Crowd marketing is the forum link building strategy you need to know in 2020
SEO is evolving through the years and it’s still more important than ever in your digital strategy.
It takes time to rank high in Google’s search results and one of the best ways to improve your success is to aim for credible backlinks to your content.
Backlinks can prove that the content is trustworthy and useful enough for the users to get you higher in SERPs.
Through the years, link building is still one of the most effective methods to build your SEO. It helps you improve your search visibility and work towards reaching higher in the SERPs in a consistent and efficient way.
The question is, how can you make the most out of it in 2020?
Forum link building can be your secret weapon. Crowdo has released ‘The Ultimate Guide to Forum Link Building in 2020’ sharing tactics and examples to make it work.
Here are the key takeaways:
Content created in partnership with Crowdo.
Embracing crowd marketing
One of the most common tactics in link building is guest posting. It’s the process of featuring your content on another blog to get a link back to your site.
Although it’s a popular method, there are still more options to consider.
For example, ‘crowd marketing’, involves link building through communities and forums.
Crowdo is listing the benefits of ‘crowd marketing’ on their latest report:
It’s relatively easy to get a backlink from a forum. Your research can help you find the best way to reach your target audience to maximise the value.
It’s important though to avoid spamming or automated link generators. Crowd marketing should be a white hat technique rather than a quick win with no tangible results.
Focusing on the right links
You don’t want to gather as many links as you can if they don’t add value to your site and your ranking.
The quality of backlinks is crucial. If you’re unsure how to define the quality of the backlink, here are the key factors to consider:
Best practices for scaling up link building
If you’re just getting started with link building, it might feel challenging to scale up your efforts.
There’s no need to quit though.
Here are Crowdo’s tips on how to address your challenges:
If you want to see what forum building looks like, here is an example from Crowdo’s report.
In this example, the target niche is insurance providers. The community has more than 80k visitors, 93 DA, 48 TF. Thus, it makes the perfect source to add value to a conversation along with a dofollow backlink.
It’s a great example of how your research can lead you to the right source to make your link both useful and relevant.
If you need additional help with your forum building, agencies like Crowdo can help you with on-demand link building services.
They are offering an exclusive offer to our readers with a 10% discount. You can find out more here and make the most of the offer using the coupon code provided in the link.
If you want to find out more about forum link building, make sure you read their latest report here.
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October 9, 2020 at 05:19AM
B2B Marketing News: Demand Gen Adapts B2B Buyers Taking Longer Microsoft Digital Marketing Center Beta
B2B Marketing News: Demand Gen Adapts, B2B Buyers Taking Longer, Microsoft Digital Marketing Center Beta
The Gartner Hype Cycle for Artificial Intelligence, 2020 - Chatbots are projected to see over a 100% increase in their adoption rates in the next two to five years and are the leading AI use cases in enterprises today. Forbes Bing is now Microsoft Bing as the search engine gets a rebrand - Microsoft doesn’t go into detail about why it added the company’s name to the Bing brand, other than it reflecting “the continued integration of our search experiences across the Microsoft family. The Verge 68% of B2B buyers say the length of their purchase cycles has increased over last year - The COVID-19 pandemic has led many B2B firms to lengthen their purchase cycles and to expect more personalized attention from vendors, according to recent research from Demand Gen Report. MarketingProfs How B2B Demand Generation Has Adapted. Despite the impact of COVID-19, budgets for demand generation are holding up more than B2B marketing as a whole. Fewer than 1 in 5 (18%) B2B marketers say that they expect their budgets for demand generation to decrease, whereas 3 in 10 (31%) say their overall marketing budgets will fall. MarketingCharts 2021 B2B Content Marketing: What Now? [New Research] - Find out what content marketers are thinking, doing, and not doing when it comes to content creation and distribution, metrics and goals, team structure and outsourcing, budgets and spending. Content Marketing Institute Study: Comparing the data from 8 SEO tools - The numbers you'll find don't match up. SEO metric tools are for general trend analysis and competitor benchmarking, not on specific numbers. Search Engine Land Snapchat is pitching high-frequency, high-reach ‘Platform Burst’ ad campaigns - The new offer is a media buy advertisers can use to ensure their campaigns reach a certain amount of people in the app frequently over three or five days, according to three agency execs who are considering it. Digiday Nearly half of consumers will try new brands if the ad is relevant - Consumers are spending more time at home with online content, especially connected TV (CTV) and social media. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the average time interacting with online content has doubled globally. Marketing Dive Video ads drive a 48% higher sales rate than static ads, study says - WARC forecasting an 18.3% global increase for e-commerce ads this year even as overall ad spending drops 8.1% Mobile Marketer Facebook Announces Integration of Messenger and Instagram Direct, Adds New Messaging Features. When complete, WhatsApp will also join Facebook’s messaging integration upgrade. Social Media Today Google, The Trade Desk, MediaMath, Amobee, Adobe and Adform Lead The Pack In Gartner’s 2020 Ad Tech Magic Quadrant - New entrants include Beeswax, Centro, Mediaocean and Zeta Global. Ad Exchanger Microsoft Digital Marketing Center is now available in open beta in the U.S Microsoft’s Digital Marketing Center for search and social management adds features, opens beta. The free platform is now open to U.S. small businesses. Search Engine Land ON THE LIGHTER SIDE: "In trying to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time, it’s important for marketers to draw a line between cool and creepy." by Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist Home Depot's Sold-Out Giant Halloween Skeletons Creep Into Brand' Social Feeds - Budweiser, Slim Jim, Natty Light and others are getting into the Halloween spirit—but might just turn people green with envy. AdAge TOPRANK MARKETING IN THE NEWS:
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October 9, 2020 at 05:11AM
Google’s Mueller on Copying Top Ranked Sites via @martinibuster
Google’s John Mueller answered a question about how to make a menu. The person asking the question wanted to know if it’s okay to do what Amazon does. Mueller suggested a change of perspective.
Should You Follow What Amazon Does?
The person asking the question tweeted the following:
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John Mueller answered:
The person asking the question responded that their site has 20 million pages and they were taking inspiration from Amazon since they too have millions of pages.
It’s not an altogether unreasonable thing to do, to see what a successful site in a similar situation is doing.
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Here’s the tweet:
John Mueller answered:
Should You Follow the (Search) Leader?
Learning from what a successful site is doing can be a useful strategy. The person asking the question was correct to review what a site like Amazon was doing.
However there is also something else to consider: There is no way to know if what a successful is doing is what is contributing to their Google search ranking success.
Particularly in competitive niches, Google may tend to ignore aggressive strategies that are employed.
For example, many top ranking sites in the personal injury space tend to indulge in fad link building techniques because they see their competitors are doing it. But rather than copy a competitor’s low quality strategy, success can be found by doing something better.
The success of a site may be due to other factors that have nothing to do with what seems to be “obviously” powering their ranking success.
Just because you see that a site is employing a particular strategy does not mean that it is contributing to their ranking success.
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It could be that the rankings are happening despite the strategy that the successful site is using, even for something like a menu.
Again, the person asking the question is doing the right thing by examining what Amazon is doing. If the site he is promoting is an commerce site, it may be useful to see what other large eCommerce sites are doing.
But it’s also good to keep an open mind, to be open to a different approach.
Enlarging the scope of the inquiry may lead to additional insights or even an inspiration to do something unique that is, as John Mueller said, what’s best for your particular site.
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October 9, 2020 at 05:03AM
Duck Duck Go Now Has Route Planning Features via @martinibuster
Duck Duck Go announced a new driving directions feature to its maps. The feature is powered by Apple’s MapKit JS framework and is completely privacy focused.
Duck Duck Go Improvement to Maps
The change is an improvement to its current service, bringing driving and walking directions to its maps offering.
Duck Duck Go will now show features that will allow a user to plan a trip, including an overview of the route, the distance and the total travel time.
Screenshot of Duck Duck Go Map Search
Clicking the Directions button opens up the map routing interface. The map always begins at your current location.
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This is how Duck Duck Go explains it:
The current location is determined by the IP information that is sent by your browser. Duck Duck Go says that it temporarily uses that information only for determining your location for the purposes of the maps service and then gets rid of it.
Duck Duck Go stats that it does not store or sell your location information.
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According to Duck Duck Go’s location privacy page:
Duck Duck Go Private Maps
Duck Duck Go’s privacy maps service doesn’t support bus and subway routes. But it will provide route information for driving and walking but in a privacy-first manner.
The privacy feature is a game changer. It will very likely appeal to anyone who might feel freaked out by Google’s data warehouse absorbing their location and travel plans into it’s cookie tracking advertising market.
According to the announcement:
This kind of feature should help make Duck Duck Go more popular. That’s important to the SEO and web publishing community because the more people use Duck Duck Go the more traffic it will be able to send to publishers.
Plan Your Route Privately: DuckDuckGo Now Has Driving & Walking Directions
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October 9, 2020 at 04:20AM
How AI has evolved in the marketing industry – and where it’s headed next
Throughout history, the basic purpose of marketing hasn’t changed. As in generations past, the role of the marketer today is to encourage consumer engagement in hopes of driving purchases and building brand loyalty. But while the function largely remains the same, achieving the ultimate customer experience has dramatically evolved with the arrival of personalization and artificial intelligence (AI)-based technologies, equipping practitioners with an entirely new and sophisticated set of tools to best connect with their target audiences.
These advancements allow for the automatic delivery of relevant, tailored customer experiences in a much simpler, faster, and more efficient way than was ever possible before.
In fact, according to a Demandbase survey, by 2019, 84 percent of marketing and sales professionals were either already using AI as part of their business operations or were in various stages of planning and implementing their AI strategies.
But what has the journey looked like for brands as it relates to these intelligent systems, how have they influenced the marketing workflow, and where do we see AI continuing to reshape the industry?
Let’s trace its recent history through the lens of Dynamic Yield’s growth within the space and evaluate the lessons learned as well as our predictions for what the future has to hold.
AI: From hype to a rethink
In the late 2000s, AI, and more specifically, machine learning algorithms, were mostly found within theoretical discussions in academia or left to the large tech companies such as Google and Amazon.
It wasn’t until around 2009 that machine learning gained its legs and initiatives like the Netflix Prize, a content recommendations algorithm contest, catapulted the industry’s know-how forward and demonstrated its potential commercial applications within the martech landscape and beyond.
Soon after, new disruptive algorithms dubbed ‘Contextual Bandits,’ ‘Collaborative Filtering,’ and more offered marketers greater accuracy, efficiency, and scale in how they delivered, analyzed, and optimized experiences across the customer journey.
These would eventually become the industry standard, but despite the many benefits and positive impacts on performance, early adopters wanted to better understand how the technology worked.
After all, if AI and machine learning were going to replace the deep product knowledge and domain expertise gained by marketers throughout the years, it only made sense that they would want to know exactly what went into the calculations and why, for example, a certain user was served a particular piece of content over another.
Simply put, AI could not function as a black box.
The shift to augmented intelligence
To meet the marketers’ growing demand for greater control over and understanding of the outputs, the algorithms implemented and technology had to adapt.
For instance, at Dynamic Yield, we introduced additional algorithms that were easy to explain, understand, and predict. This led to high adoption, and subsequently, many improved experiences which generated significant business impact.
We also allowed marketers to A/B test algorithms against the existing control or other algorithms, with the ultimate decision over which strategy to apply left to the marketer (based on the business results yielded from each algorithm).
In one AI application at Dynamic Yield, rather than automatically applying what the algorithm should recommend, our Predictive Targeting solution was designed to “detect” personalization opportunities, i.e., data-backed suggestions that teams could “click to apply” for additional projected revenue gains.
By 2017, more and more brands began to see AI not as the sole decision-maker, but as a vital tool for augmenting the decision-making process, gaining trust from marketers.
And ironically, as AI started to expand into many areas of everyday life in the form of personal voice assistants, smart home devices, web search answers, self-driving vehicles, as well as greater content and product recommendations, a shift in mindset occurred yet again.
AI is a safe zone for continued innovation
Widely adopted across industries, AI was suddenly no longer a novelty, increasingly considered a must-have from marketers who now expected smarter decision-making.
And as machine learning technology improved – with the rise of deep learning-based recommendations that made AI even more intelligent – marketers came to trust (and adopt) AI at even greater rates.
Equally important, the deployment of cloud infrastructure made AI much more affordable and scalable. This confluence of factors led some brands to put such faith in AI that they treated the technology as a black box, suitable for making decisions with little human involvement.
Today, these advanced algorithms indeed show great results, and as we hoped, are enabling a quantum leap in the quality of experiences they enable.
However, many marketers require that AI still be coupled with mechanics to see the business value, for without the ability to understand the value it yields, there can be no full acceptance, and without acceptance, further improvements to the algorithms cannot be made to yield higher performance.
Looking to the future, we anticipate a more hybrid approach, with greater investments being made in algorithms that take more responsibility in decision-making while also providing marketers with a greater level of control.
Brands should, therefore, evaluate their AI-based tools according to their distinct needs and preferences, whether that means trusting the algorithms entirely, A/B testing every step of the way, or only applying machine learning if fully educated how it works.
Whatever the case may be, I expect AI will continue to play a major role in how marketers refine the customer experience and generate meaningful results.
The post How AI has evolved in the marketing industry – and where it’s headed next appeared first on ClickZ.
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October 9, 2020 at 04:02AM
Retailers, expand your identity strategy to include marketing
As retail brands work to create a future-proof identity strategy, many are moving from generic third party data behavioral targeting to more granular identity targeting.
The benefit of identity is that brands can individualize ad targeting. Rather than messaging to a large segment based on assumptive data, identity allows for personalization.
Identity has been typically used for advertising, but it can be very valuable for marketing purposes, too, especially to help brands expand the insights they have access to in order to personalize messaging on their site and across other channels and deliver a safer, more relevant customer experience.
Identity: The next step in personalization
Many brands are thinking about marketing from an “inside out” perspective.
For example, a retailer will use previous on-site shopping behavior to retarget and personalize their site visitors when they come back. And for new site visitors, they will model off of their group of recognized visitors to show them something similar.
In this common scenario, many brands miss out on identity-based insights about new site visitors that they might already be accessing for advertising purposes.
Take a retail customer who comes to an ecommerce site interested in beach clothes for an upcoming vacation to Hawaii. Not only has this customer not visited the site before, but they are about to make a purchase that is based on a one time event.
In a typical marketing program, the site experience might include product recommendations based either on a general third party data segment such as “working moms” or from a model that compares their behavior to other site visitors.
This typical setup generic segmentation causes the marketer to miss out on an opportunity to improve the customer experience and likely miss out on a sale.
This same marketer might actually have those insights available through their advertising team. Many ad campaigns use recent data such as searches and purchases to drive targeting, and they can be incorporated into marketing too.
An advertiser typically has the ability to test behavioral data and other audience segments with a pretty straightforward set of metrics including the effective CPM, conversion rate and other performance indicators.
A segment such as “working moms” can exist in the form of a third party data segment that includes anyone that’s ever read a mom blog, all the way to first-party identity-based data from logged-in members of a LinkedIn working mom’s group.
As advertisers move to an identity strategy, they are becoming savvier at valuing the latter, while using modeling to find more people based on this much more reliable data.
Marketers should embrace the same concepts, even if they don’t have the benefits of measuring CPMs. Take the shopper with a vacation planned in Hawaii.
If a marketer has bought a segment of generic “beach travel enthusiasts,” it will do nothing to help them know that at that moment, this person is looking for bathing suits, not parkas.
First, marketers should test different data segments not just on overall conversion performance, but also on metrics that will pay off a little later, once true identity-based personalization is achieved.
For example, how recent the data is, how much of the data is based on reliable search and purchase behavior, not just browsing or context. And of course, how capable that data set is at augmenting an identity strategy.
For a marketer with good first party data, adding data partners that expand their 360 degree view of their customer can also improve their identity approach.
Having an approach to data partnerships that look for verifiable information that can increase an identity strategy and expand it deeper into marketing doesn’t only increase performance, it creates a more relevant customer journey.
As more and more people have switched their shopping from in-person storefronts to digital commerce, marketers should work to unify their company’s identity strategy across teams, and look to use those insights for as many improvements in performance and customer experience as possible.
Another benefit of an identity strategy that stretches across advertising and marketing is to increase the confidence in transactions, even with new visitors.
Data that’s tied to an identity, such as location, recent purchases, use of their mobile phone, don’t just help with message targeting and personalization, it also helps with verification. Take the traveler to Hawaii.
Someone who has committed to a flight using their own identity is likely to be who they say they are, which can lower the need for other fraud hurdles (for example bypass multi factor authentication), creating a safer marketer environment, and a more streamlined customer experience.
Edward Cannon is Director of Solutions Architecture at ADARA. He is a successful IT leader with more than twenty years of experience across development, architecture, operations, analytics, ecommerce, and sales in the Travel, Retail, CPG, B2B, and Transportation industries. Eddie is an innovative patent holder that has developed and sold unique customer experience and analytics Cloud solutions for startups and multinational organizations.
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October 9, 2020 at 04:02AM
Yelp introduces new ‘business accused of racist behavior’ consumer alert
Yelp announced two initiatives designed to fight racism and promote diversity and inclusion among local businesses. The company expanded a relationship with non-profit consortium Open to All to make training resources available “for small and medium-sized businesses to uplevel their diversity and inclusion practices.”
The other initiative could prove more controversial. Yelp said it will place a new category of consumer alerts on the profile pages of local businesses that are accused of discrimination or racist behavior.
Warning shuts down new reviews. The new “Business Accused of Racist Behavior” alert serves as a warning to consumers and reads, “Recently someone associated with this business was accused of racist behavior…” It also links to news reports documenting the alleged conduct or incident(s).
When the alert goes up, Yelp disables any new reviews for that business profile. That prevents the page from being flooded with reviews from non-customers expressing political or ideological viewpoints or otherwise objecting to what the business is accused of doing.
The alert also says, “While we understand the desire to warn others about racist behavior . . . all reviews on Yelp must reflect an actual first-hand consumer experience.”
New ‘Business Accused of Racist Behavior’ Alert
How the process works. Yelp will typically see an influx of negative or politically inflected reviews for a particular business. That will cause an internal review of the profile and content in question. If the trigger for this “review activism” is a racist incident, and it’s documented in a credible news report, the alert will go up and new reviews will be shut down.
Yelp’s user operations team will conduct its own investigation. However the company also relies on third party reporting to verify the underlying facts. The 2018 incident involving a Philadelphia area Starbucks employee who called police on two Black customers who were waiting for a friend is the type of incident — together with its widespread media documentation — that would justify a racist behavior alert.
Public Attention Alert. If there’s a similar influx of review activity but the underlying conduct is less clearly discriminatory and not accompanied by credible reporting, the business page might instead receive a Public Attention Alert. In that event reviews will also be disabled.
Public Attention Alert
Yelp said in its blog post, “If someone associated with a business is accused of, or the target of, racist behavior, we will place a Public Attention Alert on the business page to warn consumers that the business may be receiving an influx of reviews as a result of increased attention. For businesses accused of overtly racist actions, where we can link to a news article, we will escalate our warning with the Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert.”
The Public Attention Alert is thus for less obvious or egregious incidents. An “all lives matter” sign or a confederate flag in a business window could trigger a Public Attention Alert. Critics will see this as an example of “cancel culture;” others will regard it as a valid effort to support inclusion and address racism.
Difficult and ambiguous cases. There are obvious cases of racist or discriminatory behavior where few reasonable people would disagree about the facts — and unfortunately those incidents are increasing. But in our polarized society one’s person’s discriminatory conduct may be another’s exercise of “religious freedom” or “free expression.”
There are numerous hypotheticals and scenarios that would elicit very different reactions from people of different political viewpoints. For example, a large Trump-Pence sign in the window of a local business might be considered offensive or racist by some and simply an exercise of political speech by others. And what about businesses with offensive names, such as the one below?
Potentially offensive business names
If there were a rash of negative reviews about the business name above, Yelp would stop accepting new reviews, place a Public Attention Alert on the page and do an investigation.
In any of these cases, the alert will remain on the business profile for a period of time, depending on the underlying facts. It will then come down, together with the non-customer reviews. Yelp didn’t indicate a standard period of time for each type of alert. In some cases you’d want the alert to come down quickly — if the problem or issue were promptly addressed. In others you might want the alert to remain for an extended period (i.e., the unrepentant racist).
As indicated, there will be obvious cases and more difficult ones (e.g., the isolated employee who doesn’t represent the business owner’s values). Regardless, an “accused of racism alert” on your profile will have economic consequences.
Yelp said that while there was no formal appeal process, business owners who feel wrongfully branded could reach out to the user operations team.
Why we care. Yelp is trying to protect against ideologically or politically motivated review spam, while equally trying to promote inclusion (and punish racist behavior). Perhaps in the vast majority of cases, Yelp’s process will get this right. But there may be instances and edge cases where it does not: the rogue employee, the Rashomon scenario, the crazy customer or the unscrupulous competitor. For the alert process to kick in, however, there would need to be a volume of reviews, not just an isolated complaint.
These racism alerts will undoubtedly have a material impact on the targeted business, which is part of the point. Being labeled a “racist business” could be the end in some communities. That’s why the humans behind the scenes are critical. There should be a clear review process for businesses that feel they’ve been unfairly labeled.
A Yelp spokesperson said that company’s implementation of the new racism alerts was just starting and the process would likely evolve over time in response to circumstances.
About The Author
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.
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October 9, 2020 at 03:44AM
U.S. Government Accuses Google of Monopolistic Practices via @martinibuster
A House Antitrust Subcommittee released a 450 page report that accused Google of creating it’s market dominance through anti-competitive behavior. The report offers suggestions on how to stop Google and restore more competition, including in the search results.
Report Claims Google Created a Monopoly
The section of the report focused on Google straightforwardly accuses Google of being a monopoly in the very first sentence.
Then it outlines the strategies it says Google employed to achieve that monopoly and hold on to it.
The report asserts that Google maintains the monopoly through browser and mobile device default settings that gives Google preference over competitors, forcing phone manufacturers to make Google’s apps the default as well as using acquisitions as a way to achieve market dominance.
The report also claims that Google’s monopoly allows Google to force its products and services on users, puts businesses that need traffic at a disadvantage and crowds out competitors in verticals that Google competes in.
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Google Accused of Anti-competitive Tactics
The report accuses Google of maintaining it’s dominance by using anti-competitive tactics.
Among the tactics Google was accused of using were:
According to the report:
Documents Suggest Google Used Android to Force it’s Dominance
The House Sub-committee reviewed documents that they claimed demonstrated that Google required mobile phone companies to give Google preference as a way to manufacture market dominance and lock out competitors.
The report asserted that Google’s mobile dominance was not achieved by merit but through the use of forced requirements.
According to the report:
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Google Accused of Using Acquisitions to Create a Monopoly
As an example of Google’s anti-competitive activity the report cited Google Maps. It said that Google Maps dominance was achieved by an “anticompetitive acquisition.”
The report, which also investigated Apple, Amazon and Facebook, accused all the organizations (including Google) of using mergers and acquisitions as part of a strategy to stop or prevent competitors and to build a dominant position.
House Subcommittee Suggestions for Restoring Competition
The House Subcommittee report proposed solutions for restoring competition and preventing digital companies from manufacturing their market dominance.
The House Subcommittee report also suggested:
Findings May Affect Google SERPs
The impact of the report was to suggest future changes to laws as well as to how mergers and acquisitions are handled. The goal of these changes are to restore competition.
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Some of the changes may affect how Google search will appear in the future.
For example, Congress may implement rules that prohibits design changes that favor the search platform and excludes competitors, regardless of whether the change benefits users.
The reference to section 2 is about rules to prohibit “self-preferencing ” and “favoritism” which is something Google was accused of doing in the search results where it favored it’s own verticals.
If the report results in new laws and regulations, Google may find itself having to change the search results.
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October 9, 2020 at 02:34AM
SEO Is Not an On/Off Switch — Whiteboard Friday
Posted by Dr-Pete
When business is struggling, budgets are tight, and resources limited, your company might be tempted to cut back or cut off SEO efforts to save time and money until things stabilize. But halting SEO altogether — even for a short time — is actually a bad idea, as it means more work for you and your business in the long run.
Dr. Pete is here with a brand new Whiteboard Friday to tell you why SEO should not be treated like an on/off switch, and provide some suggestions on what to do instead.
Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!
Hey, everybody, Dr. Pete from Moz here. I want to welcome you to my first recording from Whiteboard Friday Studio Chicago, aka my basement. I want to thank the content team, first of all, for getting me set up with the equipment, but especially for their patience. I am not an AV guy, so this has taken a little while longer than I had hoped. You've already seen some remote Whiteboard Fridays from Russ and Britney and Cyrus, and they're doing a great job. So hopefully we can have some fun, and now I know the ropes and can get this going a little easier.
So I want to talk about a serious topic today. Obviously, we're going through some tough times. Budgets can be tight, and when that happens, you're tempted to scale back marketing. Obviously, we're in the business of selling SEO tools, and we don't want you to do that because that's where our food comes from and the roofs over our heads. I'll be transparent about that. But I do think there are some real dangers to treating SEO like it's an on/off switch. So I want to talk about the reality of that, and what can happen, and some of what to do to mitigate that.
You can't do more with less
A friend reached out to me and she said, "My boss is worried about budgets, and he wants to cut back paid search, and he wants to cut back content, and cut back social, but get the same results. What do we do?" Before the pandemic, I might have laughed at that. But it's a serious question and a serious situation, and the reality is there's no magic to this. We can't expect to do more with less.
It's a nice thing to say. But especially when people are struggling, and when our workers are having problems, and they're stressed, and their time is being taken up doing mundane things — like grocery shopping — that are three times harder now, we can't expect them to do more with less, and we can't expect to do nothing and get results. So what do we do, and how do we deal with this problem?
You can't treat organic like paid
So first of all, I just want to say that I think sometimes we look at the situation like this. If we scale back marketing, we can just wait until times are better, and then we can push it back up. So we turn on our search marketing. We get the traffic and things are great. We shut it off. Okay, that sucks. We don't get the traffic, but we're not paying. Turn it back on and boom the traffic is back.
That's not how it works, not even close.
This is more like how paid search works. I don't want to oversimplify. I used to work in paid search. Obviously, you're optimizing and improving and adding negative keywords and doing A/B testing and all these things to hopefully get better and better performance. But, generally speaking, one of the advantages of paid search is that when you turn it on, the leads come. You get traffic right away that day. When you turn it off, you get nothing. The money is not there. You don't get the leads. Okay, that's rough, but you expect that, right? But you turn it back on, the leads come back that day. So this is the double-edged sword in a sense. It's not that one is better than the other, but this is how paid search works. It's a machine that you can flip off and on.
That's not how organic works. Organic does take time. So what happens is you turn it on, and you see this gradual ramp-up. Finally, it starts to peak and level off, and then you turn it off. Let's say budgets are tight.
Okay, I understand that you're not producing new content and you're not optimizing. It's not a thing you can just turn off frankly. But you still see positive results. You still see that traffic until this starts to trail off over time. Now that's a good thing about SEO. It doesn't immediately turn off. You still continue to get that traffic.
But the problem with SEO is when you turn it back on and when the money comes back, you're going to have to go through this ramp-up again. The curve may be different shapes, and it may not go all the way down and it may not go back to where it was. But it's going to take time. There's going to be a lag, and it could be weeks or it could be months. So I think we make two mistakes. One we've already discussed.
One is number two ironically, that this is going to take time to come back. So if you count on just turning the switch back on and things recovering, you're going to be disappointed, right? That's going to take time. So it's not just a situation of a pandemic. Let's say you close down for remodeling or let's say you had some kind of flooding or some kind of damage or something you needed to do to shut down for a month or two.
You can't expect that, when you turn things back on, it will immediately come back. So you may have to get ahead of that. You may have to start spending again before things pick up. I know that's a difficult thing, but you have to anticipate this lag. You have to be realistic about that. The other problem, though, is I think sometimes we hit this point, and we shut off our efforts.
We cut down content production. We don't optimize. We switch agencies, whatever we do. We don't see an immediate drop, and so we start to say maybe this isn't really working. I think it's a bit like exercise. I have this habit certainly over the years. You get motivated.
You do really well for a few weeks or a couple of months. You're feeling good, and you start to plateau. You get a little frustrated, and then you stop. For a while, you still feel good, right? You have these dividends. That's how it works, and that's how organic search works. So you think, well, maybe it wasn't that big of a deal.
Maybe it wasn't really helping me. Until two or three or six months later, when you realize how much worse you feel. Then by then, to start back up again takes effort, right? You don't feel good when you start exercising again after that six weeks of sitting around. So it takes a couple of months to get back to where you were. So I don't want you to go through that, and I want you to be a bit careful about that.
What you can do
So what can we do? By the way, I have no artistic skills. This is from my 10-year-old daughter. Any drawings you see on my Whiteboard Fridays will be probably from her. So thank you, Jordan. So a couple suggestions I have that are general.
1. Have a pulse
First of all, and I mean this quite literally, you need to continue to have a pulse.
If you shut down your business or your marketing, you may just think, "Well, okay, we're going to get less leads. We're going to get less of a good thing, but nothing bad is going to happen".
But the problem is this may be the only place people see you, and this may be where they come looking for you. So if you disappear, and especially in an environment like the pandemic where businesses are going under, people may look at that and say, "Oh, I guess they're not around anymore. I guess they're gone."
They might not come back. They might not come looking for you again. I think there's a very real danger of that, especially for small local businesses. So you want to make sure that your presence at least continues to exist. You have that pulse.
It doesn't have to be as frequent — you don't have to do as much work, you don't have to put out as much content, you don't have to be as active on social — but I think you have to at least show people that you're still alive and kicking so that they know to come back when things improve. Otherwise, they might just forget and go somewhere else.
2. Tell your story
I think it's okay, especially during times like this — and really any time that something is kind of going wrong — if you're remodeling, you're going to be closed for a couple months. That's a real negative thing that's hard. It's okay to be personal. It's okay to tell some of that story.
My kids' orthodontist, they're a family-owned business locally here. They were really great when they were closed. They were closed for a couple of months, about two or three months. They were as responsible as I think they could be about it. They communicated their plans, but they talked to us. They sent emails. They told us about their story. They told us about being a family-owned business and why this was hard and why they thought it was the right thing to do. So when they reopened, there was a real trust there, and I was willing to send my oldest back and get her checked out and get the normal stuff done, that I might not have been if I wasn't sure what was going on.
But I knew their procedures. I knew their story. I empathized with them, and I think that was a big deal. That's something you should do. It's okay to tell that, "Hey, this is hard. This is what's going on. Here's what's going on with us. We hope you come back. We're still here."
3. Try new things
Then I think this is an interesting time to try new things. And maybe that sounds counterintuitive because when you have less money, trying something new seems like a bad idea.
But it's okay to try new things. Maybe not as well as you normally would have. Ironically, this is a problem we've had with Whiteboard Friday. I've been remote my whole time at Moz, and so I've had to fly to Seattle to do recordings. So you see very few Whiteboard Fridays from me. There's a handful over the years and one that gets repeated a bit. Because we have a studio there, we were afraid that the quality might not be as good.
It might not be up to par. It might hurt our brand, honestly. But when the pandemic came, we said, "Hey, you know what? Now we have no choice. The studio is closed. We can't go into the office for a while." Actually, currently we're moving the office, so again we're delayed. So it opened up this opportunity to try something new, try something different. Even with equipment, it costs less than one of us flying out there and staying for a few days one time.
So it made sense, and we realized that during this time people were going to naturally be forgiving. If we could get to 70% or 80% quality and improve back up over time, it was going to be okay. So I encourage you to do that. Try some formats you might not have tried before. Try some video. Use some basic equipment. We did home recordings for MozCon this year.
It was great. We had some basic equipment, Logitech web cam, a clip-on USB mic, much less sophisticated than what I'm using right now, a couple of ring lights. Maybe 200 bucks' worth of equipment and a backdrop that really I thought looked great. It was really professional once we got used to it. Try podcasting.
Try something you haven't tried before. Don't worry about it being perfect, because I think this is a time that people will be okay with that. You can try some new things and hopefully come out stronger and come out with a new thing and resume what you were doing and maybe be ahead of where you were. So again, I just don't want you to think that if you turn this thing off, you can flip it back on.
Be realistic. Don't disappear. Try something new. Tell people what you're going through. Be human. I hope you all get through this okay and that things are going all right. It's great to see you. Thank you.
Video transcription by Speechpad.com
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October 9, 2020 at 02:15AM
Facebook Community Manager Certification Program via @MattGSouthern
Social media managers can now become Facebook certified through an official online program and enhance their credentials with an industry-recognized badge.
The Facebook Community Manager Certification Program is offered through Facebook Blueprint where there are currently over 90 eLearning courses.
Courses from Facebook Blueprint are free to take, though there is a fee for taking the final exam.
Certification badges from Facebook Blueprint are “widely recognized in various industries,” the company says.
Credentials earned from this particular certification will help community managers stand out as recognized experts in a highly competitive field.
For Community Managers By Community Managers
Facebook says its community manager certification program is created by experienced practitioners.
Their experience encompasses a wide range of business types including agencies, brands, nonprofits, and NGOs.
The certification is designed to measure community managers’ understanding and application of best practices and industry standards.
Some of the certification topic areas include:
As mentioned, all material needed to prepare for the certification exam is completely free.
The free resources available as part of the community manager certification program include:
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Completion of the online courses is not required in order to earn the certification, but Facebook does require completion of the practice test.
If you’re an experienced community manager perhaps it’s best to jump right into the practice test at the beginning.
From there you’ll have an understanding of which topics you need to spend more time studying (if any) before the final exam.
Taking the Final Exam
All Facebook Blueprint Certification exams cost 150 US dollars per exam.
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Exams can be taken as many times as needed to pass, but a fee will be charged each time the exam is taken.
Facebook uses a scaled scoring system which ranges from 300-1000 with a minimum score of 700 to pass.
The exam process itself is treated very seriously. A valid, government issued photo ID is required to take the exam, and the testing area needs to be examined via webcam.
You will also be monitored via webcam throughout the duration of the exam, which is roughly 120 minutes, to ensure you don’t access any personal resources.
After successfully completing the exam, you will receive a badge certifying your competency in community management.
The certification is valid for 24 months. Earning a certification also grants access to an exclusive Facebook Group where you can connect with other certified community managers.
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Sources: Facebook for Business, Facebook Blueprint, Facebook certification FAQ
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October 8, 2020 at 08:01PM