Tuesday, January 26, 2016

More Knowledge Graph Control for Websites--Coming Soon or a Tease?

Background on Google Knowledge Graphs

In November 2015, Barry Schwartz, CEO of Rusty Brick, reported for SERountable.com that Google was hinting about changes that might enable webmasters to better control, or at least have more influence over, what Google services up in Knowledge Graphs.  If you’re not sure what Knowledge Graphs are or why they’re important, learn the basics from Google herehttps://www.google.com/intl/bn/insidesearch/features/search/knowledge.html.

DBE Optimizers Weigh In

We polled a few of our SEO team members to ask what they thought about the possibility of webmasters getting more control of the information about their brands in the Knowledge Graph.  Here is a summary of perspectives from Joe Goodlad, Deepa Maran, and Roman Prokopchuk.

It would be a welcoming addition for an organization to be able to correct information about it when Google generates a Knowledge Graph.  The Graph is populated from various sources, so right now it’s difficult for site owners to update the data that feeds the Graph. The new capability would probably have to be through Google’s Search Console to ensure site ownership so someone associated with the site is making those changes.
It’s possible, maybe probably, that some people will try to troll certain features to their own advantage.  Black hat for sure, but, for example, people tried to abuse the Google Local Search by including keywords as part of the business name when they registered the business with Google My Business center. Google later revised its guidelines to protect against those practices. It will be interesting to see what safe guards Google put in place to protect the integrity of the information being represented.

On that note, the ability to modify your Knowledge Panel along with additional reporting/data features around answers may not only affect SEO but Paid Search as well.  Giving people the ability to modify their organization’s Knowledge Panel could lead to an “arms race” between competitors offering answers to the same questions, which could then give way to the ability to create “answer” campaigns within AdWords.  Eventually, the pool of quality/acceptable “answers” to serve within the search results would grow to the point where Google would have many different choices to source quality “answers” or “knowledge.” We can see the Search Console serving as a notification system for which “answers” via your “knowledge” may be eligible.  Once eligibility has been determined for whichever “answer(s)” are in the Search Console for a website, the ability to create “answer” campaigns would be unlocked within AdWords, thus allowing qualified competitors to engage in a new type of paid search advertising. 

…and as long as we’re envisioning, and to take this a step further, we can envision “answer campaigns” being rolled out to advertisers in highly competitive categories such as insurance, hospitality, and travel first and then from there industries where the average CPC growth is low and/or has plateaued – it could be used to help boost activity and, of course, revenue for Google.

While currently Google provides a way to report errors via the 'Feedback' link (lower right-hand-corner outside the frame of the Knowledge Graph, we haven’t experienced success with this for our clients.

Historically, DBE has used Wikipedia to propagate updated information, which is one avenue for helping feed the Knowledge Graph.  Another was Freebase, but that has been scrapped by Google.  Google is now encouraging use of Schema tags to help inform it of correct brand name, business hours, founder’s name, address, and images.  

DBE Consensus

It’s great to think about having more control over our clients’ information featured in the Knowledge Graph, but our general sense is this is still several months from becoming a workable reality.

For now, Schema mark ups remain the best way for feeding Google what it needs to populate Knowledge Graphs.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Structured Markups—Google Hinting Means More Reasons to Use ‘Em

We have advocated the use of structured markups to boost click throughs from natural search results for quite a while.  A new study from Blue Nile Research provides new data around this topic that search marketers will find useful too.  From the Blue Nile Research executive summary: 

 “…we see that the rich-media‒ enhanced result in position 2 captures an average of 61% of clicks, versus 48% when the same unenhanced result is in position 1... In our research, users tell us loud and clear that they would sooner click further down the page on a search result enhanced with appealing rich media than on position 1 containing a plain, text-only link.”

There are so many ways to markup your site with Schema, including Event MarkupArticle MarkupOrganization Markup and Recipe Markup.

If you still aren't inspired to markup your website then maybe this will help...Google's John Mueller recently mentioned that Google is "looking into making Structured Data a ranking factor." History has shown that when Google reps say things like this, even in passing, it's because they are ALREADY using that factor in some aspects. So let this be another subtle push to be sure to markup your site and content.

DBE released a POV last year explaining the different Schema.org structured markup schemas. If you need further help in identifying the relevant Schema markup to add to your website, and marking up the code, let us know and we’ll be happy to help you.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Amazon Dash

Have you seen these yet?  

The Amazon Dash is a tiny, product-specific device that you use to reorder household products when--and where--you run out of them.  Each Dash costs $4.99. The example on the Amazon site that resonated for me was to put a Tide laundry detergent Dash on your washing machine (see above image).

My first reaction was, "This is very cool."  

My second reaction was a visual of little product icons all over my house. That didn't strike me as cool.  

The luxury marketplace is already dealing with a rising aversion to logos on handbags and apparel.  The idea of populating homes with brand icons seems a bit backwards.

So, as a focus group of one, my take on this is:
  • I like the idea of a device that lets me reorder a product I use frequently when and where I realize I have run out of it.
  • I don't like the idea of having lots of branded devices all over the house.
  • I don't like the idea of paying for a re-order device. That's all it does, it allows you to reorder the product.  Shouldn't the marketer of the product pay for that?
  • I wonder if Amazon will create a device that is a panel view of popular products that I can add to and delete from.  I wouldn't mind putting a device in the kitchen and the master bath--the places I'm most likely to realize we're running out of household products.  I've already got the name for it:  the Dashboard!

Sunday, August 02, 2015

How Can You See Search Results As If You’re There?

Background: At a recent webinar conducted by DBE, someone asked how we know what search results look like on the west coast if the DBE team is on the east coast. How does an optimizer or a paid search manager research the landscape and check results for locations other than his/her own?
Here are a few answers:

SEO tools such as BrightEdge, Searchmetrics, and seoClarity enable us to request a local search engine view of natural results.

We can also use the Google AdWords preview tool:


When you enter your location, this tool lets you preview Google natural search results as if you had been searching from that location. For example, if you set your zip code to 95404, when you search for casinos using this tool, you’ll get the following results. You can see how the local pack results are customized for the location.

You can specify your location in your search setting:

For example, when we do this and say we’re in zip code 95404, we get this result:

Bing also lets you specify your location via a search setting:

When your location is set to San Francisco, you get the results relevant to that city.

Using these methods, you can check both SEO and PPC results.

You will hear others say that Chrome and Firefox extensions are also available to mimic location, but to date we haven’t found them to be reliable.

Let us know if you have other ways to see what search results look like when you’re here and not there.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

My New Friend Alexa

So I never really cottoned to Siri. Every time I tried to use her on my iPhone, the results were, well, bad. The first time was when we were leaving NYC after my daughter’s college graduation last year—the Friday before Memorial Day. The ceremony ran long and it took almost 2 hours to get out of the city—and then the NJ Turnpike and every other highway was crawling. Siri was no help whatsoever when I asked about traffic options:  I got movie suggestions, questions to my questions, and basically, frustration created more frustration.  I ended up saying mean things to her. I thought it would feel good to vent at her, but it didn’t—because she didn’t feel at all human—I didn’t think she was even listening.

Back in February or some other cold time earlier this year, the Amazon Echo caught my eye and I thought, what the heck, that sounds interesting. But I failed to note that it wouldn’t arrive until the end of May, and when I tried to cancel the order sometime around April, it couldn't be cancelled.  And then I forgot all about it.
Right around Memorial Day 2015, the Echo arrived. And then it sat in its box for 6 weeks, in the kitchen, because, well, I’ve been busy.

My guy mentioned the black box again this morning, so I said, “You know, if you find time today, maybe you can get it going for us.”

When I got home tonight, he told me to ask “Alexa, what’s the weather?”

I did, and a pleasant female voice gave us the weather report. He then asked, “Alexa, what’s the traffic like?” and she gave him a traffic update for the area. Then he said, “Alexa, play Happy” and she started playing the song by Pharrell Williams (he connected the Echo to his Amazon Music account). I thanked her and she said it was her pleasure. It went on and on from there. She was able to answer all our questions, including sharing the latest NPR news stories. At first, we were softballing the questions, then we tried to stump her. But she is a pro.

I have more faith in Alexa (I'm already calling her by her command prompt rather than "the Echo") than I do in Siri. Alexa had me at "Hello." I’m going to enjoy having her around. She gets me.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Instagram Gets Business-fied

A picture is worth a thousand words. As visuals become more important on social media, this statement couldn’t be more true.

Instagram is a rapidly growing platform, and businesses have been jumping on board. However, absence of widespread advertising options on Instagram has limited its use for marketing. But last month, Instagram announced new advertising options that will be open to all businesses and brands within the next few months.

Why Instagram

In 5 short years, Instagram has become a major social media player. For example, there was a 60% increase in U.S. users from 2013 to 2014.

As these numbers continue to rise, Instagram is preparing to become increasingly “brand-friendly” by rolling out Instagram advertising to more businesses.

With all of this in mind, it’s a no-brainer for businesses and brands to think seriously about Instagram.

If you’re interested in learning more about recent changes to Instagram Advertising request our most recent POV .

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What Is the Internet of Things, and How Will It Impact Marketing?

WhatIs.com defines the “Internet of Things” (IoT) as “… a scenario in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. ”

In 2014 there were 12.1 billion Internet-connected devices, according to Cisco Systems, and that figure is expected to grow to 50 billion devices in 2020. With this anticipated growth in interconnectedness, businesses are going to be challenged with staying relevant and accessible but at the same time will be presented with new ways to reach customers. To help put some context around what the IoT is, let’s take a look at some examples…

Common IoT objects that you may have already encountered or heard about are fitness/health trackers like the Fitbit. The Fitbit is a wearable device that tracks and monitors physical activity (such as steps taken throughout the day) and sends that data (without a manual upload) to the Fitbit’s cloud and/or other compatible health apps such as MapMyRun® in an automatic/seamless fashion.

To learn more about how IoT will provide opportunities for marketers, please e-mail us at: info@digitalbrandexpressions.com for the POV.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Creation and Curation: A “Content” Marriage

A robust social media presence requires a lot of maintenance and management. From developing content strategies to pushing out messages, executing a complete plan may end up taking a lot more time than expected. Many content strategies rely on originally produced content for social channels. However, while original content is great for brand positioning, awareness, and SEO, it can be costly to produce in terms of both time and money.

Content curation is one option for businesses and organizations that have identified a need for a robust social media presence, but do not have the time or resources to produce large amounts of original content on an ongoing basis. Curated content can be the optimal solution to gaps in social media messaging that cannot be filled with originally produced pieces. A strategic approach to content curation can help a business establish itself as a thought leader, foster relationships with other thought leaders within a given industry, and minimize costs.

To learn more about the benefits of content curation and see tips on how to curate content effectively, request our latest POV.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

More Reasons Your Website Needs to Welcome Mobile Devices

Search engines are moving in parallel with mobile device adoption to expand their algorithms to account for changes in search behavior when people use the mobile Web.

Bing announced in the past that mobile friendliness and relevancy would be considered as a ranking signal. Google officially announced that it is rolling out an update that factors mobile-friendly user experience as a ranking signal in mobile search results.

Worldwide, mobile search results in all languages will be significantly impacted by this change, which went into effect this week,and will likely continue rolling in for weeks to come. Now is the time to check your mobile strategy and make sure that your website is mobile friendly.

DBE’s latest POV helps you ascertain if your website is really ready for mobile audiences and what to do if it is not. To request this POV, click here.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Is it Time to Start Snapping?

Is Snapchat here to stay? With popularity among teens and nearly 200 million active users, Snapchat is moving past its bad press and becoming a beneficial marketing tool.

Snapchat is a photo messaging application that allows users to take photos, record videos, and add text and drawings and then send to a list of recipients. Content, or Snaps, then disappear after viewing.

Since its creation in 2011, Snapchat has grown in popularity, particularly among the college crowd. In fact, 77% of college students use Snapchat daily and two fifths of U.S. 18-year-olds claim to use Snapchat “multiple times per day.”

Businesses from McDonald’s to General Electric to Heineken are jumping on board with the self-destructing photo app and finding ways to use Snapchat for marketing success.

What you need to consider
While Snapchat can be used for unique and cutting-edge marketing techniques, there are a lot of factors to consider before implementing a Snapchat marketing program.

If you’re interested in learning more about Snapchat and how businesses can utilize the app, request our most recent POV to learn five ways you can utilize Snapchat as a marketing tactic.