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Search & Social State of the State

At AMP, everyone has an insatiable intellectual curiosity that drives us to create innovative solutions for our clients, our agency and the advertising industry as a whole. That's why we're constantly reading and staying up to date on industry trends, news, etc.  Read below for recent updates within the search and social marketing realm and our thoughts on these changes. SNAPCHAT ADDS GEO-LOCATION FILTERS  In early July, Snapchat added geo-filters by location to its platform. For example, if you're taking a photo at Disneyland, you'll be able to swipe right to see art related to the amusement park. Read More on Mashable Why it's important: Snapchat has rolled out new features constantly in the last few months to encourage more sharing. Updates like this one give Snapchat users another reason to open the app to see what geofilters are around them, share with friends and show off their savvy selfies. Implications for marketers: This definitely opens a door for more branding on the platform. For example, Soul Cycle has a specific filter for when users are in the studios. Not to mention that Snapchat is adding an outlet for revenue and paid media space with these filters. SOCIAL E-COMMERCE AHEAD  Twitter and Facebook revealed that they are listening and are looking for a way to seamlessly integrate purchases into social with Twitter acquiring a new company and Facebook testing a 'buy' button for instant purchases. Read More on AdAge. Why it's important: Currently, social media isn't an e-commerce platform and advertisers are using direct response ads on Facebook to reach a targeted audience. The fact that Facebook and Twitter are testing native e-commerce technologies would mean a new way to use the platforms. Implications for marketers: Every day, we get questions from clients and prospective clients asking how we are tying social efforts to ROI. Rolling out various e-commerce functionality within social media would make these actions much easier to track and further prove value for social media investment. APPLEBEE'S HANDS INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT OVER TO FANS FOR A YEAR The brand is handing it's account over to the neighborhood with a campaign called #Fantopgrapher. Fans will have to opt in to less Applebee's access their account, but anything tagged #Applebees will be up for grabs and posted to the account with a branded frame crediting the user. Read More from AdWeek. Why it's important: Because the brandsaw an opportunity based on a current social action and made something real out of it. The chain claimed that there are 779,000 photos tagged with #Applebees being shared organically already and they are harnessing that power with a campaign. Implications for marketers: This takes UGC to a new level and gives consumers 100% share of voice in the brand's conversations. It will be interesting to see if a campaign like this encourages more UGC and uses of the hashtag over time. GOOGLE WEBMASTER ROLLS OUT ROBOTS.TEXT TESTING TOOL  This new Google Webmaster Tools feature allows you to see if your robots.txt file has any errors. You can test to see if new or existing URLs are allowed to be crawled based on how your robots.txt file is set up. The tool has the ability to show you what directive in the file is causing the URL to be blocked from a crawl. Learn more about this tool on Google Webmaster Central.  Why it's important: Web marketers know that one of the first steps to driving organic search traffic to a website is to ensure indexation of the important pages in search engine databases. The great thing about this tool is it simplifies the process of making sure your robots.txt file is not blocking content from being crawled by search engine spiders. Implications for marketers: This tool can now be a part of a monthly maintenance check to make sure the site is open for a crawl. GOOGLE UPDATES LOCAL SEARCH ALGORITHM Codenamed 'Pigeon'? by Search Engine Land, Google released  an algorithm update to provide more useful and accurate local search results.Read more about the algorithm update: Why it's important:  Local results are now ranked using 100s of 'traditional'? signals that are used to rank typical web results. The update will allow users to gain more relevant results as the signals leverage more precise proximity information. Implications for marketers:  With any Google algorithm change, the understanding of how results are altered and what new tactics should be employed to gain increased visibility are pending.  Stay tuned for our formal search POV. GOOGLE ADWORDS INTRODUCES DYNAMIC SITELINKS Dynamic Sitelinks are the latest ad snippet from Google AdWords. They are automatically generated based on the searcher's activity and point to relevant content on the advertiser's site. Read the official announcement here. Why it's important:  Clicks on these sitelinks are free but advertisers have no control over the text of the links; however, advertisers do have the ability to disable dynamic sitelinks from appearing under their ads. Implications for marketers:  This rollout is an interesting blend of organic and paid search results.  Since the links will be based on search activity and free to the advertiser, it should be seen as just another relevant path for users to follow to land on your site.  AMP will be monitoring the performance of Dynamic Sitelinks over the next several months. What's your perspective on these updates? Share a comment below.

What Google Secure Search Means for Marketers

WHAT IS GOOGLE SECURE SEARCH? On September 23, 2013 Google announced that they would be moving to a fully Secure Search model; which means that Google will no longer be passing keyword level data related to organic search queries on to third party sources. Google claims that the change is connected to protecting user privacy as search results are becoming increasingly personalized. The transition began in May 2011, when Google started redirecting users logged into their Google accounts to a secure version of their webpage (https vs. http). Traditionally, SEO professionals have relied heavily on the keyword queries report obtained through Google Analytics. This report was used to identify high traffic-driving keywords, as well as valuable keyword themes for the creation of new web content. With this change, secure searches began appearing within keyword queries reports as 'not provided'. At the time of the announcement, Google representatives assured brands and the SEO community that 'not provided' keyword volume would likely remain in the single digits. However, that percentage has been steadily increasing over time, especially once default searching within Firefox was pulled under Secure Search as well. Our team is embracing Google's change to Secure Search, as we are focused on approaching SEO from a more holistic view of your brand's complete online presence ' SEO, SEM, content marketing, display media, social, mobile, local search, and more. There are a number of additional resources at our disposal and we are utilizing most already. Provided within this POV are the various SEO tools and how we utilize each for our SEO measurement and analysis. We feel strongly that measurement should not be left until the end of a contract or project, but instead considered and implemented early in order to continuously drive results and achieve your business goals.  OTHER RESOURCES TO UTILIZE? Google's New Paid & Organic Report Brands that are utilizing Google AdWords as part of their SEM plan now have the ability to view paid and organic keyword traffic side-by-side with Google's 'Paid & Organic report'. This report links Google AdWords and Google Webmaster Tools accounts to generate a keyword traffic comparison. This report is pulled within the AdWords interface and identifies the following: Overlap in SEO and SEM keywords New keyword opportunities for SEM campaigns Share of clicks for individual keywords across both channels  Google Webmaster Tools In addition to linking to Google AdWords for the 'Paid & Organic report', Google Webmaster Tools is continuing to provide a three month view of the top traffic driving keyword queries to your site, as well as the number of impressions, clicks, click through rate (CTR), and the average position for a particular query. Our team is able to analyze this data by landing page or by keyword. Other tools commonly utilized in Google Webmaster Tools are site health and internal/external link analysis. Bing At this time, the 2nd most popular search engine is continuing to pass along keyword data. While the pool of data is smaller than that of Google's, Bing still represents a significant sample of keywords to capture valuable insights from. Moz Moz uses a proprietary algorithm to determine domain and page authority by considering an array of SEO and social factors. This tool pinpoints the high value pages of your site as well as pages that need further content and SEO optimization. Also available is the ability to compare your site's domain and page authority to that of your direct competitors. Site health, an SEO Report Card, and linking analysis are also available within this tool. Landing Page Data Rather than focusing on the successes of individual keywords, we can zero in on the performance of keyword specific landing pages ' where the content exists. By analyzing landing page traffic and finding themes, we can determine which type of content is performing best. In addition, we can tie landing pages to the keywords targeted on the page to determine which types of keywords are generating the most traffic. This approach paints a more holistic view of your site's performance rather than fixating on a singular ranking or traffic volume for a single keyword. Measuring Content Engagement Highly relevant, fresh content is vital to remaining competitive in organic search results. Interesting and useful content can help keep visitors on your site longer, which indicates to search engines that your site is both informative and authoritative ' a key factor in Google's algorithm. To measure the success of the content on your site, our team focuses on visitor engagement. Using metrics such as time-on-site, bounce rates and exit pages to help determine where users are staying and leaving when they come to your site. This analysis also identifies opportunities for new content, as well as conversion path improvement. Social Reports Social media is playing an increasingly important role in organic visibility as search engines are utilizing social signals to identify site relevancy and authority. Examples of these factors include: How often social media users are linking to your site How users engage, and how often they engage with your content How often content from your site is shared By ensuring social share buttons and proper social analytics tracking are implemented for your site, our team can measure your social presence,  including conversions/actions. Video Content Search engines provide video content within their blended search results. By implementing best practice optimizations for your YouTube channel and video library and by analyzing user interaction with this video content, we are able to identify what performs strongly/poorly, and in-turn identify high value keywords and opportunities for fresh content. Conductor Searchlight Through the measurement platform Conductor, we can continue to monitor and report on keyword rankings. We can identify strong performing keywords by segmenting keywords into categories such as Brand, Non-Brand and targeted themes. In addition, Conductor can provide us with specific recommendations for expanding targeted keyword lists and even provide keyword phrases that your direct competitors are ranking on. Conductor is also launching True Traffic, a metric that calculates search traffic based on online visibility, consumer demand, and behavior models. SUCCESS MEASUREMENT SEO measurement is one component in AMP's evaluation of each client's measurement strategy. It is important to first gain an understanding of current measurement metrics and desired website goals, both short and long-term, to align needs with measures of success. Our team takes a broad look at how individual marketing channels fit together in order to tell the story of your brand's digital marketing strategy. Once goals are established, our team provides recommendations on how to measure against your established KPI's and organize them in a way that answers your core business questions through a measurement audit. VISIBILITY VS. RANKINGS ' THINKING HOLISTICALLY Gone are the days when ranking on individual keywords are the key to success in SEO. With the introduction of Secure Search, Google is pointing brands in the direction of creating highly relevant and informative content in order to improve organic visibility. Today's quality content marketing has become a blend of content that gratifies search engines and captures searchers' interests. The objective is to create and share valuable content to attract and convert prospects into consumers, who will then become repeated visitors and converters. Search engines are in the business of providing the most relevant search results for any given user query. As SEO professionals, we need to think in terms of creating a holistic online presence and optimizing the various marketing channels accordingly.

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