Tag Archive | "Clicks"

Over half of searches on Google yield zero clicks

New data published by SparkToro’s, Rand Fishkin reveals that the troubling trend of “zero-click” searches on Google is growing.

Next steps for search marketers

Zero-click searches result in users remaining on a Google-owned property such as Google.com, Google Images, Google Maps, and YouTube rather than moving on to a third-party website from an organic search result.

Mr. Fishkin first wrote about this phenomenon last October, highlighting how millions of queries are answered directly on the search results pages using content that Google scrapes from other people’s websites.

Zero-click searches outpace organic-click searches for the first time ever

The zero-click data, reported by data intelligence platform Jumpshot, reveals that zero-click searches comprised just under 55% of all searches on Google in June 2019. This is the first time zero-click searches have exceeded organic clicks since Google’s launch 20 years ago.


Source: SparkToro

Fishkin makes an important distinction between zero-click searches which already cannibalize organic traffic to external websites versus Google sending traffic to their own properties – essentially, Google is doing both.

Fishkin notes that about six percent of queries and 12% of clicks are being funneled to Google-owned properties such as YouTube, Map’s, and Google’s own blog.

Google dominates mobile searches

The Jumpshot data referenced above only includes browser-based searches, but mobile search using Google properties is ubiquitous.

When factoring in mobile apps, Google’s total market share is a staggering 97% (including mobile and desktop searches). This number includes searches from the Google Maps, Google Search, and YouTube apps which are installed on everyone’s phone.


Source: SparkToro

The Jumpshot data reveals a clear connection with the diminishing number of organic clicks to the increasing number of zero-click searches. That is, as the percentage of zero-click searches increases, the percentage of organic clicks from search queries goes down.

Case in point

  • In Q1 2016, 54% of Google searches resulted in organic clicks. That dropped to 46% by Q2 2019.
  • In Q1 2016, 44% of Google searches resulted in zero clicks. That rose to 49.8% in Q2 2019.
  • Searches resulting in paid ad clicks have also fared better, rising from 2.1% in Q1 2016 to 4.1% in Q2 2019.

Fishkin points out that the rise in paid ad clicks is primarily due to Google’s mobile ad and instant answer strategies – with mobile paid ad clicks rising from 3.4% in January 2016 to 11.4% in June 2019.

The zero-click trend is likely being heightened by search behavior on mobile versus desktop devices. For example, users are less likely to click through to a website on their mobile device – a factor Google is capitalizing on with the rollout of ever-larger paid search ads and their “People also ask” feature which lists a series of questions and answers pulled from external websites.


Example of Google’s “People also ask” results on Google using scraped content

Search clicks on desktop devices paint a steadier picture versus mobile devices, with organic clicks comprising 66% of searches in 2019 versus 68% in 2016.

Zero-click searches on desktops rose during this time, but only slightly, comprising 34% of searches in 2016 versus 32% in 2019.

Next steps for search marketers

Marketers should continue to optimize their websites for search engines as per usual, but the key takeaway from this new data is to diversify.

The continued ubiquity of mobile devices, voice search and voice assistants, and the ever-increasing trend of platform-centered browsing and searching (for example, walled gardens like Facebook and Amazon) are creating a dilemma for content creators and business owners – that is, how do we get people to leave these walled gardens and visit our websites?

The answer to this question is different for every business, but a good first step is to diversify where you place your ads and publish your content.

Have a solid social media marketing strategy that’s tied to a robust content strategy which includes a variety of content types. For example, video, blog posts, social posts, whitepapers, webinars) and promote this content widely and often.

The rise of zero-click searches is likely going to continue and I highly recommend you read Fishkin’s entire post about this trend. His insights are data-driven and always illuminating.

The post Over half of searches on Google yield zero clicks appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch

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Keyword Not Provided, But it Just Clicks

When SEO Was Easy

When I got started on the web over 15 years ago I created an overly broad & shallow website that had little chance of making money because it was utterly undifferentiated and crappy. In spite of my best (worst?) efforts while being a complete newbie, sometimes I would go to the mailbox and see a check for a couple hundred or a couple thousand dollars come in. My old roommate & I went to Coachella & when the trip was over I returned to a bunch of mail to catch up on & realized I had made way more while not working than what I spent on that trip.

What was the secret to a total newbie making decent income by accident?

Horrible spelling.

Back then search engines were not as sophisticated with their spelling correction features & I was one of 3 or 4 people in the search index that misspelled the name of an online casino the same way many searchers did.

The high minded excuse for why I did not scale that would be claiming I knew it was a temporary trick that was somehow beneath me. The more accurate reason would be thinking in part it was a lucky fluke rather than thinking in systems. If I were clever at the time I would have created the misspeller’s guide to online gambling, though I think I was just so excited to make anything from the web that I perhaps lacked the ambition & foresight to scale things back then.

In the decade that followed I had a number of other lucky breaks like that. One time one of the original internet bubble companies that managed to stay around put up a sitewide footer link targeting the concept that one of my sites made decent money from. This was just before the great recession, before Panda existed. The concept they targeted had 3 or 4 ways to describe it. 2 of them were very profitable & if they targeted either of the most profitable versions with that page the targeting would have sort of carried over to both. They would have outranked me if they targeted the correct version, but they didn’t so their mistargeting was a huge win for me.

Search Gets Complex

Search today is much more complex. In the years since those easy-n-cheesy wins, Google has rolled out many updates which aim to feature sought after destination sites while diminishing the sites which rely one “one simple trick” to rank.

Arguably the quality of the search results has improved significantly as search has become more powerful, more feature rich & has layered in more relevancy signals.

Many quality small web publishers have went away due to some combination of increased competition, algorithmic shifts & uncertainty, and reduced monetization as more ad spend was redirected toward Google & Facebook. But the impact as felt by any given publisher is not the impact as felt by the ecosystem as a whole. Many terrible websites have also went away, while some formerly obscure though higher-quality sites rose to prominence.

There was the Vince update in 2009, which boosted the rankings of many branded websites.

Then in 2011 there was Panda as an extension of Vince, which tanked the rankings of many sites that published hundreds of thousands or millions of thin content pages while boosting the rankings of trusted branded destinations.

Then there was Penguin, which was a penalty that hit many websites which had heavily manipulated or otherwise aggressive appearing link profiles. Google felt there was a lot of noise in the link graph, which was their justification for the Penguin.

There were updates which lowered the rankings of many exact match domains. And then increased ad load in the search results along with the other above ranking shifts further lowered the ability to rank keyword-driven domain names. If your domain is generically descriptive then there is a limit to how differentiated & memorable you can make it if you are targeting the core market the keywords are aligned with.

There is a reason eBay is more popular than auction.com, Google is more popular than search.com, Yahoo is more popular than portal.com & Amazon is more popular than a store.com or a shop.com. When that winner take most impact of many online markets is coupled with the move away from using classic relevancy signals the economics shift to where is makes a lot more sense to carry the heavy overhead of establishing a strong brand.

Branded and navigational search queries could be used in the relevancy algorithm stack to confirm the quality of a site & verify (or dispute) the veracity of other signals.

Historically relevant algo shortcuts become less appealing as they become less relevant to the current ecosystem & even less aligned with the future trends of the market. Add in negative incentives for pushing on a string (penalties on top of wasting the capital outlay) and a more holistic approach certainly makes sense.

Modeling Web Users & Modeling Language

PageRank was an attempt to model the random surfer.

When Google is pervasively monitoring most users across the web they can shift to directly measuring their behaviors instead of using indirect signals.

Years ago Bill Slawski wrote about the long click in which he opened by quoting Steven Levy’s In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes our Lives

“On the most basic level, Google could see how satisfied users were. To paraphrase Tolstoy, happy users were all the same. The best sign of their happiness was the “Long Click” — This occurred when someone went to a search result, ideally the top one, and did not return. That meant Google has successfully fulfilled the query.”

Of course, there’s a patent for that. In Modifying search result ranking based on implicit user feedback they state:

user reactions to particular search results or search result lists may be gauged, so that results on which users often click will receive a higher ranking. The general assumption under such an approach is that searching users are often the best judges of relevance, so that if they select a particular search result, it is likely to be relevant, or at least more relevant than the presented alternatives.

If you are a known brand you are more likely to get clicked on than a random unknown entity in the same market.

And if you are something people are specifically seeking out, they are likely to stay on your website for an extended period of time.

One aspect of the subject matter described in this specification can be embodied in a computer-implemented method that includes determining a measure of relevance for a document result within a context of a search query for which the document result is returned, the determining being based on a first number in relation to a second number, the first number corresponding to longer views of the document result, and the second number corresponding to at least shorter views of the document result; and outputting the measure of relevance to a ranking engine for ranking of search results, including the document result, for a new search corresponding to the search query. The first number can include a number of the longer views of the document result, the second number can include a total number of views of the document result, and the determining can include dividing the number of longer views by the total number of views.

Attempts to manipulate such data may not work.

safeguards against spammers (users who generate fraudulent clicks in an attempt to boost certain search results) can be taken to help ensure that the user selection data is meaningful, even when very little data is available for a given (rare) query. These safeguards can include employing a user model that describes how a user should behave over time, and if a user doesn’t conform to this model, their click data can be disregarded. The safeguards can be designed to accomplish two main objectives: (1) ensure democracy in the votes (e.g., one single vote per cookie and/or IP for a given query-URL pair), and (2) entirely remove the information coming from cookies or IP addresses that do not look natural in their browsing behavior (e.g., abnormal distribution of click positions, click durations, clicks_per_minute/hour/day, etc.). Suspicious clicks can be removed, and the click signals for queries that appear to be spmed need not be used (e.g., queries for which the clicks feature a distribution of user agents, cookie ages, etc. that do not look normal).

And just like Google can make a matrix of documents & queries, they could also choose to put more weight on search accounts associated with topical expert users based on their historical click patterns.

Moreover, the weighting can be adjusted based on the determined type of the user both in terms of how click duration is translated into good clicks versus not-so-good clicks, and in terms of how much weight to give to the good clicks from a particular user group versus another user group. Some user’s implicit feedback may be more valuable than other users due to the details of a user’s review process. For example, a user that almost always clicks on the highest ranked result can have his good clicks assigned lower weights than a user who more often clicks results lower in the ranking first (since the second user is likely more discriminating in his assessment of what constitutes a good result). In addition, a user can be classified based on his or her query stream. Users that issue many queries on (or related to) a given topic T (e.g., queries related to law) can be presumed to have a high degree of expertise with respect to the given topic T, and their click data can be weighted accordingly for other queries by them on (or related to) the given topic T.

Google was using click data to drive their search rankings as far back as 2009. David Naylor was perhaps the first person who publicly spotted this. Google was ranking Australian websites for [tennis court hire] in the UK & Ireland, in part because that is where most of the click signal came from. That phrase was most widely searched for in Australia. In the years since Google has done a better job of geographically isolating clicks to prevent things like the problem David Naylor noticed, where almost all search results in one geographic region came from a different country.

Whenever SEOs mention using click data to search engineers, the search engineers quickly respond about how they might consider any signal but clicks would be a noisy signal. But if a signal has noise an engineer would work around the noise by finding ways to filter the noise out or combine multiple signals. To this day Google states they are still working to filter noise from the link graph: “We continued to protect the value of authoritative and relevant links as an important ranking signal for Search.”

The site with millions of inbound links, few intentional visits & those who do visit quickly click the back button (due to a heavy ad load, poor user experience, low quality content, shallow content, outdated content, or some other bait-n-switch approach)…that’s an outlier. Preventing those sorts of sites from ranking well would be another way of protecting the value of authoritative & relevant links.

Best Practices Vary Across Time & By Market + Category

Along the way, concurrent with the above sorts of updates, Google also improved their spelling auto-correct features, auto-completed search queries for many years through a featured called Google Instant (though they later undid forced query auto-completion while retaining automated search suggestions), and then they rolled out a few other algorithms that further allowed them to model language & user behavior.

Today it would be much harder to get paid above median wages explicitly for sucking at basic spelling or scaling some other individual shortcut to the moon, like pouring millions of low quality articles into a (formerly!) trusted domain.

Nearly a decade after Panda, eHow’s rankings still haven’t recovered.

Back when I got started with SEO the phrase Indian SEO company was associated with cut-rate work where people were buying exclusively based on price. Sort of like a “I got a $ 500 budget for link building, but can not under any circumstance invest more than $ 5 in any individual link.” Part of how my wife met me was she hired a hack SEO from San Diego who outsourced all the work to India and marked the price up about 100-fold while claiming it was all done in the United States. He created reciprocal links pages that got her site penalized & it didn’t rank until after she took her reciprocal links page down.

With that sort of behavior widespread (hack US firm teaching people working in an emerging market poor practices), it likely meant many SEO “best practices” which were learned in an emerging market (particularly where the web was also underdeveloped) would be more inclined to being spammy. Considering how far ahead many Western markets were on the early Internet & how India has so many languages & how most web usage in India is based on mobile devices where it is hard for users to create links, it only makes sense that Google would want to place more weight on end user data in such a market.

If you set your computer location to India Bing’s search box lists 9 different languages to choose from.

The above is not to state anything derogatory about any emerging market, but rather that various signals are stronger in some markets than others. And competition is stronger in some markets than others.

Search engines can only rank what exists.

“In a lot of Eastern European – but not just Eastern European markets – I think it is an issue for the majority of the [bream? muffled] countries, for the Arabic-speaking world, there just isn’t enough content as compared to the percentage of the Internet population that those regions represent. I don’t have up to date data, I know that a couple years ago we looked at Arabic for example and then the disparity was enormous. so if I’m not mistaken the Arabic speaking population of the world is maybe 5 to 6%, maybe more, correct me if I am wrong. But very definitely the amount of Arabic content in our index is several orders below that. So that means we do not have enough Arabic content to give to our Arabic users even if we wanted to. And you can exploit that amazingly easily and if you create a bit of content in Arabic, whatever it looks like we’re gonna go you know we don’t have anything else to serve this and it ends up being horrible. and people will say you know this works. I keyword stuffed the hell out of this page, bought some links, and there it is number one. There is nothing else to show, so yeah you’re number one. the moment somebody actually goes out and creates high quality content that’s there for the long haul, you’ll be out and that there will be one.” – Andrey Lipattsev – Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google Ireland, on Mar 23, 2016


Impacting the Economics of Publishing

Now search engines can certainly influence the economics of various types of media. At one point some otherwise credible media outlets were pitching the Demand Media IPO narrative that Demand Media was the publisher of the future & what other media outlets will look like. Years later, after heavily squeezing on the partner network & promoting programmatic advertising that reduces CPMs by the day Google is funding partnerships with multiple news publishers like McClatchy & Gatehouse to try to revive the news dead zones even Facebook is struggling with.

“Facebook Inc. has been looking to boost its local-news offerings since a 2017 survey showed most of its users were clamoring for more. It has run into a problem: There simply isn’t enough local news in vast swaths of the country. … more than one in five newspapers have closed in the past decade and a half, leaving half the counties in the nation with just one newspaper, and 200 counties with no newspaper at all.”

As mainstream newspapers continue laying off journalists, Facebook’s news efforts are likely to continue failing unless they include direct economic incentives, as Google’s programmatic ad push broke the banner ad:

“Thanks to the convoluted machinery of Internet advertising, the advertising world went from being about content publishers and advertising context—The Times unilaterally declaring, via its ‘rate card’, that ads in the Times Style section cost $ 30 per thousand impressions—to the users themselves and the data that targets them—Zappo’s saying it wants to show this specific shoe ad to this specific user (or type of user), regardless of publisher context. Flipping the script from a historically publisher-controlled mediascape to an advertiser (and advertiser intermediary) controlled one was really Google’s doing. Facebook merely rode the now-cresting wave, borrowing outside media’s content via its own users’ sharing, while undermining media’s ability to monetize via Facebook’s own user-data-centric advertising machinery. Conventional media lost both distribution and monetization at once, a mortal blow.”

Google is offering news publishers audience development & business development tools.

Heavy Investment in Emerging Markets Quickly Evolves the Markets

As the web grows rapidly in India, they’ll have a thousand flowers bloom. In 5 years the competition in India & other emerging markets will be much tougher as those markets continue to grow rapidly. Media is much cheaper to produce in India than it is in the United States. Labor costs are lower & they never had the economic albatross that is the ACA adversely impact their economy. At some point the level of investment & increased competition will mean early techniques stop having as much efficacy. Chinese companies are aggressively investing in India.

“If you break India into a pyramid, the top 100 million (urban) consumers who think and behave more like Americans are well-served,” says Amit Jangir, who leads India investments at 01VC, a Chinese venture capital firm based in Shanghai. The early stage venture firm has invested in micro-lending firms FlashCash and SmartCoin based in India. The new target is the next 200 million to 600 million consumers, who do not have a go-to entertainment, payment or ecommerce platform yet— and there is gonna be a unicorn in each of these verticals, says Jangir, adding that it will be not be as easy for a player to win this market considering the diversity and low ticket sizes.

RankBrain

RankBrain appears to be based on using user clickpaths on head keywords to help bleed rankings across into related searches which are searched less frequently. A Googler didn’t state this specifically, but it is how they would be able to use models of searcher behavior to refine search results for keywords which are rarely searched for.

In a recent interview in Scientific American a Google engineer stated: “By design, search engines have learned to associate short queries with the targets of those searches by tracking pages that are visited as a result of the query, making the results returned both faster and more accurate than they otherwise would have been.”

Now a person might go out and try to search for something a bunch of times or pay other people to search for a topic and click a specific listing, but some of the related Google patents on using click data (which keep getting updated) mentioned how they can discount or turn off the signal if there is an unnatural spike of traffic on a specific keyword, or if there is an unnatural spike of traffic heading to a particular website or web page.

And, since Google is tracking the behavior of end users on their own website, anomalous behavior is easier to track than it is tracking something across the broader web where signals are more indirect. Google can take advantage of their wide distribution of Chrome & Android where users are regularly logged into Google & pervasively tracked to place more weight on users where they had credit card data, a long account history with regular normal search behavior, heavy Gmail users, etc.

Plus there is a huge gap between the cost of traffic & the ability to monetize it. You might have to pay someone a dime or a quarter to search for something & there is no guarantee it will work on a sustainable basis even if you paid hundreds or thousands of people to do it. Any of those experimental searchers will have no lasting value unless they influence rank, but even if they do influence rankings it might only last temporarily. If you bought a bunch of traffic into something genuine Google searchers didn’t like then even if it started to rank better temporarily the rankings would quickly fall back if the real end user searchers disliked the site relative to other sites which already rank.

This is part of the reason why so many SEO blogs mention brand, brand, brand. If people are specifically looking for you in volume & Google can see that thousands or millions of people specifically want to access your site then that can impact how you rank elsewhere.

Even looking at something inside the search results for a while (dwell time) or quickly skipping over it to have a deeper scroll depth can be a ranking signal. Some Google patents mention how they can use mouse pointer location on desktop or scroll data from the viewport on mobile devices as a quality signal.

Neural Matching

Last year Danny Sullivan mentioned how Google rolled out neural matching to better understand the intent behind a search query.

The above Tweets capture what the neural matching technology intends to do. Google also stated:

we’ve now reached the point where neural networks can help us take a major leap forward from understanding words to understanding concepts. Neural embeddings, an approach developed in the field of neural networks, allow us to transform words to fuzzier representations of the underlying concepts, and then match the concepts in the query with the concepts in the document. We call this technique neural matching.

To help people understand the difference between neural matching & RankBrain, Google told SEL: “RankBrain helps Google better relate pages to concepts. Neural matching helps Google better relate words to searches.”

There are a couple research papers on neural matching.

The first one was titled A Deep Relevance Matching Model for Ad-hoc Retrieval. It mentioned using Word2vec & here are a few quotes from the research paper

  • “Successful relevance matching requires proper handling of the exact matching signals, query term importance, and diverse matching requirements.”
  • “the interaction-focused model, which first builds local level interactions (i.e., local matching signals) between two pieces of text, and then uses deep neural networks to learn hierarchical interaction patterns for matching.”
  • “according to the diverse matching requirement, relevance matching is not position related since it could happen in any position in a long document.”
  • “Most NLP tasks concern semantic matching, i.e., identifying the semantic meaning and infer”ring the semantic relations between two pieces of text, while the ad-hoc retrieval task is mainly about relevance matching, i.e., identifying whether a document is relevant to a given query.”
  • “Since the ad-hoc retrieval task is fundamentally a ranking problem, we employ a pairwise ranking loss such as hinge loss to train our deep relevance matching model.”

The paper mentions how semantic matching falls down when compared against relevancy matching because:

  • semantic matching relies on similarity matching signals (some words or phrases with the same meaning might be semantically distant), compositional meanings (matching sentences more than meaning) & a global matching requirement (comparing things in their entirety instead of looking at the best matching part of a longer document); whereas,
  • relevance matching can put significant weight on exact matching signals (weighting an exact match higher than a near match), adjust weighting on query term importance (one word might or phrase in a search query might have a far higher discrimination value & might deserve far more weight than the next) & leverage diverse matching requirements (allowing relevancy matching to happen in any part of a longer document)

Here are a couple images from the above research paper

And then the second research paper is

Deep Relevancy Ranking Using Enhanced Dcoument-Query Interactions
“interaction-based models are less efficient, since one cannot index a document representation independently of the query. This is less important, though, when relevancy ranking methods rerank the top documents returned by a conventional IR engine, which is the scenario we consider here.”

That same sort of re-ranking concept is being better understood across the industry. There are ranking signals that earn some base level ranking, and then results get re-ranked based on other factors like how well a result matches the user intent.

Here are a couple images from the above research paper.

For those who hate the idea of reading research papers or patent applications, Martinibuster also wrote about the technology here. About the only part of his post I would debate is this one:

“Does this mean publishers should use more synonyms? Adding synonyms has always seemed to me to be a variation of keyword spamming. I have always considered it a naive suggestion. The purpose of Google understanding synonyms is simply to understand the context and meaning of a page. Communicating clearly and consistently is, in my opinion, more important than spamming a page with keywords and synonyms.”

I think one should always consider user experience over other factors, however a person could still use variations throughout the copy & pick up a bit more traffic without coming across as spammy. Danny Sullivan mentioned the super synonym concept was impacting 30% of search queries, so there are still a lot which may only be available to those who use a specific phrase on their page.

Martinibuster also wrote another blog post tying more research papers & patents to the above. You could probably spend a month reading all the related patents & research papers.

The above sort of language modeling & end user click feedback compliment links-based ranking signals in a way that makes it much harder to luck one’s way into any form of success by being a terrible speller or just bombing away at link manipulation without much concern toward any other aspect of the user experience or market you operate in.

Pre-penalized Shortcuts

Google was even issued a patent for predicting site quality based upon the N-grams used on the site & comparing those against the N-grams used on other established site where quality has already been scored via other methods: “The phrase model can be used to predict a site quality score for a new site; in particular, this can be done in the absence of other information. The goal is to predict a score that is comparable to the baseline site quality scores of the previously-scored sites.”

Have you considered using a PLR package to generate the shell of your site’s content? Good luck with that as some sites trying that shortcut might be pre-penalized from birth.

Navigating the Maze

When I started in SEO one of my friends had a dad who is vastly smarter than I am. He advised me that Google engineers were smarter, had more capital, had more exposure, had more data, etc etc etc … and thus SEO was ultimately going to be a malinvestment.

Back then he was at least partially wrong because influencing search was so easy.

But in the current market, 16 years later, we are near the infection point where he would finally be right.

At some point the shortcuts stop working & it makes sense to try a different approach.

The flip side of all the above changes is as the algorithms have become more complex they have went from being a headwind to people ignorant about SEO to being a tailwind to those who do not focus excessively on SEO in isolation.

If one is a dominant voice in a particular market, if they break industry news, if they have key exclusives, if they spot & name the industry trends, if their site becomes a must read & is what amounts to a habit … then they perhaps become viewed as an entity. Entity-related signals help them & those signals that are working against the people who might have lucked into a bit of success become a tailwind rather than a headwind.

If your work defines your industry, then any efforts to model entities, user behavior or the language of your industry are going to boost your work on a relative basis.

This requires sites to publish frequently enough to be a habit, or publish highly differentiated content which is strong enough that it is worth the wait.

Those which publish frequently without being particularly differentiated are almost guaranteed to eventually walk into a penalty of some sort. And each additional person who reads marginal, undifferentiated content (particularly if it has an ad-heavy layout) is one additional visitor that site is closer to eventually getting whacked. Success becomes self regulating. Any short-term success becomes self defeating if one has a highly opportunistic short-term focus.

Those who write content that only they could write are more likely to have sustained success.

SEO Book

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Email Clickthrough Rate: 9-point checklist to get more clicks for your email marketing by reducing perceived cost

A walk through our Email Click Cost Force Checklist, step-by-step
MarketingSherpa Blog

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Google AdWords Impressions & Clicks May Show After Campaign Was Paused

A Google AdWords advertiser complained on Twitter that two days after pausing a campaign, he is still seeing clicks…


Search Engine Roundtable

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New Findings Show Google Organic Clicks Shifting to Paid

Posted by Brian_W

On the Wayfair SEO team, we keep track of our non-branded click curves: the average click-through rate (CTR) for each ranking position. This helps us accurately evaluate the potential opportunity of keyword clusters.

Over the last two years, the total share of organic clicks on page one of our e-commerce SERPs has dropped 25% on desktop and 55% on mobile.

For the ad-heavy non-local SERPs that we work in, paid ads are likely now earning nearly the same percentage of clicks as organic results — a staggering change from most of the history of Google.

Organic CTR loses 25% of click share on desktop, 55% on mobile

Looking at 2015 vs 2017 data for all keywords ranking organically on the first page, we’ve seen a dramatic change in CTR. Below we’ve normalized our actual CTR on a 1–10 scale, representing a total drop of 25% of click share on desktop and 55% on mobile.

Organic receives 25% less desktop CTR and 55% less mobile CTR compared to two years ago.

The much larger drop on mobile is particularly relevant because we’ve seen large traffic shifts to mobile over the last two years as well. The overall percentage drop plays out somewhat similarly across the first page of results; however, the top four were most heavily impacted.

The first four organic results were most heavily impacted by the CTR shift from organic to paid.

About the data

It’s important to note that this type of CTR change is not true for every SERP. This data is only applicable to e-commerce intent search queries, where ads and PLAs are on nearly every query.

We gather the impression, click, and rank data from Search Console. While Search Console data isn’t quantitatively correct, it does appear to be directionally correct for us (if we see clicks double in Search Console, we also see organic Google traffic double in our analytics), site improvements that lead to meaningful CTR gains appear to be reflected in Search Console, we can roughly verify impressions via ad data, and we can confirm the accuracy of rank. For purposes of this data pull, we excluded any keywords that Search Console reported as a non-integer rank (such as ranking 1.2). We have thousands of page one keywords, including many large head terms comprising millions of combined clicks, which gives us a lot of data for each ranking position.

We remove all branded queries from the data, which hugely skews click curves.

It’s important to note that paid ads are not getting all the clicks that organic is not. In addition to the small number of people who click beyond the first page, a surprising number do not click at all. Our best guess is that all ads combined now get about the same percentage of clicks (for our results) as all organic results combined.

Why is this happening?

It’s no secret to SEOs who work on transactional keywords why we no longer gain as large a share of clicks for our best rankings. We suspect the primary causes are the following:

  • Ads serving on more queries
  • More ads per query
  • Larger ads, with more space given to each ad
  • Google Shopping (which show up on more queries, list more products per query, and take up more space)
  • Subtler ad labeling, making it less obvious that an ad is an ad

At Wayfair, we’ve seen Google Shopping results appear on more and more search queries over the last year. Using Stat Search Analytics, we can track the growth in queries serving Google Shopping results (modified by search volume to give a qualitative visibility score) across the 25,000 keywords we track daily on mobile and desktop. The overall share of voice of Google Shopping has grown nearly 60% in the last year.

Number of transactional queries serving Google Shopping has grown nearly 60% in the last year.

On top of this, we’re often seeing four PPC ads for a typical non-branded commercial term, in addition to the Google Shopping results.

And with the expanded size of ads on mobile, almost none of our queries show anything other than ads without scrolling:

This great image from Edwords shows the steady growth in percent of the desktop page consumed by ads for a query that has only three ad results. We go from seeing five organic results above the scroll, to just one. In more recent years we’ve seen this size growth explode on mobile as well.

At the same time that ads have grown, the labeling of ads has become increasingly subtle. In a 2015 study, Ofcom found that half of adults don’t recognize ads in Google, and about 70% of teenagers didn’t recognize Google ads — and ad labeling has become substantially less obvious since then. For most of its history, Google ads were labeled by a large colored block that was intuitively separate from the non-ad results, though sometimes not visible on monitors with a higher brightness setting.

2000 – Shaded background around all ads:

2010 – Shaded background still exists around ads:

2014 – No background; yellow box label next to each ad (and ads take up a lot more space):

2017 – Yellow box changed to green, the same color as the URL it’s next to (and ads take up even more space):

2017 – Green box changed to a thin green outline the same color as the URL:

What to do about it

The good news is that this is impacting everyone in e-commerce equally, and all those search clicks are still happening — in other words, those users haven’t gone away. The growth in the number of searches each year means that you probably aren’t seeing huge losses in organic traffic; instead, it will show as small losses or anemic growth. The bad news is that it will cost you — as well as your competitors — more money to capture the same overall share of search traffic.

A strong search marketing strategy has always involved organic, paid search, and PLA combined. Sites optimizing for all search channels are already well-positioned to capture search traffic regardless of ad changes to the SERPs: if SEO growth slows, then PLA and paid search growth speeds up. As real estate for one channel shrinks, real estate for others grows.

If you haven’t been strongly invested in search ads or PLAs, then the Chinese proverb on the best time to plant a tree applies perfectly:

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

With a similar percentage of clicks going to paid and organic, your investment in each should be similar (unless, of course, you have some catching up to do with one channel).

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SearchCap: Google AMP updates, SEO content & paid search clicks

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Google AMP updates, SEO content & paid search clicks appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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Good News for Facebook Advertisers, Say Goodbye to Charges for Accidental Clicks

In a move that would surely be welcomed by advertisers, Facebook recently announced that it will no longer bill accidental clicks on ads placed by clients of its Audience Network. Of course, this also means that the incentive for publishers to drive ad traffic via an unintentional action is no longer there as well.

Since accidental clicks do not really add anything to an advertiser’s bottom line, Facebook announced on August 8, 2017, that it will stop charging for these clicks, Ad Age reported.  At the moment, the social media giant defines accidental clicks as incidents wherein a user clicks on a mobile ad that backtracked in less than two seconds.

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Disappearing Clicks

When Compete.com launched with credits-based pricing well over a decade ago I felt like a kid in a candy store using their competitive research tool. Recently Compete.com announced they were shutting down, but many of the link analysis & competitive research tools which leverage scraping have also started licensing clickstream data from sources like Clickstre.am & JumpShot.

These sorts of features add a lot of value to traditional keyword tools, as they can highlight the CTR on ads vs organic results & show if people click on anything after they search for a particular term.

When I read Ahref’s recent blog post about integrating clickstream data I got that same kid in a candy store feeling I got when I first used Compete. Some highlights…

  • their keyword database contains over 3 billion keywords
  • they offer localized search volumes
  • searches with clicks vs searches without clicks
  • clicks per search
  • repeat searches metric
  • organic vs ad clicks

As an example of how the searches with clicks feature is helpful, consider Google’s recently announced RGB conversion feature

In that image you can see how the feature displaces the result set.

What’s cool about the Ahrefs feature is you can also see what sort of impact that feature has on click volumes.

After 1 month, 20% of the searches for that keyword no longer had any clicks to an external website.

On the second month it looks like the “no click” rate was closer to 7%, so perhaps some of the initial additional search volume was driven by people searching for the related keywords after blogs covered the new feature.

But the nice thing about the feature is you can see how the click rate changes over time as the feature evolves.

In some areas like weather Google ends up dominating most the user behavior with their in-SERP feature.

About half of all weather keyword searches do not click on any listings. And then of those which do click, about 20% of people click on an ad.

That means the potential organic click volume for that keyword is only about 40% of the initial search volume estimates.

Search results keep getting more interactive features & some of them appear to be click black holes. Literally…

Here is a new item comparison feature table.

As more of the value chain appears in the search results, more of the value chain which formerly appeared on websites disappears. This is true from a wide range of aspects including ad sales, content hosting, ad blocking & brand value.

General Ad Sales

No click into the publisher’s site means no ad revenue for the publisher. Voice search will only accelerate the declines seen from mobile, which shifted user attention away from large screens with many listings to smaller screens with fewer listings & a far higher ad ratio in the search results.

Facebook Instant Articles & Google AMP

Google has already pushed hard to make hotel searches a pay-to-play vertical & yet some publishers are adopting AMP formatting in that vertical. Google is also forcing AMP down publisher’s throats in other verticals like recipes.

If central ad networks host your content then they get better user data for your content than you do as a publisher.

User Tracking, in Aggregate

Increased user tracking depresses premium ad sales & moves value from niche players to broad networks “Whether it’s a third party like Facebook or Google tracking across the web or an ISP leveraging its distribution arm, this is outside of consumer expectations. Importantly to the digital media industry, it also devalues the context and relationship of consumer trust which drives the businesses of premium publishers.”

Ad Blocking

Some large sites like Google or Facebook either pay ad blockers or technically work around them within their apps. By funding ad blockers exempting the search result page from having their ads blocked, Google is ultimately defunding competing ad networks.

Brand Value

As search results get noisier & more ad heavy, Google is trying to coerce brands into re-buying their pre-existing brand equity. These efforts are effective, as on some branded & navigational searches over half the click volume goes to the ads. Here are a few examples from Ahrefs. The orange bar shows what percent of the SERP clicks are on ads.

And the above doesn’t even account for…

  • Google Maps being an ad-heavy search engine.
  • the Google Trips app which prevent searches from happening on Google.
  • The mid-tail of travel search on mobile where Google does away with the concept of organic search results.
  • Direct booking features complementing traditional AdWords ads & hotel price ads.
  • Google buying ITA Software to dominate flight search. Notice the most popular term is Google’s branded term & for the generic term [flights] 72% of people don’t click on any external site while 37% of the remaining 28% of searches click on an AdWords ad.

    And almost everyone else in that industry is stuck licensing flight data from Google, as they own ITA Software.

So Google is eating the generic terms, the brand terms, and the search query pool more broadly.

There’s a reason Google’s online travel business is over twice the size of anyone else & has their biggest advertisers seeking more sustainable & more legitimate alternatives.

The biggest travel players are accustomed to Google’s moves and trying their best to adjust and work around them. Missing from this story is the fact that Google’s latest moves are making it nearly impossible for all but the smallest number of consumer travel startups to succeed. — Dennis Schaal

And some of the aggressive stuff carries over into other lines of business outside of travel. Google is also testing large image extensions on AdWords ads on cell phones that don’t leave room for even a second AdWords listing on the screen. When one invests in brand they have to start thinking about how much they are willing to pay Google as an ongoing tithing for their success. Look at the following ads where one brand bidding on a competing brand.

Google is willing to make their results worse (to the point they would consider a similar page as an ad-heavy doorway page of spam if hosted by anyone other than themselves) in order to monetize navigational searches.

What’s more, you can’t just opt out & ignore. When brands make agreements to not cross-bid Google has the FTC sue them.

On some high end fashion brands Google lists shopping ads which lead to third party sellers who sell used goods. Quite often counterfeits will also be in the mix. When the counterfeits are destroyed in the first wash, it is the brand owner who was took to the cleaners.

But there’s a solution to that… they can pay Google ever-increasing protection.

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How Does Yahoo! Increase Search Ad Clicks?

One wonders how Yahoo Search revenues keep growing even as Yahoo’s search marketshare is in perpetual decline.

Then one looks at a Yahoo SERP and quickly understands what is going on.

Here’s a Yahoo SERP test I saw this morning

I sometimes play a “spot the difference” game with my wife. She’s far better at it than I am, but even to a blind man like me there are about a half-dozen enhancements to the above search results to juice ad clicks. Some of them are hard to notice unless you interact with the page, but here’s a few of them I noticed…

  Yahoo Ads Yahoo Organic Results
Placement top of the page below the ads
Background color none / totally blended none
Ad label small gray text to right of advertiser URL n/a
Sitelinks often 5 or 6 usually none, unless branded query
Extensions star ratings, etc. typically none
Keyword bolding on for title, description, URL & sitelinks off
Underlines ad title & sitelinks, URL on scroll over off
Click target entire background of ad area is clickable only the listing title is clickable

 

What is even more telling about how Yahoo disadvantages the organic result set is when one of their verticals is included in the result set they include the bolding which is missing from other listings. Some of their organic result sets are crazy with the amount of vertical inclusions. On a single result set I’ve seen separate “organic” inclusions for

  • Yahoo News
  • stories on Yahoo
  • Yahoo Answers

They also have other inclusions like shopping search, local search, image search, Yahoo screen, video search, Tumblr and more.

Here are a couple examples.

This one includes an extended paid affiliate listing with SeatGeek & Tumblr.

This one includes rich formatting on Instructibles and Yahoo Answers.

This one includes product search blended into the middle of the organic result set.

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Chase Customers, Not Clicks

You want to be a broke-ass blogger, don’t you?

No!

Good gracious, of course you don’t. (At least I hope not.)

But if the first metric you look at is page views, not sales — i.e. clicks, not customers — then you’re well on your way to broke-ass bloggerdom.

What’s sad is that a lot of of online business owners do pay more attention to vanity stats than fundamental business metrics. So if you can shift your mindset, you’ll be ahead of the curve.

Fortunately, Tom Martin is here on this week’s episode of The Lede with straight talk that every online business owner will benefit from hearing, understanding, and acting on.

In this episode, we discuss a variety of topics that Tom spoke about last week at Authority Intensive, including:

  • Has Tom recovered yet from Authority Intensive 2014?
  • Are Tom and Brian Clark still friends?
  • Why a click is a sign of interest, not a sign of intent
  • How your audience will make you famous, but your prospects will make you rich (and make your spouse happy)
  • Why does Tom think he caught hell for the “rich” comment?
  • Why you have to give before you ask to receive
  • What “second-click” content is, what it does, and how to use it
  • Why time is the only finite resource in the marketing toolbox

And, finally … are Aggies and Longhorns actually more alike than they care to admit?

Listen to The Lede …

To listen, you can either hit the flash audio player below, or browse the links to find your preferred format …

React to The Lede …

As always, we appreciate your reaction to episodes of The Lede and feedback about how we’re doing.

Send me a tweet with your thoughts anytime: @JerodMorris.

And please tell us the most important point you took away from this latest episode. Do so by joining the discussion over at Google-Plus.

The Show Notes

And this little bone thrown Tom’s way, so he can remember the better times …

The Transcript

Click here to read the transcript

Please note that this transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and grammar.

The Lede Podcast: Chase Customers, Not Clicks

Jerod Morris: Welcome back to The Lede, a podcast about content marketing by Copyblogger Media. I’m your host, Jerod Morris.

This week the entire Copyblogger family is in recovery mode. Why? Because last week we hosted our first-ever conference, Authority Intensive: A content marketing experience that spanned three days in Denver, Colorado. Seth Godin and Darren Rouse provided riveting keynotes about the importance of being unique and creating content that matters. Ann Handley, Lee Odden, Bryan Eisenberg, and so many others also took the stage to deliver insight and impact.

Included among those others was this week’s guest, Tom Martin, who delivered one of the most memorable of the panel presentations by making a simple point that empowered everyone in the audience to do what they really want to do. I interviewed Tom so those of you who weren’t in attendance at this year’s conference could taste the flavor of his presentation.

And yes: I got him to address those rumors of a rift between he and Brian Clark.

Last week two monumental events occurred: The 2014 NFL draft in New York City, and the inaugural Authority Intensive conference in Denver, hosted by Copyblogger. With that in mind, consider the following quotes: “Sharp and strong, electric, power of prospects over popularity.” You might think those words were uttered during the draft. You’d be wrong. They were actually tweeted by Authority Intensive attendees during the presentation of our guest this week on The Lede, Tom Martin, author of the book “The Invisible Sale” and a man who thinks slides are for chumps and that chasing clicks, not customers, is the strategy of broke-ass fools.

Has Tom recovered yet from Authority Intensive 2014?

Tom, thank you for coming on The Lede so we can set people straight on this essential idea of the importance of chasing customers, not clicks. How are you, and have you recovered from the altitude yet?

Tom Martin: I am great. I recovered pleasantly. And I never called anybody a chump, and it was broke-ass bloggers

Jerod: Ah! Broke-ass bloggers.

Tom: … was the official quote.

Jerod: That’s right. I should have known that.

Tom: No, but I was going to say is my mind has finally decompressed a little from all of the really great speakers and the content, and just the ideas. I have literally digital page after digital page of notes in my iPad. So between that, and the altitude, and the after parties, I’m finally back to normal.

Jerod: That’s good. Yeah. It takes a few days, that’s for sure.

Tom: Yes.

Are Tom and Brian Clark still friends?

Jerod: Getting back to normal myself here. Okay. So first question; this is clearly the most important one. You and Brian Clark caused quite a commotion when your Texas/Texas A&M rivalry spilled into the Q and A portion of your presentation. The rancor was palpable. Have you two patched things up?

Tom: Well, you know, as I tell Brian every time we talk: Jealousy is a terrible emotion, and I’m sorry that he went to the wrong school, but you know, he gets over it after awhile, and we left as friends, we hugged, we hugged it out at the end. It was great. We shared a beer. As Brian and I laughed about afterwards, the folks that thought there was rancor just don’t understand how men display love for one another.

Jerod: No, that is true. That is true.

A click is a sign of interest, not a sign of intent.

Jerod: Okay. So let’s get on to some serious topics here, because your presentation was, I mean, among many memorable presentations from the week, your presentation stood out. And I think a major part of that was just the simplicity of your message, which you delivered so well in the 10 minutes that you had. So I pulled a few quotes out from your presentation, and I’m going to read them, and if you would, just kind of give the listeners a brief description of what you meant so that they can get a taste of what they missed while you were talking.

So we’ll start with the most germane: “A click is a sign of interest, not a sign of intent. Don’t chase the click.”

Tom: Well, what I meant by that is that when you look at how most people are determining what content to write, where to spend their time, et cetera, the thing they go back to is their Google Analytics. And they look for what’s getting the most clicks, what’s driving me the most attention and traffic.

Unfortunately though, if that is going to then turn itself into profit in the form of sales or new clients and customers, there has to actually be intent behind that click. And quite often there’s not.

When you look in and you actually look at your conversion versus your click data, and you can track that all the way through, all the way down to an individual tweet if you want, what you start to see is that every click isn’t always symbolic of interest. It’s just “Hey, you’re giving me really great free information and so I’m happy to take that from you, but that’s where the relationship ends. I really don’t have any desire to hire you or to do business with you beyond, I just really like free stuff.”

And so the point I was trying to make was that if you get caught up in that, you end up writing a lot for your audience, which is great and makes you famous, but you don’t write enough for your prospects, which are the people that are going to make you rich. Because they actually do have intent.

And so it really can start to have all kinds of massive strategic implications that we went on to talk about throughout the talk.

Your audience will make you famous, your prospects will make you rich

Jerod: Which leads into this quote: “Your audience will make you famous, your prospects will make you rich. Me, I like rich. My wife likes rich.”

Tom: She does! I mean, you know…. No. I actually caught Hell for that one. That was kind of funny.

Jerod: I thought it was a great quote.

Tom: You know, I always tell people I’m not looking to, necessarily, own a G5 or anything. But this isn’t a hobby. I’m not in this for shits and giggles. I do what I do, the content that I create, to drive highly qualified leads to my company’s website at conversedigital.com, and/or to the book’s website, so that that will convert and become new clients for me, and that is the only reason I do it.

I mean sure, I like to write. I like to express myself. But you know, I’m doing it with an end and the content is simply a means to that end, and you have to keep a laser focus on that. Because it gets really easy to — and I’m not above this, it happens to me as well, I think it happens to all of us — you have to really keep your ego in check because it gets really easy to go, “Oh, look! I wrote that, and everybody loved it, I’m going to go write more like that!”

Jerod: Mmm-mmm.

Tom: And it feels good to see a bunch of people retweet your stuff or to click on your stuff, or to share it. We’re all at our base emotionally driven and egocentric. And so that feels good, but man, that just can get you into all kinds of trouble. You really have to keep yourself focused on:

  • Why am I doing it?
  • What kind of content drives conversions?
  • Where does my customer come from?
  • What do they want to hear versus just “Where does my traffic come from?”

Why does Tom think he caught Hell for the “rich” comment?

Jerod: And why did you catch Hell for the rich comment? Because — I mean, going through the tweets, that sentiment was actually the one that was retweeted the most. And I think one of the big takeaways from the conference is that you’re going to generate long-term value both for yourself and for your audience when you’re creating value. You put them first. So it’s not mutually exclusive to be useful, to be audience-focused, and to make money.

Tom: Well, you always have the social media tree-huggers who just think it’s wrong to actually want to make money with this stuff. And the Hell that I caught was in the private channels, and not a ton, but a few people saying, “Oh, you know, it’s not all about the money, it’s about engagement, and you know, yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda.”

But I’ve never been secretive about that. I mean, I’m a marketer. I grew up in the ad agency business. My job was to direct marketing campaigns that drive business to our clients, and I guess I bring that same mantra and mindset into the social space. And actually, I think one of the things that, on the flip side of that, that I most like is that when I did get a chance to talk to people after the talk and at the party afterwards, and so forth, I was actually pleasantly surprised at the reaction in that so many people did say, “I really loved what you had to say.” It touched an emotional point with them.

Because I was, frankly, very nervous up on the stage because I knew the message I was delivering can be, historically has been, a polarizing message in the social space because you have this whole constituency of folks who just somehow think it’s bad to try to use social media to make money. And sometimes they can be vocal. But luckily, that particular crowd — a testament to all of y’all over at Copyblogger — they were there for serious reasons. They were a serious crowd, they were there to learn how to use content and social and digital to try business. So it was well received within the Authority crowd, most certainly.

You have to give before you ask to receive

Jerod: Do you think it’s really just kind of a matter of order? And what I mean by that is that if you focus on the money first, you know, it’s not going to come. And that’s what people have a problem with. But when you focus on the audience value first, then making money not only is okay to think about, but it’ll come.

Tom: Yeah, and I think that to be successful in this space you have to give before you’re going to receive. I mean, it’s just that simple. If that’s giving advice, if that’s giving free product. That’s been a pretty common marketing ploy. That’s not a content marketing innovation. Brands have been giving free samples to induce you to test drive, or buy, or sample their product for as long as marketing’s been in existence.

We all like to claim that that’s a content marketing innovation, but it’s really not. It’s an advertising innovation that’s just been repurposed.

I think you have to have a commitment. I think that comes through. I think if you’re strictly mercenary and it’s all about the money what I think happens is, it leads you to do things where you ask for the purchase too early in the process. You jump the gun. And when you do that people run away from you. They push away.

I preach that social media marketing is really about seduction. Your goal with your content and your social approach is to be a seductress, is to be wanted. And to be asked to do business versus asking someone to do business with you.

That’s why people who are really successfully using content and social, when you talk to them about their close rates on their leads, their close rates are huge. And in fact, they’ll tell you they don’t really sell anymore. They just close. By the time they’re talking to somebody, that person’s pretty much of the mind they want to do business with them. It’s just a matter of getting a few details out of the way, agreeing on price, whatever it might be in terms, and then off it goes.

So I think if you’re out there really trying to be that seductress by really putting some value out there, you really can drive a lot of good business back your direction. Again, as long as you keep focused on not just what makes you popular, but what’s going to actually be profitable.

What is “second-click” content?

Jerod: That goes in with another quote that I want to ask you about, too, from your presentation, which is, “follow the click prevents writing second-click content.” Can you explain what you meant by that?

Tom: I’m a big proponent of a theory I call “propinquity marketing,” which is very guest-post oriented. So you’re pushing content out to other people’s platform that then drives folks back to your platform through the inclusion of anchor text.

Well, the best anchor text is always what I call “second-click” content. It’s content that you don’t write with the idea that it’s going to win first place on Google. It’s not necessarily going to be a highly-clicked piece of content on Twitter or Facebook. In fact, you don’t even necessarily write it to push it out. It’s simply content that’s designed to be that second click someone arrives at in your website, either from a guest post or from an anchor link within your own posts, that the second-click content is where you’re really trying to push someone down that funnel, where you’re really trying to say, “Hey, are you just interested? Or is there some actual intent here? Do you really want to come down this rabbit hole with me?” And you’re trying to push that down.

And that tends to be very niche-y, very specific, written for very, very tightly defined markets. And it’s there to move people one step further in the sales process, to get them to convert, to get them to reveal some readily identifiable information about themselves so that you can begin to profile them, develop a conversation and a relationship. So it’s just a different kind of content, because it’s not going to be a list post or seven reasons why you absolutely have to do something next year. It’s just really super focused, intelligent, helpful, knowledgeable type of content.

Why time is the only finite resource in the marketing toolbox

Jerod: And one more. “Time is the only finite resource in your marketing toolbox.”

Tom: Yeah. If you think about it, you can always get more money. You can always get more talent. You can go hire people that are better than you or more innovative, whatever. But time is 24 hours. That’s it. That’s all there is.

And unless you invent some space machine that alters that time/space continuum, you’ve got 24 hours in a day to get things done. And some portion of that you’re going to have to give to your family, or your significant others, or whatever. And so what you do do with the rest of it, how you spend that time, is, I believe, a huge determinant of success and failure.

If you look at some of the most successful people, not only in our space but in other spaces, and you talk to them, one of the key underlying themes you’re going to find is that those folks are incredibly well disciplined with time. They build processes, they’re disciplined about sticking to those processes, and that’s what allows them to be more prolific, produce more content, be more places, and get more done than the average bear.

Jerod: Yeah. That’s a big focus for me, personally, is getting better with time. Do you have any tips or advice, things that you’ve learned that really help you dial in your time when you have that time to work?

Tom: I would say two things.

One is if you can find a way to work, content creation let’s say, as a scheduled meeting with yourself every week, day, whatever your sequence is, and really stick to it, I find that that really helps a lot.

The other is you just have to get real with yourself. I used to say all the time that I don’t have enough time to write more blog posts, I don’t have enough time to write more content, but then last year all of a sudden I found time to write a book. I didn’t magically increase the amount of time I had available to me. My family did take a little hit. My kids, my wife agreed to me being locked in a room as opposed to with them a little more often.

But at the end of the day what it came down to was a conscious decision about — I’m going to watch less football and I’m going to write more content. And that really is what it comes down to. You just have to make that conscious agreement with yourself that you probably do waste away a lot of your time doing things that are of some value, but you could be doing more valuable things with them. And if you’ll just commit, even if it’s for short periods of time, you know, sprint for a short period, that can make an enormous difference.

I mean, in six months of sprinting I was able to write a book. That has enormous implications on my life and my business. Now I don’t have to do that as much because I did it last year. So that’s what I mean. I think really focus on prioritizing, even if it’s just for short periods of time. Really prioritizing against a goal and you can then accomplish a lot more.

Jerod: Now I hope you’ll forgive me for pointing out the obvious here, but it seems somewhat coincidental that you locked yourself in a room and stopped watching so much football the same year the Longhorns had no draftable NFL players. Any connection there?

Tom: (Chuckling) You know…

Jerod: (Chuckling) You left that wide open.

Tom: I have no comment. It was a young team.

Jerod: (Laughing)

Tom: It was a young team, it was the rebuilding year. You know, we have to let other people have some of the glory, you know. Yeah. It was not a great year to be a Longhorn football fan this year. But you know, hey, Strong’s there now. So we’re going to win strong.

Jerod: Yeah.

Tom: I’m going to get me an orange bracelet. It’s going to be “Win Strong.” It’s going to be burnt orange. I’m going to make a killing.

Jerod: Mmm-hmm.

Tom: I’ll put a landing site up using — I’m going to use my New Rainmaker software or something …

Jerod: Yes.

Tom: … to put a landing site together, to sell lots of these. You had to go there, didn’t you?

Jerod: See, you know what, though….

Tom: Did you get a bonus from Brian for doing that?

Jerod: (Laughs) I’m going to ask for one.

Tom: Is that what this is all about? Is that what this is all about?

Jerod: (Chuckling) No, you know, you just made me realize that I just wasted a good Indiana basketball season to write a book because they were so terrible last year. I could have stopped watching so many games and written a book.

Tom: How long has it been since Indiana had a good basketball season?

Jerod: Well, two years. We were #1 for awhile two years ago, but…

Tom: So you could’ve written two books, and maybe even an article!

Jerod: Yeah. (Laughs)

Tom: (Laughs)

Jerod: Yes indeed. All right.

Tom: Yeah, man.

Are Aggies and Longhorns actually more alike than they care to admit?

Jerod: This has been awesome. Let me ask you one final question here, as we close. The only two folks who took the stage last week without slides were you and Brian. Now was this, perhaps, subtle proof that Aggies and Longhorns are more alike than they care to admit?

Tom: Well, I think it just proves that Brian and I are the only ones dumb enough or lazy enough to not actually create slides. Yeah. I actually made a conscious choice not to do it. I was taught that if you’re a good speaker, you should be able to make a point without a PowerPoint. And I was glad to see that that worked. As for Brian, I just — you know, he was too busy trying to get his little Britney Spears mic to work. So that probably distracted him from any slides.

Jerod: I would like to do a future episode with you, talking about presentations. Because we’re going to do some content on Copyblogger about that at some point, so hopefully we can bring you on for another episode then and talk about your preparation process there.

Tom: Yeah, I’d love that.

Jerod: So just to close, the book. The Invisible Sale. Where’s the best place for everybody to get that? Because I know in the aftermath of your presentation there was just a stream of folks on Twitter who were running to get that book. So where can people get it?

Tom: Probably the easiest is amazon.com, or you can go to theinvisiblesale.com and not only get the book, but you can register for the newsletter where once a week I give one actionable tip, on Sundays, that you can apply Monday to do a better job of prospecting.

Jerod: Perfect. And any upcoming speaking engagements coming up?

Tom: Yeah, my next one’s going to be in Turks and Caicos if anybody wants to join me. Nice little place. And then I’ll be doing some tourism summits this summer, Esto and DMAI, before heading out to Content Marketing World in September.

Jerod: Ah. I will see you there.

Tom: Oh, good.

Jerod: I’ll be at Content Marketing World. That’ll be fun.

Tom: Excellent. Well, maybe we’ll go get a Browns game.

Jerod: Yes! Yeah, we can go watch Johnny.

Tom: (Chuckles)

Jerod: (Chuckles) All right, Tom. Thanks a lot for your time, and it was really, really great to meet you this week, and I hope to see you soon.

Tom: Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Jerod: All right. Take care.

Jerod: Thank you for listening to this episode of The Lede. If you’re enjoying these episodes, please consider giving the show a rating or a review on iTunes. And don’t forget, The Lede is now on Stitcher, so you can listen to us there too. Just go to copyblogger.com/stitcher.

My thanks again to Tom Martin for joining me. Look for a few more episodes like this in the future where I interview speakers from Authority Intensive. If you missed the conference, you definitely won’t want to miss these episodes. Talk to you soon, everybody.

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*Credits: Both the intro (“Bridge to Nowhere” by Sam Roberts Band) and outro songs (“Down in the Valley” by The Head and the Heart) are graciously provided by express written consent from the rights owners.

About the author

Jerod Morris

Jerod Morris is the Director of Content for Copyblogger Media. Get more from him on Twitter, , or at JerodMorris.com.

The post Chase Customers, Not Clicks appeared first on Copyblogger.

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