The answer to that question differs for all of us.
However, if you’re not lying to yourself, you know that at least part of the reason you continue to be a digital marketer and read blogs about digital marketing is that you want money. But not in a greedy way! It’s more like “I am an independent adult who needs to support myself/my family” way.
At the end of the day, most of us want a paycheck. I’m not saying we don’t want to work with awesome people, do purposeful work, and make an impact on the world. But those things don’t matter as much (think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) if we’re unemployed and can’t meet our basic needs.
With that said, I’m here to share my biggest takeaway from last week’s webinar, The Future of PPC. Hanapin brought together some of the leading minds of our industry to discuss what’s to come in our jobs and how we can ensure we’re providing our brands with value (thus keeping our jobs).
The expert panel has a LOT of experience hiring, training, and managing digital marketing teams. The panel includes:
Navah Hopkins – Services Innovation Strategist at Wordstream
Ginny Marvin – Editor-in-Chief at Search Engine Land (Third Door Media)
Carrie Albright – Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing
So what skills do they say you need to stay competitive in the PPC industry in 2020 and beyond?
The Return To Marketing Fundamentals
Navah: We need to have business acumen.
Carrie: We need to be insight brokers.
Ginny: We need to return to the fundamentals of marketing.
While there’s some nuance to each of these statements, the ultimate message was the same. The unmeasurable, soft skills of marketing are making a comeback in the work of PPC marketers.
If you’re like me, you may have felt slightly deflated when you read those statements.
Why is that hard to hear?
Because as PPC marketers, we have become REALLY comfortable with measurable outcomes and data. We have finely tuned technical skills as a result. Ginny explained this phenomenon with a relatable, personal example.
“Digital marketers used to stake their claim on, ‘we can measure everything!’ I came from magazine advertising before PPC, so I remember the first time I saw a PPC campaign and was like, ‘oh my gosh this is amazing!…But we went so far into the data/metrics/immediacy that the underlying fundamentals like branding got lost.”
Ginny Marvin (paraphrased)
So how do we start demonstrating our business acumen? How do we start “brokering insights” for brands? Here’s where Carrie would start.
“We do have to ensure our new hires understand the technical side of paid search, paid social, etc. But instead of fixating on mastery of every single technical skill (like knowing each and every ad extension), you have to know what you’re trying to accomplish. You have to understand how these pieces work together. When do you bring in social? When do you bring in Pinterest? When do you bring in a video ad that’s meant specifically for Instagram? Things like that where you have to be really intentional. And maybe I don’t know the specific specs of an ad that I need to implement, but what I know is that is where I want to be and that’s who I want to target for a set of specific reasons.”
Carrie Albright (paraphrased)
So there it is! Start your strategies with, “What am I trying to accomplish?” From there, your marketing fundamentals and business acumen are needed to develop the overarching growth strategy. Your technical PPC skills are nothing without that strategy.
We have to face the facts. Data analysis and measurement are no longer enough. BUT that doesn’t mean analytical skills are no longer important. Navah said that every digital marketer’s toolkit should include analytics and that, “it breaks my heart how few people truly know analytics.” She goes on to explain that an understanding of analytics is what empowersdigital marketers to accomplish their growth goals.
The beauty of being an integrated marketer and breaking those silos is actually allowing those networks to empower each other and creating audiences based on messaging from one network and carrying it over to another. And being able to invest because you now have the data to justify it.
Navah also explains that the soft skill of consulting is what empowers digital marketers to take those insights that they’re seeing across multiple audiences and networks and sell that story to stakeholders in order to get buy-in and justify larger investments.
Okay, lets recap.
For the last 10-15 years, digital marketers have taken pride in the data that allows us to truly measure the effectiveness of our marketing efforts. This was a huge differentiator for digital campaigns relative to TV, radio, newspaper, etc. campaigns.
The digital space has evolved at a rapid pace, such that the most effective digital marketers are those who can recognize and communicate insights from various data sets.
Digital marketers need to focus more on soft skills in 2020 including consulting, communicating, and strategizing. Showing a story with data is more valuable than the data alone.
Analytical skills should still be in a digital marketer’s toolkit. Without this piece, it’s impossible to pull insights from data.
For 2020, let’s all resolve to out of our data-centric comfort zones and work on those soft skills to take our industry to the next level!
These are the engines you want to give extra consideration if you intend to expand internationally. They all have their own unique search algorithms that are in many ways as complex and developed as Google’s.
Why they matter and how to rank on them
If you’re like me a few years ago, a die-hard Apple fan remarkably repulsed by Microsoft’s products (I’ve now converted to the seamless team of PC), you might think prioritizing resources to optimize content for Bing or other engines is a waste of time. What I failed to consider then, and what you might be overlooking, is geographic segmentation.
Do you want to reach the American audience using voice search? Consider Bing.
Are you expanding into China? Check out Baidu.
Each search engine matters because of its unique user types. Regardless of how small that market share might look on a global scale, if there’s regional search volume from your target audience, it’s worth the optimization.
Bing Search, in combination with Yahoo, is without a doubt the strongest player after Google. Together, they have more than 10% of the global market share for desktop.
Now, some say that Bing’s market share will increase due to mergers and acquisitions, while others argue for its decline due to the death of Internet Explorer.
Still, all Microsoft browsers, such as Microsoft Edge Legacy and Chromium-based Microsoft Edge, have Bing as the default search engine, making Bing Search the natural choice for Microsoft product users. Yahoo, which is powered by Bing Search, is the default search engine for Mozilla’s browser Firefox, adding billions of impressions to Bing’s search results each year.
Although the algorithms differ, optimizing for Bing search results is not much different than optimizing for Google. With a bit of fine tuning, it’s more than possible to come up with a strategy that allows for high rankings on both.
To rank on Bing, and thus Yahoo, make sure to do the following:
1. List your business on Bing Places
Bing Places is the equivalent of Google My Business and is the fastest way to get your business ranking for local seo. Many even consider Bing Places to favor small business owners as Bing puts their information more prominently on display.
2. Upload an XML Sitemap using Bing’s Webmaster Tools
While the debate on how much sitemaps really do matter for Google SEO continues, uploading one with Bing’s Webmaster Tool for XML Sitemaps allows the algorithm to better categorize and manage your content, making it more visible and relevant to the search audience.
3. Match keywords in your content
Check that the exact keyword match can be found in your page titles, meta descriptions and overall content. It’s known that the impact of on-page tactics as a ranking factor is much greater in Bing than Google.
4. Keep your social media profiles up to date
Go social! Bing considers your social media presence more than any other search engine. The Webmaster Guidelines specifically states that Bing considers social signals from third-party platforms to rank your content. Bing might even extract certain information directly from your Facebook company page to your Bing Places display.
5. Use high-quality images to enhance your content
Bing’s image search is much more advanced than Google’s. If you want your landing page to rank, add high-quality design assets to showcase your offerings. If you want your blog to rank, attach too-long-to-read infographics to highlight your points. Like the one above.
While it looks a lot like Google, its algorithm is different in many ways. Most prominent is the way Yandex indexes pages. Unlike Google’s almost continuous indexation, Yandex indexes pages sporadically. That means that you might have to wait around for a while before your site shows up on Yandex.
Despite this, it is still possible to rank on Yandex. You just need to have a bit more patience.
While waiting for your site to be indexed, take a look at the following:
1. Focus on tags over internal site structure
According to The Ultimate Guide to Yandex SEO, your header tag, title tag and slug are way more important than your internal site structure. In fact, it was only recently that Yandex started to support hreflang tags. Before that, Yandex only allowed the <head> hreflang implementation.
2. Consider search intent to rank
Some argue that Yandex meets search intent better than Google. The modern ICS score, which replaced the Thematic Index Citation, is determined by how relevant a site is to the query. Yandex uses its own version of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) test to determine relevance.
3. Eliminate toxic links
Many do not know this, but Yandex was actually the first search engine to roll out a link-based algorithm. Already in 2005, 7 years before Google’s Penguin algorithm, Yandex introduced the Nepot filter, which specifically looked at the impact of toxic link exchanges and spam links.
While the site is available worldwide, the site predominantly favors simplified Chinese. So before taking any other steps, hire a native speaker to help you along the way. To win at global, you have to ditch translations.
Here’s a few steps to get your content ranking.
1. Localize your keywords and content appropriately
As with all multilingual SEO, you need to work with a native language expert to ensure proper keyword localization and content optimization. If your site experiences high bounce rates, Baidu will tank your rankings immediately. As with any search experience, localization matters.
2. Position relevant content and keywords to the top of the page
Baidu favors a completely opposite layout than the Westernized one. The sooner you get to the point the better. Therefore, it is important to position your keywords as early as possible in the text and introduce all relevant content already in the top of the page to rank.
3. Obtain a verification level and get certified
By registering and paying a small fee you can obtain a verification level to improve your domain authority and rankings on Baidu. If you want to secure top ratings, you can get certified and obtain an ICP license, which is much more difficult than getting verified.
Top alternative search engines by data privacy
While most of the search engines mentioned above are tied to big corporations or political forces, global initiatives are setting the stage for more privacy-focused search engines. Among these is DuckDuckGo, the forefront runner with over 130 billion searches processed since launch.
Why they matter and how to rank on them
In many ways, the movement is a response to Google’s invasiveness on privacy. Many are fed up with how they are capitalizing on personal data and controlling the narrative with targeted search.
Consequently, this attracts tech-savvy experts with a lower bounce rate. Once they commit to a search, they stay.
Here’s how to optimize for it:
1. Sharpen Your User Experience
UX continues to make an impact on SEO, not to mention for DuckDuckGo. Make your content easily scannable and stay away from intrusive pop ups that harm your users’ experience and ease of navigation.
2. Focus on High-Quality Backlinks
As with any SEO, high-quality backlinks play a huge role for ranking. If you already have a solid backlink profile from your Google strategy, you should be good to go. If your backlink profile has a high level of toxicity, do some cleansing.
3. Rethink Local SEO
Since there’s no location tracking available for searches, location-specific searches such as “services near me” don’t work. If you like to rank for these types of searches, include a specific location in your keyword strategy. Otherwise, you won’t be able to optimize for local seo.
Startpage could be my personal favorite among the alternative search engines. It basically is Google without the tracking.
And while many consider DuckDuckGo to be the forefront runner of the privacy-focused search movement, many forget how Startpage ‘blazed the trail in 2006’. Offering a search experience without IP recording or tracking back when it was more or less unheard of. Now, it is the common denominator among all privacy-safe search engines.
So, how do you rank in Startpage? Simple. You rank in Google.
There are many more privacy-safe alternatives to search engines than the two mentioned above. Perhaps one without equal is SwissCows – a search engine that prides itself on being the only family-friendly, privacy-safe semantic search engine available on the web.
This means that any intrusive search results, like adult entertainment or offensive content, is naturally censored from the search results. At the same time, they never store any data nor track user specific information.
SwissCows SERPs bring up organic results and paid ads directly from Bing so in order to rank in SwissCows, you need to rank in Bing. Just make sure to omit any content that’s not PG-13.
What do they all have in common?
In the end, none of these alternative search engines can replace Google. As an SEO, I’ll never advise starting out with anything other than a Google strategy.
But when you are ready to branch out and extend your reach, give these alternatives a try. Analyze where your target audience hangs out and optimize thereafter.
Many of the privacy-focused search engines require little optimization as they pull their search results directly from other sources anyways. Simply do a quick check to see how you rank on each one.
And who knows, perhaps Microsoft will continue to steal more of the global search landscape. If that happens, you’ll be there — ranking in first position, ready to reap the rewards of your diversified efforts in an ever-changing search landscape.
For your team, screen recorders can be used for several reasons — from creating tutorials for your website to recording a recurring tech issue to sending your marketing team a quick note instead of an email.
Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, businesses worldwide face lots of uncertainty.
One thing will remain constant throughout this period — customers expect excellent experiences when interacting with a brand. According to Acquia’s latest CX Report, businesses plan to prioritize customer retention over the next 12 months: 56% plan to improve customer experience, and 58% will focus more on customer service.
This should be a common goal. To weather a potential storm, businesses must keep customers by meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for CNBC.com and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.