AdWords for Better Email Marketing | A Basic Start

According to MailChimp, the average email open rate across industries is below 25 percent, with a click rate of 2 to 3 percent. Essentially, this is saying that for every 100 emails you send, only two or three people are going to take any action whatsoever. With all of the time marketers spend crafting enticing emails and campaigns, it’s critical to know whether there’s any impact at all! Of course, working in this industry today means making blood sacrifices to overlord Google… or just using analytics. Today we’ll explore the basics of how to use AdWords for better email marketing success in 2018 and beyond!

So now you may be thinking — “we just finished planning our yearly email marketing strategies, now you’re telling me there’s something we missed?!”

Luckily, integrating Google’s AdWords into your existing strategies is more than possible by leverage the existing data you have on your subscribers. Still, there are some best practices when you choose to use AdWords for better email marketing:

Using AdWords for Better Email Marketing


1. Get Comfy with AdWord’s Customer Match

It can get overlooked at times, although Customer Match is one of the best ways to target or exclude current customers on Display, Google Search, or YouTube. All you need to do is upload your customer email list to AdWords and adjust your parameters accordingly. Using the latest version of Adwords’ dashboard, the basic steps are as follows:

  • Select the “wrench” icon in the top right corner
  • Click “Audience Manager” under “Shared Library”
  • Select “Audience Lists” from the left-hand Page Menu
  • Click the blue “+” icon to make a new audience list
  • Choose “Customer List”
  • Select the option to upload your plaintext data file or hashed data file
  • Select your new file
  • Check the box reading “this data was collected and is being shared with Google in compliance with Google’s policies”
  • Determine a membership duration (depending on your specific customers)
  • Finally, click “upload and create list”

adwords for better email marketing

2. Segmenting an Email List

So after you’ve taken the steps to familiarize yourself with Customer Match, it’s important to segment your email list. This will allow much better targeting in terms of your sales leads found on Adwords. Some of the most common audiences to target include:

• New email subscribers who haven’t yet become customers

• Subscribers who haven’t opened an email recently (many, many people)

• Current subscribers who might appreciate upgraded products or services

It’s understood that each of these different segments of your audience has a different relationship to your business. As such, they will need to be messaged differently. Using Customer Match is one way to use AdWords for better email marketing, especially when repurposing existing lists as new segments of subscribers.

3. Evolving your AdWords Strategy for Each Segment

So once you’ve got the proper segments in place, you’ll need to consider developing unique Adwords strategies for each segment. Ultimately, your goal is probably something along the lines of converting new and engaged email subscribers. If you have a new lead added to your system, consider jumping right into educating them about your product to quickly tell them what they want to know. The main struggle is converting unengaged email subscribers — they don’t respond to your messages so why would you want to bombard them with more?

When you segment your audiences and use Adwords for better email marketing, consider this approach:

  • Determine which customers became unresponsive after 30 days.
  • Create a Customer Match segment for “unengaged,” but prospective customers
  • Organize a remarketing campaign to target this segment
  • Tailor special offers to these customers for the last shot at their business

Although there’s no perfect way to go this, using Adwords for better email marketing is one way you can quantify your efforts and ensure you’re getting the best results possible!

What are your thoughts on email marketing and Google AdWords? Let us know in the comments below!

Micro-moments | Mapping the Customer Journey

As smartphone users, we’re accustomed to finding information where we need it, when we need it. The ability to express an immediate action allows us to act on our impulses, whether that means learning something new, finding a location, or buying products. Not only that, but the demand for relevant search results is a critical ingredient in meeting the expectations of search engine users. Simply put, expectations are getting higher as consumer patience continually diminishes.

With quick, relevant searches that provide consistent results, you’ll eventually earn the customer loyalty you’re after — just not before you’ve met your audience’s needs through a series of quality micro-moments.

But what exactly are micro-moments and how can brands utilize them for success? For this, we turn to Google’s recent guide on the matter.

Honing in on Micro-Moments

Living in a world connected by mobile apps and smartphone accessibility, consumer behavior is quickening at a similar pace. With 82% of people reporting that they use their devices to make buying decisions in stores, the ability to optimize every moment is a target for many mobile marketers.

The study by Google goes on to show that in-the-moment:


62% of people use their phones to solve unexpected problems

90% of people pursue long-term goals in short periods of time with mobile devices

91% of people try new things during their routines by searching for information


micro-moments

The consumer journey is constantly evolving, and micro-moments are part of that!

Essentially, micro-moments constitute a new way to think about mobile marketing — by understanding the consumer journey is fractured into hundreds of “real-time, intent-driven micro-moments,” brands gain critical opportunities to shape preferences and decisions.

While I realize that this post is already filled with lots of hyphenated phrases, Google’s way of presenting this information is streamlined and straight to the point as usual. Types of micro moments can include:

  • Is-it-worth-it-moments
  • Show-me-how moments
  • Didn’t-plan-for-this moments
  • Ready-for-change moments

And so on and so forth!

When it comes to integrating this framework into your own marketing efforts it can be broken down between 5 basic ideas that cover the cycle.


1. Make a Moments Map

The first step to gaining the most out of your brands micro-moments is identifying all of the small interactions with consumers that you want to win or can’t afford to lose. You’ll want to examine the phases of a customer’s journey to find what inspires people to learn about your products, make the purchase, and everything in between.

2. Understand Customer Needs

Like most behavioral observations, a useful technique is putting yourself in the shoes of whoever you’re trying to learn about. Going through the cycle, try to think of ways to make the process easier, faster, or more relevant. Ask questions like “what content or features would be most helpful for this moment?”

3. Deliver the Right Experience in Context

Drawing from contextual signs like the location of someone’s search, or even the time of day they were seeking a product or information, you’ll be able to tailor messages for those micro-moments. One great suggestion Google made was to let customers searching nearby your store know whether the product they’re viewing is in-stock.

4. Optimize the Entire Journey

It’s no secret that people move across various screens and platforms, expecting to receive the same seamless experience wherever they go. When it comes to optimizing each micro-moment, the key is ensuring that the consumer journey is tailored to the platform or device they’re using. According to the Google study, “to account for today’s complex, fractured journeys, anchor completely on the consumer and organize around moments.”

5. Measure the Moments that Matter

Underserving customers while dealing with gaps in your measurement is one way to waste time and money. Although the return on your investment for certain moments isn’t always able to be measured directly, learning ways to use credible analytical methods will help to ensure you’re not missing anything.

Google Products Search Under Scrutiny

A recent study by Jack Nicas of the Wall Street Journal has suggested that Google is buying millions of its own search ads to compete with competitors and rank Alphabet, Inc. or Google products at the top of results. Is it possible that the data giant is taking advantage of their competitors to make sure Google products appear first in a search?

We aren’t exactly sure, but what we do know is that during a study led by SEMrush, Google or Google-related products and services appeared before competitors over 90 percent of the time. Let’s take a look at the study and discuss what this means for the future of Google and transparency of its search practices.

SEMrush Organic Google Search Study

SEMrush analyzed 1,000 searches for 25 terms. Some of these search terms included speakers, laptops, streaming device, smart phones, and carbon monoxide detector. On December 1, SEMrush searched each term 1,000 times using a desktop computer with past web-surfing history blocked as to not affect the results.

I’m not sure if the results of this study are actually surprising or not. SEMrush found that Google products or products from a sister company were in the top spot of 91 percent searches. In 43 percent of the searches, Google and Google-related products used the top two ad spots.

Shocking Search Statistics

Google Products Search Term Rates

Source: SEMrush, The Wall Street Journal

Out of all 25 search terms, 23 terms showed Alphabet-owned companies or Google store products in the top spot 87 percent of the time or more. The only two terms where Google products did not appear in the top spot more than 67 percent, were electronic gifts and home security camera. For those queries, other company products appeared in the top spot for search 66.7 and 60.7 percent of the time, respectively.

For 12 of the terms, Alphabet-owned companies or Google products showed in the top spot 100 percent of the time. Google has, of course, said that their ads do not affect other advertisers and the reason their ads show this much is because of the quality of the ads and the amount Google is willing to pay for them (we’ll come back to this in a bit).

Is Google really to be trusted? After the study was completed, WSJ shared the results with the data giant on December 15. After the results were shared, Google products “mysteriously” disappeared from ad space. Nearly all from the Google Store were removed. If you search these terms now, you will not see Alphabet-owned businesses or Google products in the top spot every time. Google refused to comment on the disparity.

Screenshots Never Die

Are we really just supposed to take Google’s word for it? Are we supposed to genuinely believe that the largest advertising business doesn’t hold a conflict of interest in buying the same ad spaces that their competitors are bidding for? SEMrush shares the results of their study to Google and afterward the ads disappear but Google has no comment.

In an age of technology, I’m sure many of us are screenshot survivors. You’ve been there: you sent a text or wrote a post that you later deleted, but it was too late. Someone screenshotted your blunder and now the internet will know forever. Well, Nicas shared screenshots of his searches in his report. Even for terms like smoke detector (which Google does not sell), internet-connected alarms made by Alphabet-owned Nest took up the top spot 99.6 percent of the time.

In Google’s Defense…

While the report very clearly demonstrated Google is (or was) promoting their own products in the paid ad spaces before competitors, there is technically nothing wrong with this. Google says that when it competes against competitors for ad spaces, other advertisers are charged as if Google was not bidding.

Remember earlier when I told you Google said their ads show up first because of the ad quality and the amount Google is willing to pay? Well first, let’s assume the ad space behemoth’s marketing budget is much larger than most (because we all know it is).

Second, we know how ad auctions work don’t we? I’ll accept that it is true advertisers don’t have to pay more when Google bids against them for that particular auction. However, you have to imagine companies like Facebook and Microsoft are constantly trying to increase their advertising budgets for the chance to appear in the top spot.

A Future of Google Transparency

The Alphabet-owned company is already under scrutiny from European Union antitrust regulators regarding favoring their comparison-shopping service over rivals. The charges they are facing could end up costing Google billions of dollars in fines and may require them to change their search practices in Europe.

In the states, it seems that Google’s “high-quality ads” aren’t showing in the top spots anymore, so maybe that is Google’s way of dealing with this issue. They may not have to answer to advertisers now, but in the future, I think we should expect to see large advertisers who compete with Google products request more transparency as it relates to Google-involved ad auctions.

Google is a data-giant that we all rely on for numerous searches each day. But it is my opinion that when you are a large and dominant company, you owe it to your competitors and customers to provide ethical, transparent service. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if Google agrees with me or not.

5 Reasons Google’s Penguin 4.0 Update is Awesome

It’s been about a month since Google announced Penguin 4.0 was live. Now SEOs and marketers are finding out just how beneficial this algorithm update is.

Digital marketers are all too familiar with hearing about the different algorithmic animals in the Google Zoo. Most recently you’ve probably heard about Google’s latest Penguin algorithm update, but what does it really mean? Unless you’re an SEO, you might not know how to answer that question.

Most SEOs, including myself, are excited about the benefits this new update brings, and I’m going to tell you why you should be excited too.

Penguin Algorithm History

I’m sure some of us need a brief refresher course on the Penguin algorithm; so let me quickly do that. Penguin first came out in April 2014. The purpose of Penguin was to help eliminate trust in sites that use unnatural back links to gain a ranking advantage in Google. Basically, Penguin is a webspam filter that is supposed to help reward high-quality websites.

5 Reasons to Love the Google Penguin 4.0 Algorithm

In the end of September, Google released the new Penguin 4.0 update and there are some major benefits marketers and SEOs can take advantage of now. The two main changes are that this update is now in real-time and Penguin is now more granular than past rollouts. These changes will help continue to reward high-quality sites using white hat SEO practices.Laptop with Google homepage open - vector

1. Penguin 4.0 is Now Part of Google’s Core Algorithm

This change is a major reason that SEOs and Webmasters everywhere are celebrating. This means that when you make changes on your site, you will see changes much faster than before. No longer will you have to wait for another rollout of Penguin to see your site recovery. In their announcement, Google actually stated that they are “not going to comment on future refreshes.”

2. Spam Links: Demotion vs. Devaluation

The second major change that is making SEOs and Webmasters jump for joy is the new method in which Penguin 4.0 deals with spam links. This is a major improvement that many SEOs wanted because in the past if Penguin negatively affected your site, your entire site would drop in search rankings. Instead of demoting entire sites that have spam links directed towards them, Penguin will devalue the links.

This means that SEOs and marketers can spend more time on creating quality content and less time trying to defend their site from spam link attacks. Google did not take away the disavow file, so you can still use it to recover from Penguin issues. For more information on that, Barry Schwartz explains it well over at Search Engine Land.

3. New Algorithm Update is More Granular

If you’ve have read Google’s announcement or have read anyone else’s overview on the Penguin update, you have heard them say the update is more granular. But let’s be honest: What does that even mean?

This means that Google is going to devalue spam by changing ranking based on spam signals instead of demoting an entire site. Google can penalize just a specific page, group of keywords, or a subdirectory of a site, so you could find that just one page or a part of your site has been penalized.

4. Penguin Algorithm Fights Negative SEO

Companies could previously use negative SEO tactics to penalize their competitors, but since sites are no longer demoted in the updated Penguin, this will not be possible. Because Penguin now refreshes in real-time, it does present the opportunity for SEOs to test various black hat practices and see which ones Google can or cannot detect. However, that will be much harder to do, so companies should focus on building up their own sites, rather than attacking competitors.

5. SEOs Are Going to Gain Legitimacy

For years real SEOs have watched others claim they can get you a number one Google ranking and 10,000 backlinks in a short amount of time. But anyone who knows anything about SEO knows that you couldn’t possibly guarantee someone a number one ranking for a keyword, or get 10,000 links to your site unless you are doing shady SEO tactics. In that case, you may be able to help a website find ranking success in the short term, but the site is going to be much worse off when Google finds out what the SEOs have been doing.

This Google Penguin 4.0 update is going to separate the real SEOs from the fake. These SEO agencies that are using black hat SEO tactics are going to die out because they will no longer be able to use black hat SEO strategies to get their clients to rank. Their clients are going to see their sites get hit hard and they will have to find legitimate SEOs or agencies that use best practices.

This is going to be good for SEO as a whole and show companies and other marketers that not only is SEO critical to your website organic rankings, it is also important that your SEO be done right.

What’s Next for Google’s Algorithms?

Well, we aren’t really sure. We know that Penguin 4.0 is now real-time and will be consistently refreshing. Perhaps we will see Google become an auto-updating behemoth like I wrote about in my SEO trend predictions for 2017. Regardless of what Google does next, we know that they will continue to create the best experience for web users. They will continue eliminating spam, and let valuable high-quality sites rank.

Optimizing for Google’s Interstitial Mobile Ads Penalty

Earlier this week, Google announced that there will two changes coming to mobile search in 2017. With this announcement, Google may have single-handedly signaled the end of the ad blocker war. Mobile users, prepare to say goodbye and good riddance to annoying and intrusive interstitial mobile ads! Publishers, prepare to optimize your mobile sites or be hit with the wrath of Google.

I’m going leave you with some tips to optimize your mobile site to make sure you’re not penalized, but first, let’s explore why Google had to make this change.

Everything Changed When the Ad Blocker Nation Attacked

If you remember back in April, I wrote a three-part blog series about the rise of ad blockers. I really suggest you read it to get a full view of the intrusive ad problem, but I’ll give readers pressed for time a brief summary.

I discussed the rise of the digital ad tech war that continues to wage between content consumers and publishers. Between January 2013 and January 2014, desktop ad blocking increased 124 percent. By 2015, over 198 million internet users were using ad block plug-ins on their desktop.

Publishers, losing billions in ad revenue, began blocking users using ad blockers, requiring them to disable the plugins for access to content. However, internet users had a good reason for blocking ads. One reason is sites like Forbes forced readers to disable ad blockers, and then served their readers malvertisements. (Did you like that full-page intrusive ad experience?😉 )

When consumers blocked ads, they also saw significant decreases in their monthly data usage.

This left consumers and publishers in an ad tech stalemate of sorts. Publishers want readers to understand that the “free” content they provide is paid for by the ads. Consumers want publishers to stop making ads so annoying and intrusive that you cannot even access the publisher’s content. What is the solution?

Enter stage right: Google

Who else would save the internet from itself except Google? With Google Search, the goal is to “help users quickly find the best answers to their questions, regardless of the device they’re using”. We know this is certainly true, evidenced by Mobilegeddon 2015 when sites with non-mobile friendly pages were dropped from organic rankings.

So what are the changes that could pose the start of Mobilegeddon 3.0, and the end of the ad blocker wars? The first change is that Google will be removing the mobile-friendly label on mobile search results. The reason for this is that Google recently found that “85% of all pages in the mobile search results now meet [mobile-friendly] criteria”. However, they also want webmasters to know that the mobile-friendly criteria will still be a ranking signal.

Sayonara Annoying Interstitial Mobile Ads!

The major change that will certainly delight web users who do not employ ad blockers is the crackdown on intrusive interstitial mobile ads. While many pages are now mobile-friendly, according to Google (and anyone who uses the internet on mobile devices) many of these “pages show intrusive interstitials to users”.

Google’s issue is that these intrusive ads provide a miserable user experience. Users are super frustrated because they cannot access the content they are searching for. If your site provides users with a poor ad-filled mobile experience, Google will start lowering your rank in search results.

Interstitial Mobile Ads Don’ts

Google gave some examples of what they do NOT want to see. If your site is utilizing any of these techniques to serve ads on mobile, Google will deem your site problematic.

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial ad that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.
Interstitial Mobile Ads that Google finds problematic

Interstitial mobile ads that Google finds problematic
Source: Google

Interstitial Mobile Ads Do’s

These are interstitial ad techniques Google will not punish:

  • Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.

"<yoastmark

You still have time to serve annoying interstitial mobile ads before being penalized. However, if Mobilegeddon taught anyone anything, it’s that Google does not mess around when it comes to user experience. If your mobile website is providing a problematic experience, you have until January to fix it!

AI For Dummies: The Rise of Super Intelligence

Imagine someone time traveling to our present day from, let’s say, 1750. The Industrial Revolution hasn’t even come into full swing, cars don’t exist, and Albert Einstein won’t be born for almost another 115 years. How they time traveled isn’t important… It’s what they’d experience:

Everyone would be glued to their small glowing rectangles displaying the faces of people across the world in what’s basically real-time – just one aspect of the growing “internet of things.” Just imagine a simple browse through YouTube or Wikipedia and all they could access. There would be thousands of years’ worth of history they’d never seen, tens of millions of years’ worth of the natural sciences, and theoretical physics that might shatter their concepts of existence itself.

Futurists predict that humanity is on the precipice of a complete AI revolution.

Futurists predict that humanity is on the precipice of a complete AI revolution.

 

Given the state of our technological progress, we as a species, are apparently poised for an equally as existence-altering series of events – except the only time travel we have to undergo is the process of staying alive for the next 10-15 years.

A Species on The Event Horizon

We hear the term “Artificial Intelligence” thrown around constantly, which is as much as we use such technologies. Things like our smartphones, email spam filters, heck even Google itself all constitute forms of AI. However, these are considered Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), defined as machine intelligence that equals or exceeds human intelligence / efficiency at one specific thing.

Also referred to as Weak AI, Artificial Narrow Intelligence is highly available and used in everything from language translation to solving calculus equations, or reliably beating humans in chess matches. Our smartphones are practically little ANI factories connecting to us to the larger economy of the smart devices, vehicles, software – you name it!

To many people, it’s hard to conceptualize why so many researchers are so concerned with the rise of AI – more or less written off as the wishful thinking of science fiction obsessives. What one has to realize is that given Moore’s Law, we are on pace to build an affordable computer that rivals the human brain by 2025.

Yes, you read that correctly.

 

AI

Computing power has been steadily increasing since the early 1900’s.

 

Already, Google has spent vast resources on creating their Artificial Neural Networks and furthering projects like DeepMind, boasting a breakthrough for the AI community when it beat the top human player at the ancient Eastern game of Go.

Still, this feat represents the primordial ooze from which Artificial General Intelligence, and eventually the harrowing Artificial Superintelligence (ASI) are bound to emerge.

 

Reverse Engineering Evolution

To start, creating AGI means emulating an entire brain, which has already been achieved… at least in 1mm-long flatworms. Project OpenWorm is the first of its kind to successfully map the worm’s 302 neurons and simulate them with software. The worm’s brain was then uploaded to a Lego robot capable of responding to external stimuli in ways similar to flatworms.

Again, given that the world’s maximum computing power increases approximately every two years, it won’t be long before today’s microprocessors (running at 2 GHz / 10 million times faster than our neurons) will double… each time at a faster, exponential rate.

The illustration below gives a perspective on just how quickly this is going to happen in comparison to the historical progression of computer and cognitive science:

Just as DeepMind programmed its bot to beat human players by pitting it against itself to develop new strategies, AGI will likely be programmed to self-improve upon its own intelligence, paving the way for Artificial Superintelligence – at which point the human race may teeter on the edge of extinction according to researchers and tech-giants like Elon Musk.

 

Surpassing The Human Imagination

If knowledge is power, then ASI will become our God.

It’s important to note that by no means is this an exaggeration. Some scientists believe that although it may take us a few decades to reach a genuine form of AGI, the leap to ASI will happen in less than the blink of an eye (relatively speaking).

Given programs written to self-improve upon its own intelligence, a computer with the same understanding of the world as a four-year-old human will require only a few hours to generate solutions to every possible theory of physics, quantum mechanics, biology, and any other problem known or unknown to humanity.

A computer of such intelligence will make things like reversing human aging, diseases, and the hard problems of consciousness look like child’s play. Such an entity will not only have the ability to protect all of humanity and elevate it to a literally unimaginable renaissance, but also wipe out every living being with a hyper-efficiency.

 

In short, the possibility of human immortality and extinction will arrive in the same announcement.

AI

AI may just as easily extend the reach of human consciousness as it can be extinguished.

Although Google has set in motion its own artificial intelligence ethics board, many feel as though the actual development of AGI will make such human attempts at controlling this intelligence obsolete almost immediately. Our organic, human intellect will seem like the mind of an ant to an ASI, and that is putting it lightly.

The amount of ethical planning for the creation of such a technology is absolutely immense – how can we program a computer to preserve humanity? What does self-preservation actually mean? Will there be a single ASI or many?

An attempt to conceptualize the way Artificial Superintelligence will think is comparable to releasing chimpanzees in the Library of Congress. No human advancement in the history of our species even comes close to the paradigmatic shift that even general AI will bring, let alone its successor.

Considering that we can barely coordinate our efforts to alleviate things like world poverty, war, and environmental catastrophes, how on Earth will we live alongside a computer several hundred thousand times more powerful than the human brain?

AI for Everyone

While some believe the rise of ASI is inevitable, others remain skeptical that we’ll even reach AGI within 45 years. However, it’s certain that ethics cannot be an afterthought; regardless of how long this development actually takes.

For now we’ll have to be content with Siri and the narrow AI we know and love – just remember that this future is as possible as our will to create allows.

I/O 2016: Google’s Newest Releases and Tech

Although Google is influential to many industries worldwide, the company continually shakes things up in the digital marketing sphere. With the Google’s 2016 I/O conference coming to a close, everyone from developers and marketers to consumers and futurists have something to talk about.

Expanding on its current platforms and introducing new ones, this year’s I/O conference has set an interesting precedent for AI, VR, and other integrative, potentially disruptive technologies.

Sundar than later

Google CEO, Sundar Pichai

As the first keynote given by Google’s latest CEO, Sundar Pichai, there are more than enough takeaway points to start shaping the world of digital marketing for the coming year.

Perhaps the most significant announcement is the revelation of Google’s response to Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, known for now as their “assistant.”

In a recent post, we discussed the rise of voice searches and the shift of traffic as a result. Now, it’s obvious that Google is poised to integrate this interactive technology with everything from messaging apps to their newest device called Google Home.

The device will take full advantage of Google’s assistant to enter the same market of Amazon’s Echo, a voice-activated home device capable for placing orders for pizza, an Uber, or providing quick searches via WiFi. What differentiates Google Home is its search prowess, aimed at providing deeper, more contextual answers than its competitors.

So far it seems like a reasonable selling point considering the company’s advances in machine learning, artificial neural networks, and an ongoing enhancement of their analytics.

Deep Linking and Instant Applications

One of the more surprising features of this I/O 2016 is the introduction of Android Instant Apps. Now instead of requiring users to download mobile apps to their phones, Google has found a way to access certain features within applications on the fly.

Using deep-linking technology, the company says developers won’t have to build new apps in order to reach customers who may not otherwise download them. Using a source code from Google, specific content will be accessible via clickable URLs.

android-instant-apps1

This move will help marketers who haven’t achieved wide downloads, but whose products and services are desirable and are found mostly through the mobile web instead of apps.

Essentially, if marketers gain significant engagement as a result of these instant apps, they will be more inclined to focus on mobile web searches – a place where Google prevails.

So far, this new format for mobile applications has been tested with a few partners, including Buzzfeed, Hotel Tonight, and B&H.

In addition to unveiling Google Home and its assistant technology, two apps, Allo and Duo promised to make use of this AI software to expand and enhance consumer messaging and video chats.

What does this mean for the digital marketing?

As we continually try to evolve our content to reach our targeted audience, the prospects of artificially intelligent search engines and voice assistants only magnify the complexity of the task. Where keywords and phrases had prevailed, now natural language processing is beginning to take over.

It’s clear that Google continues to write its mobile playbook to improve and increase the use of the mobile web. This is bound to create an interesting dynamic between app developers and marketing campaigns as the two shift and share Google’s Android Instant Apps for a shot at higher engagement.

 

To catch up on the highlights from the conference, check out this video from The Verge.

 

A Social Plague: Will Google Ever Master Social?

Google’s announcement of yet another social media tool called, Spaces, has left me (and probably many other Google fans) a little skeptical. With a company as large and successful as Google, it is hard to find fault with anything they do. However, dating back to 2004, we counted 10 Google social platform fails including Dodgeball, Google Lively, and of course, Google Plus. If history is any indicator of Google’s chance for success in social, it could be said that Google may have 99 problems, and social is definitely one.

(In a hurry? Then check out our Google’s Social Fails infographic!)

Orkut

Orkut Logo

Named after its creator, former Google product manager OrkutBüyükkökten, Orkut was launched just 11 days before Facebook in January 2004. Even though at a point in time, it was one of the most visited sites in the countries of Brazil and India, Orkut just could not compete with Facebook’s massive user acquisition. The Orkut site loaded slower and was not user-friendly. Redesigns and updates of the site made the user experience more complicated and eventually led to the loss of their user base. After a ten-year run, Orkut was officially shut down on September 30, 2014.

Dodgeball.com

Dodgeball.com, May 2005 - February 2009

Dodgeball.com was cofounded in 2003 by Dennis Crowley, who would eventually go on to build Foursquare. Dodgeball was a location-based social network that allowed users to share their location with their friends via text messaging. Google bought it in May 2005, but by 2007, Crowley left saying, “the whole experience was incredibly frustrating.” In February of 2009, Dodgeball was shut down for its successor, Google Latitude.

Jaiku

Jaiku Logo

Jaiku was a microblogging platform that could have been Google’s Twitter. In fact, it was actually launched shortly before Twitter in 2006 and Google purchased the company in October 2007. Unfortunately, Google neglected Jaiku, failing to provide updates and support. Because of this, users mass-migrated over to Twitter and Jaiku eventually became stagnant. Google stop providing support for Jaiku in 2009 and made the software open source, but it did not help and Jaiku was officially shut down in January of 2012.

Google Friend Connect

Google Friend Connect Logo

Launched in May 2008, Google Friend Connect was a web widget that would add a “dash of social” to your website. It would use third-party sites to allow users to share information through messaging, photos, and videos. You could use existing accounts from Google, Yahoo, AOL or OpenID to sign in which made it easy for nearly anyone to use. With the arrival of Google Plus, Friend Connect was shut down for all non-Blogger sites March 1, 2012, and for Blogger sites on January 11, 2016.

Google Lively

Google Lively Logo

 

Google wanted a web-based application that could compete with SecondLife so they introduced Google Lively. It was a 3D virtual world where users could customize avatars and “decorate” a room with photos from Picasa, a Google photo service, or videos from YouTube.

It was not really a SecondLife competitor as there was not one single world where users could interact, but users could chat with other avatars and interact with objects. All the items in Lively were free, giving users no sense of value, whereas, on SecondLife, items could be bought and sold, creating a reason for users to continue using the site. Google Lively lasted just 6 months before Google discontinued the service by the end of December 2008.

Google Latitude

Google Latitude Logo

After shutting down Dodgeball, Google introduced Google Latitude in February 2008. This was another attempt at a location-based social application where users could view others or share their location with their friends. It was available for iOS, Blackberry OS, Android and more. The service was eventually discontinued in August 2013 because of the Google Plus Location Sharing feature.

Google Wave

Google Wave Logo

Google Wave was released to the general public in May 2009 and was meant to be the ultimate collaboration tool. It was a communication tool that combined the use of email, instant messaging, wikis, and social networking. Software extensions expanded the range of feature that could be performed including spell checking or translation services. The service would be stop being developed in 2010 for Vic Gundotra and team to prepare for Google Plus. Google Wave was deleted in April 2012.

Aardvark

Aardcark Search Engine Logo

Created in early 2008, Google bought Aardvark in February 2010 with the intention to create a social search engine. Aardvark connected users with friends and friends-of-friends to answer questions. Essentially, it was a knowledge market. When a question was asked, Aardvark would search user profiles, looking for information relevant to the question being asked, to find a user that might be able to answer. In September 2011, Google killed many of their apps and Aardvark was one of them.

Google Buzz

Google Buzz logo

Designed to compete with Facebook and Twitter, Google Buzz was a social network that integrated with many other apps and networks to allow users to share links, photos, videos, status updates, messages, and comments. It launched in February 2010 and Google executives said it was meant to bridge the gap between work and play. But Google’s lack of concern for user privacy led to lawsuits in 2010.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote, “these problems arose because Google attempted to overcome its market disadvantage in competing with Twitter and Facebook by making a secondary use of your information.” A settlement was eventually reached and Google paid $8.5 million to fund groups that promote privacy education on the web. In October 2011, Google announced they would discontinue the service, and it was stopped in December 2011 for Google Plus.

Google+

Amidst a lot of hype and fanfare, Google released Google Plus saying that current online social tools were too rigid and described the social networking scene as “awkward” and “broken.” Google Plus was supposed to “fix” everything and by the time it launched in December 2011, was positioned to be the “Facebook killer.” However, Google Plus did anything but kill Facebook.

By 2012, Google+ was a ghost town with inactivity. Larry Page, co-creator of the network, kept saying the site had 90 million users, but that only technically true. All new users of Google’s services were created a Google+ profile when they signed up. At a point in time, to be able to use YouTube’s services like uploading a video, creating a channel, or even commenting on another video, a user had to have a Google Plus profile.Google Plus Logo

In 2014, Vic Gundotra, the other Google Plus co-creator who was previously part of the Google Wave team, left the company immediately. With that, many companies and people knew that Google Plus was failing in its original goal. Though there has not been an official statement from Google discontinuing the Google Plus Service, it is only a matter of time. By March 2015, the company already moved away from the Google Plus branding, splitting it into two separate stand-alone apps: Photos and Streams. By July 2015, the break-up officially began as Google Plus was split from YouTube.

How Voice Recognition is Changing SEO

Growing up in the era of the personal computer, you can probably recall a hilarious period of time when text to speech programs would blurt out whatever you could type into the entry box. A digitized, nasally sounding voice spoke back unthinkingly, simply crafting sounds out of data provided.

Now, voice assistant technologies are finally making that speech more of a conversation, especially in the world of digital content marketing.

Apples’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Now have been leading this digital dialogue, allowing people to bypass the keyboard (more likely the touchscreen) and speak their search queries however they conceive of them.

Speech recognition technologies have been around for years, but thanks to advances in computing power, machine learning techniques, and natural language processing (NLP) these previously novel features are ready to make a huge impact.

An Industry Responding to Assistive Voice

 

54843438_m

Google Now provides users with the ability to voice search anything on the web.

Google reported that word error rates have decreased to just 8% in April compared to 25% in recent years. Additionally, research conducted by MindMeld, a company specializing in artificially intelligent software solutions found that 60% of people using voice assistants took up the habit in the past 12 months.

Projections from comScore contend that voice assistants will drive nearly 50% of all web searches by 2020. That’s an incredible amount of traffic, all optimized for the human voice, instead of a keyboard.

So what exactly does this mean for SEO and content marketers?

Voice assistants technologies deliver their results through first interpreting human language, but more importantly contextualizing the information being spoken. By learning to understand the user’s intention for the search, a more satisfying result can be produced.

Eventually, deep learning through immense data sets will allow computers to not only make connections based on the natural patterns of human speech, but also begin predicting future searches based on co-occurring key terms.

This means that user behavior could soon be the single most important factor to consider when optimizing content for online applications.

Turning Connections into Conversations

The first step in writing content for the era of voice-assistance means making greater connections within any post or page. As computers start to understand what a search is about, they will be more focused on contextualizing a search within the semantics provided by the user.

For example, if a search reads something like ‘find me a nice restaurant nearby,’ the search engine will learn to associate quality or a 5-star dining experience with places to eat in the area. Inherently, the word “nice” is not entirely descriptive of the desired result; however it constitutes the way people naturally speak.

The trick is getting content to reflect what a user means rather than what they say.

Learning User Characteristics and Behavior

In addition to learning the semantic meaning of a search, computers will increase their understanding of content by getting an idea of who their users are and how they behave.

User behavior will be increasingly understood by asking:

» Who is making a certain query / how many of them click a certain link?
» Did they return to the search results?
» Were they satisfied by the links displayed by their query?

Collecting this data in terms of voice searches will influence everything from page ranking to the actual content present per link.

Predictive Analysis and the Future of Keywords

As computers understand the intended meaning of a search, they will come to know what a user might look for next, ultimately predicting future searches from past behavior.

(Image Courtesy of Search Engine Land)

(Image Courtesy of Search Engine Land)

This means that queries are likely to be satisfied based on the how well a search engine can interpret context rather than a copywriter’s ability to insert the right keyword phrases and links.

Of course this isn’t to say that keywords are entirely useless – it’s quite the contrary. Keyword research is still a great way to find how phrases and queries are changing around a particular subject. Really this is still the groundwork for much of what AI will accomplish by itself eventually, though for now the job of the copywriter is still relevant to a digital world where satisfying human understanding is the main goal.

Creating Content for a Voice Assisted World

While it’s easy to be intimidated by the impending rise of AI, there are still things human content marketers can do to reach a site’s goals, as voice searches become the norm:

» Always ask yourself what questions might bring a user to your site.
» How will they speak these questions?
» Is this site satisfying those queries?
» Are visitors likely to click back if they don’t find complete information?
» Is this site optimized for mobile use, and in what context do people visit the page?
» Can this page support casually phrased voice searches as well as more in-depth queries?

Preparing for the next innovations in SEO is key to staying afloat in a constantly shifting sea of information. Whether you’re chatting up Cortana, speaking to Siri or gabbing with Google, it’s clear we are only going to get more comfortable talking to our electronics — and more importantly having them talkback!

SEO Strategies that are Killing your Rankings

Most marketers know the benefits of successful search engine optimization strategies, but every now and then, you’ll come across an individual that that claims “SEO is dead”. While not dead, staying up to date with the newest ways to build website rankings can be a difficult feat. Nonetheless, those that claim that this process is dead are probably referring to the old, spammy, and essentially aggressive SEO strategies.

These strategies are called Black Hat SEO. Back in the day (like five or so years ago), what we now refer to as black hat SEO was the quickest and easiest way to boost your website rankings. In 2012, Google threw everyone through a loop and starting penalizing a lot of websites that were using these strategies. Shockingly enough, many people are still using some of them today.

Here’s a list of SEO strategies that are probably killing your website rankings:

17869644_ml

Spam Comments: Do you ever drop your link into the comment section of blogs, news articles or anything else with an area for comments?

Key Word Overload: We understand that you’re trying to rank for a specific word or words, but throwing that word into every sentence multiple times looks and sounds incredibly awkward.

Bulk Directory Linking: Submitting your site to hundreds of irrelevant link directories, and depending on the directory, your website rankings can be negatively affected.

Exact Match Domain: While this doesn’t negatively impact your website’s rankings, it’s really no longer deemed important that your key word is located in your site’s domain name.

Invisible Key Words: Let’s say your website background is white, so you throw your key word up there hundreds of times in white, so that Google sees it, but those visiting your website don’t. Google was not happy about this one, and penalized most sites that were using this practice.

Link Networks: This is a domain or multiple domains and their only purpose is to provide a different domain with backlinks. These are typically owned by the same individual or company.

Buying Links: Some sites will offer to provide links for an amount of money, but this is pretty risky business. More often than not, these are sketchy sites that will actually hurt your SEO.

Use of Irrelevant Key Words: Don’t publish irrelevant content on your site. If you’re trying to rank for words like “hotels”, don’t be post things that don’t have anything to do with hotels or the hospitality industry.

Cloaking: This is presenting the website user with completely different content that is shown to the search engines that are crawling the site, and is considered a “deceptive SEO strategy”.

So when, Google caught on, most of us became aware that these strategies could be the death of our website rankings. But, if you’ve been in a cave the past four years, and are still posting invisible key words all over your site, please STOP – your website rankings will thank you.