idea if you’re trying to expand your reach, but in terms of SEO, search engines will crawl the Youtube video first, rather than your site.
Moreover, it may be a good idea to create a new page for each video, as Google mentions that this makes the indexing easier.
How about adding the necessary interactive elements to your videos to activate the viewers? Whether it’s the actual content, an annotation, or the caption, there are many ways that you can “gamify” a video to make it more interactive and engaging, helping grab the users’ attention.
You can even split the video into shorter clips, allowing your viewers to pick which one they prefer to watch, a strategy which has been implemented in many successful campaigns.
Your video should provide the necessary details to help search engines index it and according to Google, the title, the description and the thumbnail are the most important pieces of information.
Metadata offers more details about the video title, the description, the length of the video and its file name.
Video title has to be short and concise, while the description may provide more details and keywords, boosting the ranking of your content.
Last but not least, make sure the file name of your video is relevant, instead of a generic one like “video415.mph”, as this is another way to describe your content for search engines.
Here’s more advice on how to optimise video for YouTube.
Keyword research may also occur in video SEO and it may help you discover the most relevant content for your target audience. Is there a particular keyword, or phrase that could lead to better results? What’s the best way to describe your video?
Feel free to experiment with different keywords and always remember to create descriptive, but also legible content, helping both your audience, but also the search engines.
The video’s thumbnail is among the first things that users will notice and it might affect their decision whether they’ll actually click on the video.
How about picking a thumbnail that is clear and relevant to the content of your video?
It’s not just about creating an interactive video, it’s also about producing content that your audience will appreciate.
“Shareable” content is unique, creative and adds value for its target audience, making the sharing easier and the reach bigger.
It’s the quality of your content that will make your video stand out from the rest, and a clear call-to-action may also affect your site’s authority, with new links and mentions.
A full video transcript is the written version of your video and it can be very useful if it also includes the right use of keywords, helping search engines learn more about your content.
You can either include a transcript to the audio portion of your video, or you may also add it to the description box, along with the HTML of the page. This not only helps search engines to discover your content, but also the readers who may prefer an overview of your video.
A video sitemap provides all the necessary data about your video’s content and it provides the details the search engines need to get a clearer picture of its context.
A video’s sitemap is another way to present the video’s title, description, subject, duration and it may even provide more specific details, like an indication of the country restrictions, any expiration dates, platform restrictions or live streams.
It serves as an extension to your site’s general sitemap and although it may often be overlooked in video SEO, it is an important step to help your video’s ranking.
There are many ways to use an existing video and this may extend its “lifespan” and its reach.
For example, you may create a 10-minute video on your site, offering tips about video SEO. Your goal is to push this page to the rankings and increase the awareness and the traffic to your site.
Instead of simply promoting the particular page, which you should do anyway, you may also upload a preview of this video to your Facebook page for example, leading your audience to your site for more details.
Moreover, you can create an infographic, a slideshow, or shorter videos, all leading to the main source of content: your site.
It is a great opportunity to reach a wider audience and promote your main content, helping them discover your page in the most interesting and relevant way.
If users want to embed your video to their site, or their blog, it means that they like it enough to include it on their page. This is already a win for your content and it may lead to a boosted page ranking on SERPs.
Thus, make it easy for your audience to embed your video, as you’re earning more inbound links to help your SEO efforts.
Don’t be afraid to promote your content as much as possible to all the relevant channels, as this is the best way to spread word about it and reach the right audience.
This may lead to more viewers, new links, bigger traffic and of course, better positioning on SERPs.
Feel free to reach the right people that may find your content interesting, or even to use your network to promote it accordingly. Even paid promotion may be useful, if you think that this can contribute to your goals.
Social authority cannot be overlooked and in fact, it may be a great way to boost your video’s SEO efforts.
There are numerous ways to apply search optimisation for your video content, but it all comes down to quality once again, as the starting point for your strategy.
It’s the actual content that will grab the audience’s attention and its optimisation can ensure that you are rewarded for your dedication with a higher position on SERPs.
Once you are creating relevant content of high quality, then it’s time to start applying the above tips to get your message noticed, both by users and search engines.
Last year, Google unleashed Mobilegeddon on the world in an effort to make the web more accessible by favoring mobile-friendly sites in the mobile SERPs.
Now, Google is upping the ante by taking aim at sites that use intrusive interstitials.
Starting January 10, 2017, Google will update its algorithm so that sites “where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.”
In a post on the Official Google Webmaster Central blog, Google Product Manager Doantam Phan provided examples of techniques that Google isn’t a fan of:
Some common techniques won’t be penalized. These include legal notices, login dialogs on password-protected sites, and banners that don’t take up too much screen real estate and can be dismissed easily.
Not surprisingly, many cheered Google’s announcement, hoping that it will help bring about an end to tactics that frequently annoy end users.
But not everyone is thrilled. Rafat Ali, the founder of travel news site Skift, remarked on Twitter that “Now Google wants to define how publishers run our audience acquisition strategies. Will hurt email newsletters most.”
While he noted that the popup his site uses to invites readers to sign up for an email newsletter doesn’t appear on the first page a reader visits and therefore believes “we’re insulated for most part,” he also had some choice words for Google.
Now Google wants to define how publishers run our audience acquisition strategies. Will hurt email newsletters most. https://t.co/ZWXzws0Veq
— Rafat Ali (@rafat) August 23, 2016
Obviously, publishers will want to monitor Google’s update carefully, lest they find themselves penalized.
But Google’s Phan noted that “this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals that are used in ranking” and added, “the intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”
That suggests the penalty might not be significant, or won’t affect some publishers as much as others, so publishers will need to wait until next year to see how this update pans out.