Facebook Tries to Make News Feed Ads More Relevant With Algorithm Update

Facebook is attempting to make News Feed ads even more relevant to users.

“When deciding which ad to show to which groups of people, we are placing more emphasis on feedback we receive from people about ads, including how often people report or hide an ad,” Facebook said in its announcement.

Facebook said advertisers will reap the benefits.

"If someone always hides ads for electronics, we will reduce the number of those types of ads that we show to them." Facebook added that it’s "ultimately better for marketers, because it means their messages are reaching the people most interested in what they have to offer."

Facebook said advertisers could see some distribution variation on ads in the coming weeks while the News Feed algorithm change rolls out.

This announcement is just one of many planned News Feed algo updates as the company promises to be more transparent about how it serves content.

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New AdWords Estimated Total Conversions Tracks Consumer Purchases Across Devices

Starting today and over the next few weeks, Google AdWords will roll out a major reporting update to conversion tracking called Estimated Total Conversions. This feature provides estimates of conversions that take multiple devices to complete and adds this data to the conversion reporting we see today.

Following the launch of enhanced campaigns this year, search advertisers have combined mobile and desktops with the ability to further modify bids by mobile and other targeting factors. One gap in reporting and comprehension of the campaigns effectiveness has been the limited data on how consumers are navigating and converting via multiple device options.

What is a Cross-Device Conversion?

Consumers constant connectivity has enabled them to browse, shop, and interact with businesses on the go and from multiple devices.

A September 2013 Google study found that more than 90 percent of multi-device consumers move sequentially between several screens like mobile to desktop, or mobile to tablet to complete a transaction online. Google found that a high percentage of converters actually jumped from desktop to desktop too, presuming a work desktop to home desktop computer.

How Estimated Total Conversions Works

Google calculates cross-device conversions for a particular advertiser based on how their customers convert when they are logged in. They then use this as the basis for extrapolating out to the complete data set to form an estimate of what total conversions that cross devices might look like. This data is only used in aggregate and not personally identifiable.

What's Next?

Estimating conversions across devices (estimated cross-device conversions) is only the beginning and one conversion type Google intends to measure.

In the future Google plans to incorporate other conversion types such as phone calls and store visits where advertisers are hungry to gain new insights into how their advertising is working.

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Fine Tuning Your Local Keyword Research Using Google Trends

When it comes to local SEO one of the toughest parts of the job is keyword research. Oftentimes query volume for keywords with locations as modifiers is so low that Google's keyword tool, and now keyword planner simply don't have any data to provide on the keyword.

Google Places and Analytics are two places to find local keyword opportunities. But you can also fine-tune your local keyword research with the help of Google Trends.

When working with keywords that don't have a lot of query data, the hardest part is oftentimes deciding what variation of a keyword to target. One example would be the use of "pest control" versus "exterminator" in your local keyword targeting for a pest control company.

If you don't have any analytics data or keyword tool data, it might be hard to decide which term to use. This is where Google Trends can come in handy.

Google Trends can provide some pretty granular insight into the kinds of terms people are searching in a region.

After typing in a term, or a handful of terms, you can see trends behind the usage of keywords and then drill down further by region. This can help you better understand the behavior of searches in the area and the terminology they are using.

For example, let's say you have a client located in Chico, California, and need to understand how to target their local SEO. Would it make more sense to target the keyword "exterminator" or "pest control"?

Low search volume will prevent any data from showing up in Google's keyword tool. And the company has never optimized for the area, so there's no analytics data to provide any insight either.

In such a case, you can turn to Google Trends.

By typing in "exterminator" and then "pest control", you're able to drill down to Chico/Redding and see what sort of trends, if any, there are behind the two keywords.

While Google's data set likely is very small, since it couldn't provide any further regional information related to the query, you'll learn that the term "pest control" had a tendency to be used more than exterminator:

While this is obviously a small data set, it at least helps us better understand how people in the region search and the terminology they are using for this particular type of business.

When you don't have any other data to go off of, this is oftentimes a great way to start and then build from. Better yet, the technique doesn't have to be limited to keyword research; it can be used simply to better understand words are using to describe your brand, product, or service in a particular region.

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Google: 70% of Mobile Searchers Call a Business Directly From Search Results [Study]

Whether someone is searching on their mobile device for a restaurant, a local service, or a car rental, the presence of a click to call button increases click-through rates and brand perception, according to new Google/Ipsos research.

A new survey of 3,000 mobile searchers who recently made purchases in seven verticals (Travel, Restaurant, Auto, Local Services, Retail, Finance, Technology) revealed that 70 percent of mobile searchers click to call a business directly from Google's search results.

Across all seven of the verticals Google researched (Travel, Restaurant, Auto, Local Services, Retail, Finance, Technology), click to call, whether it appeared in the paid or organic results, was an important feature for people looking to find information and make purchases, Google said.

Calls are most important to mobile searchers who are researching (52 percent) or ready to buy (61 percent).

Google highlighted a few specific results from the survey about the importance of click to call:

Auto Parts: 62 percent of mobile searchers are "very likely" to use click to call; 57 percent would use click to call to compare pricing. Car Rental Information: 60 percent of mobile searchers would use click to call; 44 percent would call to make a reservation. Local Services: 76 percent of mobile searchers would call to make an appointment. Financial Services: 61 percent of mobile searchers are likely to use click to call to make changes to their bank accounts.

Google ads generate more than 40 million calls each month – 75 percent of those calls last longer than 30 seconds, and the majority of calls from ads lasted an average of six minutes, which suggests that most mobile searchers aren't looking for quick information, Google said.

On average, Google said that AdWords advertisers who implement click to call see an 8 percent increase in click-through rate.

And what about businesses that don't offer a call option? Almost half of those surveyed said "the lack of a call option would lead them to be both frustrated with the business and more likely to turn to another brand. Additionally, 33 percent said that they would be less likely to refer the brand to others and would be less likely to use the brand in the future."

"It’s clear from our findings that driving phone calls should still be a priority for businesses in every industry," according to Adam Grunewald, Google's mobile marketing manager. "Businesses can easily help mobile searchers get in touch by attaching call extensions to their mobile search ads. While the presence of the call button in organic results depends on a number of factors, you can schedule your mobile search ads and call extensions to show only at relevant times or only in specific searches."

Google provides AdWords advertisers with several phone call metrics. If you want to add call extensions, you can learn more about it here.

 Mobile Search: Driving Traffic & SalesMobile Traffic Up 125% but Conversions Lag Behind Desktop [Study]'Geo-Conquesting' Drives Customers Away from Local Competition with Mobile Ads [Study]Nearly 90% of Gas & Convenience Mobile Searches Result in Purchase [Study]Google: 88% of Mobile Search Ad Clicks are Incremental to Organic ClicksGoogle: Mobile Search Helps 82% of In-Store Shoppers Make Purchase Decisions [Study]46% of Searchers Now Use Mobile Exclusively to Research [Study]77% of Mobile Searches Happen at Home or Work [Study]

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Instagram Ads Are Coming to Photo Stream

Ever since Facebook purchased Instagram, many people have been waiting to see when advertising would creep into the Instagram stream, although it has surprisingly taken much longer than anticipated.

Now Instagram has announced that advertising will begin appearing within a few months within the Instagram photo stream.

Many Instagram users will remember late last year when Instagram changed its terms that seemed to imply that Instagram would own the rights to all photos posted on it, with the implication that Instagram could sell those photos to advertisers. There was a huge backlash, and users flooded to other photo sharing sites such as Flickr, and the Instagram terms were reverted.

Since that time, there had been the question about how Facebook would begin to generate revenue for a company that cost them $1 billion.

Now, after nearly a year, Instagram has made public its new plans to generate revenue for the site. Instagram appears to be starting off slowly with the introduction of advertising, likely because of the followed from their previous possible foray into revenue generation with those terms changes last year. Instagram even reiterated that there are no changes to how the site views photo and video ownership.

Advertising will begin with a limited number of U.S. advertising firms only. Instagram specifically said in their blog post that they will be starting small with only occasional ads. And they state that all the advertising will have high-quality images and videos, so they look as if they belonged in the stream:

Seeing photos and videos from brands you don't follow will be new, so we'll start slow. We'll focus on delivering a small number of beautiful, high-quality photos and videos from a handful of brands that are already great members of the Instagram community.

Our aim is to make any advertisements you see feel as natural to Instagram as the photos and videos many of you already enjoy from your favorite brands. After all, our team doesn't just build Instagram, we use it each and every day. We want these ads to be enjoyable and creative in much the same way you see engaging, high-quality ads when you flip through your favorite magazine.

It's likely that the advertising will have a similar field to sponsored posts with large photos in Facebook, but with the Instagram feel to it.

Instagram will also be soliciting feedback from its users so that they can give feedback about the types of advertising they are seeing, with the ability to hide them and give feedback about why specific ads didn't work for them:

We'll also make sure you have control. If you see an ad you don't like, you'll be able to hide it and provide feedback about what didn't feel right. We're relying on your input to help us continually improve the Instagram experience.

It is worth noting that Instagram didn't make any reference to the ability to hide all ads permanently, and it is unknown if any of the ad block programs will be able to block ads either.

It will be worth watching to see how well the Instagram community takes to these advertisements in their stream, and whether they really do end up fitting the look and feel of Instagram. If they do well, it will be another avenue for advertisers to target their brands to users on a new social media advertising platform.

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Riding the Motivation Wave in Search Engine Marketing

Image Credit: HaPe_Gera/Flickr

Every couple of months I get the urge to meditate. Like, to free myself once and for all from the illusion of separation and fully realize my oneness with all creation.

Or maybe just to feel virtuous and spiritual.

Or to help me avoid distractions so I can focus on important tasks, like writing this article – ooh, a squirrel!

The reasons vary, but one thing has remained constant for many years: I have never maintained a meditation habit. I've started them plenty of times, whenever my motivation reaches a critical mass.

Out come the cushion, timer, candle, and lighter. I wake up 30 minutes early and stumble down to where I've set up for sitting.

I power through for a few days, willing myself not to crack open an eye to check the timer when I'm sure I've been sitting for 45 minutes and the timer's broken (it never is, and I've usually been sitting for less than 7 minutes when I first get the urge).

And after not achieving a cosmic state of realization in all that time, I eventually let go of the practice and sleep in.

For years I assumed I was just weak. Weak-willed. Weak-backed. Weak-intentioned. But then I stumbled upon the behavioral theories of Stanford researcher B.J. Fogg, whose work gives me a much more empowering and practical diagnosis.

I've been squandering the peak of the motivation wave on willpower, rather than structuring my future or building my skills.

To explain what this means, let's move from meditation to search marketing.

Search = A Motivational Peak

We engage in a behavior when we're sufficiently motivated and capable, and when something triggers us to do it, according to Fogg's behavioral model. Of the three elements (motivation, ability, and trigger), motivation is the most fragile and unstable.

The act of searching Google is indicative of a motivational peak in the searcher. You may have had a vague interest in learning how to play classical guitar for years, but you haven't searched for a guitar, a teacher, an instructional YouTube video, or a book yet, have you?

Then one day you find yourself on Google, looking for local teachers. What happened?

For some reason, you experienced a surge of motivation for that behavior (playing the guitar). There was a search trigger (perhaps a piece you heard on the radio, a guitarist in the subway, or a dream in which you were receiving the Nobel Prize for Music) that either occurred at precisely the time that your motivation was peaking, or that itself contributed to the peak.

Because the motivational peak is such an ephemeral occurrence (when you think about it, most of us don't spend a ton of time super jazzed about our new behaviors and habits that we haven't developed yet), we must use it wisely.

And as marketers, when prospects come to us via search marketing, thereby signaling their temporary motivational spike, we must shepherd them wisely as well.

The Motivation/Ability Tradeoff

One of Fogg's key insights is that there can be a tradeoff between motivation and ability. The more motivation, the harder we're willing to work. When I'm super excited about the benefits of meditation (or running, or yoga, or whatever else), I'll put in long hours and withstand high degrees of discomfort.

When I'm rather unmotivated, I do only the easy things. A minute of deep breathing every hour. A short walk around the block. Five minutes of sun salutation.

As marketers, we want to take full advantage of our prospects' temporary motivation highs, to get them to take actions that they wouldn't ordinarily take.

That's pretty obvious, even if you haven't studied motivational theory. When someone's hot for what you got, show them the buy button and ask for the money.

But for many businesses (and all lead-generation business models), the sale is some time in the future. So how to harness high motivation now to make that sale more likely or to make it come sooner?

The Biggest Motivation Mistake

The biggest online mistake I see is assuming that the prospect's motivation is insufficient. Too many web pages try to amp up the motivation, piling benefit upon benefit, fear upon fear, judgment upon judgment, until the prospect simply can't live with such a huge gap between current reality and desired future.

This tendency is a legacy from the direct mail era, when marketers mailed millions of letters to people who didn't ask for them, didn't want them, and probably wouldn't read them.

In that scenario, the third stage of the AIDA process, desire, was absolutely necessary to make sales.

In the world of active search, it's much more efficient to utilize whatever level of motivation already exists in the prospect and get them to take an immediate action commensurate with that motivation.

The Right Ways to Use High Motivation

Fogg suggests that motivational peaks are best exploited by getting the person (whether yourself or someone else) to take the most difficult action they can take at that moment that either structures the future or increases their ability.

1. Structure the Future

By structuring the future, Fogg means creating an environment in which it's easier to perform the desired behavior or in which there are clearer, more intense, and more frequent triggers for the behavior.

If you want your prospect to hire your accounting firm, you can make it easier by sharing a list of existing clients, along with their testimonials. Risk reduction makes new behaviors easier to perform.

Increasing triggers might involve an email series that gives prospects ways of evaluating the performance of their current accountant. Each day might include a suggested quick, simple diagnostic that may point out gaps in the current accountant's performance.

2. Increase their Ability

The other that's hard for most of us is self-improvement. Most of us tend not to try to get better at things unless we're in the grip of a motivational wave. Because getting better means attempting actions outside of our comfort and competence zones.

But a motivated prospect is often willing, for a brief, precious time, to stray outside their comfort zone. The question we should be asking as marketers is, "What new capability or knowledge would make this person a more qualified prospect?"

If I'm selling neurofeedback software to improve athletic performance, for example, I may need my prospect to understand some pretty complex science about the relationship between heart rate variability, physical stress, and training cycles.

In that case, I would want the prospect to watch a video or read a report that increased their knowledge in that area.

Marketers must take advantage of their prospect's motivational peaks to get the opt-in. Since those peaks are so short-lived and unstable, it's crucial that we be able to continue the conversation with our prospects and reconnect them to the surge of desire that allowed our paths to cross in the first place.

Back to the Cushion

Now that I understand how to harness a motivational peak, I'll market meditation quite differently to myself the next time I'm high on chasing nirvana.

Rather than jump into a hard activity that I can only sustain when I'm highly motivated, I'll use the spike in enthusiasm to develop the habit of daily meditation. Like, 30 seconds every morning. Without fail, and without excuse.

It doesn't matter how unmotivated I am, I can sit still and breathe consciously for 30 seconds.

In that way, I'm structuring my future in a completely new way. And when it's time for 30 seconds to turn into a minute, or two, or five, or 20, or 3 hours, it will happen naturally and easily.

Remember that our prospects already want the benefits of what we're selling. All we need to do is show them the easy way to get there.

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Why Users Delete Your Mobile App

Mobile app stores are growing by the minute. There are over 45,000 apps added to app stores every month.

It isn't enough to just develop and launch your mobile app. Getting users aware of your mobile app can be competitive and expensive.

In 2012, the average user downloaded 80 apps per device. This is eight times more than when there were only 10 apps downloaded for every one device in 2008.

With those numbers it's quite a feat to get your app downloaded, but what can be even harder is getting users to use your app more than once. Marketers and developers need to plan and execute marketing efforts to keep users engaged after your app is downloaded to their device.

Why Users Delete Mobile Apps

Because the data doesn't lie, most of your users either aren't using your app or uninstalling it altogether. Research by Mobilewalla revealed that users eventually delete 90 percent of all downloaded apps. Make one wrong move that angers or frustrates users – and chances are your app will be deleted.

The survey by Compuware also sheds light on the most common reasons why users might delete mobile apps or give them bad reviews. The number one cause: freezes. Sixty-two percent of the people who were surveyed said they would delete an app if it froze up.

Another survey from uSamp revealed that 71 percent of users said they would delete an app that crashed, 59 percent for slow responsiveness, 55 percent for heavy battery usage, and 53 percent for too many ads. That's a lot of pressure for developers and marketers!

This tells us a couple of things:

Mobile customers are intolerant and fickle. (You know you are). If your app isn't a knockout on first impression, it's probably going to be deleted or will be forgotten on their smartphones.You're potentially losing thousands or millions of dollars in revenue. That's no joke.

Profit in the app world is a numbers game dictated largely by your app users. Whether your app business model is pay to play, in-app purchases, advertising, or freemium; theoretically, the amount you can generate from an app is highly dependent on the number of users you have.

In a study by Gartner, this year, in-app purchases will account for 17 percent of revenues to more than $4 billion. Advertising will account for 7 percent of revenues, which relies heavily on mobile app usage data.

Why Users Abandon Your App

Here are top reasons why users abandon your app:

Complex or bad registration process: Users won't keep an app if the registration process is complicated. Mobile users want to start using their new apps quickly. If logging in isn't a fluid experience, you may have users leave your app for good. Greet new users with useful welcome messages or an intuitive tour.It's another "me too" app: It's difficult to stand out in a crowd of a million. (Literally a million apps just in the iOS app store). Search "to-do list" on any app store and you'll find pages of apps that offer "the best" solution to managing your to-do list. Finding the best combination of channel, creative, and timing for your marketing campaigns to reach your target audience – and stand out from competitors – is critical to make sure your app gets repeat use.Lots of bugs and errors: Mobile users have a very low tolerance for unstable apps and nothing can turn them away faster than crashes and buggy interfaces. That's why 71 percent of users will delete an app after it crashes. If your app happens to have bugs when it's released, be sure you have the resources to handle support questions or you may receive a lot of poor reviews in app stores.

It's important to remember that the factors above aren't the only reasons customers will delete an app after one use. Every app is different. The problems in your app's first time user experience might not always be apparent from just looking at these three issues.

Don't Leave Money on the Table

To figure out how to prevent users from deleting your app, you need to understand why they're leaving in the first place. If your users are abandoning your app after only one use, whatever is turning them away is probably not very deep into your app experience.

The launch and registration of your mobile app is the first opportunity to impress new users of your app. By seeing how your first time users navigate through your app and where and when they leave, you'll be able to identify the exact feature and/or screen that caused them to drop off – and fix it.

Monitor valuable metrics, such as tutorial completion, time spent on each screen, quitting the app, back tracking between screens and more. For example, if users are closing out of your app after connecting their Facebook account to create a new account, it may mean there's a bug that's causing your app to crash or it could be that users are reluctant to share their social network information on their first visit. You may need to offer email registration as an additional option.

The mobile app landscape is only going to get bigger and more competitive. As more apps enter the market, you're going to need every advantage you can get to stay ahead of your competitors.

The SES agenda focuses on aligning paid, owned and earned media to help you drive quality traffic and increase conversions.

SES Chicago is coming up!Book your pass to SES London
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Online Marketing News: Social Tools, Instagram Ads, Apple Tops Coca-Cola, Marketing Automation Trends

25 Awesome Social Media Tools (Your Brand Should Be Using) � When you�re managing your business on social media, it�s essential that you equip yourself with the right tools to do the job. Having the platforms and apps in place to effectively measure your ROI and maximize your social strategy will ramp up your results. This infographic from The Social Media Strategies Summit takes a closer look at 25 free and paid social media tools your brand should be using. MediaBistro

Explore Pinterest Boards with Bing � Back in April, Bing�introduced�the Pin to Pinterest feature, allowing visitors to pin and save results directly from Bing image search. This week they announce Image Collections for Bing image search, which brings together curated collections of images from around the web. Now, when you search for an image on Bing, you�ll notice related boards on Pinterest right alongside regular search results. Bing Blog

Sine Qua Non: Core Values and Content Strategy�� The work of content strategists so often focuses on tactics, techniques, and tools that when it comes to creating a core content strategy, we find ourselves blocked. Blocked for lack of direction. Blocked because our organizations are blocked for lack of a guiding purpose. This presentation examines the building blocks of your organizational core values and purpose. Jonathon Coleman

Instagram Teases Its Ad Strategy � �Ads will roll out in the relatively near future on a limited test basis. Instagram is also mindful of the potential adverse impact of ads on the user experience as users will remain in control and be able to hide ads they don�t like. Marketing Land�& Instagram Blog

New Report: B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends for North America � B2B marketers� confidence in content marketing continues to grow, content marketing usage rates are up from last year; and, not surprisingly, marketers with a documented content strategy are having the greatest success. Discover the most effective tools for B2B marketers in the SlideShare. MarketingProfs

Google Drive Updated With New Tools and Subtle Touch of Color � The home to Google Docs, Drive, which allows users to store files in the cloud, received some subtle new touches across multiple pages on Tuesday to docs, sheets, slides, drawings, forms and app scripts. Mashable

Google Launches New Card-Based “Unified Design” Search Results For Mobile Devices � The design will offer �cleaner and simpler, optimized for touch, with results clustered on cards so you can focus on the answers you�re looking for says Google. Are you optimized for mobile? Search Engine Land

Google Acquires Flutter, Creator of Hand Gesture Recognition Technology � Flutter’s app works by allowing a user to use hand gestures with the built-in webcam on devices to control navigation for such apps as iTunes, Spotify, Windows Media Player, QuickTime, and Winamp. Flutter is quite popular; it reached the top five most popular apps in the Mac App Store in its first two weeks in multiple countries when it released. Search Engine Watch

10 Inspiring Uses of Mobile in Retail � Mobile is growing and forward-thinking retailers are looking at ways to use mobile to increase sales, bring customers into stores, or to enhance the experience when people are shopping. Here are some examples from around the world. eConsultancy

Google ‘(Not Provided)’ Keywords: 10 Ways to Get Organic Search Data � Google flipped a switch and�made all Google searches secure, regardless of whether a searcher was logged into a Google account. Here�s an thorough explanation of why Google took these steps and a number of practical ways online marketers can much of that lost data. Search Engine Watch

Getting Past Google�s (Not Provided) With This Visual POV � Feeling �scroogled� by Google? This SlideShare cuts through the ambiguity, gets to the core of what�s happened and provides advice on how to survive in the post 100% not provided world. Adam Dince

10 Questions to Ask When Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan � To attract and engage social-media fans and followers and, ideally convert them into customers, you’ll need to carefully map out a clear, effective social-media strategy. Lee weighs in along with other industry notables. Entrepreneur.com

Apple Passes Coca-Cola as Most Valuable Brand � Apple passed Coca-Cola to become the world�s most valuable brand, according to a new study. The survey found that Apple�s brand value rose 28 percent in the past year. That doesn�t mean that it will be smooth sailing for Apple. The focus for the future is clear: “Apple must succeed in slowing Samsung�s momentum and capture the booming Chinese mobile market.� Intebrand

Google Launches Visual Tool for Building HTML5 Ads, Web Sites � The free tool enables advertisers and agencies to build HTML5 creative rich media ads for default layouts in DoubleClick and AdMob, but they also can use the tools to create ads and publish them to any generic interactive environment. What “don’t” they do? Online Media Daily

2014 Marketing Automation Trends Report � Marketing automation is a hot topic as more B2B marketers are adopting the technology to generate more and better leads, improve marketing productivity and increase conversion rates. This SlideShare presentation offers current trends, challenges and success factors for marketing automation @HolgerSchulze

Six Visual Solutions to Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges � Starts digital at the highest strategic level, which leads us into content marketing, from there it is a quick hop over to the challenge of metrics and silos, followed by a recommendation to optimize for the global maxima, and ends with the last two visuals that cover social investment and social content strategy. Another brilliant post. Occam�s Razor

Facebook to Deliver More Relevant Ads in News Feed � Facebook says they’ll actually start paying attention to feedback on user ad preferences. They’re currently working on some updates to the ads algorithm to improve the relevance and quality of the ads people see as well as optimizing when and where ads will be shown.� Facebook Newsroom

New study: Which Channels and Content Areas are Deemed Most Important for Content Marketing �Tried-and-true content distribution vehicles such as company websites and email campaigns are seen as the most essential for content marketing. Interestingly, 7 in 10 believe that it�s important to distribute content through public relations channels, while two-thirds concur with respect to using social media. MarketingCharts

90% of Content Marketers Suffer From ‘The Curse’ and How to Remedy It � When you�re inside the bottle, it�s hard to read the label. But that�s also when you risk pushing your own interests at the expense of your customers� interests. You are uniquely unqualified to write about your business. Find out how to fix that. Bryan Eisenberg

TopRank Online Marketing Speaking Engagements for October 2013

MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum (Boston)
Friday, October 11th at 2:00 – 3:15pm
Power Panel! Content All Stars Share Their Secrets
Panel Discussion

Minnesota Blogger Conference (Minneapolis)
Saturday, October 12th at 3:30 � 5:00pm
The Future of Blogging
Panel Discussion

Social Brand Forum (Coralville, Iowa)
Thursday, October 24th at 3:30 � 4:15pm
Win More, Suck Less � How to Optimize Your Social, Search, & Content Marketing
Featured Speaker

PRSA International Conference (Philadelphia)
Tuesday, Oct. 29, 8:00 � 9:15 am
Attract, Engage and Convert: How PR Can Get Ahead With Content Marketing
Featured Speaker

From the Online Community

On �10 Embeddable Media Sources for Content Curation,” � Oreo Cookie Style,� Nick Kellet said, Thanks for including Listly that’s much appreciated. I’ve been analyzing the whole embedded media space a lot. Sound and documents are pretty big categories too:

Soundcloud, Audioboo, BlogTalkRadio, Speaker, etc.Scribd, DocStoc, etc.

I made a graphic of the big categories. Here’s a link to my deck. This was what led to the content audits I did.

On �What Google�s Omission of Organic Keyword Data Means for Online Marketers,� Henley Wing said, What would be interesting if someone out there could develop some sort of tool that would take a web page, determine the basket of keywords it could rank for, and check the rankings for those keywords. It’d need to know how popular those keywords are as well to give you a rough estimate on which keywords is driving traffic to your site.

As for content ideation, I just launched a beta version of an app that shows you which topics/stories are trending for your industry in social media: BuzzSumo. I think your readers might find that a viable alternative to getting content ideas.

What’s Your Take?

Will you weather Google’s keyword data omission? Will Pinterest article pins give writers a larger voice or become home to a new generation of spam?

Securing the Future of SEO: Global Brands & 5 '(Not Provided)' Solutions

SEO has changed forever.

The great philosopher Heraclitus once said "change is the only constant". But wait? Einstein said a similar thing about the universe. Even the very subject on the correlation of change and constant in life is open to debate.

This sums up the situation that search marketers face themselves in today. SEO has a new meaning, a new direction. How we deal with it is driven by marketers' perception and the word "secure" now has more than one connotation in our market.

When Google made it apparent that 100 percent of its keyword data will be "(not provided)" (to the SEO community), many reacted with anger, angst, and frustration. Others sat back to absorb the news and some, content-based marketers, embraced the news as part of the natural evolution of SEO. They saw it coming and planned ahead.

What Has Changed?

Since 2011, Google began making secure search the default for signed-in users. This shift signaled the market that the existing model of keyword-centric SEO.

Add to this content 'Pandas', link spam 'Penguins', and now entity-based 'Hummingbirds'. We should have all seen this change coming. Google's Carousel also shows us that search results are not just about one query and one result anymore.

Moving Forward – Reactive vs. Proactive SEO


SEO has morphed into marketing. Proactive marketers took this into consideration a long time ago and began to focus on social signals and convergence, page-centric methodologies, and content-based marketing approaches to increase relevancy, authority, and influence. After all, Google gave us all the signals in advance.

Drive Your SEO Skills Forward at SES Chicago 2013:SEO in the Boardroom: Leveraging Relevant MetricsSynergy, Not Siloes: Effectively Converging Paid, Owned, and Earned MediaSee the full agenda.

Reactive marketers still focus on the "SEO is dead" debate and look for quick workarounds to "(not provided)" conundrums. Proactive marketers "invested and innovated" while reactive marketers now "repackage and repurpose".

Now, let's be honest and cut straight to the chase. Google is looking to monetize its data (it is a public company). However, it is also trying to protect its data and online privacy.

Regardless of your point of view, argument is like a pencil with no lead – pointless. There is no going back so let's focus on the future.

5 Top Tips From Brands on Dealing With Secure Search

Secure search has brought challenge, that is unavoidable, but it has also brought opportunity. Last week, I spoke with a few leading brands and agency customers on the impact of "(not provided)".

Below are some insights and top tips on moving forward in a "(not provided)" world.

1. Embrace Google Change

Raj Rao | Vice President, Global eTransformation – 3M:

"We applaud Google's shift in natural search from key words to the meaning of words, in relationship to one another. This enables 3M to rank well, and in some cases better (e.g. 'which abrasive do I use to grind aluminum').

"Rich content, the cornerstone of 3M's strategy for SEO, remains a critical aspect of our success going forward in the face of these recent changes. We need to get even better at structured data since what Google is looking for is pre-defined fields plus metadata, like providing better descriptions for our products.

"With the search phrase not being provided, it is extremely difficult to understand which searches are driving traffic and conversions. We will, instead, rely on Search Traffic to Pages versus detailed Keyword data to guide our organic search tactics. Content and context rich pages, alongside paid search optimization, will be even more important."

Everett Whitehead, SEO Manager - Monster.com

"With the change, most SEOs will shift to page-level analysis and reporting. As a result, many marketers will double down on on-site content investment by publishing new pages and lengthening existing pages in order to increase the traffic value of site pages.

"Although page-level analysis will become more prominent, we shouldn't stop doing keyword-level analytics altogether. Marketers will still have access to referring keywords data from other search engines such as Bing and ballpark click data from Google Webmaster Tools (at least for now). Additionally, a site's historical referring keyword data can be mined for keyword research purposes.

"SEOs can also utilize keyword referral data from their Google Adwords account to help inform optimization decisions. Perhaps this is the opportunity to finally break down the silo between SEO managers and paid search managers and to usher in a more holistic approach to managing the SERPs."

Warren Lee, SEO Manager - Adobe

"The fact that keyword level data is now 100% '(not provided)' has not taken away our ability to derive the insights we need, it has only changed how we get those insights.

"We're still able to analyze the performance of Google organic search traffic at the page level and we can also analyze keyword level performance by combining page level signals with other signals from a variety of other sources.

"We are continuously working on developing solutions that help search marketers get the insights they need. In the near future, Adobe will be sharing a few new methods and solutions to solve for keyword-level insights on the Adobe Digital Marketing blog."

Dixon Jones, Majestic SEO

"The biggest takeaway here is that (yet again) the only constant is change in SEO. The ability of technologies to foresee potential changes in the landscape and protect themselves in particular against changes made by Google will always sort the men from the boys in the tool space".

2. Focus on Quality Content

Ellen Mamedov, Sr. Manager of Enterprise Search – American Express

"The impact has been significant since from the SEO perspective, we've been forced to analyze paid search data and any keywords level data we can get our hands on. Instead, we've been trying to focus more on quality content and social media to connect users to relevant information and use the analytics that are available to see impact.

"Being able to get that data back or find smarter ways to anticipate trends and topics would be something we would love to see in the future."

Robin Francis, Sr. Manager, Search + Web Content – Autodesk

"We still have the user intent available to us in the form of the SERP itself. Take the time to vet if your site belongs in that result set at all before going after any keyword. Get really good at reading between the lines of what Google is showing you and you can deliver on what the user actually wants with your great content.

"Now is the time to focus on Schema.org markup to differentiate your result on the SERP. Not everyone is in this game yet and you may be able to reap the potential increased click through rewards and get a handle on auditing your content at the same time."

3. Ensure You Get the Most From Your Data

Jason Tabeling, Partner – Rosetta

"In order to get the most out of your data, we recommend the following steps:

Link your AdWords and Webmaster Tools accounts for increased visibility. a. Read Rosetta's POV b. Set up an automated, daily report to be delivered to you so that you do not miss out on the organic data since it is only available for the past 90 days. Continue gathering organic search data, but review as an overall channel vs. digging into specific keywords. a. Align increases in overall performance with specific optimizations to understand impact and drive future recommendations. Focus on different SEO metrics, such as deep-linking page visits, to understand what content is optimized and appealing to searchers. Utilize non-Google search engine results, as well as third-party trend/insights tools. Bing and Yahoo organic search data is available (unless the engines are used in a browser blocking search terms) and directional for all organic optimizations. Google Search Monitor and enterprise SEO tools can provide your company's information as well as competitors for more impactful analysis."4. Move Toward Page-Centric SEO

Chris Keating VP, SEO, CO and Data Feeds - Performics

"We see this as a healthy development that allows us to further evolve toward broader strategies to help our clients acquire and retain customers. While still a highly effective tactic, SEO is only part of the larger picture. We have been expanding our practice to address performance content, social content, experience optimization and more.

"The industry has become overly dependent on keyword referral as a data point. We will continue to leverage other search engine-provided data, but our main source of advanced metrics will cover page-level performance, share of voice, and other enterprise measurements."

Sean Kainec, Senior Manager, SEO – Home Depot

"Bringing things together at the page level is how everyone needs to approach SEO today and into the future."

5. Focus on Revenue and Conversions at a Page Level

Bryson Meunier, Director, SEO Strategy – Resolution Media

"What we need to be thinking about is how to increase revenue from organic search and this change might help us help all of our clients do that. Since keyword-level conversions are more difficult to get for everyone, we can shift attention to page-level metrics and overall increases in revenue from organic search.

"It's also a good challenge for SEOs. The best SEOs have thrived in adversity and become even better. The best SEOs are figuring out how to take what many are calling an impossible situation and make it work for them. Really looking forward to seeing great solutions that this challenge will inspire."


It should come as no surprise that authority, relevancy, and influence will dictate how we optimize going forward. Future SEO revolves around these three centers of excellence.

Optimizing content based around your audience and developing strategies that allow you to track and measure what is happening with your content, on your webpage, allows you to move away from pure keyword dependency methods of management and reporting.

Keywords still play a huge part in what we do and you can still be creative with correlation methodologies and workarounds.

If you really want to drive forward with Future SEO you need to act and think like a marketer more than ever. Understand structured data, the semantic web and how Google looks to "link" topics and entities. Build content to help facilitate this "link" and become an authority on topics relevant to your users.

Finally, look at social signals and utilize social media to drive traffic to your site. Structure your site accordingly. Make sure you have a page manager.

Simple keyword reporting methods have become obsolete. That doesn't mean SEO has. It's just a question of definition and moving forward.

 Learn MoreFuture of SEO: Change, Convergence, CollaborationFuture of SEO: Investment, Innovation & IntegrationWhat '(Not Provided)' & Google Hummingbird Mean for Small Business SEOAfter '(Not Provided)' & Hummingbird, Where is Google Taking Us Next?Keywords, and #Hashtags, and Hummingbird! Oh My!Google '(Not Provided)' Traffic Highest for Tech Industry Brands at 56% [Study]

The SES agenda focuses on aligning paid, owned and earned media to help you drive quality traffic and increase conversions.

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Online Marketing News: Scary Good Creative, Email Beats Social, B2B Twitter, Wasted PPC

Scary Good Creative Video: �Carrie� Promo Spooks New Yorkers � It may be a little early for trick or treating, but a new campaign rolled out of the proverbial pumpkin patch this week and tricked one of the most cynical consumer groups, New Yorkers. The video reached 25+ million+ views in just a few days. With the creative juice of Stephen King and Hollywood behind it, the Sony promo for the upcoming Carrie remake is the biggest thing to scare up that many views since The Blair Witch Project. CommPro

More Sharing on E-mail Than Facebook, Twitter � Email beats social networks Facebook and Twitter combined as the top medium for sharing online coupons and other offers, according to new research from SocialTwist, a company that specializes in giving consumers incentives to share deals online. AdAge

Study: How B2B Marketers Use Twitter � Industry media sites are the most common source of content shared by B2B marketers on Twitter, accounting for 62% of all content shares, according to a recent analysis by Leadtail�and DNN Software. MarketingProfs

Use Images on Twitter to Get More Retweets � Based on a data set of more than 400,000 tweets, those with images uploaded to pic.Twitter.com were nearly twice as likely to be retweeted while the use of Twitpic increased the odds by just over 60%. On the other hand, Tweets that used Facebook or Instagram links were less likely to be retweeted. Dan Zarella, Hubspot

How Twitter�s Ad Business Went From Zero to $500 Million in Less Than Four Years � Remember when Twitter didn’t want to be in the ad business? With an eye on Facebook�s struggles in the last couple years, Twitter has also made a point of noting that the service is in large part a mobile service, and that its ads have always worked for mobile users. AllThingsD

New Study: A Typical Small Business Advertiser Wastes Money on PPC � A new analysis of 500 small and medium business Google AdWords accounts determined that they were wasting 25% on average due to poor keyword selection, suboptimal ad relevancy and quality scores and lack of time or expertise for optimizing PPC, Search Engine Watch

The World�s Most Influential CMOs � The number of influential CMOs has increased nearly 50% from last year. For the 2013 CMO Influence Study, research was expanded to include the top 500 companies from the Forbes Global 2000 list. Of those companies, 66 have CMOs who are engaged in influential conversations. Forbes

Editorial Unease Rises As Content Ad Links Proliferate � For many editors � especially those who don�t interact much with the business side of the house � the feeling is that the revenue generated by link generators is not worth the sacrifice of editorial dignity. Too often, the suggested content has nothing to do with the lead story. Digiday

A Scientific Guide to Effectively Saying �No� � �I can�t� and �I don�t� are words that seem similar and we often interchange them for one another, but psychologically they can provide very different feedback and, ultimately, result in very different actions. In other words, the phrase �I don�t� is a psychologically empowering way to say no, while the phrase �I can�t� is a psychologically draining way to say no. Lifehacker

How Small Businesses are Dropping the Ball on CTAs � The �Small Business B2B Call to Action Study� of 200 websites found that companies routinely fail to include special offers and related incentives. Even basics, like Contact Info and a phone number are� not prominent. Here are some highlights. Online Marketing Coach

7 Tools for Finding Great Content to Share � Finding and sharing great content is an essential part of social media. These tools will help you find content to share and save you a lot of time. Discovered a few new tools myself. MarketingProfs

5 Ways to Increase Customer Engagement Using Science � With digital marketing and loyalty programs, we have the tools to drive customer engagement in a way that’s empirical and scientific. We can draw upon the techniques developed by BF Skinner, called �operant conditioning,� to fine-tune our marketing program for maximum effect. Here are five modern marketing techniques that you should use and the science behind their effectiveness. �Direct Marketing News

Samsung’s Curved Smartphone: Big Innovation or Novelty? Analysts predict a small group of early adopters in the U.S. will favor the Round’s distinctive look, but only at half that price. ComputerWorld

The Story Behind 118-year-old Brand � In its 118-year history, John Deere�s The Furrow has become something of a legend in two exceptionally disparate communities: agriculture and brand publishing. For farmers, it�s the agrarian version of Rolling Stone. For brand publishers, it�s a thing of wonder � a brand magazine born generations before the term �content marketing� was coined, which sees its back-issues fought over � fiercely � on eBay. Contently

8 Important e-Commerce Stats � Like most large industries on the Internet, the e-commerce space has become more competitive as new businesses, platforms and complimentary services enter the market. Data analysis of over 18,000 small to medium e-commerce sites help paint a picture of current marketing and consumer behavior trends in the e-commerce space; and one that will give store owners a better chance to reach their business goals. Kissmetrics

Where to Place 30 Elements on Your eCommerce and Why � The product detail page is where the magic is supposed to happen. When a product detail page does its job two things happen: (1) the consumer has his/her need fulfilled and (2) the retailer achieves its goal and acquires a happy customer. Read these recommendations to gain a solid starting point. eConsultancy

Google On Original Content Related to Product Descriptions � Google will try to show users the appropriate version that matches what they think the user is looking for. So in some cases, the original source of content is not always the most important thing, demonstrating the growing importance of context for SEO. Search Engine Roundtable

6 Tips for Finding Prospects on LinkedIn � Social selling produces better results than cold calling and allows you to easily reach the decision-makers. To be successful, strive to offer value and build credibility. Following these six steps when integrated into your business strategy will set you apart from other LinkedIn members. Social Media Examiner

3 Google+ Power Users Reveal their Secrets � If you�re still in the dark about value proposition of Google Plus, prepare to be enlightened. Here are just three people among the hundreds who spent the time to make a positive contribution to the conversation, left lengthy comments and have provided real insights as to the power of Google+. Jeff Bullas

From the Online Community

On �10 Content Marketing Tools for Creation, Distribution and Analytics,� Cara Posey said, Lee, this is a great list. Some tools I know, some I’m trying out (like Little Bird) and others I have yet to try. I will humbly add ExpertFile to this list…another platform that is great for finding experts and reviewing expert content as well as a platform for companies and individuals to share their own content. We also just launched our new visual dashboard, helping B2B marketers and agencies with content marketing analytics and assessing ROI for expert content marketing efforts as well as identifying new opportunities. I hope you’ll check it out as a potential tool that adds additional value to your list above

On �Digital Newsletters as Content Marketing,� Sarah Bauer said, Great post! Some takeaways from your examples:
1. Consistent branding for digital newsletters is key. The logo/colours need to be instantly recognizable as the brand, and so should appear above the fold on the newsletter.
2. Before diving into a topic, it’s important to outline what readers can expect from the newsletter. A simple table of content at the top of the page can suffice.

On �5 Habits of Digital Marketing Agencies That Get Results,� Ava Christi said, While the digital revolution has given marketers great new ways to be creative, it has also demanded that they become more statistical and analytical in order to prove ROI, which has proved difficult in the past. But help is at hand.

Episodeone.com said, All these characteristics which you have talked about here are very important for success. Well! Success in digital marketing is often the result of a mashup of tactics and technology from multiple sources, which means marketers need to think beyond their role, team and hierarchy to embrace the ideas, and, in some cases, the expertise of others.

What�s Your Take?

Was a Scary Carrie video good content marketing even if it was a trick? For e-commerce sites, do you have a continuous improvement process in place? Is your CMO an influencer in your organization.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Marketing Automation Essentials for Small Businesses

Do you know which companies are visiting your site right now? Are you able to automate your marketing messages to reach different audiences based on their behavior on your site? How about scoring leads to ensure your sales team knows who should make it to the top of their calling list?

If you find yourself answering no to some or all of these questions, you’re not alone. The scenarios above can be a reality for marketers, but this reality often requires an investment in marketing automation. While large corporations were predominantly the earlier adopters of this technology several years ago, small businesses are learning that the technology synchs with their business needs as well. And marketing automation providers are taking notice, offering solutions now geared to SMBs as well.

Today’s MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum session is led by marketing veteran Frank Days, and includes the panel of Lori Cohen, David Karp & William Toll. Geared towards small business with an emphasis on the key features, best practices and considerations that small businesses need to take into account when considering marketing automation, Days begins the session by validating that he has the right audience for the session. “How many in the audience are the sole person responsible for marketing at your company?’, Days asked. 66% of attendees raised their hand. Yep. It’s the right audience.

With Days directing today’s session with a series of questions for the panel, the conversion track begins with the important question ‘WHY’ marketing automation can be effective for small businesses.

Why Marketing Automation

Toll takes the lead on answering the question by focusing on the efficiencies marketing automation can create. According to Toll, “Marketing automation allows you to be more productive with your time” by automating many processes and allowing marketers to focus on creating the content and workflows that nurture their respective audiences.

Cohen concurs and backs that position with a statistic that varies slightly from source to source, but is highly compelling none the less. “80% of the buyers journey happens before they contact the company. If that’s indeed the case, our role as marketers is to provide information to our audience to help them along their journey.”

Really understanding that journey, supported by real data, and refining your marketing activities accordingly is where the panel sees the most value in marketing automation. But it’s not all roses. There is also misinformation and overstatements abound about marketing automation, and the panel is quick to define what it ‘can’t do’ as well.

Marketing Automation Does Not…

It seems that people often expect that marketing automation will move the clouds and suddenly reveal a marketing strategy. Karp explains that “marketing automation cannot form your corporate strategy. It can do many things, but your strategy needs to be sound and actually exist to get value out of the technology.”

Days agrees that “marketing automation cannot define your strategy for you. It can, however, compliment your existing strategy.”

So marketing automation is not a “strategy developer”. So what else can it NOT do? “It can’t train your sales and marketing teams,” according to Karp. Marketers and organizations need to own the responsibility of training, ensuring adoption and monitoring compliance.

When to Invest

On this point the panel agrees in perfect harmony, content is needed before any small businesses considers the investment. Or as Toll more eloquently puts it, “You need content before you even consider investing. It’s the meat to your marketing automation strategy.”

Imagine having the power of a tool that can tell you what content resonates with an individual and then offer the ability to serve them additional content to move them through the buying cycle. Now imagine that same scenario without the whole ‘content piece’. Not much going on.

The investment conversation brings us to the topic that the audience is eager to discuss: what features do small businesses need.

Key Small Business Features

Let the record show that the panel, beginning with Cohen, caution that the answer ultimately depends on your objectives and your strategy. But Days persists, and the team hones in on several key features that they believe would be beneficial for small businesses. For more convenience consumption, those features are represented in the word cloud to the right, courtesy of Wordle.net.

The panel believes that the CRM integration is maybe the most crucial feature, as it acts as the gateway to delivering the leads you worked to hard to drive to your sales team – who should be waiting with baited breath!

With, ‘WHY’, ‘WHEN’ and ‘WHAT’ covered, the session concludes with a discussion on ‘HOW’ small business marketers should leverage this tool.

Marketing Automation Best Practices

As Voltaire wrote (he might have even said it too, but I wasn’t there) “with great power, comes great responsibility.” This axiom certainly applies to marketers leveraging marketing automation. Cohen says marketers need to be wary of over-marketing, “don’t use marketing automation to shout. You can automate your campaigns, but that doesn’t mean blasting your target audience incessantly is a good idea.”

Increasing the frequency of messages or touchpoints does not necessarily equate to better results. Instead, the panel emphasizes the importance of timing. “When you contact leads is critical,” says Days. Adding that the single most important follow up tip he can give is to contact leads within 30 minutes of completing a form, ideally by phone. According to Days, “the need that drove them to complete the form is still top of mind.” What better time to connect?

Now that you have heard what the expert panel believes are some of the marketing automation essentials for small businesses, what do you think? What best practices or features would you add?

How to Turn Data & Creativity Into Great Content in 3 Steps

Marketers seem to spend their lives trying to reconcile science with creativity.

Our marketing decisions are supposed to be driven by hard, scientific metrics based on ROI, signals and big data. Yet we're also supposed to create creative, engaging content that's driven by genuine human interest. It's a tug-a-war that very few ever manage to resolve.

So, what should be the major influencing factor when it comes to content creation? Can we ever satisfy both the scientific and creative approach to content marketing?

The Data Driven Approach

Using data to dictate the subject matter, writing process, and editorial calendar is an effective and valid approach. This includes looking at content that generates the most traffic, creates the best conversions or gets the most love through social channels. Modern tools also let us look at what the competition is writing and which subjects appear to be the most popular.

As well as dictating the content itself, when, how, and where your content is published and shared can also be driven by data alone. Both big-data and real-time, algorithm driven tools drive the majority of content publication and syndication for the world's leading brands. Nothing is left to chance.

It makes sense really. If you have access to data that tells you exactly what your community wants to be reading, and when they want to read it, it seems illogical to ignore it, right?

The Creative Approach

The problem with reacting to big data, even if it is supplied in real-time, is that you're always going to be at least one step behind. You will always just play it safe.

Also, how are writers supposed to write articles that'll capture the imagination of their readers if it's dictated purely by metrics and results? This approach leaves little room for creativity, passion, or originality. A purely data driven approach to content will eventually suck the soul out of your content, no matter how good the writer is.

I recently asked Rand Fishkin, CEO of the Inbound Marketing Software Company, Moz, for his thoughts on the subject. His reaction?

"It's so inauthentic to write about something that you don't give a crap about," Fishkin said.

Well, who can argue with that?

The problem is that the Internet now operates in a way that exposes inauthenticity like never before. With social media, content aggregators and a whole range of online apps designed to prioritize only the best content on the web, only great content will get you heard.

So, authenticity is the key to visibility. That means we need to "give a crap" about what we're writing about!

So, how can you reconcile the two approaches?

Advantages and Disadvantages

Let's start by looking at some of the advantages and disadvantages of both the scientific and creative approach.

Creative Advantages Creative DisadvantagesInherent creativity produces content that is more unique.Driven by real passion, real interest and topical subjects.Writers are then more passionate about creating the content in the first place.Higher likelihood of generating the post that strikes it big with your audience.More difficult to forecast and apply to content calendars.Decreased consistency in metrics like traffic, conversions, shares etc.


Data Advantages Data DisadvantagesIncreased predictability and planning.Higher rate of consistency in metrics.Scalability.Most organizations are metric driven and the value of content is more easily communicated.Sacrificing the passion for the writer's interest in the first place.Decreased motivation to create compelling content.Writer dissent.Threat of disengaging your audience by lack of creativity.

Unsurprisingly, each approach has its advantages but some major drawbacks as well.

Perhaps we're asking the wrong questions? Clearly, you can combine the data-driven approach with creativity, the key question is how much? How can you strike a healthy balance between the two? Where's the sweet spot?

During the aforementioned conversion with Fishkin, I got his feedback on how he combines creative ideas with data driven topics.

"I like to create a Venn diagram in my head," he said. "Here's what data says people are interested in; here's what's creative and unique and fascinating and no one has thought about or written about previously."

The sweet spot is where the two circles converge.

Clearly this is the ideal scenario. Fishkin has years of experience creating some of the best content on the web. He's also worked with some of the best minds in the content marketing industry.

The Process

So how can we take this approach and distil it into a practical process that all content creators can build into their own content marketing process?

Creative Brainstorming: Start by creating your ideas! Don't sterilize your content by making data and metrics your starting point. Start by cultivating a creative, imaginative approach. Have a regular brainstorming session with your team to come up with fresh topics and ideas. Don't base your ideas on anything other than what you think would make great content. Create a mind map if it helps.Cross Reference: Once you have a list of topics from your brainstorming session, you then need to try and align the topics with those that are supported by analytical insights. This is where you need to develop a skill for recognizing Fishkin's sweet spot. Lead with the topics/titles where you see most crossover! This will be your most engaging, functional, and widely shared content.Fill the Gaps: When you look at the data, you will see opportunities for content that weren't covered in your brainstorming session. Though this content might not be the most creative, it still has a part to play. Do this in a rotation format to ensure your writers don't get jaded.

By following this process you will naturally give precedence to the creative content that is most likely to perform. It also makes sure that you don't ignore the second level of practical content that will do the leg work day-in-day-out.


Data can be incredibly effective at communicating to your organization what your audience finds most interesting.

Data can also create a slippery slope that curbs the creativity that fuelled the content your audience engaged with in the first place. Unless you're careful to avoid it, this approach can lead to sterile, lifeless content that will draw you further away from your marketing goals.

A better approach is to combine creativity with metric-driven subjects and content. By embracing both approaches, you will encourage creativity and create the content that most marketers strive for.

 More Tips for Great ContentHow to Write Great Content: Because Awesome Content Won't Write Itself...How to Build Your First Content Marketing StrategyMatching Content to the Customer Life Cycle

Early Bird Rate Extended!
Nov. 4-7, 2013: This year's SES Chicago agenda focuses on aligning paid, owned and earned media to help you drive quality traffic and increase conversions.
Register today and save up to $400!
Final Early Bird deadline extended to October 11.

For Epic Content Marketing, Subscription Needs to Top Your Marketing Objectives

When Joe Pulizzi first contacted me to talk about his first book, Get Content, Get Customers, the conversation and ensuing connection over the following years proved to be a positive and productive influence on my approach to digital marketing.

Even if this blog wasn’t named the�#1 content marketing blog three times by Junta42, our involvement with events like Content Marketing World as a speaker, media sponsor and creator of the Speaker EBooks (Content Marketing Secrets and Content Marketing Rocks!) would still have manifested in one way or another. Joe has been an incredible influence on many and has made a significant impact on the quality of marketing found within many major brands.

To support my fellow author and friend, I’ve asked Joe to share this guest post/excerpt from his most recent book, Epic Content Marketing, that highlights an often missed component of successful content marketing: Subscription.

Scan this post and then go buy Epic Content Marketing�before your competition does!

Brian Clark, and his software business Copyblogger Media, have almost 200,000 people signed up to get his regular content updates.

Kraft Foods has over one million people that request and pay to receive their print magazine, Kraft Food & Family.

OpenView Venture Partners now has approximately 20,000 business owners and CEOs request to receive their weekly enewsletter.

Two individuals known as Smosh, started developing and distributing videos on YouTube back in 2005.� Eight years later, Smosh runs the most popular YouTube channel with 8 million subscribers.

Copyblogger sells software to bloggers. Kraft is one of the largest food companies in the world. OpenView is a venture capital company. Smosh is a comedy network. Even though their businesses couldn�t be any more different, subscription is key.

Shifting Your Thinking from Expense to Asset

Do most marketing professionals view content marketing�as an�asset?

The answer is no�no almost�across�the board. �Marketers view spending on content marketing as an expense.�This has to change.

First some questions.

What Is an Asset?

According to Investopedia, an asset is �a resource with economic value that �a corporation� owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide future benefit.�

An asset, like a house or a stock investment, is a purchase that can increase in value over time.

Traditionally, marketing spend has been viewed as an expense. �Take advertising: We create the ad and distribute it over a fixed time, then it�s over. Hopefully that expense has transferred into some brand value or direct sales exchange, but the event itself is over.

Content marketing is different and needs to be viewed and treated differently.

Acquiring the Asset of Content

Whatever your goals, whether direct sales goals, lead generation goals, search engine optimization tactics or social media tactics, you are spending more money on content acquisition and distribution. �For that reason alone, you need to think differently about acquiring content assets.

Yes, you are not acquiring content expenses. You are acquiring an asset!

Thinking Like a Publisher

We are all publishers, and that means thinking differently about content and its importance to your organization.

When you invest in a video, a podcast, or a white paper, those pieces of content create value in several significant ways.

The finished content is used over a long period of time. It has shelf life.� The content you create has value long after the investment is paid off (fitting the definition of an asset). The easiest example is content created for search engine optimization. �One blog post can deliver returns for years after production.

An example of this is Content Marketing Institute�s �What is Content Marketing?� blog post. It has consistently seen traffic consistently over time. This is the reason why we love to create evergreen content that can be relevant for years after creation.

Content can and should be reimagined/repurposed.�You may start by investing in a video, but at the end of the year, that one video may result in 10 videos, five blog posts, two podcasts and 30 sales tools fit for different levels of buying cycle.

When you think like a publisher, everything you develop for publishing purposes is an asset.� Having that mentality means that we need to think about all the resources that create and distribute that content differently. It�s not about a marketing campaign�it�s about creating long-term engagement with our customers through epic content.

How Does Thinking about Content as an Asset Help?

Thinking in these terms will help you in a couple ways:

If you treat content as an asset,� your organization will�stop treating content as that �soft, fluffy thing� that they can take or leave. In every meeting or conversation you have, use the word �asset�. �Live it. �It will start to rub off and will gain importance in the company.

By thinking this way, you will more actively market the asset. I heard a story recently about a company that invested $30,000 USD in a white paper and received one download. � That�s a marketing problem, not a content problem. �Would you plan to sell your house but not tell anyone about it? �A lot of organizations do that with their content. �Make sure you don�t make that mistake.

Begin with the End in Mind

In 2008, the Content Marketing Institute was just a year old. We had around 5,000 subscribers to our weekly enewsletter, which was sent out each Friday. As we were becoming more sophisticated with our marketing, we decided to do an analysis of our subscribers.

What we found both surprised and delighted us. The average CMI subscriber:

�Was more likely to attend our events and purchase our products.�Was more likely to share our content with their network.Once in the sales process (for our consulting service), the subscriber closed 3x faster than a non-subscriber.

We had the goals of brand awareness, lead generation and thought leadership, just like your organization most likely does. But what we didn�t realize until this analysis was that we could accomplish a number of marketing goals through the one, unified goal of subscription.

We found that by developing epic content marketing on a consistent basis, we were creating better customers for our business, as well as accomplishing a number of marketing goals.

Our understanding of the value of our subscriber turned our little business into something that was just surviving into a thriving and growing brand. Yes, it�s that important.

The Digital Footprint

In 2009, I had the pleasure of hearing Dan McCarthy speak, then CEO of Network Communications and now a partner with DeSilva & Phllips, a leading media investment bank. Dan spoke about the changing mentality of his media company and how they had expanded their definition of subscription.

Subscription, for most media companies, is better known as circulation. The circulation of a magazine or newsletter is what you can sell against.� For example, our magazine, Chief Content Officer, is delivered to 22,000 marketing executives every two months.� This 22,000 is what we can charge our sponsors for reaching (which is generally around $7,000 per full page advertisement). If we only had an audience of 10,000, we would have to charge much less for a full page of advertising.

Dan said that his media company was evolving away from this mentality and focusing on subscription around where customers were hanging out, or, the Digital Footprint.

Owned subscription sources (i.e., print and email) are still primary because we can actually own the data from those channels.� Secondary subscription sources, such as Twitter followers or YouTube subscribers are important as well, but since that data is owned by those companies (and not ours), we can�t place as high an emphasis on those.

The point is this�you are your own media company. As a media company, you need to focus on your subscription channels in order to deliver on your marketing goals. And the only thing that keeps those subscription channels growing and vibrant is consistent amounts of epic content.

Some tips to drive subscription:

Make content-for-content offers:�As readers are engaging in your content, be sure you have a clear offer that takes your content to the next level. This means offering a valued eBook, research report, or white paper, in exchange for subscribing to your email list. You�ll see that we do this on the upper right hand corner of this page.Pop-ups work (for now):�As much as I loathe pop-ups or pop-overs as a reader, I LOVE them as a content marketer. We use�Pippity�as our pop-over service, where we offer an eBook on 100 Content Marketing Examples. Over 50 percent of our daily sign-ups come from Pippity (Pippity also integrates nicely with WordPress).Focus:�So many companies want to throw 100 offers in front of their readers. Don�t confuse the issue. If your goal is subscription, that should be your main (and only) call to action.

Once you focus on subscription as your goal, make it a priority to find out what makes a subscriber different to your business than a non-subscriber. Once you find that little piece of secret sauce, everything will start coming together for your top-of-the-funnel content marketing program.

This post was adapted from Joe Pulizzi�s third book, Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less, just released this month. �Joe is also founder of Content Marketing Institute, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. �You can find Joe on Twitter @JoePulizzi. If you ever see Joe in person, he�ll be wearing orange.

Thanks Joe!

Google Doesn't Consider Geolocation Techniques Spam

One of the cardinal rules of SEO is to make sure you serve the same content to Googlebot that you serve to end users. Many years ago this used to be a spam technique where it would show Googlebot one version of a webpage, while sending the users to completely different version, often that had nothing to do with what Googlebot thought it did.

So if you're using geo-targeting in order to serve country-specific content to the end-user, how should you handle this? That's the topic of the latest webmaster help video.

Using Geo-detection technique is against Google, I am offering the useful information (price, USP's) to the users based on the Geo-location, will Google consider this as a Spam i.e. showing X content to SE and Y content to user.

Google's Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts explained exactly how geo-targeting should be used by webmasters so that there are no problems from a Google penalty perspective.

Geolocation is not spam. As long as you are showing "oh someone is coming from a French IP address and let’s direct them to the French version of my page or the French domain for my business", that is totally fine. "Someone comes in from a German IP address I’ll redirect them over to the German version of my page" that’s totally fine.

He also made it clear that you shouldn't treat Googlebot any differently than you would at ordinary user coming into your website.

So if Googlebot comes in, you check the IP address, and imagine we’re coming from the United States, just redirect Googlebot to the United States version of the page, or the dot-com, or whatever it is you would serve to regular United States users. So geolocation is not spam."

Cutts also said that Google treats traffic differently based on geolocation, "so that if the user comes in, they send them to what they think is the most appropriate page based on a lot of different signals, but usually the IP address of the user."

Now comes into the gray area, when it comes to the different content you're serving to Googlebot versus the end user. Cutts said:

Showing X content to search engines and Y content to users, that is cloaking, that’s showing different content to Google than to users, and that is something I would be very careful about.But. as long as you’re treating Googlebot just like every other user, whatever IP address they come from when you’re geo-locating, as long as you don’t have special code that looks for the user agent of Googlebot or special code that looks for the IP address of Googlebot, and you just treat Googlebot exactly like you would treat a visitor from whatever country were coming from, then you’ll be totally fine.Because you’re not cloaking you’re not doing anything different for Google, you’re doing the exact same thing for Google that you would do for any other visitor coming from that web address. As long as you handle it that way you’ll be in good shape you won’t be cloaking and you’ll be able to return nicely geo-located pages for Google and search engines without any risk whatsoever.

So when it comes to geolocation, you'll be fine as long as you make sure that what you serve to Googlebot is the same as what you would serve to a user from the same country that Googlebot is coming from.

Early Bird Rate Extended!
Nov. 4-7, 2013: This year's SES Chicago agenda focuses on aligning paid, owned and earned media to help you drive quality traffic and increase conversions.
Register today and save up to $400!
Final Early Bird deadline extended to October 11.

Not Provided – What Google’s Omission of Organic Keyword Data Means for Online Marketers

Something is missing! Can we fix it?

We started this week off with a bang – at least in the search world, with Google now redirecting all traffic to https, i.e. encrypted search.

What that means is, if you were wondering what keyword phrases people use on Google organic search to find your website, you’re out of luck. �While keywords are an important answer to the relevance of your website to buyers, now those answers are simply listed as (not provided).

Google has been masking keyword data for logged in users for about 2 years, so dealing with omitted keyword data is nothing new to agencies like yours truly at TopRank Online Marketing.

We’ve been consulting with clients on a variety of ways to extract keyword insight from ranked web pages, treating historical and limited keyword data as a sample and using alternative feedback in order to optimize search marketing performance. But this recent change closed the door on the direct line of sight from organic query to conversion.

I admit the shift from 50% to 75% and soon 100% of (not provided) keywords has been a bit frustrating and �inspired a number of blog post ideas like:

100% of Companies World Wide Lose Keyword Insights from GoogleGoogle Betrays Agreement With Web Site Owners to Trade Copies of Our Websites for Keyword DataGet Over (not provided) Now’s the Time to Upgrade Your Online Marketing & Optimize for CustomersWhat? You’re Still Relying on Inaccurate Keyword Data From Google?How to UnGoogle Your Online Marketing

Actually, only one of these is real and in the queue. Can you guess which?

Here’s the thing: Google handles about 67% of all search engine queries every month according to comScore’s August 2013�Search Engines Ranking�report. Billions of searches from billions of users gives Google a lot of power. But why make this change?

On Search Engine Land,�Danny Sullivan says the move to 100% encrypted search is to provide protections for searchers. He also suggests the change is a means to block NSA spying activity. Or maybe it was done to boost AdWords advertising sales? That makes sense, since without feedback from organic search referring keywords, it’s near impossible to �know specifically which phrases drove visitors and buyers to pages on your website. Of course Google discounts that reason, “The motivation here is not to drive the ads side � it�s for our search users”.

As I mentioned above, website owners and marketers have been dealing with a partial “not provided” situation for the past 2 years where secure search was initiated for any user of a Google service, whether logged into Gmail, Google Analytics, YouTube, Google Adwords or other Google service.

But that number has been going up and up until this week where it’s pretty much at 75% and soon to be 100%. You can see a clever graph of this trend on�Not Provided Count.

At first glance this looks like a major omission of critical data not only for SEO specialists but for content, social media and any online marketer at companies who rely on search and the optimization of search performance to attract audiences to their content.

You can see from the Google Analytics organic search query report above, the vast majority of referring keywords used by people to find this site on Google are (not provided).

Refining content planning to better serve readers with the topics they’re most interested in will not be supported through search analytics any longer. At least not in the same way.

What is Organic Keyword Data Good For?

Of course keyword data is incredibly useful for benchmarking performance of content within search and can be an important signal for content planning topics, social media messaging and subsequent optimization. For tier one optimization pros, all of these efforts are designed to improve both user experience and marketing performance. As I like to say, the best SEO is invisible to the reader.

Not Provided is Not New

The reality of dealing with (not provided) organic keywords is that various workarounds have been in place since late 2011. �Many strategies focus away from keywords to �page level performance. Mapping keywords to content and then optimizing it followed by monitoring ongoing organic search traffic to those pages provides some basic level of insight. �Other solutions for assessing organic keyword impact on your web site involve using:

Google Webmaster ToolsSearch Ranking ReportsAdWords Keyword DataOrganic & Paid Report in AdWordsData from Other Search Engines like Bing

SEOs Feeling Betrayed

For many SEOs, this sort of change might feel like a betrayal of the symbiotic relationship Google has had with website owners where Google makes copies of website content and then organizes it into search results so they can then run ads next to it. �In return, Google provides various services and access to data for free – like organic search keywords data. Not any more.

What does missing organic keyword data (not provided) mean for online marketers?

Keyword data within web analytics serves multiple purposes including measuring the performance of content at driving awareness, engagement and transactions, as well as an indicator of what topics work and uncovering new topics.

But unless you’re advertising with Google’s AdWord program, that insight is gone. Google is still copying our sites though, which is something site owners can stop, but who in their right mind would do that? Google drives hundreds of millions of visitors to websites world wide and excluding the opportunity to attract organic traffic, even if it’s now a bit of a mystery as to what was searched on, would be foolish.

Impacts for All Marketers:
1. Lack of keyword specific traffic
2. Can’t track specific keyword trends over time, by seasonality, by geography
3. Inability to iteratively optimize based on user intent
4. Can’t determine the brand vs. non-brand keyword mix over time which reflects impact of other media driving search (ads, owned, earned, shared)

Alternatives for marketers: Correlate keyword content mapping and ranking of a page to the traffic of the page�- From a keyword glossary you map which keywords are most relevant for corresponding, optimized web pages. Then look at the relative ranking of keywords and pages as well as organic referred search traffic to those pages. Line up the page metrics and you can get a rough idea of the search performance according to keywords based on the assumption that pages optimized for certain phrases that also rank high and get high traffic are due to the attraction of the designated phrases.

Impact for Content Marketers:
Organic keyword referrals serve as a great content ideation tool for surfacing trending topics of interest to your target audience. Search is an instrumental tool for attracting interested buyers across the entire buying and customer lifecycle. �One of the tactics we’ve had great success with is to mine organic keyword data for questions (how, what, why + the use of ?) to literally identify questions users are typing into the Google search box. Answering these questions can be some of the best content on your website.

Alternatives for content marketers:
Paid search referrers will still be available assuming you are running PPC ads. �Keyword research tools like Ubersuggest are still quite useful for identifying questions and syntax of questions being asked via search queries. Just not for your site specifically. Queries that occur on your site’s internal search engine will also continue to provide insight into topics and phrase syntax of what buyers are currently most interested in. Along with social media monitoring, those data sources can continue to provide rich insights for topic ideation.

Impact for Social Media Marketers:
Many types of media drive people to search Google including social media. When optimizing social media messages, search keyword glossaries are often used to guide social content messaging. Optimizing a Tweet may not seem a worthwhile investment, but the message within the tweet itself can drive people to search on the topic on Google to find more information – like that information offered by your company. �Marketers that want to tap into the keywords that are already driving traffic and inquiries to a site will not be able to do so as a result of not provided.

Alternatives for social media marketers:
Optimizing social content for secondary search queries is already a bit fuzzy to measure. Tracking the value comes from overall increases in the number of queries used in social messaging. Keyword research tools do include popularity scores as a reflection of demand. Ideation of keywords for use in social messages is still solid. Measuring their impact on an increase in search queries might be replaced by looking at an increase in the use of the phrase overall – in updates, comments and messages. A “social share of voice” for a keyword, so to speak.

There are a litany of articles about how to hack your way into the state of mind that you can actually get organic keyword data back by correlating, extrapolating and various types of number crunching.�Here are a few:

Smarter Data Analysis of Google’s https (not provided) change: 5 Steps – Avinash Kaushik, Occam’s RazorHow to measure branded search traffic in the ‘Not Provided’ age – Chris Lake, EconsultancyFour More Ways to Crack the Keyword (not provided) Code – Sean Ellis, KISSmetricsHow To Turn (Not Provided) Into Useful, Actionable Data- Carrie Hill, Search Engine Land

There are also some Google Analytics plug-ins like those offered at�Dan Barker’s Not Provided Toolkit�and find lots more custom GA reports here. Dan’s plug-ins will segment data so you can easily see the following info:

Your current percentage of not provided organic search referrersFull Dashboard including graphs, metrics and breakdowns by browser and deviceDetailed report showing full landing page infoNot provided segment – any GA report including NP dataKeyword known segment where only google keyword data is presentNot Google segment – only data where keyword data is present from other search engines

Google is now offering the Organic and Paid Report in AdWords that could prove to be useful as could�Google Webmaster Tools which offers the top 2,000 terms per day going back 90 days. Another angle is to use Landing Page Analysis with GA or AdWords Keyword Data. Data from Bing is still 100% provided, except Bing has a much smaller portion of search market share.

Interestingly, there’s an opportunistic tool from Conductor called TrueTraffic: �that makes some interesting promises: “…calculates the traffic and revenue generated by individual keywords based on their online visibility, and consumer demand and behavioral models.”

The bottom line is that you can still do keyword research to anticipate demand for phrases that reflect what your customers care about. It’s also true that you can still use those keyword insights to optimize titles, body copy, links and digital assets to improve the relevance and findability of content through search.

In fact, just because your organic keywords are now (not provided) in analytics reports, don’t even think about stopping your SEO best practices. They still work. �How do you know? You’ll just have to be more patient and creative about connecting those dots. It’s that creative and adaptable thinking that I appreciate most about the SEO industry.’

Going Forward With Not Provided:

Content Marketers can continue to rely on keyword research tools for topic inspiration and leverage topic to page mapping to identify clusters of pages and their associated consumption / action metrics to gauge content performance. Paid Search ads are still an option too, since those keywords are (still provided). Ranking reports and Google Webmaster Tools can provide a relative measure for keyword visibility.

Most importantly, planning content based on the customer journey and creating content experiences that drive business outcomes is still the main focus with content marketing. Keyword optimization supports the amplification of content, but there are many ways to amplify in addition to search.

Social Media Marketers can continue to leverage social media monitoring and keyword research tools for topic ideation. The use of target keyword phrases in social messages to drive increased search might not be as measurable through organic keyword referrals, but an increase in keyword usage on social platforms can serve as a sort of “social media share of voice” tracked with social media monitoring tools. �The correlation between social messaging and topics with business outcomes is as relevant as ever.

SEOs can basically kiss their asses good bye. Ha ha, just kidding! I think SEOs will diversify their skill sets even more and learn how other disciplines are measuring topic based performance. Without expanding skill sets in content, social media and PR a lot of SEOs will be hard pressed to create impact. �At the same time, I think SEOs will develop all-new ways of enabling keyword and page level optimization that we haven’t even thought of yet. Lack of direct line of sight keyword data does not limit SEO best practices nor does it stop brand content from becoming easy to find where buyers are actively looking.

Photo source: Shutterstock


Sitemaps & SEO: An Introductory Guide

Way back in the "good old days" of SEO, many "SEO firms" made a pretty good living "submitting your website to thousands of search engines." While that has never been a sound tactic/method of achieving SEO nirvana, today's SEO provides us with opportunities to ensure that we get our content – in all shapes, sizes, and forms – indexed in the search engines, to the best of our ability.

When it comes to the crawling phase of SEO and bot visibility, we often first check what we hold from search engines via robots.txt and meta robots tag usage. But equally important is the content/URLs that we feed search engines.

Long ago, the best practice was to create an HTML sitemap of at least all your higher-level pages and link this HTML sitemap from the footer of all site pages. This allowed search engines the ability to have a buffet of site URLs from any one page on your site.

Then along came XML sitemaps. Extensible Markup Language is the preferred means of data digestion by search engines.

With this tool at our disposal, a site administrator has the ability to tell/feed search engines data on the pages of a site they want crawled as well as the priority or hierarchy of site content alongside information on when the page was last updated.

Let's walk through the initial first steps of how to create sitemaps for varied content types.

How to Build a Standard XML Sitemap

Below is an anatomy of a standard XML sitemap URL entry.

<loc>http://www.example.com/mypage </loc>
<lastmod>2013-10-10 </lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly </changefreq>
<priority>1 </priority>

This points out the areas I noted above where you can provide information on URLs desired for crawl as well as additional URL information.

Some content management systems allow the functionality for dynamic or auto-generated sitemaps. Is this easy? Yes. Is it error free? No. More on that in a moment.

Sharpen Your SEO Skills at SES Chicago 2013:Website Architecture: Best Practices for Maximizing Usability and FindabilityAssess. Diagnose. Fix: How to Become a Leading SEO MechanicSee the full agenda.

If you don't have the functionality to generate a sitemap with your CMS, then you must create an XML sitemap from scratch. You wouldn't want to do this manually because of the time burden. That's why there are tools for this.

There are many XML sitemap generators. Some are free, but they often have a crawl cap on site URLs, so this defeats the purpose.

Most good sitemap generators are paid. One fairly straightforward tool you can use for sitemap generation is Sitemap Writer Pro. It's well worth the $25.

If you do choose to use other tools, choose the one that allows you to review the crawl of URLs and allows you to easily remove any duplicated URLs, dynamic parameters, excluded URLs, etc. Remember, you only want to include the pages on the site that you want a search engine to index and value.

How to Upload and Submit Your Sitemap

Now that the standard XML sitemap is built, you need to upload the file to your site. This file should reside directly off the root, with a relevant page naming convention such as /sitemap.xml.

Once you've done this, go to Google Webmaster Tools and submit the sitemap:

Then do the same with Bing Webmaster Tools:

Yes, they may find the sitemap on your site, but it's smart to feed search engines this information and give Google and Bing the ability to report on indexing issues.

How to Find Sitemap Errors

You've given your URLs to the top search engines in the preferred XML markup, but how are they indexing the content? Are they having any issues? The wonderful caveat of providing this information directly to Webmaster Tools accounts is that you can review what content you may be withholding from search engines by accident.

Google has done a much better job of sitemap issue transparency compared to Bing, which provides a much smaller amount of data for review.

In this instance, we've submitted an XML sitemap and received an error that URLs in the sitemap are also featured in the robots.txt file.

It's important to pay attention to this type of error and warning information. They may not be able to even read the XML sitemap. And, we can also glean information on what important URLs we are accidently withholding from crawls in the robots.txt file.

As a follow-up to the point above, on the negative aspect of dynamically-generated sitemaps, these can often include many URLs that are excluded from search engine view intentionally in the robots.txt file. The last thing we want to do is tell a search engine to both crawl and not crawl the same page at the same time.

Sitemap monitoring is essential for any SEO initiative. At its most basic point, it will tell you how many URLs in your XML sitemap you have provided them, how many are currently indexed in Google, as well as the last time the sitemap file was processed.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

You may have run through process above and are feeling pretty confident about transparency and delivery of site URLs to the search giants. But aside from the standard XML sitemap information, you can provide to Google and Bing, these engines also will accept information on your site's image, video, news and mobile content.

Conveniently, these types of sitemaps can be created, placed on the site and submitted in the same fashion as the standard XML sitemap. Additionally, using the preferred tool I mentioned earlier, you'll also have the ability/functionality to create these sitemaps.

Anatomy of Supporting XML SitemapsImage XML Sitemaps

Provide data on site images and the page locations of these images:

<loc>http://www.example.com/mypage </loc>
<lastmod>2013-10-10 </lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly </changefreq>
<priority>1 </priority>

Video XML Sitemaps

Instruct the search engines on the page locations of your videos and video embeds as well as information on their titles, descriptions, access levels, etc.:

http://www.example.com/mypage </loc>
<lastmod>2013-05-06 </lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly </changefreq>
<priority>0.5 </priority>
allow_embed="yes">http://www.site.com/videoplayer.swf?video=123 < /video:player_loc>
<video:title>My Video Name </video:title>
My Video Description
<video:rating>2 </video:rating>
<video:view_count>498 </video:view_count>
<video:publication_date>2013-05-06 </video:publication_date>
<video:family_friendly>yes </video:family_friendly>
<video:duration>10 </video:duration>
<video:expiration_date>2016-05-06 </video:expiration_date>
<video:requires_subscription>no </video:requires_subscription>

Mobile XML Sitemaps

Do you have mobile pages in a directory on your site? Let search engines know more about your URLs catering to mobile users:

<loc>http://www.example.com/mobile/oneofmymobilepages </loc>
<lastmod>2013-10-10 </lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly </changefreq>
<priority>0.8 </priority>

News XML Sitemaps

News sites can provide information about news pieces, their location on the site, as well as news type, language, and access information:

<loc>http://www.example.com/news/mynewsarticle </loc>
<news:name>My News Site </news:name>
<news:language>en </news:language>
<news:access>Subscription </news:access>
<news:genres>PressRelease, Blo </news:genres>
<news:publication_date>2013-10-10 </news:publication_date>
<news:title>Title of News Piece </news:keywords>


With as much effort as goes into the development of great content, especially nowadays, taking the added time of ensuring that you've done everything in your power to ensure full indexation is critical to getting the value back out of the effort.

Early Bird Rate Extended!
Nov. 4-7, 2013: This year's SES Chicago agenda focuses on aligning paid, owned and earned media to help you drive quality traffic and increase conversions.
Register today and save up to $400!
Final Early Bird deadline extended to October 11.