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Google News: still a major traffic driver

Digiday

Publishers may increasingly focus their traffic growth on optimizing their content for social networks, but the Google News’ influence on traffic is still hard — and foolish — to deny.

On Thursday, Axel Springer, Germany’s biggest news publisher, said that it’s rolling back its two-week experiment that prevented Google from using excerpts of its content within Google News listings. While many European publishers have bristled at Google’s ability to freely use their content on its own sites, CEO Mathias Doepfner said preventing Google from indexing its content was tanking its traffic numbers: Traffic from Google dropped 40 percent during the experiment, and 80 percent from Google News.

The continued influence of Google News on publishers’ traffic might come as a surprise considering all the attention paid to the traffic coming from social channels like Facebook, Twitter and, most recently, Pinterest. Publishers today are spending far more time trying to get social readers to click and share than they are on landing Google searchers or Google News visitors.

“I’ve heard people call SEO dead literally since I started writing about it in 1996 — no joke. It’s sure taking its time dying,” said Danny Sullivan, founding editor of SearchEngineLand.

But it wasn’t always this way. The 2002 birth of Google News also launched a cottage industry of tactics and techniques aimed at helping publishers land the site’s top spots. Publishers knew that scoring a single story on Google News could help drive more traffic than any story could get organically. But Google News has always been a black box, and while publishers did their best to get in Google’s good graces, it was never a sure thing that Google would respond the way they wanted.

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China Interview: Insight for Western Marketers

IDG Connect 0811 China Interview: Insight for Western Marketers

As the Alibaba IPO has reminded international businesses afresh of the vast potential in China, we catch up with Tait Lawton, who hails from Canada but has been working in People’s Republic for over a decade. He founded the Nanjing Marketing Group  to help Western companies get into the marketplace and now provides some useful insights for marketers worldwide.

Following the highly publicized Alibaba IPO have you noticed an increase in Western clients looking to target China?

We’ve noticed a steady increase overall, but not a large jump around the Alibaba IPO necessarily. Tough to say.

Has the attitude of Western clients looking to target China changed in the time you have been based there?

I’ve been helping Western clients with Chinese marketing for five years. I’d say they have the same basic concerns, but are more willing to accept our advice when it comes to tailoring their campaign more to the Chinese market.

We prefer to plan the China marketing campaign anew from the ground up as opposed to using more of a one-size-fits-all globalization strategy, and more people are willing to accept this now. Tough to say if it’s because of a change in the overall mind set of Western marketers or it’s just because we have more people that have been reading our articles on our blog and other websites.

How does the way Chinese consumers use technology differ from the way technology is used in your native Canada?

They haven’t gone through the same process of adoption. Since China developed so quickly, lots of people in China have just skipped whole stages of technology that Canadians, Americans and other Westerners are used to. For example, some years ago I was surprised to see that my girlfriend’s family never used a VCR and instead just went straight to using DVDs. Now, of course, people may be skipping VCRs, DVDs and even streaming on laptops and just go straight to streaming on mobile devices.

What’s most relevant for our digital marketing efforts is that there are plenty of internet users that started using the internet on mobile devices. Mobile marketing is essential. Sometimes people ask me “do you do mobile marketing?”, and I’m like “well, ya. 100% of the marketing we do is relevant to mobile. All of our SEM, SEO and social media services are relevant to mobile.”

People in China also use QR codes a lot. You’ll see QR codes for Weibo and WeChat campaigns on subway ads, restaurant menus, everywhere.

What do you think Western businesses most misunderstand about China?

For one, they may underestimate the competition and the amount they should invest to be successful. China is very competitive and for most market entry cases we see, there are Chinese competitors that are entrenched and willing to invest much much more than the foreign company planning to enter China. Chinese companies are very confident in their business opportunities and willing to invest in branding.

And Chinese advertising is not cheap, nor is marketing talent. Great Chinese marketers can make as much money as great marketers in USA or other places.

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9 Inexpensive Ways to Get Your Business Noticed Online

IDG News Service

Congratulations on launching your startup business. The only problem is, no one knows about it. So how do you get the word out online, without having to spend thousands of dollars on advertising or PR, or buying Facebook or Twitter followers?

Dozens of small business owners and social media, SEO and marketing experts share their nine top tips for how new businesses can get noticed online, without having to spend a lot of money.

1. Establish profiles on the major social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest). Before launching any social campaigns, take time to figure out which social media site or sites your target customers frequent. Then set up pages or profiles on those sites — and post content regularly, at least once a week. To centrally manage your social media posting, consider using a service such as Hootsuite.

2. Create fresh, shareable content. “Business blogs are the most cost effective way to boost your organic traffic,” says Lisa Chu, owner, Black N Bianco Children’s Formal Wear. “Google loves original and valuable content. By [creating] informative articles, not only will Google reward your site, but people will organically start sharing your blog posts. [Just] remember: Write for your target audience not for Google.”

“Create interesting videos [and graphics with your target audience in mind] and share them across all of your social media profiles,” suggests Hannah Diamond, marketing coordinator, UrbanGirl Office Supply. “Offer something fresh and unique [that speaks] to your company,” without it coming across as an ad.

Finally, “make it easy for your followers to share your content,” says Melissa Johnson, content editor for Affilorama, an affiliate marketing training portal. “Make sure that people can follow you on Facebook or Twitter [or Pinterest] directly from your site [by including hot-linked buttons to your social media pages], and add buttons so that they can share your content and products on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, StumbleUpon, [Reddit] and other networks.” The easier it is to share content, the more people will share it.

3. Ask friends, family members and employees to get the word out — and reward referrals. Even if you don’t have many (or any) followers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram, chances are some of your friends or family members or your employees do. Ask them to follow you/your new business on social media sites and spread the word. Better yet, reward people for sharing links to your site or products by offering them referral discounts, say 10 percent off their first or next purchase, or a freebie.

4. Offer influencers/bloggers free product(s) in exchange for mentions and/or reviews. “When you first start your business, it can be difficult to direct traffic to your site,” notes Chu. “A simple way to start a buzz around your product and website is to send out free samples to influential bloggers. Most bloggers will be happy to take your free sample and review it on their blog,” she says. “Once the review goes up, there will be a link directly to your site. That link will give you a nice SEO boost on search engines” and will drive traffic to your site.

“If a company has not yet been in business long enough to grow a substantial customer base, they can gain visibility online by conducting a product sampling campaign, [where you offer] consumers free products in return for accurate, unbiased, and insightful reviews (which can include text, photos, and videos),” says Matt Krebsbach, director, Global Public & Analyst Relations, Bazaarvoice, a platform for consumer ratings and reviews.

“A product sampling campaign helps generate accelerated word of mouth and increased sales for a product launch,” Krebsbach says. Moreover, “each sample can result in a review that influences tens, hundreds or thousands of prospective customers for each free product. And Bazaarvoice’s research shows that, depending on the product category, increases in both the number of reviews and the average rating for a product can increase orders 10 to 50 percent.”

5. Co-market with an established business/brand. “Pair with an on-brand company that already has a loyal following to offer something unique and sharable,” suggests Zoë Scharf, cofounder & creative director, greetabl. “When greetabl wanted to increase awareness, they paired with Strange Donuts, a popular donut shop, to celebrate National Donut Day,” she explains.

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Are We Coming to the End of SEO?

Mashable

What are you hoping for when you search for something on Google?

Are you looking for a site that deployed every SEO tip and trick to game their way to the top of the list? Or a site that has relevant, reliable, authoritative content?

Most likely it is the latter, and it seems Google may want that too. If it happens to represent the antithesis of the results of good SEO, that’s just fine with Google. They don’t make a nickel on your optimized site and they are worried that users may become underwhelmed with their search results if the only links appearing above the fold are those not with the best content but with those deploying the most effective examples of chicanery we know as “SEO.”

When Google in 2013 stopped providing data about keyword popularity, this must have served as a shot across the bow of SEO. It signaled that Google wanted to put a damper on SEO because they had determined it was skewing the results in a way unhelpful to its users.

In the “old” days, SEO was a matter of stuffing your metatags with top keywords; then it became more complicated as Google continued to refine its search algorithm. The current state of SEO, in rather sober fashion, calls for “quality content,” no keyword stuffing, longevity of the domain, lack of duplicate content, a well-ordered site-map and other items more esoteric. Really, it’s become more about just building a great site with great (and focused) content. Phony inbound links are not supposed to cut it anymore, although sometimes this can slip by undetected.

SEO is a big industry. According to a site called State of Digital, 863 million websites mention SEO globally and every second 105 people search for SEO links on Google. Most of them seem to be looking for “services” or “companies,” which explains how there came to be so many SEO companies.

SEO is also an industry full of promises. Despite evidence to the contrary, many SEO mavens continue to insist they can fool the Google algorithm into getting your site – no matter what it is – higher in the rankings. That it is easy to see whether it works when you search for your own company makes it an appealing payoff. But the waters of SEO remain murky and it’s difficult to measure success of SEO in any meaningful way (in other words, even if you got to the top, did it improve your business or did you just accumulate a very high bounce rate?).

Now SEO may be going the way of Megalodon, a 100-foot shark rumored to exist but mostly accepted to have gone extinct a million years ago. If it isn’t functionally dead, it’s certainly in the sick-house. Google does not especially want the SEO industry playing games with its rankings, and what Google wants, especially in a case like this, Google gets.

Customers still ask for “top keyword” reports as if they have not read the news about the unavailability of it – perhaps because they believe that if you wish hard enough for a pony on Christmas, one will eventually find its way under the tree.

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Social Media Weaves Its Way Through Customer Life Process

eMarketer

Social networks facilitate brand discovery, research and connection

Although social media users’ top methods of discovering, researching and keeping in touch with brands vary, they rely heavily on social networks throughout the entire customer life process, according to a September 2013 study by Wildfire.

Investments in the social advertising space are paying off for companies looking to boost awareness of their brand, product or service. The Wildfire report, which was conducted by Forrester Consulting, found that paid ads on social networks are the top method of brand and product discovery for social network users who engage with brands on social media. Forty-one percent of them reported that’s one way they typically become aware of new goods on the market.

The likes of Bing and Google are consistently beneficial to 34% of social network users in the discovery phase, but opinions from friends and followers on social networks are almost just as useful. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed said they typically discover new brands and products by reading and posting messages on social networks.

View charts and the rest of the article

INFOGRAPHIC: 20 MARKETING STATISTICS TO GIVE YOU A HEADSTART IN 2014

The Hub

As we roll into the new year, here are the digital trends that are expected to play a big role in marketing strategies in 2014.

Infographic by WebDAM.

Here are some of the ones that were particularly interesting:

– Videos on landing pages increased conversions by 86%

–  Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%

–  67% of B2B marketers consider event marketing the most effective strategy

View the full infographic on Pinterest

Screen Shot 2013 11 08 at 11.41.11 AM INFOGRAPHIC: 20 MARKETING STATISTICS TO GIVE YOU A HEADSTART IN 2014

6 Major Google Changes Reveal the Future of SEO

Search Engine Watch

The last few weeks have been amazing. Google has made some big changes and they are all part of a longer term strategy that has many components.

In short, Google is doing a brilliant job of pushing people away from tactical SEO behavior and toward a more strategic approach. You could argue that “tactical SEO is dead”, but that’s not quite right. And don’t run around saying “SEO is dead” because that is far from the truth, and I might just scream at you.

Instead, let’s take a few steps back and understand the big picture. Here’s a look at the major developments, some of Google’s initiatives driving this change, and the overall impact these changes will have on SEO.

1. ‘(Not Provided)’

Google made the move to make all organic searches secure starting September 23. This means we’ve lost the ability to get keyword data for users arriving to our websites from Google search.

Losing Google keyword data is sad for a number of reasons. This impacts publishers in many ways, including losing a valuable tool for understanding what the intent of customers that come to their site, for conversion optimization, and much more.

For tactical SEO efforts, it just means that keywords data is harder to come by. There are ways to work around this, for now, but it just won’t be quite as simple as it used to be.

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Survey: 46% Of Marketers Have Content Marketing Strategy, Only 25% Track Social Media Results

Marketing Land

A new survey from content marketing provider Skyword found that nearly half of the respondents polled have a formal content marketing strategy, but only 25 percent are measuring the results of their social media content marketing efforts. Conducted by Unisphere Research, the survey included 217 participants from the readership base of CRM Magazine and EContent Magazine, reflecting a variety of industries and business sizes.

The survey covered a number of content marketing trends, focusing on how organizations produce and distribute content. According to the findings, the number one reason marketers are implementing content marketing initiatives is to engage customers and prospects, with 68 percent of respondents claiming it is their primary goal.

While 46 percent of the survey participants report their organizations have formal content marketing strategies, 37 percent claim they are working on developing content marketing programs.

For the organizations leveraging content marketing programs, 48 percent say their efforts are resulting in engagement with customers and prospects, and 41 percent are seeing an increase in brand awareness.

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Nearly Half of B2Bs Expect a Marketing Budget Bump in 2014

eMarketer

Business-to-business (B2B) marketers are already looking ahead to 2014, and the outlook for the year seems positive. The Sagefrog Marketing Group surveyed US B2B marketing and management professionals from a cross-section of industries in the summer of 2013 and found that 45% of respondents expected to see an increase in budgets in the next year, while 52% thought their outlays would remain the same.

The top four most popular marketing channels for B2Bs were all digital, according to the survey. Websites were the most uniformly employed technique, used by 85% of those polled. Email marketing was second at 72%, followed by social media (67%) and search engine optimization (56%). Just under half of respondents relied on trade shows, while four in 10 used direct marketing.

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Marketers are focusing more on mobile search and display ads

Internet Retailer

Marketers are getting more bullish on mobile ads, particularly with mobile search marketing and banner display ads, according to a new report from marketing research and advisory firm Econsultancy and e-mail marketing services provider Responsys Inc. The survey, conducted earlier this year of 890 businesses, including marketing agencies as well as retailers and other marketers, also found that 60% of companies said they had a strategy in place to integrate mobile marketing into overall marketing efforts. That includes 15% who described that strategy as a strong one, with the remaining 45% describing it as basic.

“There have been significant increases across every type of mobile advertising for the past year,” the report says.

The two areas of largest growth by far are mobile search marketing, which increased to a participation rate of 56% among marketers from 35% a year ago, and mobile display banner ads,

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