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  SEO Newsletter | Volume 145 | June 29, 2016 This Month's News

The Absolute Freshest Digital Marketing Tactics from Last Week's SMX Advanced

Author: Kristi Kellogg

This month, digital marketing leaders from around the world convened in Seattle for Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Advanced. Bruce Clay, Inc. was on the scene, delivering unparalleled SEO training at the event and, of course, near reall-time reporting.

The following are live reports from key sessions with industry leaders including Gary Illyes, Dr. Pete Meyers, Jennifer Slegg and Travis Wright. Reports include a deep examination of the Google Quality Raters Guidelines, an SEM's guide to API hacks, and an ask-me-anything (AMA) session with Google's Gary Illyes.

The Latest Research on How SEO Ranking Factors Are Changing

An iconic session on the SMX docket, "The Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors: 2016 Edition" assembled SEO leaders sharing their research findings on how search results are being impacted by new technology. Notable SEOs Marcus Tober, Eric Enge and Leslie To describe the latest research on search ranking factors driving SEO right now. Tactics covered range from the effect of keywords on page to click-through rates in search results.

Key Changes to the Google SERP: What You Need to Know Mid-2016

You never know what you're going to get when you start an online search. Featured snippets are becoming more prolific. Result titles and descriptions just got longer. Ad blocks change size and color. It's 2016, and the days of 10 blue links are long gone. Marketing scientist Dr. Pete Meyers reviews recent key changes to the search engine results pages that we need to keep in mind as we make SEO magic.

Using APIs to Automate Marketing Tasks

If you're not using APIs, you're missing out on a powerful SEO weapon. Knowing how to use APIs gives you the ability to automate complex marketing tasks like cleaning up your links, identifying brand infringement, and even spotting ad opportunities your competitors are missing. Learn the APIs you'll want to add to your tool belt in Ayima Chief Strategy Officer Rob Kerry's presentation.

What You Need to Know About the Google Quality Raters Guidelines

The Google Quality Raters Guidelines offer unique insights into what Google sees as high quality and what it doesn't. Leading digital marketing ladies Jennifer Slegg, Ruth Burr Reedy and Jenny Halasz have all studied the Quality Raters Guidelines extensively and are here to share their insights on this once-classified Google document.

Set Your Traffic on Fire: Latest Ways to Amplify SEO, Including Employee Advocacy

How can search and social marketing teams work together to make both their efforts more effective? While you may think of social media as a distribution network for content, realize that today, organic social traffic is not guaranteed. Jason White, Maggie Malek and Travis Wright share the latest ways marketers can leverage the social world to help amplify SEO, build brand awareness and engage with prospects.

Ask Google Anything: Gary Illyes Talks RankBrain, Panda, Penguin and More

The Ask Me Anything session with Google Search is always an SMX highlight. Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes reveals Google's position on questions surrounding RankBrain, Google virtual assistant technology, Penguin, Panda and more!

Hot Topic

Advertisers Riding High on News of Big Waves in Search and Social Ad Platforms

Author: Paula Allen

Surf's up in the SEM industry! Big announcements recently by Google, AdWords, Bing Ads and even LinkedIn made waves — promising advertisers some unheard-of controls to get their ads more effectively to targeted searchers. The new features are spilling over onto SEOs, as well, particularly due to changes in Google's SERP format.

Big Changes for Advertisers in Google and Bing

The Google Performance Summit on May 24 announced AdWords changes that will be game-changers for advertisers, including:

  • Larger text ads that get clicked more often
  • Ability to fine-tune bidding by device type, to control spend on mobile and tablet separately
  • Map ads that draw in mobile searchers near a store
  • New technology that better ties ad clicks to in-store visits
  • Ability to create similar audiences for search ad targeting

To be compatible with the new Google ad formats, Bing Ads announced it would release Expanded Text Ads as well. Later news, however, took the SEM world by surprise with the announcement that Microsoft acquired LinkedIn. Marketers are predicting that the LinkedIn ad platform will be merged with Bing Ads, allowing PPC advertisers to run Bing Ads and LinkedIn ad campaigns from the same dashboard. And some are hoping that this may signal the creation and expansion of a Bing Display Network.

SERP Changes Making Waves in SEO, Too

To make way for the larger text ads and other AdWords plans, Google search results pages have changed in some major ways. Right-hand ads are gone, and the main search results column is expanded. This has created immediate impact for SEOs with space for longer title tags and descriptions in the organic results. As AdWords changes roll out (some already showing up in Word on the Wire), expect to see more SERP changes, too.

Education Matters

Is a Career in Digital Marketing for You?

Author: Mindy Weinstein

Many young people today are facing decisions about what a satisfying career path and professional success looks like.

Digital marketing, a relatively new industry, has opened up a wide array of job opportunities for recent graduates and self-driven learners alike.

To help you decide if it's time to kick-start your career in online content creation, advertising, search or social media marketing, we've outlined four booming career paths in digital marketing with salary statistics and job descriptions.

  • SEO analyst
  • Web writer or content marketer
  • Social media marketer
  • SEM analyst

Read our post with infographic: 4 Hot Digital Marketing Jobs & Salary Data.

If you or someone you know is ready to launch into a digital marketing career, the only five-star rated in-person SEO training course is the place to start. Learn more about SEOToolSet® Training by Bruce Clay, Inc.




Microsoft is buying LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, the deal, which was unanimously approved by both boards, is "all about bringing together the professional cloud and professional network." The acquisition represents a big move into social media for Microsoft, and includes LinkedIn subsidiaries and as well as the established professional network. SEM experts assert that this may also lead to the creation and expansion of a Microsoft Display Network, which would be a boon for advertisers.

The auction for Yahoo, which the company hopes will conclude by next month, is entering its third round of bids. So far, AT&T and Verizon appear to be the leading bidders, offering between $3.5 and $5 billion.

Twitter has created a team focused on AR and VR (augmented and virtual reality) following the company's recent acquisition of machine learning company Magic Pony Technologies. This week, Twitter hired former Apple designer Alessandro Sabatelli to direct the​ team. Sabatelli previously worked on the iTunes music visualizer and was a UI designer involved with iOS, OS X and Watch OS before working on VR and AR for IXOMOXI.




Beyond the shindigs we highlight below, you can find hundreds of SEO, content marketing, paid search and social media marketing events happening around the world in our updated Digital Marketing Conference Calendar.

Take your podcast to the next level when you attend Podcast MovementJuly 6 to 8 in Chicago.

Our next SEOToolSet Training class is the week of July 11 in Los Angeles. Be part of the learning experience that will update your SEO strategy and equip you with better tools!

On July 13-14 Digital Summit will be held in Portland, and then again in Minneapolis July 25 to 26. As the name suggests, the Digital Summit focuses on all things digital, including strategy, content marketing, design, UX, SEO, analytics, emerging technology and more.

Affiliate Summit comes to New York July 31. This three-day conference focuses on SEO, CRO and paid social.


Sound Bytes


Like what you read? Enjoy the weekly digital marketing podcast SEM Synergy with host Bruce Clay. Here are the latest episodes available to stream online or download to your podcast app. Subscribe on iTunes to get new episodes sent straight to your mobile.

Hunting Unicorns with Larry Kim: Paid Social and Super Remarketing

Did you know that a "unicorn" is a digital marketing term? WordStream's Larry Kim came up with the concept and it refers to outstanding content that's ready for paid amplifications. This lively interview with Kim will catch you up on his latest SEO, PPC, and social media strategies. Bruce Clay, Inc.'s Virginia Nussey chats with ​Kim about how to spot those magical unicorns and gets him to reveal his latest super remarketing strategies.

Dr. Pete Meyers on How to Deal with Major SERP Changes

Google algorithm changes — they happen more than 500 times a year. Big or small, SEOs pay attention and digital marketing is adjusted accordingly. So when the mind behind MozCast — a daily "weather report" of the Google algorithm — sits down to talk about the latest changes, we listen. Before giving his presentation at SMX Advanced, marketing scientist Dr. Pete Meyers talks with Bruce Clay, Inc.'s Kristi Kellogg and Paula Allen on the latest SERP changes and how to handle them.

Getting More Instagram Followers

How do you get more followers on Instagram? Some digital marketers swear by automated services while others advocate a more organic approach. This hot topic gets discussed (and rather heated) in this SEM Synergy show with BCI team members Kristi Kellogg, Virginia Nussey, Duane Forrester, and John Alexander. Listen to the good and the bad of using automated services as well as Kristi's personal experience of a social media strategy gone wrong.

The Game Changers: New Opportunities in AdWords

This show is all about the major updates and changes that hit Google AdWords on May 24. SEM leader David Szetela shares his insights into the opportunities this has created for digital marketers. Along with Paula Allen and Kristi Kellogg, ​Szetela shares how to leverage these changes, which include the ability to fine-tune bidding by device, map ads and larger text for more clicks.

Branding vs. Direct Response Marketing

Virginia Nussey recently returned from reporting at Tim Ash's Conversion Conference 2016. Inspired by Ash's keynote, she talks about the ongoing "war" between branding and direct response marketing — in other words, how something looks and feels vs. how it functions — with Duane Forrester, Kristi Kellogg and Paula Allen. All this, plus the usual roundup of digital marketing hot topics.




Periscope, Twitter's live video feature, is trying a new tool to curb abusive or spam comments within streaming video content. Viewers will be able to mark comments as inappropriate and, with a few randomly selected viewers (a "flash jury") agreeing that the comments are abusive, the commenter will be unable to post for 60 seconds and then, if there's a second offense, for the remainder of the video.

Microsoft engineers were able to detect patients with pancreatic cancer based on their search queries long before they were diagnosed. The research comes out of a recently created Health & Wellness division at Microsoft. Semantic search expert David Amerland pointed out that this case illustrates how metadata can be used to "provide a signature that creates a language of its own from which a whole lot of other things can be inferred."

The SEMPO organization, which serves the SEO and SEM industry, announced its new board of directors and officers for 2016 through 2018. Mike Grehan was re-elected as chairman, and many new directors were named. Congratulations to all.

Long-time SEO and head of Outspoken Media, Rhea Drysdale, took the time to debunk accusations that Google was manipulating search results to favor Hillary Clinton by writing a post on Medium. To educate the public and the media, she explained how Google Autocomplete works and why people's searches control what appears in search suggestions. Some media outlets updated their coverage with facts from Drysdale's post, and Google subsequently set the record straight about how Autocomplete works.


Word on the Wire


Google Search Console rolled out several enhancements this month to its Search Analytics report. As revealed back at the Google I/O event, a new option under "Search Appearance" lets users view rich results, so site owners can see any rich snippets from structured data as well as rich cards that appear in Google search results. In addition, a new option under the "Queries" drop down lets users compare data for two different search queries; similar comparison options are also available to compare pages, countries and search types.

Google released a new Mobile-Friendly Test that lets you test how well your site performs across devices. The upgraded tool scores a web page for mobile-friendliness and can send a report with specific recommendations by email, something which the previous version could not do.

Webmasters are getting more help detecting when their site has been hacked. Microsoft Bing this month refined its malware warnings within Bing Webmaster Tools to more specifically identify the problem found (beyond just "malware"). In addition, Google announced that Google Analytics now gives compromised site alerts to notify site owners that a third-party may have hacked their website for spam that violates Webmaster Guidelines.

There's a new Google Research office in Switzerland. Located in Zurich, which Google says is already the home of Google's largest engineering office outside the U.S., the Google Research, Europe office will focus on machine intelligence and perception as well as natural language processing. (In other words, it's a research center for RankBrain, which Google recently confirmed as its third most important ranking factor, behind content and links.)

The Google Keyword Planner has been changed. The tool no longer reports search volume counts for each variation of a word separately. Instead, the search volume represents an aggregate of search counts for all close variants of a keyword. For example, "SEO" and "search engine optimization" now show the same search volume, representing the total. In addition, Google confirmed that setting up an active AdWords campaign is not required for people to use the Keyword Planner (keyword research tool). This came into question because of an error message that many people have gotten; however, it's just a technical glitch.

Google AdWords shopping campaigns will be able to target searchers based on an uploaded customer email list, a feature known as Customer Match for Shopping. Though scheduled to roll out later this summer, advertisers can sign up now to participate in the beta.

Local ads can now appear just above the local 3-pack listings and map, which gives these new ads prominent visibility in Google SERPs.

Google AdWords has been spotted testing click to SMS or text ads, in which a searcher could press a "Text" icon to contact an advertiser in the user's preferred messaging platform.

Google has decided to change the "Ad" tag to green throughout its search results. Also, Google may show a new green "DEAL" badge on hotel listings and ads, both in the local 3-pack and Local Finder map results page, if the hotel's room rate is priced substantially lower than other nearby hotels' prices or lower than its usual rate.

Instagram announced business-friendly changes coming soon including business profiles, analytics and the ability to boost a post. A Contact button on business profiles let users view a business's email address, phone number, text message and/or directions.

Facebook Messenger announced 1,200 redesigned emojis that "better reflect the world we live in" with skin tone options and many new designs.

Next month, Instagram will release a See Translation button next to captions, comments and profile bios written in a different language (based on the user's language setting).

Apple announced at WWDC (Worldwide Developer's Conference) that a faster and smarter Siri, the iPhone's search assistant, will come to Mac computers in the next operating system update (macOS, formerly OS X). Voice search will also be available to third-party app developers such as Lyft and Uber to bring voice-activated functionality to apps. Other announcements include: Apple Maps is getting upgraded to add calendar and local business information (similar to Google Maps); Apple Pay will be available to use to complete shopping transactions on a Mac computer; Apple Photos will get improved facial recognition and more Google Photos-type features; and big enhancements are coming for Apple's iMessage feature on iPhones and iPads, allowing Snapchat-style invisible ink or handwritten message text, animated faces instead of emojis, and the ability for third-party developers to include features of their apps within text messages.

Snapchat has more daily active users than Twitter, with 150 million compared to Twitter's less than 140 million, according to a Bloomberg report. While its growing user base may attract more brands, Snapchat launched an update that hopes to increase publisher and advertiser interest. Users can now subscribe to a Discover publisher's channel to see stories in their Recent Updates section. In addition, the Discover tab was redesigned to showcase publisher content mixed in with Live Stories (user-created strings of photos or videos) in a new tile-like design.

The average pay for search and digital marketing professionals has risen 16 percent since 2013, according to a new SEMPO survey.

Bing Ads are expanding in size to match the longer text ad formats coming soon based on Google AdWords' recent announcements. Bing's blog announcement said it would support Expanded Text Ads that have two 30-character headlines and 80 characters for the text message. Advertisers will be able to use the same ads for both platforms and even import ads from Google into Bing Ads.

Bing Ads is also rolling out Shared Budgets, a way for all campaigns or subcampaigns in an account to share a single maximum spend budget.

Facebook announced it will soon update its news feed algorithm to feature posts from friends and family more prominently. Facebook also published its News Feed Values, basically revealing the factors that guide its algorithm. Since the social network has seen a 15 percent decline in personal posts, Facebook is trying to encourage users to share more about their personal lives.

Facebook has been testing a tweet-like "Hide From Your Timeline" post type that enables a message to appear only in the News Feed, not in the user's Timeline. By basically disappearing after it scrolls down the News Feed, the new message type resembles tweets on Twitter.

Facebook announced features that represent a huge step forward for advertisers wanting to tie together in-store sales with ad clicks. An upcoming Offline Conversions API will let marketers work directly with Facebook or with third parties such as Square, IBM, Invoca, Lightspeed, LiveRamp, Marketo or Index to compare their internal customer data with Facebook's Ads Reporting tab and accurately measure the ROI of ads. In addition, ads can add location info, business hours and a map to help shoppers visit the advertiser's nearest physical store; this feature is available now within Facebook's Local Awareness ads.

Some big enhancements to Facebook Live video were announced last week at VidCon: two-person broadcasts (from remote locations); prescheduling the time a broadcast will go live so that notifications can be sent in advance; and a waiting room where viewers can hang out before a broadcast starts.

Not to be outdone by competitors like Periscope and Facebook Live, YouTube launched the ability to broadcast live video directly from its mobile app. Subscriber notifications and autosaving of livestream videos to the user's channel are built in.

Shoppers choose to start searching on Amazon more often than Google. According to a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers, 38 percent of shopping searches begin on Amazon, compared to 35 percent on Google, with “variety of products” cited as the No. 1 reason.

Pinterest wants to become more of a shopping destination, too. To better compete with Amazon and Google, Pinterest launched a shopping cart and announced new features including artificial intelligence-powered product searches and merchant profiles. In addition, “computer vision” will enable users to click to identify items within an image.

Microsoft will roll out the Windows 10 Anniversary Update on August 2. The upgrade will be free for users currently running Windows 10, which launched in July 2015; however, after July 29, upgrading from an earlier Windows version will come with a $119 price tag. The new edition includes Windows Ink, Cortana improvements, Edge browser extensions, a reorganized Start menu and more.

Emojis continue to grow up. Last year, Oxford named an emoji its Word of the Year. Now, Twitter will allow advertisers to target emojis as keywords for Twitter ads.

A U.S. federal court has upheld the Net Neutrality rules enacted by the Federal Communications Commission in Feb. 2015. Celebrating the ruling, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler tweeted, "A victory for consumers & innovators! Court upholds Open Internet Order. No blocking, throttling or fast lanes online. #netneutrality"

Hot Topics




Sound Bytes


Word on the Wire




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