Ah so this post is well overdue, I have been busy getting my new life sorted and these semi-regular posts just dropped off my radar until the last few days when I had some time to get back to them. So last month I finished up working with Razorfish in their Melbourne office with clients such as Suncorp Insurance, AAMI, Bingle & GIO and have moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands to work with Marktplaats & Marktplaats Services as SEO Product Manager.
Lots has happened in the news in digital marketing over the past 6 weeks, but these were the stories that I thought would be of the most interest to the search crowd. Let me know in the comments if I missed any action/stories you think ought to be here.
Google has been getting better in the speed that it’s addressing the gap in it’s understanding of the structured web with it’s launch of the data highlighter in December 2012 and this was followed up in May 2013 with support for other kinds of structured data such as products, businesses and reviews. They advise the tagging process should take around 5 to 15 minutes and then you can verify that Google correctly understood your structured data before you publish it to Google. They were also kind enough to roll out a Structured Data Markup Helper which can be a useful guide when working with a web developer to implemented structured data within your site.
One piece that didn’t get enough exposure was the news that MajesticSEO now integrates with leading FREE & Open source analytics platform Piwik Analytics and offers the ability to import backlink data directly into your analytics data. The current analytics integration is basic but if you would like to see further interaction reach out to Majestic team direct or one of the ambassadors and maybe a full OpenApps integration maybe built.
One of the coolest new toys from Google insights team is the “Top Charts” dashboard which offers some very cool trends insight broken down by year or month all the way back to 2004. This tool is a perfect platform for content marketers who might want to compare how search interest in particular topics have changed overtime. The dashboard also allows for a breakdown of most search topics within the following categories: business, politics, entertainment, nature, science, shopping, sports, travel & leisure but the downside is that this data is only currently available for the USA.
Google Analytics has further improved their testing functionality with Content Experiments API which offers marketers much more control to pick and choose what testing functionality you need to make it a more customised solution that should better suit your needs. The best part I see is that you can now test changes to content without redirects which vastly simplifies the testing and reduces the chance it will impact the user experience. One other benefit for more advanced marketers is that you can now test with your own rules for how to serve variations and are no longer tied to Google’s default logic.
Google is finally catching up with media properties with native ad formats served via Doubleclick as they were likely missing out on revenue. This focus on native ads or “advertorials” does place Google in a delicate position due to disclosure and even Matt Cutts has warned against the misuse of “native ads”. But Google just can’t resist the extra revenue that can be charged by publishers for native advertising packages and they will be able to better able to track the value of these ad types which may keep advertisers happy but may make publishers nervous with added transparency.
Yahoo launched it’s own lead generation platform Localworks which is quite well suited for small businesses who want to be active in local SEO but don’t have the time or resources to make it successful. The platform is something that is a curve ball from Yahoo as it integrates with over 40 competing web directories and allows business owners to manage all their listings in one dashboard. This time saving feature along with aggregated listing analytics now makes it very easy for small businesses and individuals to track local SEO performance and get better insight into customer feedback and your businesses overall online rating. Yahoo has interest in making this work as they are charging $49.99/month for their platform which which means that platform is not as dependent on revenue from onsite ads and can easily invest more into the platform as it grows.
Facebook has finally started to listen to screams from advertisers who are struggling to grasp the 27 different ad units down to less than half this amount. This is great for managing campaigns it also means that the CPC/CPM rates will spike as there are less advertising types available now which means more advertisers will be competing for a much smaller pool of ad units. The other disappointing change is they are axing the Offer ad product which was great for affiliate marketing and lead generation starting in July 2013.
Back in June the Google Product forums announced the new dashboards for Google+ pages but I haven’t really seen much value unless you are using it for local marketing campaigns. The features around insights on posts & followers would be very useful for Google+ brand pages so until then I don’t see many people getting much value out of Google+ Dashboards.
Google made a very aggressive statement on how it wants to change user experience with their upcoming rule changes that will mean a downgrade in rankings for websites that don’t comply with their guidance for smartphone users.
While still in beta Moz Analytics is showing the true potential of their renewed focus on inbound marketing that goes beyond just links and rankings. The new 4 channels Moz Analytics is focused on are: search, social, links and brand/mentions which should move it’s platform closer to overpriced “enterprise” platforms such as Bright-edge.
Everyone always loves something free so it’s always good when platforms open up their data, so it’s nice to see Majestic Site Explorer has been now made free for verified domains. That means you can now get full access to your own backlink data for free which has always been a pain point for marketers, why should I have to pay for insight into my own websites.
It was only a matter of time before Facebook could fight against the trend of using #hashtags in like #omg everywhere. The interesting difference is that Facebook has focused around making their hashtags more advertiser/brand friendly along with a push for more real-time conversations and increased visibility via Graph search. The hope for advertisers is that Facebook will launch a real-time advertising model around hashtags similar to what Twitter already offers but based on the recent culling of Ad types I would think Facebook would just add the #hashtag as a option within existing ad settings.
Twitter has finally listed to marketers and opened up their analytics insights for everyone, the cool thing is their data on interaction and followers is just amazing and beyond any third party analytics platform. I suggest you give their platform a look and you can start to test how different URL shorteners or messaging might impact the reach, faves or retweets that you get.
In the first big branded move by advertiser Samsung, Foursquare has launched their Samsung branded personal time machine that allows you to visualise your checkins in an amazing level of detail. It’s both an interesting platform but also interesting way that Samsung have produce a fully integrated branded section within a social platform, the ability to produce your own custom infographic based on your checkins is fairly damn cool It will likely be the first of many such moves if the ROI can be even be calculated, I can see a branded nightlife guide sponsored by a large beverage company coming soon!
Christmas has come early for many advertisers using Google Analytics as they now have the ability to attribute display ad impressions across GDN and YouTube video ads are assisting their conversions. The new GDN impression reports once enabled will show within your Multi-Channel Funnel reports, but to simplify reporting they have included two new icons, the first “eye” is for when visitors viewed an ad but didn’t click and the second icon “movie” shows when a visitor has interacted with one of your YouTube video or rich media ads during their conversion journey. This is very cool for advertisers who are running beyond the standard search ads and have struggled to attribute these conversions accurately previously.
Facebook is continuing to update their Page Insights tool that aims to make it more actionable for community managers and Facebook advertisers. The new changes are designed to make it easier for brands to understand when their posts are generating positive or negative responses. The deeper insights are a great start to ensure you are producing and sharing content that helps increase your reach and improve your People Talking About This metrics.
After a long time testing Google is rolling out their Attribution Modeling feature to all Google Analytics users so now everyone can create, adjust and customise your attribution models in just minutes. The downside for analytics consultants is that attribution modelling projects were often something too complex for most websites owners or brands to do in-house, but this change may shift that balance of power. The good thing is that you now have the ability to swap between the following models: last interaction, last non-direct click, last adwords click, first interaction, linear, time decay or position based model. It will be very interesting to see some case studies one how these different models give businesses and marketers new insights into attribution.
In what is not really something of a surprise, Twitter has finally updated their developer guidelines that highlights automated following or bulk following is prohibited. Twitter has also updated automation rules & best practices document which covers the following concepts: automatically tweeting to trending topics, mass-creating automated accounts, automated spam bots, automated @replies & mentions, automated retweeting of other accounts, automated following, automated unfollowing, automated your direct messages. There has to be some very interesting implications for social media marketing as the infringements range from filtering out your account to suspension which might mean that advertisers who use a lot of automation may have to re-think their strategies.
Twitter has finally started to open up it’s vast platform for advertisers with it’s new ad product that allows advertisers to target consumers who have visited a particular website but also target via email address. The general idea that Twitter is trying to pitch is that consumers will see more targeted ads not more ads which might make their users happy, along with the ability for their users to opt-out of tailored ads which breaks with Facebook’s aggressive “no opt-out” policy. Advertisers that have focused on building a email newsletter or email database will be happy to know that they can now show their promoted content on Twitter to their existing audiences easily.
It seems that Yelp has finally clicked on how it can increase it’s relevance to consumers and drive more revenue via it’s platform with an initial launch of pickup and delivery at your local restaurant. Note that this is currently only available within the USA with a small selection of restaurants initially that are currently supported by Eat24 & Delivery.com. I think it will be interesting to see if it can gain traction in international markets that are only really starting to get on board with online ordering from restaurants and Yelp doesn’t have the market dominance in many international markets. They have said that customers can expect to be able to do more such as book appointments at dentists, salons, and spas but it will be interesting to see if that is scalable outside a handful of large chains.