Gen Z engaging with 10 hours of online content a day

One fact has become indisputable in the last few years: the British population is addicted to digital content. According to research by Adobe into the UK’s content consumption habits, millennials spend an average of 8.5 hours a day reading, watching, creating and engaging with content on their devices.

If this sounds high, it is above the UK average of 6.9 hours, but well below that of the generation below them. According to the research, Generation Z spend a whopping 10.6 hours engaging with online content every single day.

The survey 1,000 UK consumers found that the smartphone is by far the most popular method of content consumption. Millennials spend an average of 5.2 hours a day consuming content on their phones, compared to 5.9 hours for Gen Z.

54% said that they use multiple devices at any one time, with the average being 1.8 devices.

Recent events have made the average content consumer more savvy and cautious. The rise of fake news has made people much more sceptical of the authenticity and quality of the content they consume. 77% reported being more cautious about what they engage with now then they were half a decade ago.

One of the main effects of this has been to make people more likely to engage with content that comes from a trusted source. 58% would share content from friends and family, compared to only 29% for a well-know YouTuber or the 26% that would share from a known brand.

The frequency with which people share has also dropped. 18% of respondents said that they share content daily, while the vast majority (61%) only do so monthly.

Brand opportunities

The research also pointed towards the fact that consumers still responded strongly to branded content as long as it ticks the boxes of being authentic, well designed and relevant. 46% said that content that provides a good experience influences their purchasing decisions, while 24% would share it with their friends.

Bad content, however, can have pronounced negative consequences for brands. Consumers pointed to badly written content (49%), irrelevant (44%) and poorly designed (35%) as their biggest content gripes. 71% said they would not buy from a brand that published this kind of content.

“With the rise of fake news and ‘click-bait’ content, consumers are increasingly looking for engaging content that provides them with an authentic and relevant experience,” John Watton, Senior Marketing Director, Adobe EMEA, said.

“Whether it’s across social, online, blogs, or email communications, branded content has to be well-designed, optimised for the device, and offer a genuine experience that goes beyond selling products. Brands that succeed will drive customer acquisition and loyalty; those that don’t will see customers swipe their screen in search for content that offers them a better experience.”

– by Colm Hebblethwaite

Snapchat quarterly figures break losing streak

Snapchat has reported quarterly sales and user growth for the first time since going public in March 2017.

The news that the beleaguered social media company had soundly beaten Wall Street’s estimates sent its stock rocketing by over 20% on Tuesday. This was the closest the parent company, Snap, has come to topping its IPO price of $17 since July 2017.

The centrepiece of the positive results was a 72% jump in sales from this time last year to $286 million. This was heralded as a vindication of the decision to transition to an automated ad sales auction in the style of Google and Facebook.

There was also a growth in the number of users, with 8.9 million daily active users coming to the site in the last three months of 2017. Snap reported that consumers were staying longer on the Android version of its app.

Analytics firm FactSet puts the total amount of daily active users at 187 million as of the end of December 2017.

Industry insight

Aaron Goldman, CMO, 4C Insights:

“Snap benefited from some of the seasonality that’s expected during the holidays as advertisers heavy up but also saw some new brands come in and test the platform as a place to engage hard-to-reach audiences. In November, Snapchat unveiled a redesign that separated out peer-to-peer interaction and curated/professional content.

“In fact, ad spend through 4C increased 29% in Q4 to close out the first full year of self-serve Snap Ads. This shows current users are happy to spend time leaning back and watching brand-safe videos even with ads interspersed throughout. More original content for Discover will only make the platform even more valuable as a complement to linear television, along with the ability to measure more on the platform.

“It’s time for brands to embrace each of the “social” platforms as unique advertising vehicles.”

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO of Socialbakers:

“Despite growth expectation from analysts and a forecasted record of about $254.8 million in the fourth quarter revenue, Snapchat is still a long way behind its rivals for advertising dollars, Facebook and Instagram in terms of audience size. The lack of reach currently offered by Snapchat, especially outside of North America, remains a limiting factor for marketers looking to leverage the platform’s full potential.

“Despite the improvements made on the platform towards the end of 2017, Snapchat’s ad product offerings need to improve to measure up to its competitors. They need to offer improved viewability metrics for marketers if they want to increase their ad revenue and be successful moving forward.

“Currently, having a programmatic access (APIs) to the Snap platform requires special permission from the platform. This means that both marketers and advertisers have no programmatic access to learn about the audience and know what content to create and how to target. Snapchat will face another huge growth barrier in 2018 if they continue to only open its API to a selected number of brands.”

– by Colm Hebblethwaite

Twitter posts its first ever profitable quarter

Twitter’s shares jumped over 20% on news that the social media company returned to revenue growth after reporting its first-ever profitable quarter.

The company’s performance in the last three months of 2017 brings a positive end to an otherwise difficult year. The company instituted a number of changes aimed at making it more competitive with regards to advertising.

The company, which has long trailed being Google and Facebook in terms of building a userbase and advertising revenue, brought in live-streaming video function and doubled its tweet character limit.

But the quarterly figures show that monthly active users remained flat in Q4 2017 at 330 million. Daily active users, however, were up by 12%.

But the company reported that its net income for the quarter was $91 million. This is compared to the $167 million of losses the company took in the same period the year before.

Industry comment

Aaron Goldman, CMO, 4C Insights:

“Twitter’s strong quarter is a clear reflection of brands steadily increasing their investment to capitalise on multi-screen marketing. Twitter has become the defacto place for the world to react to news, politics, sport, TV, weather and more.

“As such, it’s a great aperture for brands to deliver timely messages to targeted audiences. We are seeing this momentum carry over into Q1 with major tentpole events like the Golden Globes, GRAMMYs, Super Bowl, Winter Games, and Oscars.”

Nick Fletcher, Vice President, Rakuten Marketing:

“This is a momentous occasion for Twitter. It’s not too surprising, there’s been plenty of talk of the last quarter being a particularly strong one for the platform with monthly active users on the rise again. The compelling question is whether Twitter’s popularity has been driven by Facebook’s recent moves to restructure the news feed less in favour of advertiser and publisher content.

“It remains to be seen whether Zuckerberg’s belief that less time on social media will result in a higher quality of engagement, there’s certainly an argument for it, but for now brands are clearly happy with Twitter’s accomplishments in video and live broadcast and see a growing role for the platform in campaigns.”

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO, Socialbakers:

“Slowed user growth remains a concern when it comes to Twitter, however, live video will be a critical investment for Twitter as content formats and ways to engage with audiences continues to evolve. Twitter has Live video from the Periscope acquisition and now would be the right time to ramp up the Live content format given the reach and engagement brands are seeing from it on other platforms.

“Twitter is clearly trying to make story-telling easier by allowing even more context to its algorithms to make them smarter when it comes to serving ads, with the addition of live formats to its features. This should ultimately help continue to differentiate the platform, drive user engagement and increase the user base.

“At the same time, investment in live videos makes Twitter an even more important platform to consider, providing marketers with new opportunities to define how advertising funds are spent on social media platforms and richer options to share content across multiple ad formats (Live, Pictures, Text) to capitalize on the attention of target audiences.”

– by Colm Hebblethwaite

Third UK consumers will exercise GDPR right to be forgotten

Over a third of British consumers are planning to use their ‘right to be forgotten’ when GDPR comes into effect, according to research by independent media agency the7stars.

In a survey of over 1,000 UK consumers, 34% said that currently want to use their new powers to ensure that companies do not use their personal data for marketing purposes. The research revealed that concerns over data protection and privacy are weighing fairly heavily on the mind of consumers.

Only 19% of those surveyed were confident that their personal data was being used in the “best possible way. GDPR had prompted 58% of respondents to question the amount of personal data businesses currently hold.


Despite concerns over the ways that companies are using data generated by their online activity, the research shows that there is still a large degree of misunderstanding about GDPR among consumers. 27% said that they had a good understanding of how GDPR will affect them when it comes into effect.

75% believed that it was the job of the government to make clear what GDPR is, particularly with respondents aged over 65 (88%).

The regulations are generally viewed favourably, with 58% saying they are a positive development. The regulations could be good news for brands too, with 32% of respondents they would trust brands more with their data after May 25th.

“With ‘Implementation Day’ now less than 100 days away, time is running out fast for brands, advertisers and marketers to get their data ducks in a row,” Frances Revel of the7stars said.

“Given the importance of data to business operations, the fact that over a third of people are looking to exercise their right to be forgotten represents a real threat that cannot be ignored.

“However, there is still time for Government and brands to come together to tackle consumer concerns around data protection and privacy head on, and the brands who get this right stand to gain the most.”

– by Colm Hebblethwaite

Five ways to combat shopping cart abandonment

It’s February, and that means only one thing – its 11 months until the next set of January sales.

A few years ago, consumers would have to battle huge crowds, trudging from shop to shop in the freezing cold, elbowing people out the way to get the best deals only to find they’ve run out of stock…but, this year it is likely that many of us were getting our hands on cut price products from our warm and cozy living rooms.

In 2018, sales shopping on the high street is but a distant memory for many of us. Sales figures continue to fall as we increasingly choose to browse and buy via our laptops or mobile phones.

It’s true, we love online shopping. But it’s not without its flaws. In fact, online shopping is in the throes of a crisis. 76% of people who visit an online store abandon their carts without finishing their purchase. And a report by Barclays showed that this means UK retailers are missing out on a whopping £3.4bn worth of potential sales.

Why does this happen at such an alarming rate? The truth is, just like heading out to Oxford Street, the path to the final purchase online is often also long and arduous, fraught with unnecessary payment obstacles, unexpected costs or complicated delivery methods. Really, it’s no surprise that so many customers end up giving up on their purchase before payment.

Of course, there’s no denying that since online shopping is minimal effort, it’s a lot easier for a customer to fling something in their cart with no real desire to buy it in the first place. In fact, data from Statista claims that 38-40% of shoppers have no intention of purchasing the items in their shopping cart.

But the study also exposed issues with the shopping experience: 56% of consumers were shown to have abandoned cart due to unexpected costs, 25% because the navigation was too complicated, 21% felt the process took too long and 17% because of concerns about security. These are issues that retailers can easily rectify.

So how, exactly, can you make the road to purchase as smooth as possible so the customer pushes their virtual cart all the way across the finish line? Here are some practical tips:

1. Optimise the omnichannel experience

Everyone shops differently. But nobody wants a clumsy user experience. Whether they’re scrolling on an iPhone or an Android or clicking on a Mac or a PC, the online shopping experience needs to be seamless on every possible device. That’s easier said than done considering there are over 24,000 unique Android devices alone, each with their own nuances.

25% of shopping cart abandonment is because of complicated navigation – make sure there’s a straightforward path from cart to checkout on every single device a customer might be using. You can do this by testing the customer journey on as many different devices and for as many different groups as possible – have all bases covered. Thorough attention to detail during the testing process will pay off.

2. Keep the admin to a minimum

Don’t make it hard for the customer by asking them to fill out every last personal detail or redirecting them to third party sites. 46% of total shopping cart abandonment happens at payment stage, according to Internet Retailer. Entering endless bits of unnecessary information isn’t only time-consuming, it also reminds the user that their details are going to be fed into your omnichannel marketing machine.

The site’s design should reflect this simplicity. It’s worth remembering that the payments page is the very last stage of the customer’s journey – now is not the time to distract them. Don’t redirect them to another site, don’t offer them marketing material – just make sure that all they have to do is pay.

3.  Provide options for check-out

Don’t force new customers to make an account with a password and a profile if they don’t want to. Instead, you should provide a guest checkout option. You won’t lose out on their details – they have to include them for shipping and payment – and this way, they won’t feel like they’re being mined for their data.

On the flip side, however, you should give users who plan to return the option to create profiles where they can store valuable information. This means that next time, they can simply sign in and go, with no need to re-enter details.

And as the number of payment options continues to increase, particularly with the rise of mobile wallets, the main take-away for retailers is that no matter the method they should be able to support how each customer choose to pay.

4. Ensure trust

Purchasing online requires the customer putting their faith in an e-retailer. When consumers are handing over their personal and financial information, they must be reassured that it’s not going to be misused. Security breaches aren’t exactly uncommon – seldom does a week go by without a major one being reported. And it’s increasing – more data was lost and stolen in the first half of 2017 (1.9 billion records) than the whole of 2016 (1.37 billion).

It’s key that your customers have enough trust in the buying process to enter their data. The easiest way to do this is to show them that their information is secure. You should also display trust symbols on your site, particularly well-known security logos: Verisign, or PayPal Verified, for example.

5. No hidden surprises

There’s nothing worse than making it to checkout, preparing to take your card out of your wallet, but then to be presented with a nasty surprise: a delivery cost you weren’t prepared for.

Make sure your shipping costs are totally transparent before the customer has added it to their basket. You can even add a delivery calculator before checkout to estimate the costs. And it goes without saying that a surefire way to your customer’s heart is to offer free shipping where possible, or at least discounted shipping based on the order value.

Another way of avoiding shipping charges is to offer in-store pick-up. This is a growing trends – a survey conducted by Internet Retailer in August 2016 showed that 57% of respondents had chosen to buy online and collect their item in-store, saving money on shipping and eliminating the need to wait at home for a package.

There you have it: whilst shopping cart abandonment may be an irritation, it’s not hard to solve. The key is to make the potential customer’s journey go as smoothly as possible: no potholes, no unexpected tariffs, no endless data entry. By making the process as easy as possible, there shouldn’t be any reason for a potential customer not to become a returning customer.

-by Sam O’Meara

Consent and security: GDPR in the adtech ecosystem

GDPR will come into effect on 25 May 2018, representing the biggest change to data protection across the EU in a decade.

Talking to a lot of advertisers, you could be forgiven for thinking that the sky is falling. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and the change does represent significant opportunities for companies smart enough to take them.

Tiffany Morris is General Counsel & Vice President of Global Privacy at Lotame, and has been having 3 – 5 GDPR-related calls a week with her clients over the last few months. Lotame has two parts to its business, both of which are going to be heavily affected by the incoming regulations.

On one hand the company operates a data management platform with a heavy client base in Europe. On the other is the Lotame Data Exchange, one of the larger third party data exchanges for licensing third party data.

So, Morris is definitely a good person to speak to about GDPR.

“We can’t escape it, it really is at the core of what we are doing in both areas,” she says.

Setting a standard

For Morris, one clear effect of the approaching implementation date is an increased desire for cooperation among the company’s clients, especially with regards to some key areas where there is still a huge amount of uncertainty.

“One of the areas that we are really focused on with clients is how to handle consent,” she says. “How do we handle lawful means of processing in a world where we are placing third party tags? We are investigating universal consent management solutions.” Consent is going to be one of the biggest issues for many companies, but the guidance available so far hasn’t been clear. The IAB released its standards for consent in November 2017 which while useful, left many companies undecided on how they are going to implement them.

“GDPR is also a nice opportunity to explain to clients in a lot of detail about how some of the functionality works and what role we have vis-à-vis the data versus how they are controlling their own data,” says Morris. “So, one positive of GDPR is being able to get down in the weeds with clients and really show the value that we bring to the table.”

The data exchange side of the business adds a further layer of complication to the process. The recently released EU Article 29 Working Party consent guidelines lacked any specificity around the responsibilities of third parties in the ecosystem. “So, we are faced with this challenge moving forward of having a lot of data aggregators that are getting data from a lot of sources,” continues Morris. “We like the scale but we know that we need quality data, we need to know the provenance of that data, we need to be able to establish that there was a lawful means of collecting and processing it.”

Another clear effect of entering the final straight before the implementation date is the division of clients into those that have a good idea of what they need to do and are working hard to get a handle on the many grey areas. Others, however, are still struggling.

“There are ones that know what they need to do, are trying to figure it out and have the capital to hire advisors if they need them,” Morris says. “You also have those clients that are publishers and already have challenging business models and when you layer GDPR on top of that they can struggle to get their heads around the economic challenges that media businesses may be facing. It’s a pretty broad spectrum.”

The issue of consent

There are a whole host of potential obstacles for companies to stumble over in their quest for compliance. The huge diversity of data management and processing systems, as well as the wide range of data sources could all combine with faulty governance to create a serious headache for companies.

For Ari Levenfeld, Chief Privacy Officer at the world’s largest independent buy-side ad platform Sizmek, the numbers of non-complying companies could be high: “GDPR is a potentially major risk for companies that don’t take steps to comply. A recent Forrester study predicted that as many as 80% of all companies will not comply with the GDPR by the May 25 deadline – half of which will choose not to comply. Conversely, companies that have decided to invest significant time and resources into GDPR compliance are positioned not just to protect themselves from regulatory scrutiny and massive fines, but also protect the interests of their customers.”

Morris thinks the biggest challenge, especially in the adtech ecosystem, is going to be establishing what the lawful means for processing data, and passing it on through the ecosystem. Every partner involved in a particular ecosystem will have to prove that they have gained consent and that they have the right means to process the data in question.

“That’s the most challenging because if you look at how a transaction is processed and how many partners data flows through before an ad is actually served, and how many of those transactions are processed through the use of third party tags. It’s very difficult envision how you get that chain if you are relying on consent for example,” she says.

“How do you pass that chain of consent along in real time to what may be 30 different partners before the ad is served? That is specific to our industry, and we have to figure it out as an industry because I don’t think we are going to see that guidance coming from regulators.”

The problem this creates is significant. Consent needs to start with the consumer, but they can’t be involved in providing consent at every step in the ecosystem chain, especially when they don’t have enough fingers to count the number of companies involved in using the data generated by the initial transaction.

“So much of the law is driven around the idea that consumers should understand how their data is being collected and used and that they should really have a lot of authority in deciding how it is used,” Morris explains. “That works well in a 1-2-1 relationship.

“But what is more complicated is that a hypothetical retailer is relying on a multitude of partners to use and process that data in different ways. And, particularly in adtech, so many of those partners would never have a direct relationship with the consumer, and most consumers, not because they are uneducated but because they haven’t been exposed, doesn’t understand how this ecosystem works.”

Providing the kind of robust disclosure that this theoretically require, where a company lists the 10 or so ways they are planning to use and sell on a customer’s data, could mean going into so much detail that the disclosure becomes essentially indigestible for the consumer. “I think that is a really, really big challenge,” agrees Morris.

The issue of security

The focus of GDPR is principally about the privacy of consumers, about giving European citizens more control over the online data that is generated as they interact with companies. This creates responsibilities for companies not just around gaining consent to use data, but also handling it in a way that ensures it remains safe.

Security in this context means more than just making sure that the data isn’t stolen or compromised, it means guaranteeing that it is not subject to unauthorized or unlawful processing. For Levenfeld, this has created concerns among many brands that they might be lacking the technical and organisational measures needed to comply with the new requirements.

“The GDPR has numerous, specific compliance requirements around data governance and policy,” he says.

“For example, privacy by design is no longer an easy checkbox that companies may say they have considered when developing their products. Instead, considering privacy by design under the GDPR requires real effort and proof.”

At the very least companies are going to need to complete Data Protection Impact Assessments for each product or service they sell that utilises personal data. “Companies also need to explicitly define and publish their data retention periods,” Levenfeld says. “Companies should build data governance mechanisms to govern how data is collected and processed, to help ensure that they are only processing when they have a lawful basis to do so.”

With regards to the security in the adtech world in particular, the emphasis for companies will be making sure that they know exactly who has access to the private data transactions with consumers generate, both internally and externally.

“Measuring the effectiveness of your security systems with penetration testing by security specialists, regular updates and patching of software, and the creation of a Technical Organizational Measures (TOM) document are important ways to keep up to date and document your efforts,” continues Levenfeld.

“Security also includes putting a plan in place to respond to breaches and mitigate damage should one occur. At Sizmek, we recommend that companies complete table-top exercises to run through their breach response plan so key team members have experience practicing how to follow a breach response process before it actually happens.”

Focusing on quality

Another important consideration for international companies that do a large proportion of their business in Europe is whether they carry these changes over to the other parts of their operations. “I think, if you look at a few years ago, and I was guilty of it too, you would have different discussions with US clients then you would have with European or global ones around privacy,” says Morris.

In this sense, GDPR could really set a global standard for the way that businesses are expected to deal with security. “It doesn’t make sense from a cost perspective to handle privacy differently in the US and India and so on then you do in Europe. I think what you’ll see companies doing is adopting the European standard for everything, and it will become the bar.”

So, while the regulations are set to leave lasting changes across the adtech landscape, it is not an entirely negative picture. The majority of press coverage, especially in the UK, around GDPR has painted a picture of a doomsday scenario where no one is ready on the implementation date. What has been largely absent so far is any talk of opportunities that the new laws present to companies smart enough to exploit them.

“It is an opportunity for companies to really dig in cross functionality and understand how their various business units are using and processing data,” agrees Morris. “That is helpful and is a valid exercise for any company, and maybe prior to this law people weren’t doing enough in this area.

“We really see this as an opportunity to focus on data quality, because the costs of compliance are higher under GDPR, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to be throwing around large quantities of data without really understanding where it has come from and whether it brings a ROI to data buyers.”

At the heart of GDPR is the necessity to change the focus of data collection and processing from quantity to quality. It is no longer going to be a reasonable strategy for companies to just hoover up as much data as they can and then try to decide what to do with it after the fact. Companies are going to be required to have clear aims and clear strategies for what they are going to do with the data they collect, and be able to articulate them in a way that doesn’t turn off consumers.

Because under GDPR a business does need to tell consumers what they are planning on doing with the data, not just what data they are using. “That is what is hard for the initial party that has the direct relationship with the consumer because they may be using that data in so many different ways and working with so many different partners all doing different things, and under the law, in theory, they need to disclose every use of how they are collecting and processing the data and obtain consent or establish a lawful means of processing for each use,” explains Morris.

A retailer, for example, could find themselves having to tell their consumers that they collect their personal information so that they can make sure that the shipping and delivery get a purchased product to the right place. The consumer is likely to give consent for this. But, the retailer will also have to say that they also sell the data to a third party so that they profit from their consumer data, and then go through the 15 – 20 other ways that they are going to use the data. The retailer is theoretically required to gain consent for each of these individual uses.

“A consumer could theoretically say that they are fine with the use of data to ship them products, but are not ok with it being sent to third parties,” says Morris.

Costs of compliance

Perhaps one of the most frequent questions that Morris is asked is whether the incoming regulations will lead to a heavier cost of compliance for companies. The answer will really depend on what type of data a company is dealing with. Many US companies could see a rise in the cost of compliance due to the wider classification of what constitutes personal data.

US companies have historically viewed personal data as being things like names, street addresses and government IDS. Data that is capable of immediately identifying an individual. European law, and especially GDPR, widens this definition of personal data to include things like cookies IDs and device identifiers.

“For companies like us, who only have cookie and device identifiers, it’s a big change to treat that in the same way we would if we were collecting social security numbers,” says Morris.

This could affect the cost of compliance because if you are trading data, names and government IDs are always going to have more value than mobile advertising IDs. “So, now you take a company that has been trading only in these device identifiers, the perception is that those have lower economic value,” says Morris. “You earn less money from processing those types of data, but they are now held to the same compliance standard as a company like a bank that’s processing financial information like names and account numbers. That seems a little incongruent.”

In the end, perhaps the biggest question is what the result of GDPR will be for consumers. Will implementation actually result in a more personalized ad landscape for consumers? Is there going to be any noticeable benefit for consumers at all?  For Morris, it really comes down to what consumers actually want:

“I think what they want more than anything is access to free content. That’s the world in which we have been operating, where I get access to lots of free content on the internet because I put up with the word of online advertising. I really think that is what consumers want. I think that what regulators don’t realize is, if you take away that online advertising component, which this law along with the proposed ePrivacy regulation makes a potential outcome. This means that consumers lose free content as companies put up paywalls as they need to recoup the revenue they lost from decreased advertising.”

This leads to a worry that what might appear to be a good development for consumers in the short term may end up having detrimental effects in the years to come.

“I worry that it’s going to be ‘hey, we thought we wanted more flexibility around how companies use our data and what types of ads we see, but now I’m paying for Facebook and I didn’t ever really want to do that.’”

– by Colm Hebblethwaite

4 Popular SEO Beliefs That Are Undeniably Wrong

People read a lot of bad information about SEO – but they don’t know it’s bad information.

As a result, people believe in things that make no sense at all.

That’s why, in our industry, there’s no shortage of posts about SEO myths.

However, these lists of myths often fail to mention some of the biggest myths that real SEO professionals refuse to let go of – but should.

Here are four beliefs that truly are very popular in the SEO community – and are also provably and undeniably wrong.

Also, “number four will shock you.”

This should be fun!

SEO Belief 1: Correlation Studies Tell Us How the Algorithm Works

A lot of major SEO blogs publish lists of “ranking factors”:

There’s just one problem.

These aren’t lists of ranking factors.

We don’t know every Google ranking factor.

The only ranking signals we know for sure that Google uses are the ones Google has told us.

Google does not, for the most part, tell us what information they use in order to rank sites.

Most of the things that we suspect as ranking factors are based on inference and speculation, as well as personal experience.

These lists of “ranking factors” are actually lists of how much certain things we can measure based on publicly available data are correlated with rankings.

Correlation is the mathematical way of saying “these two things happen together more often than we would expect based on pure chance.”

Correlation does not mean that the thing we are measuring is a thing that the search engine is using to rank websites at all. It has never and will never mean that.

Google does not rank websites based on “Domain Authority,” even if “Domain Authority” is a metric Moz uses.

Correlation studies are valuable because they tell us some properties of URLs that Google is ranking well. This can be a useful jumping off point for your own experiments.

A correlation study should never act as a substitute for your own experimentation and personal experience.

The best way to identify what improves rankings is to identify specific strategies, put them to use, and measure the results. If that strategy consistently causes your rankings to increase, it is a strategy you should continue using.

It’s that simple, and that complicated.

20 Things Your Website Should Do and 5 Things It Shouldn’t

Is your small business website effectively pulling in visitors, keeping them around and converting them to customers? If your website is a little more than an online placeholder, it’s time to start putting it to work so you can grow your business and take advantage of the huge potential consumer base for the online market.

Today’s consumers are accessing your website from their desktops and laptops, and also from their smartphones and tablets. This checklist will help you make sure that your site is doing what it should for your small business – increasing your profits.

Your Website Should. . .

Look Professional

Sloppy, plain or homemade-looking websites are a visitor turnoff.

Have a Private Domain Name

Even if you’re using a, investing the few dollars a month in a web host and domain name tells visitors you’re serious about your company—and makes you more trustworthy.

Be Secure

If you accept online credit card payments for products or services, your site must comply with the requirements of the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI DSS).

Have a Memorable Domain Name

Make your private domain name something easy to remember. Preferably the name of your business.

Contain Your Business Name in Text

Search engines can’t index words from your logo image. Make sure your company is findable.

Contain Your Business Address in Text

Once again—no text, no search indexing. Local search results are more important than ever, so your address should be prominent.

Have Your Company Phone Number in Click-to-Call Format

With so many people looking up businesses on smartphones, offering a one-touch way to contact you will bring you more customers.

Make Contact Info Easy to Find

Search engines aren’t the only ones that need easy access to your contact information. Make sure visitors can get in touch with you quickly and conveniently.

Tell Visitors What You Do at a Glance

Through images, succinct descriptions or both, visitors to your site should be able to figure out right away what your company does.

Highlight Your USP

Your unique selling point (USP) lets visitors know why they should stick around and do business with you, instead of click back to the search results. What makes you stand out from the competition?

Show Off Customer Testimonials

The best way to tell people how great your company is is through someone else’s words.

Invite Visitor Feedback

You can learn more about what’s working and what isn’t on your website—and get more testimonials—by having a feedback form for visitors.

Speak to Your Visitors—Not Your Ego

Your website content should focus on how you can benefit your customers, instead of how awesome you are.

Offer Fresh Content

Keeping your site updated makes both visitors and search engines happy. An integrated small business blog is a great way to do this.

Contain Keywords

Natural SEO (search engine optimization) strategies are essential in getting new visitors to your website.

Make it Personal

You don’t have to share your favorite colors or foods, but including the names and bios of business owners and staff on your website gives things a personal touch.

Link to Other Websites

Outbound links can help improve search engine results and make you look like a valuable resource.

Have Other Websites Link to Yours

Inbound links carry even more search engine juice.

Make Checkout Easy

The more steps customers have to go through to buy something from your website, the more often they’ll abandon their carts. Don’t make them jump through hoops for an online purchase.

Connect with Social Media

Place social sharing buttons prominently on your website for increased reach.

Your Website Should Not. . .

Have a Lot of Bells and Whistles

Like every widget and form you can find stuffed onto your home page. Clean and to the point works much better.

Use Flash Animation, Moving Text, Fancy Cursors or Music

These things are unnecessary, annoying to most visitors and slow down your loading time.

Post Images Without ALT Tags or Text Captions

Because search engines can’t read images and descriptive text helps to increase your rankings.

Have Dead Links

Ones that lead nowhere or to an error page. Check your links frequently to make sure they still work.

List All Your Products and Services

Don’t do this in one long, continuous scroll. Break things up naturally and use smart navigation to help visitors find what they need.

Consumers less likely to complete purchases on mobile

New research shows that shoppers are less likely to go through with an online purchase if they are using a phone or tablet.

The findings come from a study conducted by the University of East Angelia and published in the Journal of Business Research which looked at why cart abandonment is much higher on mobile apps then desktop-based online shopping.

According to data from research Criteo, 46% of global ecommerce traffic come from mobile devices in Q2 2016. However, only 27% of these initiated purchases were completed.

Researchers from the university looked at online shopping data from Taiwan and the US. They found that consumers are much more likely to use mobile apps as a research and curation tool rather than a purchasing tool.

Instagram Cements Its Place as an Influencer Marketing Hotspot in 2017

Influencer marketing really came into vogue in 2017. While the principle of utilising famous people to sell your products is nothing new, the concept has undergone a major evolution in the last few years as it merged with social media. 

Instagram has positioned itself right at the heart of this growing section of digital marketing. As a mainly picture-based network with around 800 million users (as of September 2017), it is perhaps no surprise that Instagram is so suited to influencer marketing. The site also boasts a relatively young user base, being popular among teenagers and young adults.

Recently, the data science team of marketing software company Klear analysed over 1.5 million Instagram posts, all of which were tagged with an #Ad hashtag during 2017.

The results show that 2017 was a year that Instagram really began to cement its place as the premier site for influencer marketing.

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Ready For Answers?
Call Us 1-949-954-7769
eMail us at: