We’re in the final stretch headed toward the 2019 holiday shopping season. This is the time of year when e-commerce tactics prove themselves (or don’t) and students of digital marketing get a front-row seat to the action.
There’s a huge question posed at the end of this issue … and many other big questions answered along the way:
- What’s up with Google’s BERT update — did it really matter?
- What information can be gleaned from 2019 stats on social media marketing?
- Are Facebook and Instagram really doing away with “Like” counts?
- Do sitemaps still matter for SEO?
- Where can I get the new Site Kit WordPress plugin from Google?
GOOGLE RELEASES BIGGEST UPDATE SINCE RANKBRAIN
Topic: SEO | E-commerce
Key Point: Digital marketers who’ve been slugging it out with Google for a decade or more tend to still be a bit shell-shocked when major algorithm shifts occur, but Google’s latest shake-up (BERT) is making more SEOs and webmasters smile than cry.
BERT focuses on improving search results via a deeper understanding of search queries.
Neil Patel covers the BERT update in-depth … and makes the claim that it’s the biggest Google algorithm update since RankBrain.
Get the scoop here: How Google’s Bert Update Will Affect Content Marketing.
ALSO SEE: Google’s BERT update helps ecommerce product pages
TOP SEARCH RANK FACTORS REVEALED
Key Point: Marketing Profs presented data from a SparkToro study of almost 1.6K SEO professionals who cast their votes on which factors Google’s algorithm deems most important. At the top of the list was “the relevance of overall page content,” and that’s exactly parallel with the BERT update (mentioned above).
Want to know other factors the SEOs called out as most significant?
Digital strategist Ayaz Nanji unveiled all 26 SEO must-haves in his article, The Top Google Search Rank Factors According to SEO Experts. Check them out and let us know if you agree. This is an excellent conversation starter for digital marketing teams.
UPDATE ON BLACK FRIDAY 2019 — WHERE TO GET THE DEALS
Key Point: Hoards of people want to know where to find the best Black Friday deals, but students of digital marketing have a bigger reason than saving money for tracking the sales — they know this is a premier time of year to see marketing in action. Black Friday kicks off the e-commerce Super Bowl. This is when the best of the best duke it out in real time.
Cam Faulkner uncovered the opening/closing hours for offline stores, linked to the early bird deals already being offered, and urged readers to make sure they have a Black Friday strategy in tow.
Review Faulkner’s article here, then give some thought to how you’re going to collect insight you can take to the bank when you’re helping clients or selling your own products/services online.
ALSO SEE: Black Friday Ads 2019
SOCIAL SELLING STATS FOR 2019
Topic: Social Media Marketing | E-commerce
Key Point: Statistics are excellent for getting a feel for what’s happening and where things are headed, but the only way to know for sure what’s going on with your business and your prospects is to observe your own results.
For example, this article by Coral Quellette: Social Selling Statistics for 2019. Claims include a global penetration rate for social media at 45 percent, the close rate for social media leads is 100 percent higher than outbound, and 84 percent of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions.
Are these statistics accurate? Quellette links to the sources, but are the sources based on hard, provable data? Digital marketers should always consider the claims, but never base strategy on other people’s statistics. Use pilot testing and other onsite conversion rate optimization tactics to get closer to the truth.
NO MORE LIKES ON FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM?
Topic: Social Media Marketing
Key Point: An article on the HubSpot Blog says Facebook is testing the idea of removing Like, view, and reaction counts from the News Feed and profile pages. Citing unnamed “reps” as sources, a HubSpot staffer says the testing is active in seven countries (USA excluded).
What would that change mean for digital marketing? This isn’t the first time rumblings about the need to focus on content and engagement rather than Likes has surfaced. And it surely won’t be the last.
Check out the full HubSpot Blog article here.
ALSO SEE: Facebook says it may remove Like counts
MICROSOFT ADVERTISING GETS AN INTERFACE REDESIGN
Topic: Online Advertising
Key Point: The Microsoft Advertising dashboard is getting more user-friendly. That’s what Microsoft and Impact say about the new advertising interface design rolling out. Goals are to make campaign creation simpler and improve UX overall.
Is Microsoft succeeding?
The first thing to know is that Bing Ads is now known as “Microsoft Advertising.” The second is that Microsoft wants to keep the interface “familiar” instead of making dramatic changes. And the third is that you’ll need to log in to your Microsoft Advertising account and watch what happens.
This could make an excellent team or class project.
Here’s the article on Impact.
Here’s the Microsoft announcement.
Here’s the Microsoft Ads sign-in page.
HTML SITEMAPS DON’T HELP SEO
Key Point: Sitemaps are essential, right? Not anymore says Google’s John Mueller. The crawlers don’t really need the help, and users should be able to navigate your website without needing to resort to a map.
Any way you cut it — sitemaps don’t provide SEO value.
Here’s a huge takeaway from Mueller’s comments: In 2009, Matt Cutts said HTML sitemaps are essential. In the fast-moving world of digital marketing, you can’t afford to rely on yesterday’s news.
GOOGLE RELEASES NEW PLUGIN FOR WORDPRESS SITES Topic: Analytics | E-commerce
Key Point: Good news from the Webmaster Central Blog: Google’s new WordPress plugin, Site Kit, is now available for installation from the WordPress plugin directory.
Site Kit helps you verify ownership through Search Console, see stats and key info pulled from cross-product insights, and avoid the need for source code.
This is a development even plugin minimalists will want to check out.
Here’s the Webmaster Central announcement.
Here’s the Site Kit website.
Here’s where to download the plugin.
THE REALLY BIG QUESTION
Will 2019 be the year U.S. retail holiday season sales break one TRILLION dollars?
eMarketer predicts it’s going to happen. The chart below shows real figures from 2018 and eMarketer estimates for 2019:
One more question:
Will you be one of the digital marketers helping break that trillion-dollar benchmark?
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