Monthly Industry Update: August 2016

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beckmanLocation3 News: Location3 Chairman Andrew Beckman recently has been lending his expertise, contributing to search marketing heavyweights, Search Engine Journal as well as Search Engine Land. His most recent piece, published by SEL, examines the benefits and drawbacks of automated software from a local SEO perspective.

Building on the automation vs. managed strategy debate, our Digital Shoptalk hosts discuss how relying solely on software for your digital marketing strategy is a slippery slope.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN LOCAL?

The State of Local SEO & Where to Focus Now

locallllllOur good buddy, Casey Meraz, has once again published a detailed SEO article, this time focusing on the state of affairs for SEO as a whole. Everything from review generation and link building is explored, while he emphasizes one of the most important steps is to properly define your goals – without clear goals, it can be difficult to stay on track in the ever-changing local SEO environment.

Google My Business Update Lets Users Compare Direct vs. Discovery Traffic

Google has continued to invest in local with its latest round for Google Insights updates for its Google My Business Product. Now in Google My Business, not only will you see the total number of views for your listing, you’ll also see a breakdown of how many are coming from Google Search vs. Maps. In addition, you can see who visited your listing after searching for it directly, and who discovered your business while looking for a broader category – this is essentially brand versus non-brand. Along with these changes, they have also removed Google+ statistics from the dashboard.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN DISPLAY?

Programmatic Ads Lead to Increase in Offline Sales

A recent Accordant Media Study found that there was a 55% lift in offline sales when consumers are exposed to programmatic ads. They also found that 35% of these sales were incremental. For more information on the study, see the full article here.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN VIDEO?

Young YouTube Users Drive Google Social Features

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Kids ages 6-12 like YouTube better than Oreo’s, M&M’s and Doritos, according a recent study by Smarty Pants found. They find the user-generated content relatable and aspirational. And there is no end to the content. Playing off this popularity, Google looks to add social capabilities to the platform. These new features are known as “Backstage”. These features are hoped to expand engagement and stay ahead of Facebook and Twitter. Social features include a social timeline, text posts, photos, polls, designed to encourage video creators to interact with viewers. For more details on these new features, see the full article here.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN SOCIAL?

Facebook Defends Stance Against Ad Blockers

Facebook is taking a stand against ad blockers. Desktop users are no longer able to block ads. They are doing this by changing the way ads load so they won’t be blocked by ad blockers. “Facebook is … free … and ads support our mission of giving people the power to share and making the world more open and connected,” Andrew BosworthVP of ads and business platform at Facebook. For those who are frustrated by this decision, they have implemented additional ways for ads to be controlled by the user.

Facebook Leveraging WhatsApp for User Data

Facebook has now also started to use the data they are gathering about users through WhatsApp. Not only will this data be used to target ads, but they are also looking for ways for businesses to contact customers (banks messaging clients about fraudulent activity or airlines sending alerts for flight delays).

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN ANALYTICS?

Google Introduces New Features for Google Tag Manager

  • Variables page no longer has check boxes for the built-in variables. It simply has a designated page with a list of variables.  I’m still used to the interface with check boxes, and it’s difficult to edit the built-in variables after clicking on the variables link  in the new interface. In order to edit the built-in variables, you still have to click on the “configure” button at the top of the variables page.
  • The “left-slide” work float is one of the most significant updates visually. When making edit, each additional step is configured as an overlay form that slide in from the right. I do like this overlay changes. It makes the work float much more streamlined, though it will take a little bit of readjustment.

Workspace is the most important updates of all the updates. In a nutshell, Workspace allows you to make updates to a specific instances of GTM container, while others can work on a separate instance of the same container at the same time. The biggest problem for the old GTM is that multiple users have to make edits on the same container. There is no easy way to publish your own edits of the container without also publishing other people’s work.  This makes it difficult for a team to collaborate on the same container because you have to wait until all the pieces in container are ready to be published. However, in the new version of GTM, each container can have up to three Workspaces active at the same time. In addition, GTM also built in conflict resolution in the case of editing occurs on the same object.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN SEO?

Google AMP Expands to Organic Search Results

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Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages are now showing up as part of organic searches. Previously relegated to the Top Stories portion of Google’s search results, the mobile-friendly initiative is being extended to all organic searches. As seen above, the AMP page is marked by a lightning bolt, indicating a “lite” version of the mobile web is available for this article. Google has clarified several times that an AMP-enabled page is not a ranking factor.

Moz “Simplifies” Strategy, Lays Off 28% of Staff

Moz Content and Followerwonk, toolsets previously offered by  the search resource, have been nixed in favor of an increased focus on search. Not only is Moz shedding its tools, it’s also laying off a significant portion of its staff: 28% to be exact.

Sarah Bird, the CEO of Moz, said “after a lot of analysis and soul searching, we decided to radically simplify our strategy to re-focus on what we love and what our customers value from us: search.”

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN CONTENT?

Formulaic Approach to Content Taking Over

Many content writers have noted, begrudgingly, the repetitive nature of the industry’s output. Seemingly every article is a list of hot tips, shortcuts or simplistic observations about life at-large. But there’s a reason for that, and it may not be all that bad: It works.

As Ash Read (has to be a pen name) points out, “content is becoming less art and more science.” That science: the best keywords and the most relevant content will bring traffic to your site. But as Read points out, pageviews are not the end-all be-all of content success. Building a connection with your reader is far more valuable. So how do you measure emotional connection? Well, that’s an art.

 

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