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3 Mouth-Watering Content Marketing Case Studies That Bring Home the Bacon

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If you’ve ever been pregnant, lived with a woman who’s pregnant or even just been around a pregnant woman, you can guess it is not smart to lie to a woman who’s pregnant about food.

Well that’s how I felt today. 6 months along and in arrives a marketing email with the subject line: “[Infographic] Good Marketing starts with good snacks.” Yes, I understand, I’m not literally going to get any food out of this, but I expect to see some mouth-watering graphics upon opening the email. Nope.

Instead I found food references in the copy like “Are you giving your prospects nourishing snacks or asking them to bite off more than they can chew?” and “Make your content highly snackable”. Still, this email teased me enough to click on the CTA to the infographic: Surely within it food will reside!

The infographic was 100% unrelated to food. This is what I call an unfulfilled promise.

As content creators, it’s our job to catch our audience’s attention. Check, done. But it is also our jobs to pay off what we’ve promised the audience within our content.

So, today, my promise – like my headline, title tag and meta description state – is to fill your senses with mouth-watering case studies of money-making campaigns. In following best practices, like delivering on a promise, this content has been able to drive outstanding results, bringing home the bacon for brands. Oh, and I might include some tasty food pics. I mean, “mouth-watering” and “bacon” are in my headline.

Paid-First Digital Marketing Strategy Drove Impressive ROI in Month One

The Strategy:

A new client came to TopRank Marketing recently craving customers – FAST. Sound familiar? But seriously, this B2B startup needed to see ROI as the first course – not dessert – in order to be able to keep investing. In addition, they were looking for support in SEO, developing landing pages in the short-term and gathering the insights needed to create a long-term organic content strategy.

We used AdWords to drive leads quickly and to test keyword viability for the landing page content and to help inform the upcoming organic content plan.

The Results:

Just four weeks after launch, we had driven 18 leads with an average CPL of $192. For this client, a single lead has the average value of $5,000-$20,000 (and sometimes up to $100,000) in revenue. In talking with the client, we were able to uncover that within one month we had driven roughly $10,000-$75,000 in ROI. 

Takeaway for Marketers:

Don’t get discouraged by tight timelines. Hyper focus on your core marketing objectives and pivot to tactics that you know can fulfill them – even if it seems out of order. Just be sure to set expectations with your leadership team as to why you’re making a shift, what your hypothesis is and what results you anticipate.

Focus on core marketing objectives and pivot tactics that you know can fulfill them. Click To Tweet

Interactive, Multi-Channel Campaign Resulted in 4% Lift in Market Share, 12M Media Impressions

The Strategy:

By now you’ve heard about and likely drank at least one can of Coca Cola that held the “Share a Coke” campaign branding. Did you know the campaign started in Australia? The challenge was Coke had lost its relevance among Australians leaving sales in a not so happy place.

Coca Cola added the 150 most popular names to their cans and bottles, changing their biggest piece of advertising real estate. Supporting tactics from traditional to digital platforms rolled out from there: #ShareACoke hashtag, apps, an interactive website, outdoor billboards, interactive kiosks in top city centers and more.

Customers fueled digital content for the #ShareACoke campaign.

The Results:

From the initial campaign, in Australia alone, Coke earned 12 million media impressions, a 7% increase in young adult consumption and a 4% increase in sales across the category. With this success, Coca Cola has pushed it out to nearly 60 markets since their 2011 launch and have continued to add additional tactics. One of the more recent additions aimed to turn the enthusiasm for the campaign into even more revenue and earned advertising. To achieve this, Coke has begun selling personalized bottles and gear.

Takeaway for Marketers:

B2B or B2C – A truly impactful campaign integrates with the entire customer experience. Just because your packaging department is in a different building or state from your digital advertising or SEO departments doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t work together. Put your heads together across disciplines to unlock potential you never saw before.

A truly impactful marketing campaign integrates with the entire customer experience. Click To Tweet

Consistent Publishing and Strategic Partnerships Drove 15.5% Increase in Revenue

The Strategy:

When this B2B and B2C eCommerce company came to TopRank Marketing wanting to drive sales, we knew a breadth of integrated tactics would be the way to reach their lofty revenue goals. And, we saw a huge opportunity to leverage co-created content with influencers and other brands as a way to drive stronger brand awareness. To reach their objectives, we deployed a strong marketing mix of weekly blogs, co-created influencer content, SEO, organic social, paid social and AdWords.

The Results:

In just under one year, we were able to drive a 14.4% increase in organic traffic, and 7.7% overall. The even more appetizing part of the story is these traffic spikes resulted in a 23.7% increase in organic revenue year over year; 15.5% increase in overall website revenue year over year!

Takeaway for Marketers:

A consistent cadence of relevant, SEO-driven blog content set the foundation for success for this client. And, what really made the difference was our strategic partnerships with influencers and other brands. The co-created content bolstered brand awareness in a way this brand had never before seen.

Use SEO & content to set the foundation and form strategic partnerships with influencers. Click To Tweet

Are You Bringing Home the Bacon?

Hopefully, you just read all of that and thought, “I know. I already do all of that. I eat unlimited bacon!” If that’s you – fantastic! Are you looking for a job? We’re always open to strengthening our team!

But all joking aside, a wise marketer knows there is always more to learn. Keep up on the latest digital marketing trends and tactics by following our blog, or if you’re interested in learning what TopRank Marketing can do to help your business bring home the bacon, please, reach out today.

LinkedIn Website Demographics: What Marketers Need to Know

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social media how toWant more information on people who visit your website?

Did you know LinkedIn can help?

LinkedIn Website Demographics provides professional insights about your website visitors and allows you to remarket to them through LinkedIn ads.

In this article, you’ll learn how to set up and use LinkedIn’s Website Demographics for remarketing.

LinkedIn Website Demographics: What Marketers Need to Know by Kristi Hines on Social Media Examiner.

LinkedIn Website Demographics: What Marketers Need to Know by Kristi Hines on Social Media Examiner.

#1: Set Up LinkedIn Website Demographics

To set up LinkedIn Website Demographics, you need to log into your LinkedIn advertising account using the LinkedIn Campaign Manager. If you’ve used LinkedIn advertising, click on your account name to start setting up Website Demographics.

Select your LinkedIn advertising account in the Campaign Manager.

Select your LinkedIn advertising account in the Campaign Manager.

If it’s your first time using LinkedIn advertising, you’ll need to create an account for your business. On your first visit to the LinkedIn Campaign Manager, you’re prompted to create your first ad to set up your LinkedIn advertising account. First, select an ad format.

Choose the type of LinkedIn ad you want to create.

Choose the type of LinkedIn ad you want to create.

If you select Text Ads, you’ll be able to create your account and optionally link it to a LinkedIn company page or showcase page.

Fill in details to set up your LinkedIn advertising account.

Fill in details to set up your LinkedIn advertising account.

Once you’ve created your account, complete the first step to setting up a LinkedIn ad, which is to name your ad campaign. At the bottom of the screen, you should have an option to save the ad campaign as a draft. If not, go on to the next step and save the ad there.

Type in a name for your LinkedIn campaign and click Save as Draft.

Type in a name for your LinkedIn campaign and click Save as Draft.

Once you save your first ad campaign as a draft, you’re taken to your advertising account’s dashboard. Click the Website Demographics link at the top.

Go to the Website Demographics tab to set up your insight tag.

Go to the Website Demographics tab to set up your insight tag.

Click on the Set Up Your Insight Tag to get the code for your website so LinkedIn can start collecting data about your website visitors.

Copy the code for your insight tag and add it to your website.

Copy the code for your insight tag and add it to your website.

If you don’t see the Website Demographics link, look for the Insight Tag option under the Account Assets menu, or if that option isn’t available, select Matched Audiences and create an audience for your website visitors. Creating a new audience will give you the insight tag.

Create a LinkedIn matched audience to get the insight tag code.

Create a LinkedIn matched audience to get the insight tag code.

Matched Audiences

You can also use matched audiences to create audiences for specific segments of your website traffic. For example, if you want to view your website demographics for visitors who go to a specific page on your website (such as the thank-you page for your lead submission form), click the Create an Audience button to create a matched audience for leads.

Set up matched audiences for segments of your website traffic.

Set up matched audiences for segments of your website traffic.

Creating matched audiences for website visitors who reach specific pages allows you to compare your website demographics for all of your visitors versus those who convert as leads, make purchases, subscribe to your newsletter, read your blog, and perform other activities.

Conversion Tracking

Select the Conversion Tracking option under the Account Assets menu to get LinkedIn to track conversions for your LinkedIn ad campaigns.

Track conversions for your LinkedIn campaigns.

Track conversions for your LinkedIn campaigns.

You can track more than one conversion, which allows you to monitor conversions such as purchases, email subscriber signups, and more.

Fill in the details for the conversion you want to track.

Fill in the details for the conversion you want to track.

When you’re finished, visit your Website Demographics section within 24 hours to make sure your insights tag is verified and starting to collect visitor data.

#2: View Your Website Visitor Data

Depending on the daily traffic your website receives, it may take several days for your website audience to include a minimum of 300 LinkedIn members for you to see your demographics data. Once you reach the minimum, you’ll start to see your website visitor data.

You can view data for all of your website visitors or for specific audience segments (based on your matched audiences), compare data for one audience against another (such as all of your website visitors versus your leads), and see data for a specific time range, from one day to all time.

Choose the website audience you want to view in your LinkedIn Website Demographics.

Choose the website audience you want to view in your LinkedIn Website Demographics.

Next, use the View By drop-down menu to see specifics about your website audiences, including company industry, job title, job function, job seniority, company size, location, country, and company name.

Use the View By menu to filter data for your website audiences.

Use the View By menu to filter data for your website audiences.

Each view shows you the percentage of page views and change for each group of visitors.

Filter LinkedIn Website Demographics data by Company Industry.

Filter LinkedIn Website Demographics data by Company Industry.

This data helps you see how closely your website visitors match your ideal customer base. For instance, if you know your customers are mostly in the Writing and Editing industry and from the United States, you want to see a higher percentage from that industry and country in your website demographics.

This information can also help you create more effective ads. Facebook and LinkedIn both allow you to target ad audiences based on details of your audience’s work. On Facebook, you find these targeting options under Detailed Targeting, where you can include or exclude people with specific employers, industries, job titles, and office types.

Facebook offers detailed targeting options based on your audience's work.

Facebook offers detailed targeting options based on your audience’s work.

For LinkedIn, you can target people based on the following work details, most of which are included in your LinkedIn website demographics:

LinkedIn offers these options to refine your targeting based on work details.

LinkedIn offers these options to refine your targeting based on work details.

#3: Retarget Website Visitors With LinkedIn Ads

Want to target LinkedIn ads to reach your website visitors? If so, be sure to select matched audiences when you’re ready to define your ad campaign audience.

Select matched audiences to retarget website visitors with LinkedIn ads.

Select matched audiences to retarget website visitors with LinkedIn ads.

From there, either include or exclude your website visitors and other audiences you’ve created using the LinkedIn insight tag. Just start typing the name of your audience or click See Full List to choose from your available audiences.

You can include and exclude multiple audiences for each ad campaign. This is useful if you created an audience for all of your website visitors, as well as an audience for people who submitted a lead form or made a purchase. Simply include website visitors and exclude those who submitted your lead form or made a purchase. That way, your ad is only shown to people who haven’t completed a conversion goal on your website.

Once you’ve selected your website audiences, continue to refine your audience using the general targeting options below for location and other work demographics.

Refine the target audience for your LinkedIn campaign.

Refine the target audience for your LinkedIn campaign.

This allows you to make sure your audience is as similar as possible to your ideal customer base for a better return on investment from your LinkedIn ads.

Conclusion

As you can see, LinkedIn Website Demographics can be useful for getting to know your website visitors, as well as retargeting website visitors with LinkedIn advertising.

What do you think? How do you use LinkedIn Website Demographics? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

LinkedIn Website Demographics: What Marketers Need to Know by Kristi Hines on Social Media Examiner.

Unlocking Hidden Gems Within Schema.org

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Schema.org is cryptic. Or at least that’s what I had always thought. To me, it was a confusing source of information: missing the examples I needed, not explaining which item properties search engines require, and overall making the process of implementing structured data a daunting task. However, once I got past Schema.org’s intimidating shell, I found an incredibly useful and empowering tool. Once you know how to leverage it, Schema.org is an indispensable tool within your SEO toolbox.

A structured data toolbox

The first part of any journey is finding the map. In terms of structured data, there are a few different guiding resources:

  • The most prominent and useful are Google’s Structured Data Features Guides. These guides are organized by the different structured data markups Google is explicitly using. Useful examples are provided with required item properties.

    Tip: If any of the item types listed in the feature guides are relevant to your site, ensure that you’re annotating these elements.

  • I also want to share Merkle’s new, free, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Structured Data Markup Generator. It contains Google’s top markups with an incredibly user-friendly experience and all of the top item properties. This tool is a great support for starting your markups, and it’s great for individuals looking to reverse-engineer markups. It offers JSON-LD and some illustrative microdata markups. You can also send the generated markups directly to Google’s structured data testing tool.

  • Last but not least is Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. It is vital to check every markup with GSDTT for two reasons:

    • To avoid silly syntactic mistakes (don’t let commas be your worst enemy — there are way better enemies out there ☺).
    • Ensure all required item properties are included

As an example, I’m going to walk through the Aquarium item type Schema.org markup. For illustrative purposes, I’m going to stick with JSON-LD moving forward; however, if there are any microdata questions, please reach out in the comments.

Basic structure of all Schema.org pages

When you first enter a Schema.org item type’s page, notice that every page has the same layout, starting with the item type name, the canonical reference URL (currently the HTTP version*), where the markup lives within the Schema.org hierarchy, and that item type’s usage on the web.

*Leveraging the HTTPS version of a Schema.org markup is acceptable

What is an item type?

An item type is a piece of Schema.org’s vocabulary of data used to annotate and structure elements on a web page. You can think about it as what you’re marking up.

At the highest level of most Schema.org item types is Thing (alternatively, we’d be looking at DataType). This intuitively makes sense because almost everything is, at its highest level of abstraction, a Thing. The item type Thing has multiple children, all of which assume Thing’s properties in a cascading in a hierarchical fashion (i.e., a Product is a Thing, both can have names, descriptions, and images).

Explore Schema.org’s item types here with the various visualizations:

https://technicalseo.com/seo-tools/schema-markup-generator/visual/

Item types are going to be the first attribute in your markup and will look a little like this (remember this for a little later):

Tip: Every Schema.org item type can be found by typing its name after Schema.org, i.e. http://schema.org/Aquarium (note that case is important).

Below, this is where things start to get fun — the properties, expected type, and description of each property.

What are item properties?

Item properties are attributes, which describe item types (i.e., it’s a property of the item). All item properties are inherited from the parent item type. The value of the property can be a word, URL, or number.

What is the “Expected Type”?

For every item type, there is a column the defines the expected item type of each item property. This is a signal which tells us whether or not nesting will be involved. If the expected property is a data type (i.e., text, number, etc.) you will not have to do anything; otherwise get ready for some good, old-fashioned nesting.

One of the things you may have noticed: under “Property” it says “Properties from CivicStructure.” We know that an Aquarium is a child of CivicStructure, as it is listed above. If we scan the page, we see the following “Properties from…”:

This looks strikingly like the hierarchy listed above and it is (just vertical… and backward). Only one thing is missing – where are the “Properties from Aquarium”?

The answer is actually quite simple — Aquarium has no item properties of its own. Therefore, CivilStructures (being the next most specific item type with properties) is listed first.

Structuring this information with more specific properties at the top makes a ton of sense intuitively. When marking up information, we are typically interested in the most specific item properties, ones that are closest conceptually to the thing we’re marking up. These properties are generally the most relevant.

Creating a markup

  1. Open the Schema.org item type page.
  2. Review all item properties and select all relevant attributes.
    • After looking at the documentation, openingHours, address, aggregateRating, telephone, alternateName, description, image, name, and sameAs (social media linking item property) stood out as the most cogent and useful for aquarium goers. In an effort to map out all of the information, I added the “Expected Type” (which will be important in the next step) and the value of the information we’re going to markup.

  3. Add the starting elements of all markup.
    • All markup, whether JSON-LD or microdata, starts with the same set of code/markup. One can memorize this code or leverage examples and copy/paste.
    • JSON-LD: Add the script tag with the JSON-LD type, along with the @context, and @type with the item type included:

  4. Start light. Add the easier item properties (i.e., the ones that don’t require nesting).
    • First off, how do you tell whether or not the property nests?

      • This is where the “Expected Type” column comes into play.
      • If the “Expected Type” is “Text”, “URL”, or “Number” — you don’t need to nest.
    • I’ve highlighted the item properties that do not require nesting above in green. We’ll start by adding these to our markup.
    • JSON-LD: Contains the item property in quotation marks, along with the value (text and URLs are always in quotation marks). If there are multiple values, they’re listed as arrays within square [brackets].

  5. Finish strong. Add the nested item properties.
    • Nested item properties are item types within item types. Through nesting, we can access the properties of the nested item type.
    • JSON-LD: Nested item properties start off like normal item properties; however, things get weird after the colon. A curly brace opens up a new world. We start by declaring a new item type and thus, inside these curly braces all item properties now belong to the new item type. Note how commas are not included after the last property.

  6. Test in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
    • Looks like we’re all good to go, with no errors and no warnings.

Side notes:

  • *address: Google’s documentation list address, nested within PostAddress as a requirement. This is a good indicator of why it’s important to review Google’s documentation.
  • openingHours: Multiple times are listed out in an array (as indicated by the square brackets). As the documentation’s “Description section” mentions – using a hyphen for ranges and military time.
    • Note: Google’s documentation uses the openingHoursSpecification item property, which nests OpeningHoursSpecification. This is a good example where Google documentation shows a more specific experience to consider.
  • telephone: Sometimes you need to add a country code (+1) for phone numbers.
  • image: URLs must be absolute (i.e., protocol and domain name included).

TL;DR:

  • Schema.org’s documentation can be leveraged to supplement Google’s structured data documentation
  • The “Expected Type” on Schema.org tells you when you need to nest an item type
  • Check out Merkle’s Structured Data Markup Generator if you want to try simply inserting values and getting a preliminary markup

Thanks!

A huge thanks to Max Prin (@maxxeight), Adam Audette (@audette), and the @MerkleCRM team for reviewing this article. Plus, shout outs to Max (again), Steve Valenza (#TwitterlessSteve), and Eric Hammond (@elhammond) for their work, ideas, and thought leadership that went into the Schema Generator Tool!

How to Choose Dynamic Images for Your Blog Posts

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I’m a content writer, not a graphic designer. My job is to make the words dance, to convey useful information in an entertaining way.

As such, for a long time visuals were just an afterthought for me. Yeah, a blog needs a header image. So after I’m done writing I’ll slap something on there, check that box, and send it off to the client.

As content continues to proliferate, though, that laissez-faire approach isn’t enough. Your potential audience has far more content available to them than they’ll ever be able to read. That means they’re actively looking for reasons not to read your content. A weak—or worse, missing—visual is a perfect excuse to move to the next thing.

The right visual does more than take up space. It captures attention, creates a little mystery, invites the reader to dig into your carefully-crafted text. Good visuals are doubly important for amplification, too: Your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn shares will all include an image. The visual alone can stop the endless, half-engaged scrolling people do on social media, buying you crucial seconds to compel a click or a tap.

I challenge any and all content creators to up their image game. Let’s stop with the schlocky stock photos and give people something that’s worth their attention.

Here’s how I find scroll-stopping visuals for my blog posts.

Ditch the Schlock Stock

It’s trendy to bash Shutterstock for schlocky stock photos, but that’s like blaming Netflix for your binge-a-thon of Fuller House. There’s plenty of great content available. It’s up to you to find and choose it over the cliché stuff.

Whether you’re using Shutterstock or any other paid photo site, start by avoiding these cliché photo types:

I could go on, but you get the idea. These are the hoary clichés that give stock photos a bad name. They’re not unique; they’re not authentic; they’re not visually stunning.

To avoid the stock photo blues, I tend to start my search on royalty-free sites like Pixabay, Pexels, and even Creative Commons-licensed photos on Flickr. But even if the boss demands you use an approved paid site, there’s good stuff to be found.  Here are a few ways to kick your visuals up a notch.

Make It Weird

For my blog post on mobile advertising strategy, there were plenty of obvious ways to go. Someone looking at a phone in a coffee shop, at an airport, at a concert… people look at their phones everywhere, so there are no shortage of safe options.

So of course I went with this one:

Visual Content Marketing Dog with Sunglasses and Cell Phone

Why is the dog wearing sunglasses? What type of phone has a pawprint for the unlock button? Why didn’t he use the front-facing camera for his selfie? Any one of those questions is enough to give the reader paws. Er, pause.

Make It Beautiful

Instagram is a social media network that’s almost entirely visual. It was designed for image sharing, boy howdy, do its members share. There have been over 40 billion photos posted on Instagram since it launched 7 years ago.

So it makes sense to take a few design cues from Instagram when you choose your photos. Find something beautiful, striking, and with an evocative filter. Like this image I used for my comedy in content post:

Visual Content Marketing Clown in Forest with Instagram-Style Filter 

Find a Metaphor

Get a little creative with your content, and you can get more creative with your visuals. Introduce a metaphor in your opening paragraph that will unite your content and give you more options for a header image.

For a recent content marketing tips post, I could have stuck with a generic “businessperson” or “office” header image. Instead, I added a personal note about Lego in the beginning, and found a dynamite visual that helped introduce the metaphor:

Visual Content Marketing - Colorful Assortment of Lego Bricks

Take Your Own Photos

The best way to ensure your header is original, authentic, and eye-catching is to take the photo yourself. Last year, Jason Miller held a photoshoot with his LinkedIn Marketing Solutions crew. They captured a ton of wonderful moments that the team used as header images for months:

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Team around Laptop

I love that even though this image is a parody of a stock photo, it’s undeniably original. You can see the cool art in the office. The people are actually the folks who create content for LinkedIn. The laptop is a well-loved machine with a LinkedIn sticker on it, not a pristine stainless-steel model. Unlike a stock photo, this picture actually tells you about the people behind the brand.

Even a cell-phone quality image can get the job done. When our team covers marketing events, we always take a candid photo of the presenter as the header image. My colleague Caitlin took it a step further for her Ann Handley roundup, with this adorable selfie:

Visual Content Marketing Selfie with Ann Handley

It’s genuine, it’s unexpected, and it’s a photo the reader is guaranteed to be seeing for the first time.

As with Written Content, It’s about Personality

It used to be that all B2B marketing content had to be “professional,” interpreted as “impersonal, flat, and unemotive.” Old-school stock photos are a perfect match for that kind of content. Here’s a guy in a suit standing with his arms folded. Here’s our white paper written like a software end-user license agreement.

Now we know better. Readers want content that has warmth and personality. They want to feel that another human being is communicating with them.

Visuals need to evolve in the same way. If you’re writing great content and still using stiff, stock images, you’re doing your content a disservice. Make sure your visuals are every bit as distinctive and authentic as your writing is, and you can earn your reader’s attention.

Do you love to create great content? Do you excel at eye-stopping imagery? TopRank Marketing needs you on our team.

Disclosure: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions is a TopRank Marketing client.

3 Facebook Ad Tools for Better Targeting

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social media toolsWant to refine your Facebook ad targeting?

Looking for tools to better identify your most valuable Facebook customers?

In this article, you’ll find three tools that give you a more complete picture of whom your ad audience is, what they’re doing on your site, and how much they’re worth.

3 Facebook Ad Tools for Better Targeting by Bill Widmer on Social Media Examiner.

3 Facebook Ad Tools for Better Targeting by Bill Widmer on Social Media Examiner.

#1: Reveal the Employers and Quality of Leads Who Click Your Facebook Ads

Leadfeeder links up with your website data to show you two key things that Facebook Analytics don’t. First, after people click through from your Facebook ads, Leadfeeder can show you the companies where those people work.

Also, Leadfeeder displays a bar to the left of each lead to indicate how qualified your ad audience actually is. You can see all of this information at a glance on the left side of the interface.

Leadfeeder helps you see how qualified your ad audience really is.

Leadfeeder helps you see how qualified your ad audience really is.

Set Up Leadfeeder

To get started with Leadfeeder, sign up for a free trial, which will give you a chance to see how the tactics in this article work for you. (After your trial is over, plans start at $59 per month.)

Next, connect Leadfeeder to your site’s Google Analytics account. Also, fill out your info and connect it with your customer relationship management (CRM) tool if you use one. Last but not least, set your targeting preferences.

When you’re done, you’ll see a screen like the one below. From here, the quick tour is a helpful way to learn how to get started.

Leadfeeder offers a free trial and you'll see this screen after you sign up.

Leadfeeder offers a free trial and you’ll see this screen after you sign up.

Filter to See Only Qualified Leads From a Facebook Campaign

When you’re using Facebook ads to gather referrals, the Leadfeeder quality rating helps you determine the quality of your ad audience. The bar that shows the quality of each lead is based on the number of page views, visits, and bounces.

Leadfeeder's quality ranking is based on page views, visits, and bounces.

Leadfeeder’s quality ranking is based on page views, visits, and bounces.

Leadfeeder allows you to filter the leads based on certain criteria such as only those leads who meet a minimum quality level and have visited your Facebook ad landing page.

To create a filter, you set up a custom feed and then apply one or more filters to that feed. The process is pretty simple. To begin, in the right pane under existing feeds, click Create a Custom Feed.

To begin creating a filter in Leadfeeder, create a custom feed.

To begin creating a filter in Leadfeeder, create a custom feed.

Next, click Create New Feed to see a list of filter options. Select the Quality option to filter your feed based on lead quality.

Leadfeeder enables you to filter leads by Quality.

Leadfeeder enables you to filter leads by Quality.

Leadfeeder rates the quality of leads on a scale from 0 to 10. Use the filter options to control what leads you see in the custom feed.

To demonstrate, the filter below is set to show leads that are at least a 5. When you’re done, click Add to apply the filter to your custom feed. After you click Add, you’re able to save your new custom feed by clicking Save As New Feed.

After you create a filter in Leadfeeder, you can save the filter to your custom feed.

After you create a filter in Leadfeeder, you can save the filter to your custom feed.

You should also add a filter for Source so you can view only people coming from Facebook. Even better, add a custom UTM parameter for Facebook ads as a source in your campaigns’ target URLs, so your custom feed in Leadfeeder will show only the people who clicked on specific campaign links.

By reconciling the types of prospects who click through from your Facebook ads (as revealed by Leadfeeder) with the targeting parameters you set for your campaign, you can see which parameters are effective and which aren’t. This information is invaluable as you experiment and refine your campaign settings over time.

Create a Lookalike Audience From Leadfeeder Leads

After you have a list of high-quality leads from Leadfeeder, try creating lookalike audiences based on those leads. To do this, export the list of high-quality leads from your custom feed as a CSV file. Then plug those domains into a tool like Norbert to acquire their emails.

Finally, use that list of emails to create a Facebook custom audience and run a lookalike audience campaign based on that list. Easy-peasy!

Create a Facebook custom audience from your email list.

Create a Facebook custom audience from your email list.

#2: Analyze Facebook User Behavior on Landing Pages

How much of your content is actually being consumed after someone clicks one of your Facebook ads? Scroll-depth measurement can help you answer this question.

For example, if you send your ad clicks to blog content, you can see how much people are reading before they get bored and click away. If you notice they stop reading at a certain section, break long content into bullets or otherwise make a change.

Knowing your scroll depth can also help you:

  • A/B test the placement depth of different features on your landing pages to see how they affect conversions or consumption rate.
  • Determine how far down you should place your call to action (CTA) before conversions start falling off.
  • Compare how different audiences engage with your content to help you target the best market.

And that’s just a few ways you can use this data. There are many more!

To measure scroll depth, you can use Crazy Egg’s scroll-depth measurement tool. Crazy Egg offers a free 30-day trial and plans start at $9 per month. Alternatively, build scroll-depth tracking into your Google Analytics if you have some coding experience.

Crazy Egg offers a scroll-depth tool that shows how far people who click your ads scroll down your landing page.

Crazy Egg offers a scroll-depth tool that shows how far people who click your ads scroll down your landing page.

#3: Determine the Most Lucrative Facebook Customer Segment

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is a metric that helps you use your ad budget more effectively. The formula for CLV is simple:

(Average Order Value) x (Number of Repeat Sales) x (Average Retention Time) = CLV

For instance, say you run Facebook ads to multiple audiences to test the best long-term customer base. After running these ads for six months, you analyze the projections for CLV from each ad group.

Customer lifetime value is an important metric to measure as you determine which customers generate return on your ad costs.

Customer lifetime value is an important metric to measure as you determine which customers generate return on your ad costs.

At first glance, Ad Group 2 seems to perform best because users spend the most money on their orders. However, Ad Group 3 is actually a much higher value, despite lower average order sizes. This means you can spend more to acquire customers from Ad Group 3, even if you don’t make as much money on the initial purchase.

Unfortunately, Facebook Analytics tracks only micro-conversions, not CLV. CRM software such as Salesforce or HubSpot can fill this gap. If you don’t have the money for HubSpot, track CLV with the $25 Salesforce plan.

To figure out CLV with Salesforce, first use Zapier to integrate your Facebook lead ads with Salesforce. (Zapier offers a free version for personal use, as well as paid plans.) With this integration, Salesforce automatically updates with any lead information captured on Facebook.

After you run this setup for three to six months, your Salesforce account will capture enough data to calculate CLV. To get your CLV, create a new dashboard in Salesforce. In the dashboard, add the Sales Person MTD Sales component, which will show your sales per month per lead.

Although you can't see CLV in Facebook Analytics, a CRM tool like Salesforce helps you capture this important metric.

Although you can’t see CLV in Facebook Analytics, a CRM tool like Salesforce helps you capture this important metric.

When you know the month-to-date sales of a lead, look through past months and add up the total to see that customer’s total value. The highest-value customers/leads are the ones you should prioritize with your ad spend.

Use These Tools Together to Improve Facebook Analytics

Now that you know about these three tools and how each works to help you, let’s look at how you can use all three of them together.

When you run a Facebook ad, send that traffic through a lead quality filter with Leadfeeder. From there, compare the high-quality traffic from Leadfeeder with your scroll-depth measurement tool to see if that “high-quality” traffic is truly consuming your content.

Furthermore, compare these results with the CLV of those customers with your CRM, giving you a complete picture of who your ad audience is, what they’re doing on your site, and how much they’re worth.

To go a step further, create a lookalike audience of only the highest-quality, highest-value audience to further grow your business’s income. Then use retargeting on that audience to maximize their lifetime value.

Conclusion

Although Facebook Analytics is indeed powerful, it does have a few major holes that limit its data. With the tools outlined in this article, you can fill in those holes and make informed decisions about whom to target with your ads and how to improve your landing pages for maximum conversions.

Additionally, this new data will help you tweak your ads to target better prospects and bring you more of your best customers.

What do you think? Will you use these third-party tools to improve your Facebook ads? How has the new Facebook Analytics data improved your social media growth? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

3 Facebook Ad Tools for Better Targeting by Bill Widmer on Social Media Examiner.

How to Make the Switch to Content-Driven SEO #MNBlogCon

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TopRank Marketing’s Joshua Nite made his debut on the speaker circuit this past weekend at the 8th annual Minnesota Blogger Conference held at Concordia University in St. Paul.

Charming the crowd with his unique brand of wit, creativity, mad content marketing expertise, and numerous “cats with hats” references, Josh delivered a The Good Place-themed presentation titled: “The Good News About Creative Content: From SEO-Driven Content to Content-Driven SEO.”

As someone who spent 12 years as a creative comedy writer for a video game called The Kingdom of Loathing, Josh said he was terrified by the concept of SEO-driven content when he made his transition into content marketing.

“The worst content to write, and the worst content for people to read, was the stuff that [search engine] robots liked to read to most,” Josh said.

But thankfully, search engines are getting smarter, using AI and machine learning to increasingly improve how they deliver the best results. As a result, content creators need to flip the script on how they craft content if they want to resonate with readers and robots. From Josh’s point of view, that means transitioning from SEO-driven content to content-driven SEO.

How? Below is Josh’s five-step framework.

#1 – Topic research.

Get started by digging deep into your target audience. Why? Because in order to craft content that resonates, you have to understand what they care about. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are they? (i.e. demographics, hobbies, interests, etc.)
  • What do they desperately need to know? (And what keywords and keywords groups are associated?)
  • Where do they hang out online? (i.e. social media)
  • Why should they care about your content? (What value can you add?)
  • How do they search for inspiration? (i.e. Google, Bing, Q&A forums, etc.)

From there, you need to identify your sweet spot. Your sweet spot is the intersection of: 1) Your brand’s expertise. 2) Your audience’s needs. 3) Your unique insights.

Finally, leverage free and paid tools such as Google auto-complete, Google Keyword Planner, Quora, Answer The Public, and BuzzSumo to understand specific keyword topics that resonate most with your audience.

To craft #content that resonates, you have to know what your audience cares about. Click To Tweet

#2 – Competitor research.

Simply put, in order to beat out your competition, you need to know what they’re up to. Kick off your competitive research by simply “going incognito,” Josh said.

An incognito search prevents your browser history or cache from impacting the results, giving you a more accurate picture of the search results surrounding your priority keyword topics.

After popping in your keywords, scan the results for content gaps—gaps in quality, relevant, or helpful content. As you do this, look for opportunities to expand your keywords into long-tail variations, so you can get more specific and really let your niche expertise shine.

#3 – Content creation.

Now the fun part comes. Using your topical and competitive research, outline your concepts and document your content mission (i.e. increase ranking for “X” keyword by 10 positions in one month). Then get to work on crafting your piece.

#4 – A smattering of HTML.

As you craft your content, you need to be thinking about how you’ll organize that content on-page, as well as send “click me” signals to searchers. This involves working in some of the technical on-page SEO elements. The top three that need consideration include:

  • Title tags: This is the title searchers will see in the SERPs. Keep it to 600 pixels long so it doesn’t get truncated. In addition, aim to have the primary keyword near the beginning, as long as it makes sense.
  • Header tags: Use H1 and H2 tags to organize your content to make it easy to scan for readers and robots.
  • Meta description: From Josh’s perspective, this is the most overlooked, yet crucial part of SEO infrastructure. “This is your one shot to hook users,” he said. Keep it to 160 characters or less, include your target keyword if it makes sense, and state the clear benefit.

#5 – Optimization.

You’ve spent a lot of time getting that piece of content out the door. But fight the urge to move on and never touch it again. As Josh so eloquently said, “The real work begins after you publish.”

So, keep an eye on your analytics. Is your content getting a good amount of impressions but not a ton of clicks? Consider refining the meta description a bit. Are you getting impressions and clicks, but the bounce rate is high? Your readers may feel like they’re not getting what they were promised or there’s no clear call to action to keep them on your site. So refine the meta description and craft a more compelling CTA.

Again, you poured a lot of effort into getting this content published—so don’t let that effort be wasted. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to tweak the content and the SEO elements to improve its resonance.

The real work begins after your publish. – @NiteWrites #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

Don’t Settle

Josh summed it all up perfectly in the final moments of his presentation:

“There’s never been a better opportunity to write great content that people actually want to read and that will get seen in search results,” Josh said. “So, go forth and be awesome. And please, please—don’t settle for writing crappy content.”

Please, please—don’t settle for writing crappy content. – @NiteWrites #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

What does your creative content creation process look like? Tell us in the comments section below.

8 Apps to Enhance Your Instagram Stories

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social media toolsWant to improve your Instagram stories and Stories ads?

Looking for easy ways to create or transform your videos on Instagram?

In this article, you’ll discover eight apps that’ll help you create better Instagram stories.

8 Apps to Enhance Your Instagram Stories by Tabitha Carro on Social Media Examiner.

8 Apps to Enhance Your Instagram Stories by Tabitha Carro on Social Media Examiner.

#1: Animate Text Overlay in Photos and Videos

If you want to add more creative text overlays to your Instagram Stories content, here are three great tools to try.

Remember: Instagram Stories only allows you to post content you’ve added to your app in the past 24 hours. If you miss that window, you’ll need to run the photo or video through a third-party app again.

Adobe Spark Post

Adobe Spark Post is a free design app for iOS and desktop that lets you add animated effects to your photos. It offers multiple sizing options for your content, including Instagram stories. After you choose an animation, the app will turn your photo into a 4-second video.

Add animated text easily with Adobe Spark Post.

Add animated text easily with Adobe Spark Post.

To use the app, tap the green + sign at the bottom of the screen. From the pop-up menu, choose a source for your background image. Choosing a solid-color background is helpful if you want to share a message in your Instagram story but don’t have a photo to go with it.

Import an image into Adobe Spark Post.

Import an image into Adobe Spark Post.

After you select your background image, swipe through the sizing options at the bottom of the screen and select Instagram Story, and then tap Done.

Select Instagram Story for the image size.

Select Instagram Story for the image size.

Double-tap on the screen to add your text to the image. Use the options below the image to customize the font, color, shape, and style of the text. Drag to reposition the text on the screen and pinch to resize the text. When you’re finished, tap Done.

Now you’re ready to animate the text. Tap Effects and then Animation.

Tap Effects to create a 4-second video from your photo in Adobe Spark Post.

Tap Effects to create a 4-second video from your photo in Adobe Spark Post.

The options at the bottom of the screen let you animate the text or the background. Tap an effect to see a preview of it. Click Done to apply it to your project.

Tap an Adobe Spark Post animation to see a preview of it.

Tap an Adobe Spark Post animation to see a preview of it.

When you’re finished creating your animation, tap Share and save it as a video to your camera roll. Now you’re ready to post it to your Instagram story.

PocketVideo

PocketVideo is a full video editing app that’s available for free for iOS and Android.

After you install the app, tap the yellow + sign to start a new project. Then select Snapchat Story for the project type. Although the app doesn’t offer an Instagram Stories size option, Snapchat Story will work just the same.

Tap Snapchat Story to create content for your Instagram story.

Tap Snapchat Story to create content for your Instagram story.

Next, tap the pink + sign at the bottom of the screen to import your content.

Tap the + button to import content into PocketVideo.

Tap the + button to import content into PocketVideo.

Tap Camera Roll to import a video or tap Photos to import a photo. Once you’ve imported your content, you’ll see a variety of tools below it. Tap Text in the toolbar to add text.

Tap Text to add text to your PocketVideo creation.

Tap Text to add text to your PocketVideo creation.

Next, tap Add and select a theme. There are a lot of flashy themes to choose from, so have fun!

PocketVideo provides many banner-style animations for your text overlays.

PocketVideo provides many banner-style animations for your text overlays.

After you select a theme, tap on the text field and type in your text. Drag to reposition the text and pinch to resize it. You can also change fonts and sometimes colors, but you’ll often need to stick with the style provided. Tap Cue if you want to select in and out times for the text to appear on-screen.

When you’re finished editing your text, tap the yellow checkmark to save your changes. Tap Finish to save the project to your camera roll.

Hype Type

Hype Type is an iOS app that lets you add flashy text overlays to your content in just seconds.

Use the Hype Type app to add a text overlay to your video.

Use the Hype Type app to add a text overlay to your video.

When you open the app, you’ll see a recording screen that’s similar to Instagram Stories. Tap the crop button in the upper-right corner and select the vertical sizing option. Then tap the arrow to close the pop-up menu.

Hype Type offers portrait, square, and landscape sizing.

Hype Type offers portrait, square, and landscape sizing.

Now you can swipe up to choose an image or video from your camera roll, or record a new video. Press down on the circle button to start recording video. You can record multiple clips for a total of 5 seconds.

Record a video (left) or select content from your camera roll (right).

Record a video (left) or select content from your camera roll (right).

To add text to your image or video, double-tap on the screen. Then type in your text or tap the green quote button to choose a random quote from the app. When you’re finished, tap the blue checkmark.

Keep tapping the quotes button for more quote options.

Keep tapping the quotes button for more quote options.

To format your text, tap the T icon at the bottom of the screen. Scroll through the text styles and color combinations. Tap the blue checkmark to apply your changes.

Below the text styles, you can choose from a variety of color combinations.

Below the text styles, you can choose from a variety of color combinations.

When you’re finished editing your project, tap the blue checkmark and save it to your camera roll.

#2: Convert Landscape Videos to a Vertical Aspect Ratio

If you want to repurpose videos for your Instagram story but are having issues with vertical sizing, the InShot app (available for iOS and Android) is the solution. This free app will convert a video of any aspect ratio into a vertical 9:16 ratio, the perfect size for Instagram Stories.

The app lets you blur the excess background margins in your vertical video, add a solid color, or import a photo into the background.

The InShot app adds margins to your video, which are a great place to add text later.

The InShot app adds margins to your video, which are a great place to add text later.

To get started, tap Video and select the video you want to import. The app will automatically reformat the video to a square, incorporating blurred or white margins.

InShot is also useful for vertical photo posts.

InShot is also useful for vertical photo posts.

To change the sizing to vertical, tap Canvas and select the 9:16 option. Drag to adjust the position of your video in the vertical layout and then tap the checkmark to apply your changes.

Move the slider to zoom in or out of your video in the InShot app.

Move the slider to zoom in or out of your video in the InShot app.

To edit the blurred margins, tap BG (background). The app lets you edit the intensity of the blur, switch to a pattern or solid color, or even import one of your own photos into the background. Tap the checkmark when you’re finished.

Tap the photo icon to insert a photo from your camera roll into the background.

Tap the photo icon to insert a photo from your camera roll into the background.

To save your final video, tap the Download icon at the top right of the screen and save it to your camera roll.

#3: Compose Vertical Video and Photo Collages

PicPlayPost is an excellent free app for combining multiple videos and photos into a collage. It’s available for both iOS and Android.

This collage was created by combining several Instagram Boomerang clips with the PicPlayPost app.

This collage was created by combining several Instagram Boomerang clips with the PicPlayPost app.

After you install the app, tap New Project and then select Create a Collage.

Create slideshows or collages with the PicPlayPost app.

Create slideshows or collages with the PicPlayPost app.

Select Classic for the collage layout. On the next screen, tap the small square below Select Ratio and choose the Vertical (Instagram Stories) option.

Experiment with different PicPlayPost layouts until you find what works for your video clips.

Experiment with different PicPlayPost layouts until you find what works for your video clips.

After you select your ratio, choose a layout for your collage.

To add a photo or video to a frame of your collage, tap the + button and navigate to the content you want to import. Tap the checkmark to save your changes.

Try combining photos and videos in your PicPlayPost collage for an interesting effect.

Try combining photos and videos in your PicPlayPost collage for an interesting effect.

Experiment with the Style and Music tools to enhance your collage. If you upgrade to a paid version of the app, you can replace the PicPlayPost watermark with your own.

Tap Preview at the bottom of the screen to see a preview of your collage. When you’re happy with it, tap Share to save it to your camera roll.

#4: Create Simple Vertical Slideshows

PicPlayPost is also effective for creating vertical photo/video slideshows for your Instagram stories. To create a slideshow, start a new project and tap Create a Slideshow.

Create collage slideshows with the PicPlayPost app.

Create collage slideshows with the PicPlayPost app.

Another option for vertical slideshows is the Diptic app. It’s available for iOS ($2.99) and Android ($0.99). It lets you combine multiple clips and photos into slideshows of almost any aspect ratio. You’ll need to make an in-app purchase to get access to non-square layouts such as portrait and landscape.

To create a slideshow, tap Animated at the top of the screen and then choose one of the three slideshow options.

You can add up to eight photos and videos in a Diptic slideshow.

You can add up to eight photos and videos in a Diptic slideshow.

To import a photo or video, tap the beige box or the bar at the top of the screen and select the content you want to use.

To change the aspect ratio, tap Borders at the bottom of the screen. Then tap Aspect and change the ratio of your slideshow to 9:16. As mentioned earlier, you’ll need to make an in-app purchase to get access to non-square layouts.

Try using the Diptic app for square and landscape slideshows as well.

Try using the Diptic app for square and landscape slideshows as well.

Tap Playback in the bottom toolbar and set the total time to 15 seconds or shorter.

Keep the total time shorter than 15 seconds for your Instagram story.

Keep the total time shorter than 15 seconds for your Instagram story.

Enhance your video with transitions, music, or text if desired. When you’re finished, tap Publish at the top right of the screen and save the video to your camera roll.

#5: Edit Vertical Videos and Photos

If you have video editing experience and want more robust editing features for vertical video, try these two tools.

Videoshop

The video editor Videoshop is available for iOS ($1.99) and Android (free with in-app purchases). When you first open the app, you can record a new clip or import a clip from your camera roll. If you’ve used the app previously, tap the + icon at the top right to add your content.

Videoshop works well for editing square videos too.

Videoshop works well for editing square videos too.

Videoshop automatically opens to the sizing of the first clip you import. If the clip wasn’t vertical, swipe through the options below the clip and select Settings. Then change Video Orientation to Portrait and tap Done.

Edit landscape, portrait, and square video clips with the Videoshop app.

Edit landscape, portrait, and square video clips with the Videoshop app.

To import additional clips, tap + at the bottom of the screen.

You may find your clips have shrunk toward the center. If you want to increase/decrease the size of a clip, tap the clip’s thumbnail at the bottom of the screen and tap Resize in the toolbar. Pinch with your fingers to increase or decrease the size of your clip.

If there are excess margins, tap the blurred button or one of the solid-color buttons to fill in the background.

If there are excess margins, tap the blurred button or one of the solid-color buttons to fill in the background.

Continue to edit your video, keeping the 15-second time limit in mind. When you’re finished, tap Next to compile your video and then save it to your camera roll.

Filmmaker Pro

Filmmaker Pro, available for free for iOS, lets you edit landscape, portrait, and square video clips.

To switch to vertical video editing, tap the + sign in the upper-left corner of the app. From the pop-up menu, select Portrait (9:16).

Filmmaker Pro allows you to edit landscape, portrait, and square video clips.

Filmmaker Pro allows you to edit landscape, portrait, and square video clips.

Next, tap + and import your content into the app. Filmmaker Pro will automatically resize clips to fit that 9:16 aspect ratio. If a clip didn’t originally have a ratio of 9:16, the excess margins will be black. To change the color of the background margins, tap the gear icon on the left.

Tap the settings icon to change the background in Filmmaker Pro.

Tap the settings icon to change the background in Filmmaker Pro.

Below the clip, tap the teardrop icon and then tap the color you want to use. Tap the checkmark to apply your changes.

Swipe left for more background color selections.

Swipe left for more background color selections.

One unique feature of this app is that it lets you install custom fonts. Email a font file (unzipped) to yourself, and when you tap the file on your mobile device, choose the option Copy to Filmmaker Pro.

Import custom fonts into Filmmaker Pro.

Import custom fonts into Filmmaker Pro.

If the font is compatible with iOS, it will be imported and available when you edit text in the app.

Tap the Text icon to access your custom fonts in Filmmaker Pro.

Tap the Text icon to access your custom fonts in Filmmaker Pro.

When you’re finished editing your video, tap the Download button (the second button on the left) and save it to your camera roll.

Conclusion

These apps can be used not only to enhance your daily Instagram stories but also to create Instagram Stories ads. Another plus is that most of these apps allow you to resize your videos. This means you can take your Instagram story video and repurpose it in just seconds for other social media platforms.

If you’re new to these apps, experiment with one or two to add engaging videos to your Instagram stories.

What do you think? Have you tried some of these apps? What apps do you use to create video for Instagram Stories? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

8 Apps to Enhance Your Instagram Stories by Tabitha Carro on Social Media Examiner.

Does Googlebot Support HTTP/2? Challenging Google’s Indexing Claims – An Experiment

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I was recently challenged with a question from a client, Robert, who runs a small PR firm and needed to optimize a client’s website. His question inspired me to run a small experiment in HTTP protocols. So what was Robert’s question? He asked…

Can Googlebot crawl using HTTP/2 protocols?

You may be asking yourself, why should I care about Robert and his HTTP protocols?

As a refresher, HTTP protocols are the basic set of standards allowing the World Wide Web to exchange information. They are the reason a web browser can display data stored on another server. The first was initiated back in 1989, which means, just like everything else, HTTP protocols are getting outdated. HTTP/2 is one of the latest versions of HTTP protocol to be created to replace these aging versions.

So, back to our question: why do you, as an SEO, care to know more about HTTP protocols? The short answer is that none of your SEO efforts matter or can even be done without a basic understanding of HTTP protocol. Robert knew that if his site wasn’t indexing correctly, his client would miss out on valuable web traffic from searches.

The hype around HTTP/2

HTTP/1.1 is a 17-year-old protocol (HTTP 1.0 is 21 years old). Both HTTP 1.0 and 1.1 have limitations, mostly related to performance. When HTTP/1.1 was getting too slow and out of date, Google introduced SPDY in 2009, which was the basis for HTTP/2. Side note: Starting from Chrome 53, Google decided to stop supporting SPDY in favor of HTTP/2.

HTTP/2 was a long-awaited protocol. Its main goal is to improve a website’s performance. It’s currently used by 17% of websites (as of September 2017). Adoption rate is growing rapidly, as only 10% of websites were using HTTP/2 in January 2017. You can see the adoption rate charts here. HTTP/2 is getting more and more popular, and is widely supported by modern browsers (like Chrome or Firefox) and web servers (including Apache, Nginx, and IIS).

Its key advantages are:

  • Multiplexing: The ability to send multiple requests through a single TCP connection.
  • Server push: When a client requires some resource (let’s say, an HTML document), a server can push CSS and JS files to a client cache. It reduces network latency and round-trips.
  • One connection per origin: With HTTP/2, only one connection is needed to load the website.
  • Stream prioritization: Requests (streams) are assigned a priority from 1 to 256 to deliver higher-priority resources faster.
  • Binary framing layer: HTTP/2 is easier to parse (for both the server and user).
  • Header compression: This feature reduces overhead from plain text in HTTP/1.1 and improves performance.

For more information, I highly recommend reading “Introduction to HTTP/2” by Surma and Ilya Grigorik.

All these benefits suggest pushing for HTTP/2 support as soon as possible. However, my experience with technical SEO has taught me to double-check and experiment with solutions that might affect our SEO efforts.

So the question is: Does Googlebot support HTTP/2?

Google’s promises

HTTP/2 represents a promised land, the technical SEO oasis everyone was searching for. By now, many websites have already added HTTP/2 support, and developers don’t want to optimize for HTTP/1.1 anymore. Before I could answer Robert’s question, I needed to know whether or not Googlebot supported HTTP/2-only crawling.

I was not alone in my query. This is a topic which comes up often on Twitter, Google Hangouts, and other such forums. And like Robert, I had clients pressing me for answers. The experiment needed to happen. Below I’ll lay out exactly how we arrived at our answer, but here’s the spoiler: it doesn’t. Google doesn’t crawl using the HTTP/2 protocol. If your website uses HTTP/2, you need to make sure you continue to optimize the HTTP/1.1 version for crawling purposes.

The question

It all started with a Google Hangouts in November 2015.

When asked about HTTP/2 support, John Mueller mentioned that HTTP/2-only crawling should be ready by early 2016, and he also mentioned that HTTP/2 would make it easier for Googlebot to crawl pages by bundling requests (images, JS, and CSS could be downloaded with a single bundled request).

“At the moment, Google doesn’t support HTTP/2-only crawling (…) We are working on that, I suspect it will be ready by the end of this year (2015) or early next year (2016) (…) One of the big advantages of HTTP/2 is that you can bundle requests, so if you are looking at a page and it has a bunch of embedded images, CSS, JavaScript files, theoretically you can make one request for all of those files and get everything together. So that would make it a little bit easier to crawl pages while we are rendering them for example.”

Soon after, Twitter user Kai Spriestersbach also asked about HTTP/2 support:

His clients started dropping HTTP/1.1 connections optimization, just like most developers deploying HTTP/2, which was at the time supported by all major browsers.

After a few quiet months, Google Webmasters reignited the conversation, tweeting that Google won’t hold you back if you’re setting up for HTTP/2. At this time, however, we still had no definitive word on HTTP/2-only crawling. Just because it won’t hold you back doesn’t mean it can handle it — which is why I decided to test the hypothesis.

The experiment

For months as I was following this online debate, I still received questions from our clients who no longer wanted want to spend money on HTTP/1.1 optimization. Thus, I decided to create a very simple (and bold) experiment.

I decided to disable HTTP/1.1 on my own website (https://goralewicz.com) and make it HTTP/2 only. I disabled HTTP/1.1 from March 7th until March 13th.

If you’re going to get bad news, at the very least it should come quickly. I didn’t have to wait long to see if my experiment “took.” Very shortly after disabling HTTP/1.1, I couldn’t fetch and render my website in Google Search Console; I was getting an error every time.

My website is fairly small, but I could clearly see that the crawling stats decreased after disabling HTTP/1.1. Google was no longer visiting my site.

While I could have kept going, I stopped the experiment after my website was partially de-indexed due to “Access Denied” errors.

The results

I didn’t need any more information; the proof was right there. Googlebot wasn’t supporting HTTP/2-only crawling. Should you choose to duplicate this at home with our own site, you’ll be happy to know that my site recovered very quickly.

I finally had Robert’s answer, but felt others may benefit from it as well. A few weeks after finishing my experiment, I decided to ask John about HTTP/2 crawling on Twitter and see what he had to say.

(I love that he responds.)

Knowing the results of my experiment, I have to agree with John: disabling HTTP/1 was a bad idea. However, I was seeing other developers discontinuing optimization for HTTP/1, which is why I wanted to test HTTP/2 on its own.

For those looking to run their own experiment, there are two ways of negotiating a HTTP/2 connection:

1. Over HTTP (unsecure) – Make an HTTP/1.1 request that includes an Upgrade header. This seems to be the method to which John Mueller was referring. However, it doesn’t apply to my website (because it’s served via HTTPS). What is more, this is an old-fashioned way of negotiating, not supported by modern browsers. Below is a screenshot from Caniuse.com:

2. Over HTTPS (secure) – Connection is negotiated via the ALPN protocol (HTTP/1.1 is not involved in this process). This method is preferred and widely supported by modern browsers and servers.

A recent announcement: The saga continues

Googlebot doesn’t make HTTP/2 requests

Fortunately, Ilya Grigorik, a web performance engineer at Google, let everyone peek behind the curtains at how Googlebot is crawling websites and the technology behind it:

If that wasn’t enough, Googlebot doesn’t support the WebSocket protocol. That means your server can’t send resources to Googlebot before they are requested. Supporting it wouldn’t reduce network latency and round-trips; it would simply slow everything down. Modern browsers offer many ways of loading content, including WebRTC, WebSockets, loading local content from drive, etc. However, Googlebot supports only HTTP/FTP, with or without Transport Layer Security (TLS).

Googlebot supports SPDY

During my research and after John Mueller’s feedback, I decided to consult an HTTP/2 expert. I contacted Peter Nikolow of Mobilio, and asked him to see if there were anything we could do to find the final answer regarding Googlebot’s HTTP/2 support. Not only did he provide us with help, Peter even created an experiment for us to use. Its results are pretty straightforward: Googlebot does support the SPDY protocol and Next Protocol Navigation (NPN). And thus, it can’t support HTTP/2.

Below is Peter’s response:


I performed an experiment that shows Googlebot uses SPDY protocol. Because it supports SPDY + NPN, it cannot support HTTP/2. There are many cons to continued support of SPDY:

  1. This protocol is vulnerable
  2. Google Chrome no longer supports SPDY in favor of HTTP/2
  3. Servers have been neglecting to support SPDY. Let’s examine the NGINX example: from version 1.95, they no longer support SPDY.
  4. Apache doesn’t support SPDY out of the box. You need to install mod_spdy, which is provided by Google.

To examine Googlebot and the protocols it uses, I took advantage of s_server, a tool that can debug TLS connections. I used Google Search Console Fetch and Render to send Googlebot to my website.

Here’s a screenshot from this tool showing that Googlebot is using Next Protocol Navigation (and therefore SPDY):

I’ll briefly explain how you can perform your own test. The first thing you should know is that you can’t use scripting languages (like PHP or Python) for debugging TLS handshakes. The reason for that is simple: these languages see HTTP-level data only. Instead, you should use special tools for debugging TLS handshakes, such as s_server.

Type in the console:

sudo openssl s_server -key key.pem -cert cert.pem -accept 443 -WWW -tlsextdebug -state -msg
sudo openssl s_server -key key.pem -cert cert.pem -accept 443 -www -tlsextdebug -state -msg

Please note the slight (but significant) difference between the “-WWW” and “-www” options in these commands. You can find more about their purpose in the s_server documentation.

Next, invite Googlebot to visit your site by entering the URL in Google Search Console Fetch and Render or in the Google mobile tester.

As I wrote above, there is no logical reason why Googlebot supports SPDY. This protocol is vulnerable; no modern browser supports it. Additionally, servers (including NGINX) neglect to support it. It’s just a matter of time until Googlebot will be able to crawl using HTTP/2. Just implement HTTP 1.1 + HTTP/2 support on your own server (your users will notice due to faster loading) and wait until Google is able to send requests using HTTP/2.


Summary

In November 2015, John Mueller said he expected Googlebot to crawl websites by sending HTTP/2 requests starting in early 2016. We don’t know why, as of October 2017, that hasn’t happened yet.

What we do know is that Googlebot doesn’t support HTTP/2. It still crawls by sending HTTP/ 1.1 requests. Both this experiment and the “Rendering on Google Search” page confirm it. (If you’d like to know more about the technology behind Googlebot, then you should check out what they recently shared.)

For now, it seems we have to accept the status quo. We recommended that Robert (and you readers as well) enable HTTP/2 on your websites for better performance, but continue optimizing for HTTP/ 1.1. Your visitors will notice and thank you.

Google Shares Details About the Technology Behind Googlebot

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Crawling and indexing has been a hot topic over the last few years. As soon as Google launched Google Panda, people rushed to their server logs and crawling stats and began fixing their index bloat. All those problems didn’t exist in the “SEO = backlinks” era from a few years ago. With this exponential growth of technical SEO, we need to get more and more technical. That being said, we still don’t know how exactly Google crawls our websites. Many SEOs still can’t tell the difference between crawling and indexing.

The biggest problem, though, is that when we want to troubleshoot indexing problems, the only tool in our arsenal is Google Search Console and the Fetch and Render tool. Once your website includes more than HTML and CSS, there’s a lot of guesswork into how your content will be indexed by Google. This approach is risky, expensive, and can fail multiple times. Even when you discover the pieces of your website that weren’t indexed properly, it’s extremely difficult to get to the bottom of the problem and find the fragments of code responsible for the indexing problems.

Fortunately, this is about to change. Recently, Ilya Grigorik from Google shared one of the most valuable insights into how crawlers work:

Interestingly, this tweet didn’t get nearly as much attention as I would expect.

So what does Ilya’s revelation in this tweet mean for SEOs?

Knowing that Chrome 41 is the technology behind the Web Rendering Service is a game-changer. Before this announcement, our only solution was to use Fetch and Render in Google Search Console to see our page rendered by the Website Rendering Service (WRS). This means we can troubleshoot technical problems that would otherwise have required experimenting and creating staging environments. Now, all you need to do is download and install Chrome 41 to see how your website loads in the browser. That’s it.

You can check the features and capabilities that Chrome 41 supports by visiting Caniuse.com or Chromestatus.com (Googlebot should support similar features). These two websites make a developer’s life much easier.

Even though we don’t know exactly which version Ilya had in mind, we can find Chrome’s version used by the WRS by looking at the server logs. It’s Chrome 41.0.2272.118.

It will be updated sometime in the future

Chrome 41 was created two years ago (in 2015), so it’s far removed from the current version of the browser. However, as Ilya Grigorik said, an update is coming:

I was lucky enough to get Ilya Grigorik to read this article before it was published, and he provided a ton of valuable feedback on this topic. He mentioned that they are hoping to have the WRS updated by 2018. Fingers crossed!

Google uses Chrome 41 for rendering. What does that mean?

We now have some interesting information about how Google renders websites. But what does that mean, practically, for site developers and their clients? Does this mean we can now ignore server-side rendering and deploy client-rendered, JavaScript-rich websites?

Not so fast. Here is what Ilya Grigorik had to say in response to this question:

We now know WRS’ capabilities for rendering JavaScript and how to debug them. However, remember that not all crawlers support Javascript crawling, etc. Also, as of today, JavaScript crawling is only supported by Google and Ask (Ask is most likely powered by Google). Even if you don’t care about social media or search engines other than Google, one more thing to remember is that even with Chrome 41, not all JavaScript frameworks can be indexed by Google (read more about JavaScript frameworks crawling and indexing). This lets us troubleshoot and better diagnose problems.

Don’t get your hopes up

All that said, there are a few reasons to keep your excitement at bay.

Remember that version 41 of Chrome is over two years old. It may not work very well with modern JavaScript frameworks. To test it yourself, open http://jsseo.expert/polymer/ using Chrome 41, and then open it in any up-to-date browser you are using.

The page in Chrome 41 looks like this:

The content parsed by Polymer is invisible (meaning it wasn’t processed correctly). This is also a perfect example for troubleshooting potential indexing issues. The problem you’re seeing above can be solved if diagnosed properly. Let me quote Ilya:

“If you look at the raised Javascript error under the hood, the test page is throwing an error due to unsupported (in M41) ES6 syntax. You can test this yourself in M41, or use the debug snippet we provided in the blog post to log the error into the DOM to see it.”

I believe this is another powerful tool for web developers willing to make their JavaScript websites indexable. We will definitely expand our experiment and work with Ilya’s feedback.

The Fetch and Render tool is the Chrome v. 41 preview

There’s another interesting thing about Chrome 41. Google Search Console’s Fetch and Render tool is simply the Chrome 41 preview. The righthand-side view (“This is how a visitor to your website would have seen the page”) is generated by the Google Search Console bot, which is… Chrome 41.0.2272.118 (see screenshot below).

Zoom in here

There’s evidence that both Googlebot and Google Search Console Bot render pages using Chrome 41. Still, we don’t exactly know what the differences between them are. One noticeable difference is that the Google Search Console bot doesn’t respect the robots.txt file. There may be more, but for the time being, we’re not able to point them out.

Chrome 41 vs Fetch as Google: A word of caution

Chrome 41 is a great tool for debugging Googlebot. However, sometimes (not often) there’s a situation in which Chrome 41 renders a page properly, but the screenshots from Google Fetch and Render suggest that Google can’t handle the page. It could be caused by CSS animations and transitions, Googlebot timeouts, or the usage of features that Googlebot doesn’t support. Let me show you an example.

Chrome 41 preview:

Image blurred for privacy

The above page has quite a lot of content and images, but it looks completely different in Google Search Console.

Google Search Console preview for the same URL:

As you can see, Google Search Console’s preview of this URL is completely different than what you saw on the previous screenshot (Chrome 41). All the content is gone and all we can see is the search bar.

From what we noticed, Google Search Console renders CSS a little bit different than Chrome 41. This doesn’t happen often, but as with most tools, we need to double check whenever possible.

This leads us to a question…

What features are supported by Googlebot and WRS?

According to the Rendering on Google Search guide:

  • Googlebot doesn’t support IndexedDB, WebSQL, and WebGL.
  • HTTP cookies and local storage, as well as session storage, are cleared between page loads.
  • All features requiring user permissions (like Notifications API, clipboard, push, device-info) are disabled.
  • Google can’t index 3D and VR content.
  • Googlebot only supports HTTP/1.1 crawling.

The last point is really interesting. Despite statements from Google over the last 2 years, Google still only crawls using HTTP/1.1.

No HTTP/2 support (still)

We’ve mostly been covering how Googlebot uses Chrome, but there’s another recent discovery to keep in mind.

There is still no support for HTTP/2 for Googlebot.

Since it’s now clear that Googlebot doesn’t support HTTP/2, this means that if your website supports HTTP/2, you can’t drop HTTP 1.1 optimization. Googlebot can crawl only using HTTP/1.1.

There were several announcements recently regarding Google’s HTTP/2 support. To read more about it, check out my HTTP/2 experiment here on the Moz Blog.

Via https://developers.google.com/search/docs/guides/r…

Googlebot’s future

Rumor has it that Chrome 59’s headless mode was created for Googlebot, or at least that it was discussed during the design process. It’s hard to say if any of this chatter is true, but if it is, it means that to some extent, Googlebot will “see” the website in the same way as regular Internet users.

This would definitely make everything simpler for developers who wouldn’t have to worry about Googlebot’s ability to crawl even the most complex websites.

Chrome 41 vs. Googlebot’s crawling efficiency

Chrome 41 is a powerful tool for debugging JavaScript crawling and indexing. However, it’s crucial not to jump on the hype train here and start launching websites that “pass the Chrome 41 test.”

Even if Googlebot can “see” our website, there are many other factors that will affect your site’s crawling efficiency. As an example, we already have proof showing that Googlebot can crawl and index JavaScript and many JavaScript frameworks. It doesn’t mean that JavaScript is great for SEO. I gathered significant evidence showing that JavaScript pages aren’t crawled even half as effectively as HTML-based pages.

In summary

Ilya Grigorik’s tweet sheds more light on how Google crawls pages and, thanks to that, we don’t have to build experiments for every feature we’re testing — we can use Chrome 41 for debugging instead. This simple step will definitely save a lot of websites from indexing problems, like when Hulu.com’s JavaScript SEO backfired.

It’s safe to assume that Chrome 41 will now be a part of every SEO’s toolset.

Snapchat Context Cards, Facebook VR Updates, Twitter Bookmarking

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social media researchWelcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media.

On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show with Erik Fisher and Kim Reynolds, we explore Facebook VR updates, Twitter bookmarking with Madalyn Sklar, Snapchat context cards with Jeff Sieh, and more breaking social media marketing news of the week!

Watch the Social Media Marketing Talk Show

If you’re new to the show, click on the green “Watch replay” button below and sign in or register to watch our latest episode from Friday, October 13, 2017. You can also listen to the show as an audio podcast, found on iTunes/Apple Podcast, Android, Google Play, Stitcher, and RSS.

For this week’s top stories, you’ll find timestamps below that allow you to fast-forward in the replay above.

Facebook Unveils Several New VR Products Ranging From Stand-Alone Headsets, Oculus Dash, Oculus for Business, and More: Facebook unveiled several new Oculus products at the Oculus Connect Conference, starting with Oculus Go, a new stand-alone VR headset; and the Oculus Dash, a VR replacement for a computer screen. Facebook also announced new ways to implement VR as a sales and marketing tool with Oculus for Business and introduced new ways to share VR such as 3D posts in the news feed. (4:13)

Twitter Announces Upcoming Bookmarking Tool: Twitter announced plans to launch a new bookmarking tool “in the near future” that will save tweets for later reading. While Twitter hasn’t revealed how soon the upcoming Save for Later feature will be rolled out or who will be able to test it, the company confirmed that it will be publicly launched “soon.” (7:45)

Twitter Launches New “Happening Now” Feature: Twitter’s newly released Happening Now feature is a dedicated timeline of tweets highlighting a specific topic. This feature will initially focus on sports in the U.S., but will eventually expand to other areas such as entertainment and breaking news and feature them at the top of users’ timelines. Happening Now is available on the Twitter apps for iOS and Android. (13:50)

Twitter Connects Apple TV App With Apple Devices: Twitter now allows Apple TV subscribers to connect their iOS devices to their Twitter for Apple TV accounts and tweet as they watch shows and movies. (18:24)

Snapchat Introduces Context Cards: Snapchat announced “a new way to learn more about what you see on Snapchat” with context cards. With content from partners such as TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Michelin, and goop, context cards allow users to take simple actions and learn more about a location from snaps. This new feature is available on both iOS and Android in the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. (24:42)

Snapchat Tests “Official Stories” From Verified Accounts: Snapchat is testing a dedicated section of Official Stories from verified accounts. Mashable reports that it has been showing up for select Android users in the header of the Stories section. A spokesperson from Snap Inc. confirmed the test by saying that the company makes “regular tweaks to the Stories page to test new experiences” but didn’t provide any other details about this possible new feature. (29:52)

Google Pays Publishers to Develop Content for Upcoming Stamp Project: Recode reports that Google is paying multiple sites to develop content for its new Stamp project, a new service for publishers that “will allow them to create visually oriented media content similar to Snapchat’s ‘Discover’ feature.”  It’s suggested that this move is “intended to defray the costs publishers incur as [Google] builds content and systems to accommodate the new format” and has been in the works for several months in anticipation of Stamp’s upcoming debut. These fees remain undisclosed and unconfirmed by Google. (32:16)

Facebook Rolls Out Facebook Rewards QR Codes to More Users: In early May, Facebook began running “a small test” that enables people to use its mobile app to collect and redeem rewards when they make a purchase at select participating stores. It appears that Facebook is now expanding Rewards QR codes to more users. This feature can be located only within the Facebook mobile app under the Rewards tab.

Facebook appears to be expanding an experimental Rewards QR code feature to more mobile app users.

Facebook appears to be expanding an experimental Rewards QR code feature to more mobile app users.

Facebook Allows Admins to Mute Comments and Posts From Selected Members:  Facebook rolled out an option to temporarily mute a group member from posting or commenting within the group for up to 24 hours. Last month, Facebook began testing a similar “snooze button” feature on the desktop that allows U.S. users to “temporarily unfollow friends, Pages or Groups for 24 hours, 7 days or 30 days” and “stay connected with the stories they find most relevant.”

Facebook rolled out an option to temporarily mute a Group member from posting or commenting within the Group for up to 24 hours.

Facebook rolled out an option to temporarily mute a group member from posting or commenting within the group for up to 24 hours.

Facebook Moves In-App Notifications Icon on iOS devices: Facebook appears to have moved the Notifications icon from the bottom to the top of the mobile app for iOS. Social Media Examiner notes that clicking on the icon allows users to see a post along with the post information, timestamp, and back arrow.

Facebook appears to have moved the Notifications icon from the bottom to the top of the mobile app for iOS.

Facebook appears to have moved the Notifications icon from the bottom to the top of the mobile app for iOS.

Facebook Offers One-on-One Help With a Facebook Marketing Expert: Facebook is inviting “select advertisers” to participate in the Facebook Marketing Expert Program. These marketers get access to one-on-one help from Facebook Marketing Experts who will review past and current campaigns “to learn about your business objectives” and provide “tailored recommendations to meet your business’s specific growth needs.” Facebook assures that calls are scheduled “according to your convenience” and all consultations are free.

ALT TEXT

Facebook is inviting “select advertisers” to participate in the Facebook Marketing Expert Program.

Facebook Launches Workplace Chat Apps for Mac and PCFacebook Workplace, its enterprise collaboration software, has quietly launched official desktop PC and Mac chat apps that feature screen sharing. A Facebook spokesperson states that the desktop app is currently still in beta and being tested by Workplace customers. A wider rollout is expected once Facebook is able to collect initial feedback and make improvements.

Microsoft Integrates Virtual Assistant Cortana Into Skype: Microsoft announced plans to integrate Cortana, Microsoft’s intelligent assistant, into Skype “to help you in your everyday conversations” with in-context, behind-the-scenes suggestions such as restaurant options, movie reviews, smart replies, reminders, and much more. Cortana also acts as a contact in Skype with whom you can have natural, one-on-one conversations; make direct requests; or ask questions. Cortana in Skype is gradually rolling out to Skype’s Android and iOS customers in the United States.

Microsoft-owned Skype announced plans to integrate Cortana, Microsoft's intelligent assistant, into Skype to help you in your everyday conversations.

Microsoft announced plans to integrate Cortana, Microsoft’s intelligent assistant, into Skype to help you in your everyday conversations.

Twitter Launches In-Stream Video Ads in the UK: After the successful launch of in-stream ads in the U.S., Twitter announced it will expand them to the UK. These ads will be rolled out along with Twitter’s first exclusive original live programming in the UK, produced in partnership with the broadcasting company, Global, and one of their key brands, PopBuzz.

YouTube Relaunched YouTube Creators Website: YouTube initially launched its Creator Hub a year ago and recently gave the site a “completely refreshed design… developed for creators, with creators” in mind. The revamped site features an optimized look, more up-to-date information, and easier ways to explore and discover the resources available to YouTube creators such as the Partner Management program and content from the YouTube Help Center.

YouTube introduced a newly designed website for the YouTube Creators program.

YouTube introduced a newly designed website for the YouTube Creators program.

In addition to relaunching the new Creators Site, YouTube also released a new video series from the Creator Academy that’s “designed to help creators grow their audience” and offers insights on “analyzing and growing your channel to building a business on YouTube.”

Facebook Messenger Expands M to Portugal and Brazil: Adweek reports that “M, the virtual digital assistant for Facebook Messenger, has arrived in Portugal and Brazil.” It will be rolling out with sticker suggestions, location sharing, polls, and more.

Google Rolls Out New Offline Measurement Tools on YouTube: Google announced that new location extensions and store visits measurement are now available to help measure foot traffic to physical businesses from YouTube. According to the Google AdWords blog, these are YouTube’s first-ever ad extensions for TrueView in-stream and bumper ads and are aimed to influence viewers to engage with a brand offline and drive more visits and in-store purchases.

New location extensions and store visits measurement are now available on YouTube.

New location extensions and store visits measurement are now available on YouTube.

Google Rolls Out New Controls and Centralized Navigation Across Analytics Products: Google Analytics rolled out new controls and a centralized account management system across multiple products and made them available to everyone who uses Analytics, Tag Manager, and Optimize. Google has also improved navigation for Surveys and Data Studio users. These updates to Google Analytics are being released “over the next few weeks.”

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