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SEO and The Pandemic: Adapt Your Marketing During COVID-19

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While some brands have had to put little to no effort into SEO marketing throughout the Coronavirus, others have had to readjust some, if not all, of their content to be able to reach even a minuscule amount of customers to their eCommerce sites. For example, the grocery industry has had an overbearing amount of consumers flocking to their stores and online sites, as highly searched phases during the peak of the pandemic were already embedded into the field’s content. This industry had had search terms such as hygienic items, disinfectant, hand sanitizer weaved into their sites’ content, as opposed to retail brands that have had no initial need for these terms or even have the inventory, as it doesn’t relate to their targeted consumer needs and overall business purpose.

All sorts of industries have had to redirect their content to a pandemic focused marketing approach but as time carries on, brands begin to wonder of the importance of SEO during COVID-19.

Managing SEO In Crisis

As mentioned previously, stores that revolved around selling essentials have ultimately come to a halt with their SEO efforts as this industry is already having a hard time keeping up with customers’ needs and inventory. The health and wellness field specifically has also seen a surge with people in need of these necessities, as well, with people in need of medicine, vitamins, supplements, etc. 

In contrast, the brands that should be focusing on their pandemic strategies and how to better manage SEO during the crisis include fashion and beauty, travel and hospitality, and restaurants. While these sectors have previously looked at materialistic and entertainment-focused content, they’ve never had to think of incorporating terms and phrases related to crises into their messaging.

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So, answering the question: should you pause SEO during COVID-19? The answer will depend on how successful or in-need of business your brand is.

SEO Tips During The Pandemic

Especially important for SMB’s that may have been having a hard time gaining an audience on their online platforms, SEO during coronavirus, and after, will be crucial for the success of the business. For your own company, SEO is a great way to adapt your marketing during COVID-19. Below are several tips your business can consider:

Shift Your Content: Without having to start over with all of your content to cater to more pandemic-related SEO terms, using existing content may be a smart approach your business can easily accomplish. This can be as easy as changing product and service descriptions or adding an extra sentence or two related to the current situation at hand. Overall, this will help your SMB extend its reach and search result ranking.

Think Long-Term: Your company should be thinking long-term when it comes to the use of SEO. This is a time where your brand should be researching different keywords and phrases that are growing in popularity and not just of seasonal use. For example, adding the keyword “masks” with inventory will likely have longevity compared to the keyword “fall outfits” which by next season will no longer have the same popularity. Your business should also keep in mind that not only pandemic-related content will have longevity, so performing research and finding phrases that already relate to your business’s content will help with extending reach, as well.

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Research: Your business should be performing keyword research often and staying updated on keywords that have steady popularity throughout several months.  The more of these keywords and phrases your company implements into its content, the longer your brand’s searchability is likely to remain. Your eCommerce site should also be looking for words that are rising in popularity as this is a great way to improve the ranking of your platform before competitors.

Post-COVID SEO: Post-pandemic keywords and phrases should be integrated into your content as consumers are looking for answers past the current chaos everyone is dealing with. Your business should consider adding keywords that will help confirm the customer’s hope for the future, as well as show empathy during the current times.

Additional Offerings: Offering new services to consumers is a great way to attract people to your online business. Along with these new offerings should come along SEO-keywords that relate to your services. For example, restaurants moving online in crisis periods may want to add keywords and phrases, such as “curbside pick-up” to attract customers to your website. Retail brands could add phrases such as, “buy-online-pick-up-in-store or BOPIS” to reach new consumers and help with sales.

All industries should be aware of the importance of SEO during COVID-19 as this will affect everyone. These tips are especially useful for SMBs and the sectors that have been impacted hard in response to the chaos caused by COVID-19, however the industries that solely offer essentials may also need to reconsider the use of SEO-friendly content, and possibly work on restocking inventory and other issues at hand.

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Key TakeAways

The pandemic has ultimately led to immense changes with SEO-content. All industries should have this as a priority, whether companies are flourishing with their reach using SEO keywords and phrases or having to find ways to incorporate this strategy into their business plans. From the article, businesses can learn the following:

●      Companies should consider pausing SEO-growth if their eCommerce site already has a solid reach. This should be a time where a business can focus on inventory and restocking, instead. 

●      Businesses should be thinking long term when creating an SEO strategy.

●      eCommerce companies should be doing in-depth research on the longevity and popularity of SEO keywords and phrases before integrating anything within their content.

●      Pandemic related content should be integrated throughout an eCommerce site and its platforms to help reach its consumers in an empathic manner.

●      Instead of a business changing all of its content to better reach consumers, companies can work with existing content and alter it slightly to include SEO keywords and phrases.

●      Companies should keep away from keywords and phrases that fluctuate in popularity or have a constant decreases in searches.

Overall, SEO will continue to have a large impact on the future of businesses’ success, meaning all industries should be prioritising this within their marketing strategies.

About Author:
Hannah O’Brien is a passionate content writer, she writes for creative agency Appnova, which specializes in luxury branding, bespoke digital marketing strategies and ecommerce solutions.

SEO

Google Autocomplete: A Complete SEO Guide

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Google Autocomplete: A Complete SEO Guide


Google Autocomplete is a controversial but powerful search feature.

When you type a word, or even a letter, into Google, it populates a list of search suggestions. That’s what autocomplete is.

SEO professionals, paid search marketers, content marketers, and social media managers can all benefit from using Google Autocomplete to help with different keyword-focused and intent-exploring projects.

On the other hand, Google Autocomplete often makes the news for funny, peculiar, or even offensive habits (often in a negative way).

People use autocomplete constantly, saving thousands of seconds per day, but it has also been blamed for political cover-ups and spoiling movies, TV shows, and video games.

Google Autocomplete can also be a powerful marketing tool. SEO professionals and other digital marketers have used it for years to inform strategy, get keywords, and find the important questions customers are asking.

They can use Autocomplete to better optimize clients’ digital properties and the content and messaging that make them up.

This guide will help you understand the real power this simple but super-helpful feature can do for help with your day-to-day tasks.

What Is Google Autocomplete?

Google’s own words, Google Autocomplete is “designed to make it faster to complete searches that you’re beginning to type.”

It’s integrated across Google Search and other Alphabet properties that use Google, including in the “Omnibox” on Chrome.

Google estimates that, cumulatively, it saves over 200 years of typing every day, and on average reduces typing overall by about 25 percent.

The primary purpose of the Autocomplete dropdown is to cut back on time a user spends typing by offering predictions of what a user may be typing — including for websites using the built-in Google Custom Search Engine feature.

While Autocomplete has been a desktop search feature since late 2004, it has become even more useful as a time-saving feature on mobile devices.

Typing on a mobile device is a bit tougher than doing so on the large keyboards we have grown up with and are accustomed to, so it’s a welcomed tool for providing assistance and saving time for many.

There are several other useful ways that the feature can be used to leverage content ideas, keyword suggestions, intent exploration, online reputation management, and other data-driven tasks.

How Does Autocomplete Work?

Ex-Googler Kevin Gibbs created the project, originally called “Google Suggest” by another former Googler Marissa Mayer.

Google has since moved away from the “Suggest” name since it’s not always offering the most thoughtful, caring, or appropriate predictions.

Google calls the completions it offers “predictions”, not “suggestions.” This is because of how Autocomplete works.

Autocomplete is supposed to help people complete a sentence they were intending – not to suggest a search intent, as with “I’m feeling lucky.” They determine predictions by looking at common searches on Google, including looking at trending searches that might be relevant.

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This allows Autocomplete to quickly update and adapt to new search trends and news stories.

Much of Autocomplete’s behavior is computer-generated, with data collected from millions of other Google searches and their results, including the content on those pages. It also takes information from your search history, location, and other data points.

Google has also put a lot of work in, so as to avoid inappropriate or offensive autocomplete suggestions. This means there are both automated and manual removal procedures that can influence what autocomplete suggestions are left.

Autocomplete is also related to the Knowledge Graph, and especially on mobile, it can bring Knowledge Graph suggestions into the prediction.

It wasn’t until 2008 that Google built Autocomplete into its default search engine (it was previously an opt-in feature).

Best Ways to Use Google Autocomplete

1. Keyword Research

It’s a long, tedious, and laborious task, but it’s also the foundation of all SEO strategies– and has been for a long time.

While we may no longer explicitly target keywords, keywords and their related ideas are always going to be an important part of search marketing.

Keyword research is one of the first tasks tackled at the start of an engagement — and carried on throughout the engagement — to understand not just a brand and the content it creates, but also its potential shortcomings, website strengths and weaknesses, and content gaps.

Autocomplete doesn’t do all the work for you in terms of keyword research, but it’s a great place to start at or to use early and often when developing content calendars and general organic search strategies.

Using it (along with other keyword resource tools like Google Keyword Planner and other third-party keyword databases) to get an idea of the right keywords you want to target by considering monthly search frequency, competition, and even cost-per-click (CPC) pricing will do your search strategy justice.

One of the shining advantages of Google Autocomplete is its ability to uncover quality long-tail phrases that are commonly searched across the web.

Since the primary measure for Autocomplete is popularity — based on real searches by users in real-time — the value of Autocomplete lies in its plethora of keyword-level data that you can dig up if you work at it hard and long enough.

As always, be sure you are signed out of Google to ensure you limit personalization for an unbiased look at predictions.

Long-tail keywords are incredibly useful when fulfilling content gaps but also offer endless possibilities in terms of high-value blog posts and educational content within a brand’s niche.

2. Intent Exploration

Understanding user intent is important because it guides the goal of the page, its messaging, its layout, and even imagery. We know pages perform best when they fully satisfy the user intent of a search query.

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You can use Autocomplete to better understand user intent, but doing so can be involved and laborious. Taking the time to visit many different web pages in the search results tied to specific predictions is going to take some time, focus, and content consumption. But the information you can mine from this method is invaluable.

Keywords overlap various stages of user intent, and without more keyword context, it can be tough to understand the intent.

Autocomplete will help you not just understand different high-value long-tail keywords and the intent surrounding them, but it will also help marketers recognize the volume of content around specific stages of intent, as well as which long-tail phrases and intent stages could be optimized for as a higher priority.

Of course, for high-value keywords — long-tail or traditional one-, two-, and three-word phrases — it’s important to satisfy all stages of intent as they relate to the high-value keywords.

That’s the idea behind an all-encompassing, quality search strategy. And Autocomplete can help get you there.

3. Online Reputation Management

Autocomplete has been significant in the realm of online reputation management, too.

Remember, when a user searches for your name or your brand name, the first thing they see, even before your site on the SERP (search engine results page), is the Autocomplete predictions tied to that name.

If those predictions are negative, or if even just one of them is negative, it can have a real impact on your business’s performance.

Think about it. You search [Dog Washers Inc] and the first prediction finishes with “loses dog,” you probably won’t feel too keen on bringing your dog there for his next bath.

Same for a restaurant; if you search [Ted’s Seaford Spot] and the prediction finishes with “e. Coli,” I have a pretty good idea of what you’re not eating tonight.

Autocomplete makes up an important part of online reputation management (ORM) and cannot be ignored when working to balance all negative connections made with brands.

One must be vigilant, just like most ORM strategies. Several ways brands can work to offset negative Autocomplete predictions are:

  • Take control of your brand’s conversations to ensure the right connections are being made in Google Autocomplete.
  • Social media account optimization reinforces the positive connections that may be overshadowed by negative ones.
  • Social media content, messaging, and engagement are in line with the optimizations above and the brand’s voice and tone.
  • Consistent branding and messaging for profile websites with positive keywords association used elsewhere
  • Starting small and making an impact by searching for positive connections for the brand from different locations. Obviously, the more people, the better. But you’d be surprised at the impact it can have.
  • Building backlinks to Google SERPs for positive keyword associations with your name; things like [sam hollingsworth seo writer] and [sam hollingsworth handicapper] would be great starts for someone like myself. 😊
  • If there are negative autocomplete suggestions, ensure that you have a strategy of how to address them.
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4. Content Generation and Exploration

You can also now use Autocomplete for content generation and exploring competitor content for your own content ideas. It’s easy, and interesting, to use Autocomplete alongside other online writing tools, to find out what web users are searching for.

FAQs

Just looking at “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, and “why” with a few brand-related questions can get you a ton of questions for your FAQ– questions people may already be searching for.

Related keywords

You can do this in many ways, for many reasons. An easy one is “brand name vs.”– Google will autofill with competitors. You can also look at “brand name and” and see what autocomplete finds there– finding ways to expand your brand.

Related topics

If you can find Autocomplete suggestions for related topics, that aren’t covered by your main topic, you might have an edge to grow some content in that niche.

Queries like “how * works” can be invaluable, autocomplete filling in the wildcard space with suggestions. You can also do this to find questions about your brand, questions for content marketing, find problems potential customers are looking for, and even find out if users are looking for certain social media accounts.

Screenshot of Google Search, November 2021

Autocomplete Policies

With a history of backlash due to some of its search predictions, Google does manually work to prevent inappropriate Autocomplete predictions when it comes to:

  • Sexually explicit predictions.
  • Hateful predictions against groups and individuals.
  • Violent predictions.
  • Danger and harmful activities in predictions.

It also may remove predictions that could be considered spam, facilitate or advocate piracy, or if given a legal request to do so.

Google makes it clear that it removes predictions that relate to any of the above-mentioned situations unless they contain medical or scientific terms that are not malicious.

Looking for Feedback

To better control inappropriate Autocomplete predictions, Google launched its feedback tool and uses the data to make improvements consistently.

For instance, there doesn’t have to be a particular demographic that is being targeted by something hateful in nature; and feedback helps get that discovered faster and easier.

google-autocomplete-report-inappropriateScreenshot of Google Search, November 2021

Understanding what people are actually searching for is an essential part of your SEO strategy.

See how you can incorporate Google Autocomplete into your research process. You just might be surprised at the specific keywords and search intent it reveals!

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How To Use Amazon Attribution & Brand Referral Bonus Programs

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How To Use Amazon Attribution & Brand Referral Bonus Programs


Perhaps you’ve heard of the Amazon Attribution and Amazon Brand Referral Bonus programs and are wondering how they can help build your business.

As the cost per click (CPC) on Amazon rises, and the platform takes a stronger stance against black hat ranking tactics, more sellers have been looking at ways to drive external traffic to their Amazon product detail page.

Additionally, some brands – particularly those without a Direct to Consumer (DTC) website or those wanting to use sales from external traffic sources to help the organic rankings on the ecommerce giant – will turn to advertise off Amazon to help drive the conversions needed to get those rankings.

In the past, the disadvantage of sending external traffic to Amazon was that there wasn’t a way to track that traffic’s results and conversion rates.

Amazon does not allow adding pixels to their product detail pages, so it was difficult to determine the effectiveness of external campaigns driven to Amazon.

On top of the lack of transparency into how your external traffic was performing, you also had to consider the cost of Amazon’s fees on top of the cost of ads in your profitability calculations.

To address this issue, Amazon has introduced two programs that work together to help you see how external traffic is performing and get credit back on the fees for products you sent to Amazon.

These programs are the Amazon Attribution and the Amazon Brand Referral Bonus.

Why Drive External Traffic To Amazon?

In general, it is best to drive traffic to your product detail page from within the Amazon Advertising platform because of the increased visibility of campaign performance and the lower cost for many products.

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However, there are times where it does make sense to drive external traffic to Amazon.

Amazon’s Top of Funnel advertising products are still in their infancy, and some of the targeting is not as advanced as what you can find on other platforms.

There are instances where there are more opportunities to advertise effectively to specific demographics or targeting sets outside of Amazon, such as Facebook, Google, or Instagram.

Additionally, most of Amazon’s advertising products severely limit the amount of creative you can include in your ads.

For many Amazon advertising ad types, primary creatives are from the listing itself. Therefore, it can be difficult to craft ads customized for different audiences or provide education or brand awareness for products.

Ads created off of Amazon generally allow for more freedom in creative images and text.

In general, sending external traffic to Amazon can be more expensive because, in addition to paying the external costs of the ads, you’re also paying the Amazon fees.

This additional cost means you’ll need a higher return on ads spent to be profitable.

This will not be an option for every seller or every type of product. But if your margin allows for it, we have seen an increase in overall sales and profitability when done right.

Amazon Attribution With Brand Referral Bonus Program

For those cases where it makes sense to send traffic from outside Amazon, there are two programs that can help you increase visibility on your campaigns and reduce the overall cost.

The Amazon Attribution program has been available for a couple of years. It enables you to drive external traffic and see specific data on the traffic results that you send to Amazon.

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On July 2021, Amazon introduced the Brand Referral Bonus program.

With this program, when you drive external traffic, Amazon will discount the referral fees you pay for the products you sell with the traffic you sent to your product detail page on Amazon.

Remember that to use the Brand Referral Bonus program, you must first be involved in the Amazon Attribution program and Brand Registry.

Below are the details of both programs.

Amazon Attribution Program

This program allows you to track specific metrics of traffic sent with an Amazon attribution link.

As part of the program, Amazon creates the custom link that tracks specific metrics generated because of the traffic you sent to your product detail page.

Amazon states that:

“Attribution Reports include clicks, as well as Amazon conversion metrics, such as detail page views, Add to Cart, and purchases. Reporting is available via downloadable reports and within the console.”

To participate in this program, you have to enroll in Amazon’s Brand Registry program. If you do not have a live trademark, you can participate in the Amazon IP Accelerator program.

The way the Amazon Attribution works is you are assigned a custom link and given a 14-day last-touch, cross-device attribution model.

Screenshot by author, January 2022

Amazon Brand Referral Bonus Program

The Amazon Brand Referral Bonus is actually a subset of Amazon Attribution. Amazon states that, on average, brands earn 10% from their qualifying sales.

The way that the program works is when you send external traffic through this program in conjunction with the Amazon Attribution, you will receive a credit back on referral fees that you would incur as your products sell on the Amazon platform.

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The amount of referral fee credit you receive will be based on the category of your product, the same way that the referral fees themselves are calculated on the platform.

There’s up to a 14-day attribution window depending on the type of ad.

Keep in mind that after the sale has occurred on Amazon, there’s a two-month wait period before the bonus is allotted to your account.

For example, if your sale occurred in December, you would not receive the compensation into your Seller Central disbursement until February.

This allows for customer returns and cancellations.

How To Sign Up For Amazon Attribution

The first step to signing up for these two programs is to make sure that you are enrolled in the Brand Registry program or IP Accelerator program, depending on your specific situation.

You will need a live trademark to participate in the Amazon IP Accelerator to potentially expedite the trademark for your brand or product.

Then, you need to have an active Amazon account and enroll in the Amazon Attribution. Once you have completed these steps, you can register for the Brand Referral Bonus program.

If you are looking for more detailed instructions on how the Amazon Attribution and its metrics work, you can take the free course located in the Amazon Learning Console.

This will walk you through the program, set up, and interpret the data.

Working together with internal Amazon ads, external ads can be a strong strategy for products in competitive categories or new-to-category products to increase overall sales and/or product adoption.

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Google Search Console Updated With Desktop Page Experience Report

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Google Search Console Updated With Desktop Page Experience Report


Google Search Console has a new report dedicated to evaluating Page Experience criteria on the desktop versions of webpages.

This report can help you prepare for the launch of the page experience algorithm update on desktop, which will begin rolling out in February and finish at the end of March.

In an announcement on Twitter, Google states:

“To support the upcoming rollout of page experience ranking to desktop, Search Console now has a dedicated desktop section in its Page Experience report to help site owners understand Google’s ‘good page experience’ criteria.”

The desktop report can be accessed from the Page Experience tab in Search Console, directly underneath the mobile report.

It looks identical to the mobile report, with the exception of the Mobile Usability section.

Mobile Usability is not among the criteria for achieving a “Good” page experience score on desktop, so it has been omitted from the report.

Aside from Mobile Usability, the page experience update on desktop is built using the same ranking signals as the mobile update.

More About Google Page Experience On Desktop

Google has confirmed the three Core Web Vitals metrics: LCP, FID, and CLS, and their associated thresholds will apply for desktop ranking.

Other aspects of page experience signals, such as HTTPS security and absence of intrusive interstitials, will remain the same as well.

To see exactly how the mobile and desktop updates differ, see the chart below:

Screenshot from developers.google.com/search/blog, November 2021.

Source: Google Search Central on Twitter


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