tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/search-marketing Latest Search Marketing content from Econsultancy 2016-07-27T14:02:00+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68102 2016-07-27T14:02:00+01:00 2016-07-27T14:02:00+01:00 Why there should be more plaudits for digital audits Chris Bishop <p>Those at the top of organisations don’t feel they have the strategic sweep to justify the time and effort required to commission them.</p> <p>Audits are viewed at times as a little “too tactical” or only done once every blue moon by agencies aiming to impress for your business, only to then collect dust on top of Econsultancy buyers guides print outs or even your old New Media Age magazines (<strong>Ed</strong>: We let this lie, but only to show we have a sense of humour).</p> <p>For the in-house Head of Ecommerce, requesting a digital audit might sound dangerously like a turkey voting for Christmas. </p> <h3>Are we selling audits wrongly?</h3> <p>Or is it the slightly cheesy marketing of website or marketing auditors themselves that is putting people off?</p> <p>All that tired ‘digital health check’ stuff might be the kind of foot in the door tactic that make brands feel suspicious of then giving access to their precious AdWords account, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67171-what-is-affiliate-marketing-why-do-you-need-it/">affiliate network</a> or analytics suite.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7503/healthcheck.jpeg" alt="health check" width="275" height="183"></p> <h3>How important are digital audits anyway?</h3> <p>In reality, though, digital audits are absolutely vital. And third party objective auditing ensures that you’re not marking your own home work or ignoring long term problems.</p> <p>Proper auditing, UX testing and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67473-seven-conversion-rate-optimization-trends-to-take-advantage-of-in-2016/">CRO analysis</a> means you can elongate the lifetime and effectiveness of your website and digital media activity, in a way that can be done on any budget.</p> <p>Your digital real estate is often an expensive investment - you’ve got to maintain it properly to get results.</p> <h3>Regular servicing is vital</h3> <p>Think of that shiny new website you’ve just spent months developing as a new car you’ve just acquired.</p> <p>To start off with, it’s the envy of everyone who sees it. After-sales support is pretty good and you can see years of trouble free motoring ahead of you. Before you know it, though, your warranty is up and you’re on your own.</p> <p>As the car ages, small problems become big problems. It performs less effectively. You’re paying for petrol, but it’s becoming less and less economical to run. There are so many things going wrong with it you don’t know where to start. Eventually the car's value is so diminished you might as well scrap it and buy a new one.</p> <p>It’s the same with websites and digital marketing campaigns. They can’t be left to look after themselves – and even the mechanic themselves might need some fine tuning or training themselves.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7504/service-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="car service" width="380"></p> <h3>What a digital audit can do for you </h3> <p>Audits can show you how to balance your budget more effectively through action and prioritisation. They can identify common issues like plateaus in activity and drop offs in acquisition; all the elements that reduce profitability. </p> <h3>The Lessons of the Audit</h3> <p>Constantly learn, constantly improve, constantly trade! A timely and constructive audit will help you:</p> <ul> <li>Keep up to date with the latest channel trends - Google changes, new publishers in affiliate, new platform or techniques for social. </li> <li>Use competitor analysis to keep your enemies close! It’s crucial to analyse and understand market share/spend and its consequences for your brand. </li> <li>Help you (re)define your goals.</li> <li>Confirm your objectives or KPIs so you can measure success.</li> <li>Understand new opportunities.</li> <li>Benchmark improvements or conversely measure areas of decline.</li> <li>Ensure corporate compliance – its best practice to have someone external “rubber stamp” your activity.</li> <li>Encourage serendipity – the uncovering of that nugget of information that transforms your understanding and makes the commercial difference.</li> </ul> <h3>Should you take the plunge?</h3> <p>Regular and skilled digital auditing is a detailed and never ending task.  It can transform the effectiveness of your digital advertising, website and budget.  </p> <p>Is it sexy? It’s showing your website a lot of love and attention. It’s optimizing and maximizing your marketing profitability and performance. Sounds pretty sexy to me.</p> <p><em>More on auditing:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68031-answering-the-key-question-of-content-auditing-where-do-i-start/">Answering the key question of content auditing - where do I start?</a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68087 2016-07-21T14:42:17+01:00 2016-07-21T14:42:17+01:00 Six brilliant blogs from the beauty industry Nikki Gilliland <p>Whether you're into beauty or not, the following examples are well worth a look.</p> <h3>L’Oreal</h3> <p>With its unique domain name, L’Oréal’s <a href="http://www.makeup.com/" target="_blank">makeup.com</a> is designed to feel like an independent publication rather than a brand blog.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7167/l_oreal.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="634"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7166/makeup.com_quote.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="145"></p> <p>Its authenticity isn’t fake either.</p> <p>Often publishing product-focused features like “The Best Drugstore Highlighters”, it includes a wide variety of brands (not just promoting its own) to provide readers with a balanced and surprisingly unbiased frame of reference.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7168/makeup.com_2.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="685"></p> <h3>Birchbox</h3> <p>A beauty subscription service, Birchbox gives consumers the opportunity to discover new products each month.</p> <p><a href="http://blog.birchbox.co.uk/%20" target="_blank">Its blog</a> cleverly provides context for these products, using informative articles to inspire, educate and ultimately give consumers a reason to continue their subscription.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7169/birchbox.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="675"></p> <p>With its unboxing videos and ‘Birchbox reactions’ articles, a lot of the content is self-promotional (something that could potentially put non-subscribers off).</p> <p>However, for loyal consumers, this aspect undoubtedly provides extra value.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CbB-hGTye58?wmode=transparent" width="700" height="394"></iframe></p> <h3>Mankind</h3> <p>It might be one of the relatively few <a href="http://www.mankind.co.uk/blog/" target="_blank">male grooming blogs</a> out there, but there's more reason to visit Mankind than that.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7170/mankind.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="607"></p> <p>With five Editors each with their own area of expertise, it has a nice mix of lifestyle content, using distinct verticals like ‘International’ and ‘Luxury’. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7171/mankind_editors.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="751"></p> <p>One of the reasons I like it is that, alongside general articles, it’s not afraid to experiment with a more in-depth approach.</p> <p>It’s ‘ingredient focus’ series is particularly interesting, and something that many of the fluffier, female-driven blogs could learn from.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7172/mankind_mandelic_acid.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="640"></p> <h3>Sephora</h3> <p>Who needs models when beauty products can look so attractive?</p> <p>With its stunning product-focused photography, <a href="http://theglossy.sephora.com/">Sephora Glossy</a> showcases the very best of its main shop.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7173/Sephora_Glossy.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="543"></p> <p>Instead of long-form content, it publishes short how-to’s and product curations, making it feel more like an extension of Pinterest or Tumblr than an in-depth publication.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7174/sephora.PNG" alt="" width="600" height="723"></p> <p>With its user-friendly design, it’s one of those sites that you could find yourself scrolling through for ages.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7175/Sephora_how_to.PNG" alt="" width="600" height="850"></p> <h3>Clinique</h3> <p>Marketing itself as a philosophy rather than a cosmetics line, Clinique’s blog focuses on the two verticals of beauty and lifestyle.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7177/clinique_blog.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="644"></p> <p>Cleverly using skincare as a spin-off to other verticals, it also covers topics like food and fitness, implementing video to further engage visitors.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Nw0GvcdKnHY?wmode=transparent" width="730" height="411"></iframe></p> <p>In comparison to other blogs, it is also pleasingly minimal, proving that a less-is-more approach can work. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7182/clinique_minimal.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="368"></p> <h3>Urban Decay</h3> <p>In comparison to Clinique, Urban Decay’s blog is loud, proud and <a href="http://www.urbandecay.com/the-violet-underground">unashamedly purple</a>.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7178/urban_decay_violet.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="335"></p> <p>Recognising the digital mind-set of its core demographic, it is heavily geared around the online beauty community where bloggers and YouTubers have huge influence.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7179/urban_decay.PNG" alt="" width="700" height="825"></p> <p>The blog has an original feel to it, with the standard ‘How-To’s sitting alongside unique ‘Women Who Rock Our World’ and ‘XO, WZ’ – the latter being an insider look at co-founder Wende Zomnir’s world.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ATaqtu7URYI?wmode=transparent" width="800" height="475"></iframe></p> <p><em>More on the beauty industry:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67884-seven-ways-social-media-is-shaping-the-beauty-industry/">Seven ways social media is shaping the beauty industry </a></li> <li> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-rise-of-influencers/">The Rise of the Influencers </a>(subscriber only)</li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67630-forget-ao-com-does-benefit-cosmetics-offer-the-best-ecommerce-experience/">Forget AO.com, does Benefit Cosmetics off the best ecommerce experience? </a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67959 2016-06-17T10:35:20+01:00 2016-06-17T10:35:20+01:00 Does Ben's Nan, the polite Googler, show us that bots are the future? Ben Davis <h3>Ben's Nan and her Google search</h3> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6159/Screen_Shot_2016-06-16_at_10.23.08.png" alt="ben's nan" width="500" height="574"></p> <h3>Why does this make me think about bots?</h3> <p>I've been a bit of a pessimist about <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67697-does-the-rise-of-messaging-apps-mean-brands-need-a-bot-strategy">bots</a>, which peaked when I read a post by Dan Grover titled '<a href="http://dangrover.com/blog/2016/04/20/bots-wont-replace-apps.html">Bots won't replace apps. Better apps will replace apps</a>.'</p> <p>The thrust of the piece is that typing 'hello bot', 'please can I order X and Y please', 'thank you' etc. is actually fairly labour intensive - it requires far more taps than opening an app, selecting a product from a menu and paying with one-click ordering.</p> <p>However, if we think like this, are we falling into the trap of assuming we have already designed 'intuitive' user interfaces in apps and on websites?</p> <p>In reality, there is currently no such thing as an intuitive experience when it comes to user interfaces - yes, there are <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63120-flat-web-design-and-skeuomorphism-the-pros-and-cons">skeuomorphisms</a> and conventions that have been in place for a long time, but people still have to learn how to use a computer and the internet and apps more specifically.</p> <p>This doesn't represent a problem for digital natives - they grow up using many different UIs and understand them almost instinctively.</p> <p>However, there are still demographics that find using the internet more challenging.</p> <p>I remember a blog article by Jennifer Morrow (via @WGX) about a first-time user of Internet Explorer back in 2011. <a href="https://jboriss.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/user-testing-in-the-wild-joes-first-computer-encounter/">The blog makes amusing reading</a> because one realises how badly designed many digital experiences are.</p> <p>Bots, though, and perhaps more accurately digital assistants are taking us towards a more intuitive interaction.</p> <p>Users can simply talk to Alexa or <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67864-vr-messaging-or-assistant-which-is-the-best-bet-for-google/">Google Assistant</a> in the same way they are used to interacting with a person.</p> <p>Undoubtedly, there's still a lot of complex set-up required, but the move is one toward intelligent assistance.</p> <p>This aim for human-computer interaction shouldn't be sneered at.</p> <p>Assistants may eventually enable my grandfather to perform certain activities he has hitherto been unable to do through a laptop, even if the challenge of adoption and habit-forming is still a big one.</p> <p>Ben's Nan - I hope you've given us a glimpse into a future where it's not so ridiculous to say 'please' and 'thank you' to a robot, and even to receive better service because you did.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:WebinarEvent/818 2016-06-07T12:21:36+01:00 2016-06-07T12:21:36+01:00 SEO: Trends, Data and Best Practice <p>Exclusive to our Enterprise and Small Business subscribers, Econsultancy's Trends Webinar for November looks at the latest trends, data and best practice within SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This insight comes from Econsultancy's own latest research along with collated third-party data and statistics.</p> <p>This session will be hosted by Sean Donnelly, Senior Research Analyst at Econsultancy.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67864 2016-05-19T16:14:51+01:00 2016-05-19T16:14:51+01:00 VR, messaging or Assistant: Which is the best bet for Google? Ben Davis <h3>Messaging - Allo</h3> <p>With Allo, Google is abandoning the necessity of logging in with a Google account (a la Hangouts) and allowing users to message each other using an encrypted service (though, controversially, this won't be enabled as default). Allo will be tied to your phone number, much like WhatsApp.</p> <p>In appearance, what we've seen looks a lot like Facebook Messenger. Indeed, messaging UX itself doesn't vary a great deal across apps.</p> <p>So far, so good, but what's going to make Allo stand out?</p> <p>Well, it seems to be taking all that's good from a variety of social messaging apps, wrapping it together and adding a few new features.</p> <p>You can annotate photographs (like <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67257-15-reasons-your-brand-should-be-on-snapchat/">Snapchat</a>) and add stickers (like Messenger, LINE, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67490-10-things-you-didn-t-know-about-wechat/">WeChat</a> etc.).</p> <p>Little extras include the ability to scale text up and down (Google calls this 'Whisper Shout' and it's an intriguing way of adding another dimension to messaging, certainly to add humour).</p> <p>Smart reply and a virtual assistant is how Google intends to give Allo the edge, making the most of Google's machine learning and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/62241-google-s-knowledge-graph-one-step-closer-to-the-semantic-web/">Knowledge Graph</a>.</p> <p>The virtual assistant is demoed in the GIF below, and it looks like an interesting way to find information mutually with a contact, something that will save time and confusion.</p> <p>Smart reply is probably not a game changer, being much like templated messages in SMS, though with the obvious advantage that they are a lot more intelligent and learn from your app usage.</p> <p>Still expect suggestions including lots of exclamation marks - perhaps not perfectly tailored to the British market.</p> <h4><strong>The verdict?</strong></h4> <p>Allo looks incredibly slick and fun to use. It's difficult to say though how deep the inroads it makes into WhatsApp and Messenger usage will be.</p> <p>One thing's for sure, the usage of messaging apps is so high that if Google can gain traction here, it suddenly gets lots more data and lots more real estate to sell advertising (<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67553-what-will-facebook-messenger-ads-mean-for-marketers/">like Facebook</a>) through its assistant's recommendations.</p> <p>Oh and one last point - I'm not convinced by the name Allo. I find it a bit anaemic, a bit too much like <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65534-you-say-ello-and-i-say-goodbye-to-facebook/">the ill-fated Ello</a>. But what's in a name?</p> <p><img src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ROYrLax6ggg/Vzx3fKq_mjI/AAAAAAAASUo/M5hptuwxzqYuhcyB1jcYcbwSA0nHiiN0wCLcB/s640/3-Gbot_animation_v4-GIF_abbrev%2B%25281%2529.gif" alt="google allo" width="315" height="639"></p> <h3>Virtual Reality - Daydream</h3> <p>I get very excited about <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67834-why-virtual-reality-is-the-ultimate-storytelling-tool-for-marketers">VR</a> and consequently I'm excited about Daydream. It's a platform, allowing developers to create VR content for a range of devices.</p> <p>Google will work with hardware manufacturers to define and design new headsets and controllers.</p> <p>What excites me about Daydream is the consolidation of content, notably 360 degree video from YouTube, but also Google StreetView, Photos and Play.</p> <p>Though there have been many exciting demonstrations of VR from Oculus and its competitors, the consumer needs to be compelled by devices that offer more than simply early and expensive implementations.</p> <p>Google Daydream could really accelerate this process and hit some of the marks that <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63292-what-we-learned-from-trying-google-glass">Glass</a> failed to hit so spectacularly.</p> <h4><strong>The verdict?</strong></h4> <p>A lack of hardware makes me even more excited about Daydream, avoiding the hype that accompanies a prototype headset and focusing on content.</p> <p><a href="https://vr.google.com/daydream/#signup"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5093/Screen_Shot_2016-05-19_at_14.43.28.png" alt="daydream" width="615" height="246"></a></p> <h3>Google Assistant</h3> <p>Okay, we've touched on this already, it's going to be included in Allo, but more broadly Assistant will be part of Home (Google's new <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/a-marketer-s-guide-to-the-internet-of-things">Internet of Things</a> hub) and increasingly a part of interacting with your mobile (if you want).</p> <p>Google hasn't named its assistant, unlike Amazon (Alexa), Microsoft (Cortana), Apple (Siri) etc.</p> <p>I think that's a great move, as part of the scepticism around assistants and intelligent bots is whether indeed they will save time for the user.</p> <p>Apeing human interaction isn't always advantageous (see <a href="http://dangrover.com/blog/2016/04/20/bots-wont-replace-apps.html">this fantastic post</a> from Dan Grover), and Google seems to understand this need for incredibly useful interventions without a frustrating bot personality added in.</p> <p>Creating a home device that sits on your table and responds to commands is a way of showcasing Google Assistant.</p> <p>Even those without Home should start to realise that Assistant is something that can be utilised on their devices.</p> <p>If Assistant works with subtlety and nuance, much like the Allo example above, combined with the announcement of <a href="http://android-developers.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/android-instant-apps-evolving-apps.html">Instant Apps</a>, it could greatly speed up mobile UX.</p> <h4><strong>The verdict?</strong></h4> <p>The most powerful part of Google's new announcements, given its ability to bring together products and pioneer new UX.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67857 2016-05-18T15:55:00+01:00 2016-05-18T15:55:00+01:00 Google introduces Shopping Ads to image search: The expert view Ben Davis <p style="font-weight: normal;"><em>An example of PLAs for the image search term 'crystal necklace'.</em></p> <p style="font-weight: normal;"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5046/google_shopping_images.gif" alt="google PLA in image search" width="207" height="400"> </p> <h3>Expect a drop in organic traffic from image results</h3> <p>Of late, Google's product changes in search have led SEOs to bemoan the erosion of natural listings, notably with more and larger ads appearing on mobile (three text ads at the top instead of two, and large format <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66604-how-to-use-google-shopping-campaigns-most-overlooked-feature/">PLAs</a>).</p> <p>PLAs in image search continues this trend, as Max Holloway of <a href="https://www.pi-datametrics.com/">Pi Datametrics</a> points out, saying "The biggest change to organic search will be the loss of real estate."</p> <p>Max goes further, predicting the impact on those who get organic traffic through image listings:</p> <blockquote> <p>Typically on Google Image search all results are organic and take up approximately 66% of the screen above the fold. With the introduction of Image Ads this drops to about 25%, so if you are currently getting a lot of traffic through image searches expect this to drop off significantly.</p> <p>The ads themselves will be more relevant to the search and have extra information which will further take clicks away from organic results (such as prices, brand names and URLs of trusted websites).</p> <p>This is another step in the direction of the first page of Google containing only paid-for or non-organic results!</p> </blockquote> <h3>This should have happened sooner, and fits nicely at the top of the funnel</h3> <p>The overriding reaction to the change seems to be 'duh, why didn't this happen sooner'.</p> <p>Ruth Attwood and Marcus Knight of <a href="http://www.4psmarketing.com/">4Ps Marketing</a> sum this up a little more elegantly:</p> <p><strong>Ruth Attwood:</strong></p> <p>"I’m honestly surprised it has taken Google this long to monetise image search, but it makes sense because so many users take a visually-led focus when it comes to picking out a product to buy."</p> <p><strong>Marcus Knight:</strong></p> <p>"I think the channel will fit really nicely into the early awareness and consideration stages of the conversion process, as I expect users who are using image search are not necessarily looking for websites to visit, but images of a range of products to compare."</p> <h3>Image ads could become a powerful new tool</h3> <p>What Ruth and Marcus are of course picking up on is the power of imagery across ecommerce, from retailer websites, to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67306-is-pinterest-or-instagram-better-for-driving-ecommerce/">Instagram and Pinterest</a> particularly.</p> <p>Viewed in this light, PLA ads in image search could become a powerful new tool.</p> <p>Will Critchlow, founder of <a href="https://www.distilled.net/">Distilled</a>, agrees that there's much to learn in this area of the SERPs, but much to be positive about:</p> <blockquote> <p>Pending seeing how this actually performs, I'm quite positive on this. Image search has been hobbled as a driver of organic traffic since the major overhaul a couple of years back, and we know that Pinterest and Instagram have made visual ads work.</p> <p>Could Google combine the emotional connection of image ads with the targeted intent of search? Who knows, but I think it's an interesting experiment where visual and commercial searches intersect.</p> </blockquote> <p><em>Instagram</em></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0006/9878/instagram_ads.jpg" alt="instagram" width="615"></p> <h3>But advertisers should keep on eye on CTR and CVR</h3> <p>The loudest note of caution, as usual with PPC, surrounds the implementation and testing of this feature by advertisers.</p> <p>Ben Latham of <a href="http://www.summit.co.uk/">Summit Media</a> welcomed the new extenstion for retailers but warned they "need to be careful to measure campaign performance as click-through rate and conversion rate could be negatively affected due to the mindset of the customer in the image area of search."</p> <p>This echoes Marcus Knight's earlier comments about PLA image search as most useful during the awareness and consideration stages.</p> <h3>And don't forget retargeting through PLAs</h3> <p>There will be doubts about Google image search's ability to drive sales (not just awareness) in ecommerce until results come through.</p> <p>However, we shouldn't forget that <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64592-how-to-successfully-engage-customers-when-remarketing/">remarketing</a> lists for search ads (<a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/paid-search-marketing-ppc-best-practice-guide/">RLSAs</a>) work with PLAs, and therefore retailers will be able to retarget customers who have visited their site with PLAs in image search.</p> <p>Marcus Knight of 4Ps Marketing makes this point, saying we should be "making the most of remarketing capabilities to ensure we are following up with users who are showing initial intent through image search."</p> <p>That means image search could come into the mix as a useful recapture channel, as well as targeting new customers.</p> <h3>Could Google monetise image search beyond PLAs? </h3> <p>David Trolle of Summit Media poses an important question - is this just the initial foray of advertising into Google image search?</p> <blockquote> <p>Although not impacted at this stage, this change is most likely an indication of Google’s future intent to monetise image listings within the natural search space, in the same way that shopping listings were moved to a paid-for format (PLAs).</p> </blockquote> <p>Will image ads become an option for all PPC advertisers, not just those buying Google Shopping ads? Will all of Google's natural search gradually become more image-led if proven to increase CTR?</p> <p>Watch this space.</p> <p><em>For more on this topic, download Econsultancy’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/paid-search-marketing-ppc-best-practice-guide/">Paid Search Best Practice Guide</a> or book yourself onto our <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/ppc-training/">PPC Training Course</a>.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/2951 2016-05-11T09:51:31+01:00 2016-05-11T09:51:31+01:00 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Marketing - Singapore <p><strong style="color: #000000;">Learn the Best Practices of SEO Marketing From UK's Top Digital Marketing Research &amp; Training Company!</strong></p> <p>This intensive 2-day course enables you to plan and build an organic search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. The right SEO strategy brings the right kind of visitors to your website, boosts online conversions and helps you stand out in the fiercely competitive online space. The course also gives you the latest updates on the increasingly tricky nature of SEO as search engine continuously innovates and online competition heats up.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67814 2016-05-06T14:57:00+01:00 2016-05-06T14:57:00+01:00 What to do when a competitor 'steals' your product page Google ranking Ben Davis <p>That's another topic that Jon Earnshaw, CTO Pi Datametrics, discussed at Brighton SEO last month. Let's have a look...</p> <h3>More books (where did kitty go?)</h3> <p>Just like the last canonical example, we're looking at Waterstones again.</p> <p>The chart below shows the Google search ranking (using the term 'Test Your Cat') of a book product page on the Waterstones' website.</p> <p>As you can see, kitty falls off a cliff (around the 9th of January) when suddenly the page drops from being ranked in the top five to being 100+ in the pecking order.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4647/Screen_Shot_2016-05-05_at_12.30.40.png" alt="search drop off" width="615" height="375"></p> <p>There were plenty of other examples of this behaviour, too. Dozens of them in fact.</p> <p>Below is another chart showing this effect for the book 'The Establishment'. The Waterstones product page ranks well, then 'disappears' at the end of January.</p> <p>So, let's look at what else might be ranking in place of these pages.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4648/Screen_Shot_2016-05-05_at_12.36.07.png" alt="ranking for 'the establishment' book title" width="615" height="376"></p> <h3>Who is bumping kitty and why?</h3> <p>Within the Pi Datametrics tool, the team pulled out the top 10 ranking URLs on the day that our 'Test Your Cat' Waterstones product page dropped out of the top 100 so suddenly.</p> <p>The table below shows a Harper Collins product listing ranked at number two position for 'Test Your Cat'.</p> <p>This Harper Collins page had recently jumped 99 places in the results pages (SERPs), according to the number in green.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4649/Screen_Shot_2016-05-05_at_13.18.01.png" alt="pi datametrics search listings" width="615" height="412"></p> <p>Compare Harper Collins on a chart alongside Waterstones and you get the image below.</p> <p>The chart shows the rise of the Harper Collins's ranking for 'Test Your Cat' against the demise of the Waterstones site's ranking for the same term.</p> <p>It's hard to deny they seem linked.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4650/Screen_Shot_2016-05-05_at_13.24.42.png" alt="url swapping through duplicate content" width="615" height="410"></p> <p>The same pattern emerges when we look at The Establishment.</p> <p>At the moment Waterstones drops out of the top 100 rankings, a Penguin page rises 99 places in the SERPs to number seven.</p> <p>A similar chart demonstrates this crossover below. Time for further investigation.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4651/Screen_Shot_2016-05-05_at_13.45.59.png" alt="rankings change at waterstones" width="615" height="400"></p> <h3>Product descriptions - it's important to stand out</h3> <p>Comparing the Test Your Cat product pages of Waterstones and Harper Collins reveals identical synopses.</p> <p>This is no doubt 'seen' as very similar content by Google, which 'decides' to rank one and demote the other.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4652/Screen_Shot_2016-05-05_at_13.54.12.png" alt="product description similarities" width="615" height="368"></p> <p>With the Penguin book, it also seems to be product descriptions causing the problem.</p> <p>The paperback description was edited to include additional endorsements for the book, which already appeared on The Waterstones product page.</p> <p>This made the two product descriptions identical and caused the same effect, where Google ranked one page and demoted the other.</p> <p>In both these examples, it's not entirely surprising that Penguin and Harper Collins out-ranked Waterstones - after all they are the publishers of the two titles in question.</p> <p>Nevertheless, Waterstones wanted to address the problem and start ranking again by creating some unique content.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4654/Screen_Shot_2016-05-05_at_13.55.39.png" alt="penguin pages - the establishment" width="615" height="377"></p> <h3>How to solve the problem?</h3> <p>The team spent a number of hours crafting new product descriptions for some of these affected titles.</p> <p>The result? All higher search positions were reinstated or bettered by the pages in question.</p> <p>Below is a chart showing the recovery of rankings for four affected titles.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4660/Screen_Shot_2016-05-05_at_14.45.23.png" alt="reinstating results for book pages" width="615" height="452"></p> <p>Waterstones was also reinstated into Google's knowledge panel for 'Test Your Cat', which displays Waterstones' average review rating.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4661/Screen_Shot_2016-05-05_at_14.53.10.png" alt="knowledge graph - waterstones review" width="615" height="398"></p> <h3>The takeaway</h3> <p>The message here from Pi Datametrics' analysis is to keep an eye on others who are using your content.</p> <p>If this means partnerships with third parties, make sure you have a process in place that ensures no duplication.</p> <p>If the content is from your competitor, use data to find out who and address the problem.</p> <p>More importantly, nailing your core business terms will help you stay ahead.</p> <p><em>For more on this topic, book yourself onto our <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/seo-training/">Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Marketing Training Course</a>.</em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67811 2016-05-05T14:15:00+01:00 2016-05-05T14:15:00+01:00 How canonical tags helped Waterstones solve a product ranking nightmare Ben Davis <h3>Some background</h3> <p>For those new to canonical tags, you can <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/61802-how-to-avoid-duplicate-content-issues-in-ecommerce/">read some background here</a>.</p> <p>The tags act to prevent lots of pages being indexed, instead of just one main page.</p> <p>One of the common uses of canonicals is in ecommerce on category pages, where many versions of the URL exist, but the retailer only wants to rank for retailer.com/shirts, for example.</p> <p>Let's look at another example in ecommerce - competing product pages - with the help of <a href="https://www.pi-datametrics.com/">Pi Datametrics</a>, who investigated this issue at Waterstones, presenting findings at <a href="http://www.brightonseo.com/">Brighton SEO</a> last month.</p> <h3>Waterstones - hardback versus softback</h3> <p>Pi Datametrics took a look at Waterstones' search performance for certain novel titles.</p> <p>The chart below shows a Waterstones' product page (<em>The Bone Clocks</em> in Hardback) and its highest daily position for a search term ('The Bone Clocks').</p> <p>As you can see, performance is patchy, with regular drops from the top 10 to way down the SERPs (100+).</p> <p>So, what is causing this flux?</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4634/Screen_Shot_2016-05-05_at_11.26.23.png" alt="pi datametrics waterstones search performance" width="615" height="393"></p> <p>Looking at a second chart showing the rankings of two Waterstones' pages (this time both the hardback and the paperback), a pattern emerges.</p> <p>When the ranking of the hardback URL (in pink) drops off, the paperback URL (in yellow) can sometimes be seen to take its place.</p> <p>So, how to stop this ranking switching?</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4635/Screen_Shot_2016-05-05_at_11.34.33.png" alt="rankings influenced by no canonical tags" width="615" height="444"></p> <h3>The canonical book</h3> <p>Of course, popular books have many versions - hardback, paperback, special editions, audio, e-book and so on, often with reviews sitting on different web pages, too.</p> <p>Perhaps what Waterstones needs to do to ensure consistently high ranking for this term, 'The Bone Clocks', is to choose a 'canonical book'.</p> <p>Pi Datametrics illustrates this in the following diagram, with canonical tags on newer editions pointing back to the original book's URL (and eventually the paperback, which will be the default canonical).</p> <p>The canonical book will also reciprocally link with the other formats (that need to rank separately), such as audio and e-book.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4636/Screen_Shot_2016-05-05_at_11.42.27.png" alt="canonical book" width="615" height="368"></p> <h3>Did it work?</h3> <p>Waterstones did indeed implement this 'canonical book' approach.</p> <p>And the chart below speaks for itself. Lovely, consistent top 10 results for Waterstones when searching for 'The Bone Clocks' (from November onwards).</p> <p>The paperback URL (yellow) is always the product page that ranks highest, and in doing so it leaves fewer gaps that the competition can exploit.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/4637/Screen_Shot_2016-05-05_at_11.48.19.png" alt="canonical book results" width="615" height="437"></p> <p>This is a really clear and simple demonstration of the need for canonical tags for certain products that have multiple versions, which then affect Google ranking performance.</p> <p>Thanks to Jon Earnshaw who discussed this case study at Brighton SEO for Pi Datametrics.</p> <p>As part of the same presentation, Jon looked at how similar product pages from competitors can scupper search performance and how you can combat this.</p> <p>Watch this space and we'll look at this sister study in my next post.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67740 2016-04-29T16:16:16+01:00 2016-04-29T16:16:16+01:00 Five things Western brands should know about China's digital landscape Jeff Rajeck <p>The reason for this is that China's commerce and cultural norms are vastly different from those in the West.  </p> <p>Brands that have successfully launched in multiple Western countries may think they know what they are doing when launching in China. It's just another country, right?</p> <p>Unfortunately not. For many reasons, China is unique. Because of these quirks, entering its market requires special attention from Western brands to stand a chance of being successful.</p> <p>To help brand marketers start to think about how to enter China, Econsultancy is publishing quarterly China reports to cover the digital players, trends, and insights about the country.</p> <p>Below are a few key points from our first report, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-china-digital-report-q1-2016">The China Digital Report, Q1 2016</a>.</p> <h3>China has the largest single-country presence on the internet</h3> <p>It is well-known that China has the largest population of any country on earth, but what may not be so obvious is that <strong>China now has the largest population on the internet.</strong></p> <p>According to Internet Live Stats, China now has over 720m internet users which is more than 20% of the global total.</p> <p>The nearest competing country is India which, with 462m users, has less than two-thirds of the Chinese internet population.  </p> <p>In third place is the US which now makes up less than 10% of internet users, globally.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3897/China_US_global_internet.PNG" alt="" width="764" height="470"></p> <p>China's lead in internet population size is significant as we can now expect digital innovations, especially regarding scale, to originate in China and flow westwards.  </p> <p>This is happening already, to some extent, with WeChat (see below).</p> <h3>China's online population is still growing</h3> <p>Another thing to keep in mind when considering China's presence on the internet is that <strong>only around 50% of the Chinese population is online</strong>.  </p> <p>That is, there are a lot of people in the country who are not yet 'digital' at all.</p> <p>Compare this with the US and other Western nations who achieved that level in the early 2000s and seem to be peaking at around 85-90% penetration.</p> <p>In other words, <strong>China's influence on the internet is on the rise and the Western domination of the internet may be coming to an end.</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3908/chinese_internet_population.PNG" alt="" width="915" height="504"></strong></p> <p>This is important for brand marketers to note because as more Chinese come online, <strong>the Chinese market will only rise in importance and sophistication</strong>.</p> <p>Western firms, therefore, need to acknowledge that China's digital economy is now on par with the West and, in some cases, may even be ahead.</p> <p>It's prudent, then, for brands to become familiar with how Chinese firms operate in their own market now to prepare for the future.</p> <h3>WeChat is the runaway success story</h3> <p>Many Western sites are blocked by the Great Firewall of China (see our <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67702-digital-in-china-10-things-you-might-not-know">previous China post</a> for details) which means that China has its own version of many digital services.</p> <p>One service in particular, the social network WeChat, has been more successful than all of the others.  </p> <p>WeChat has enjoyed growth rates of around 50% year-over-year in 2014 and 2015 after blistering triple-digit year-over-year growth in 2012 and 2013.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3898/wechat_mau_2015.PNG" alt="" width="792" height="467"></p> <p>One reason for this growth is that WeChat continuously innovates its core product, offering new ways for users to integrate the app into their daily lives.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3904/things_to_do_on_wechat.PNG" alt="" width="574" height="389"></p> <p>Though it isn't the largest social network in China (QQ has more monthly active users)<strong> WeChat is the fastest-growing social network and the most dominant, culturally.</strong></p> <p>In brief, if your brand is interested in breaking into China, start by <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65279-how-and-why-western-brands-are-experimenting-with-wechat/">researching what you can do on WeChat</a>.</p> <p><strong><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3903/wechat.jpg" alt="" width="740" height="540"></strong></p> <h3>Baidu is the 800-pound gorilla of search and more</h3> <p>When reviewing the relative size of search engines in China by visitors, it seems that China has multiple, competing search engines each with significant market share.</p> <p> <img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3900/china_search_engine_market_share_1.PNG" alt="" width="573" height="436"></p> <p>But when search engines are measured by revenue, a very different picture emerges.</p> <p> <img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3901/china_search_engine_market_share_by_revenue.PNG" alt="" width="584" height="448"></p> <p>Clealy <strong>Baidu is the search leader in China with more than six times the market share of its largest competitor</strong>, Google China.</p> <p>Another thing to note is that Baidu has an even greater cultural presence in China than Google does in the West.</p> <p>Besides search and other services like maps also offered by Google, <strong>Baidu also operates China's most popular encyclopedia, an ecommerce platform, a gaming platform, and even a food delivery service.</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3902/Picture1.jpg" alt="" width="450" height="368"></p> <p>According to Andrew Ng, Baidu's chief scientist in Silicon Valley, these additional services exist because, unlike in the West, other companies had not built them.  </p> <p>He states in a <a href="http://fusion.net/story/54528/why-we-should-stop-calling-baidu-the-google-of-china/">recent interview</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>In the US, we search for a movie ticket and Google or Bing could send you to Fandango and off you go. In China, that website we could send you to, it doesn’t exist. We [Baidu] have to build it ourselves. </p> </blockquote> <p>So for brands who are looking to launch services in China, be sure to check that the market isn't already served by Baidu or another Chinese heavyweight company.</p> <h3>Google and China... it's complicated</h3> <p>Google has a complicated and interesting history with China. Until 2010, Google China was one of the most popular sites in China and had a 29% market share, according to research firm Analysys International. </p> <p>Following a disagreement with the Chinese government about censoring search results in 2010, though, Google effectively pulled out of China.</p> <p>What happened next is slightly confusing. Google relocated to Hong Kong (which, yes, is still China) and has 79% search market share there, <a href="http://gs.statcounter.com/#desktop+mobile+tablet-search_engine-HK-monthly-201408-201508">according to StatCounter</a>.</p> <p>This is possible because Hong Kong effectively has a different government than the one in mainland China.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/3905/google.cn.PNG" alt="" width="620" height="333"></p> <p>Google.cn, as per the image above, redirects all users to Google.com.hk.  </p> <p>Reports indicate that Google search results are not being censored in Hong Kong and that Google China still has significant revenue from Hong Kong, though still far short of what it was six years ago.</p> <p>To add to this confusing story, it seems that <strong>Google will re-enter mainland China in 2016.</strong></p> <p>The company will only offer the Google app store, Google Play, and will not link to its international Google Play site.</p> <p>Instead, the company aims to consolidate the hundreds of independent Android app stores that have proliferated since it left nearly six years ago.</p> <h3>So...</h3> <p>China offers many benefits for brands who are able to crack the market, but doing so is proving to be quite difficult for many Western companies.</p> <p>To get started, it helps to know that the internet has now reached critical mass in China, that different companies dominate search and social there, and that there are other quirks which are not obvious from a Western perspective.</p> <p>Econsultancy subscribers can read more about China in <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-china-digital-report-q1-2016">The China Digital Report, Q1 2016</a> and look forward to quarterly updates later this year.</p>