As we enter the new year, let’s take one last look back at the old. Here are the NYCU stories we think topped the list in 2016:
1. Automated Smart Goals For AdWords
Key Point: Google provides some of the most powerful tools in the world, but figuring out how to set up and deploy those tools can be mind-boggling.
Try mastering Google Analytics, for example, or decide to get really good at boosting the bottom line with AdWords.
That’s why bewildered business owners welcomed Google’s recent decision to link the visitor activity monitoring data available from analytics with the message-delivering power of AdWords to get going fast.
Marketing Land has the scoop right here: Smart Goals.[line]
2. Is Google Judging You?
Key Point: Aaron Friedman says Google is an “emotionless machine” that throws search terms into a bucket where it could get stuck… for years… even if it’s inaccurate or unfair. That’s not to say Google is “evil,” though – only that the search engine is controlled by an “algorithm with imperfections and flaws.” Aaron’s article describes a way of looking at the SERP to determine industry-specific patterns. Given that insight, you’ll be able to understand the type of content Google WANTS to show for your business, then adjust your output accordingly. Check out the case studies provided in this SEO deep dive: Is Google Judging You?[line]
3. Facebook Introduces Audience Optimization
Key Point: Facebook is already one of the best-performing platforms marketers have for targeting a specific audience, and Zuckerberg’s team consistently pushes the bar a little bit higher. The newest Facebook tool, Audience Optimization, “lets you improve the relevancy of your post by indicating who is most likely to engage with it, which can increase engagement at both the post and Page level.” If you’re ready to find out how focusing on audience identification can increase your conversions, check this tutorial on how to implement Audience Optimization: Facebook’s Newest Tool.[line]
4. What Can We Learn From 13 Billion Email Opens?
Key Point: Talk about a blockbuster study, Litmus released data collected from 13B + email opens and released those findings in the 2016 State of Email Report. John Bonini used information from Litmus to look at how users are engaging with email. Here’s one tidbit from that article: The list of top email clients was headed by iPhone (33% of users), then Gmail (15%), iPad (12%), and Google Android (10%). Find out more here: Email Engagement Study.[line]
5. Facebook Rolls Out Instant Articles
Key Point: Facebook Instant Articles is set to graduate beta testing and roll out to all qualified publishers this month. The new feature allows Facebook users to view articles and photos from within Facebook. That’s a big plus for user experience. It will cut page load speeds down to the bone and provide a richer viewing experience. The Facebook presentation on why instant articles is a game-changer looks pretty darned convincing. Tamar Weinberg says a new WordPress plugin will give you the ability to post directly to Facebook from your blog. Find out more on Marketing Land: Facebook Instant Articles.[line]
6. Google Spills the Beans on the Top 3 Ranking Factors!
Key Point: It’s a question that gets debated just about every time a group of SEO geeks gets together, but the debate is officially over! Google senior quality senior strategist, Andrey Lipattsev, cleared the waters and said that of all the ranking factors that affect your SERP standing, there are three that carry the most weight: incoming links, content, and RankBrain. Here’s that article: Now We Know.[line]
7. Google is Bumping Up for Mobile Users
Key Point: Mobile usage keeps going up, but mobile click-throughs aren’t keeping pace with the growth. Google’s most recent attempt to bridge that gap: Bumper ads! The format is 6-second videos, and hopes are high they’ll be a big hit with mobile users. Atlantic Records helped test Bumper ads and found them to be “a really important part” of the campaign. Find out more about this new ad format on the AdWords blog: Bumper ads.[line]
8. Attribution Modeling Moves Beyond Last Click
Key Point: Google’s mobile click-to-call feature made the distance from ad to phone call just one finger away – but how do you attribute that business to the PPC add that sparked it? That process is way easier now, thanks to the newly launched AdWords imported call conversions capability. To make it work, advertisers need only collect the caller phone number, the call start time, and the call length. Here’s more info: Import Phone Call Conversions.[line]
9. Microsoft Just Bought LinkedIn!
Key Point: A cool $26.2 billion is all it took for Microsoft to become the new owner of LinkedIn. Why did they do it? Speculating in a Forbes article about the deal, Grant Feller says it’s all about content marketing. LinkedIn gets plenty of action in that arena, especially since opening Pulse up to easy-access sharing. Microsoft said LinkedIn isn’t going to abandon its current branding position and that the deal will “connect the professional world” by enhancing both parties. What’s your take? Will LinkedIn become Microsoft’s Google Plus? How will the character of LinkedIn be affected by the acquisition?[line]
10. Video Ad Spend Projected to Double by 2020
Key Point: Last month’s issue of News You Can Use referred to a report saying video ads are a trend every digital marketer should consider. This month, we’ve a set of charts supporting that advice. Projections include how much growth (nearly double that of 2014), where the growth will occur (multi-device), and the site that will draw most of the investment (YouTube). See the graphics displaying those figures and more here: US Video Ad Spending.[line]
11. Mobile Ad Spend Pushing $100 Billion
Key Point: If you took a look at the charts in the preceding key point, you know that mobile is leading the charge for video ad spend. Some predict mobile ad spend will overtake desktop ad spend within two years, maybe even sooner. Analysts earlier predicted explosive mobile growth would cool down a bit, but the advertisers aren’t listening to the naysayers. Mobile advertising is hot, hot, hot. Banner ads aren’t working well on mobile, though. Find out which advertising methods are right here: A Mobile Billion.[line]
12. Updates to Local Business Review Schema Guidelines
Key Point: Anyone managing a local business website would do well to revisit Google’s guidelines for local business review markups. There are now times when you’re not allowed to use schema at all.
Most significantly, you can no longer bring in reviews from third-party sites (including Google Reviews). You can only include reviews onsite that were produced onsite. For that news, plus a list of other particulars you’ll want to know about, see the Google documentation.
Search Engine Journal published a summary of the changes here: Google Updates Schema Guidelines.[line]
13. Twitter is Rolling Out a New Ads Manager
Key Point: Twitter says advertisers should expect to get access to the beta release of an upgraded ad management dashboard over the next few months. The new management tool will provide an expanded view of campaigns, ad groups, and ads. Custom filters, custom metrics, and custom data exportation – the announcement about the release sounds plenty exciting.
If you’re too anxious to wait for your Twitter Ads account to provide access, Twitter says to ask your rep about early access.[line]
14. Get Ready to Market Your Goods to China
Key Point: The bottom line on Chinese social media is that it’s changing rapidly and it’s multi-faceted. According to Ad Age, “There are not only unique platforms that do not exist anywhere else, but also multiple overlapping platforms and ecosystems that are in constant flux.” Why should you care? There’s a huge potential audience in China, and they’re hungry for new products.
Yes, the Chinese government has a tight grip on internet activity, but social media channels are the most trusted source of information… even under the watchful eye of regulators. With payment possibilities expanding, this may be an opportune time to get the jump on your competitors and develop a strategy to reach Chinese prospects with your products. Find out more here: The State of Chinese Social Media.[line]
15. Google Analytics Keeps Getting Better
Key Point: Wouldn’t it be great to get instant insights on your mobile marketing results? Would it be helpful to know at a glance whether conversions are heading north or south? Those tasks are now a possibility for users of Google Analytics.
Google is rolling out a new set of automated insights to help you stay current and focused. Says, Google, “This addition to Google Analytics lets you see in 5 minutes what might have taken hours to discover previously.”[line]
16. Google May Soon Give You Publicity You Don’t Want
Key Point: Google not only plans to grant favor to sites that prove themselves secure but now says those that aren’t will soon get flagged. Beginning January 2017, if you don’t use HTTPS protocol to transmit sensitive data, Chrome browsers will plainly mark your website as unsafe.
Astute users already know to look for the lock icon when shopping online and entering credit card data, but most shoppers fail to check. The new Google warning will amplify the alarm.
In a previous issue of NYCU, we noted that Google is taking HTTPS (or the lack of) into consideration as a ranking signal. If you and your clients have yet to heed that warning, now would be a good time to get going.[line]
17. Now You Can Shop On Instagram!
Key Point: Instagram says mobile has changed the way we shop. To capitalize on that shift, they’re rolling out a brand-new shopping experience… just in time for the holidays.
Instagram is allowing retail brands to include a Shop Now link when they showcase their products. That button will take you directly to the seller’s website and a shopping cart.
Sitting at the doctor’s office? Waiting in line at the bank? Instagram can not only serve up photos now, but a quick way to purchase what you see.[line]
18. Google’s Search Algorithm is Going Mobile First
Key Point: The official word from Google is the change won’t affect websites where desktop and mobile versions are equivalent. If your mobile version is different from your desktop version, though, you may want to make some changes.
To find out what those recommendations are, see the Google Webmaster Central article Mobile-first Indexing.
Now… here’s the question astute SEO practitioners may be pondering: Would it make good SEO sense to create a mobile-only version to better leverage mobile-first indexing?[line]
Congratulations! You’re all caught up on our 2016 recap of the top digital marketing news and updates! Tweet your excitement!
Wishing you and yours the best new year ever! Keep walking in the direction of your goals… and you WILL reach them.