News Update: Is Google factoring AMP pages into SERP?


As every digital marketing source has been telling you, user behavior has become increasingly mobile-oriented. The necessity of mobile optimization is now less of a good idea than it is a total necessity for online success-a statement supported by research of user behavior. All of that information is critical, but there’s now an even more important reason to get with the mobile optimization program.

Within the next few months, Google will be creating a separate mobile, “primary” index the search engine uses. At present, there is only one search index of documents. This index will only be used for mobile searches, not desktop searches (though how that’s going to work remains unclear).

What this means is that websites not optimized for mobile will likely suffer from the ranking algorithm, as the documents Google fetches in response to queries will only come from the new, primary mobile index. So, if there was ever a time to make sure your website is mobile-ready, now is it.

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3 Steps to Get Your Blog Writing Back on Track


Every so often, I like to explore different writing exercises and strategies that mix up the content creation process. Online topic saturation can make knowing what to say on your own blog challenging, especially when your competitors are trying to do the same thing.

Something I’ve found really helpful is dedicating one day out of every month to explore new blogs and assess my own, because it refreshes my perspective and re-engages me with the topics I write about. Here’s the three step process I use to do it.

  1. Find 10 new blogs relevant to your industry.

A little exploration goes a long way when it comes to content. By only focusing at your blog and/or the same rotation of news sources, you could be missing out on inspiration, ideas, and most importantly: guest posting opportunities.

Spend some time trying to find new blogs and connections within your industry. Do some searching on reddit, see what sites your competitors are linking to, and browse from link to link freely. In doing so, you’ll find new resources to consider when working on your own blog.

  1. Compile a list of 20 different articles/blog posts that were done well or taught you something new.

Once you find your new resources, read through their blog posts and articles to see what they’ve covered. What kind of titles stuck out to you the most? What’s their writing style? Which articles did you gain the most from and why?

By assembling a list of the articles that stuck out to you the most from an assortment of sources, you can see what you’re drawn to the most as a user. Then, you can use that insight to craft appealing content for your users.

  1. Do a blog audit.

By looking at your blog with a critical eye, you can find and eventually strengthen the weak spots in your content strategy. Start by doing a topical assessment of the subjects you write about, and figure out what you haven’t been covering. Is it the latest industry news? Maybe you’re falling short on providing utility-driven content to users?

Then, take a look at the analytics behind your existing content to determine what your users are responding to. Identify which articles are getting the most traffic, and try and draw out a common theme.

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Is Google+ irrelevant?


In many ways, Google+ is the social platform that never was. Multiple redesigns and the general preference for Facebook, Twitter, and other social apps have rendered Google+ a network of grey area. If you think about it, you never really hear about a video going viral on Google+, or any challenges/trends flooding the platform. But does that mean it lacks all utility?

If you look at the numbers, Google+ still appears to have a decent amount of activity. Data has shown that somewhere around 2.2 billion users are actively posting content on the platform (though other studies claim only 22 million of that figure can be considered truly active users). Despite the ambiguity surrounding the exact number of active users still on the platform, have a few million users does seem to indicate at least some relevance. The question is, relevance for what purpose?

Let’s be upfront about something, Google+ doesn’t have a seat at the social network table. It lacks the feed full of buzz topics element and popular issues that Facebook and Twitter have The top social networks, despite having received their fair share of criticism, are popular as ever.

That being said, the recent-ish relaunch of Google+ seemed to shape up the network significantly. Google+ Communities have served as a great way for businesses to engage with their audience and build interest.

Another feature that was part of the relaunch is Google+ Collections, allows for curation of specific topics and interests. Users can pick and choose the type of content they want to see from different brands and businesses.

The features of the “new” Google+ don’t necessarily have the highly clickable/shareable nature that other networks do. Rather, its purpose seems to exist within the context of businesses interacting with other businesses, and a specific audience of professionals and deliberate users. So, though not entirely irrelevant and even though it’s probably not going anywhere (since it’s already survived 5 years), Google+ may not be a platform where you see huge results from your digital marketing efforts.

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What You Absolutely Must Do Before Optimizing Anything


As a digital marketing firm and SEO service provider, a mistake we see made all too often by brands is failing to identify the audience they’re targeting. It may sound like a step significantly less important than others throughout the optimization process, but spending time getting to know and understanding your audience is one of the most important things to do.

The key to not just good, but successful and effective digital marketing is knowing who you’re directing your efforts at, how they will respond to those efforts, and so on. But not exploring your audience impacts user experience, and a negative user experience impacts conversions, and fewer conversions directly translates to less profit and reach. See the problem?

Don’t make the mistake of skipping this important optimization step, and if you already have, go back and get to know your users. Here are some starting points.

This is a pretty obvious step, but in a world where most interactions are digitally stream lined, it’s become easy to forget. Conducting research to find out who your audience is should be a top priority, and it can be done in a number of ways. You can study the audience of your competitors and do some digging on social media platforms, get out in the field-wherever that field may be-and dispense surveys, and/or conduct interviews. All of these are great starting points to identifying your target audience.

  1. Break the audience into groups.

You might have one big audience, but more often than not you have multiple groups within your audience at large. A perfect example is Target. Target has something for everyone, and there are multiple audience groups within their audience as a whole. After conducting your research, take a closer look at the types of people you’re targeting. Then, build your advertising and optimization efforts around them.

  1. Find out who’s who.

Yes, I’m talking about the influential leaders that exist within your audience. For example, if your business is in the cosmetic industry, find a make-up tutorial guru who has thousands of followers on Youtube and start a partnership with him or her. There are respected authorities within every industry, and finding a way to reach their audience your audience too.

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5 Reasons to Make a PPC Campaign Your Next SEO Move


Hitting a wall in your SEO strategy can make planning your next move kind of hard. But if you’ve exhausted your current SEO strategy and feel like your recent efforts need a ramp-up, it might be time to start exploring the idea of paid search.

I know, it sounds expensive-and intimidating-and is it really more important than the SEO efforts I use to drive organic traffic?

The fact of the matter is, paid search plays an undeniable role in the success of many websites, and in order to rank among top tier competitors, you’re probably going to have to dabble in paid search at some point. Here are 5 reasons to make a PPC campaign your next move.

  1. CTR of paid search is up, up, up!

You may recall last February, when Google eliminated right hand side advertisements. Since the elimination of those ads, paid search CTRs have risen 38%. For just 9 months, that’s a significant increase. The absence of that right hand side gives the paid ads you now see at the top of search results a red carpet for clickability.

  1. Mobile is a must.

As you know by now, user behavior continues to reveal a major shift towards mobile browsing. Google has adjusted to and accounted for this shift by assuming a mobile first design to provide a better experience for users, giving you a great PPC mobile-friendly resource. Within your AdWords account you can adjust for optimized display across any device, including mobile phones.

  1. PPC is a social affair.

Many major advertisers have increased the amount of targeted ads across social platforms. You’ve likely experienced how effective this form of paid search is firsthand, so it should come as no surprise that the share of social media visits produced across the major platforms (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) has also increased significantly.

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  1. It works well for newbies.

If you have a relatively new website, PPC has the potential to get you a lot of bang for your buck. What many people overlook is the amount of time it takes to build up the necessary authority behind a domain to earn a top ranking spot. Organic search optimization alone will take a while, but paid search can put you right up in the top spots. You may have to pay more for keywords, but the ROI of having a top ranking website is well worth it.

  1. You have more control.

Google can basically change what your listing says at any time, so there’s really no guarantee on what your meta, title tags, etc. will say. When you work through the paid search platform

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Best Tools to Perform an SEO Audit


Editor’s Note: This post was originally publish in April 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Because SEO results are always changing, it’s easy to make mistakes along the way without even realizing what you’re doing wrong. Seeing results from your SEO strategy is a long process, and there may very well come a time when you aren’t seeing the results you want. That’s why it’s so important to perform an SEO audit every few months to make sure you’re on the right track.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, an SEO audit is something you perform to analyze your current strategy and the results coming as a direct result. If you are missing opportunities or making mistakes, an SEO audit will look at your past efforts and determine where the problem lies.

There are people and companies you can hire to perform an SEO audit for you, but there are also plenty of tools you can utilize to do it yourself. Below is a list of some of the most popular and well-rated tools to help you perform an SEO audit on your own.

Top 5 SEO Audit Tools

1.Open Site Explorer – SEO Moz seems to do it all from great blog posts to great SEO services, and one of their newest software is Open Site Explorer. This software will give you up to 10,000 links to help you tell whether or not your link building is working. It will give you information about your competitors’ internal and external links, give you on-page optimization suggestions, and will sync with Google Analytics to help you get analysis on your traffic.

open-site-explorer Best Tools to Perform an SEO Audit2. Woorank – Woorank is an awesome resource that’s always keeping tabs on the latest and greatest of SEO news and tools. Their auditing tool allows you to run an instant website review that will reveal how your website is performing across 70+ different metrics. Over 75,000 different sites are reviewed each month on this tool, making it a trusted resource for webmasters looking to improve their site performance.

woorank Best Tools to Perform an SEO Audit3. Ahrefs – Crawl reports, position trackers, and content exploration-oh my! This tool is a popular favorite for everything from keyword exploration to on page optimization. Ahrefs is incredibly detailed, giving users a full picture of not just how there site is performing, but where there’s room for improvement. The thoroughness of this auditing tool makes it a top choice.

ahrefs Best Tools to Perform an SEO Audit4. Screaming Frog– Like Ahrefs, Screaming Frog is another one of my favorite, go-to tools. There are a handful of different versions to choose from, but in short, Screaming Frog’s SEO spider tool will crawl your site pages and analyze SEO performance. Check out the video below to learn more.

screaming-frog Best Tools to Perform an SEO Audit5. DeepCrawl – This SEO audit tool is no joke, and true to the name, it digs deep into the functions of your website. The in-depth reports crawl millions of pages and reveal key insights regarding load time, links, title, URL length, and more. Most impressively, DeepCrawl has a scheduling feature that allows you to keep a recorded history of all the changes you make, task employees with specific corrections, and continue running regular audits.

deepcrawl Best Tools to Perform an SEO Audit


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3 Last Minute Social Media Ideas to Target Holiday Shoppers


The bridging of e-commerce and social media has taken off in recent years, and as the holidays close in, there’s no better time to launch a campaign. Shoppers are now accustomed to seeing advertisements and promotions, and the integration of an effective social media campaign-especially right before black Friday and cyber Monday-has serious potential to drive traffic and sales.

It might be the week of Thanksgiving, but it’s still not too late to throw together a few last minute social media ideas to target holiday shoppers. Check out some of these ideas and get started today.

  1. Give thanks.

Since many consumers will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week, a “give thanks” campaign is a great way to interact with them. Your brand can push an image or post that expresses something you’re thankful for that rings true to your brand, and asks others to share what they’re thankful for.

In such a social media push, the sentimental value is what reaches users. You aren’t necessarily promoting products or enticing followers with the hope of turning them into customers, but rather reaching them on a more human level. The personalization of your brand makes you more relatable, which sticks with consumers long after the holidays pass.

  1. Have a photo contest.

I once suggested this as a marketing idea for the Fourth of July, but it can be recycled into just about any holiday or season. A photo contest is a quick and easy way to gain followers while attracting customers. All you have to do is create a post on your social media channels that explains the terms of the photo contest, and offer some kind of prize for the winner(s).

For prizes you can offer cash, gift cards, a free item, or anything else your brand has to offer. People jump at giveaways, and with all the shopper traffic the holidays generate it’s a perfect time to host such a contest.

  1. Promote time-sensitive offers.

A little urgency goes a long way, especially in the frenzy of holiday shopping, and a time-sensitive offer might be the last factor your customers need to make a purchase. Promoting a post that offers free shipping for a limited amount of time or a BOGO deal is a great way to entice both clicks and purchases.

Something to keep in mind:

The main thing to keep in mind is the importance of activity. Consumers are exposed to many brands, especially during peak shopping seasons, and remaining present and relevant among your users requires consistent and compelling activity across all platforms.

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