Internet Marketing Highlight Reel: SEO, PPC & SMM

Internet Marketing Highlight Reel: SEO, PPC & SMM was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Here’s to rediscovering the best BCI blog posts of 2015 for a competitive advantage. 

Dear marketing director, business owner, and digital marketing client: It’s been a pleasure working to make your website a well-oiled sales machine and useful resource for your customers this year. We spent time tuning up your website to be in line with established marketing best practices. We also followed search engine optimization announcements and new guidelines along with global marketing trends to make sure your business received every competitive advantage. To share our thoughts on digital marketing’s evolution and productive ways of thinking, we published our findings and recommendations on our blog for all to read.

Internet Marketing Highlight Reel

Looking back on our blog posts of 2015, a story is told — a big picture of Internet marketing today. Let’s look at the story of the last year to remember where we are and what’s expected of your business (and ours) when serving customers and attracting new ones online today.

This World is Mobile: SEO and PPC Need-to-Knows

Mobile SEO

The tale of mobile began many years ago, but 2015 was the year it became a main character in the world of Internet marketing. As our SEO Manager Rob Ramirez first reported on the blog, Google announced the exact date it planned to make mobile-friendliness a ranking signal — sending a clear message that mobile is the primary lens through which digital marketing must be viewed.

Long before the announcement, though, we helped prepare you for the major search change (because we saw it coming) and offered technical advice on how to improve the search experience for your customers on the go.

Part of this preparation included the post “6 Mobile-Friendly Navigation Best Practices,” written by former BCI Senior Content Writer . One of our most read posts of 2015, it helps you see the mobile search experience through the eyes of your customer and provides valuable customer-friendly navigation tips so you can “keep Joe and the rest of your inbound traffic smiling.”

Chelsea Adams points to Bruce Clay, Inc.’s navigation along with REI, LA Times and Firestone Tires for examples of navigation best practices for mobile.

Preparing for Mobilegeddon also meant updating our popular SEO guides to reflect the latest information about mobile. For example, we revamped our popular “SEO 101: The 29-Point SEO Checklist,” with a new SEO to-do item.

Scroll to #26: “Review Mobile Usability Issues” to see how to check if your site is even performing well on mobile devices. It’s a great place to start if you’re new to the mobile journey as it introduces you to the Mobile Usability Report and the Mobile-Friendly Test, a simple way to find out if you have what it takes to satisfy Google’s mobile criteria.

The Mobile-Friendly Label

When some results get a “Mobile-friendly” label and other results get different notation, is one better than the other? Maryann Robbins explains.

As a result of our prep work, clients began taking and passing the mobile-friendly test, until we noticed a pattern. Sometimes the mobile-friendly label didn’t show up in Google search results, even when a site passed Google’s exam.

Our Senior SEO Consultant  researched the problem, compared notes with industry thought leaders, and came up with examples of why certain pages might not have the mobile-friendly annotation.

The timely results were published in the helpful post, “Why is My Mobile-Friendly Label Missing in Google Search Results,” a great resource to visit if you’re experiencing the same issues. This was also a very popular Internet marketing blog post of 2015.

The Big Day

And then the big day came. On April 21, 2015, as promised, Google rolled out its mobile-friendly update. The update rewards mobile-friendly sites in mobile SERPs, providing a boost to beat their closest competitors. Our clients came out ahead on the other side because of strategic planning and preparation.

Shortly after “Mobilegeddon,” Google told us that they created a way for web pages to be “faster and lighter,” in an effort to speed up the mobile search experience for people with slow connections. What perhaps wasn’t so clear was that Google wanted (and wants) this so bad that it’s willing to do it for you.

That’s when our SEO Analyst John Alexander stepped up to write “Google Wants You to Make Your Site Faster or They’ll Do It for You. Will You Like the Result?” This popular article provides a picture of what Google wants to do (hint: it has to do with transcoding) and helps you weigh the pros and cons to answer that question for yourself.

Google reps have already said that Google’s primary initiative in 2016 is to make sites faster by encouraging the adoption of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).

The push to create a customer-friendly mobile experience continued to change nearly every aspect of SEO this past year, including the way URLs are featured in the mobile search results.

Paula Allen explains how to optimize mobile breadcrumbs so a long, convoluted string turns into a cleaned-up and easy-to-read breadcrumb in her post “Google’s New Mobile Breadcrumb URLs.”

In April, Google told us that mobile search results will now appear with the “real-world name of the site instead of the domain name, and the URL structure of the sites in a breadcrumbs-like format.” Immediately we saw potential here, agreeing with Gary Illyes’ point, that this was an opportunity for websites to use structured data to customize displayed breadcrumb URLs and site names.

Written by our Senior Technical Writer Paula Allen, “Google’s New Mobile Breadcrumb URLs: Making the Most of Your Site Name & URL Structure” details the changes and offers useful tips on how to use these changes to your website’s advantage.

Mobile PPC

In February of 2015, Google introduced call-only campaigns in AdWords, and shortly afterward we published “Tips for Getting the Most out of Call-Only Ads in Google AdWords,” written by former BCI SEM Analyst Jack Van Leeuwen.

What makes this article unique is not that it includes easy instructions on how to setup a call-only ad (although that information makes it helpful), but that it features insider tips based on “data and testing” we conducted for our PPC clients. For example, did you know there was a way to get more “granular control of the different bid and keyword strategies” of mobile preferred ads and call-only ads? Yup, there is, and the answer is in the article.

While we updated some of our digital marketing guides to include mobile sections, 2015 was also the year we found it useful to create new guides — such as our “Guide to Mobile PPC Opportunities” written by yours truly — that reflect just how valuable the mobile customer is to the pay per click advertiser.

This guide is helpful to both new and seasoned advertisers and provides clear instructions on everything from how to locate your mobile audience to how to monitor cross-device conversions. It also shares useful PPC tips on keyword research for mobile and features clear descriptions of all the mobile ads and extensions.

Be Useful: Content, Social Media, and Serving Your Customers

all-about-usefulness-today-and-moving-forward-duane-forrester-4002015 taught us that everything we do as Internet marketers revolves around satisfying the customer.

In addition to mobile campaigns, the development of content and social media strategies are also focused on improving the customer experience. Google ended the year on that note, releasing an updated version of its Search Quality Rating Guidelines with its heavier emphasis on usefulness.

Paula spells out all you need to know that’s included in the 160-page guide in “2015 Search Quality Rating Guidelines Checklist: Aligning with Google’s Focus on Usefulness.” Content and the websites they appear on have to be helpful.

Of course there are challenges to writing useful content. Ever heard of writer’s block? In one of this year’s popular blog posts by Director of Training Mindy Weinstein, “Creating Content for a Boring Industry? No Problem,” we address a very common obstacle for content writers and online marketers – writing for a boring topic. The article offers three powerful tips on how to craft engaging SEO content regardless of what you’re writing about.

Find Out What Happens When _The Great Gatsby_ is Run Through an SEO Tool

Kristi Kellogg shows you how the free Single Page Analyzer can help you examine various elements of your content and compare it to SEO best practices.

But how do you know if your content is really useful to your target audience and the search engines? There’s an SEO tool for that.

In a unique demonstration of the SEOToolSet’s Single Page Analyzer,  Social Media Editor Kristi Kellogg shows you how this handy tool can help you examine various elements of your content and compare it to SEO best practices.

“The Power of a Page Analyzer: I Ran ‘The Great Gatsby through an SEO Tool & This Is What Happened” reveals valuable insight such as the novel’s reading level, the most commonly used words on a page (categorized by one-, two-, three- and four-word phrases), how those words relate to one another, the topic of each page, and more. In addition to highlighting the power of the tool, the article is a fun read for literature lovers, especially fans of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel.

But there comes a time when every business owner and digital marketer is ready to hire a professional content writer – someone educated and experienced in the craft. That’s when you can rely on Kristi’s article “15 Content Writer Interview Questions You Need to Ask” to help you find the perfect professional to join your in-house Internet marketing team. In fact, we use these questions to hire our own writers, so we know you can depend on them to hunt down great talent. :)

Conquering SEO and PPC Waves of Change

As we look back at the most popular blog posts of 2015, we see a clear picture of the customer. Today the customer experience is the core of nearly every marketing strategy and campaign. For us, this means you are the center of everything we do. We hope to be with you throughout 2016, too, as we work even harder to predict industry trends, shifts, and continue to fine-tune your websites to reflect the latest and established marketing best practices.

H.G. Wells said, “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” How true this is for the digital marketing world! We work to do more than adapt, but to take advantage of change to become better than your competition.

What We Learned in 2015: Your Favorite Experts Share

What We Learned in 2015: Your Favorite Experts Share was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

If you could share a New Year’s toast with anyone in digital marketing, who would you wax poetic with? Year’s end is a romantic time for remembering the people who touched your heart and mind, the lessons you learned, sometimes the hard way, and the promises you want to make to yourself as you internalize those lessons. Wow, that was super sappy. A romantic time of year, right?

Collectively, BCI celebrated many exciting milestones, including the release of a free crowdsourced disavow files management tool, the acquisition of two shiny new VPs, and nine straight years as an INC 5000 company. Building on these achievements, we expect great things from 2016.

On an individual level, there are those among us who still sense room for growth and, to that end, invite the wisdom of those we admire. And so we asked those whom we respect to share their lessons and resolutions with the search and social marketing community. We asked some of our favorite experts in digital marketing to answer one or both of these questions:

  1. What’s one thing you learned in 2015?
  2. What’s your resolution for 2016?

Read what Neil Patel, Lisa Barone, Larry Kim, Joanna Lord, Tim Ash, Michelle Robbins, Eric Enge, Mike King, Lisa Buyer, David Amerland, Cindy Krum, Dr. Pete and many more digital marketing industry darlings had to share.

Larry Kim

Founder and CTO, WordStream

This year my kid (#ppckid) turned 1 so I’ve been learning a lot about sacrifice and love and getting a different perspective on work and life. Next year in terms of work, I’m going to focus more time and energy on learning mobile apps, online video, and Facebook/Instagram ads.

Larry Kim 2015 lessons

In 2015, Larry Kim was named the Search Personality of the Year at both the Landy Awards and U.S. Search Awards.

Casie Gillette

Director of Online Marketing, KoMarketing

What’s one thing you learned in 2015?

Honestly, I think the biggest thing I’ve learned this year is how much faster changes are happening in search. It’s always felt as if we’d hear about changes and a year or two later we’d start to see them in results. Now it feels like we hear about changes and they’ve already happened. It’s pretty crazy! But as always, it certainly makes our jobs more interesting.

What’s your resolution for 2016?

I’d love to tell you I have some amazing resolution but sadly I’m not that cool. One thing I am focusing on in 2016 that combines both personal and professional life, is to become a better speaker/presenter. I watch people like Wil Reynolds control the stage so damn well and it makes me want to work harder on every one I give.

Casie Gillette 2015 lessons

Ian Lurie

Founder and CEO, Portent Inc.

#newyears resolution from @portentint “Take less stress home. More puppy breaks.” #ditto
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What’s one thing you learned in 2015?

At work: The CEO must NOT think out loud. People may interpret sarcasm as truth. Mayhem results.

At home: My family is awesome. I hope this doesn’t sound corny. This year had some of my lowest and highest moments as a CEO and a human being. They kept me going by maintaining mood and routine through it all.

What’s your resolution for 2016?

At work: Spend more time with my team while they do their thing, as opposed to meetings in my office. No micromanagement! Just be available to answer questions, in person.

At home: Take less stress home. More puppy breaks.

Andy Crestodina

Strategic Director, Orbit Media Studios

What’s one thing you learned in 2015?

I’ve always known that building your network is important. But this year taught me the value of networking for marketers. The quality of your content is all important, but the quality of your network is a close second.

I’m not talking about the size of your following. Long before 2015, I knew that large followings aren’t as useful as they look. I’m talking about high-value relationships. People who can really help and are excited to do so. Why? Because they’re my friends. Because I want to help them just as badly.

Collaboration is the key to both content creation and content promotion!

I’ve gotten more done, more efficiently and had more fun doing it, by collaborating with other marketers. It was a year filled with lunches, phone calls, events, mastermind groups, slack boards and office hours.

I’ve made people the priority. I meet with and talk to other marketers every single day, and it’s done wonders for our business, my career and my personal life.

I’m with Andy. “In 2016 I’m going to pick up the phone, smile and dial #outboundmarketing”…
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What’s your resolution for 2016?

I’m going to do outbound. It sounds crazy for someone who has focused on content marketing for the last eight years, but it’s time.

There’s a ceiling to search. You’ll never get more visitors than the total volume of search for your targeted phrases. What about all the wonderful companies I’d like to work with who aren’t searching and aren’t on our list? How can I connect with them?

I’m going to pick up the phone, smile and dial.

Of course, content and teaching will still be a big part of the plan. I’m not going to become a telemarketer, cold calling with a sales pitch. I’m going to call people and invite them to come to one of our events. I’ll offer to help them with search marketing and content strategy. I’ll offer to help set up their Analytics and make better decisions through data. The call will just be the beginning of a long process of networking and building relevance. Our events and newsletter will be critical parts of that process.

I’m ready to do outbound. You can only catch so many fish with a net! I’m going to hunt with a spear …

Andy Crestodina 2016 resolutions

Robert Ramirez

SEO Manager at Bruce Clay, Inc.

2015 reinforced a shift in search engine optimization that has been in the works for several years now; that SEO recommendations that don’t improve the quality and usability of a site rarely lead to long-term wins. If you are making recommendations to chase keyword rankings without considering the overall quality of your site and fulfilling the intent of your visitor you are in for a lot of heartache.

My resolution for 2016 is to be more present in the moments of my life. While I know that my nature as a worrier will likely not change anytime soon, I tend to let my preoccupation with what could be get in the way of my focus & enjoyment of what is. It’s a distraction that I hope to remove from my professional and personal life in 2016.

RT if you want to be more #present in #2016, like #SEO @Ramirez_Robert
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Joanna Lord

Vice President of Marketing, Porch

Top 2015 lesson: It’s all about the people -@joannalord
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Every year brings a lesson and 2015’s top lesson for me was “it’s all about the people.” I spent a lot of time this year both professionally and personally reflecting on the people in my life and how thankful I am for them. This industry, our teams, our friends and family — they really are everything. Anything else is just a side note … It’s all about the people.

Joanna Lord 2015 lessons

Eric Enge

Founder and CEO, Stone Temple Consulting

What’s one thing you learned in 2015?

On a digital marketing level, one of the great things I learned about is that Google’s featured snippets represent a new type of SEO opportunity. Basically, optimize your page in the right way, and you might be able to get a featured snippet result, and that can get you a big lift in SEO traffic for that page.

You can read more about this in an article I published recently on Jay Baer’s site called How Rich Answers Provide a New Approach to SEO.

On another note, we saw tremendous growth at Stone Temple Consulting in 2015, and it really provided a strong reminder just how important the people you have in the company are. We have an amazing team here, and I’m proud of each and every one of them.

#2016 #newyears resolution from @stonetemple: Get into advanced math. “Machine learning is here to…
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What’s your resolution for 2016?

I’m going to go back to my roots for a bit. I’m actively digging into machine learning, and that’s causing me to start making use of advanced math again, which is something that I’ve not done in a long while. It’s a great deal of fun!

The reason I’m doing it is that machine learning is become quite real. Google is using is in their RankBrain algorithm, Facebook is using it to develop computer vision, and many others are making real advances with it as well.

Machine learning is here to stay!

Mindy Weinstein

Director of Training, Bruce Clay, Inc.

What I learned personally in 2015 is that there is no reason to delay achieving your major life goals. I took the plunge this year and decided to continue my education—it’s hard work (and admittedly I sleep less), but it feels amazing knowing I am accomplishing something that I have always wanted to do. The same life lesson applies in business too. I plan to keep this thought in mind as we head to 2016. Cheers to the New Year!

Mark Traphagen

Senior Director of Online Marketing, Stone Temple Consulting

What’s one thing you learned in 2015?

One thing I learned in 2015 was really more of a confirmation of something I already believed: content marketing is not for the lazy or faint of heart. It really is more than ever a matter of “be all in or get out of the game.” Half-hearted, churned out content-for-content’s sake not only doesn’t cut it any more, it can actually be detrimental to your brand, as consumers become more accustomed to getting ultra high quality, extremely useful content from others.

If you’re going to be in the content game, you should be prepared to invest significant assets into it. That might be a bitter pill for many businesses, but the good news is that those willing to make the investment are reaping huge rewards, especially as search engines and social media outlets are getting a lot choosier about the content they push.

#2016 reolution from @marktraphagen: “be more data informed.” #ditto
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What’s your resolution for 2016?

My resolution for 2016 is to be more data informed. While I don’t believe that data and metrics ever show the whole picture, I’m sure that without them I’m missing many opportunities. In my position directing the marketing efforts of Stone Temple Consulting, I have to have good information about what is working for us and what isn’t. So in the coming year I’m dedicating myself to increasing my knowledge of how to use analytics and other data tools so I can do a better job of setting intelligent direction for my team.

Kelsey Jones

Executive Editor, Search Engine Journal

For the last few years, I’ve been both preaching and reading about quality over quantity when it comes to content. However, this year, I’ve been blown away by the content I’ve found and read online. Some articles on Medium or This. are the best pieces of writing I’ve read for years, yet I seem to discover them every day. As a writer (and editor), this makes me so happy. Amazing content has finally found a home on the web (instead of poor writers pitching newspapers and magazines for years, waiting for editors to recognize their gifts).

This is a valuable opportunity as writers, editors, and marketers, and we shouldn’t waste it. This has inspired me to expect more from our contributors at Search Engine Journal and more from myself. Why write a simple post about Facebook, when you can do a 1,900 word post with 12 case studies of real companies that did something extraordinary, giving readers actionable steps from these real examples?

So, for 2016, I will continue to be a passionate advocate for amazing content that gives you goosebumps, and I hope you all do the same!

Kelsey Jones 2016 resolutions

Mike King

Founder, iPullRank

This year really reinforced the value of client relationships, building redundancy within client teams and making sure to truly spend the time it takes to make the bond strong between our teams. You can do the best work in the world, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the right people talking to the right people on a regular basis.

I don’t really believe in resolutions. I find it irrational to think that a new year means we have a magical opportunity to be different. You can decide to be different right now, so why not do it … right now? So my goal right now comes out of a conversation that I had with Casey Henry at HubSpot. We were talking about how agency people are generally not good at execution. I think we’ve got the Strategy thing locked up, and we do execution pretty well, especially given our size, but I want us to become the best there is at executing.

Mike King 2015 lessons

Bill Slawski

Founder, SEO by the Sea

One thing I learned in 2015 was how much Google seems to like structured data. Link-based query results seem to be giving way to knowledge panels and question-answers and snippets that are filled with facts. How a website or entity is represented in search results is undergoing a transformation from the days of 10 blue links. Learning about ontologies that express the nature of and properties of entities and how different entities are related is a new way to think about what websites or webpages might be about; and an important change. Being able to perform entity audits for a site is something new that may become as important as keyword research.

#2016 resolution from @bill_slawski: perform entity audits; they may become as important as keyword…
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My resolution for 2016 is to transform how I think about entities on the Web to improve how a Google or a Bing or Yahoo might connect information about those and index them, and represent them within search results.

Lisa Buyer

Founder, The Buyer Group

What’s one thing you learned in 2015?

When used in excess, social media (for business and personal) can cause temporary insanity, burnout and unnecessary stress.

2016 #newyears resolution from @lisabuyer: advocate positivity, productivity, mindfulness &…
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What’s your resolution for 2016?

Be the change I want to see in the social media world by advocating positivity, productivity, mindfulness and balanced best practices in business.

Lisa Buyer 2015 lessons

Jim Yu

Founder and CEO, BrightEdge

What’s one thing you learned in 2015?

2015 was the year that content marketing hit a production versus performance tipping point.

One in six enterprise organizations now spend over $10 million annually on content marketing (source CMI). However, the massive volume of digital content being produced — such as blog posts, whitepapers, images and videos — has actually fragmented consumer attention.

Organic search has been proven to be the largest driver of website traffic to businesses and engagement the key to unlocking content performance success. In fact, according to BrightEdge proprietary research, for B2C industries, only 1 in 5 pieces of content from brands is engaged with. For B2B industries target audiences engage with only half of branded content.

2015 #contentmarketing lesson from @jimyu: only 1 in 5 pieces of content from brands is engaged with
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What’s your resolution for 2016?

My goal for 2016 is to continue to help marketers, business leaders and the community build successful business through increasing revenue from their search, content and digital marketing programs.

In 2016 businesses, across multiple industries and of all sizes, will demand to see return from their content marketing investments. I will be spending lots of time with business leaders and marketers helping them rise above the clutter of the web. In 2016 it is imperative that marketers effectively target demand, optimize content and measure the results. Determining what really drives intelligent content performance in 2016 will allow brands to run their digital content marketing programs by the numbers.

You can read more on content performance marketing research and best practice, complementary to download:

Jim Yu 2016 resolutions

David Amerland

Author, Speaker, Analyst,

What did I learn in 2015? Fear can be paralyzing. I advise companies that make multi-million dollar decisions. Some of these have tens of thousands of staff spread across continents. The speed at which social media changes their target audience and the depth of internal change they need to undertake makes it difficult for them to move forward and a lot choose to actively move back, hoping that they will experience a rise in fortunes by simply redoubling the same, marketing efforts they used so effectively in the past. As a result we now have a halfway world where some companies are seizing the moment and are moving ahead experimenting with ways that will help humanize them and still maintain efficiencies of scale in their marketing, while others are returning to the top-down marketing practices they knew with a vengeance hoping that the minor cosmetic changes they are making will be sufficient to revive the value of their brand.

2016 #newyears resolution from @davidamerland: Be more patient. Find both fun and value in what I…
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My resolution for 2016 is to be more patient — I have always wanted things to move faster. Change to happen sooner. Business people to be braver. It ain’t happening. So I am rolling with the rollbacks and the slowdowns and simply making the most of it, trying to find both fun and value in what I do every step of the way.

Keri Morgret

Content Manager,

One thing I learned in 2015: Find or make your own tribe! As a new parent with no extended family nearby, and as a remote contractor, making a conscious effort to connect with my peers has become vital.

My 2016 resolution is to stay on top of both my personal and professional email inboxes.

“My 2016 resolution is to stay on top of both my personal and professional email inboxes.”…
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Neil Patel

The one thing that really hit me in 2015 is that links aren’t everything. In the previous years when I built links to sites they would rank much more quickly than they did in 2014. It’s more important than ever that you diversify how you are growing your search traffic. From leveraging content marketing to creating free tools, you have to go above and beyond to rank well these days.

Digital marketing reality check from @NeilPatel: Links aren’t everything. Diversify how you grow…
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My resolution for 2016 is to focus on creating more free tools. Doing this should help me take away website visitors from my competitors.

Duane Forrester

VP, Organic Search Operations, Bruce Clay, Inc.


It turns out that I am my own worst enemy. It’s easy to let our minds block us from moving forward, so choosing to do something you think might not be possible, only to realize you CAN accomplish it, is a solid way to reset your own expectations about yourself. For me this realization came after 3,000 miles in a motorcycle helmet touring the Pacific States this past summer. I knew it would be tough and I set bail-out spots along my entire route. I didn’t bail once. I went further, rode longer, saw more and experienced a wealth of richness as a result. It opened my eyes and reminded me to take risks, be daring, never say die and to get the heck over my fears.

Resolution for 2016:

#Nailit! Finish my third book, use my knowledge to help others and live a fuller life. It’ll be tough, but I can do it. My biggest focus is to talk myself around my own mental roadblocks. I can do it. I will do it.

2016 resolution: Talk myself around my own mental roadblocks. -@duaneforrester
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Pamela Lund

Pay-Per-Click Advertising Consultant,

What’s one thing you learned in 2015?

In 2015 I learned, after happily working as a lone consultant for the last 8 years, that it’s nice to have someone on your team that you can teach what you know and learn what they know. I was lucky to have Akvile Harlow working with me this year and she has pushed me to be better while showing me that I have valuable knowledge to share with others. It’s easy as an independent consultant to get comfortable working completely on your own but having the right people on your team can help you grow more than you expect.

Pamela Lund 1

Ronell Smith

Digital Strategist, Moz

I learned that the content creation albatross exists primarily as a result of our desire to measure areas that won’t impact business in the short-term. My focus in ’16 will be on helping brands define the right goal line so they can produce content that crosses it with frequency.

2016 #newyears resolution from @ronellsmith: Help brands define the right goals
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Akvile Harlow

Digital marketing specialist,

What’s one thing you learned in 2015?

2015 has been a year of many firsts. It was my first full year since taking the leap to work for myself, and that in itself was an exciting journey plentiful in challenges, lessons, experiences, and accomplishments. While I learned a significant amount, the most valuable thing was expanding my horizons to learn more about business as a whole. While my expertise lies in marketing and advertising, it was interesting, useful, and important to educate myself about other areas such as business development and accounting.

Is public speaking improvement a 2016 #newyears resolution? @akvileharlow swears by Toastmasters
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What’s your resolution for 2016?

For quite some time, I’ve been looking to improve my story telling and public speaking abilities. In order to finally do so, I am kicking off the new year by starting this resolution one month early. As a brand new member of Toastmasters International, I’ve already found it to be incredibly worthwhile and look forward to making continual progress over the next few months. If public speaking is something that you too, are looking to improve upon, I highly recommend attending a meeting in your area. Not only will you learn how to subside your public speaking nerves, give better constructive criticism, and grow your vocabulary, your overall communication skills will advance.

Marty Weintraub

Founder, aimClear

What’s one thing you learned in 2015?

Social amplification, top of funnel paid psychographic visitors expressly for awareness and socialization, is obsolete. Future social paid organic social psychographic content amplification programs are NOW about near term attributable response and THEN retargeting nurture. Content marketing is for marketers that can’t sell on one touch + a retargeting hop.

What’s your resolution for 2016?

Personal growth, happiness, authenticity, love, peace, consistent exercise, greater empathy, patience, learning more about photography and joy. Happy New Year, ya’ll. <3

Personal growth, happiness, authenticity, love, peace, exercise, empathy, patience, photography,…
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Susan Esparza

Freelance Writer

I have a vague hatred of resolutions. (“If you hate resolutions, why didn’t you pick the other question?” Because I’m contrary, that’s why.) Four years down the line from stepping away from SEO, I still firmly believe that “Your priorities are the things you do, not the things you say you’ll do.” ( Resolutions are pie crust promises unless they’re borne out in action. So my resolution, if a resolution I must have, is a continuation of what I’ve been doing since 2011, adjusting my life to my priorities, not to my fears.

Susan Esparza resolutions

Tim Ash

CEO, SiteTuners

What’s one thing you learned in 2015?

The shift to millennials in the workforce will be a tidal wave, with 75% of the workforce coming from that group within ten years. Time to break out the plaid shirts, beards, and craft beer brewing kits … :) Joking aside, understanding their different values and online fluency was very helpful to designing many of our conversion rate optimization initiatives.

Lisa Barone

Director of Strategy, Overit

My resolution for 2016 is to solve the problem instead of chasing the tactic. There are always new ideas as to what is the end-all, be-all to marketing. But becoming obsessed with the tactic — content, email, automation, SEO — will distract you, not drive you. Instead, be driven by solving the problem your customers/clients face, and doing whatever is best to help them find success, even if it’s not as sexy as what’s shiny right now. More solving, less chasing.

Also, to write. I always want to write more than I did the year before.

“Solve the proble instead of chasing the tactic” — that’s @LisaBarone’s #resolution for 2016.
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Jamie Smith

Co-founder, Engine Ready

In 2015 I learned to breathe and meditate which was a life changer.

In terms of search marketing, I learned that display and re-marketing are a must when done right and you no longer can survive with just SEARCH ads.

My resolution for 2016 is to spend less personal time on my phone or computer. My 2016 marketing resolution is to improve my skills around user experience, conversion optimization with an emphasis on mobile advertising.

Jamie Smith lessons

Cindy Krum

CEO, MobileMoxie

Learned: Don’t blindly trust experts. In my case, it was doctors. I had a major health episode, made worse by doctors at urgent care and an ER that sent me home and told me it was just the flu. Fast-forward to near death experience = it was not just the flu!

Resolution: Be a better boss and CEO. My company has been growing, and now I can’t just be good at SEO stuff. I have to cultivate new skills that are not as intuitive for me.

Cindy Krum 2016 resolutions

Jason Darrell

Chief Copywriter and Semantic Entity Alignment Consultant,

Recap for 2015:
One of the biggest shifts in thinking this year is that we’re no longer just building web pages or posting to social. Rather, every time we publish, we are adding a semantic layer to our web presence.

As of now, we’re depositing those layers into Google’s Knowledge Base, helping to determine what we’re “known for.” The unknown quantity is how much Google is drawing on that base as a ranking factor today. Moreover, how important that data will be in and to the semantic web in the future.

Forecast for 2016:
2016 will be a time to take stock. Most of us acknowledge that structured data is the railroad upon which the semantic web runs. The reality is that not all clients can afford to buy the first class schema ticket.

I hope people come to realize that they (may) have all of the data they need in order for Google to rank them for relevant queries already. Yes, Rank Brain will help cut through the ambiguity. But we’re a way off realizing true AI yet.

Weaving answers to relevant questions in that content — in clear disambiguated copy — will become far more important than “keyword match.”

Again: Answer questions your customers are asking. Don’t try to keyword-match questions in your content. Google wants answers. Are we clear? Awesome.

SEOs should begin to look at existing content that business owners/webmasters have already published as their on-page starting point. Rewrite that first, rather than try to create new content in the same rambling, “conversational” keyword-match style, and they’ll see more relevant results sooner rather than later.

“Every time we publish, we are adding a semantic layer to our web presence.” — @JasonD1888 #SEO
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Alan Bleiweiss

Forensic SEO Consultant,

I learned in 2015 that app indexing and deep linking are going to become critical for many businesses in the coming year, and that sadly, very few people and agencies in our industry are doing much about it. That tool providers are, due to fiduciary reality, waiting “until it becomes more of a trend.” Which means site owners are going to struggle to “figure it all out,” and be left guessing whether what they are doing, if anything at all, is even working well.

“App Indexing and deep liking are going to become critical  in #2016” – @AlanBleiweiss
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Navah Berg

Digital Marketer, The Buyer Group

The most important thing I learned was recently (literally this week!), when Google shared its Search Quality Rating Guidelines for the first time, Duane Forrester said something very profound: “Be Useful” – Usefulness vs. Relevancy.

My resolution for 2016 is definitely going to focus on “usefulness.” Being more useful and serviceable will create an impact, not only at work but also in personal situations, giving more balance and optimizing effectiveness in this ever-evolving Social PR world.

Navah Berg 2016 resolutions

Ammon Johns

Digital Marketing Specialist and SEO Pioneer,
+Ammon Johns

A thing I learned in 2015 is that there are still too many companies worrying about Content, instead of Context. Every day I see post after post about how to create content, why to create content, or what types of content work best. All these posts have one thing in common — no matter how well they answer the question they set themselves, they are all completely useless, because it’s the wrong question.

Many companies including Google have already moved on to the fact that the right format of content is entirely dependent on context. Google’s knowledge boxes, voice search and contextual search show that they have been grappling with this change for a while.

There are times when all we want is a short answer, times when we want a deep treatise, and times when we want some of both. If a stranger at a bus stop asks me “Hey, what’s time?” he is probably just wanting me to tell him the current time. But if Stephen Hawking asks me “What’s time?” he’s probably setting up for a lecture, and wanting me to think about time itself rather than look at my watch. :)

The Internet contains quite a lot of people. They live in a wide variety of places, have a wide variety of interests, and so, obviously, the possible contexts for them making any particular search, or visiting any particular site, are almost limitless. The right amount, type, and even style of content is going to depend on the context.

For 2016: Websites need to be more user-oriented, more flexible, and allow users to more easily do what they want to do, rather than what we want them to do. This goes far beyond mere responsive design and should be high on the agenda for every company of every size.

.@Ammon_Johns’s #2015 lesson? To focus on context more than #content. #SEO
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Michelle Robbins

Vice President of Technology, Third Door Media, Inc.

One thing I’ve learned in 2015 — well not learned as much had confirmed — was that the search/digital marketing industry comprises some of the smartest, most talented and giving women and men I’ve known. The value of the relationships I’ve developed over the years — personal and professional — cannot be overstated, and came into focus for me in a significant way this year.

For 2016, I’ve resolved to spend more time bringing the knowledge and experience I’ve gained, to the young women in my community — to continue to mentor and support them on their path through high school and into college. I do believe folks “can’t be what they can’t see” so I intend to be a more visible role model for local young women in STEM.

@MichelleRobbins plans to be a visible STEM role model for young women in #2016.
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Purna Virji

Senior Bing Ads Client Development and Training Manager, Microsoft

Personally last year I tried to embrace the joys of going with the flow a bit more — not easy for a control — freak like me. Ultimately it was a freeing and rewarding experience and one that is paralleled in PPC as well.  We try so hard to control all the settings, from keywords to where and when the ad is shown. However, in doing this could we be missing out on subtle shifts in audience behavior?

With attention spans ever-dwindling and second-screening becoming the norm, it’s that much harder for us marketers to get through to our audience. Where’s our audience going and how can we go with the flow of how their behaviors are changing?

That’s where paying attention to voice search and how it could impact PPC keywords, bids and targeting will come into play. Already we’re seeing a heavy adoption of digital personal assistants  across all ages and demographics, as well as seeing that voice search queries tend to:

  • be longer
  • contain more question-based queries

Best of all, we can detect intent more clearly based on the type of question asked, which will impact how we bid on these different terms. I think 2016 will be the year when this becomes something advertisers and search platforms will increasingly research.

@PurnaVirji is paying attention to voice search’s PPC impact iunn #2016.
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Pete Meyers

Marketing Scientist, Moz

In 2015, I learned that trying to write 50,000 words in one month when you’ve never done it before is probably insane, but that I love the writing community (which I’ve suspected for a while). I learned that you can eat kangaroos but you can’t eat wombats (sorry, everyone at SMX Sydney), and that double pink-eye is not a good way to kick off a presentation (sorry, everyone within 50′ of me at SMX West). Much to my surprise, I learned that Gary Illyes and the Search Quality team aren’t actually evil (mostly), at least after a couple of drinks. I survived my second child’s transition into being three, and learned that what doesn’t kill you only mostly kills you.

Next year, I’m hoping to finish this novel I started. It’s a post-apocalyptic comedy, because there just aren’t enough of those. Family-wise, I’m just hoping to survive the cyclone :) I’ll be helping my wife Nancy continue her 50 marathons in 50 states quest, with a trip to Seattle and Alaska for back-to-back races, and probably a couple more. After another year-long fitness goal in 2015 (5,000 pull-ups), which I’m just two days from completing, I’ll probably embark on yet another stupid idea that makes my chiropractor shake her head. Work-wise, I’ll be digging more into product development and am very interested in niche, data-drive marketing outside of the SEO bubble. I love our community, but we can get stuck repeating the same messages to the same people, and it’s time for me to find a broader voice.

Come #2016, @Dr_Pete is finishing his post-apocalyptic novel. #SEO Resolutions
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Jennifer Lopez

Senior Director of Community, Moz

In 2015 I found my strength as a leader and began to plan for the future. (Something I’ve had a hard time doing since beating cancer).

For 2016, I look forward to continuing my growth and seeing my plans come to life.

In #2015 @Jennita found strength as a #leader. #LookingBack
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Barry Schwartz

CEO, RustyBrick

Learned: I learned quite a lot about app indexing with Google as well as Apple.

Resolution: To study app indexing deeper, and to share my data and knowledge about it with the SEO community. :)

Barry Schwartz 2015 lessons

What Is UX? Who Owns User Experience Optimization? What You Need to Know About SEO & User Satisfaction from #SEOchat

What Is UX? Who Owns User Experience Optimization? What You Need to Know About SEO & User Satisfaction from #SEOchat was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

What is UX?

User experience (UX) is the web design and marketing concept concerned with satisfying the user in their every interaction with a brand’s website and products. Attention to UX spans all aspects of digital marketing, including images and videos, design, website architecture and content.

When we hosted #SEOChat last week, we immediately knew what we wanted to talk about: user experience. It’s an integral part of digital marketing, and something we can never pay too much attention to.


UX + Star Wars = Winning #SEOchat

Digital marketing bellwethers including Duane Forrester, Lisa Buyer, Casie Gillette, Robert Ramirez, Michelle Robbins, Virginia Nussey, Eric Lander, Jason White and Bill Slawski showed up to talk UX. We were also delighted to have Kim Krause Berg — the veritable UX whisperer — join us for the chat.

“I was pleased to see that many SEOs place a high value on user experience for all devices, and that they understood why … I’m thrilled that Bruce Clay, Inc. is educating people on UX,” Berg said post-chat. “UX is HUGE …  it includes empathy for every human, using every device and every software application and every search engine wanting to provide what humans want, in every environment, with an understanding of the limitations of age, bandwidth, Internet availability, use cases and business requirements specific to one’s business or web page intent.”

“#UX = empathy for every human using every device” — @kim_cre8pc
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Read on for highlights from #SEOchat, or head over to Search Marketing Weekly for a full transcript of the chat pulled together by Lyena Solomon.

UX Defined

Who Owns UX?

Identifying UX Problems

Biggest UX Mistakes

Examples of Brands on TOP of UX

Digital marketers weighed in on who’s doing UX the best … drum roll …

  • The Webby Awards
  • SoulCycle
  • Redbox
  • Apple

Keep Your Visitors Scrolling

Decreasing Load Time

Tips for Creating Video on a Limited Budget

Making Images that Don’t Look Like Stock Photo Garbage #SorryNotSorry

After #SEOchat, Virginia Nussey and I headed over to host a post-chat chat on Blab so SEOs could sound off on anything else involving UX. Check it out below!

Thanks to everyone who joined us at #SEOchat! Join us every Thursday at 10 a.m. PT for another #SEOchat — and if you’re new, check out this article to find out more about #SEOchat and how it can benefit you (like being able to ask a group of experts any question on SEO and getting an answer in real time — for free)!

43 Reasons SEOs Can’t Fear Change: 2016 Digital Marketing Predictions

43 Reasons SEOs Can’t Fear Change: 2016 Digital Marketing Predictions was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

There’s a word for fear of change: metathesiophobia. The way search, media, technology and consumer behavior change from week to week, it’s not a phobia that SEOs can afford to harbor.


Bruce Clay is joined by Duane Forrester, David Szetela, Cindy Krum, Eric Enge, Larry Kim, Maddie Cary, Dan Petrovic, Richard Baxter, Marcus Tandler and Andre Alpar in sharing annual digital marketing industry predictions.

Instead, digital marketers race to get ahead of competition, ahead of algorithm updates, and ahead of upcoming technologies with early adoption and forward-looking strategy.

Where to start? Right here. Bruce Clay, Duane Forrester, David Szetela, and invited digital marketing rockstars have shared their 2016 predictions for the online marketing industry. What will you do with this foresight into the year ahead?

Read on or jump to predictions by:

  • Bruce Clay – 20-year SEO veteran calls out apps, millennials, and local search revenue as drivers of change.
  • Duane Forrester – HTTPS, podcasts and search from Facebook and Amazon make an appearance in this former Microsofties predictions.
  • David Szetela – Facebook, Instagram and Bing display are big winners in the “Pay-Per-Click Marketing: An Hour a Day” author’s picks, but read to find out who he bets against.
  • Cindy Krum – With mobile changing everything about digital marketing, you’ll want to read this mobile tech expert’s take on 2016.
  • Eric Enge – SEO scientist and co-author of “The Art of SEO” sees machine learning, personal assistants and wearables in the future, but whether going up and down, you’ll have to read to find out.
  • Larry Kim – What will be the biggest game changer this year according to the 2015 Search Personality of the Year Award winner? Hint: It starts with F and ends with R … ?
  • Maddie Cary – U.S. Search Awards 2015 Young Search Professional of the Year dubs 2016 the year of removing resistance with PPC predictions to back it up.
  • Dan Petrovic – The international SEO’s predictions echo a familiar theme — content quality — backed by some interesting new research out of Australia.
  • Richard Baxter – In the UK, Baxter’s predictions center on technical SEO growth, the direction of SEO software and what makes content “work.”
  • Marcus Tandler – User experience is Tandler’s hot topic in Germany, with conversion optimization cooling off — read why.
  • Andre Alpar – The Berlin-based SEO’s predictions offer a helpful rule of thumb to multi-language businesses who must weigh the ROI potential of content in multiple languages.

Bruce Clay

(+BruceClay) President, Bruce Clay, Inc.


1. Mobile devices will surprise everyone with new wireless “attachments” rivaling the power of desktops, and by 4Q we will see an accelerated mobile use in the USA.

Until then it will continue to grow but not at the rate most expect. PC share will shrink as tablet and mobile dominate the space for quick information and location specific queries.

2. Google revenues will grow exponentially as they continue to place ads above organic results. For some queries there will be 4 or fewer organic results well below the fold.

Bruce Clay’s 2016 #SEO prediction: For some queries there will be 4 or fewer organic results well…
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3. Google will emphasize local results for all queries.

Local will allow Google PPC prices to increase as merchants will no longer appear outside of their specific region and are forced to purchase ads.

4. Apps that load web content will be the rage.

This allows users to have a favorite app, yet get the power of a website. Most users will find that “mobile friendly” is simply not enough.

5. Millennials will be influencing a massive web design surge.

The need for minimalistic design, performance, mobile support mixed with elegant features will drive most websites to a redesign. As this happens, the HTML source code sites will begin to fade, replaced by css and javascript intensive dynamic content. SEO becomes much harder.

Bruce Clay’s 2016 SEO prediction: Millennials influence a web design surge, challenging #SEO with…
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6. We will see the demise of link building as a prime influence in SEO.

Link building will be replaced by on-page technical quality, amazing content, mobile friendly, peak performing pages. If the link is inappropriate Google will just ignore it.

7. Internet marketing becomes Internet advertising in order to survive.

The web ceases to be a gold rush, evolving into a pay-to-play space. The few sites gaining true organic rankings and holding them will be gold. The rest will buy ads.

Editor’s note: Bruce has published his annual predictions since 2006. Read his past predictions to see how keen his crystal ball gazing really is. I dare say his 2015 predictions are nine for nine, although we invite your judgement on No. 6 …

  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008
  • 2007
  • 2006

Duane Forrester

(@duaneforrester) VP, Organic Search Operations, Bruce Clay, Inc.


8. HTTPS will be much talked about in 2016 but little action will be seen with relatively few sites making the swap.

Security will remain a hot topic as consumers wake up to the ongoing data-theft problem, but businesses will be slow to make changes due to the inherent costs involved.

9. Mobile will continue to see growth.

Microsoft’s move with Windows 10 on a mobile device that can act like a larger computer/environment will see some traction for light-duty users. “Indestructible” and “waterproof” will be bigger marketing angles, so expect to see “tougher” versions of phones released, likely tied to some cool photographic features aimed at the vacation/adventure crowd.

10. Podcasts will see continued growth in popularity due to their ease of production/consumption.

2016 digital marketing prediction by @duaneforrester: Podcast consumption will grow & AI will…
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11. AI (artificial intelligence) will be a much hotter topic across search in 2016.

This will mostly be driven by a detailed lack of understanding of what level of AI is in play within systems like RankBrain. Overall, more folks will gain understanding of the three levels of AI, deepening our understanding of what we see in SERPs. All AI are not created equally, so expect some companies to claim to be using it, even though the first level isn’t very advanced. And the third level (human-like) has yet to be attained and employed in a meaningful, public way. Expect to see this level gain more traction in 2016, but, ah…we better be ready!

12. Facebook and Amazon will launch actual search engines.

Well, maybe. Don’t they already have these? OK, this prediction is that in 2016 both of these rumors will pop to the top again, whether they are factual or not.

13. Bing will continue to grow while Google starts to see more leveling off.

14. Yahoo will get out of search.

2016 #SEO prediction by @duaneforrester: Bing will grow, Google will level, Yahoo will exit search.
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15. Round-ups will finally, thankfully, retire.

But the spam from random people will continue.

Bonus prediction: I will learn to play the guitar. :)

David Szetela

(@szetela) VP, Search Marketing Operations, Bruce Clay, Inc.


16. Website owners will put more effort into reaching mobile search customers that use mobile devices as the first step of their “buyer journeys.”

As a result, apps, built-for-mobile sites, and responsive websites will take off. To prepare for this trend, digital marketers should implement mobile-friendly advertising such as using click-to-call ads and easy-to-digest content, such as shorter ad copy.

17. Advertisers will invest more money into Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook will become a viable direct response platform and advertisers will take advantage of its latest features, including retargeting, dynamic product ads, and custom audiences.

2016 #PPC prediction by @szetela: Advertisers invest more $ in Facebook & Instagram which…
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18. 2016 will be the year Bing Ads search and display traffic will be seen by more advertisers as a viable platform.

Bing Ads will finally have its own display advertising network capable of reaching target audiences based on behavior data from Windows 10 users and other search partners.  This will be fueled by the fact that the growing click inventory will be cheaper than Google CPCs. But take note: cheaper prices won’t last long, so make sure to purchase your fair share of Bing Ads while you still can.

19. 2016 looks grim for Yahoo/Gemini.

Direct response advertisers will stay away and digital advertisers will continue to see it as a second best option for native advertising.

2016 #PPC prediction by @szetela: Bing search+display becomes viable platform but the year looks…
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20. PPC will be broken down into specific areas of expertise.

As ad platform products and features continue to develop and launch at a fast pace, individual PPC managers will have an even harder time keeping up with all aspects of PPC in 2016. Agencies will hire team members that specialize in those areas to act as resources for the rest of the agency.

Cindy Krum

(@suzzicks) CEO, MobileMoxie


21. I feel strongly that we are going to start to see more ChromeCast logos in Google properties — potentially directly in the SERPS.

Google has been focusing a lot of their talks on “video” and other types of media, and also focusing a lot of research on “cross-device behavior.”

2016 #mobile #SEO prediction by @suzzicks: We’ll see the ChromeCast logo in Google SERPs
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22. Getting exposure in the ChromeCast app may become relevant for SEO.

ChromeCast automatically scrapes the Deep Linked video and music apps on your phone for content that it can aggregate, so you only have to go one place to see what’s on. Also, it seem seems very likely that video and audio content will eventually receive a rankings boost if they are integrated with ChromeCast, since Deep Linking is starting to be more seamless on iOS, and more prevalent on Android.

2016 #mobile #SEO prediction by @suzzicks: Exposure in the ChromeCast app via deep linking becomes…
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23. App Streaming may be the way of the future – especially for entertainment apps like Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify, etc, which already really work best on WiFi.

Why download the app when it is available from the cloud without wasting storage space on your phone? Streaming apps will hopefully make the app/web distinction less relevant, and save some developers from having to build/maintain both Android and iOS apps (finally!). Apps that can be easily streamed may consequently eventually be given an additional rankings boost.

24. App plugins will become more important.

Why develop an entire app when there is an existing app, with an existing audience, that already does most of what you need. We are already seeing this with keyboards and emoji libraries that can be added to your SMS app or Facebook Messenger. Why not make a Netflix Nanny that prevents your kids from watching more than an hour a day, or a Chrome App plugin that lets you take scrolling screenshots, ala Snagit on the desktop? (Somebody please make this one — I need it!!!)

25. I anticipate a consolidation in some Google properties.

I am not sure which way things will go, but Google Play, Google Music, YouTube, Google+ all seem to have some overlapping capabilities, and are sharing lots of data. Google is also really struggling with UX for people who have multiple Google accounts – I can only hope that they find a good way to manage that, so that all the services will work better together.

2016 #SEO prediction @suzzicks: Google properties consolidate – Google Play, Google Music, YouTube,…
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Eric Enge

(@stonetemple) CEO, Stone Temple Consulting


2016 will be a huge year in digital marketing, as there is so much going on. Here are some of my predictions.

26. The rise of content quality and user engagement as ranking factors will begin to be broadly accepted.

An increasing number of businesses will begin to invest in their overall site experience, and view part of the payoff of that as increased rankings and traffic.  More and more SEO agencies will correspondingly promote related services on their sites as a result.

27. The power of paid social as tool to drive content marketing campaigns will also become more mainstream.

Currently, only a small subset of the industry recognizes this, but the word will get out. This will cause more content marketing agencies (or SEO agencies) to offer paid social services.

28. Wearables will show a disappointing level of growth.

People will realize that they don’t find the functionality that compelling yet.

2016 prediction by @stonetemple: Wearables will show a disappointing level of growth.
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29. Personal assistants from Google, Apple and Microsoft will continue to battle through the year.

As these companies view those platforms as one of the most important land grab battles for the future of digital marketing. This will result in major new announcements from at least 2 of the 3 aforementioned parties this year.

30. Machine learning will become more mainstream as well.

The computing knowledge needed to implement these algorithms is become much more accessible, and the power of machine optimized algorithms is undeniable.

Larry Kim

(@larrykim) CTO, WordStream


31. In 2016, Facebook will open up Facebook Messenger as a service. Meaning, developers will be able to build business applications on top of messenger to enable commerce activities, which up to now, hasn’t been made generally available. For example, say you’re doing a group chat in messenger, you could order an Uber for a friend, and they could see your status in real time. Or say you’re an ecommerce company — your customers could subscribe to a live update of the shipping, and do future orders by just replying to message.

2016 prediction from @larrykim: Facebook opens Facebook Messenger as a service for devs to build…
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Facebook Messenger matters because nearly a billion people use it, mostly on mobile. Filling out those complicated ecommerce forms that were designed for desktops is so much harder than texting an emoji or using voice input. To say this is disruptive and transformative to mobile commerce is an understatement. What’s a marketer to do about this trend? A simple growth hack would be to start supporting Facebook logins on your site or apps, and collecting Facebook login IDs and/or mobile phone numbers as part of your direct response marketing efforts, so that you can target them later.

Maddie Cary

(@MaddieMarketer) Senior Client Manager, Point It Inc.


Prediction by @MaddieMarketer: 2016 is the Year of Removing Resistance – think streamlined…
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2016 is going to be the year of “removing resistance.” I think we’re going to see new features, ad formats, and campaign types rolled out that are streamlined and dynamic, as well as provide more data-enriched ways to target (and ideally convert!) searchers. A few ways I think that’ll play out throughout the year include:

32. More audience targeting in PPC

Keyword intent is incredibly important, but there’s greater power in layering it with high-quality audience data. I think PPC is going to follow the paths already carved out in channels like Display and Social, with Google and Bing likely launching more PPC targeting methods that are audience-focused

33. Removing steps in order to convert the mobile searcher

How many articles and studies have we seen over the last 1-2 years showing how mobile search volume is surpassing desktop? Yet why is it that it’s still difficult in many verticals to convert mobile searchers? I anticipate we’ll see search publishers take the Amazon route and start rolling out one-click options on the mobile SERP (like that Google mobile buy button) in order to shorten the conversion path and improve conversion rates, encouraging more PPC investment in mobile.

34. Increase in dynamic ad features

How else do you shorten the path to conversion? By showing the searcher what they’ve already expressed an interest in. Dynamic ad formats & targeting methods are going to expand further in 2016, and I think we’re going to get more ad building tools within the UIs to help further streamline that process for online marketers.

35. Growth of Shopping/PLA and available ad formats

SERPs are getting more visual, and therefore I think PLAs are the frontrunners for driving e-commerce growth through 2016. If you then start to imagine Shopping campaigns that incorporate layered audience targeting + mobile one-click buy solutions + dynamic ad formats…that could be the winning formula for notable PPC channel growth throughout this next year!

Dan Petrovic

(@dejanseo) Director, Dejan Marketing


The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

Content production has been increasing at a phenomenal rate. The abundance of choice and easy of access of web content lead to changes in our reading habits. One specific phenomenon is the rise of skimmers.

Dan Petrovic’s research shows a content consumption phenomenon: the rise of skimmers. Read his…
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An Australian-based study conducted by our team showed us that most people decide whether to read something within seconds of loading a page. This choice is influenced by a number of factors including:

  • Presence of quick answers
  • Scannable text structure
  • Design and aesthetics
  • Trustworthiness
  • Text size

The majority of our respondents admitted to skipping uninteresting parts when reading content or even only quickly scanning pages looking for quick answers. We’ve known this for nearly two decades yet few are getting their content format right.

2016 #SEO prediction by Dan Petrovic: Producing lots of “OK” content isn’t going to cut it in…
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36. Producing lots of “OK” content isn’t going to cut it in 2016. I believe we’ll see a lot of digital agencies adjusting their approach to content formats and keeping in mind that more doesn’t mean better.

I’d like to see Google reward innovation when it brings good user engagement signals. It’s time for them to start treating content behind tabs, accordions and other mechanisms for what they are designed for — great user experience.

Bonus predictions:

  • Penguin release will be mild and uninteresting.
  • Google will continue to aggressively push mobile.
  • Additional incentives will be offered to switch to https.
  • We’ll start seeing a smarter AI-based results, but will not be impressed.
  • New developments will be made on a personal assistant level involving two elements: email and voice input.

Richard Baxter

(@richardbaxter) Managing Director, Builtvisible


37. The demand for technical search expertise will increase significantly, especially in mobile.

Over the past 6 months we’ve seen a lot of development in the mobile influenced side of search. App indexing is now a standard part of most technical search audit recommendations, and as we progress into 2016 I’d expect to see more app only content in search results. This will include app streaming — enabling the use of an app without it actually being installed on your device. Put simply, the number of options available to marketers to drive traffic from mobile will expand, but will all require a great deal of technical discipline to get right. Over the longer term, we’re going to see the divide between desktop and mobile channel tactics expand.

38. SEO software companies are in for a transformative period.

The majority of the reporting and tracking tools we use today are going to need to provide a step change in their products to cope with mobile, mobile search results tracking, app traffic, traffic modelling and research. More emphasis on placement, channel, device, topic and targeting will be required by content marketers to provide more relevant content experiences to an oft content fatigued audience.

2016 #SEO prediction by @builtvisible: software companies enter transformative period to cope with…
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39. Anyone can produce content; 2016’s winners will be those who make that content “work.”

We’ve observed a large increase in examples of quite complex content production coming out of search marketing agencies, to the point where the ability to provide interactive content is no longer a USP. For our industry, I think 2016 will be a year of focused attention on what makes content “work”. This is a huge subject that doesn’t receive the coverage it deserves, and hopefully we’ll see the subject covered in more detail at this year’s search conferences.

Marcus Tandler

(@mediadonis) Co-founder and CEO,


40. I predict user experience optimization to be a dominating topic in Germany this year.

By now conversion optimization is an established tactic and within the standard repertoire of clever in-house online marketers and performance marketing agencies alike. Unfortunately, conversion optimization mostly focuses on single pages and almost always only on the last step of the entire customer journey. Attention needs to be shifted towards optimizing the whole customer experience. This does not only include the optimization of the entire customer journey but most importantly optimizing all touch points potential customers are having with the brand, including any social media platforms, as well as traditional marketing activity whatsoever. Personalization is key here, to enhance the brand experience and general user experience. Nowadays users expect a personal and individual attention — relevant content, at the right time via the right channel. No widely spread advertisement but rather authentic dialogue.

2016 digital marketing prediction by @mediadonis: user experience #UX optimization overshadows…
Click To Tweet

Andre Alpar

(@andrealpar) CEO, PerformicsAKM3 Berlin


41. Technical SEO grows in complexity and importance.

The plurality and diversity of options for technical SEO measures is growing faster than ever before. On top of that, topics that used more separate from SEO are becoming more interconnected with SEO. Here are some examples:

  • Web security: defense against spam / hacking
  • Privacy: HTTPS etc.
  • Server configuration and hosting: page speed
  • The complexity and non-transparency of search engine results: the keyword position tracking when all results are heavily individualized. There are also all kinds of special insertions and result representations

Technical SEO will definitely require investment in terms of effort and costs. It remains to be a potentially great differentiating factor for those able to adapt quickly while managing effort thanks to a sound technical infrastructure.

42. Links will still matter.

It seems during the last three or four years that some search marketers have adapted “links are not important any more” as their version of the claim, “SEO is dead”. All search marketers who realistically can grow their own and their clients’ organic traffic over many years know that this false prediction is far off and will stay so for at least another five years. Sure, there may be other off-page signals that can complement links e.g. the analysis of traffic via browsers, but at the moment, and for the foreseeable future, there is no better off-page quality signal than a good link that drives direct traffic—and, ultimately, a large multiplicative of traffic via better positions in SERPs.

43. Drifting apart of content quality requirements.

This may be a trend that many do not see but we are confronted with it daily as we work in many multilingual and international setups in Europe. Investments per piece of content in large countries, or languages which are spoken in many countries, are growing rapidly. But this is not the case for smaller countries or less popular languages. Think, for example, of the many European countries with less than 10 million inhabitants and their own local language.

2016 international #SEO prediction by @andrealpar: Business will invest in content,…
Click To Tweet

Also think of the varying search terms and topics. Where it makes sense to invest a lot in content in, for example, English, Spanish or German, it makes less sense to do so in Italian or Dutch, for example, and even less in Serbian, Danish or Swedish.

You have to then also find and adapt how you measure SEO success or ROI on content, etc. The aftermath coming out of this development has a massive strategic impact. For multiregional and multinational companies and the agencies that they work with, this is a huge and massively growing driver of the complexity of SEO.

Thank you all for sharing your predictions with us here. If you reading have predictions, comment away. We’ll be checking back with our assembled experts through the year to see how their predictions stand.

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The Digital Marketing Conference Calendar: 100+ Events Across the Globe, Updated for 2016

The Digital Marketing Conference Calendar: 100+ Events Across the Globe, Updated for 2016 was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Throughout the year, Internet marketing conferences are held all over the world, from Los Angeles to Paris and everywhere in between. The thousands of SEOs, SEMs, content marketers, social media strategists and business owners who attend these conferences do so for the whirlwind of information, education and networking.

Where else but an Internet marketing conference can you learn from the likes of Gary Illyes, Duane Forrester, John Mueller, Rand Fishkin, Larry Kim and Bruce Clay all in a single day? 2016 holds more than 100 digital marketing conferences and events and we’ve updated our Internet Marketing Conference Calendar to help you view them all to start planning your year ahead. (Click here to skip straight ahead to the calendar).

Digital Marketing Conference Calendar

Save on Digital Marketing Conferences: Plan Now, Spend Less

Everyone likes a good deal, and the easiest way to save on a digital marketing conference is to book early. You can save up to hundreds of dollars when you take advantage early bird rates. Plan early and save big! Map out your conference attendance with the Digital Marketing Conference Calendar — it’s your exclusive guide for 100+ Internet marketing conferences of 2016 and beyond. Where will you go?

Maybe you’ll head off to SMX Paris? Bon voyage!

Digital Marketing Conference Calendar Paris

Or perhaps you’ll head to New York City for Affiliate Summit East …

Digital Marketing Conference Calendar New York

You don’t want to miss SEO training with Bruce Clay in SoCal!


The Digital Marketing Conference Calendar

Type-A Parent Blogger Conference Jan. 9 Las Vegas
Affiliate Summit West Jan. 10-12 Las Vegas
SEOToolSet Training Jan. 18-22 Los Angeles
SLC|SEM Jan. 20 Salt Lake City
Learn Inbound Jan. 20 Dublin
Digital Marketing Strategies Summit Jan. 26-28 Las Vegas
SEOToolSet Training Feb. 2-4 India
Connect Feb. 4-5 Miami
Digital Summit Feb. 8-9 Phoenix
Social Media Strategies Summit Feb. 9-11 Las Vegas
BIA/Kelsey NOW Feb. 18 Seattle
Digital Marketing Summit
for Financial Services
Feb. 18-19 San Francisco
Wisdom 2.0 Feb. 20-22 San Francisco
Social Media Week Feb. 22-26 Hamburg
Social Media Week Feb. 22-26 Jakarta
Social Media Week Feb. 22-26 Lagos
Social Media Week Feb. 22-26 New York
SearchLove Feb. 23-24 San Diego
SFIMA Summit Feb. 24-25 Fort Lauderdale
SMX West Mar. 1-3 San Jose
ad:tech Mar. 3 New Dehli
SearchFest Mar. 10 Portland
inOrbit Mar. 10-11 Slovenia
SXSW Interactive Mar. 11-15 Austin
An Event Apart March 14-16 Nashville
SEOToolSet Training Mar. 14-18 Los Angeles
SMX Munich Mar. 17-18 Munich
MarTech Mar. 21-22 San Francisco
BIA/Kelsey NEXT Mar. 22 New York
Conversion XL Mar. 30-April 1 Austin
eMetrics Summit April 3-6 San Francisco
An Event Apart April 4-6 Seattle
Digital Summit April 5-6 Los Angeles
Digimarcon Cruise April 10-17 Texas
ClickZ Live April 11-13 New York
Social Tools Summit April 12 Boston
SEJ Summit April 13 Santa Monica
Social Media Marketing World April 17-19 San Diego
Learn Inbound April 20 Dublin
Hero Conf April 25-27 Philadelphia
Social Media Strategies Summit April 26-28 Chicago
SearchLove May 3-4 Boston
Pubcon Austin May 3 Austin
Digital Growth Summit May 6 Santa Monica
ad:tech May 11-12 Los Angeles
BIA/Kelsey ENGAGE Mar. 16-18 Austin
An Event Apart May 16-18 Boston
SEOToolSet Training May 16-20 Los Angeles
Content Marketing Conference May 17-19 Las Vegas
Conversion Conference May 18-19 Las Vegas
Confab Central May 18-20 Minneapolis
The Inbounder May 19-20 Valencia
SMX London May 20-21 London
The Social Shake-up May 24-25 Atlanta
SMX Paris June 1-2 Paris
Social Media Strategies Summit June 1-3 New York
Social Media Week June 6-10 Los Angeles
Social Media Week June 6-10 Mexico City
Social Media Week June 6-10 Milan
IRCE June 7-10 Chicago
Big Digital June 7-8 Adelaide
SMX Advanced June 21-22 Seattle
SEJ Summit June 22 Chicago
Ungagged June 23-24 London
MN Search Summit June 4 Minneapolis
eMetrics Summit June 20-23 Chicago
eMetrics Summit July 1-2 Milan
Podcast Movement July 6-8 Chicago
Type-A Parent Blogger Conference July 7-9 Santa Fe
SEOToolSet Training July 11-15 Los Angeles
Learn Inbound July 20 Dublin
An Event Apart July 25-27 Washington D.C.
Affiliate Summit East July 31- Aug. 2 New York
Blogher Aug. 4-6 Los Angeles
World Domination Aug. 11-15 Portland
Social Fresh Aug. 18-21 Orlando
An Event Apart Aug. 29-31 Chicago
Content Marketing World Sept. 6-9 Cleveland
SEOToolSet Training Sept. 12-16 Los Angeles
Social Media Week Sept. 12-16 London
Social Media Week Sept. 12-16 Miami
Social Media Week Sept. 12-16 Mumbai
Social Media Week Sept. 12-16 Sao Paulo
MozCon Sept. 12-14 Seattle
Branding Energy Sept. 19-20 Reykjavik
SMX East Sept. 27-29 New York
An Event Apart Oct. 3-5 Orlando
Blogher Oct. 7-8 Austin
Pubcon Oct. 10-13 Las Vegas
eMetrics Summit Oct. 12-13 London
&Then Oct. 16-18 Los Angeles
SearchLove Oct. 17-18 London
Learn Inbound Oct. 20 Dublin
Hero Conf Oct. 24-26 London
eMetrics Summit Oct. 24-27 New York
Type-A Parent Blogger Conference Oct. 27-29 Orlando
An Event Apart Oct. 31-Nov. 2 San Francisco
SEJ Summit Nov. 2 New York
Social Media Strategies Summit Nov. 2-3 Boston
ad:tech Nov. 2-3 New York
eMetrics Summit Nov. 8-9 Berlin
Inbound Nov. 8-11 Boston
DFWSEM State of Search Nov. 14-15 Dallas
Social Media Week Nov. 14-18 Chicago
Social Media Week Nov. 14-18 Rotterdam
Social Media Week Nov. 14-18 Santiago
Social Media Week Nov. 14-18 Sydney
Ungagged Nov. 14 Las Vegas
SEOToolSet Training Dec. 5-9 Los Angeles

Want to add the Internet Marketing Conference Calendar to your Google Calendar to better see which upcoming events fit your schedule best? Add it to your Google Calendar here (once it’s added you can toggle it on or off once it’s added).

Internet Marketing Conference Fast Facts

  • There are more than 100 digital marketing conferences in 2016.
  • March is the busiest conference month.
  • San Francisco is the epicenter of Internet marketing conferences — more conferences take place there than in any other city.
  • The longest digital marketing conference of 2016 is the Digimarcon Cruise. That’s right — digital marketers will set off on a cruise that departs from Galveston, Texas in April for an entire week of seafaring, sunshine and digital marketing education in Honduras, Belize and Mexico.

Add Your Event: Digital Marketing Conference Calendar Submissions

If you know of an event that you think should be included on this calendar, we want to hear about it! The Internet Marketing Conference Calendar is open to any conference associated with Internet marketing, including search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social media marketing, digital marketing, Internet technology, B2B and B2C. Meetups will not be included on this calendar. If you’d like to submit a conference or event for inclusion on the calendar, please email Social-BC[at]BruceClay[dot]com with the name and dates of the conference, and a link to the conference website.

What Internet marketing conferences are you most looking forward to in 2016? Share with us in the comments!

Considering Google AMP for SEO? Why Accelerated Mobile Pages Is Not the Speed Solution for Every Business

Considering Google AMP for SEO? Why Accelerated Mobile Pages Is Not the Speed Solution for Every Business was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Google is pushing AMP hard right now.

“At State of Search in Dallas, Gary Illyes from Google revealed what the next big thing for 2016 would be, and it is AMP, also known as Accelerated Mobile Pages. And he said they will be pushing it aggressively in 2016.” —Jennifer Slegg, (with emphasis added)

Typically, when Google says “this is important and you should do this,” the SEO community jumps to it – especially with today’s focus on mobile SEO.

But AMP is NOT for everyone. Let’s be clear on who AMP is for and the limitations it poses to every other business.

considering accelerated mobile pages?

What Is Google AMP?

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) is an open source project geared to enable publishers to load articles instantly for mobile readers.

AMP’s lightning fast loading of publisher content on a mobile device is accomplished by:

  1. Pre-rendering the content while limiting the use of JavaScript that publisher sites can use
  2. And caching content so Google doesn’t have to fetch page content from the publisher’s server

An AMP report was just added to Google Search Console to gain visibility for the initiative among webmasters.

AMP Is Google’s Answer to Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News

AMP is a response to search traffic getting left out of the mobile conversation. Mobile users are used to the fast-loading content experience like that delivered by Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. Those platforms often exclude the ability to embed advertisements, however, an issue that Google is keen on solving.

With Instant Articles, publishers’ content on Facebook loads really quickly because all those pages are prerendered. You click and it’s there. People are getting used to that experience, but Google obviously doesn’t have control over the speed of a publisher’s page load from the SERP, and it’s very important for them to make sure that people are still using Google and visiting some of the more than 2 million websites that are part of Googles Display Network. So when this SERP click leads to a site that’s incredibly slow and gives a bad user experience, it’s almost like people are going to associate that poor experience with Google.

With AMP, publishers have a solution for speedy loading content served to searchers that doesn’t exclude Google’s advertisements

AMP Is Google’s Answer to Ad Blockers

AMP is also a response to the proliferation of ad blockers. Ad blockers are a serious problem for Google AdSense and the publishers that serve AdSense ads. Neither Google nor publishers make money on ads when web users block ads. According to the latest study, 16% of U.S. Internet users block ads. The latest Apple mobile operating system, iOS 9, supports ad blocking in the Safari browser.

Apple’s move to block ads including AdSense is intended to speed up the Internet on phones, and it leaves Google out in the cold. AMP is a response to this. Google knows it needs to give mobile web users a fast experience or they’re going to stop trusting the search engine as a content discovery engine.

As ad blockers are a symptom of a degraded mobile user experience caused by advertising, it’s no coincidence that Google reps first announced the AMP Project to the assembled webmaster/publisher community at the Google AdSense keynote at Pubcon Las Vegas last October. Just recently, Google also announced that they have expanded their support of third-party ad platforms, making the ability to place ads on AMP pages a little easier.

What Google AMP Is Not

A fast experience doesn’t always equate to usability or a great user experience. Of course we know that a website should be fast. You’ll lose a visitor if the visible area loads in more than 300 milliseconds, by some reports. AMP won’t automatically turn off visitors’ ad blockers, but Google hopes AMP will go a long way toward making ad blockers unnecessary as users don’t notice a delay for ads to be displayed.

Who Is Google AMP For?

Google AMP is for publisher websites. Why just publishers? Because websites with goals other than serving content and ads will find the limitations of AMP too restrictive.

From “AMP HTML is HTML with some restrictions for reliable performance and some extensions for building rich content beyond basic HTML. The AMP JS library ensures the fast rendering of AMP HTML pages. The AMP CDN (optionally) delivers the AMP HTML pages.”

In practice, JavaScript is basically not allowed except for a JavaScript library Google provides to act as a container for content. This means web forms, an important lead generation tool, are out. CSS needs to be streamlined and some can’t be used, and available HTML is limited.

Site Speed for SEO Beyond AMP

Luckily, there are a million ways to make sites faster other than to strip them down of all JavaScript and interactive HTML. Bruce made an analogy on a recent episode of our SEM Synergy podcast. If you were to go out and buy a car, you could actually ask for a car without power steering because it takes gas. You could forgo air conditioning because it takes gas. And the concept of a convertible might seem like a bad idea because of wind resistance.

AMP in its current form neuters a site of engagement and interactive site elements, including forms and shopping carts. Many sites have become dependent upon the engagement objects and features that are stripped out for AMP.

So are we recommending AMP to our search engine optimization clients? Not unless you’re a news publisher on an ad revenue model. If this is your business, you can start with AMP here. Otherwise, SEOs have a number of effective tools for cranking up site speed, which you can start with here:


What Should You Expect from a Search Engine?

What Should You Expect from a Search Engine? was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Maybe the question is, why should you expect anything?

Bing-Duane-ForresterThe truth is, inside an engine is a busy place. I spent nearly six years representing a search engine to the SEO industry and I can tell you that, contrary to many search engine optimization conspiracy theories, neither Bing nor Google have designs on harming businesses. Both do have profit motives, however, just like you do.

Updates happen because … pause for drum roll … something undesirable is happening!

What Motivates Search Engines?

Research suggests that WordPress powers about 25 percent of the World Wide Web’s sites. More websites use WordPress, but of those using it, they are not “higher traffic” sites. OK, that makes sense — WordPress powers blogs mostly, we can loosely infer.

Let’s say, for example, someone made a WordPress plugin that managed ads across one quarter of the Internet. And that WordPress plugin placed the ads above the content on a page. Obviously, on an individual level, this is a recipe for increased revenue. But taken across the entirety of the user base, if even a fraction of WordPress sites adopt the plugin, it results in a disturbing trend.

If the engine is judged by users on the quality of the experience the user sees after clicking through on a result, then this places the engine in a difficult position. Do you police for quality or do you “throw it over the fence” and declare it not your problem?

But see, it is the engine’s problem.

Google faces ever-growing competition. Competition that’s gaining, albeit slowly, and in some ways seeking to change the game. Bing faces a similar problem on the other side of the coin — satisfying searchers enough to convert them.

In either case, the common ground is making searchers happy.

Reread that, as it’s a critical and often-forgotten point. The engines do not exist to satisfy a business. They exist to satisfy searchers. More subtly, they exist to develop revenue, to source data, and to feed that data into inter-related systems across the companies operating them.

When Do Search Engines Make Updates?

So when someone builds a popular plugin for WordPress, again, and it shows a trend that goes against the goal of happy searchers, the engines take an action. In this example, Google gave us the Page Layout Algorithm back in 2012. On Bing’s side of the graph, while the updates aren’t named or publicized, they happen. Indeed, they happen frequently. So frequently, in fact, that it simply doesn’t make sense to announce everything.

It’s important to note here that, in many cases, updates are not “to fix something that’s broken.”

Updates are a move from one state to a more advanced state.

all-about-usefulness-today-and-moving-forward-duane-forrester-400Maybe that’s a matter of perspective, but if you’re still asking me today about links, I’d say your perspective is wrong. Things change over time, and with thousands of smart people seeking to improve a product daily, things tend to keep moving. At the scale those projects work at, it can take time to manifest, but I’ve seen first-hand the changes at Bing.

If you think of Google as being a highway, every now and then you encounter a speed bump. It can be jarring. Everything is smooth, then suddenly WHAM! you hit an update. Bing, on the other hand, takes a different approach. The road surface at Bing is slightly less smooth overall, but once you’re up to speed, you don’t notice the slight surface irregularities. It feels smoother. Doesn’t mean things aren’t going on, just that your perception is it’s smoother.

This can help explain why ranking is harder in Bing at times, and more stable in the long run. And on that note, let the corrective comments, refuting examples and hate email start! I’m certain there are more than a few examples to rebut what I just suggested. But again, scale. When looked at not just across the sample set that even the biggest agency works with, the actual scale the engine operates at is enormously larger. In that context — the context of the engines — the statement makes sense.

How Do Engines Feel about SEO?

Does this all mean the engines dislike SEOs, their tactics and businesses doing this work?

Nope. They readily recognize the improvements made by the work. The flip side is that the engines have to protect against gaming. This is why engines always take an arms-length approach.

The job of representing a search engine to the industry is not an easy one. I know. I was that face for Bing for about six years. Matt, Gary, John, Maile, now Christi Olson at Bing have all had to balance carefully. As individuals, all are approachable, helpful and knowledgeable. But that doesn’t mean any of us can give away secrets, or share things the engine wants kept secret. This is obvious, yet countless times at conferences the impossible is asked for, then derision heaped on socially when answers are not forthcoming.

Gary Illyes and Duane Forrester

As a representative of Bing to the SEO industry, Duane Forrester (right) answered questions posed by SEOs on stage with Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes (left) at SMX West 2015.

The reality in some cases is that due to the structure of the product, it’s completely conceivable the person you’re speaking to may not have access to the information, or that something changed since the last time they connected internally on the topic. Bing has a few thousand employees working on search. Google has, what, maybe 20,000 applied to search in some degree? I grew up in a city of 30,000 people, so asking me to know all the information and be current is like asking me to know the details on two-thirds of a city. Unrealistic. Even at Bing’s smaller scale, it’s an unrealistic expectation.

The bottom line here is there will always exist a push/pull reality. Engines want the improvements that optimization brings to a product, but they cannot be trusting to the point where results suffer. And in a space where searchers are growing ever savvier, ever clearer about expected results, it might seem like changes being made are punitive to businesses. But the reality is they are designed to appeal to searchers.

How Can Businesses Appeal to Search Engines?

Now, what might happen if your efforts were all geared towards improving the users’ experience, meeting their expectations and providing the highest quality result for their need? Do you think that might be something the engine would want to showcase?

So what should you expect from a search engine?

Exactly what they’ve given us for years. A lack of in-depth answers in some instances, rapid change and advancement, a searcher-first mentality, and a drive for revenue. We all know these are the ground rules. So why is it so hard for businesses to adapt?

There’s a better approach for businesses to take when it comes to SEO and rankings.

Don’t cater to search engines. Cater to users. Don’t settle for search engine optimization. Think bigger — user experience optimization. Internet marketing is SEO, PPC, content development, social media marketing, website design and conversion optimization. Businesses are born to serve customers. Get back to your roots with your Internet marketing.

Modern Internet Marketing Strategies Video: ’90s SEOs Ammon Johns, Bill Slawski, Bruce Clay, Christine Churchill & Kim Krause Berg

Modern Internet Marketing Strategies Video: ’90s SEOs Ammon Johns, Bill Slawski, Bruce Clay, Christine Churchill & Kim Krause Berg was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Some fads are retired with great celebration. Crimped hair, No Fear T-shirts, and neon windbreakers buried in the back of the closet since 1999 – probably best if they’re never heard from again.

But some of the search marketing industry’s biggest stars were made in the ’90s and are still trending. On January 1, 2016, Bruce Clay, Inc. marked its  20th anniversary – 20 years that Bruce Clay has been steering the digital marketing industry with thought leadership, and proof that some 90s inventions are classics.

Bruce Clay, president of Bruce Clay, Inc., is one of a rare breed of digital marketers that got started in SEO in the 90s. Others include Stoney deGeyter of Pole Position Marketing, Christine Churchill of Key Relevance, Terry Van Horne of International Website Builders, and Kim Krause Berg of Creative Vision Web Consulting. Beyond their industry veteran status, there’s something else they have in common – and that’s valuable digital marketing wisdom gained from decades of perspective and experience.

This group came together as guests of Ammon Johns (of Ammon Johns and Company) and Bill Slawski (of SEO by the Sea) in Bill and Ammon’s Jumbo January Bogus Hangout. John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, and Kristin Drysdale were there too, rounding out the reasons that this conversation was one to watch.

Topics explored in this hangout included:

  • Knowledge Graph and direct answers SEO
  • Usability and user testing
  • Mobile — cross-channel, multi-screen advertising and voice search
  • Future technology and marketing — AI and self-driving cars

Jump to topics by clicking the links above or read on for all the highlights.

Knowledge Graph and Direct Answers SEO

Bill Slawski shared that a Knowledge Graph Search API was released a few weeks ago. Since then, Slawski has been working on a new Google+ group for those who want to stay in the know about Google’s Knowledge Graph.

Can and should SEOs optimize for the Knowledge Graph?

It’s a topic that’s been discussed, and Bill thinks SEOs should optimize for Knowledge Graph and direct answer results. Since the new API lets marketers see searches that are connected to each other, Slawski says it’s a “good time to get involved” in direct answer optimization. Slawski suspects that Knowledge Graph optimization is overlooked by a lot of SEO professionals and adds that the Knowledge Graph shows information that perhaps isn’t thought of as SEO but should be.

Usability and User Testing

While most SEOs understand the importance of user testing and site audits, experience goes a long way to teach an SEO exactly when these two practices are needed the most. In Christine Churchill’s experience, sites that undergo redesigns often have the most SEO-related problems to fix.

About to undergo a redesign? You will need more than a webmaster to pull it off. The transition period after a redesign launch will be as smooth as possible with proper audits and testing beforehand. After a launch, Churchill advises testing to ensure the new design “answers the mail” and is easy to use.

Great webmasters, digital marketers, and SEOs consider usability, but it’s still not given proper credit or understood well by clients and business owners. In fact, the hangout participants revealed that for budget reasons, some SEOs even bury usability services in the scope of a different marketing field –  conversion analysis. Churchill believes usability doesn’t get anywhere near the budget segment that it should, which is a problem because it can make a big difference.

How does usability optimization and user testing help with digital marketing? DeGeyter suggests usability optimization does wonders for pure web marketing and helping a business grow. After noticing site issues, he usually runs user tests and provides his client with actionable recommendations that when implemented end up helping with conversions.

Also important to note about usability improvements: DeGeyter said that even if clients don’t get  number one rankings, usability improvements result in conversion increases and revenue – which makes them happy. He says clients don’t always know what they want. “We give them what they want, but you give them what they really need, and that’s going to satisfy them.”

Accessibility, User Intent, and Data Driven Decisions

It’s no surprise that Kim Krause Berg’s SEO focus for 2016 involves improving accessibility and better understanding user intent. She’s a user-experience guru with a company that specializes in both accessibility and user intent along with SEO.

This year Berg is also paying more attention to data-driven decisions for design and marketing work. Worth noting, Berg believes that marketers aren’t preparing for the aging Internet using populations in countries like Europe and America. She believes marketers have to be thinking about how older generations search.

About Mobile

These days it’s hard to have an SEO hangout without talking about mobile. Kim Krause Berg expressed that mobile is “throwing a wrench into everything.”

Ammon Johns suggests that advertising is adapting to users’ multi-screen browsing behavior, but recognizes that cross-channel attribution is still a big SEO challenge.

Bruce Clay had a lot to share on the topic of mobile SEO and mobile advertising. Google doesn’t make money from organic results, he noted. Google makes money on ads. According to Bruce, Google’s focused on making its ad serving systems faster and improving technologies that makes Google money. He said Google can control the format of results on the mobile browser better:

“The reason Google is so supportive of mobile right now is that this is a new environment where they can set the standard saying one organic, three pay per click … If you’re not at the very top you’re not going to show up.”

Bruce Clay believes mobile and local will be the focus of Google, and therefore SEOs, for the next few years.

“Just as a data point, I was around where there were mainframes and in walks the first PC. It’s taken almost 40 years for technology to get to the point where PC is being replaced by mobile.” Bruce views this progression as a natural evolution, not a revolution. He believes that SEOs need to adjust and be where the people are going to be.

(Bruce’s most recent 2016 Digital Marketing Predictions also reveal some other thoughts he has about where mobile is headed.) 

“Everybody has a mobile device. Many people have two mobile devices or more. I think that in a year, that is where everybody lives, and if we as an industry don’t adapt to that, then we’re going to … be left behind.”

Voice Search

Bruce Clay suggests that one of the biggest current challenges for SEOs is adapting to voice search. “Voice search is going to change what people do with a mobile device to the point where perhaps there won’t even be organic results on ‘those devices,’ and that could really change our entire platform going forward.”

Clay said that organic results will always be there. “If the info you’re after won’t conveniently fit on half a page, Google won’t answer.”

“We’re going to see Google go not just mobile, but mobile and local simultaneously, and those are going to change the dynamics of national companies. They’re going to change the dynamics of mobile, all sorts of things are going to be upset, if Google believes for that query you wanted a local presence. They’re going to give local presence precedence and the rest of organic will just have to catch up.”

On Content for Mobile Users

Terry Van Horne added another perspective to the mobile discussion by sharing his suspicions that mobile will not change things as much as people say it will. He said content will always move with the devices, and that marketers should only make one set of content that works across devices. He believes it will be too expensive to run double platforms. For example, responsive design works for mobile, and he thinks SEOs will come up with a similar solution for new devices.

Future Technology and Marketing

“You can’t invent new technology without worrying about where it goes,” said Ammon Johns during the hangout.

Artificial Intelligence

Beyond mobile and local SEO, Clay believes that SEOs will have no other choice but to figure out how to integrate AI. He thinks it will take a couple of years, but sees a future with holograms and 3D printers everywhere.

“If what we want to do as an industry is be where the industry is going, I think we have to understand the technology leaps, I think we have to understand the usability leaps, those are going to be evolutionary.”

Ammon Johns suggested that technology is a good number years off from a proper AI.

(This topic is echoed by Duane Forrester in his 2016 Digital Marketing Predictions, a must read.)

How far off is next-level artificial intelligence? Kim Krause Berg said that her Android phone’s AI is good at bad jokes. So, maybe quite a ways off.

Self-Driving Cars

According to Clay, “The primary reason I think Google wants to have cars that drive themselves is because while the car is driving itself you’re going to be seeing Google ads all over the dashboard. You’re a captive market and you can’t get away from the Google ads and the Google car. I see that as being the way the world works.”

Learning from the ’90s

It’s been solid decades since the SEOs featured in Bill and Ammon’s Jumbo January Bogus Hangout started their careers, and time has proven they have what it takes to stay in the game. Paying attention to the strategies they implemented in the past, what they’re working on today, and what they plan to do in the near future might just keep you in the race!

5 Core Ways to Integrate Paid Search and Social

5 Core Ways to Integrate Paid Search and Social was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

This guest post by Sana Ansari, GM at our friends 3Q Accelerate, outlines five strategies that are considered key best practices for smart search and social campaigns. These integrations bring your digital marketing to the big leagues. Be sure you’re hitting all these bases with your paid search and social campaigns, or check with your ad team to make sure they are. (And yes, both 3Q and BCI offer SEM and paid social services!) Don’t miss these opportunities for engaging customers throughout the funnel and driving them back to your site. Take it away, Sana!

Search & Social Integration

SEM and paid social are both performance channels with particular strengths and weaknesses; SEM captures intent where Facebook doesn’t, but Facebook can open awareness to a huge new audience that AdWords can’t reach. Used intelligently together, however, these two channels combine for a powerhouse marketing campaign.

Here are five ways to integrate your paid search and paid social campaigns for immediate results.

1. Generate Demand and Brand Awareness

To attract users at the top of the funnel, use Facebook to increase share of voice, brand engagement, and awareness. This will help generate demand. As users begin to learn about your product and services, they’ll end up going back to Google later and performing a search. You can capture and convert those with SEM.

generate brand awareness

2. Leverage Facebook for Remarketing

Let’s say we’ve been successful in getting our ad to high-intent audiences via SEM and we’ve been able to bring them to our site. However, for one reason or another, we were unable to get them to convert. We can leverage Facebook for additional scale on high-intent customers by using remarketing and getting our brand back in the eye of those visitors. We can leverage Facebook’s creative options to take another stab at convincing them (with value props, product imagery, etc.) to convert as well as sending the user to a highly relevant page to finish the job.

leverage facebook remarketing

3. Use Facebook for Re-engagement

If you are a business where users can come and convert multiple times (think ecomm – toy stores, apparel, etc. – or services – spas, food delivery, etc.), you’ll want to use SEM to capture those high-intent users initially. Once they have made a purchase or signup and you have gotten that first-party data (email really), Facebook is a perfect avenue to remind these customers later on about great deals, new products/offerings, etc., to lure them back in for new purchases. Facebook allows you to upload first-party data to narrow out your customer base within their members and allow you to show your ads directly to that audience.

use facebook reengagement

4. Leverage Lookalike Audiences

In the same vein as above, there are a bunch of good options in Facebook to really leverage our first-party data to help us capture incremental unique users. Let’s say we have been able to build up a great customer base via SEM. However, often there’s a limited number of people searching for our product/service, and we want to venture out to get our offering to more audiences.

A great way to do this in an efficient manner is to take our customer list (ideally segmenting them out into smaller lists of audiences with a similarity – for example, high lifetime value/LTV, medium LTV, and low LTV) and upload that into Facebook, essentially creating website custom audiences. From those website custom audiences, we can then use Facebook’s lookalike technology to find additional audiences that show characteristics/traits very similar to our customer base.

leverage lookalike audience

5. Go after Your Competitors

Double up on your competition by going after audiences who like competitors in Facebook – target them specifically on Facebook and bid on competitor terms in SEM. If we continue to get our brand in front of these audiences, they’ll become familiar with our name, and with the right ads we should be able to capture enough interest to bring them onto our site via either Facebook or SEM.

go after competitors

go after competitors

Have you developed any other ways to use Facebook and SEM campaigns together, replicating successful messaging, for example? Leave a comment!

Bringing You Live Reports from #SMX West 2016

Bringing You Live Reports from #SMX West 2016 was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

SMX logoIt’s that time of year: digital marketers from all over the world flock to Silicon Valley to talk SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media and more at Search Marketing Expo (SMX) West on Feb. 29 – Mar. 3.

Every year the conference attracts thousands of attendees as the industry’s best and brightest take the stage to share big picture pep talks, compelling case studies, and the latest best practices they’ve expertly honed.

Virginia Nussey and I will be reporting live from SMX West so that, even from your office, you can virtually attend the conference. Jump ahead to the SMX West 2016 liveblog schedule below to see the sessions and speakers to expect on our blog, or read on to discover the many opportunities to connect with the Bruce Clay, Inc. team in the coming weeks.

Where to Find Bruce & Co. at SMX West 2016

SMX Meet & Greet blue

  • Bruce Clay will lead his acclaimed One-Day SEO Workshop on Feb. 29.
  • When night falls, have a drink on Bruce! As always, he’s sponsoring the open bar at the SMX opening reception. Mix and mingle in the San Jose Marriott Ballroom foyer at 6 p.m.
  • Catch Duane Forrester on March. 1 at 11:40 a.m. in the SMX Theater as he talks about linkless attribution — and learn why what people say will matter more than ever. #HotTopic
  • On March 2, Bruce will share a Solution Spotlight featuring at 9 a.m. at the beginning of the “Essential Steps for Performing an Effective SEO Audit” session.
  • David Szetela will share his search marketing insights during the Paid Search Roundtable  at 2:30 p.m. on March 3.
  • Throughout the entire SMX West conference, you can stop by booth #406 in the Expo Hall to meet our team!
  • If you haven’t registered for SMX West, save 10% with this code: WS-BC10

SMX West 2016 Liveblog Schedule

Day 1: March 1, 2016

Time SMX West Session Blogger
9 a.m. Keynote: What’s the Future of Search? Virginia
10:45 a.m. Getting AMPed: What You Need To Know About Accelerated Mobile Pages & Google Virginia
10:45 a.m. Local Search AMA: A Roundtable Q&A With Top Local Experts Kristi
Noon Linkless Attribution: Why What People Say Will Matter More Than Ever Virginia
1:30 p.m. Beacons: Opportunities, Limitations & How Marketers Can Use Them Today Kristi
1:30 p.m. How Dynamic Ads Can Supercharge Your SEM Campaigns Virginia
3:15 p.m. What Would Beyonce Do? 5 Fierce PPC Tactics to Make Your Account a Superstar Kristi
3:40 p.m.
  • How Email Marketing Is Revolutionizing Paid Search
  • Search In A Multi-Device World
4:45 p.m. All Your Google Manual Actions Questions Answered Kristi

Day 2: March 2, 2016

Time SMX West Session Blogger
9 a.m. Getting Started with Twitter Ads Kristi
9 a.m. Yahoogling: What’s Up With Yahoo, Google & Bing Virginia
10:45 a.m. Mastering Direct Response On Twitter: Case Studies For Maximizing ROI Kristi
10:45 a.m. RankBrain: What Do We Know About Google’s New Machine-Learning System? Virginia
1:30 p.m. Behind the Scenes with Bing Kristi
1:30 p.m.
  • Understanding Your Consumer’s Journey – Using Search Science For Keyword Research
  • Google Analytics Power-Reporting For SEO & SEM
  • Dark Search, Dark Social & Everything In-Between
3:30 p.m.
  • PPC Hacks, Tips & Tricks
  • Content, Your Brand and the Battle for Customers
3:30 p.m. Advanced Audience Targeting Virginia

Day 3: March 3, 2016

Time SMX West Session Blogger
9 a.m. Getting Images Right In Paid Search Virginia
9 a.m. Essential Analytics Reports That SEOs Can’t Live Without Kristi
10:45 a.m. Link Building Clinic Virginia
10:45 a.m. Brands Talk Search Kristi
1 p.m. Optimizing The Paid Search Conversion Funnel Virginia
1 p.m. How Google Works: A Google Ranking Engineer’s Story Kristi
2:30 p.m. Paid Search Roundtable Virginia
2:30 p.m. Social Media Clinic Kristi

Are you headed to SMX West 2016? What sessions will you be at? Share in the comments!