SEO Keyword Strategy for Fashion Ecommerce Websites: It’s All About Trends

In the digital age, it should come as no surprise that search trends follow the rise and fall of fashion (and cultural) trends. Or should it?

Fashionista Marie picks up her favorite magazine, covering the top 10 hot trends for spring. The editors of StyleMag have been planning features for spring since attending New York Fashion Week the previous fall. Marie scopes out a few potential dresses for her friend’s engagement party. She picks up her iPad, and types in a featured dress style, “colorblock dress.”

Rewind. Place search marketer hat on. Revisit. Everything Marie has done was entirely predictable six months ago by the close of fashion week. Google’s own search trend data substantiates this as does an audit of Pinterest results for last spring.

Forecasting (Unscientifically) Via Pinterest Trends

If 2012 is any indication, Pinterest will also start to serve as a secondary (search) forecast of which trends will sell and drive traffic. Take the “color block” trend from spring 2012. While Pinterest doesn't provide result counts, let’s just say the scrolling of results for “color block” devotee boards and pins are endless.

Search Trend Volume Substantiated

Google’s search volumes for 2012 confirm the same popularity for “colorblock dress.” Notice the minor peak in September 2011 when the runway debuted Spring 2012 looks and then the rising interest through June 2012 as apparel lines became widely available for purchase.

Runway and Color Trends - Translated to Consumer Language

Ecommerce organizations are already on top of this – with knowledge passing sales predictions (influenced by the runway) from fashion buyers to merchant and marketing teams focused on feature and promotion planning, but SEO remains the ugly stepsister.

SEOs should follow the same process as buyers and designers. Let’s call this keyword brainstorming. Start with a list of potential product offerings to be offered on the site. For categories, ask what are the next season’s top silhouettes and product types? For products, ask what are the season’s hot colors, materials (eyelet, leather), even prints (floral, leopard)?

In addition to the runway recap, anyone supporting fashion should know the color bible that is Pantone, which produces a fashion color report for every season. Pantone provides a master list of top colors on its website for free. These tend to be the colors splashed all over runways and eventually products sold on eCommerce sites and in stores nationwide. In short, Pantone influences designer and buyer choices that make it to market.

2013’s Pantone Color of the Year is emerald green. As proof of cause and effect, Google AdWords Keyword Research Tool illustrates that monthly searches in the U.S. for “emerald dress” are currently well over 12,000.

For next fashion season, take Pantone’s listed colors and translate them into consumer friendly terms. Marigold equals yellow. Ox blood equals burgundy. Color “modifiers” matter.

These shades drive trends, search volume, conversion, and maybe even sell-through.

How to Find Current Trends

Above and beyond the runway, it’s also possible to find search trend data for a given apparel category, in a more recent time frame. Below is a snapshot of what trends were most searched in women’s apparel in the last 90 days, available for free from Google Trends. With spring on the horizon, top searches include sundresses, maxi dresses, and high waisted shorts.

The same trend investigation in the Outerwear category in the last 90 days tell us that consumers are looking for yellow raincoats as they get ready for April showers.

Cultural Trends Drive Search Volume

It isn't just the runway that influences search trends. The First Ladies on both sides of the Atlantic have proven to set style preferences as well. Again, unsurprisingly, we see this substantiated by search volumes.

In 2011, Kate Middleton wore a navy lace dress on her trip with Prince William to Canada, which has been covered by paparazzi worldwide. Women’s interest in navy dresses has since increased gradually into 2013. Not only in terms of search volume (see below), but also in designers offering their own interpretation of the style, as evidenced by results from Google Shopping.

Ecommerce sites can capitalize on the celebrity fashion news or cultural trends the same way as editors; blogging opened doors for this opportunity years ago.

Scan a magazine rack today and you can’t miss a cover shoot of Lena Dunham, producer of the hit HBO series "Girls". Ecommerce brand recent blog post featured a round up of all the Lulu’s products befitting the Girls’ characters’ styles, therein driving links to a range of products in their catalog to create SEO value. main demographic is also juniors, many of whom fall into the same audience as age group as the cable show.

Tying Trend Data into Your Keyword Strategy

All of these trend sources can be leveraged to develop a seasonal keyword strategy. To establish a foundation of data to work from, start with a review of:

Editorial coverage of next season’s trendsTrends terms in PinterestPantone’s color report

Trend data will need to be matched up with merchandising and marketing plans for the season. Key areas of focus are:

Catalog product volume by trendPlans for features and categorizationBlog and content development plans

With the right candidates in mind, trends can be translated with keyword brainstorming by product type, material, and color shade. From this master list, keyword targets should be chosen across the catalog and developed into meta data and URL recommendations.

For further trend optimization and reach, the top 10 keywords for the season should be circulated to teams in charge of social, blog, content, along with guidance around cross-linking products and categories from the blog or social properties.

Convergence Analytics: Digital Measurement in Transition
This joint report by ClickZ and Efectyv Marketing seeks to identify how the evolution of digital analytics affects and challenges practitioners, vendors, and investors.Download it today!

Yes, Google Says It’s Having Problems Listing iTunes Preview Pages

Yes, it is harder to find pages to iTunes apps in Google. But no, the company says, it’s not part of some nefarious plot. Rather, Google’s having technical problems gathering iTunes Preview pages, an issue it’s working to solve.

Google has confirmed the issue, saying:

We’ve been having some issues fetching pages from the iTunes web servers, and as a result some people may have had problems finding iTunes apps in search easily. We’re working with the team there to ensure search users can find what they’re looking for.

In particular, the head of Google’s web spam team Matt Cutts, said on Twitter that this was due to Apple sending 403 “forbidden” errors, when Google tried to access some pages. From his tweet:

@ourielohayon I assume you saw� ? The iTunes web servers were sending lots of 403s when fetching from certain IPs.

� Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) April 3, 2013

He further added that “it wasn’t anything on our side.”

If you want to understand more about what’s been going on, and what people were wondering, you can read my original story below, when I was trying to figure out what was happening from afar.

Where’s iTunes?

The story starts with a Facebook post today by Ouriel Ohayon, cofounder of Appsfire, who seems concerned that the iTunes page for his own WhatsApp messaging app doesn’t appear at the top of Google’s results and points to the same as not happening for Twitter as a problem. From his post:

Something really weird starts to happen on Google. It has become impossible to find iPhone and iPad apps looking for them in the search engine with a normal query. Eg “twitter iPhone app” which used to bring instantly the iTunes link first. What happened ? Google playing games? See that screenshot taken from Google own iPhone app.

His screenshot shows the homepage for WhatsApp coming first, followed by his own download page and then, a link to where the app can be found in Google Play. That’s very similar to what you see for Web search results (all results shown in this article are from me being logged out and in “Incognito” mode in Chrome, to minimize the impact of personalization):

Developer’s Own Site Coming First Is An Issue?

My immediate thought is that this is a pretty odd complaint from a developer, being upset that Google is listing their own site above iTunes or anyone else. If you go to the WhatsApp homepage, listed first in the results, you can easily get to a page listing where it’s available for download on a variety of platforms, including iOS. That download page itself is listed second. A page from WhatsApp for BlackBerry users comes third. The first three arrows show all these.

Of course, Google does list some pages for the app within actual app stores. Google Play gets fourth billing above, followed further down by listing for the app in the BlackBerry, Nokia and Windows Phone app stores.

A Duplicate Content Problem?

Where’s iTunes? We’re trying to figure that out for ourselves. It might be that Google has done something dastardly. But we suspect the problem might be on Apple’s end. Consider this:

That’s a search on Google specifically to find pages that are about the WhatsApp App. You can see that WhatsApp Messenger is listed twice. The arrows point out how the top listing is for the page in the US version of Apple’s iTunes store; the second listing, with the “LC” in the URL, seems to be for the St. Lucia version.

This suggests that Apple might have a duplicate content issue happening, perhaps one that’s become recent, for some reason. With duplicate content, you have two or more pages that are virtually identical to each other. That can confuse search engines and sometimes have the effect of “splitting the vote” when it comes to ranking, so that neither page wins.

But Bing Gets It Right

Of course, this isn’t happening on Bing. There, iTunes does well (while Google Play, BlackBerry and even the Windows Phone app store are nowhere to be seen on the first page):

Bing also manages to do this despite dealing with the same duplicate content issue as Google:

Impossible To Find Apps? No.

Now let’s step back and look at another example, drawing from Ohayon’s original statement:

It has become impossible to find iPhone and iPad apps looking for them in the search engine with a normal query. Eg “twitter iPhone app” which used to bring instantly the iTunes link first. What happened ?

To clarify, it’s not impossible. It’s actually pretty easy. It’s just harder to find the apps directly on iTunes versus the developer’s own site. Using his own Twitter example:

It’s exceedingly easy to find the Twitter for iPhone app. It’s listed right at the top of the page, on Twitter itself. Yes, you have to click from there to do the actual download from iTunes, but it’s hard to say that it’s not relevant to show the official page, from the official developer, first. As for iTunes, it appears listed third — after two pages from Twitter. (FYI, on Bing, iTunes comes first, followed by Twitter’s page).

Both Google & Bing Have Issues

Another example comes from The Next Web, which ran several queries to judge the�visibility�of iTunes. When I do that search, I get the Facebook official page at the top (similar to what happens with WhatApp and Twitter). iTunes does have a page that appears, but oddly for the Facebook Pages Manager. That’s at least better than Bing, where iTunes doesn’t appear at all:

Weird, and it makes it seems that perhaps this isn’t just a Google thing.

Google Favoring Itself? Not Necessarily

Then again, The Next Web points out that for searches on “google maps iphone” or “youtube iphone,” Google manages to list iTunes first. Gotcha!

Well, no. Google doesn’t really have a page for Google Maps for iPhone, not like how Twitter or Facebook have pages for their own apps. Really, it doesn’t. Nor one for YouTube, either. What it has is one giant page where all of these are listed, each with a link leading over to iTunes (in contrast, there is a YouTube app�page for Android).

Skipping over to TechCrunch, there’s a flat-out declaration in the opening paragraph that “Google search is making it more difficult to surface iOS applications.” This isn’t correct on two fronts.

First, it’s pretty clear Google is listing apps but directly from the developers, rather than iTunes — and that doesn’t necessarily make them harder to find.

Consider Snapchat, an example that TechCrunch uses as supposedly being missing in action for a search on “snapchat iphone.”�It’s not. It’s listed right at the top of the page — the official site.

But agreed, it is odd that an iTunes link isn’t showing (which does show at Bing). But that leads to the unsupported statement that Google is making iTunes listings harder to find on purpose. We don’t know that. Maybe it is, and on purpose. Maybe it is as a consequence of some change that’s impacting many results. Maybe there’s a chance something on Apple’s end is having an impact.

I’ve got messages out to Google and Apple, to see if they can shed any light on the situation. Until then, personally, I’d reign in the paranoia. While there’s no love lost between the two companies, this is far more likely some technical issue than Google attempting to unwisely go thermonuclear on iTunes.

Oh, and developers, this is a good lesson why you never, ever, should assume that your page on anyone’s app store is a substitute for having your own actual page about your apps. Have your own page, and you’re always directly in control of at least one entry point for those searching on Google or Bing.

Postscript (4pm PT): Google has sent me this statement:

We’ve been having some issues fetching pages from the iTunes web servers, and as a result some people may have had problems finding iTunes apps in search easily. We’re working with the team there to ensure search users can find what they’re looking for.

Postscript 2 (11:50pm PT): This story was further updated above to add in the tweet from Matt Cutts.

SEO Diagnostics: Urgent & Preventive Care

You can’t truly have a successful search engine optimization (SEO) program without evaluating your performance over time and knowing how potential technical issues can affect your website from a crawling, indexing and user experience perspective.

The SEO Diagnostics for the Skilled Search Mechanic panel at SES New York last week, moderated by Kristjan Mar Hauksson (@optimizeyourweb), founder and director of Search & Online Communications at Nordic eMarketing, brought together some very useful ideas on monitoring and getting the most out of your search results, being prepared to react and fix issues when need be, and knowing what to think about when it comes to the ins and outs of technical SEO.

Real-Time SEO Diagnostics: Ways to Lead a Moving Target

To kick things off we had Chris Boggs (@boggles), CMO of Internet Marketing Ninjas, Chairman of SEMPO and also on the Advisory Board of SES, discuss why having a proactive approach to SEO is important, but also being prepared to react at the right time is crucial when it comes to the success of your program. In fact, Boggs recently wrote a Search Engine Watch post around this same topic – SEO Diagnostics: Proactive and Reactive Diplomacy.

Boggs started off by saying there is no single needle in the haystack that can help you with the success of your site’s performance and digital marketing program as a whole. Over time you need to establish the right steps and find the tools that make most sense for your business.

When it comes to seeing whether your brand has authority in Google’s eyes, here are three things you can evaluate:

Do you have sitelinks that show up with your brand search results with a number one listing?Does your brand merit a "Brand Seven-Pack"?How strong is your brand social presence?

Touching more on the brand social presence piece, Boggs went on to say that if you already have your Google+ Business page showing up on the right side of your brand search results, you have the ability to directly communicate in real-time with your target audiences, which is great. You can tell if your social presence is strong if you have that enabled; you can also look at the rest of the seven-pack when/if it appears to see if your social channels are showing there as well.

So what other proactive tactics did Boggs recommend? Here are some additional tips:

Type in in Google to see the results that come back to see how your website is doing. This allows you to see which pages of your site come back in which priority by keyword. Also, notice what types of universal results are showing up (e.g., video, news, images, etc.).Take data from Google and Bing Webmaster Tools (WMT) and try to validate what you’re seeing there in your web analytics tools (e.g., Google Analytics). For example, if you notice you have a slow page load time in WMT, then that might explain why you have a high bounce rate for the same page in Google Analytics. Take the time to really understand your WMT data.

Shifting focus to reactive SEO tactics, Boggs offered the following advice when things don’t exactly go as planned in his PREPARE acronym:

Prepare for eventual SEO problem (and don’t blame Google, Bing, or your SEO).Readiness, recognition, and multidisciplinary response to disasters and emergencies.Educate all stakeholders, especially those with control over code or content.Promote an effective workflow to be able to treat issues in such emergencies.Alert all core personnel and stakeholders (don’t try to hide it).React swiftly and decisively.Evaluate remedial measures in real-time.Summary of Technical SEO

Adam Audette (@audette), Chief Knowledge Officer at RKG, was up next with his information-packed presentation on technical SEO.

Audette started off by saying that we need to be strategic about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Technical SEO might make a lower impact on results, but it’s highly dependable in terms of control.

Before making any changes to your site try and justify your recommendations by putting together projections for your key stakeholders. For example, take the number of pages you think will be impacted by the changes, multiply them by average conversion percentage, or average revenue per page, or average leads per visit, etc. and articulate what kind of increase you’ll likely see in traffic, conversions and ultimately revenue as it makes sense.

Audette touched on the following technical areas:

Canonical Signals

There were two main issues that Audette pointed out with Canonical Signals:

When canonical tags on the site are not part of the internal link profile, which means there’s a link that exists in a canonical tag that is not used in any of the internal links on the site. Self-referencing canonical tags that point to non-canonicals.

What you want is consistent signals with your URLs across your site. So when search engines start crawling the pages you want everything to line up, from the links in your navigation, to internal links, external backlinks, canonical tags, XML files, etc. If you’re able to accomplish this it’s incredibly powerful as a signal to search engines and works very well.


Audette touched on two generally-accepted best practices for pagination:

View All - if you have a good View All that is fast-loading, and contains all products or items included on pages you can just rel canonical all of your pages back to View All. That said, if you don’t want to use a View All, you can use rel prev, next, along with self-referencing canonicals to handle any duplicate content.

Handling Duplicate Content

There were two main issues that Audette discussed when it comes to handling duplicate content.

Use robots.txt to handle duplicate content. This is usually a bad idea, because it passes no equity and search engines can’t crawl what’s excluded in robots.txt. Have an m. subdomain for mobile content that is competing against desktop content. The desktop version of your content needs a rel alternate tag, which can be placed in sitemaps, or on the page itself, and the mobile version should use rel=canonical.

Audette then went on to discuss six tools for managing duplicate content:

Rel=canonical: Your best option, but pages have to be highly equivalent for this to work rightMeta noindex (follow, nofollow): Nice way to exclude content from searchesRobots.txt: As mentioned above, not the best ideaNofollow (link attribute): Works best as a link-level toolWebmaster Tools parameters: You can have a lot of success using this, but you need true value pairsRel prev, next

Faceted Navigation

Audette had three recommendations for dealing with faceted navigation, which are a powerful and easy way for users to search for what they want on your site by selecting their options. They were:

Identify search vs. overhead facets and append the overhead stuff in parameters at the end of URLs if possible.Always force the canonical path regardless of selection order.Build URLs intuitively based on how people search.

Product Variations & Inventory

Audette then went on to identify three basic options to handle product variations: you can either:

Use unique URLs for each one.Create unique attribute-specific versions of the URL and then rel=canonical back to the attribute-agnostic version, so that’s the one that ranks.Put all variations in the interface so the URL does not change no matter what options are selected (the best way in Audette's opinion).

So what happens when products expire and don’t come back? If you have review data for products you don’t carry, but you want to still leverage the review data (i.e., user-generated content), provide a message that the product is no longer carried on the page, but link to a similar product option.

Crawling & Response Codes

There are two main issues that Audette identified here:

500 server code errors still present significant problems on sites. All websites have finite crawl resources, and once you clean up the overhead junk (i.e., duplicate pages, crawl errors, etc.) you help the crawl immensely. Another thing you can do to help your crawl efficiency is to monitor your indexation accurately by using segmented XML files - you can do this by splitting your XML sitemaps into categories, then use the following search operators – site: geturl: and intitle: in Google. Log the data you get every week or every month, which will ultimately help you pinpoint your crawl issues and allow you to fix them more easily.

Another thing you can do to help your crawl efficiency is to use 304 not modified for pages that have not changed in a while.

Site Speed

There were seven main tips that Audette highlighted for fast sites:

Gzip HTTP compression, which decreases file transfer size. Set a far-future Expires header, which allows browsers to cache content and assets.Use the asynchronous GA code (if you use Google Analytics), which is much quicker.CSS and avoid @import, to allow parallel downloading.Specify a character set, so browsers can begin parsing/executing faster.Avoid empty img tags, since they create HTTP requests.Set image dimensions and compress your images, which reduces page load time.


Companies are seeing more of their overall traffic coming from users on mobile devices, so what do you do to provide a good user experience? Responsive design is in fashion and is a great idea, but it’s not for every business. So what other ways are possible? You can

Dynamically serve mobile content using the Vary header.Use a subdomain – but make sure you put rel alternate and rel canonical in place on the desktop and mobile pages, respectively.

What issues do you need to consider when it comes to setting up your mobile experience using responsive design? Given that it isn't trivial to do, you have always serve the exact same HTML code and CSS controls the layout, so Google needs to be able to crawl all your Javascript and CSS.

Finally, Audette covered some of the advantages of responsive design, which include:

Having a single URL for every page.No redirection is necessary.You can have more efficient crawls.

Efficient and Effective:Automating Efforts Target, Acquire and Convert the Right Prospects
Thursday, April 4, 1pm ET - Get real-life examples of how marketers can rise to the challenge - continually tweaking their programs in order to increase revenue and prove ROI. Key topics covered will include lead generation and conversion tactics, best practices for leveraging automation, and tips for demonstrating ROI. Sign up for this Free Webinar!

SEO & Keywords: Think Conversions, Not Rankings

Search engine optimization (SEO) has changed dramatically over the years and will continue to change. SEO firms of all sizes face challenges with selling, delivering, and ultimately demonstrating results of services to end clients.

The way we market, sell, deliver and report on SEO services has not kept pace and needs to catch up.

If you ask marketers today what SEO is about they will likely still say things like, "ranking number one in Google". And, unfortunately, this is what they are looking for in the SEO sales and service delivery process. (Learn more about this in "SEO Buying & Selling: 4 Tricks Creating Unachievable Expectations")

However, reporting on improvements in keyword position is pointless without applying keyword visits and conversion data.

We know SEO is an ongoing, long-term process. More specifically, it's the process of continually discovering highly converting, non-branded keywords that are driving organic search traffic and conversions. It’s about understanding search intent and how keywords used to describe your products and services evolve as a prospect progresses through the buying cycle. It is then about having insight into great data and taking action by including those optimized keywords in your content marketing plan.

This SEO process can't begin and end in a particular project phase or be completed after just one month of keyword research. It is now a four-step process that requires an SEO culture change, which includes:

Selling the concept of discovering and optimizing for highly converting keywords.Discovering non-branded keywords driving traffic and conversions.Delivering additional SEO services to capitalize on highly converting keywords.Reporting on the evolution of highly converting keywords and content.Step 1: Selling the Concept

The first place to introduce the concept of discovering and optimizing for highly converting keywords is in your marketing and sales conversations. Many SEO prospects and clients still want to buy the promise of a number 1 search position for their keywords. This goal is difficult to obtain and maintain and sets unachievable expectations for you and your client.

Instead, avoid the urge to agree upon a list of keywords with your client that your team is going to "optimize for" - that list of 10, 20, or 30 keywords that your team will go away and "do SEO for." You can call this list of keywords the keyword gap.

Every client will have a list of keywords they think they want to rank for when in reality there’s a more highly converting keyword list that will perform better. That’s what the second step, discovery, is all about.

You can do some initial keyword discovery in the sales process to demonstrate the keyword gap. Show the prospect some data for two keywords, for example:

Which one is the better performing keyword:

Keyword 1 (condominiums for sale in Richmond) in Position 4 for a particular page with 20 visits and 10 conversions?Keyword 2 (condos in Richmond) in Position 3 for a different page with 3 visits and 1 conversion?

Based on the topic of this article, the quick answer is, Keyword 1 in Position 4 (condominiums for sale in Richmond) is a better performing keyword. An alternative answer is: more keyword discovery is required to understand if there are opportunities to optimize the web page that Keyword 2 is positioned for. Or maybe Keyword 1 is one of those highly converting keywords that should be included in all content marketing efforts.

Takeaway: Build time into your sales proposal and SEO program for ongoing discovery to uncover those highly converting keywords prospects are using at different stages of the buying cycle. Base decisions on great SEO data from a variety of sources, including SERPs, organic traffic, and conversion data. Always be on the lookout for new opportunities to optimize.

Step 2: The Discovery Process

The discovery process for new non-branded keywords should be practiced as frequently as possible. Uncover the new, non-branded keywords that are driving organic search traffic and conversions and determine whether there is an opportunity to further optimize the web presence for these keywords.

The success of this process depends on setting up goals and conversions in your analytics system. One of my favorite sayings about SEO is, "don’t bother even starting the SEO process unless you have website analytics goals and conversions configured."

Goals and conversions in your analytics system don't have to be complicated. Start with simple conversions and as you learn about your web presence increase the sophistication.

Think about what you want your website visitors to do. What would you consider a successful visit?

Here are a few examples of metrics to measure successful visits (conversions) from organic search:

Time spent on site: If a visitor has stayed on the site for a certain number of minutes (3+) and the bounce rate is low, then perhaps it can be concluded that the visitor read the content. The content was appealing to them.Number of pages visited: If the visitor reviews two or more pages, then perhaps it can be concluded that they were intrigued with the content enough to read further.Main product or services page to contact sales page: If the main purpose of the site is to promote the organization’s main product, did the visitor review the product page, then the pricing page then the contact sales page?

Takeaway: Below is the process for uncovering highly-converting keywords.

Set up goals and conversions in analytics.As frequently as possible, look for the top non-branded keywords that are driving organic search traffic and conversions.Understand the rank position for the keyword and which page or pages are ranking.Understand the search volume for the keyword (both broad match and exact match).Analyze the ranking pages and look for opportunities to optimize for the keyword in question.Implement changes and watch for changes in position, traffic from organic search, and most importantly conversions. If there are positive changes, create some additional content that includes the keyword and again watch for changes.Report newly identified, non-branded keywords and progress to the client.Step 3: Delivering Additional SEO Services to Capitalize on Highly Converting Keywords

Once a new non-branded keyword is discovered and reported to the client, discuss the keyword opportunity and the plan for capitalizing on it.

What was the entry page for that keyword?Where in the buying cycle is that keyword likely to be used?What kind of content can be created and distributed to further support that keyword and the prospect as they demonstrate their intent to find content?Is it worth further investment in SEO?

At this point, there is an opportunity to upsell the client on additional service hours to optimize and create content for the newly discovered and agreed upon keywords. It is also the point where the keyword should be included in the full content marketing strategy and further planning done on the type of content prospects require at this particular stage in the buying cycle.

Perhaps it’s a focused case study, with supporting blog content, video, whitepaper or a combination. Think about the distribution points for the content and the possible backlinks and social signals that can be created for the keyword.

Takeaway: Set aside time each month to discuss newly discovered keywords with the client.

Step 4: Reporting on the Evolution of Highly Converting Keywords & Content

The approach of identifying and focusing on highly converting keywords then incorporating those keywords into the full content marketing strategy requires a different level of reporting compared to the basic monthly SEO reporting of number of backlinks, number of keywords on Page 1, etc.

Including keyword visits and conversions data alongside position data is a great first step to getting the client thinking about the difference between ranking first for any keyword versus ranking for the keywords prospects actually value and associate with your organization.

Once the keyword is incorporated into the full content marketing strategy the reporting requirements should shift to be focused on the performance of the particular piece of content or the content marketing campaign. This is where the disciplines of SEO, social media and content marketing begin to completely collide. (Learn more about this in "Why an Optimized Content Strategy is Crucial for Social & Search")

Takeaway: With the right tracking and metrics technologies the impact of content on a web presence for the purpose of organic search optimization can be reported, including:

How the position has been affected for a particular cluster of keywords.How many backlinks and social signals have been created.How many keyword visits and conversions are associated with the content campaign.And most importantly, how many sales are attributed to the content.


Google’s algorithm updates have changed the practice of SEO. Search marketing firms have an opportunity to evolve their sales, delivery and reporting practices to differentiate themselves.

Focusing on the discovery of highly converting keywords beginning with the sales and marketing conversations through delivery and reporting will produce stronger SEO results over the long term and happier SEO clients.

Efficient and Effective:Automating Efforts Target, Acquire and Convert the Right Prospects
Thursday, April 4, 1pm ET - Get real-life examples of how marketers can rise to the challenge - continually tweaking their programs in order to increase revenue and prove ROI. Key topics covered will include lead generation and conversion tactics, best practices for leveraging automation, and tips for demonstrating ROI. Sign up for this Free Webinar!

Asteroid 2012 DA14 Google Doodle Pulled After Meteor Blast

You won’t be seeing an animated Google Doodle meant to coincide with the passing of Asteroid 2012 DA14 on Google's home page today. The Doodle, which you can see above, was pulled after hundreds of injuries were reported in Russia due to a meteor blast.

NBC News described the meteor blast as “an atomic bomb-sized shock wave” that hurt nearly a thousand people and blew out windows.

In the simple animated logo, the lower case blue “g” notices something coming from above and hops out of the way just in time to let the asteroid safely fly through its vacated spot.

“Out of respect for those injured in the extraordinary meteor shower in Russia earlier today, we have removed today’s doodle from the Google homepage,” a Google spokesperson told ABC News. “The doodle was created to mark Asteroid 2012 DA14 passing Earth.”

The logo can still be found on Google’s site here.

Convergence Analytics: Digital Measurement in Transition
This joint report by ClickZ and Efectyv Marketing seeks to identify how the evolution of digital analytics affects and challenges practitioners, vendors, and investors. Download it today!

#OptimizeBook – An Evening of Laughs, Learning, and Networking with The Top Marketers & PR Professionals In the Twin Cities

The official Optimize Minneapolis book launch is finally upon us.��Tomorrow from 5:30pm-7:30pm over 200 of the Twin Cities top Marketers and PR professionals will gather at Aria in Minneapolis to mix, mingle, and learn a little bit about optimization from Lee Odden.

With the SEO is dead stories coming from�traditional�media, Google making major changes and consumer shifts towards social media consumption and sharing, the notion of what optimization is has really changed. The good news is that Optimize gives readers a roadmap and specific tactics on how to integrate the best of search, social and content into an “optimized state of mind”. �The Optimize Minneapolis book launch will give our friends in the Minneapple a taste of why some of the top marketers in the world are saying such great things about Optimize.

The #OptimizeBook event would not have come together as smoothly as it has without the help and support of our sponsors.��I would like to use this post as a way of recognizing the organizations that helped make the Optimize Minneapolis book launch a reality, in their own words.

#OptimizeBook Corporate Sponsors

Raven Tools: Collaborate, Research, Manage, and Monitor Your Online Presence

Raven Internet Marketing Tools�is an online platform that helps users quickly research, manage, monitor and report on SEO, social media and other Internet marketing campaigns.

Its collaborative, multi-user features and fast, professional reports make it the software choice of thousands of online marketers worldwide. Raven Internet Marketing Tools, a privately-held Nashville-based company, was founded in 2007. �Learn More About Raven Tools

Acquisio: Optimize & Manage Your Online Marketing Strategy

The leading performance media platform for agencies, Acquisio helps agency marketers buy, track, manage, optimize, retarget, and report on media across all channels including search, display, and social media.

Acquisio provides the industry-leading technology for agencies buying ads on any online channel, allowing them to handle all tasks associated with performance advertising, from ad purchase through conversion tracking and beyond, within a single integrated platform. Unlike other solutions, Acquisio hosts its own third-party ad server and employs a single tracking functionality across channels, allowing agency marketers unparalleled conversion and revenue attribution modeling and reporting capabilities.� Learn More About Acquisio

Vocus: Cloud-Based Marketing & PR Software

Vocus is a leading provider of cloud-based marketing and PR software that helps businesses reach and influence buyers across social networks, online and through the media. Vocus provides an integrated suite that combines social marketing, search marketing, email marketing and publicity into a comprehensive solution to help businesses attract, engage and retain customers.

Vocus is used by more than 120,000 organizations worldwide and is available in seven languages. Vocus was a pioneer of the cloud-based business model and today is a public company (NASDAQ: VOCS) that continues to help organizations grow their business through the use of innovative and easy-to-use software. Headquartered in Beltsville, MD, Vocus has been recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Metro-Washington, D.C. �Learn More About Vocus

Digital People: Your Creative Staffing Partner

Finding a�creative staffing�partner that gets your business� creative strategy, tight deadlines and last minute schedules is important to you. We understand. Digital People has over 25 years of dedicated experience in creative, marketing and new media disciplines.

At Digital People, we believe that finding the perfect client-creative match is important�especially in time-crunch situations. Our highly trained�creative staffing team and recruiters come from creative and marketing backgrounds. They understand the importance of strategy and branding, as well as finding the right talent to enhance your brand. They will ask prospective talent recruits all the right questions on your behalf so that they can pair you with the right creative person. They also keep up with all the current trends such as interactive and social media. In short, our professionals are very familiar with the marketing and advertising industry. �Learn More About Digital People

Unbounce: Landing Pages Made Simple

Unbounce makes it easy for Marketers to create, publish and test landing pages. We developed Unbounce after experiencing first hand the frustration of trying to get effective landing pages launched for our own online marketing campaigns.

It’s important to get things done quickly in marketing, a task made more difficult when you have to rely upon IT resources who have their own priorities and processes.

We also realized that IT doesn’t relish the idea of having to drop everything to develop a landing page, deal with change requests or get involved in the setup and maintenance of a testing environment. �Learn More About Unbounce

Trackur: Monitor Your Reputation & Social Media Online

Trackur is an online reputation & social media monitoring tool designed to assist you in tracking what is said about you on the internet. Trackur scans hundreds of millions of web pages�including news, blogs, video, images, and forums�and lets you know if it discovers anything that matches the keywords that interest you.

Using sophisticated social media monitoring and filtering technology, Trackur is your online reputation guardian. It does the heavy-lifting for you�scanning the web for any mention of your name, brands, and products�so you don�t have to. �Learn More About Trackur

Thank You To Our Media Sponsors!Minnesota Interactive Marketing AssociationSocial Media Breakfast Minneapolis / St. PaulMinnesota Blogger ConferenceMinnesota�PRSAMN American Marketing AssociationIABC MinnesotaMN SearchCan’t Make It?

Don’t worry, you can still participate. �Follow the conversation online!

Instagram & Twitter Hashtag: #OptimizeBook

Twiter Handles To Watch For: @TopRank & @LeeOdden

We look forward to catching up with old friends, and meeting many of you for the first time. �Don’t be afraid to share your experience, in fact we want you to. �I hope to see you there. � In the words of our fearless leader Lee Odden – Go forth and Optimize!

Bing Ads Redesigns Hub For Ad Manager Resources

Bing Ads has launched a redesign of its search advertising site. The site is designed to provide a single access point for content and resources about Bing Ads and search advertising on the Yahoo! Bing Network.

It consolidates materials from�the Bing Ads Community site, the�Bing Ads search advertising support center�and the help files found within the Bing Ads platform itself.� The Bing Ads blog, forum and training materials� as well as vertical insights (which covers the finance, health & fitness, home & garden and travel industries) and tool downloads like Bing Ads Editor are all accessible from the search advertising site.

A screenshot of the redesigned home page is below.


Screw Link Building, It's Called Relationship Building!

Do you get queasy at the thought of the term "link building"? Well, maybe you're thinking about link building the wrong way.

Try thinking about link building as a way to build value and loyalty with people in your vertical. Not only will it be a longer-term effort that just spamming people for links, but the effect will be longer lasting and way more authentic.

That was the overarching message from the Screw Link Building, It's Called Relationship Building session last week at SES New York.

Speakers Erin Everhart (@erinever), director of web marketing, 352 Media Group, and Jo Turnbull (@SEOJoBlogs), founder, SEO Jo Blogs, explained how to build a relationship versus a link and broke down case studies to illustrate why relationship building is far more effective than the old ways of link building.

Why Build a Relationship Instead of a Link?

The benefits of relationship building, according to Turnbull, are:

Low cost for you and your client.It’s longer lasting.It’s more beneficial to you and the client.Quality link building is about relationship building.You stay current with shifting market dynamics.Don’t be left behind by Google updates.

Sold? Now it's time to start building relationships. Her advice:

Be honest and open to people.Attend events. Building relationships offline should be as much of a priority as building relationships online.Take the long-term view when building relationships. The results you get from those relationships will last longer and go further than just one link.Do something different and stand out so people will want to also build relationships with you.Making the Case for Relationship Building

Turnbull's first case study was on her efforts with Search London. She took over Search London in October 2010 when the organizer stepped down. At that time, the group only had 200 members. Her goal was to grow the event and develop more relationships with people in all areas of search.

She created several events through 2012-2013 and after putting forth effort, increasing meet-up events, she ended up not only building additional relationships but also managed to increase the membership of the group by 86 percent.

How was this done?

The group was on a strong domain.She got good speakers to attend, just by asking them.She put effort into titles of each presentation so it appealed to many.She asked to guest post on sites like SEO Gadget.Made sure she interacted with people at the events.Encouraged people to use hashtags (e.g., #SearchLondon) on Twitter to draw attention to the group.

Some additional results:

She developed a website out of a further need.She is getting more world renowned speakers to attend, like Google’s Pierre Far.Now Search London has nearly 1,230 members in 2 years.She now gets asked to guest post.Increased confidence with her clients as her brand has grown.Getting asked to speak at more conferences.

And the other great goal achieved: she earned more links.

Making Another Case for Relationship Building

Turnbull wanted to increase her brand awareness as an SEO blogger and gain links to her site. In order for her to do this she ran various meet-ups and also attended events that were related to her industry.

Not only did she expand her network by meeting various other experts in her industry in Europe and the U.S., but she was also invited to attend the UK Search Awards.

Relationship Building Lessons Learned

Be honest and approachable

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your existing contacts.Find a great blog in your field and contribute.Use Followerwonk that lets find and connect with influencers in your niche.Engage in your community to build even more relationships.If you’re going to reach out via email to ask to guest post for them, make sure you personalize the email. Do additional research on the recipient’s passions and interests and include them in the email to make it more affective.

Attend Relevant Events

Many events like meet-ups, trade shows and product launches are a great way to meet people.If you’re wishing to guest blog, reach out to the bloggers and speak to them.Speak to the press within your niche too as they have a big audience.

Think Long Term

Don’t just look for one link, think about maximum benefits.Become a regular contributor on a site.Encourage others to post on your site, so you develop a wide, diverse audience.Interview people and place that interview on YouTube. You then can embed that video on your site, to maximize reach.What Do You Want Out of a Personal Relationship?

Next up, Everhart stressed the "big picture" as opposed to getting one link. She began with a simple question: What do you want out of a personal relationship? Loyalty and value are at the top of this list.

This is the same way you should think about link building and how you should approach it. Be valuable and loyal to people and you will have a high return on your time invested. It’s important to find those areas where the like-minded people are that you wish to communicate with.

If you're looking to get links by building relationships, here are some dos and don’ts:

Don’t Lie: Be open and honest with people when building relationships or asking for links. If you’re not, you will be called out for it and will end up hurting yourself more, accomplishing nothing.Be personal when communicating with people: If you must email them, make the email personal and don’t mass email people, as it will be noticed.Find people behind the websites: Instead of finding the source, find the people who run the website and start building relationships with those people.Use Linkedin to find like-minded people: Use the advanced filter on LinkedIn to find the people behind the websites. You can filter not only by keywords, but also location and company, to name a few.Don’t forget about Twitter: Twitter also has an advanced search tool that will also help you find people using the same keywords that are in the vertical you’re trying to reach out to.

Don’t creep people out: Don’t be pushy when building out relationships. Be natural and don’t come over too strong as this will only scare them away.Talk to people like they are your friends: Remain open, honest, and helpful. Approach people in the way you would want to be approached.Use Followerwonk: This SEOMoz tool will let you find the influencers in your niche, but also will analyze when they are most active and where they are located. A great tip is when filtering add money keywords to your search.What are Money Keywords?

Money keywords are words you can use in your filter when trying to find the decision makers or the active members within a vertical.

For example, if you want to further brand yourself as an expert in your niche, one way is to guest blog. Editors would be one person you would benefit from reaching out to, so adding the term ‘editor’ in your search will only help.

Other money keywords are:

WriterBlog OwnerMarketerCopywriterJournalistResearching Your Competition

The above tips are also great for doing competitive research. If your competitor has tons of followers, find out who is following them and then start building relationships out with those individuals.

Everhart said that relationships are an investment. They have to incubate before you see any results. Be a resource and helpful to people. If you lend a hand and build relationships the proper way, you will achieve maximum benefits and results.

Convergence Analytics: Digital Measurement in Transition
This joint report by ClickZ and Efectyv Marketing seeks to identify how the evolution of digital analytics affects and challenges practitioners, vendors, and investors. Download it today!

All Google Display Network Conversions are NOT Created Equal

CPA starting to get high? Lower the bid price to compensate. That's the automatic reaction for a lot of us who run paid search campaigns on the Google Display Network.

While we may end up spending less money in the short term, the effect appears to be that we're losing out on greater opportunity for better conversions.

What happens, inevitably, is that with lower bid prices, ads start appearing in different areas; we get different placements. We call the effect “shelving” (as in top shelf versus bottom shelf).

Shelving is seen when lowering the maximum cost-per-click (max CPC) so that it costs less to generate a conversion. It does indeed work, most of the time.

However, this is a bit of an illusion. If you aren’t paying close attention to the entire picture, what you're really doing is losing out on opportunities for better quality placements and ultimately, better quality conversions.

When lowering the max CPC, almost invariably, the quality of the conversions you're attracting sees a decline. After having downgraded your presence, opting for lower-quality placements has you featured in areas from which you’re going to generate lower-quality conversions (i.e., you’re attracting the wrong crowd, you’re on the bottom shelf!).

Though you may have stopped the bleeding in terms of your immediate bid and conversion price, what you're doing is reducing your ability to reach the visitors who are more likely to convert into high value clients.

Don't be fooled by the lower max CPC. To paraphrase George Orwell in "Animal Farm", "All conversions are created equal, but some conversions are more equal than others."

While reducing your short-term investment, you're reducing your opportunity to get the "more equal" conversions, or, to sum up more accurately, those conversions that you most want to go after because they mean more money down the road.

With higher bidding, your ability to reach the right demographic for your offering increases. Combined with a good mix of auto and managed placements, you keep your ads in front of the eyes that you need to have seeing them, and keep your long-term advertising strategy moving along in the right direction.

Before lowering your bid prices to address CPA, make sure that you have a good understanding of the quality of the conversions that you're getting, and address it from that standpoint.

The temptation to lower your max CPC can be too powerful to resist at times. Just remember: by lowering that price, you're lowering the quality of your placements and, in turn, the quality of your conversions.

Convergence Analytics: Digital Measurement in Transition
This joint report by ClickZ and Efectyv Marketing seeks to identify how the evolution of digital analytics affects and challenges practitioners, vendors, and investors. Download it today!

SES New York 2013 Coverage Recap #SESNY

Marketing and advertising professionals all converged on the Big Apple last week for SES New York, the ultimate conference to get educated on the latest strategies and tactics for SEO, PPC, social, link building, analytics, mobile, local, video, content marketing, and much more.

Here's a roundup of live blogging and coverage of SES New York 2013.

Day 1#SESNY Keynote: How Marketers Can Reach and Engage Audiences With Social TV - ClickZThe Future Of Television: Exploring Marketing Opportunities with Social TV & Second Screen Apps at #SESNY – aimClear BlogWhat content marketers need to know about Social TV: Keynote insights at #SESNY – BraftonBuilding the B2B Social Media Machine with Adriel Sanchez and Jasmine Sandler at #SESNY – TopRank Online Marketing BlogBuilding the B2B Social Media Machine: Tactical Advice & Insight From #SESNY – aimclear BlogHow your content writers fuel your B2B social media results – #SESNY – BraftonHow A Killer Content Strategy Builds Quality Links, Au Naturale! #SESNY Tips – aimClear BlogWhy content marketing is the only link building that counts – #SESNY – BraftonSelling SEO to the C-Suite - Search Engine WatchMobile Marketing: Connecting With Your Audience on the Move - Search Engine WatchMobile Marketing Tips from Google, ESPN & Medialets: Connect with Your Audience on the Go – TopRank Online Marketing BlogA to Z Tips for Improved B2B Digital Marketing ROI #SESNY – TopRank Online Marketing BlogEverything you need to know about Bing search and PPC – #SESNY – Brafton15 Things You Must Know After Day 1 of SES NYC – Bing Ads BlogDay 2Optimizing Second Screen Engagement: Lessons for Brands From Twitter - Search Engine WatchTwitter: The undeniable second screen that sparks brand engagement – #SESNY - BraftonReal-Time Marketing Tips from Twitter’s Joel Lunenfeld at #SESNY – TopRank Online Marketing BlogCrafting Your Online Marketing Campaign: Insider Tips & Tricks from #SESNY – aimClear BlogNext Generation Site Architecture - Search Engine WatchNext Gen Blueprint For Ultimate Site Architecture: Best Practices From #SESNY – aimClear BlogReporting and Analyzing PPC Campaigns – Bing Ads BlogThe New Inbox: How mobile and social have changed email marketing – #SESNY – BraftonFinding ‘huge’ content marketing opportunities in ‘big’ data – #SESNY – BraftonForget Link Building, Let’s Be Friends! Tips For Enhanced Relationships from #SESNY – aimClear BlogSo You Got A Rank-Spank… Expert Improvements Tips & Recovery Strategies From #SESNY – aimClear BlogWhy relationships matter more than links – #SESNY – BraftonDay 3Leveraging insights from social listening for ROI – #SESNY – BraftonCreative Content Marketing at Scale: Lee Odden at #SESNY – TopRank Online Marketing BlogSocial Search Strategies That Scream! SRSLY Deep Brainchow from #SESNY – aimClear Blog#SESNY: Activating the Social Search Dynamic - ClickZSocial search & the future of SEO: Insights from Bing at #SESNY – BraftonWhere does creativity factor into B2B video marketing? Everywhere – #SESNY – BraftonWhat I Learned at The 2013 SES New York Conference – iStartandFinish

Convergence Analytics: Digital Measurement in Transition
This joint report by ClickZ and Efectyv Marketing seeks to identify how the evolution of digital analytics affects and challenges practitioners, vendors, and investors. Download it today!

Google April Fools' Pranks 2013: YouTube Closing, Google Nose, Gmail Blue & More!

Smells like April Fools' Day. You know, immature and cheesy, with a quick, bright finish. At least according to Google Nose, one of the latest additions to Google's long line of new technologies that never seem to quite make it past April 2.

Much like in 2012, the April Fools' Day pranks arrived early from Google – and it brought the shocking news that YouTube is shutting down to prepare to pick the Best Video ever. Read on for an ongoing recap of all the practical jokes.

Closing the YouTube Contest Competition

YouTube began in 2005 as a contest to find the best video in the world. And now it's finally time to pick the winner, the YouTube Blog announced..

"Tonight at midnight, will no longer be accepting entries," said Tom Liston, Competition Director at YouTube, said in the video above, which features many stars from viral video, and was posted hours before it officially became April 1 in the U.S. "After eight amazing years, it is finally time to review everything that has been uploaded to our site and begin the process of selecting a winner."

The video warned everyone to watch everything before YouTube deleted it all. Make sure to check back in 2023 when YouTube returns online and you'll see the "Best Video" winner … and nothing else.

Watch the nominee announcement April 1 at 9 a.m. PT, as YouTube promises to announce all the nominees for 12 hours every day over the next two years here.

Google Nose Knows: Smell the Fear…or the Waffles!

Ever been searching Google and wanted to know what something smells like, what other searchers are sniffing for, or wanted to share an aroma via Google+? Well, take a whiff from Google's Aromabase and its whopping 15M+ scentibytes collected by StreetSense vehicles and Android Ambient Odor Detection.

Does Google Nose have the smell of success (sweet)? You decide.

Courtesy of the Google Aromabase, you can search and smell:

Abraham Lincoln - Old, musty, remnant of American historyAirport terminal - Baked tarmac and lost luggageApple Pie - Carmelized sugar, tarty fruit and baking powderApril Fools' Day - Immature and cheesy, with a quick, bright finishBanana - Sweet isoamyl acetateThe Beach - Salt water, suntan lotion and nostalgiaBeer - Barley, wheat and a bit of alcohol.Belly button - An organic tweed cotton potato sackBrownies - Fudgy chocolate deliciousnessBubble bath - A refreshing blend of lavendar and soap.Buffalo sauce - Hot sauce, oil and lots (and lots) of meatCabernet - Fruity, oaky, that'll be $22 plus state sin taxCampfire - Charcoal, toasty smores, JulyCampsite - Burning firewood with marshmallows and bear droppings.Canned cat food - Week-old salmon mixed with cardboard and vinegarCar exhaust - Poison, gas, and a salty hint of rising seasThe carnival - Cotton candy and clown sweatCasino - Cigarette smoke and the smell of sweet, sweet victoryCave - Wet moss, cold stone and dangerChristmas tree - A mix of pine, presents and joyClam Chowder - Cream and the oceanCollege dorm - Sweaty, with scents of leftover pizza and burnt popcorn.Cologne - Perfume with a hint of testosteroneDiaper - Baby powder and poopDoctor's Office - Latex and sterile metalDollar bill - Cotton and linen covered in dirt, sweat and greedDumpster - Unwashed socks in a locker room after a hockey gameDurian - Horribly, rottingly,, tasty!Fear - Sweat, adrenaline, proximity to hungry carnivoreFishermans Wharf - Sunbathing seals and clam chowderFresh brewed Colombian coffee - Burnt beans sprinkled across dark chocolateGarlic breath - Allyl methyl sulfideGolf course - The countryside on a sunny Sunday morning; a hole-in-one; Armando's country club sandwich delivered straight to your cartGoogle I/O - Gadgets, over-heated computers and innovationGoogleplex - Sun, trees, moonshots, optimism, multi-cultural food, over-heated computers, and five-toe shoesGrandpa's Hat - Strong coffee and the forestGrapefruit - Citrus and a bright summer morningGym clothes - Sweaty and dirty with a hint of accomplishmentHair Dye - Bleach, chemicals and a fresh startHair Salon - Burnt hair and gossipHalloween - Candy corn and/or pennies in a cardboard boxHorse manure - Dirt and feces sprinkled atop an organic farmHospital - Cold, clean, with hints of disinfectant sprayHot Springs - Boisterous bursts of sulfur with a hint of pencil lead on the noseHot tub / Jacuzzi - Chlorine with a hint of romanceImproperly installed batteries - Burnt tires with lots of energyIncense - Sweetly pungent enlightenmentJeans in the rain - A complex range of tannins jostled with pickled blueberries and aged brandy.Laptop Monitor - Wafts of burnt yet shiny metalLaundromat - Fabric softener, bleach and pure cleanlinessLavendar - Floral, soft, fresh, with hints of grandma's potpourriLemon - Fresh, bright, sour and tartLip gloss - Artificial strawberry mixed with petroleumLobster - Buttery deliciousnessLocker room - Sweat, showers and teamworkMaple syrup - Sugar and pancakes on a Saturday morning in Vermont or CanadaMars - A Curious blend of sulphur and rust with a sparkling whiff of carbon dioxide.Metal - Iron and quartersMoon rocks - Burnt gunpowder after a desert rainMoth balls - Sweet shoe polish with sprinkles of ammoniaNail polish remover - Pungent and chemical beauty. Makes you feel pampered, but also like you need to shower.Nail salon - Spa water and refreshing notes of acetoneNewborn infant - Fresh baby powder with a side of hour-old fecesNew car - Fresh and expensiveNewly mown grass - Hot, pungent, scratchy, requires iced tea.Old hotel room - Air freshener and scandalParisian streets in the morning - Flakey croissants dipped in brewing espressoPeanut butter - Peanuts, oil and nostalgiaPerfume - Cologne with a hint of estrogenPermanent marker - Rubbing alcohol poured into a puddle of gasPinot Grigio - Grapes, fruit, flowers and a buzzPizza - Cheesy goodness and yeasty bread paired with a college all-nighterPrinter paper - The freshness of a new start, or an office supply storePublic Library - A musty, dusty smell evoking brilliance and imaginationPumpkin - Cinnamon-covered squash on HalloweenRain Forest - Fresh air and monkey droppingsRock concert - Mist from fog machines and the sweat of fans dancing and jumpingRoses - Love, warmth, joy (f); Stress, tension, guilt (m)Sauna - Old men sweating after a long day on the golf courseSesame Chicken - Honey, sesame seeds, and oil. In sum: fried perfection.Skiing - Fresh piles of newly fallen snow and frozen sweatSkunk - Putrid; burnt rubber, oilStale beer - Sticky wooden floors the morning after the frat partySuccess – SweetSunscreen - Sun, sand, sun, sea, sun, plastic toys, sun, vacation, sun, sun, sunTaxi Cab - Leather seats, masked by body odor and cigarette smoke from the prior passengerToothpaste - Refreshingly minty and cleanTurkey - Gravy with a hint of drowsinessUsed Clothing - Sweaty cotton drenched with memoriesUnattended litter box - Distinct boquet of ammonia with an earthy undertoneUsed napkin - Leftover pasta sauce with the chunk of the brocolli you picked out of your toothVampire - Heavy smell of blood, light hint of garlicVanilla - Calming sweetness. Often compared to chocolate, though arguably not as goodVictory - Napalm and sweet successWaffles - Sweet bread and maple syrup on a Sunday morningWet Dog - Aggressive and foxy with notes of musk, wet towelYogurt Parfait - Oats and grains sprinkled over a beehive in the summer, as a cow gets milked by his farmer nearby.Google Cold Searches

You've heard of Google Hot Searches. Now meet Cold Searches. Yes, it's all the anti-trending searches that only a few hundred people are searching for.

Whether it's "Y2K", or "Do my legs look fat, or is it just that my jeans are too tight?" "macarena step-by-step", or even "what it means when you text hey girl good night but she doesn't answer", Google will show you some of the least popular searches. U.S. (and today) only.

Google Treasure Maps

Yarrr! Google has introduced Treasure Mode to Google Maps. The goal is to solve a mystery involving a treasure map that once belonged to an infamous pirate Captain Kidd.

The maps let you explore 2D landmarks as you explore for hidden treasure chests. And as Google warns, "Treasure Maps is our Beta Maps technology and has certain system requirements. Your system may not be able to display at higher resolutions than paper print. Take care when unfolding the map to avoid ripping it."

Gmail Blue

Celebrating its ninth anniversary today, Gmail is going blue, according to the Gmail Blog. And only one of the statements in that previous sentence is true.

It's Gmail. Only bluer. Why? Because brown was a disaster.

Bold is blue. Underline is blue. Italics is blue as well. Your message composes in blue.

Can you believe you've waited this long for this?

Google Analytics Reports 41 Visitors from the International Space Station

Checked the Real-Time section of Google Analytics lately? You should. You just might have 41 active visitors on your site from the International Space Station – Control Room:

If you click on that "city", then click on Traffic Sources or Content and you'll get a special April Fool's message:

Google Analytics also unveiled some new Export & Send Features which you'll probably never want to take advantage of:

Google Mobile ATM

After you've used Google Nose to get a whiff of that sweet aroma of a dollar bill – you remember, "cotton and linen covered in dirt, sweat and greed" – you may be saying, "Hey, I want some of that." Well, meet Google Wallet Mobile ATM.

Need cash fast? Why go to the bank or ATM ever again now that you can own this brilliant smartphone attachment.

Simply enter your PIN and Google Wallet Mobile ATM will let you withdraw everything from $1 bills, to $2 bills, to even $50 bills. Oh, and:

"If your mobile ATM is running low on funds, a self-driving, armored, hybrid vehicle will be alerted and dispatched to your location – arriving within minutes to quickly and safely refill their ATM."

Extreme Makeover: Google SCHMICK Edition

For those in Australia who want to turn their house into "virtual artwork" on Street View, Google has unveiled Google SCHMICK – the Simple Complete House Makeover Internet Conversion Kit.

"Forgot to mow the nature strip? Deck it out with some fresh buffalo grass. Front steps falling down? Swap them out for doric columns and a pergola. Graffiti on the front fence? Cover it with so many palm trees people will think they’re on the Vegas strip," reads the blog post.

Check out this amazing renovation courtesy of SCHMICK. Watch this:

Becomes this:

Now try it out for yourself here.

Google's Add Emotion Button

Sometimes (apparently) your face doesn't tell the whole story. Sometimes you need an emoticon. Whether you're feeling a little :-) or :/, Google's "Add emotion" button now has you covered.

"We will plumb the emotional depths of everyone in the photo, then summarize their feelings with a beautifully crafted, emotion icon," reads the Google+ post. "Click on the button again to return to the original version of your photo. We hope you enjoy using the feature and we look forward to seeing your emotionally-charged posts "

Google Apps Levity Algorithm

Ever wanted to make an email subject more fun – you know, maybe turn a subject line like "HR Memo" into "The New Hotness" but didn't know how do it? Or optimize a presentation into something more eye- and ear-catching?

Now there's a Google App for that.

"Created in partnership with legendary improv comedians from Chicago's Second City Communications, the Levity Algorithm is carefully tuned to help you spice up even the most boring of work days," reads the Google Enterprise blog post. "Send happier emails, hold more engaging meetings, write more mind-blowing presentations -- and above all, turn those frowns upside down."

Simply turn on the levity and your Google Calendar will be packed with fun events such as a chat w/ T. Fey, drinks with S. Colbert, or morning pool party and massages.

It's a Beautiful Day in the Fiberhood

Utility poles are about to become a lot more useful. Maybe. For some, especially hackers, they may become a second home. Unless people start camping out 24/7 at spontaneous hackathons.

Google has a solution for these so-called Pole Hoggers.

"We’ve heard this can be a problem and we are working on ways to detect the Pole Hoggers are institute a 2 hour ban for their use every 2 hours they use," according to the Google Fiber to the Pole site. "Until we perfect our Pole Hogging Detector technology, we ask that users do not stay for more than 2 hours when others are waiting. If this is a problem, please call the Fiber Space and ask for a Fiber Chaperone to come to your Pole and explain proper Pole etiquette."

Bing Introduces Bing Basic, New SEO Tag

Google isn't the only search engine checking in with April Fools' antics. Bing has introduced Bing Basic and the SEO tag.

Aside from being an obvious shot at Google, what is Bing Basic? As the blog post explains, it's a "special test" that discourages exploration and discovery and with a bland "1997, dial-up sensibility." So if you go to Bing's home page and type in "Google" you'll see this:

Hover over the colored boxes and Bing will give you the following messages, along with a link to a related Bing Images search result:

Having trouble seeing this picture of an artic fox eating a marshmallow in a snowstorm? (Links to "arctic fox") When there's nothing else to look at… (Links to "watching paint dry") If blank space is your thing… (Links to "plain white paper") With so many delicious flavors available, most people still choose vanilla (Links to the Bing It On page)

Click on the "I'm Feeling Confused" button and you'll be taken back to the explanatory blog post.

As for the SEO tag, Bing's post explains that you can now take control of your search rankings. With two pieces of code, you can either tell Bing what position you want your site to appear in, or simply rank one spot higher than your competitor. They are:

< link rel="SEO" query="weather" set_to_position="2" />

< link rel="SEO" must_be_before="**" />

"Upon launch we’ll only recognize one “must_be_before” tag, but beginning on April 1st, 2014, you’ll be able to stack up to 50 of them in your code to offer greater coverage for your site," says Bing.

Wolfram|Alpha's Handwritten Knowledge Engine

Introducing Wolfram|Alpha's Handwritten Knowledge Engine – the only Handwritten Knowledge Engine that has a team of real humans ready to transcribe and illustrate your queries.

A warning from Wolfram|Alpha: "I definitely cannot recommend running your homework through Wolfram|Alpha, printing out the handwritten results, and trying to pass them as your own. Definitely not."

Act fast before everyone gets hand cramps and calls it an April Fools' day. Probably right around midnight.

Twitter Puts a Premium on Vowels

Want to use vowels in your tweets? It'll cost you $5. Twitter's new Twttr service has arrived. Consonents are still free – and Twttr promises "y" will remain free "today and forever".

Additionally, Twitter has expanded from 140 to 141 characters, but the price for that extra character is "based on a bidding system reflecting the popularity of the character you would like to add."

"We’re doing this because we believe that by eliminating vowels, we’ll encourage a more efficient and 'dense' form of communication," reads the blog post. "We also see an opportunity to diversify our revenue stream."

What's your favorite spoof this year?

Seen any others? Let us know in the comments and we'll be sure to add them.

Yes, still updating…check back soon.

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Convergence Analytics: Digital Measurement in Transition
This joint report by ClickZ and Efectyv Marketing seeks to identify how the evolution of digital analytics affects and challenges practitioners, vendors, and investors. Download it today!

SEO Outreach: Gain a Competitive Edge by Running Display Ads

Identifying and leveraging SEO opportunities is at the core of achieving organic search dominance. This process is particularly critical for large companies.

Big brands have an inherent SEO advantage that, if leveraged, can lead to unrivaled organic performance. The existence of such advantages sparks debate during every industry conference Q&A session. Usually these debates focus on paid search spend influence, immunity to algorithm updates, etc., most of which are pure noise.

So what proven advantages can large companies leverage to gain a competitive edge?

Prospecting Quality Lists

Most professionals agree targeted outreach is at the core of any successful link building campaign. The process of executing a results-oriented outreach strategy is time consuming (read: expensive).

Prospecting and prioritizing relevant, authoritative targets is a critical step in this process. Large brands possess this inherent advantage: Targeted prospecting is done by Google and other large media networks for free.

This unknown fact enables certain companies to generate high-quality, extremely relevant lists with the click of a button. How do they do it?

Executing display campaigns on various media networks, such as Google Display Network (GDN), ValueClick, and Yahoo. The majority of display networks will provide transparency into ad placements which can be used as the backbone of outreach campaigns for your SEO program. So how does it work?

If you're currently running ads on Google Display Network (GDN), exporting your prospect list is easy. Within any campaign, navigate to the “display network” tab, as seen below:

Once there, simply click on “placements” within the sub navigation.

Finally, filter for “automatic placements” to pull up your list along with KPIs such as clicks, CTR, etc. (KPI information by placement is only available on GDN. Other vendors only provide basic site information where your ad was displayed.)

These exported prospects are guaranteed to be relevant to your site in the eyes of Google. The algorithm Google uses to match advertising sites within GDN is built off the same relevance algorithm used for organic search. This saves tons of time having to manually qualifying each site. As a result, more time can be spent on persuasively communicating your value proposition.

Have a Unique Value Proposition

Executing a successful outreach campaign isn’t just about prospecting quality lists. It’s critical to have a unique value proposition when communicating with bloggers.

The number of companies executing outreach campaigns is rising by the day. Most are using the same tools, social networks and advanced search parameters to build their prospect lists. Over time, only those with unique value propositions will receive responses.

Even following great outreach guides like this one from Neil Patel becomes less effective over time. Why? Everyone reads these guides and uses their templates. Running display advertising provides a unique value proposition which can dramatically increase success rates.

Bloggers and webmasters want to make money (surprise!). Part of their revenue stream is generated from users clicking on ads.

If the content on the page mentions the same brand being served in on-site advertising, the click-through rate on the ads will increase. This connection and increase in revenue for the blogger is the unique value proposition that will set you apart. As an added bonus, your display campaign will also benefit from these incremental clicks.


Executing successful outreach campaigns is a sure-fire way to drive continual organic performance long term. As outreach continues to increase in popularity, unique and creative tactics become critical.

If your company or client is running display ads, you have an inherent advantage in both prospecting targets and establishing a value proposition.

Looking for additional outreach ideas and don’t have any display campaigns? Check out this post outlining three unique ways to identify link prospects.

Convergence Analytics: Digital Measurement in Transition
This joint report by ClickZ and Efectyv Marketing seeks to identify how the evolution of digital analytics affects and challenges practitioners, vendors, and investors. Download it today!

On Mobile, Google Now Allows You To Handwrite What You’re Searching For

It started with typing your query, then voice queries, then image based queries and now Google announced you can hand-write your queries.

Google announced today you can hand write your query on your smartphone or tablet when on All you have to do is place your finger on the Google home page and use your finger to write. Google will use its handwriting technology to convert the handwriting to text.

To enable it, go to on your mobile or tablet device and click on “Settings” at the bottom of the screen (or for tablets at the top right) and enable “Handwrite.” Then go to on the device and start writing.

Here is a screen shot after you enable the handwrite option:

Here is a screen shot of my “SEO” hand written query on my iPad:

Once it is enabled, the home page wil allow you to write your query. On the search results page you can activate the screen by clicking on the “Handwrite icon” at the bottom right of the screen. Here is a more detailed help document on handwrite instructions and here is a tips document from Google on this new feature.

Google’s Free Trusted Stores Seal Program Opens To All U.S. Merchants

Google has been testing its Trusted Stores seal program since October of 2011, and now the program is�opening up to all U.S. merchants with a self-service sign-up interface.

Merchants who participate will have a “Trusted Stores” badge — which opens to provide information about the company’s shipping and customer service record — appear beside their AdWords ads. The badge won’t be a ranking signal.

“It’s an ecommerce certification that helps shoppers feel comfortable with buying online even if they don’t know the store they’re buying from,” explains Tom Fallows, group product manager at Google Shopping. “It gives them a clear and quick way to know that an online store is trustworthy.”

Positive Impact On Conversions And Order Sizes

Fallows says the 50 merchants that have been participating in the beta have, on average, seen their conversion rates and order sizes increase. Wayfair, for example, saw conversions increase by 1.4% and order size grow by 0.9%. Online gift shop Beau-coup saw conversions grow by 3.1% and order size increase by 5.5%. It’s likely the less well known the ecommerce brand, the larger the benefit they’d see from implementing the seal.

The motivation for Google — which is investing considerable resources into the program, which is free to consumers and merchants — is to increase the level of trust that consumers have with online shopping. And the more money online merchants make, the more they have to spend on AdWords.

Currently, the Trusted Stores program has the following elements:

Shipping reliability – Google monitors (via a pixel) what shipping promises are made on purchase confirmation pages, then the merchant sends Google tracking numbers when things are shipped. Google verifies whether the merchant is meeting its promises.Customer service – Google runs a customer service portal (separate from the merchant’s own system) where folks may contact the merchant — with Google copied — about problems. Google tracks how quickly problems are resolved.$1000 in Consumer Purchase Protection – if buyers opt in, they can be eligible for $1000 if something goes wrong with their purchase.

Fallows says the program will eventually encompass elements like malware protection and greater transparency for return policies. It will also be offering phone support for consumers, so they can call with problems, rather than using the online interface to report issues with purchases. When I asked about plans to incorporate intellectual property Google just acquired from ShopKick, Fallows wouldn’t comment on that.

The Small Business Challenge

One challenge Google faces in expanding the program to all U.S. merchants — large and small — is that many small businesses could be turned off by the technical implementation or the workload of sending shipping information on a regular basis.

To address this, Fallows says Google has made the integration process as lightweight as possible, and the company is currently working with the major ecommerce platforms — Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento and Yahoo Stores — to develop “push button” integration.

Will Google have the resources to smoothly handle the likely deluge of new merchant applications, along with the higher transaction volume and customer service requests? Fallows wouldn’t say how many people the company has dedicated to the program, but said he was confident the company was ready. The pilot program involved 10 million shoppers and over a billion dollars.

Note: A previous version of this story said user reviews were included in Trusted Stores, but users only review customer service levels, not the business as a whole.�