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Google My Business adds more branding tools, introduces searchable @shortnames

The top 5% of local businesses in each category will also be eligible for a new “Local Favorite” badge.



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How to Unleash the Secret Superpowers of Numbers in Your Copywriting

There are all sorts of rules about writing. Grammar and style guides tell us how we should write. Especially how…

The post How to Unleash the Secret Superpowers of Numbers in Your Copywriting appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Price extensions now supported in Microsoft Advertising Editor

Create and manage price extensions in bulk.



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New AI-Powered Email Capabilities Released Into Salesforce Marketing Cloud

“We’re making email marketing even smarter with a set of new AI capabilities getting released into Salesforce Marketing Cloud,” says Salesforce VP Armita Peymandoust. “One of them is Einstein Engagement Frequency. The other one is Einstein Send Time Optimization. We also have Einstein Content Tagging out and available today to our customers. Email is definitely not dead. Even the Millennials say that.”

Armita Peymandoust, VP Product Management, Analytics, and Einstein at Salesforce, discusses new AI-powered email features for Marketing Cloud announced by Salesforce at Connections 19:

AI-Powered Email Capabilities Released Into Salesforce Marketing Cloud

As we know email is still a really important channel. Over 64 percent of customers are still saying that they prefer email channels to all the others. What we’re doing is we’re making email marketing even smarter with a set of new AI capabilities getting released into Salesforce Marketing Cloud. One of them is Einstein Engagement Frequency. The other one is Einstein Send Time Optimization. We also have Einstein Content Tagging out and available today to our customers. Email is definitely not dead. Even the Millennials say that.

Einstein Engagement Frequency

With Einstein Engagement Frequency we’re trying to tell the marketer what’s the sweet range that they should keep on engaging with their customers. As marketers, we want to keep on engaging with our customers but we just don’t want to get to a point that we’re potentially annoying them. So we are telling them that this is the range that you should stay in.

Einstein Send Time Optimization

Now that the marketer knows what the frequency of engagement should be, with Einstein Send Time Optimization we’re also telling them what is the right time to send those messages. It’s really easy with a drag and drop of an activity into Journey Builder we make every message go out at the right time for the customers.

Einstein Content Tagging

Then with Einstein Content Tagging, we’re basically bringing image recognition the same set of AI capabilities that you’re familiar with for your customer based or consumer based products. This is where you upload photos and then they automatically get tagged. We are bringing that same technology to the hand of the marketer. Every image that’s getting uploaded into Content Builder gets automatically tagged so they can find it later and use it when they’re building their messages.

Transactional Messaging

We’re also releasing Transactional API’s for Emails and SMS. There are different types of emails out there. There’s the commercial one and there’s the transactional one. It allows the marketer to bring both of those two in an inter-marketing cloud and take advantage of Marketing Cloud to send those emails to have the same voice, the same brand voice, and also be able to see how those are performing all in one place.

Indiana Pacers Improved Customer Engagements By 20 Percent

These features are all relatively new. So we have pilot customers that have been taking advantage of them. We have one retailer that talked about Einstein Engagement Frequency. They had a hunch that they were over messaging customers but they couldn’t really put their finger on it. With Einstein Engagement Frequency we could show them visually exactly where they’re over engaging with their customers and let them take action on it. The platform automatically created lists so that they would not send messages to the ones that are getting too many email messages.

We’ve had a set of AI features in Marketing Cloud, specifically Einstein Engagement Scores, was one that the NBA’s Indiana Pacers is taking advantage of, to increase the engagement rate that they’re having with their fans. They got a 20 percent increase in engagements with their fans using that.

Customer Engagement Getting Even More Granular

We have a jam-packed roadmap for the next of the rest of the year as well. One of the things that I’m really excited about is Content Selection that’s coming out. Content Selection lets each of those messages that we’re creating be dynamically optimized for every customer that’s receiving them. Think of your email as a template that has different aspects or different selections in it that gets automatically replaced with what your customer cares about most and also what they have engaged with most and historically. It’s very engaging for every one of your customers.

The other one that I’m interested in (that is coming later) is bringing natural language processing to understanding your subject lines. What types of subject lines are resonating? Why is it that they’re resonating with your customers? It will give you an insight on them first and then also give you recommendations on how to improve your subject lines.

New AI-Powered Email Capabilities Released Into Salesforce Marketing Cloud

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Leaning into SEO as Google shifts from search engine to portal

How to prepare your company for Google’s new customer journey for search.



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5 Ways You Might Mess up When Running SEO Split Tests

Posted by sam.nemzer

SEO split testing is a relatively new concept, but it’s becoming an essential tool for any SEO who wants to call themselves data-driven. People have been familiar with A/B testing in the context of Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) for a long time, and applying those concepts to SEO is a logical next step if you want to be confident that what you’re spending your time on is actually going to lead to more traffic.

At Distilled, we’ve been in the fortunate position of working with our own SEO A/B testing tool, which we’ve been using to test SEO recommendations for the last three years. Throughout this time, we’ve been able to hone our technique in terms of how best to set up and measure SEO split tests.

In this post, I’ll outline five mistakes that we’ve fallen victim to over the course of three years of running SEO split tests, and that we commonly see others making.

What is SEO Split testing?

Before diving into how it’s done wrong (and right), it’s worth stopping for a minute to explain what SEO split testing actually is.

CRO testing is the obvious point of comparison. In a CRO test, you’re generally comparing a control and variant version of a page (or group of pages) to see which performs better in terms of conversion. You do this by assigning your users into different buckets, and showing each bucket a different version of the website.

In SEO split testing, we’re trying to ascertain which version of a page will perform better in terms of organic search traffic. If we were to take a CRO-like approach of bucketing users, we would not be able to test the effect, as there’s only one version of Googlebot, which would only ever see one version of the page.

To get around this, SEO split tests bucket pages instead. We take a section of a website in which all of the pages follow a similar template (for example the product pages on an eCommerce website), and make a change to half the pages in that section (for all users). That way we can measure the traffic impact of the change across the variant pages, compared to a forecast based on the performance of the control pages.

For more details, you can read my colleague Craig Bradford’s post here.

Common SEO Split Testing Mistakes

1. Not leaving split tests running for long enough

As SEOs, we know that it can take a while for the changes we make to take effect in the rankings. When we run an SEO split test, this is borne out in the data. As you can see in the below graph, it takes a week or two for the variant pages (in black) to start out-stripping the forecast based on the control pages (in blue).


A typical SEO split test — it often takes a couple of weeks for the uplift to show.

It’s tempting to panic after a week or so that our test might not be making a difference, and call it off as a neutral result. However, we’ve seen over and over again that things often change after a week or two, so don’t call it too soon!

The other factor to bear in mind here is that the longer you leave it after this initial flat period, the more likely it is that your results will be significant, so you’ll have more certainty in the result you find.

A note for anyone reading with a CRO background — I imagine you’re shouting at your screen that it’s not OK to leave a test running longer to try and reach significance and that you must pre-determine your end date in order for the results to be valid. You’d be correct for a CRO test measured using standard statistical models. In the case of SEO split tests, we measure significance using Bayesian statistical methods, meaning that it’s valid to keep a test running until it reaches significance and you can be confident in your results at that point.

2. Testing groups of pages that don’t have enough traffic (or are dominated by a small number of pages)

The sites we’ve been able to run split tests on using Distilled ODN have ranged in traffic levels enormously, as have the site sections on which we’ve attempted to run split tests. Over the course of our experience with SEO split testing, we’ve generated a rule of thumb: if a site section of similar pages doesn’t receive at least 1,000 organic sessions per day in total, it’s going to be very hard to measure any uplift from your split test. If you have less traffic than that to the pages you’re testing, any signal of a positive or negative test result would be overtaken by the level of uncertainty involved.

Beyond 1,000 sessions per day, in general, the more traffic you have, the smaller the uplift you can detect. So far, the smallest effect size we’ve managed to measure with statistical confidence is a few percent.

On top of having a good amount of traffic in your site section, you need to make sure that your traffic is well distributed across a large number of pages. If more than 50 percent of the site section’s organic traffic is going to three or four pages, it means that your test is vulnerable to fluctuations in those pages’ performance that has nothing to do with the test. This may lead you to conclude that the change that you are testing is having an effect when it is actually being swayed by an irrelevant factor. By having the traffic well distributed across the site section, you ensure that these page-specific fluctuations will even themselves out and you can be more confident that any effect you measure is genuine.

3. Bucketing pages arbitrarily

In CRO tests, the best practice is to assign every user randomly into either the control and variant group. This works to ensure that both groups are essentially identical, because of the large number of users that tends to be involved.

In an SEO split test, we need to apply more nuance to this approach. For site sections with a very large number of pages, where the traffic is well distributed across them, the purely random approach may well lead to a fair bucketing, but most websites have some pages that get more traffic, and some that get less. As well as that, some pages may have different trends and spikes in traffic, especially if they serve a particular seasonal purpose.

In order to ensure that the control and variant groups of pages are statistically similar, we create them in such a way that they have:

  • Similar total traffic levels
  • Similar distributions of traffic between pages within them
  • Similar trends in traffic over time
  • Similarity in a range of other statistical measures

4. Running SEO split tests using JavaScript

For a lot of websites, it’s very hard to make changes, and harder still to split test them. A workaround that a lot of sites use (and that I have recommended in the past), is to deploy changes using a JavaScript-based tool such as Google Tag Manager.

Aside from the fact that we’ve seen pages that rely on JavaScript perform worse overall, another issue with this is that Google doesn’t consistently pick up changes that are implemented through JavaScript. There are two primary reasons for this:

  • The process of crawling, indexing, and rendering pages is a multi-phase process — once Googlebot has discovered a page, it first indexes the content within the raw HTML, then there is often a delay before any content or changes that rely on JavaScript are considered.
  • Even when Googlebot has rendered the JavaScript version of the page, it has a cut-off of five seconds after which it will stop processing any JavaScript. A lot of JavaScript changes to web pages, especially those that rely on third-party tools and plugins, take longer than five seconds, which means that Google has stopped paying attention before the changes have had a chance to take effect.

This can lead to inconsistency within tests. For example, if you are changing the format of your title tags using a JavaScript plugin, it may be that only a small number of your variant pages have that change picked up by Google. This means that whatever change you think you’re testing doesn’t have a chance of demonstrating a significant effect.

5. Doing pre/post tests instead of A/B tests

When people talk colloquially about SEO testing, often what they mean is making a change to an individual page (or across an entire site) and seeing whether their traffic or rankings improve. This is not a split test. If you’re just making a change and seeing what happens, your analysis is vulnerable to any external factors, including:

  • Seasonal variations
  • Algorithm updates
  • Competitor activity
  • Your site gaining or losing backlinks
  • Any other changes you make to your site during this time

The only way to really know if a change has an effect is to run a proper split test — this is the reason we created the ODN in the first place. In order to account for the above external factors, it’s essential to use a control group of pages from which you can model the expected performance of the pages you’re changing, and know for sure that your change is what’s having an effect.

And now, over to you! I’d love to hear what you think — what experiences have you had with split testing? And what have you learned? Tell me in the comments below! 

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How to Leverage Offline Events for Link Building

Posted by allen.yesilevich

Link building is all about creating strong, reputable relationships online — but what if you took offline strategies and applied it to building your brand online? No matter the size of your company, hosting, speaking at, or attending an event is a valuable tool for bulking up your backlinks while giving your brand industry exposure.

Every stage of the event process, from promotion and beyond, provides valuable opportunities for acquiring backlinks. The trick is to apply the correct strategy. Whether you’re sharing your event on an event listing site, reaching out to influencers to spread the word, or publishing event-specific content, leveraging your face-to-face marketing efforts to gain more backlinks will help your business — no matter its size — become more visible.

Prior to the Event

Before you set out on your link-building journey, you need to establish what pages and domains you want others to share. For an event, a dedicated landing page on your website that lists key details and invites people to register is the best place to drive potential attendees. It’s also easy to share for promotion.

Event sites

Once you have your pages and domains set up, you can take that page to event listing sites, which offer easy link opportunities. The location of your event will determine where you choose to post. For instance, if you’re hosting a small event, region-specific event sites will earn you links that increase your visibility in local search results. 

If you’re hosting a larger event with a national or global draw, Eventful or Meetup are two sites that will link out directly to your event page. As an added bonus, some larger sites will get scraped by other sources, meaning you could potentially get multiple links from one post.

Connect with influencers

Connecting with bloggers in your industry and asking them to share your event details with their followers is another way to gain links. 

Before you reach out, do some research to see what types of bloggers and influencers are best suited for this; you want to make sure the backlinks you receive are valuable, from credible sites that will help you build authority and enhance your organic search visibility. While it may be more difficult to obtain links from the experts in your industry who have higher domain authorities, they’ll be the most beneficial for brand building.

Once you establish your list of target industry bloggers, reach out and explain why your event is relevant to their audience and why sharing or posting about it would add value to their content. 

A big mistake people often make is expecting content without contributing anything in return. Would you show up to a potluck without a dish and eat all of the food? Consider offering an incentive, like an opportunity for cross-site promotion so that the partnership isn’t just transactional, but mutually beneficial. Not only will this help you acquire a new link, but it will also help you get more exposure to people in your target market that you may not have been able to reach previously.

During the Event

Whether your company is hosting an event or someone from your team is speaking at one, there are many opportunities to support your site’s link building efforts. Attendees can have a positive effect on your organization’s backlink profile. As the old saying goes, if you didn’t post about it, were you even there? Professionals and brands alike love sharing thought leadership insights and event recaps in the form of blogs and social posts. When they do, there’s a good chance they’ll be sharing a link to your company’s site.

Write about it

Even if you’re only attending an event, there are link building opportunities to take advantage of. Post daily blogs highlighting the key takeaways from that day’s sessions or share your take on a memorable keynote. Event-specific content has a good chance of making its way to and being shared by the speakers, event host, other attendees, and your team back at the office.

“Consider offering an incentive, like an opportunity for cross-site promotion so that the partnership isn’t just transactional, but mutually beneficial.”

To increase your chances of getting your content out in front of the right people, share it in a quick email or LinkedIn message to a presenter or marketing lead from the company hosting the event. Of course, you should always share your post on your own and your company’s social media channels and tag the relevant players. The hope is that, by being included and getting free publicity, these high-quality sources will feel inclined to share your content

Network, network, network

While posting about events can help you get links, you should also focus on building long-term relationships with other leaders in your industry. There is no better time to do this than when at an event. In fact, 81 percent of event-goers say they attend events for networking opportunities. If you’re networking, you can set yourself up well to establish future linking partnerships with sites in similar or complementing industries.

After the Event

You can still acquire backlinks from your offline event after you’ve headed back to work. Some of the best link building opportunities have yet to come.

Follow up with email

If you spoke at an event, you can nurture the people who attended your session through email and send them relevant information. Setting up a landing page on your site with downloadable slides from your presentation can easily be shared and linked. If they haven’t done so already, see if your contacts are willing to share their event experience on their blog and social pages. This will give you crowdsourced content with valuable backlinks.

Track your efforts

It’s important to track your backlinks using social listening tools after the event. If you feel the linking sites could offer synergies, either for content or business purposes, reach out to discuss mutually-beneficial partnerships.

Remember, all the hard work you put in now will pay off in the future, too. Consistently acquiring backlinks has a snowball effect and will increase both your ranking positioning and attendee turnout for future events.

Wrapping up

One of the best link-building strategies you can leverage is your real-life relationships. What are some ways you’ve transformed an in-life connection into a valuable, digital backlink? 

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Starsky Robotics Launching Fully Autonomous Long-Haul Trucks in Florida

“We are now gearing up to take the person completely out of the cab on public roads in the state of Florida,” says Starsky Robotics CEO Stefan Seltz-Axmacher. “We’ve been testing on Florida roads with people in the cabs for a couple of years. We are starting off in the easiest conditions, in good weather, and with good lighting. In time, we will start driving in light rain and at night. But to start off we will be focusing on the daytime.”


Actual Driverless Truck — With No Passenger — Recently On the Road in Florida Test

Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, CEO of Starsky Robotics, discusses their imminent plans to launch fully autonomous driverless long-haul trucks in Florida in an interview on Fox Business:

Gearing Up To Take the Person Completely Out Of the Cab

We’ve been testing on Florida roads with people in the cabs for a couple of years. We are now gearing up to take the person completely out of the cab on public roads in the state of Florida. We are starting off in the easiest conditions, in good weather, and with good lighting. In time, we will start driving in light rain and at night. All of these conditions are within our operational design domains. We see different areas, different things that are hard, and things that are easy. But to start off we will be focusing on the daytime.

What’s interesting about long-haul trucks is frequently they just drive between different distribution centers which themselves are in industrial areas. That’s where we are focusing on. We are not driving in downtown Miami or mid-town Manhatten. We are driving in places that are slightly more rural between warehouses that are immediately next to the highway. We will be doing broader rollouts next year but we will start doing initial road unmanned tests later this year. We will make sure the local authorities know (which roads we will be driving on) and then we will let the public know afterward.

Starsky Robotics Speed Record For Unmanned Truck in Florida

We Are Building Uber Drivers

We actually operate as a carrier ourselves. If you think about Uber, we are not building Uber or Lyft and we are not building Toyota Priuses. We are building Uber drivers. On the Uber and Lyft side, we are working with companies like C.H. Robinson and Schneider who are then selling our capacities to shippers. So if you can think of a large CPG we’ve probably hauled freight for them. We are building the software but we are also operating the trucks themselves.

Warning other drivers that a truck is self-driving is actually kind of an open question. The issue is, and this is a thing that we’ve seen in regular tests with a person in the cab, that we will have a lot of people driving next to us and see that there is a bunch of cameras (that get distracted). It seems like that if we had signs (saying that the truck is self-driving) that in itself may cause an issue.

Starsky Robotics Launching Fully Autonomous Long-Haul Truck in Florida

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SEO Whitepaper: How Distance and Intent Shape a Local Pack

Posted by TheMozTeam

In August 2017, a Think With Google piece stated that local searches without “near me” had grown by 150 percent and that searchers were beginning to drop other geo-modifiers — like zip codes and neighborhoods — from their local queries as well.

Since we can’t always rely on searchers to state when their intent is local, we should be looking at keywords where that intent is implied. But, before we start optimizing, we need to know whether Google is any good at interpreting implicit local intent and if it’s treated the same as explicit intent.

Consider these queries: [sushi near me] would indicate that close proximity is essential; [sushi in Vancouver] seems to cast a city-wide net; while [sushi] is largely ambiguous — are they hungry for general info or actual sushi? And what happens with [best sushi], where quality could take priority over proximity? Google decides what these queries mean, so it’s important for us to understand those decisions.

In this whitepaper, we put local packs under the microscope to determine:

  • How Google interprets different kinds of local intent.
  • How geo-location and geo-modification influence local packs and organic results.
  • How distance, Google ratings, and organic rank shape a local pack.
  • How Google handles competing needs.

Plus, we’ll make the case for tracking local and show you how to set up your own local tracking strategy.

Download the whitepaper

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Search Buzz Video Recap: Google Core Update News, Icons In Search Bar, Bing Bulk URLs, Google Conferences & My New Vlog

This week I am testing out a new camera, not sure if I will use it for this format but I will for the new vlog. Google finished rolling out the June 2019 core update on June 8th…


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