How to help shoppers looking for inspiration this holiday

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Gone are the days where shoppers had one specific gift in mind. Today, they’re asking brands to help inspire them. Our research also shows that 61 percent of shoppers are open to buying from new retailers during the holiday season—and in the 2017 holiday season 46 percent of them actually did.

That’s a huge number of consumers looking to uncover new brands and products or re-discover old favorites. But with so much choice at their fingertips, shoppers need help cutting through the clutter and feeling confident in their choices.

A recent study shows that Google is the first place US shoppers go to discover or find a new brand or product. That’s why we’re continuing to invest in solutions to drive inspiration and discovery, capture intent, and amplify your message to customers, wherever they’re shopping across Google and the web. So lean back, grab an eggnog (it’s never too early), and learn about how consumers plan to shop this holiday—and how Google can help. – Read more

7 Reasons Online Reviews are Essential for Your Brand

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Having easy access to the web has radically changed the way people shop for almost everything today.

From mobile phones to dentist services, it’s rare to blindly make a purchase decision without reading through several online reviews. In 2016, 90% of shoppers read at least one online review before deciding to visiting a business.

More importantly, 94% of online shoppers reported that a negative review has convinced them to avoid visiting a business.

This means that whatever your industry, having a positive online presence gives you several key advantages, which is why it’s becoming a key part of branding.

Understanding why you need online reviews will help you optimize your customer experience to help create a positive online footprint. Let’s review these seven reasons why your consumers’ published experiences with your brand are vital.

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1. Social Proof Drives Purchases

We’re more likely to make a purchase if others around us—even total strangers—agree that it is a good decision. Today, online reviews are the biggest source of social proof, and they have a clear impact on sales.

For example, Seriously Silly Socks has been able to drive 60% higher average order value on the company’s website than its other sales channels, and it’s likely that the 3000 five-star reviews that populate the ecommerce site’s various product pages have helped a great deal.

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Image source: https://www.seriouslysillysocks.com/aeroplane-bamboo-organic-crew-socks-in-denim-by-seriouslysillysocks/

“We encourage reviews by emailing customers after purchase and offering a discount coupon in return for a completed review,” Andrew Gill, the owner of the company, recently told BigCommerce in an interview for a case study.

“This has been a major difference from the start of our journey to selling directly from our store and has reduced our reliance on shopping channels. Customer feedback creates that ‘social-proof’ trust that encourages other visitors to our store to buy.”

2. They Make You More Visible

Being a successful brand also means you’re a visible one.

Most shoppers will look on search engines like Google and Bing, or even on Facebook, when deciding what to buy. These websites all have their own unique ways of indexing and surfacing content, but they all value original and fresh content, and customer reviews can definitely help feed the content machine, keeping your brand favored by algorithms.

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Image source: https://www.yotpo.com/blog/reviews-seo/ 

Online customer reviews give you a steady pipeline of(hopefully) positive content that search engines value highly when choosing which results to return.

When you’re ranked higher, algorithms and people alike tend to see your website as an authority in your industry, which also leads to more exposure.

3. They Make You Look Trustworthy

Your brand can build significant trust and credibility from a steady stream of positive reviews.

One of the more interesting findings of recent research is just how powerful reviews are at building your company’s online identity.

Many shoppers distrust businesses that have ratings below(or even above) four stars. This leaves a small margin of error at the top, but companies with better average ratings are significantly more likely to see views converted to traffic and sales.

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Image Source: https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/ 

The way customers are talking about you is just as important as the fact that they’re saying your name. Having a highly positive footprint will eventually help you drive more sales. – Read more

How to Write a Privacy Policy for Your Small Business

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As a small business owner with a website, you might ask: Do I really need a privacy policy statement for my website?

If you’re starting, managing, or growing any type of business online today, the answer is likely “yes, yes you do.”

Jump on it!

While small business ownership is overwhelming with the constant juggle of multiple tasks at once, it’s easy to forget about or completely overlook creating a privacy policy for your lead generation website. Yet with the deluge of new data privacy regulation and subsequent lawsuits, negligence with privacy policy laws is simply a no-no.

Here are some pointers for how small businesses can comply with standards and laws to create a simple privacy policy. This article will answer what this document actually contains, why you need one, and what should be included in a privacy policy for your small business.

Read on if… you want to learn about privacy policies in plain English, without all the headache-inducing legalese. Remember, we’re not lawyers—we’re just here to give you some guidance.

What is a Privacy Policy for a Website?

A privacy policy is a legal statement that discloses the way a business gathers, uses, discloses, and manages a customer’s data. It also informs users about whether that information is kept confidential, shared with partners, or sold to other businesses.

It fulfills a legal requirement to protect a customers’ privacy, especially in light of recent GDPR legislation, which affects businesses that collect information from any resident residing in the EU. (Here is more info on GDPR.) – Read more

From discovery to click, new YouTube ads capabilities for more effective video storytelling

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The heightened role of video throughout today’s consumer journey is an exciting opportunity for marketers to build connections that drive better business outcomes. At Advertising Week New York, we’re announcing new ways for marketers to become more effective full-funnel storytellers using the combined power of YouTube’s creative canvas with Google’s machine learning and measurement solutions.

Help viewers take action with extensions
Soon you’ll be able to make your video ads more actionable with a greater variety of ad extensions. Similar to extensions on Search ads, extensions on YouTube enhance your video ad with additional useful information—giving consumers more reasons to take action. You can already add location and form extensions (currently in beta) to your TrueView in-stream ads. Now we’re exploring additional use cases that encourage viewers to complete lower-funnel actions like finding the next movie showtime, downloading an app or booking a trip.

Brands like Vodafone, Chili’s, 20th Century Fox, Headspace and Maybelline are already using extensions for video ads to bring more relevance to their mobile ads and drive impact on the metrics that matter most. Using extensions, Vodafone drove a 2.3x incremental lift in Ad Recall and a 3.5 percent CTR—a 785 percent increase over their regional benchmark.

Measure the full impact of your video campaign
Video storytelling isn’t just about driving short-term campaign wins—it’s also about driving measurable results at every stage of the consumer journey. We know this is easier said than done, which is why we’re evolving our Brand Lift solution and partnering with IRI to make it simpler for advertisers to measure and act upon upper- and lower-funnel metrics.

Based on your feedback, soon you’ll be able to set up Brand Lift studies directly in Google Ads or Display & Video 360 and conveniently view reporting alongside your other ad metrics. We’ve also started sending Brand Lift surveys continuously throughout the duration of your campaign so you can understand how your video ads are influencing viewer perceptions in near real time. Additionally, we’ve introduced two new metrics: lifted users, the number of people who were influenced by your ad, and cost-per-lifted-user to make it easier for you to optimize your campaign’s effectiveness and cost-efficiency. To get the most out of these new measurement tools, we recommend using Maximize Lift bidding.

We’re also ramping up our investments in Google Measurement Partners to ensure our advertisers can measure YouTube media with measurement solutions that meet rigorous, verified standards. We work closely with partners to ensure their solutions respect user privacy. In addition to Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS) and Oracle Data Cloud, soon CPG advertisers will have the option to measure their YouTube media using IRI. These offerings complement geo experiments with Nielsen MPA, giving advertisers a variety of options for seeing the offline impact of their video ads. Last week we also announced expanded integrations for brand suitability and reach reporting, continuing our commitment to providing both quality and choice when it comes to helping marketers better understand their media investments. – Read more

 

How to Identify Your Target Audience for Better Marketing

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What is a target audience? And why does your specific target audience matter? That’s what we’re going to cover today.

When you’re in business, you serve a specific segment of the population. Too often, when an entrepreneur gets asked who the target audience is, they answer, “Everyone.” That’s almost never the case.

Instead, you have to narrow down “everyone” to a smaller group of people who both want and have the means to get your product or service.

For instance, if a consumer lives in an area to which you don’t ship products, he or she doesn’t belong in your target audience. Similarly, a consumer who can’t afford what you sell isn’t part of your audience.

We’ll break this down in more detail later, but for now, understand that the target audience is the group of people to whom you direct your marketing and advertising efforts. They’re the ones who might actually convert into customers.

Let’s explore target audience in more detail break down the process of defining your target audience into easily manageable steps.

What Is Target Audience Segmentation?
Imagine for a moment that you’re designing a Facebook Ad campaign. You don’t want everyone to see your Facebook Ads because you’ll just want money. Instead, you want to serve up your ads to your target audience.

Facebook allows you to narrow down your audience based on demographics and other qualities.You might set an income range, target males or females, eliminate anyone who doesn’t have children, and so on, depending on your marketing agenda.

However, you also know that your product or service might appeal to different segments of your target audience.

Let’s say you sell sporting goods. Part of your audience might consist of teenage boys and girls who play sports. Another could incorporate professional athletes. Yet another segment might encompass middle-aged men and women who want to get back in shape.

Target audience segmentation allows you to create buyer personas. Each of these groups represent a different part of your target audience, so you serve them different ad creative and marketing assets. – Read more

Google Testing Like & Dislike Buttons On Hotel Search Result Photos

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Google is testing showing like and dislike thumbs up and down buttons in the hotel search results specifically on photos. You can like or dislike a photo within a specific hotel search result.

This was spotted by Sergey Alakov and posted on Twitter – here is his screen shot:

I do believe this is new and I am not sure exactly what Google would do with these likes and dislikes on photos. Maybe a hotel result with many photos can be ranked by the most liked photos first? – Read more

 

Has Your Website Refresh Been Successful?

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Like maintenance work on your car, a refresh of your organization’s website is one of those tasks that seems to roll around every few years and entail far higher costs than anticipated. However, also like car maintenance, a website refresh is often critically necessary. Your organization’s branding or messaging may have changed, or maybe your site just looks like something that was built on GeoCities in 1995. Whatever the reason, you’ll want to ensure that you’re measuring the results of a website refresh in order to adequately justify the costs.

The most basic, and most powerful, question we can ask is “is our site better?” The problem of course is that that’s an incredibly vague question. What do we mean by “better?” Typically, we’re looking at KPIs like page views, number of sessions, bounce rate, time on page, exit rate, conversion rate, etc. The sort of numbers you can get from any basic web analytics tool like Google Analytics. I typically regard these numbers as “surface-level metrics;” they provide a good starting point but don’t say much about whether visitors are deriving value from your website.

To illustrate, page views and the number of unique sessions help you understand site traffic. However, they don’t say anything about how “good” your site is, just how many eyeballs you’re getting and perhaps how well you’re doing in terms of SEO. Bounce rate, time on page and exit rate go a little deeper. These metrics can point to the quality of content on your site or, more directly, to whether the content on your website adequately meets the expectations of visitors. For example, if visitors to “bike.com” are expecting to find information about motorcycles but discover content focused on bicycles, they are likely to leave disappointed, and in a hurry. Unfortunately, depending on how engagement is defined in Google Analytics, metrics like bounce rate can result in both ​false positives and false negatives​, leading marketers to draw the wrong conclusions.

Ultimately, one of the best KPIs to consider is conversion rate: the percentage of visitors that complete the action we want them to. This could refer to signing up for a demo, downloading a trial, joining a mailing list, etc. To quote ​WordStream​, “a high conversion rate is indicative of successful marketing and web design: it means people want what you’re offering, and they’re easily able to get it!” More than anything else, conversion rate is the KPI that marketers look at when assessing website performance. – Read more

Finding a Balance Between SEO and Amazing Website Design

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When putting together your client’s website, there are two major things you have to consider: consumers and search engines.

You need an SEO-friendly website that’s optimized for search engines so that you show up in Google when consumers are searching for your products. This is the first challenge, especially since even back in 2016, Google told Search Engine Land that they “processed at least 2 trillion searches per year.”

You also need a creative, user-friendly designed website so consumers can easily find what they want to buy. The conflict for site owners, especially sites that have hundreds of products available, becomes finding a balance between being user-friendly and SEO friendly. You have the development team fighting to keep the visual and user aspect of the site very simplistic. On the other hand, you want the site to have enough content on it so Google can rank the site effectively for user search queries.

To further complicate things, businesses often have two separate teams for SEO and web development. Even if both teams are in-house, having them work together to build a beautifully successful ecommerce website becomes challenging.

Conflict often arises with the design of a website and how to make it SEO-friendly, especially when you’re bringing in two different teams and expecting them to understand the complexities of each other’s work.

So how do you find the balance when you have conflicting suggestions coming from the SEO team and the web development team?

In this article, we’ll look at different website elements to consider, and some ways you can find some common ground between these two goals.

You may also like: Canonical URLs: What Are They and Why Are They Important?

Website navigation
Web developers are typically focused on the site’s overall look, feel, and user experience. Designers and developers will care about a page’s visual elements and how consumers interact with those elements. They often like to keep things as simple as possible, especially since consumers using mobile devices have long surpassed consumers using desktop or laptop devices.

On the other hand, SEO marketers will say you need to focus your navigation efforts on optimizing for search engines.

A basic example of this can be found on teacollection.com: – Read more

7 Steps to Making the Most out of the New Google Search Console

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Ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush…there are some great SEO tools out there; and with them, you can do a variety of things. You can check backlink profiles. Do keyword research. Find unlinked mentions and guest posting opportunities. You can even run comprehensive SEO audits with the click of a button. But whether you’re agency or in-house, small business or enterprise—there are certain areas of functionality where those tools fall short. And where they fail, Google Search Console prevails.

While powerful, the garden-variety SEO tool is, or should be, supplemental to your SEO strategy. If you’re in the business of optimizing for organic search, you should be living in Search Console and using other tools to help you complete ancillary tasks. Not totally comfortable with Search Console as a living space? Not to worry. Today, I’m going to teach you how to get nice and cozy with the most pivotal features Search Console has to offer.

Even better: after launching the new and improved Search Console in January, Google officially moved it out of beta last week. So today, while I’m going to be teaching you 7 steps to making the most out of the new Google Search Console, I’ll also discuss how the new interface and the old interact differ.

Alrighty, then! Let’s hop in.

Step #1. Add and Verify Your Site
Before we get into functionality, you’re going to want to add and verify your site within Search Console. Head to the dropdown at the top left of your dashboard and click “add property.”

Make sure you enter your site’s URL exactly as it appears in your browser. If you support multiple protocols (http:// and https://), or multiple domains (example.com, m.example.com, and www.example.com), make sure you add each as a separate property. Once your site is added, Search Console will begin collecting data.

Just adding a property won’t give you access, though—you also have to verify that you own it. Head to the Manage Property tab for the property you added on the Search Console home page.

Select “verify property” in the dropdown and choose one of the recommended verification methods. These will vary depending on the makeup of the site you’re verifying. If you’re struggling to implement one of the verification methods, want to change your verification method, or simply want a more in-depth explanation of each process, this page is a great resource on all things site verification.

Step #2: Indicate a Preferred Domain

Indicating a preferred domain tells Google whether you want your site listed as https://www.example.com or https://example.com. Choosing one over the other is not going to give you any kind of advantage in organic search; however, you do want to make sure you choose one or the other.

Select your property from the Search Console home page (note: we are doing this in the old Search Console). Once in, click the gear icon in the top right of your dashboard and select Site Settings: – Read more

Ecommerce SEO Guide: SEO Best Practices for Ecommerce Website

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If you want to get more traffic and sales to your ecommerce website, then on-page SEO is a critical first step.

There are multitudes of how-to articles and tutorials on the web offering general SEO advice, but far fewer that specifically address the needs of ecommerce entrepreneurs.

Today, we’d like to give you a basic understanding of on-site search engine optimization for ecommerce. It will be enough to get you started, make sure you’re sending all the right signals to Google, and set you up for SEO success.

Let’s dive in.

What is Ecommerce SEO? Definition

Ecommerce SEO is the process of making your online store more visible in the search engine results pages (SERPs). When people search for products that you sell, you want to rank as highly as possible so you get more traffic.

You can get traffic from paid search, but SEO costs much less. Plus, ad blockers and ad blindness can reduce the effectiveness of paid search, so you’ll want to optimize for search regardless.

Ecommerce SEO usually involves optimizing your headlines, product descriptions, meta data, internal link structure, and navigational structure for search and user experience. Each product you sell should have a dedicated page designed to draw traffic from search engines.

However, you don’t want to forget about static, non-product-oriented pages on your site, such as the following:

  • Homepage
  • About page
  • F.A.Q. page
  • Blog articles
  • Help center answers
  • Contact page

Create a list of keywords for those pages as well as related keywords. Tools like Ubersuggest make it easy to search for one long-tail keyword and find semantic keywords that go well with it. – Read more