Building an attribution strategy – Search Engine Land

Building an attribution strategy - Search Engine Land

Customer journeys are complex.

Gaining an accurate and complete picture of your marketing attribution—which channels are producing leads and conversions—is crucial to getting the biggest return on your marketing dollars.

In this guide, CallTrackingMetrics presents a variety of channel attribution strategies, and describe how CallTrackingMetrics can help you finally gain a complete picture of the marketing journey.

Visit Digital Marketing Depot to download “Finding Success With Attribution and Call Tracking.”

About The Author

Digital Marketing Depot is a resource center for digital marketing strategies and tactics. We feature hosted white papers and E-Books, original research, and webcasts on digital marketing topics — from advertising to analytics, SEO and PPC campaign management tools to social media management software, e-commerce to e-mail marketing, and much more about internet marketing. Digital Marketing Depot is a division of Third Door Media, publisher of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, and producer of the conference series Search Marketing Expo and MarTech. Visit us at http://digitalmarketingdepot.com.

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Effortless 404 and site migration redirects Search Engine Watch

Effortless 404 and site migration redirects with Fuzzy Lookup

Effortless 404 and site migration redirects with Fuzzy Lookup

In recent years, the nature of SEO has become more and more data-driven, paving the way for innovative trends such as AI or natural language processing.

This has also created opportunities for smart marketers, keen to use everyday tools such as Google Sheets or Excel to automate time-consuming tasks such as redirect mapping.

Thanks to the contribution of Liam White, an SEO colleague of mine always keen on improving efficiency through automation, I started testing and experimenting with the clever Fuzzy Lookup add-in for Excel.

The tool, which allows fuzzy matching of pretty much any set of data, represents a flexible solution for cutting down manual redirects for 404 not-found pages and website migrations.

In this post, we’ll go over the setup instructions and hands-on applications to make the most of the Excel Fuzzy Lookup for SEO.

1. Setting up Excel Fuzzy Lookup

Getting started with Fuzzy Lookup couldn’t be easier — just visit the Fuzzy Lookup download page and install the add-in onto your machine. System requirements are quite basic. However, the tool is specifically designed for Windows users — so no Mac support for the moment.

Unlike the not-exact match with Vlookup (which matches a set of data with the first result), Fuzzy Lookup operates in a more comprehensive way, scanning all the data first, and then providing a fuzzy matching based on a similarity score.

The score itself is easy to grasp, with a score of one being a perfect match, for instance. This score then decreases with the matching accuracy down to a score of zero where there is no match. Regarding this, it’s advisable not to venture below the 0.5 to 0.6 similarity threshold in the settings, as the results are not consistent enough for a site migration or 404 redirects purpose below that limit.

Example of accuracy score

For greater accuracy, it’s also desirable to trim the domain (or staging site equivalent) from the URLs, making sure that the similarity score is not altered by too many commonalities. For more information about the setup, you can also refer to this Fuzzy Lookup guide.

2. Redirect mapping automation and its benefits

Considering the time necessary to familiarize with the site, categories and products/services, it’s safe to assume that a person would manually match two URLs roughly every thirty seconds. If that doesn’t sound too bad, consider that it would take between five to eight hours for a website of 1,000 URLs. This would make it quite a tedious and time-consuming task.

Bearing in mind that Fuzzy Lookup can provide nearly immediate results with a reliable fuzzy matching for at least 30 to 40 percent of the URLs, then this approach starts to appear interesting. If we consider the savings in terms of time as well, this would translate to about three hours for a small site or over ten hours for large ecommerce site.

3. Dealing with site migration redirects

If you are changing the structure of a site, consolidating more domains into one, or simply switching to a new platform, then redirect mapping for a website migration is definitely a priority task on your list. Assuming that you already have a list of existing pages plus the new site URLs, then you are all set to go with Fuzzy Lookup for site migrations.

Once you have set up the two URL lists in two separate tables, you can fire up the Fuzzy Lookup and order the matched URLs by the similarity score. In my tests, this has proven to be an effective, time-saving solution, helping in cutting down the manual work by several hours.

As displayed in the screenshot below, the fuzzy matching excelled with product codes and services/goods (such as 20600 and corner-sofas, for example). This allows the matching of IDs with IDs, and the URL with the parent category, in the case where an identical ID is not available.

Example of site migration redirects

4. 404 error redirects

Pages with a 404 status code are part of the web and no website is immune, hosting at least a few of them. Having said that, 404 errors have the potential of creating problems, hurting the user experience and SEO. Fuzzy Lookup can help with that, requiring just one simple addition a recent crawl of your site to extract the list of live pages, like the example below:

Example of 404 redirects

The fuzzy matching works pretty well in this instance too, matching IDs with IDs, and leaving the match to the most relevant category if a similar product/service is not live on the site. As per the site migrations, the manual work is not completely wiped out, but it’s made a whole lot easier than before.

5. Bonus: Finding gap/similarities in the blog

Another interesting application for Excel Fuzzy Lookup can be found in analyzing the blog section. Why? Simply because if you’re not in charge of the blog then you are not likely to be aware of what’s in it now, and what has been written in the past.

This solution works in two ways as well, because if a similarity is found, then you have the confirmation that the topic has been already covered. If not, this means that there’s still room for creating relevant content that can be linked to the service/product category to improve organic reach as well.

Example of finding gaps and similarities in the blog

Wrapping up

Time is money, and when it comes to dealing with large numbers of URLs that need to be redirected, a solution like Fuzzy Lookup can help you in cutting down the tedious manual redirect mapping. Thus, why not embrace fuzzy automation and save time for more exciting SEO tasks?

Marco Bonomo is an SEO & CRO Expert at MediaCom London. He can be found on Twitter .

Related reading

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A primer to forecasting the value of SEO
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A quick guide to SEO in 2019

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Common technical SEO issues and fixes for aggregators and finance brands Search Engine Watch

Common technical SEO issues and fixes, for aggregators and finance brands

Common technical SEO issues and fixes, for aggregators and finance brands

As most of you know the aggregator market is a competitive one, with the popularity in comparison sites rising.

Comparison companies are some of the most well-known and commonly used brands today. With external marketing and advertising efforts at an all-time high, people turn to the world wide web for these services. So, who is championing the online market?

In an investigation we carried out, we found brands such as MoneySuperMarket and MoneySavingExpert are the kings of the organic market.

graph on comparison websites

It’s hard to remember a world without comparison sites. It turns out that comparison websites have been around for quite some time. In fact, some of the most popular aggregator domain names have been available since 1999.

Yes 1999, two years after Google launched.

Think back to 1999 and how SEO has adapted. Now think about what websites have had to consider, keeping up with high customer demands, new functionality, site migrations, introduction to JavaScript, site speed, the list is endless.

The lifespan and longevity of these sites mean that over time issues start to build up, especially in the technical SEO department. Many of us SEOs are aware of the benefits that come with spending time on technical SEO issues — not to mention the great return on investment.

As comparison sites are so popular and relied upon by users, simple technical issues can result in a poor user experience damaging customer relationships. Or worse, users seeking assistance elsewhere.

Running comparison crawls have identified the common technical SEO issues across the market leaders. Find out what these issues are and how they will be harming their SEO — and see if they correlate with your own website.

1. Keyword cannibalization

When developing and creating new pages it is easy to forget about keyword cannibalization. Duplicating templates can easily leave metadata and headings unchanged, all confusing search engines on which page to rank for that keyword.

Here is an example from GoCompare.

Example of Keyword cannibalization in the h1 and h2 tags

The page on the left has the cannibalizing first heading. This is because the page’s h1 is situated in the top banner. This should target the long-tail opportunity “how to make your own electricity at home” which has been placed in an h2 tag directly under the banner.

The best course of action here would be to tweak the template, removing the banner and placing the call to action in the article body and placing the targeted keyword in a first heading tag.

Comparison sites are prime candidates for keyword cannibalization with the duplication of templates, services, and offers which results in cannibalization issues sitewide.

The fix

Run a crawl of your domain, gathering all the duplicated first headings tags, you can use tools such as Sitebulb for this. Decipher between which is the original page and which is the duplicate, then gather your keyword data to find a better keyword alternative for that duplicate page.

Top tip

Talk to your SEO expert when creating new pages, they will be able to provide recommendations on URL structure, first headings, and titles. It is worth having an SEO at the start of the planning process when rolling out new pages.

2. Internal redirects

Numerous changes can result in internal redirects, primary causes are redundant pages, upgrades to a site’s functionality, and furthermore, the dreaded site migration.

When Google urged sites to accelerate to HTTPs in January 2017, with the ideal methodology to 301 redirect HTTP pages to HTTPs, it’s painful to think about the mass number of internal redirects.

Here’s an example.

Example of internal redirects

Comparison sites specifically need to be aware of this. Just like ecommerce sites, products and services become unavailable. The normal behavior seems to be to then to redirect that product either to an alternative page or, in most cases, back to the parent directory.

This can then cause internal redirects across the site that need immediate attention.

The fix

To tackle this issue, gather all the internal redirected URLs from your crawler.

Once you’ve done this find the link on the parent page by inspecting the page on Google Developer tools.

Find where the link is and recommend to your development team that it changes the href attribute target within the link anchor to the final destination of the redirect.

3. Cleaning up the sitemap

With loads of changes happening across aggregator sites all the time, it is likely that the sitemap gets neglected.

However, it’s imperative you don’t allow this to happen! Search engines such as Google might ignore sitemaps that return “invalid” URLs.

Here’s an example.

Snapshot of the 404 error

Usually, a site’s 400/500 status code pages are on the development teams’ radar to fix. However, it isn’t always best practice as that these pages still sit in the sitemap. As they might be set live, orphaned and no indexed, or redirected elsewhere, that leaves some less severe issues within the Sitemap file.

Aggregators currently have to deal with sites changing product ranges, releasing new and, even, discontinuing services on a regular basis. New pages, therefore, have to be set up, redirects are then applied and sometimes issues are missed.

The fix

First, you need to identify errors within the sitemap. Search Console is perfect for this. Go to the coverage section, and filter with the drop down. Select your sitemaps with “Filter to Sitemaps” to inspect the errors that are within these.

Snapshot of canonical errors and redirects

If your sitemap has 400 or 500 status code pages, then this is more of a priority, if it has the odd redirect or canonical issue, focus on sorting these out first.

Top tip

Check your sitemap weekly or even more frequently. It is also a great way of checking your broken pages across the site.

4. Subdomains are causing index bloat

Behind any great comparison site is a quotation functionality. This allows users to place personal information about a quote and being able to revisit previously saved data kind of like a shopping cart on most ecommerce websites.

However, these are usually hosted on subdomains and can get indexed, which you don’t really want. These are mostly thin content pages, a useless page in Google index equaling index bloat.

Here’s an example.

Example of subdomains

The fix

The solution is to add the “noindex” meta attribute to the quotation domains to stop them from being indexed. You can also include the subdomains in your robots.txt file to stop them from being crawled. Just make sure they aren’t in the search engines’ index before you place them in the file as they won’t drop out of the SERPs.

5. Spreading link equity to irrelevant pages

Internal linking is important. However, passing link equity thinly across pages can cause a loss in value. Think of a pyramid, and how the homepage spreads equity to the directory and then down to the subdirectories through keyword targeted anchor text.

Example of how authority pages spread link equity across a website

These pages where equity is passed should hold the value and only link out to relevant pages that might be of relevance.

As comparison sites target a range of products and opportunities it is important to include them within the site architecture, but not spread the equity thinly.

How do we do this?

1. Consider the architecture of your site. For example:

“Fixed rate mortgages” has different yearly offerings, most sites sit these under a mortgage subdirectory, but this could easily have its own directory. This would benefit the site architecture as it lowers the click depth for those important pages and stops the thin spread of equity.

2. Only link to what is relevant.

Let’s take the below example. The targeted keyword here is “bad credit mortgages.” Money.co.uk then supplies a load of internal links at the bottom of the page that aren’t relevant to the keyword intent. Therefore, the equity is spread to these pages resulting in the page losing value.

Example of linking to relevant pages for link equity

 

The fix

Review the internal linking structure. You can do this by running pages through Screaming Frog, which identifies pages that have a click depth greater than two and evaluates the outgoing links. If there are a lot, this could be a good indicator that pages might be spreading the equity thinly. Manually evaluate the pages to find there the links are going to and remove any that might be irrelevant spreading equity unnecessarily.

6. Orphaned pages

Following on from the above point, pages that are orphaned, or poorly linked to, will receive low equity. Comparison sites are prime candidates for this.

MoneySuperMarket has several orphaned pages, especially located in the blog section of the site.

Example of orphaned pages

The fix

Use Sitebulb to crawl the site and discover orphaned pages. Spend time evaluating these, it might be that these pages should be orphaned. However, if they are present in the sitemap that indicates either one of two problems given below.

  • The pages should be linked to through the internal architecture
    or
  • The page shouldn’t be indexable or in the sitemap

If the pages are redundant, make them “no indexable.” However, if they should be linked to, evaluate your site’s internal architecture to work out a perfect linking strategy for these pages.

Top tip

It is very easy for blog posts to get orphaned, using methods such as topic clustering can help benefit your content marketing efforts while making sure your pages aren’t being orphaned.

Last ditch tips

A lot of these issues occur across a range of different sites and many sectors, as comparison sites undergo a lot of changes and development work with a vast product range and loads to aggregate. It is very hard to keep up-to-date with SEO tech issues.

Be vigilant and delegate resources sensibly. SEO tech issues shouldn’t be ignored, actively monitor and run crawls and checks after any site development work has been rolled out, this can save your organic performance and keep your technical SEO game strong.

Tom Wilkinson is Search & Data Lead at Zazzle Media.

Related reading

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A quick guide to SEO in 2019
luxury marketing search strategy, part one: consumer mindset
Google's RankBrain: Clearing up myths and misconceptions

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Five time-saving strategies Search Engine Watch

marketing automation for SEOs, five time-saving strategies

marketing automation for SEOs, five time-saving strategies

There are many resources out there for digital marketers to help speed up recurring tasks, leaving more time to focus on more strategic initiatives to help grow and expand accounts.

A few of the resources and tools that are out there are scripts, Excel tools and functions, automated rules, automated bid rules, and smart bidding. Each one of these resources can be powerful tools if used in the correct way. We will walk through their benefits and some examples below.

Scripts

Google Scripts are JavaScript codes that can be used to help control and make adjustments to your campaign performance.

They can also be used to pull data to help with daily help checks or reporting that you may look at daily or weekly. You don’t have to be a developer to use scripts, although if you were looking to write them from scratch, some background in JavaScript would help.

There are a bunch of blogs and resources out there that already contain written scripts that can help solve some of your problems. Some scripts that I enjoy using are link checker, ad groups with no active text ads, negative keyword conflict checker, account checker, and auto-add negative keyword.

Example of Google Scripts

Excel tools & functions

Excel can be an overwhelming tool for those who are just beginning and might not have used some of the more advanced functions. Excel can be a powerful tool to help you save time performing bidding, analyzing account performance, and doing competitor analysis.

A great example of an analysis that paid search marketers find themselves doing over and over again is competitor analysis by looking at Auction insights. It can take some time to download the data and create all the charts for both brand and non-brand.

A way to speed up the analysis is with pivot tables and pivot charts, allowing you to format the data one time and just refresh it every time you want to look at what competitors are coming in and out of the auction at any given time.

Automated rules

Automated rules can help speed up tasks that you might do often, but scheduled automated rules and scripts tend to have some overlap in some of the functionality.

I would recommend testing both and seeing which one works best for you. Some automated rules that can be applied are pausing and activating copy, which is useful for clients that constantly have promotions; you can also set rules to activate and pause campaigns, ad groups, and keywords.

There are also rules that are more focused on performance. You can create rules to pause low-performing ads or keywords and increase or decrease budget based on performance or day of the week.

Please note: It’s important to set parameters for budget changes, or Google could continue to push budgets into a range where you are not comfortable spending.

Example of Google Automated Rules

Automated bid rules

Automated bid rules are part of Google’s automated rules; you can adjust keyword bids based on different criteria. These rules are powerful tools that should be used with lots of consideration.

Think about the adjustments that you are making daily or weekly and the steps that you go through. There might be an opportunity for you to automate those steps if your process is always the same day to day or week to week. There are a few popular bidding adjustments that you can implement, raising keywords to the top of page bid, raising keywords to the first page bid, and adjusting bids based on average position. But as you can imagine, if you gave Google the power to increase bids to the top of the page on every keyword, it could start to spend out of control.

It is important to set limits on those types of rules and consider a smaller set of keywords maybe these are your top performers or you might have launched a new product and you want to ensure that you are at the top of the page to raise brand awareness.

Another popular rule would be adjusting based on cost per conversion, allowing you to increase or decrease bids based on cost per conversion and conversion volume.

Some things to think about here are the number of conversions, average position, and impression share. You don’t want to adjust keywords that don’t have enough data, and you don’t want to continue to push keywords that are already at the top of the page. Automated bid rules are customizable so you can determine the conversion, average position, and impression share limits.

The upshot with automated marketing functions is that they’re very powerful and can save tons of time, but often have the potential to go haywire if they’re not properly set up. Use them wisely, and give yourself bandwidth to pursue more strategic initiatives which I’ll cover in future posts.

Smart bidding

Google’s smart bidding has come a long way since enhanced CPC was introduced a few years ago. Google has introduced other bidding strategies to include maximize clicks, target impression share, target CPA, target ROAS (Return on Ad-Spend), and maximize conversions.

With these bidding strategies Google will take into account device, location, time of day, remarketing and language when pushing out bids. Google does recommend these strategies for advertisers with at least 30 conversions in the past 30 days for target CPA and 50 conversions for target ROAS.

Automated bidding is something that is best A/B tested with campaign drafts and experiments to ensure that it is the best decision for your business. In some cases, there might not be enough data to make the most data-driven decision and other bidding methods might be better for your business.

Example of Google Smart Bidding

Scripts, excel tools and function, automated rules, automated bid rules, and smart bidding are a few ways that marketers can speed up their time spent on recurring analysis and focus more on strategic initiatives to help further grow accounts.

Before trying to attack all five of these tools at once, think about which tools will save you the most time and start there.

Try to start with automated strategy once a week, you’ll never know how much time you can save.

Lauren Crain is a Client Services Lead in 3Q Digital’s SMB division, 3Q Incubate.

Related reading

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Consumer mindset Search Engine Watch

luxury marketing search strategy, part one: consumer mindset

luxury marketing search strategy, part one: consumer mindset

Did you know the world’s top 15 luxury brands generate more than 45 million web searches per year?

Gucci, ranked as the number one most popular luxury brand online based on Deloitte’s Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2018 study, has approximately 9.5 million web searches per year alone.

Luxury brands, resellers, and even counterfeiters are competing to win the top organic positions for these searches. This means that SEO is not just an opportunity for luxury brands, but an imperative. SEO is a highly strategic and effective way to fend off the competition and maintain a vital source of traffic to luxury brands’ websites.

However, before you can get to work on a rock-solid SEO campaign, you need to understand the mindset of the luxury goods consumer.

In this first of a three-part luxury search marketing series, I’ll dive into the consumer mindset in the luxury vertical. In the follow-up articles, we’ll discuss how to strategize and execute SEO campaigns based on this mindset and other aspects of the luxury industry.

Why do we buy luxury brands? The psychology driving our purchase decisions

The world’s 100 largest luxury goods companies generated over $217 billion in sales based on Deloitte’s Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2018 study.

That’s no small amount. As consumers we buy these goods for a variety of reasons. My own experience with luxury goods offers some helpful insight into why consumers purchase luxury items.

When I was growing up, wearing brands like Liz Claiborne, Reebok, and Guess meant you were one of the cool kids. My first “luxury” purchase was a Liz Claiborne purse, and my grandmother bought me a matching wallet for my 16th birthday. I was so excited that day. But, what was really driving my excitement? Ultimately, the purse fulfilled an emotional need for me – the need to fit in. Carrying my very own Liz Claiborne bag gave me confidence and appealed to my sense of belonging.

There are many other factors that influence the luxury shopper’s mindset. As search marketers, we need to have a solid understanding of these factors and how they drive your customer to search for and buy your brand.

Psychological and physiological factors to consider in marketing luxury goods

  1. Needs vs. wants

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs sheds greater light on our needs versus our wants. According to Maslow, human beings have a specific number of needs and these needs are arranged in a hierarchy, with physiological and safety needs being more basic than other needs such as social needs.

Once our basic needs like food, warmth, and safety are met, we can start to prioritize higher-level social needs like cultivating a sense of accomplishment and prestige.

As search marketers, we need to have a deep understanding of our customer and find a way to fulfill his/her need and wants. Although I was convinced it was a “need” for me at the time, my Liz Claiborne bag was really a want. There’s a big difference between spending $30 on a handbag as opposed to $3,000. If I’m looking for a specific handbag to carry my essentials in, then from a functional standpoint, the $30 bag meets that basic need. But, it doesn’t fulfill my higher-level emotional needs.

Questions for marketers to ask themselves:

  • Is the product a need or a want?
  • What does the product and ultimately the brand represent to the customer?
  • Does the product/brand fulfill the customers high-level needs?

What does it mean for search?

You should first determine if the product is a need or a want. Think about the ways you can communicate this information through organic search, for example, through meta tags, and copy. You should also think about how you can communicate the ways your product or brand can fulfill your customers’ higher-level needs. We’ll explore further strategies and tactics for this in subsequent articles.

  1. Utilitarian vs. hedonic

Our purchase decisions are driven by utilitarian and hedonic considerations. Marketing utilitarian goods and hedonic goods require different approaches.

Utilitarian products are useful, practical, and functional. These products are bought out of necessity and meet our basic needs. Utilitarian products include things like groceries, hygiene products, cars, etc.

Hedonic products satisfy emotional and sensory needs after the basic needs have been met. These products are bought for pleasure and exceed our basic needs. Hedonic products include things like designer watches, expensive vacations, and more.

There’s a significant difference between buying groceries and booking a vacation. Buying groceries addresses a need whereas booking a vacation is a satisfying experience. Several years ago, I bought my first Fendi bag not because I needed it, but because I wanted it and had the means to buy it. It was an incredible experience for me to go into the store and make that purchase.

In marketing utilitarian products, advertisers should highlight the benefits and practical, functional features. In marketing hedonic products, it’s important to emphasize the experience it will provide the consumers. An example of a brand that achieves both is Apple. Apple’s iPhone X commercial does an excellent job with highlighting benefits and features and creating experiences at the same time.

They make you want to go out and buy the new phone immediately, so you can experience something that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Questions for marketers:

  • Is this a utilitarian purchase, a hedonic purchase, or both?
  • If utilitarian what is the product’s functional, practical aspects?
  • If hedonic what experience does the product provide?
  • Is there a way to highlight the product’s function and emphasize the experience it provides at the same time?

What does it mean for search?

You should first determine whether your product is a utilitarian purchase, a hedonic purchase, or a little bit of both.

Remember, luxury consumers are looking for an experience. You should be thinking about ways to communicate the experience through your SEO strategy. More to come about this in subsequent articles!

  1. The role of the brain – Dopamine & the anticipation of pleasure

Our brains have a physiological role in our purchase decisions. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain, is best known for its role in the brain’s reward system. It helps regulate emotional responses, learning, attention, and movement.

Robert Sapolsky, a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, has conducted extensive research about the role that dopamine plays in a human’s ability to pursue rewards that are months or years away.

Dopamine levels rise significantly when we anticipate rewards that are uncertain and far in the future. A perfect example of an uncertain reward is playing the lottery.

In “Dopamine Jackpot! Sapolsky on the Science of Pleasure” he says that “dopamine is not about the pleasure, but the anticipation of pleasure.”

It is the uncertainty that increases the anticipation. As an example, when we place an order for a product online, we don’t get the product immediately. We have to wait for it, and the anticipation is increased through waiting.

Buying luxury products and/or shopping a sale can trigger a dopamine hit.

Kit Yarrow, San Francisco-based consumer psychologist and author of Decoding the New Consumer Mind, says that during a sale, the body’s autonomic nervous system (the same system that triggers the fight or flight response) takes over and creates a heightened response in the body, like the one early humans had when facing predators.

The fear of missing out can switch us into a competitive mode. This physiological response was designed to protect us from predators, not other shoppers. Yarrow says, “The reason [our response] is so powerful is because people don’t even think about it.”

Questions for marketers:  

  • Is there a way to communicate the product/brands exclusivity?
  • Is there a way to build in anticipation?

What does it mean for search?

You should be thinking about how you can communicate the product/brands’ exclusivity from an organic search perspective. More importantly, you should look for ways to build anticipation of your product or brand. We’ll explore this point further later in the series.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, we buy luxury goods because of how it makes us feel. We crave an experience, exclusivity, and we want to have our higher-level needs met. The Liz Claiborne and Fendi bags, while functional, really met a greater need – the need to belong and the need to fit in.

Dopamine drives our behavior. It’s not about the rewards we get, but the anticipation. The anticipation of going to the store and purchasing the Fendi bag before someone else could was a strong motivator for me to buy the bag immediately.

In the next article in the series we’ll discuss how you can apply these concepts while also integrating search marketing with other channels in the luxury goods industry.

Jennifer Kenyon is a Director of Organic Search at Catalyst (part of GroupM). She can be found on Twitter @JennKCatalyst.

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Marketing Technology Awards 2019 – Search Engine Watch Search Engine Watch

marketing technology awards 2019

marketing technology awards 2019

We’ve been working together with our sister site, ClickZ, to honor the best and brightest marketing technology companies today (which includes some SEO-related tools). 

These Marketing Technology Awards are voted on 50/50 by the community and by a panel of judges. The ceremony will be hosted by Scott Brinker, and will take place on the night of March 21 in Tribeca, New York.

We’ve been raising quite a bit more hubbub about it on ClickZ, which more directly covers all marketing technology.

But since our SEW name is on there too, we wanted to make sure everyone here was in the loop as well. (You’ve probably seen it in the newsletters!)

How do the Marketing Technology Awards work?

You can read full detail about the Awards on the official website here, and can see answers to common questions here.

Categories span across various types of marketing technology, including CDPs, ABMs, call analytics, conversational bots, and a dozen more.

And of course, a handful of more SEO type things such as search tools, location-based marketing, mobile marketing, etc.

Categories also include “Use of Technologies” (best campaigns, best tech stack), as well as “People” (martech CEO and CMO).

The awards were free to enter, and anyone who has used any of the platforms (excluding employees) could vote on them, rating the tools on things like ease of use, integration, innovation, value for money, customer service, etc.

Finalists were determined based 50% by community votes, and 50% by these judges.

marketing technology awards panel of judges

Announcing the finalists

So for 2019, we want to thank everyone who has entered, nominated, voted, scored, and otherwise provided your valuable insights and experience.

We’d like to announce the list of finalists for this year, and offer a huge congratulations to everyone on this list.

We can’t wait to celebrate you and your great work at this event.

Here’s the full list:

Technologies

Best Account Based Marketing Tool

  • Demandbase
  • Jabmo
  • Uberflip

Best Analytics Platform

  • AT INTERNET
  • Interana
  • Pathmatics
  • TapClicks

Best Attribution Platform

  • Fospha
  • Marketing Evolution

Best Call Analytics Platform

  • DialogTech
  • Infinity
  • Invoca
  • Marchex

Best Chat/Conversationsal Bot/Tool

Best Content Marketing Tool

Best Conversion Rate Optimization Tool/Technology

  • CoolTool
  • Lucky Orange
  • WEVO

Best Customer Data Platform (CDP)

  • Adlucent
  • Arm Treasure Data
  • Fospha
  • Tealium

Best Customer Relationship Management Platform (CRM)

Best Data Privacy/GDPR Tool/Technology

  • Isatis CyberSoft
  • Sourcepoint

Best Data Visualization Tool

Best Demand Side Platform (DSP)

  • Amobee
  • SmartyAds
  • The Trade Desk

Best Digital Asset Management Platform (DAM)

Best Email Service Provider (ESP)

  • Epsilon
  • GetResponse
  • MessageGears
  • Upland Adestra

Best Influencer Marketing Platform

  • CreatorIQ
  • HYPR
  • IZEA Worldwide Inc.

Best Location Based Marketing Platform

  • Brandify
  • Chatmeter
  • Rio SEO
  • Yext

Best Marketing Automation Platform (MAP)

  • Maropost
  • Omnisend
  • Salesforce
  • Swrve

Best Mobile Marketing Platform

Best Paid Media/Bid Management Tool

  • Adlucent
  • Kenshoo (Kenshoo Search)
  • SmartyAds

Best Personalization Platform

  • Certona
  • Monetate
  • RichRelevance
  • Sitecore
  • Yieldify

Best Predictive Analytics Platform

  • Keen Decision Systems
  • SmartyAds

Best Sales Enablement Technology

  • Clari
  • Highspot
  • List Partners LLC
  • Seismic

Best SEO Tool

Best Social Media Marketing & Monitoring Company

  • Kenshoo (Kenshoo Social)
  • Rascasse

Overall – Marketing Technology Company of the Year

  • To be announced from the list of finalist at the awards dinner

Use of technologies

Best Customer Experience Campaign

  • Nestlé (Nestlé China)
  • Ogilvy (H&M & Ogilvy)
  • Best Data Enablement Campaign
  • Adobe (Adobe)
  • Catalyst (Catalyst & Tauck)
  • Idomoo (Fairmont Hotels & Resorts)
  • Marketing Evolution (Marketing Evolution)

Best Marketing Technology Stack

Best Personalization Campaign

  • Conversant (Swanson Health)
  • Location3 (Mountain Mike’s Pizza)
  • Selligent Marketing Cloud (OPEL NETHERLANDS)
  • Sitecore (Herschend Family Entertainment (Dollywood.com))
  • Velocity Worldwide (The Belfast Classic/Sport Changes Life)

Best Technology Combination

  • Akamai
  • Glisser
  • Merkle (Globe Life and Accident Insurance)
  • TVTY

Best Use of Marketing Technology

  • Adobe (Adobe & Adobe Advertising Cloud)
  • Ogilvy (H&M & Ogilvy)
  • SAP (SAP & MSIGHTS, Inc.)

People

Marketing Technology CEO Award

  • Conductor (Seth Besmertnik, CEO, Conductor)
  • Marketing Evolution (Rex Briggs, CEO, Marketing Evolution)
  • Sourcepoint (Ben Barokas, CEO, Sourcepoint)
  • Tapad (Sigvart Voss Eriksen, CEO, Tapad)
  • Trustpilot (Peter Holten Mühlmann, CEO, Trustpilot)

Marketing Technology CMO Award

  • Hootsuite (Penny Wilson, CMO, Hootsuite)
  • The Trade Desk (Susan Vobejda, CMO, The Trade Desk)
  • Yieldify (Hannah Nakano Stewart, CMO, Yeildify)

Again, a huge congratulations to all of these fantastic companies and people! For inquiries about the ceremony, please see more information and contact info here.

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The new rules to win in search and content marketing Search Engine Watch

Conversation Mapping

The new rules to win in search and content marketing Search Engine Watch

Almost two-thirds of marketers now admit that digital content strategy powers their entire digital plan and yet the majority of those that use it struggle to create a mix of content ‘good enough’ to win.

That is the main finding from the second annual State of Content Marketing Survey, an annual temperature check of the UK’s top digital marketers.

In it we discover that not only is the game getting harder to win, but skill and resource shortages are holding many of you back from the results you demand.

And with an average of 23% of overall marketing budget now being attributed to content marketing it has to work.

Marketers also made clear that a very significant gap still exists between being able to create a strategy that resonates with audiences but also delivers measurable ROI. Only one in five of those that took part can confidently claim to know how to tie those two things together and more than half claim to struggle in terms of creating the type of content that will actually work.

You can dive deeper into the full survey, but this post is designed not just to share that top-level view of opinions, but instead go some way to offering a solution for those key challenges.

Overall the takeaways from the study tell us that there is a single, overriding question to fix the challenges of producing content that delivers ROI – ‘How do we create a content strategy that aligns with search growth, consistently?’

This post is designed to answer the ‘how’ element with an appreciation that designing such a digital content strategy has never been more complex and nuanced.

Where do we start?

With multiple touchpoints and a plethora of different journeys through to your product or service, there is no shame in feeling like you have no idea where to start.

And that’s a problem.

It’s an issue because of the emphasis, and rewards, now placed on the overall content experience.

It’s a challenge I’ve spent thousands of hours contemplating and the result of that thinking is captured in this post. A process focused not on content ideas, or keywords, but on the audience. I call it ‘Conversation Mapping’.

It’s a concept that borrows from the world of user experience and is designed to focus on the shift towards ‘conversational search’ and Google’s quest to solve the entire journey and follow the intent.

So, rather than thinking of the traditional ‘keyword research’ approach to designing a content strategy around what people are searching for we instead use the brainstorming process to develop and capture a number of theoretical conversations being had around our products and services.

That process can, and should, be backed by data of course.

Here’s how it works in detail…

Start with people. Always.

All marketing must start and end with people. It’s a statement I’ve made many times before in my Moz posts and it’s central to this strategic approach.

As a marketer, you’ll probably already be sick to death of posts explaining how to extract and turn data into useful personas so I’m not going to go into full detail on that again. You can always read a previous post on that process, or take a look at this one for some great tips.

And the best way to bring the conversation mapping process to life is to walk through it end to end with an example. In this case, we’re going to choose the PC components market.

This critical initial work will leave us with two to four personas such as in the example below:

The new rules to win in search and content marketing Search Engine Watch

With these in place, we can then use a tool such as the Global Web Index to understand things like internet use motivations for each of our personas – against the overall audience profile (Grey) (Blue = Gary, Purple = Tim, Turquoise = Imogen).

The new rules to win in search and content marketing Search Engine Watch

For details of how to build this yourself follow this brilliant guide by the GWI team if you’re interested in giving it a go for yourself.

This kind of data mash-up helps shape the more detailed picture that we can capture from qualitative research sessions and bigger data crunching.

With a clear picture of who it is that is likely to be interacting with the products or services, it means you can more accurately map that conversation and the corresponding conversation map (more on what this looks like a little later!) because there is clear understanding about the likes and dislikes of the intended audience. It becomes much easier to imagine their conversations with this picture in your head!

Mapping the conversation with data

With the personas clearly outlined, the next phase is to gather all the data insight you can to better inform the understanding of the key questions Tim is asking around your product or service.

In this example, Tim is in the market for a new gaming PC and we want to understand what his journey is at present and where he is obtaining his information. Do this and then build a super-targeted content plan around it.

What else do you need to know?

Before we start diving into the data it is important to remind ourselves of what we are trying to achieve here. We know from the state of content marketing research that marketers are struggling to align results’ delivery to content planning and need to upskill and resource to deliver that.

Delivering it means focusing and prioritizing on the opportunity closest to the ‘cash register’ – and that almost always means the search channel comes first.

By diving into organic search engine traffic, we are most likely to be able to tap into buying intent – therefore impacting traffic, conversions, and revenue fastest.

The upside to this approach is that search really is aligned now to the wider audience picture anyway, so in building out a search-focused content plan first you are working on solving the biggest pain points that your customers have and helping them in the process.

In doing so you stay front of mind and add value, meaning that you’ll be the first port of call when they do decide it’s time to buy.

Keyword research

The obvious place to start then is by digging into the keyword opportunity for your market.

That doesn’t mean having to trawl through every opportunity in your niche but instead, we want to focus on the informational and functional content opportunities.

Informational content

By far the most important area from a content strategy perspective is the informational piece – as it is here that we can create assets that answer three of the four key micro-moments that your customer will experience.

As a reminder here are the four key moments that an audience will work through as they search for answers to key questions.

The new rules to win in search and content marketing Search Engine Watch

Informational content focuses on the ‘I Want to Know’, ‘I Want to Do’ and ‘I Want to Go’ moments and this taps into a huge pool of traffic opportunity.

To give you a feel of what that looks like I have included a visual here showing the size of the prize from a selected keyword set of 4,502 phrases in the PC component niche.

Let’s look then at the process for pulling that data into useful formats to aid the content planning process.

The objective now is to establish where to focus effort in content creation to ensure you have the assets necessary to cover the entire user journey, which you can join together later.

To kickstart the process, I’ve used a tool that Zazzle Media built specifically for this task called the KIT (Keyword Identification Tool) but here’s how it basically works:

The ‘KIT’ process

We begin by extracting a large set of both functional and informational keywords using a mix of competitor keyword research and keyword explorer research. To maximize the size of the set, you can opt for multiple sources and then de-dupe using tools like Ahrefs, Moz and SEMrush.

Once you have the keyword set you are going to be working from, it is best to get ranking data, so you can see where your site is ranking for this content already. This will help later when creating your content strategy, as being able to see where you currently rank for a keyword lets you know whether you need to optimize an existing page or create a new one.

We have our own in-house tools to gather this position data in bulk, there are however third-party tools you could also use, for example:

Whatever rank tracker you decide to use, after it has scraped your position data you will need to export a CSV then use VLOOKUP to pull that information into the ‘Keyword Research’ tab in this free Google sheet tool we’ve created to help pull it all together easily.

There is more detail about the different ways to then categorize that data in this blog post by Zazzle Media’s Sam Underwood, and below you can see a couple of my personal favorites:

  • Incremental informational keyword opportunity by category

graph on incremental informational keyword opportunity by category

  • Incremental traffic by an operator

The new rules to win in search and content marketing Search Engine Watch

This is useful as it helps us to understand where the persona ‘Tim’ is looking for information and across which product categories. This is the gateway from which you can dive deeper into specific areas to prioritize where to focus next.

To get further value, you could also combine the category information you already have with the most frequently used search operators. From this, you are able to not only work out where Tim is searching, but also how – allowing you to shape and prioritize what questions and pain points you write content for first.

In this example, it might make sense to prioritize ‘motherboards’ for instance and look to create content around ‘best’ and ‘reviews’.

Content auditing

Next up we need to take a closer look at the quality of what is already out there to understand the level at which we must compete to win.

‘To know your enemy, you must become your enemy.’
Sun Tzu

To do that, you need to look both at what you already have and also what is currently out there and working.

This subject is enough to fill a post all of its own so I’m not going to dive into both elements of that here. Instead, for the content auditing part, I implore you to read this recent post by Everett Sizemore, which does a brilliant job of walking you through the perfect process. A lot of this focuses on the technical elements of content auditing but this is still an important element as to maximize ROI (the key fix here) we must also ensure that the platforms from where we publish are ‘fit for purpose’.

However, we need to focus more on the other half of this, by diving into the wider picture and answering the question, “what is working now?”.

To do that you can jump into Buzzsumo or Ahrefs’ content explorer. There are already excellent guides on using Buzzsumo for content research, such as this one so we won’t go over information that has already been covered in-depth.

The output from content research should really be some solid data on what kind of content we know people like related to a specific industry and niche. You should be able to explain the following things:

  1. The types of content that work
  2. Which social networks you should be promoting on
  3. What the ideal word count is
  4. Any topics that work well

For this piece of work, some other beneficial things to gather are below:

  • Most popular content types

graph on most popular content types

graph on traffic by word count

It’s incredibly clear that for Tim, articles work best and videos where in-depth ‘how’ questions are asked and that’s hugely powerful for shaping your overall content strategy.

In scenarios where we know that written content is key, the next important step is to get a better understanding of how to go about creating it – and the biggest variable is word count. Here we can look at organic traffic by word count and therefore understand the most visited (and visible) content length as well as the most shared content through social (second chart).

This data is not to be viewed as a suggestion that word count affects rankings, or indeed has any effect on the SERPs; instead, we are using it to understand content consumption patterns – and the takeaway here is that Tim likes more in-depth content, as is more willing to share it.

Conversation mapping

The challenge, of course, is bringing all this to life in the context of the user/visitor and this is where our ‘Conversation Mapping’ concept comes into play. To bring that to life let’s follow our current example journey for Tim.

The idea here is to use the usual ‘brainstorming’ meeting to work through every possible conversation around the purchase journey for your product or service.

Instead of looking for individual content ideas, we instead think about the buying process and journey Tim might take through our fictional PC component site.

Clearly, this can be a lengthy process that will spit out multiple examples. For the sake of this story, however, we will look at one – the motherboards opportunity.

And to do so it requires a second voice, not just a list of questions that Tim may ask, and as a result this is where we can also start to think about the emerging voice search opportunity and know more about where Google is taking search following the logical user journey from beginning to end around intent.

Not following what I mean? Let’s look at an example:

conversation mapping example

This theoretical ‘conversation’ is one of the many Tim will be having around this product and the idea is to take the ‘motherboard’ concept and sit in a room to brainstorm the potential conversation variations that may exist around the product.

You may find there are only one or two – or it may be there are dozens, in which case distill them down to a core of the most important ones post brainstorm, to make it easier to then think about designing the content plan around it.

Content planning around the conversation

The next phase is to then map content opportunity against that conversation, as in the below example:

So, what we have done here is to think about all of the opportunities there are along that conversation to create content to help make Tim a smarter consumer.

content planning around the conversation

Turbocharging the opportunity

With your informational and functional plan in place and your conversation mapping exercises complete you’re already looking good for returning a greater ROI when it comes to measuring impact at year end. But there’s also another reason to focus on this approach – and it’s all to do with future market share.

Featured snippets

Unless you’ve had your head under a rock these last few months you’ll have been bombarded by news about the importance of featured snippets. For those that don’t know what they are, snippets are the SERP feature that pulls out and highlights content designed to answer the question being asked by the searcher.

An example of one that Tim may come across in his search for his PC components can be seen below for clarity.

google snippet example

Claiming a snippet requires you to create the best answers to those specific informational queries and doing so better than anyone else.

Google and Bing both do a lot of testing of contenders for these slots to ensure they have the best of the best by measuring bounce rate, dwell time and other factors, and that gives you a really good opportunity to use your content prowess to claim them.

And don’t expect the format to go away anytime soon. Google has been very open in its end game plan to produce a ‘Star Trek’ computer with one answer for everything, as those answers will be triggered by snippet results. It’s something I’ve written about recently here and how the plan will push voice search to the forefront of our planning within the next couple of years as a result.

Given then that such features will only grow in prevalence and importance in the coming months and years then it pays to ensure you have a very solid snippet plan as part of your ROI-focused content planning process.

To do that we can dive back into the data to understand the current snippet share and also where the opportunity still lies ahead of you.

Snippet market share

Before we dive into the planning process it is important to benchmark. To do this we dive into an internal tool called ORT, but it is possible to use a manual process utilizing data from a tool such as Ahrefs or Moz that allow you to extract snippet information and to then use VLOOKUP to push it into separate tabs that show you pieces of insight such as:

Overall snippet market share:

overall snippet market share

  • Featured snippet opportunity by category

featured snippet opportunity by category

  • Featured snippet opportunity by an operator

featured snippet opportunity by operator

And while this level of traffic is clearly a welcome opportunity it is all critical to understand what it means for the future as well.

We’ve already discussed how snippets will play a key part in the move to voice interfaces, as they provide the ‘direct answers’ given by voice assistants such as Google Home. With 50% of all search queries expected to be delivered by voice by 2020, that key SERP has never been more important as part of a rounded strategy.

Claiming them 

Snippets themselves are important as Google is building SERP ‘real estate’ around them simply because they are part of its growing conversational search strategy. As we move towards voice-led searches the phrases we use naturally become longer and contain much more natural language.

Google wants to incentivize the building of more useful, conversational content to fuel its voice plans and snippets are therefore precisely that – a reward for creating such content and are, as a result, the perfect way in which to test your own voice strategy. Snippets serve as the perfect signposting to a great ‘conversation mapping’ plan.

To give yourself the best possible opportunity of claiming snippets the key factor is a focus on content quality and structure. Numerous recent studies like this and this have pointed at the importance of precisely structuring pages to separate paragraphs into bite-sized 40-50 word direct answers and make the use of bulleted list and tables to present information.

Other useful insights include:

  • Create lists if your users are predominantly mobile-first
  • Write succinct headers that exactly describe the answer being given
  • Use strong external links to trusted sources
  • Use HTTPS
  • Make sure your site is mobile friendly and fast
  • Use multiple images
  • Use tables where appropriate

To make it really easy you can download a really simple guide to page and content structure for snippets here.

Summary

In short, the key to getting over this clear disconnect between content strategy, production, marketing and a return on growing investments is to double down on data and make search the key focus for activity.

Of course, by becoming successful, content has the unique power to positively affect many other key indicators as it never works in a silo.

And with search engines now much better at rewarding people-based marketing efforts with more traffic, rather than keyword focused strategies, a content-led approach is the only way to attack.

Data plays a critical part of that as the days of subjectivity are behind us. By leveraging search data, we can truly understand what our audiences are looking for, what pain points they have and how we can make their journeys more informed and easier to navigate.

The process for doing that starts with the insight piece, defining key persona groups within your target audience and then in understanding their ‘I want to go’, ‘I want to do’, and ‘I want to know’ moments through the informational content research process.

In short, we need to be using data to help us map conversations and not ‘keyword opportunity.’ Do that and you’ll ensure that you deliver positive ROI from your owned and earned marketing activity.

And if you missed the wider findings from the state of content marketing survey then here’s that link again.

Simon Penson is the founder and Managing Director of Zazzle Media. He can be found on Twitter at @simonpenson.

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