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Google rolling out new top stories design on desktop

Posted by on Dec 6, 2021 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google rolling out new top stories design on desktop

Google rolling out new top stories design on desktop

Google is now rolling out a new design for the top stories section in the desktop version of its search results, a Google spokesperson confirmed with Search Engine Land. The new design matches the design efforts of the mobile top stories section that launched about two years ago.

Google’s confirmation. A Google spokesperson confirmed with Search Engine Land that this new design is rolling out globally now. “We’re always working to make it easier for people to dive into the most useful, timely articles available through Search to help them form a better understanding of the world and the topics they care about most,” Google told us. “This newly launched feature is the desktop version of the Top Stories experience you can already find on mobile,” the search company added.

What it looks like. Here are a couple of screenshots of this new look:

Large featured image with small images for other stories

Evenly distributed images

Earlier version. Google started to roll out this design over the weekend but tested this design on desktop as far back as a year ago on desktop.

Google’s top stories box view looked like this, but Google also had a list view which had them stacked on top of each other:

Why we care. Top stories can send online publishers a lot of search traffic from Google Search. The new design may end up impacting that traffic, you may see more if you are featured in the large image box or you may see less. Publishers should watch their Google Search traffic and see if this new design has an impact on that traffic.

The post Google rolling out new top stories design on desktop appeared first on Search Engine Land.

6 Ways to Grow Your SEO Agency in 2022

Posted by on Dec 6, 2021 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 6 Ways to Grow Your SEO Agency in 2022

Want to start or grow an SEO agency this year? This is for you. In …

Keep Learning >6 Ways to Grow Your SEO Agency in 2022

The post 6 Ways to Grow Your SEO Agency in 2022 first appeared on Gotch SEO.

Google Ads updated political content policies

Posted by on Dec 6, 2021 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google Ads updated political content policies

Google is ending some election ads exemptions, adding new election ads serving options and changing verification requirements. Two new policy updates have been issued, one around new content policies and the other around new advertiser verifications.

Ending election ad serving exceptions. Google said starting on February 15, 2022 the Google Ads Political content policy will be updated and enforced to eliminate existing products, services, and news exemptions to Election Ads policies worldwide.

This means that ads for products, services, and news will no longer be exempt from Google Election Ads policies. Google said that if you want to advertise products, services, and news with ad content in scope of the policy, for example an ad featuring a current candidate or officeholder, Google will be subject to the respective Election Ads policy, including the requirement that they apply for Election Ads verification in order to run these ads.

If you violate that policy, Google said it will not lead to immediate account suspension without prior warning. A warning will be issued at least seven days prior to any suspension of your account.

Expanding election ad serving options. Google will also expand ad serving options for election related content. This will be expanded on February 15, 2022 along with the new ad serving exceptions listed above.

Currently, election ads can serve only in the country or region to which the ad content pertains. But as of February 15, 2022, advertisers who have completed either election ads or advertiser identity verification will be eligible to serve ads in their home country or region that are in scope of an election ads policy pertaining to a different country or region. Google said “advertisers will not be permitted to serve election ads outside of their home country or region. For example, a verified New Zealand advertiser will be eligible to run in New Zealand an ad featuring an EU candidate or officeholder, but would not be permitted to run that same ad in the EU.”

New verification requirements. Google on January 24, 2022 will start to enforce new verification requirements, where Google said it will no longer accept W9 forms for identity verification for US election ads verification. Instead, for employer identification number (EIN) verification, Google will accept the following forms:

Any document, notice, or letter either issued by the IRS or stamped by the IRS that states the Organization’s name and EIN;Forms submitted to the IRS, such as 8871 or 990, if available on the IRS website;Certificates of Business Incorporation;The most recent SEC filing;Bank statements dated within the last 3 months;Business credit reports from Experian, Equifax, TransUnion or Dun & Bradstreet.

You can learn more about this verification change over here.

Why we care. If you are supporting clients or managing your own ads in the election or political space, you will want to carefully review these new changes. When February 15, 2022 comes around, Google will begin enforcing these changes and you want to make sure your ads are running without any issues.

The post Google Ads updated political content policies appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Microsoft adds simple default browser change option after receiving criticism

Posted by on Dec 6, 2021 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Microsoft adds simple default browser change option after receiving criticism

Microsoft has reversed the Windows 11 changes that made switching default browsers more difficult. Now, users who prefer Chrome, Firefox or other browsers can change their default with a single button.

The changes were noted by Rafael Rivera, developer of the EarTrumpet Windows volume control app, early last week and were first reported by The Verge.

Why we care. Microsoft’s default browser reversal shows that it’s paying attention to the feedback and criticism it has received since it began forcing Edge on users. Interestingly, it defended its decision to make switching default browsers more difficult by claiming it was “implementing customer feedback to customize and control defaults at a more granular level.” Yet it appears criticism has finally convinced the company to make Windows 11 more user-friendly.

This change comes amid uproar over its decision to include in-browser prompts that attempt to dissuade users from downloading Chrome. This reversal is a good reminder that people still value choice over convenience in their search experiences.

The issue. Windows 11 originally set Edge as the default browser and made it hard for users to switch to a different browser. This version also blocked third-party apps from circumventing the setup.

Unless Windows users remembered to tick the “always use this app” box after installing a new browser, those who later wanted another default were forced to change individual file extensions or protocol handlers — a far more tedious workflow that increased the odds Edge would remain the default in some instances.

Aaron Woodman, general manager of Windows marketing at Microsoft, confirmed these new changes were intentional in a statement to The Verge: “We streamlined the ability for a Windows Insider to set the ‘default browser’ to apps that register for HTTP:, HTTPS:, .HTM, and .HTML.”

The post Microsoft adds simple default browser change option after receiving criticism appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Seismic event or overblown rebrand: Local search experts weigh in on ‘death’ of Google My Business

Posted by on Dec 6, 2021 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Seismic event or overblown rebrand: Local search experts weigh in on ‘death’ of Google My Business

Seismic event or overblown rebrand: Local search experts weigh in on ‘death’ of Google My Business

Just over a month ago, Google announced that it would be making some important changes to Google My Business, the platform that recently further asserted its dominance over other local pack ranking factors in Whitespark’s annual Local Ranking Factors survey.

Image: Whitespark.

These changes included retiring the Google My Business name in favor of “Google Business Profile,” improving the functionality of the “direct edit” experience (in which a business owner can manage their profile directly from the search results), and the retiring of the Google My Business mobile app in 2022.

Google My Business’s place at the heart of any local businesses’ online marketing and visibility efforts means that any significant changes cannot be ignored. Tie those updates in with a name change — something that usually generates a lot of fanfare and speculation, whatever the industry — and it’s easy to see why some (including myself) saw this as an emergence of a new era for local SEO and businesses on Google.

But is it?

After the dust had settled on the announcement, I wanted to hear from industry experts about how they view the changes and whether they’d be doing anything differently. I also wanted to know what the average local search marketer made of these changes. Would it make any difference to their day-to-day?

Let’s look at the announced changes, one by one, and see what the people have to say.

Google My Business is now Google Business Profile

As a content marketer by profession, my interest was naturally piqued most by the announcement of a name change, but in reality, what does this really mean beyond my fellow content marketers having to sigh and make plans to change/update content in reaction?

First, what has actually changed? Well, before the change, the platform to access the dashboard of your Business Profile was called “Google My Business,” but the actual output — the profile users see in the Knowledge Panel and that appears in Local Pack and Google Maps search results — was commonly called Business Profile anyway.

You can think of it as the thing you “did” being Google My Business but the thing that actually changed was your “Business Profile.” Google has clearly acknowledged the confusion here and decided to put everything under the umbrella of Google Business Profile with the old GMB dashboard renamed to “Google Business Profile Manager.”

Experts agree that the retiring of the name “Google My Business” matters very little, and, if anything, it’s going to make the discipline of local SEO and profile optimization far easier for agencies and consultants to explain to their local business clients.

Andrew Shotland, of Local SEO Guide, told me: “This kind of reminds me of when they switched from Google Webmaster Tools to Google Search Console. While it caused a brief dust up on SEO Twitter, ultimately I don’t think it impacted anyone other than the teams at Google working on these services.”

“In other words, while the GBP name provides a bit more clarity about what the product is, for current users I don’t think this matters,” he added, “I guess for businesses that this is all new to, it might help them better understand what in fact this service is. So I would expect this will improve uptake of the service from SMBs, which I would expect is Google’s goal.”

That note about making the service more appealing to SMBs is an interesting one, and one that we’ll come back to.

Meanwhile, DealerOn’s Greg Gifford sees complaints about rebranding as ultimately unfounded. “Everyone’s complaining that Google keeps rebranding, but it’s been seven years since the last name change. And now everyone’s making the same complaints they made seven years ago. In reality, Local SEOs are the only ones complaining; for the run-of-the-mill business owner, it’s a complete non-issue,” he says.

Still, I can’t help but feel for my team of content specialists weaving their way through years’ worth of GMB content and working out what, and how much, to change. My sympathies are with you if you’re in a similar boat.

As Joy Hawkins, of Sterling Sky, puts it: “It’s really only annoying for us to have to go back and update the dozens of blogs on our site that reference ‘Google My Business.’”

A veteran of local SEO, Joy had the foresight to stop playing Google’s game a long time ago, though. She says, “Google constantly does this, though, so when we renamed our Facebook group, we decided to go with Local Search Insiders instead of having to rename our group every four years when Google decides to rebrand again.”

To ensure I captured a range of opinions on these changes, we polled BrightLocal users to learn what they thought would impact their work, if anything. When it came to the name change, just 12% thought it would have any impact on their business, with 4% of agency respondents and 3% of consultants believing the name change would have some impact on their business.

Image: BrightLocal

If you’re all set to jump into your content and swap every mention of Google My Business out, my advice is not to do it, and instead to balance mentions of GMB with new mentions of GBP. If the Google Trends data after the last name change are anything to go by, people will still be searching for “google my business” for years to come.

Google My Business mobile app to be retired in 2022

Sticking with things being retired, one of the bigger updates mentioned in the original announcement was that the Google My Business dedicated mobile app would be deprecated some time in 2022.

Depending on whether you’re a local business owner in love with easy access to GMB Messaging or a local SEO agency frustrated by the limited access granted to managers by the app, you may be welcoming or fearing this change.

Joy Hawkins says that this update is “the only thing I really think is changing” within these announcements, and that “if anyone had got used to using that, they might have an adjustment to make.” Steady Demand’s Ben Fisher, who is also a Diamond Product Expert for GBP, admits that “the usage is not very high, according to Google.”

The low uptake of this app is something Andrew Shotland reflects on, too, saying “It likely had very low usage, and was expensive to maintain. Given how the rest of the world has gone app-y, that’s the only reason I can come up with for retiring an app these days. I can tell you I used it once or twice on our business and then never again.”

Given that the key market for the app was SMBs wanting to manage their business on the go, it seems a surprise that Google would remove this if their focus is indeed on attracting that audience. However, there’s been a much more exciting, and easy-to-access, profile management experience waiting in the wings for its time to shine: the ability to update and manage your Business Profile right there in the SERP.

The ‘direct edit’ Business Profile management experience

In its announcements, Google mentioned more functionality being added to the “in-search” merchant experience, saying that “the easiest way to manage your profile is now via Google Maps and Search. Moving forward, additional tools to help you understand how your business is performing and how you can enhance your online presence will be available exclusively on Search and Maps.”

This experience has been around for over a year now: just log into your Google Account, search for your business name (or even just “my business” if you want to pick from all the accounts you manage) and there it is.

What’s new is the functionality coming over from the old Google My Business dashboard that aims to make this approach to management more appealing to account owners. One big update is that businesses can now claim, verify and even resolve suspension of Business Profiles without needing a separate dashboard.

Image: Google.

To the best of my knowledge, the ability to manage a profile in Search doesn’t have an official, Google-verified name, but I’ve seen it called “direct edit,” “in-search experience” and “the NMX, or New Merchant Experience.”

(Side note: back in 2020, Ben Fisher said that Google felt that “X” was cooler than “E.” While I agree, I’d like to think it was also to avoid confusion with the British music newspaper, the NME. As a Brit myself, how I wish they’d considered this with the focus on Google Business Profile, or GBP, more commonly known “round our gaff” as the Great British Pound… sigh.)

So, what should we make of Google’s direction here? Mike Blumenthal, of Near Media and GatherUp, says that “by creating and emphasizing a new small business experience via search, Google can also hopefully increase awareness of Google Local amongst very small businesses.”

Greg Gifford agrees, saying that “it’s more helpful to businesses who don’t have a marketing person/agency in place, since they can now make their edits directly in the SERPs.”

However, while it might be easier, are small businesses missing out on functionality still only available in the Google Business Profile Manager (GBPM — aka the old GMB dashboard)? 

It’s certainly true that the direct edit experience isn’t a like-for-like with the Google Business Profile Manager. For example, while you can set up Google Posts in the direct edit experience, you can’t manage your Google Products and Services, which still have to be edited and set up via the Business Profile Manager.

Mike Blumenthal is interested to see how direct edit can achieve this without overcomplicating things, saying: “What isn’t as clear is if the new(ish) search interface can provide a good small business user experience for adding the many details and turning on and managing the many features available in Google Local without becoming a nightmare.”

Kick Point’s Elizabeth Linder agrees, and says: “What you can manage directly in Search and Maps compared to in the dashboard still feels a bit muddled.” She also notes that “being prompted to make changes directly from Search and Maps may result in confusion, or worse, in business owners making changes haphazardly.”

Giving more visible power to clients to potentially mess up your properly-researched and fully-considered profile optimization strategy is certainly a concern for agencies, but Elizabeth sees the other side of the coin, too, and believes that “it’s an opportunity for business owners to look more closely at their branded SERP and learn a little more about what us agencies mean when we’re referring to their business profile”.

But is everything a new merchant needs to do really that visible in SERPs? While Ben Fisher points out that “most merchants go to search for their business name and then submit edits” and that “the web-based version of GBP is something that was born out of Google really watching how merchants behaved,” Andrew Shotland feels that more could be done to bring the ability to claim a profile to the attention of business owners in the first place, saying: “They need to do a better job of [informing] the manager of the profile that you can do this.”

“Right now, I just see that tiny ‘own this business?’ link, which is fine, but they need something like that big honking Search Console widget so business owners will notice it,” he adds.

For what it’s worth, Google is now promoting the ability to edit your profile in SERPs and Maps from within the Google Business Profile Manager:

Thinking of businesses further afield, Online Ownership’s Tim Capper notes that there are currently significant downsides to the focus on the direct edit experience, notably that “they have not managed to integrate editing of the Business Profile-created websites (business.site), which is pretty big considering that there are around forty million small businesses in Asia and Africa that rely on these for their businesses.”

So, with Google bringing more and more functionality to the direct edit experience, where does that leave the future of the Google Business Profile Manager?

The answer, it seems, is that the future’s (hopefully) bright.

Google Business Profile Manager: more than a name change?

So far, these updates have been fairly well communicated by Google, but one aspect of the announcement had agency owners reading between the lines. Regarding the GMB dashboard, which thousands of agencies use every day to manage multiple client profiles, Google had this to say:

“The Google My Business website will transition to support primarily larger businesses with multiple profiles and will be renamed ‘Business Profile Manager’. Larger businesses will still be able to manage individual profiles on Search and Maps if they choose to do so. Over time we expect smaller businesses to shift to managing individual profiles directly on Search and Maps.”

I feel we can be forgiven for thinking that the lack of language around those managing multiple different businesses, and the focus instead on “larger businesses,” left agencies and single businesses out in the cold. When my company wrote about these changes at the time, the number one question we received was around this (and it was the loudest-shouted question internally, too): “What about agencies and single businesses? Will they still be able to manage multiple individual GBP profiles in the dashboard?”

Luckily, Ben Fisher is here to set the record straight: “There seems to be a ton of confusion after the messaging from Google about this update. Let me make this super-clear for everyone… the Google Business Profile Manager (formerly GMB Web) is NOT going anywhere, and more importantly, I must stress it STILL, and WILL STILL BE available to single-listing merchants. Okay, if all caps are not enough to convince you, I have this on high from Google themselves (although nothing is publicly stated yet).”

“This all makes sense if you take a step back. Google is a software company, they make decisions on where to spend time and resources based on big data sets. While this is not perfect, it does inform what moves they should make,” he adds.

Ben also told us, back when the news was announced, that “agencies can still manage in bulk and via the API; nothing has changed there.”

So if you’re an agency working with clients, you’ll still be able to use the Google Business Profile Manager to manage them, as you always have been. While the GBPM is not exclusive to multi-location businesses managing lots of profiles for one business, it does seem that, with single-business functionality focused elsewhere, this leaves more room for Google to make improvements for those managing local SEO at scale.

On this, Mike Blumenthal is optimistic: “I am largely hopeful that this ‘split’ of the local small business UI away from the Dashboard will allow Google to focus their efforts to improve the experience and get rid of the significant bugs present for multi-location businesses in the GBP dashboard. 

“If Google is true to their word, this will allow them to increase multi-location and agency functionality via the dashboard. The dashboard currently has so many bugs and weird artifacts that it is a huge burden to manage businesses at scale in the environment. Things like rejecting automatic updates or even downloading a complete list of businesses or getting accurate Insights are not possible, or work extremely poorly at scale. 

“If you are a pessimist, you see the long neglect of the Dashboard and the increased focus on the web interface as an indication that Google is getting ready to nuke the Dashboard. I, being the eternal optimist, am taking Google at their word and think that the Dashboard will be fixed and once again become useful.”

Andrew Shotland is also on the hopeful side, saying: “I hope this means they will invest more in supporting [multi-locations] and providing a richer feature set. My guess is the multi-location businesses are the biggest users of the dashboards, even though their numbers may be dwarfed by the number of SMBs around the world.”

What do others think?

We’ve heard from a handful of experts, and I’ve provided some of my thoughts, but what about the legions of SEOs and small business owners with their boots firmly on the ground and their noses to the grindstone?

Does being so close to the individual day-to-day of SEO mean that they’re less aware of, or careless about, the grand movements of the unknowable machine that is Google? From our research, it certainly seems so.

Our poll not only showed that a third of respondents didn’t know anything about them, but also that only 10% of local businesses felt the changes would impact them. However, only 13% of agencies, consultants and freelancers felt “positive” or “very positive” about the changes.

Image: BrightLocal

The picture this paints is that these changes are, as the experts I spoke to broadly agreed, not nearly as substantial as initially supposed.

What they do, though, is signal a direction that Google may be heading in, attracting small businesses to its platform through profile edit visibility and potentially providing a better place for multi-location brands to manage their profiles at scale.

All this leaves me in a reflective mood, considering how quickly we in the local SEO sphere (particularly the news and content area) are wont to jump at the signs of Google making changes, but ultimately we are Chun-li and Google is M. Bison in this famous scene from the comically bad Street Fighter movie:

“For you, the day Google graced your news feeds with a name change was the most important day in your life.

“For us, it was Thursday.”

Thank you to all the local search experts who talked to me for this story, and to the BrightLocal users who responded to our poll.

The post Seismic event or overblown rebrand: Local search experts weigh in on ‘death’ of Google My Business appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Become a SEO Mastermind with Nathan Gotch (Interview with HighLevel)

Posted by on Dec 6, 2021 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Become a SEO Mastermind with Nathan Gotch (Interview with HighLevel)

In this interview, you’ll learn: 💥 SEO Campaigns 4 pillars 💥 Applying the ICE approach …

Keep Learning >Become a SEO Mastermind with Nathan Gotch (Interview with HighLevel)

The post Become a SEO Mastermind with Nathan Gotch (Interview with HighLevel) first appeared on Gotch SEO.

Customer reviews increase users’ trust

Posted by on Dec 6, 2021 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Customer reviews increase users’ trust

Customer reviews increase users’ trust

At Yoast, we’ve seen a lot of websites of every caliber. Every website has its own issues, but all websites benefit from optimizing the conversion rate. It really doesn’t matter if your goal is more sales, more Facebook likes or more newsletter subscribers. One thing that helps almost every website is the right use of reviews. A lot of websites do have reviews, but just having them simply isn’t enough.

Before we dive in, if you want to learn more about user experience (UX) and other essential SEO skills, you should check out our All-around SEO training! It doesn’t just tell you about SEO: it makes sure you know how to put these skills into actual practice!

Here, we’ll explain how to make the most of your reviews, and what steps you should take to find out how they work best for you. We’ll start with explaining why they work in the first place!

Why reviews work

Reviews can help your ecommerce site in more than one way. Let’s take a look at why they’re so powerful:

The trust effect

Reviews are a powerful source of information for users, simply because they’re more trustworthy. Think about it — if you’re buying a product, who are you more likely to believe: a salesman, or a friend of yours who has already bought that product? The salesman has reason to present biased information about the product. He wants to convince you to buy, because that’s how he makes money. Your friend, on the other hand, doesn’t have much reason to be biased, because they won’t get any extra benefit from persuading you to make a purchase.

Online shops and digital marketing are likely to be perceived by users in the same way as a salesman. Your website exists for a reason — to help sell your products — and all of the content and advertising you produce are intended to be persuasive, rather than purely informative. Now, user reviews aren’t exactly the same thing as getting advice from a friend, but they are very similar. Users leaving reviews online shouldn’t have any extra motive to tell you “buy this product, it’s great!”, and you probably have some things in common with them if you’re looking at buying the same products.

Of course, you shouldn’t be misleading your customers. But even if you’re telling the whole truth, your users have no way of knowing that before they make a purchase. This is especially true with experience products – products of which it’s hard to predict if they work before you actually use it. Reviews can reassure users that the claims you make about your products are actually true.

Extra information

So trust isn’t the only reason why reviews work. Or, at least it shouldn’t be. While a lot of the reviews we encounter in ecommerce shops are fairly vague, even those vague ones shed some light on the workings of a product or service. This is exactly what reviews should do: give some insight into the experiences of others so that people can make up their own opinion. A good collection of reviews can confirm the fact that your product is awesome, but they can deliver a lot more information too:

why it’s awesome,how it works andwhy it worked for the person writing the review.

That’s all very product-focused, but reviews can also share information about:

the buying process on your site,the delivery andmaybe even someone using your 30-day money back guarantee.

Your visitors will feel more encouraged to buy if they know that every aspect of your online shop has been successfully used by other people, and that they were very satisfied with it!

Only real reviews increase trust

Reviews are powerful in creating trust, and not just for online shops. Research confirmed that positive reviews can significantly increase sales. In fact, reviews were found to be a more important cue for judging the trustworthiness of an online store than the overall reputation of that store. That was the case some years ago, and that hasn’t changed. But obviously, you can’t just slap some glorifying texts on your site. Your testimonials have to earn the trust they evoke.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but even negative reviews can be useful. However, you do need to show visitors you’ve adequately responded to the customer who gave the negative review. It’s normal to receive a negative review once in a while. How you react to those negative reviews is important, especially for future customers. This is also precisely why you shouldn’t remove negative reviews or submit fake ones. Your reviews need to look genuine and trustworthy. And they’ll only look real when they are real.

Testimonials: a special kind of customer review

Testimonials and reviews have a lot in common: they both use real user experiences to give potential customers a better understanding of what they can expect. But there are some differences too. Reviews can usually be left easily by any user who wants to share their opinion, while testimonials have often been carefully selected, and might even be edited. For the same reason, testimonials typically involve more storytelling, and present only the best experiences customers have had with your products or services.

Another important factor is that reviews can be anonymous, or include very little information about the person writing it. Meanwhile, a testimonial is likely to include more details about the person writing — ideally, a well-known person with a good reputation. It’s a good idea to add an image (a real image, not a stock photo) of the customer who’s provided their testimonial. This will make your testimonials feel more personal and relatable. Even better: help your customer to create a video testimonial instead!

Influencer marketing

Speaking of people with a good reputation, you’re probably already aware the power of “influential people”. There are some people that are so well-known in their areas of interest that their opinion really carries weight. This is due to the Halo effect. Wikipedia has this to say about the Halo effect in marketing:

“The halo effect is also present in the field of brand marketing. One common halo effect is when the perceived positive features of a particular item extend to a broader brand.“

With testimonials from influential people, the product will be perceived as better or more trustworthy. As you’ve read, this can even transfer to your entire brand.

Obviously, there’s one major criterion for this: the person would have to be considered an influential person in the field you’re offering products or services. If we were to receive a great testimonial for our Yoast SEO Premium plugin from Miley Cyrus, it probably wouldn’t carry much weight with the people we’d like to influence (agencies, website owners). Nevertheless, a lot of people would probably install the plugin, but perhaps not for the right reasons. You get my drift.

Paid promotion

In recent years, the use of influencer recommendations on social media has become really big business. At first, these recommendations and reviews were shared as if they were totally spontaneous and authentic. In many cases, they weren’t. Most influencers sharing reviews and recommendations on social media were being paid to do so, or were incentivized in some other way. This led to strict rules about how influencer marketing was practised: nowadays, it’s a requirement for influencers to make it clear when they’re being paid to promote a product.

Where to put your reviews and testimonials

Over the years, we’ve noticed that quite a few of the websites that do have reviews and testimonials, but they don’t place them prominently. Put simply, if nobody sees them, they’re not going to benefit anyone. So if your testimonials are hidden away, only appearing on the testimonial page and nowhere else, odds are not a lot of people will see them. So you need to put them on pages where people will find them. On your product pages and near call-to-actions would probably be good spots.

It’s good to have your reviews or testimonials placed somewhere visible on your site. But that’s not the only place they can have a positive impact. Having user reviews on other platforms — platforms you don’t control — can really help to show that these reviews are unbiased and impartial. For instance, we get a lot of reviews on our plugin page at WordPress.org. Meanwhile, there are sites like TrustRadius where users can leave reviews about any company. You’ve probably seen reviews on Google Maps too, and these are particularly useful for local businesses. Finally, social media is increasingly important, and it doesn’t always matter whether it’s an influencer talking about your company, or just an ordinary customer. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on what people are saying about your products, and respond appropriately whether it’s positive or negative.

Read more: Ecommerce checklist: 30 tips for a better online shop

Time to earn those stellar reviews – and use them!

If you read this article up to here, you probably agree that all this makes perfect sense, right? To get the best reviews and really reap the rewards, you’ll need to deliver quality experiences and delight your customers. If you allow users to add reviews on your site, you can use structured data to (potentially) get yourself a review snippet in the search results. Showing off your overall star rating in the search results is a great way to stand out from your competitors!

Our plugin earned this star rating from reviews on WordPress.org

One last thing: reviews aren’t just useful for prospective customers. They’re an excellent source of inspiration to improve the way you do things, too! So let your customers share their experiences. If you do it right, it’s bound to pay off.

Is there anything we missed? Or do you have something else to contribute? Let us know in the comments. Thanks!

Read more: How to get ratings and reviews for your online business »

The post Customer reviews increase users’ trust appeared first on Yoast.

5 ways to promote inclusion in your marketing organization

Posted by on Dec 6, 2021 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 5 ways to promote inclusion in your marketing organization

5 ways to promote inclusion in your marketing organization

Traditional diversity management practices are like resuscitating a canary in a coal mine, says Dr. Lauren Tucker, CEO of Do What Matters: “Too often we focus on the canaries,” she said in her presentation at SMX Next, “and nobody’s thinking about the miners or the root of the issue, which is what’s happening in the mine that’s threatening the canaries and the miners.”

Tucker and her team asked important questions about these challenges that companies everywhere should take to heart: “Could we create sustainable change by reframing the approach to diversity and equity and inclusion by starting with inclusion first? What if we focused on the operational inefficiencies in the organizations that fostered exclusion and bias?”

Image: Dr. Lauren Tucker

Inclusion management is about getting the right people doing the right work, says Tucker. Here are five ways she suggests marketers promote inclusion and diversity within their companies.

Prime yourself and your colleagues for critical thinking

Tucker recommends marketers use the phrase, “The task at hand requires critical thinking,” to get their team members thinking more deeply.

“You can use this as an integral part of facilitating meetings and collaborating,” she said. “Say this out loud and you can prime people to undercut that fast thinking that we usually bring to meetings and make sure that we are being thoughtful about what we’re saying, what we’re doing, and how we’re interacting.”

These practices can help marketers make critical thinking habitual. This first step, if taken seriously, can reduce the influence of unconscious bias that affects people’s choices and behavior.

Reframe excuses regarding inclusivity

“When it comes to inclusion, equity and diversity, there are a lot of people we call ‘knee-draggers,’” Tucker said, referring to colleagues that are reluctant to make positive changes for inclusivity. “And it’s often because they think this is a zero-sum game.”

“It’s a win-win game, but sometimes we have to reframe the conversation to undercut the excuses that are given for not working on a more inclusive culture,” she added.

Marketers can change perspectives on inclusivity by highlighting alternative ways of thinking. Phrases such as “A great idea can come from anywhere,” or even the more hardline “Are you sure your team [is] the only one with the best ideas in the entire organization?” may open up colleagues to have a more inclusive conversation about where ideas come from.

Examine your perceptions

“Assume that everybody around you is at their best — putting their best work on the table,” said Tucker.

By starting with a good faith view of others, marketers will have to justify any negative personal evaluations of their team members. This can help open their eyes to bias.

“Make sure that you are not making quick judgments that are inexplicable or negative about somebody’s performance,” she said. “Maybe they’re just doing something differently than you would.”

Look at the bigger picture

We often fall into the trap of stereotyping other ideas or people based on reinforcement biases. This tends to occur when we view our work in a silo, rather than seeing its connection to the rest of our organization.

Tucker recommends asking questions to broaden these views and those of coworkers: “Get in a room with your colleagues and start to ask, ‘Are we reflecting the full complexity of the human experience, or are we leaning too far to one type of an experience versus another?’”

Opening your department or organization to the bigger picture can undermine bias and encourage greater creativity and innovation.

Get managers and colleagues asking, “Why not?”

Instead of asking organizations to introduce these practices as “add-ons,” marketers should present these changes as necessities.

“Frame inclusion as a must-have by getting managers and colleagues to opt-out and give reasons why,” Tucker said. “Ask managers to identify and express reasons why we shouldn’t use a certain inclusion nudge instead of trying to convince them about why we should.”

When enough people believe inclusion should be foundational in their company, there is a greater chance that higher-ups will listen. Tucker encourages asking managers to identify and express why they would be against further inclusion and diversity, rather than trying to convince them that these values are important.

But this focus on inclusion must be directed at oneself, too, she says. We all have our deficiencies when it comes to diversity, whether they involve other people or departments — becoming aware of them will make it easier to fast-track these transformations.

“Include people, information, ideas and knowledge into your processes. Nurture and embrace differences instead of polarizing, conquer outdated social norms and discriminatory practices instead of maintaining them.”

“A lot of times inclusion is about making sure you have the right disciplines in the room,” she added.

Watch the full SMX Next presentation here (free registration required).

The post 5 ways to promote inclusion in your marketing organization appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Consumer research differentiates brands this holiday season

Posted by on Dec 6, 2021 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Consumer research differentiates brands this holiday season

Consumer research differentiates brands this holiday season

Tis’ the season to send our current year packing with a swift kick and start the new year off on a high note. And brands that are doing precisely that this holiday season are arming their teams with the most accurate, real-time consumer research possible. Let’s see how that looks and ways your brand can still take advantage of opportunities that consumer research has to offer this holiday season.

The state of holiday gifting

The state of holiday gifting in 2021 is rife with unprecedented shifts in consumer and market behaviors that have yet to settle from the pandemic. This is partly because we’re still in the midst of some scary situations, but it’s primarily because consumers have permanently shifted their purchase behaviors in a whole host of ways.

As we examine more in-depth in our Consumer and Market Intelligence Report: Holiday Gifting 2021, retailers should fold easily identifiable consumer behaviors into their strategic planning this holiday shopping season – and move these same concepts forward into 2022.

For starters, the overwhelming sentiment around sustainability matters is fairly negative – and this concept weighs heavily on the minds of consumers this season. Consumers have increasingly held brands to a socially aware bar, which has certainly affected their purchase decisions. And with the timing of our global environmental summits coming at the height of the holiday buying season, there’s a general sense of anger around the topic.

Fig 1: Consumer sentiment word cloud

This is definitely something that retailers should be following closely – but it’s far from the only top-of-mind concern. The key guidance for brands this season is to remain flexible and allow data to drive decision-making and pivots in positioning, as there will likely be many shifts in the coming weeks. Spending is on the rise in many segments, after all, but capturing any part of it will require understanding the intersection of consumer values and purchase behaviors as cost-conscious consumers make hesitant steps toward your products. Retailers must map out relevant and meaningful tactics to entice hesitant consumers.

And there are challenges that further complicate the season, including supply chain concerns, labor shortages and waning consumer loyalties from those whom brands thought they’d already won over. We’ll look at each a bit further here, as well as some top gifts we see consumers clamoring for online. And we’ll share some changes that retailers can make to capture a sizable piece of anticipated profits during this emotionally charged shopping season!

Supply chain challenges and labor shortages

Consumers expect unprecedented out-of-stock messages from retailers and have started their holiday shopping early to ensure timely delivery. But they know that even that may not be enough, with nearly 40% of small businesses in the US experiencing supply chain delays during the Coronavirus pandemic. Contrast this with eMarketer forecasting US retail sales during the holiday shopping season to surge 9% to $1.147 trillion, with e-commerce accounting for 18.4% of total retail sales, and you have a recipe for extreme disappointment.

As a result, because they can’t meet demand right now, many retailers are holding back on shopping deals this year. And even those retailers secure in their inventory numbers are dealing with their own unique challenges as many do not have sufficient workers to run their stores and meet consumer demand in that way. Workers who are showing up are quitting in higher numbers, too, due to stress and subpar wages. And this also ties into the shift in consumer spending, as it speaks to value-based spending as much as sustainability concerns do!

Consumer purchase behaviors shifting

The 2020 holiday gifting season set everyone on edge due to its pandemic-induced unpredictability – and waning consumer loyalty added to the troubles.

And as we charge into 2021’s prime gift-getting period, retailers turn a wary eye toward their prospects, with those looming labor and inventory shortages. As mentioned at the outset, thanks to the timing of our global environmental summits and the general sense of anger around the topic, sustainability benchmarks are something that retailers should be prepared to message out.

To put a finer point on things, as the visualization below communicates, consumers seek sustainability in fashion, footwear, food and travel. You can be sure consumers are seeking the same from you even if your category isn’t mentioned below or in the news right now. You’ll have your moment when you’re not ready for it – so be ready for it!

Fig 2: Visualization of sustainability and shopping conversation from 8/21-11/21/21

Consumers are no longer loyal to particular brands, as e-commerce has opened up an entirely new world of shopping for many of them.

And, as hinted to in our section about labor shortages, consumers are noticing those as well – and they’re not impressed. Retailers who pay workers what people consider subpar wages are being increasingly shunned by an extremely observant consumer base. Their loyalties trend toward shopping small and supporting a more entrepreneurial spirit, with DIY shops cleaning up this season.

With inventory, workers and consumer metrics all in disarray to varying extents, it has been more important than ever for brands to keep close tabs on consumer research to take the temperature of their virtual showrooms and understand which components require immediate attention first.

Brands that are getting this right are not only surviving but thriving as consumers share their purchases and purchase intent with others on social media, forums, blogs and news sites. It’s an incredibly viral and lucrative way to promote one’s products, assuming you’re in touch with your audience and know who to call on to help you get the word out!

Top gifts consumers crave

The trick for retailers will be pivoting towards those unclaimed dollars by creating precisely what their consumers crave. And this requires understanding purchasing behaviors and values and where these elements intersect on the customer journey.

As we explored the holiday shopping landscape, we found a variety of top gifts capturing consumer attention – our top three (out of a list of 15) are shown below.

Fig 3: Top 3 brands on our 2021 favorite gifts list

As noted above, the categories winning market share support shopping small, DIY, sustainability (by way of upcycling others’ second-hand items) and then an ever-present push toward technology. More specifically, we see gaming taking over across many consumer segments.

Brands finalizing their overall planning to round out Q4 and set the stage for 2022 need to be sure to keep what we’ve detailed above in mind. Consumers are watching and your time to connect with them and create long-term relationships is now. There are consumer segments that are spending lots of money this year, and if they’re not spending with you, it’s time to figure out why. Analyzing consumer research relevant to your specific category is a gift that you can give yourself – and one that will keep on giving throughout next year!

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How to Create a Facebook Business Page (Step by Step)

Posted by on Dec 6, 2021 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Create a Facebook Business Page (Step by Step)

To get your business on Facebook, you need to create a Facebook business page. Fortunately, the process is easy and straightforward and it only takes a few minutes to complete. To set up a Facebook page for your business you’ll need a logo, a cover image, and a brief description of your company. These are […]

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