Russia, Turkey, Iran renew push for new Syrian constitution

Russia, Turkey, Iran and the United Nations voiced hope Tuesday that a committee charged with writing a new Syrian constitution will start work early next year.

The Damascus government, which is backed by Moscow and Tehran, has not yet agreed to the committee, saying it will only support a process that alters Syria’s existing constitution.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov — flanked by his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu — read a joint declaration after talks with UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Russia, Iran and opposition backer Turkey “agreed to take efforts aimed at convening the first session of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva early next year,” Lavrov said.

The committee has become the centrepiece of UN peace efforts in Syria and aims to set up elections that can turn the page on seven years of devastating war.

De Mistura, who will be replaced as UN envoy on January 7, praised the “significant joint input” from the three powers.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in...

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Geneva on Tuesday

Fabrice COFFRINI, AFP

The meeting marked a final moment in de Mistura’s four-year tenure, which did not produce a breakthrough for peace.

An op-ed in Syria’s pro-government Al-Watan newspaper on Tuesday underscored de Mistura’s tense relationship with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“In Damascus, we will never be sorry for Staffan de Mistura’s departure,” Al-Watan said.

De Mistura is “leaving with regret that he couldn’t destroy the Syrian state and couldn’t impose the West’s agenda on Syrians,” it continued, while chastising efforts to “impose a new constitution on Syrians.”

– Positive spin? –

Staffan de Mistura will be replaced as UN Syria envoy on January 7

Staffan de Mistura will be replaced as UN Syria envoy on January 7

Fabrice COFFRINI, AFP

The veteran UN diplomat tried to put a positive spin on his fraught peace push by suggesting that protracted rounds of diplomacy helped limit bloodshed in Syria.

De Mistura said he had been contacted by an individual, whom he did not identify, who had conducted “various extrapolations” which indicated that UN-backed talks had saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

“The fact that you have been coming up constantly with your team with new meetings, preparatory meetings, inter-discussions, ceasefires that didn’t work and then worked and didn’t work again… we have been calculating that instead of 540,000 people (dead) there would have been 1.3 million,” de Mistura told reporters, quoting the unnamed individual.

A UN spokesperson later told AFP that de Mistura was citing an estimated death toll of 540,000 people for Syria that includes combatants.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitor group, has said that an estimated 360,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

How to Use On-SERP SEO to Increase Brand Awareness & CTR by @-

Page 1 on Google is changing.

Organic search results are now competing for the user’s attention with paid ads, knowledge panels, maps, videos, featured snippets, and the like.

The phenomenon of so-called “position zero” elements is now dominating Google’s “above the fold” sending organic Position 1 down and closer to the Page 2 grave.

Do you have an integrated Page 1 marketing strategy in place?

If not, now is time to take ownership for all elements on Page 1 — not just the organic top spot.

How do you do that?

With SERP marketing and on-SERP SEO.

In this article, you will:

  • Understand the challenge and status quo of Page 1.
  • Learn what On-SERP SEO is and how to use it effectively.
  • Discover how to create a “Traffic Potential” mindset.
  • Acquire seven actionable tactics to start boosting your search presence.

Understand the Challenge of Competitive SERPs

Search engine result pages (SERPs) are more competitive than ever.

We’re starting to see many different types of media elements ranking.

The decline of organic traffic for top performing keywords is rooted in the presence of new elements on Page 1.

The organic Position 1 is now often bumped low behind ads, maps, media elements, and featured snippets.

We, therefore, call these elements “position zero” because they outrank even the top organic results.

One of the most competitive versions of SERPs is zero-click searches.

A zero-click SERP is one where the answer is displayed directly on the search results page satisfying the search intent of the user without having to click further.

So how can SEO professionals stay effective when the SERPs are becoming more competitive?

Use On-SERP SEO to Stay Competitive Against Position Zero SERPs

On-SERP SEO is the work of optimizing the entire Page 1.

The goal is to take up as much real estate on Page 1 as possible, thus increasing CTR and generating more organic traffic.

On-SERP SEO requires a paradigm shift for SEO professionals.

It is an integrated strategy to increase search appearance and brand awareness on Page 1.

It is the SEO taking ownership for Google traffic, no matter which SERP elements it comes from.

To be competitive in the world of zero position SERPs, this means SEO pros must coordinate all kinds of different media sources to dominate every relevant aspect of Page 1.

The ‘Traffic Potential’ Mindset You Need to Succeed in SEO Today

When doing your keyword research, defining your target pages and selecting target search terms, there’s one important mindset shift to make to future-proof your SEO strategy:

Factor in the new SERP reality.

In traditional SEO analysis, you’re used to reviewing:

  • Search terms.
  • Monthly search volumes.
  • Keyword difficulty.

Today, however, you must adapt your efforts to factor in:

  • The presence of featured snippets.
  • Other media elements.
  • Decreased CTR for organic results.

Therefore, you must now include CTR into your keyword research and decision making.

To do this, most SEO tools include a traffic potential factor you can use.

This is an example from Ahrefs for a classic no click, zero position search term: “time Berlin”:

How to Use On-SERP SEO to Increase Brand Awareness & CTR

How to Use On-SERP SEO to Increase Brand Awareness & CTR

Ahrefs shows us a significant search volume, however, we also see that 80 percent of all the searches never receive a click.

You should start basing your analyses on this click potential, rather than monthly search volume alone.

Only then will you receive the best CTR and true organic traffic gains for the content you create.

By reviewing the true click potential, you will filter for keywords where a good organic ranking still equates to viable search traffic opportunities.

7 Actionable Tactics to Optimize Your Website in Competitive SERPs

Now that we’ve altered your mindset, let’s discuss tactics boosting your search presence right now.

Within these tactics, we will cover how to take over different elements of the SERP, including an increased presence in organic search, paid ads, knowledge panels, and images.

1. Optimize Your Top 10 Ranking Keywords to Win a Featured Snippet

Optimizing to win featured snippets is not an exact science, but an art in and of itself.

It seems to be the case that Google usually pulls data out of the current top 10 rankings to populate the featured snippet with.

So the first step is to check your current organic rankings and determine which of those keywords already displays a featured snippet (using tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, etc.).

Those will identify your target keywords and target pages to optimize for featured snippets.

The purpose of the featured snippet is to give a direct answer to the user without them having to click or search further.

There are four main types of featured snippets, depending on the query intent:

  • Lists.
  • Tables.
  • Text.
  • Video.

Your second step is to note what kind of featured snippet is displayed for each of your target keywords.

Amount of search queries with a Featured Snippet

Amount of search queries with a Featured Snippet

Featured snippets are usually displayed for long-tail queries and, more often than not, question queries.

To optimize for the featured snippet, add such questions or keyword terms as a subheadline to your content.

Immediately beneath the subheadline, create a precise answer.

This can be one paragraph (around 45 words on average), a list (ordered or unordered) or a table, depending on what Google favors for that keyword.

The more precise and factual you can get, the better.

Google likes pulling lists and data directly into the search results.

You can even use schema to markup lists and comparison tables.

2. Optimize for Google Sitelinks

Sitelinks increase the visual space of your search results by displaying the most important pages of your website directly within your search result.

Sitelinks

Sitelinks

Although you can’t force Google to display sitelinks, you can create a clear navigational structure – with strong internal links to the core pages, as well as anchors and alts tags that are descriptive – to increase your chances of Google displaying your sitelinks.

3. Add Schema Markup When Appropriate

Product, business, and review schema markup helps Google to understand what your pages and content are about.

You can review the types of schema markup at schema.org and implement them on your pages.

The review schema markup can allow for Google to display a star rating within your organic search results, which increases truth, credibility, and CTR.

4. Use & Optimize Google My Business

Google My Business is the number-one way to win a lot of space for branded searches.

Make sure to sign up for Google My Business and verify the listing with Google.

Fill out all relevant fields and completely optimize it.

This will also help your presence in Google Maps.

All features, amenities, and details of your business should be listed and displayed to make your Google My Business listing visually longer and provide important information.

Collecting reviews for the listing will also allow you to use it for the review schema markup mentioned above.

Bonus: Make sure to collect and answer questions on your listing! This will add valuable length to your listing.

5. Run Branded PPC Ads

Even if your heart belongs to SEO, organic search is your main traffic driver and pay-per-click (PPC) is super expensive in your niche, you should run ads on your branded terms.

Users searching for your brand name have the highest chance of converting from a search into a click.

Don’t ever let someone else occupy your valuable ad space.

A basic branded Google Ads campaign should always be running for your brand name terms.

Make sure to fill out all available fields and add relevant ad extensions for maximum visual impact.

Quick note: In certain niches, it might be beneficial to run shopping ads or hotel ads since they occupy prime real estate for transactional terms.

6. Optimize Social Media Channels to Appear in Knowledge Panels

The purpose of Google’s knowledge panels is to display all information about your business in one condensed spot.

Connecting your social media channels will provide more opportunities for the user to click on a search element that you own and control.

Note that your social profiles need to be verified with Google in order to be displayed.

Schema markup is the way to go to markup your social profiles. Here is a guide.

7. Optimize Images to Appear in SERPs & Featured Snippets

It’s important to review your target keywords and see if images are included their SERPs.

Why? Because 12.5 percent of all SERPs display images.

If so, proceed with some basic image SEO to increase the chances of your relevant images ranking.

Make sure to include such images on a page where the headline and URL match the image target keyword.

For your information, image SEO ranking factors include:

  • The image file names and alt tags: Choose appropriate and keyword-optimized names.
  • Image context: Place your image on a part of the website where the surrounding content matches the keyword intent.
  • Image captions with short and relevant descriptions.
  • Image sizes with common dimensions (e.g., 900 pixels wide and 16 to 9)

Following these seven tactics will allow you to achieve effective wins on Page 1 that go beyond position 1 rankings.

They’ll enhance your presence in competitive SERPs and increase your chances of getting that money making click.

The Future of SERPs & How to Win With On-SERP SEO

In this article, we covered:

  • Today’s reality of competitive SERPs and position zero
  • The meaning of On-SERP SEO and how to increase CTR
  • The “traffic potential” mindset
  • Seven practical ways to boost your search presence starting today

On-SERP SEO makes omnipresence on Page One an important part of SEO. On-SERP SEO transcends the classic approach of organic rankings as the key metric for SEO success.

The new key performance indicator for successful SEOs is organic traffic — no matter which Page 1 element it comes from.

SERP marketing is the SEO professional’s job of tomorrow: It is an opportunity to take ownership for a holistic brand presence on Page One.

Now it is your turn to take over a few Page 1 elements and win back important presence in the SERPs.

Start optimizing today.

More Resources:


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, December 2018

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Marketing Day: CMO tenure report, Amazon named top YouTube ad of the year, more

Here’s our recap of what happened in online marketing today, as reported on Marketing Land and other places across the web.

From Marketing Land:

Recent Headlines From MarTech Today, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Marketing Technology:

Online Marketing News From Around The Web:


Top social media trends for 2019

social media trends 2019

How will the social media landscape change in 2019? Here are the key trends you need to consider for a successful marketing strategy.

Social media marketing needs to be frequently adapted to the changing trends. The rapid pace that social media platforms evolve requires from marketers to be alert if they want to maintain successful tactics.

2018 had been a busy year for all social media platforms. There were lots of positive and negative stories that had to do with their usage and it’s now time to review our social marketing strategies.

Here’s a closer look at the key trends of the year and how they will affect 2019 to help you proceed to the necessary changes to your tactics.

Messaging will grow even more

Messaging apps have already passed social media apps in usage and it seems to be a trend that will dominate 2019. People are moving beyond public posts on social media to private messaging, whether it’s simply about reaching their friends or even to stay in touch with their favorite brands.

What makes messaging interesting is that brands can find the much-desired engagement that they’re seeking by understanding how people use messaging apps.

Back from 2017, marketers believed that messaging is the first trend that will affect their social strategies.

WhatsApp, Messenger, Viber, WeChat hold a large percentage of the messaging market and they already introduced additional features to go beyond messaging, from Stories and news updates to automated bots for customer service and e-commerce functions.

Source: Statista

There is a whole new world to try out as a brand and we’re already seeing big brands and publishers tapping into the messaging trend.

I’ve asked Debbi Dougherty, Head of B2B Marketing and Communications at Rakuten Viber, on how brands can use messaging apps as a growing trend and here’s what she said:

Moving into 2019, media will continue to seek ways to find its place with younger generations. Tapping into these audiences will be impossible without the presence of a centralized location where users can conveniently interact with content. Messaging apps offer the most ideal platform to achieve this, providing ease-of-use and personalized experiences that aren’t possible through traditional channels. For newspapers, in particular, their ability to transition onto social platforms like messaging apps is critical to the future of their readership. It not only helps them extend their reach globally, but gives them access to an entirely new demographic of users.

The truth is, the amount of time people spend on messaging apps has grown exponentially and is much higher compared to any other platform, including social media. Brands need to recognize this and adjust accordingly.

Data breaches make trust more important than ever

The reason that messaging apps became even more popular is the growing lack of trust in social networks.

It’s been a turbulent year for Facebook, for example, which made many users uncomfortable in sharing their data.

Privacy concerns are increasing and it makes all social media platforms realize that trust is crucial. Facebook is learning the lesson the hard way that you need to be more mindful about the use of data.

As a brand, the growing discussion about social data and privacy concerns brings out the importance of building trust with your audience.

It’s useful for a brand to be transparent with its audience, whether it’s about admitting their mistakes or even to update their audiences on a recent change. Such factors can help their customers trust them and even be more open to hearing more from them in future campaigns.

Narrowing down the focus on specific channels 

Social media marketing is becoming more competitive and the most successful professionals realize that you need to focus on the best-performing channels for your business.

Gone are the days when you had to join Facebook simply because ‘everybody was there.’ Nowadays, it’s more important to go after niche audiences that are relevant to your business. There’s no need to broadcast the same message to all platforms if you don’t see a successful result from it.

Don’t be afraid to limit down your work to two channels, for example, if you’re noticing that these two channels will bring you the best ROI.

We can all start the new year by making the most of our time and spending it on the channels that are only worth our attention.

The more distractions we are having, the higher the chances to lose our focus. Start by analyzing where your audience is and which channels work better for your business goals.

Review your current performance and set goals to improve it in the right direction that you want to move.

The ad spend is increasing but you’ll need to consider ad saturation

Social media advertising has been on the rise the last few years. We are now able to create social ads in multiple channels and it’s up to us to decide on the objectives and the type of ads that we want to use.

There has been an increasing success for many brands that used paid social in the marketing mix. It’s no surprise that there is a growing ad spend across marketers.

For example, Instagram’s level of engagement has intrigued more marketers to increase their ad spend to the channel, both on the feed and the Stories.

As Facebook was becoming more saturated with the existing competition, Instagram started showing up as a great alternative to promote your brand.

A growing ad spend indicates the increasing interest in a platform, but it can also signal the start of an increasing cost to promote your business.

Instagram Feed and Stories seem to bring a good ROI for many brands, but what if more marketers create ads for the specific platform?

2019 will probably see an even further increase to marketers’ social ad spend, with Instagram growing in popularity.

However, it’s good to consider that it’s not a good idea to rely too much on one platform, either for organic or paid growth.

There is only a set space for ads in each platform so the competition may push the costs to increase.

Videos, podcasts, and live streaming

Blog posts can still be effective in 2019. Long-form posts can still engage readers, provided that they are appealing and properly formatted to facilitate the reading experiences across all devices.

Content consumption though goes way further than written text, with videos and podcasts seeing great success.

From the rise of YouTube to the introduction of IGTV, social media platforms were always interested in highlighting video content.

Facebook has even adjusted their algorithm to ensure that video posts show up more frequently on our feeds.

Video marketing is becoming more appealing both for brands but also for users who notice the content that stands out.

It’s only a matter of time until videos take over the whole social media world. 2019 will be the year that more brands will experiment with different types of video among different channels:

  • Short videos with captions are really appealing to mobile users and are also accessible to everyone. They can be found on any social media platform with Facebook favoring them in their algorithm. They can make really effective ads and they’ve already been used quite extensively from ads.
  • Vertical videos on Snapchat and Instagram Stories grow really fast in popularity and we already see many ads in a vertical format. It’s a format that will grow even more like a trend due to the improved viewing experience in mobile screens.
  • Long videos of powerful storytelling can still keep an audience engaged. Whether it’s YouTube, Facebook, or even IGTV, there is an increasing need for video stories that can be interesting enough to convince the viewers to watch more than a few seconds.
  • Live streaming is also another big trend that is now available across many different platforms. Users turn into broadcasters and brands become publishers to come closer to their audience. There are numerous opportunities to benefit from a live streaming strategy.

Except for videos, podcasts have also seen a growing success. Audio content is bringing the radio days back as a great way to catch up with your favorite stories and brands when you’re on the go.

More marketers are experimenting with podcasts, either to build their own personal brand or to promote their business. What makes podcasts special is the fact that they still focus on the content rather than the promotion. People subscribe to a podcast because they are interested in the content, whether it comes from a brand or another person.

AR to become more mainstream

Social media and AR are making a good combination the last few years and it’s only a matter of time until we see an even more applied use to further channels.

We have already seen how brands involve AR to facilitate the customer experience. Augmented reality can make the brand message engaging, fun and possible more actionable. Having the option to try out, for example, a pair of glasses before buying them can lead to an increased number of sales.

Facebook is greatly investing in AR in an attempt to dominate the field, which means that they understand the potential that this investment may bring.

They have already announced the introduction of AR ads to make social commerce more appealing. Moreover, AR Camera effects are also available in Messenger to ensure that messaging and customer experience will keep improving.

The goal is to keep the users to the platform, while brands can capitalize the trend by seeing an improved customer satisfaction.

What do all these trends mean?

Social media marketing is going towards a stage that focuses more on ROI, new technologies and a trusting relationship between the brand and the customers.

The only way to survive in-between data breaches, emerging technologies and new platforms is to ensure that you:

  • Understand your audience
  • Review your social media marketing strategy
  • Allocate time and budget to new tools and technologies
  • Keep your focus on what works
  • Do your best to build trust with your users in every campaign

Related reading

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A Google Search Algorithm Update Over December 15th Weekend

google update

It looks like over the weekend, starting maybe this past Friday or Saturday and picking up speed on Sunday that Google pushed out another search ranking algorithm update. I saw chatter from the SEO community over the weekend and the automated tracking tools are also picking up signs of an update.

The issue I have right now is that ongoing WebmasterWorld thread is not loading, I think there is a domain name issue at WebmasterWorld. But there was a nice amount of chatter at that forum over the weekend. The Black Hat World forums also has chatter. Here is some of the chatter I could find, with WebmasterWorld being down at the time I am writing this:

Seems like another update is underway. Lost 85% of traffic.

Yeah, definitely another update rolling out.

Without a doubt another major update rolling out. All websites shifted 10-30,000 organic searches a day. About 20-30% of website traffic a day.

The tools also show some signs of a Google algorithm update.

Mozcast:

click for full size

SERPMetrics:

click for full size

Algoroo:

click for full size

Advanced Web Rankings:

click for full size

AccuRanker:

click for full size

RankRanger:

click for full size

SEMRush:

click for full size

Check out your rankings and traffic and let us know what you are seeing.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld & Black Hat World.

Nissan employees reportedly burst into applause at Ghosn arrest

A person familiar with Nissan’s investigation into Ghosn told The Journal that “the sentiment against Mr. Ghosn in Nissan had been building ‘like a volcano,'” before his arrest. Nissan did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. Nissan employees at a town hall at company headquarters burst into applause after learning that chairman and former CEO Carlos Ghosn had been arrested, The Wall Street Journal reports. A person familiar with Nissan’s investigation into Ghosn told The Journal that “the sentiment against Mr. Ghosn in Nissan had been building ‘like a volcano,'” before his arrest. According to The Journal, some long-tenured Nissan employees based in Japan thought non-Japanese Nissan executives received promotions from Ghosn faster than those based in Japan. And Nissan employees reportedly felt that the automaker’s revenues were boosting Renault, the French automaker that had bought a controlling stake in Nissan in the late 1990s, a move Ghosn had encouraged as a Renault executive. Ghosn was the CEO of Nissan from 2001 until 2017 and served as the CEO of Renault from 2005 until his arrest. Nissan did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. Japanese prosecutors arrested Ghosn in November and charged him with conspiring to understate his compensation by around $88 million. Ghosn remains in detention in Japan as he awaits trial. This article was originally published on Business Insider. Copyright 2018.

12 Tips to Help You Thrive in Voice, Visual & Vertical Search by @andybetts1

Search is a much more ambient, complex, and multifaceted industry than it has ever been.

2018 was a transformative year for the industry, with AI-driven technologies creating new possibilities to engage with our audiences through search across a variety of devices.

Just a few of the changes the industry has seen include:

So where is the search industry headed over the coming year?

Amidst so much flux, the central tenets of Google’s strategy are increasingly clear in a way they have never been before.

In particular, there has been consolidation around three essential areas of activity: voice, visual and vertical search.

By laying the foundations in these areas, marketers can prepare not just for 2019, but also the following years.

As technology’s major players embed their products in our homes, cars, and offices, it is through voice, visual and vertical search that brands will be connected to their audience.

This is great news for marketers of all stripes, but most notably for technical SEO specialists and content marketers.

As new behaviors take hold with consumers, technical SEO specialists are uniquely placed to ensure a brand’s online presence is fit for purpose across apps, websites, and devices.

With that platform laid, content marketers must create the assets their audience craves.

According to research from BrightEdge, only 3 percent of 250 marketers surveyed believe SEO and content are separate disciplines.

Senior leaders can now look to search to form the fulcrum of a customer-centric digital strategy if search specialists grasp the opportunity.

With that in mind, the below are 12 technical SEO and content marketing tips to help search marketers put their best foot forward in 2019 across voice, visual, and vertical search.

Voice Search Tips for 2019

The initial hype around voice search has started to subside and, in its place, there is a more reasoned optimism about the opportunities it will bring.

Marketers can see that voice enables conversational search, but in 2018 few have truly availed of this opportunity.

Here are four tips that will help you develop a great voice search strategy for 2019.

1. Make Full Use of Structured Data

The number one tip for getting the most out of voice search is to use structured data on all relevant elements of your content.

Deloitte reports that 54 percent of voice search users most frequently use this medium to “search general information.”

This will help search engines both to identify specific assets and to display them correctly in results.

Google has recently opened up rich results to all Q&A pages, which is a huge opportunity to gain more SERP real estate – especially as voice search users are more likely to make informational queries.

2. Local Search Optimization

Customers are now only a short voice command away from finding your business. Or not, if you do not have the essential best practices in place.

Make sure your business is listed in local directories, with the correct business name, address, and phone number.

3. Get to the Point

Convenience is a key driver of voice search usage, so your content should get consumers right to what they need.

The micro-moments framework is particularly important here; people speak to their devices when they want to know, do, or go.

Base your content around these needs and you will see the improvement through user engagement signals on your website and app.

4. Develop Your Brand Voice

When consumers speak to their devices, they expect a clear answer to their query.

Sometimes, this will form a direct and pragmatic exchange, but other queries open more conversational opportunities.

For example, Google reports that [what car insurance is best for me?] and [which dog should i get?] are among its fastest-growing personal searches.

The typical “SEO content” filled with keywords makes for stilted listening in response here.

Every brand should have a voice – and that is becoming quite a literal requirement in the conversational search era.

Google’s recent announcement of voice-driven news is a clear marker of where this practice is headed.

Visual Search Tips for 2019

With over 600 million visual searches now undertaken each month on Pinterest alone, it is clear that this technology has reached its tipping point.

Visual search turns a user’s smartphone into a discovery tool, using images to form search queries.

It has been popularized as a means of searching for ideas by Pinterest, but also by Google, Amazon, and a host of retailers.

There are some technical and content tips every brand should bear in mind to make the most of this emerging opportunity:

5. Follow Image Optimization Best Practices

The information retrieval process for visual search is similar to that of image search, so the first step is to ensure your images can be served for the right queries.

Once more, structured data, load speed, and descriptive metadata are essential. Google published image search guidelines earlier this year, written up in a post on SEJ here.

6. Upload an Image XML Sitemap

The more information you can provide to search engines about your images, the better.

A great way to do this is to submit an image XML sitemap or to add one to an existing sitemap.

You can find further information on how to create and submit one here.

7. Make Images Central to Your Brand’s Online Presence

In a post in late September of this year, Google was transparent about how it has tweaked the image search algorithm:

“Over the last year, we’ve overhauled the Google Images algorithm to rank results that have both great images and great content on the page. For starters, the authority of a web page is now a more important signal in the ranking. If you’re doing a search for DIY shelving, the site behind the image is now more likely to be a site related to DIY projects. We also prioritize fresher content, so you’re more likely to visit a site that has been updated recently.”

What does this mean for brands?

  • Old-fashioned reputation building still matters. Even the best images need to be hosted on a reputable site with authority signals like external links still important.
  • Images cannot just be placed anywhere on the site, or even on the page. If you are serious about visual search, you will make images central to your online consumer experience.

8. Build a Visual Identity

Visual search engines can tell which company an image belongs to based on its aesthetic qualities.

For larger brands, that may seem easier to achieve as they have huge budgets for videos and high-quality imagery.

However, the same rule can apply just as easily to smaller businesses.

Even if you make use of stock imagery for your social media accounts or blog posts, these can still be adapted to give them a unique look.

The important thing is to be consistent (so you have a true visual identity) and to avoid using stock imagery without adapting it at least a little bit.

Otherwise, a visual search engine will have no way of telling which images are yours, and which belong to the many other sites using the same visual assets.

Vertical Search Tips for 2019

As search evolves into the ambient phenomenon the main players want it to become, it also embeds itself in multiple new industries.

Within each of these industries (or verticals), consumers visit specific sites that are tailored to their specific needs.

Think Amazon, TripAdvisor, or Airbnb.

As more of these vertical search engines take hold, brands need a strategy.

These four technical and content tips provide a great starting point:

9. Data Deep-Dive

Consumers visit different sites for different reasons.

This means their expectations vary; whether they are met will be revealed in your analytics data.

Analyze all available data across each platform to identify your audience’s requirements, so your brand can respond appropriately.

10. Work to Understand Ranking Factors

The Amazon A9 algorithm works very differently to that of Walmart or Target, for example.

Analyze the competition to try and understand which factors they prioritize and base your strategy on these findings.

This can also illuminate which factors each vertical search engine feels its audience prioritizes.

11. Create Unique Content for Each Platform

The perils of duplicate content are well-known in the search industry, but many brands forget that this also applies to vertical search engines.

Bear in mind that this content often can be served through Google, too.

However, if it is duplicated in numerous places you run the risk of missing out on traditional search traffic and of alienating customers who know cut and pasted content when they see it.

Use the findings from your data deep-dive to craft new content across all vertical search engines.

12. Maintain Consistency

Although it may seem paradoxical to create new content for all platforms and also be consistent, there is an important distinction to be drawn out here.

It has often been said that you are only as strong as your weakest brand touchpoint.

Every piece of content you post online is a reflection of your brand identity and should maintain a cohesive voice.

View vertical search engines as part of the consumer journey, rather than a separate strategy.

Conclusion

In 2019, the symbiotic relationships between tech SEO, content marketing, and digital expertise will continue to develop.

In particular, they will converge in the arenas of voice, visual, and vertical search.

Search marketers should embrace this era of opportunity and accountability.

The industry can take center stage digital marketing, with artificial intelligence helping to inform, optimize, and measure more effective strategies.

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Want to understand your marketing stack better? Enter the 2019 Stackie Awards

It’s that time of the year again. The Stackies 2019: Marketing Tech Stack Awards are now open for entries.

The Stackie Awards are given each year at our MarTech Conference to acknowledge noteworthy marketing stacks. By participating in this visualization exercise, companies have an opportunity to reflect on their own stacks, while getting a sneak peek into others’ thought processes.

Conference Chair Scott Brinker says that The Stackies “isn’t a vanity award, but an educational program. Everyone in the marketing community benefits from the entries.”

Digital marketers agree. In a LinkedIn post last month, digital technology consultant Farid Mheir posted what the award show means to the martech community:

Farid Mheir post: LinkedIn

Slideshow co-founder Amit Ranjan lauded the show for its depth of perspectives.

How to enter. There are no hard and fast rules on how to show your visualization.

“You might illustrate your stack as a value chain, a technical architecture, a customer journey map, a process flow diagram, a market strategy, a capabilities matrix — or your own original view on how marketing technology is orchestrated in your organization,” Brinker said.

The judges will base their decisions on the following criteria:

  • Alignment: How well-aligned your stack is with your business.
  • Concept: How insightful the conceptual organization is.
  • Clarity: How easy it is to understand.
  • Design: How visually appealing the aesthetics are.
  • Detail: How detailed it is.

Submit your stack here before 11:59 pm Friday, Mar. 15 PST.  Instead of charging an entry fee, the MarTech conference will donate $100 to non-profit organization Girls Who Code, up to a grand total of $10,000, for every valid Stackies submission.

There will also be a ceremony at MarTech in San Jose in April to celebrate everyone who participated — and award trophies to the five best entries.

Browse through past entries. More than 150 marketing stacks have been shared through The Stackies over the past four years. Here are the entries and winners from 2018:

This story first appeared on MarTech Today. For more on marketing technology, click here.


Google Organic Search Doesn’t Have A Negative Keywords Feature

I know this is obvious for most of you but while Google Ads (AdWords) has a way to exclude your site for coming up in the search results for specific keywords, Google organic search does not. You cannot tell Google, please do not rank my site when people type in keyword X or Y.

John Mueller from Google confirmed this obvious statement on Twitter saying “No – just focus on what you really want to be seen as being relevant for.”

You can use negative keywords in Google Ads but not in organic search.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Protestors arrested outside Russian security service HQ

Russian police on Sunday arrested seven people protesting outside the Moscow headquarters of the FSB, Russia’s security service, rights group OVD-Info reported.

Several dozen protestors gathered outside the infamous Lublyanka building for an unauthorised demonstration against what they say are abuses committed by the security forces, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

Some were protesting the detention of 77-year-old rights activist Lev Ponomaryov, who was sentenced to 25 days in police cells for urging people to take part in an unauthorised rally.

OVD-Info, which specialises in covering such demonstrators, posted a photo of those arrested, inside the police wagon in which they were being held.

Another five demonstrators were detained in front of the health ministry building in Moscow during another unauthorised protest, Moscow Echo radio reported.

Most of those detained for such protests are either released after a few hours or receive short prison sentences or fines.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that calls for unauthorised demonstrations could lead to an explosion of violence like that seen in the “yellow vest” protests in Paris.

“We don’t want events in our country where people are tearing up paving stones and burning everything they see,” he said.

Some protestors outside the Lubyanko wore the high-visibility yellow vests associated with the French protests.

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