SiriusDecisions Summit 2018: Bound Event Guide

One of the best events for B2B Leaders is right around the corner…are you ready for SiriusDecisions Summit 2018? It’s a big event, with 3,000+ attendees, 120+ vendors and all the frameworks and case studies you can dream of. I’ve waded my way through the “Sirius” puns, poured over session summaries, sifted through the Sirius […]

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One of the best events for B2B Leaders is right around the corner…are you ready for SiriusDecisions Summit 2018?

It’s a big event, with 3,000+ attendees, 120+ vendors and all the frameworks and case studies you can dream of. I’ve waded my way through the “Sirius” puns, poured over session summaries, sifted through the Sirius blog, and scouted every open-invite afterparty. Here is everything you need to know about SiriusDecisions Summit 2018.

Our team is excited to share this experience with you. Come say hello at booth 412!

Guest Keynotes

Last year I walked into Summit thinking how the heck does Jewel relate to B2B Marketing? As it turns out, Sirius event planners know what they are doing. I scribbled countless notes about lead nurture vs. nature and authenticity in marketing: “underneath, we’re all looking for the same thing: an authentic human experience.” You know that got my personalization juices flowing.

Jewel keynote on creating an authentic human experience

This year’s keynotes are Molly Bloom and Platon. If these speakers are good enough for an Aaron Sorkin feature film and the World Economic Forum in Davos, respectively, then we must be in for a treat. I expect we’ll witness masterful storytelling on the topics of authenticity, leadership, collaboration and ambition.

Analyst Keynotes

SiriusDecisions is known for dropping big ideas in the analyst keynotes. The 2017 big reveal was the Demand Unit Waterfall®, which shaped the conversation for the whole conference. While I don’t expect such a core announcement in 2018, we can expect the keynotes to guide the themes of the conference.

SiriusDecisions Summit Keynote Preview

Visit the Summit website for keynote overviews. The links below are to Sirius blog posts that give a little more insights into the keynote topics.

If you see these analysts out in the wild, go ahead and buy them a coffee or drink. They work really hard on these presentations. I also recommend following these keynote analysts who are active on Twitter throughout the conference: @julieogilvie, @KerrySirius, @gcanare, @Marisa_Kopec.

Sessions

The full 2018 Summit agenda features three praiseworthy changes.

  1. The 2018 Summit is condensed to three days, a half day less than previous years. This is a good move because that last half day was rough for travel arrangements (and fell after the Green Tie Gala) so attendance was low. Somehow, they still managed to squeeze in about the same amount of session time with the condensed schedule in 2018.
  2. There are 12 tracks to choose from in 2018, up from seven in 2017. The new track structure dedicates more focus within sales, product, brand, and customer engagement functions. SiriusDecisions has long advocated for alignment between the different facets of the revenue organization, so this update is feels like they are finally walkin’ the walk.
  3. Did somebody say role-based breakfast?! I’m so excited for the introduction of role-based breakfasts in 2018. Sessions, as educational as they are, are a one-way communication. Summit isn’t short on networking opportunities, but role-based networking time is valuable for getting inspiration and validation.

Personalization Strategy: A Custom Track

We recommend the following sessions to create your own personalization strategy track. Stop by our booth 412 to learn how Bound insights and personalization helps your demand, ABM, portfolio and content strategies.

Wednesday

  • ABM Infrastructure: A Capabilities-Driven View of the Stack That Drives Growth
  • Creating Demand Maps to Power Account-Centric Planning

Thursday

  • Activating Persona and Buyer Insights for Demand Creation or SiriusLab: Implementing Nurture Programs in a Demand Unit World
  • The State of B-to-B Content: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
  • B-to-B Demand Creation: By the Numbers

Parties

What would SiriusDecisions be without parties? It is held in Las Vegas after all.

Quick overview of the SiriusDecisions-hosted parties: Fall Out Boy is headlining the Green Tie Gala. The Titanium Celebration is now earlier and in the marketplace, packing in all the networking while freeing up the evening for unsponsored events and dinners. Dress code tends to range from the business casual to business chic (there is the occasional green suit for the gala…costumes optional).

…and moving on to more pressing matters: RSVPs for outside, not-Sirius-sponsored parties hosted by a range of vendors. I’ll just cut to the chase:

 Date  Time  Event Name  Location  Registration URL
 May 7  5:30 PM  ABMargs  Border Grill  bit.ly/2HqBbvW
 May 9  7:00 PM  ABM Royale  Skyfall Lounge  bit.ly/2uOsJk1
 May 9  7:00 PM  Marketing Mingle  Foundation Room  ora.cl/T5FX0

 

Want to hang with Bound?

Bags packed? Request a meeting or visit us at booth 412 (memorized it yet?). Need a ticket? Register with code SPONBOUND for $400 off. Can’t make it? Bummer. You can follow along on Twitter using @bound_360, @Stephanie_Bound, and #SDSummit. When the FOMO resides, go ahead and request a personalization strategy consultation.

Final Notes

Download the event app. Wear comfortable shoes. Bring a jacket (conference centers are cold). See you in Las Vegas!

The post SiriusDecisions Summit 2018: Bound Event Guide appeared first on Bound.

New date! Customer data strategies & identity resolution webinar

When it comes to customer data, fundamentals matter. If you don’t know who your customers are, you can’t create personalized brand experiences that increase revenue and lifetime value. Before you jump on the latest big digital marketing bandwagon, ask yourself these questions: How complete is our customer data? How much of our customer data sits […]

The post New date! Customer data strategies & identity resolution webinar appeared first on Marketing Land.

When it comes to customer data, fundamentals matter. If you don’t know who your customers are, you can’t create personalized brand experiences that increase revenue and lifetime value.

Before you jump on the latest big digital marketing bandwagon, ask yourself these questions: How complete is our customer data? How much of our customer data sits in silos? Can we scale what we know about our customers?

Join our experts as we discuss data best practices that will solidify your customer data foundation. We’ll explore how new techniques in identity resolution can connect the data fragments that exist across your organization and fuel more relevant customer relationship marketing strategies.

Register today for “Customer Data Strategies & Identity Resolution: Best Practices,” produced by Digital Marketing Depot and sponsored by FullContact.

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VWO Partners With HubSpot To Create An 8-Week CRO Planner

It’s 2018, and CRO isn’t just a buzzword anymore! Over the past decade, savvy businesses have been growing by not only investing in traffic acquisition strategies, but also ensuring that visitors to their website are converting into customers. At VWO, we understand how daunting and time-consuming CRO can seem, so we joined hands with HubSpot […]

The post VWO Partners With HubSpot To Create An 8-Week CRO Planner appeared first on Blog.

It’s 2018, and CRO isn’t just a buzzword anymore! Over the past decade, savvy businesses have been growing by not only investing in traffic acquisition strategies, but also ensuring that visitors to their website are converting into customers.

At VWO, we understand how daunting and time-consuming CRO can seem, so we joined hands with HubSpot to bring you a DIY guide, which will help you learn and implement process-oriented CRO for your business.

DIY Guide to increase website conversions

In our experience of working with 5,000+ customers across the globe, we’ve seen that the journey from start to first few home runs in optimizing conversions usually takes 8 weeks.

Therefore, we’ve designed this guide to take you on a week-by-week journey on how you can lift your conversion rates in a methodical, sustainable manner. Here’s what the 8-week of conversion optimization journey will cover:

  • Understanding the goals and principles of CRO
  • Conducting a conversion rate audit for your website
  • Identifying areas of improvement in your conversion funnel
  • Conducting qualitative research into your visitor behavior
  • Constructing educated hypotheses and prioritizing these for testing
  • Choosing the right experiment and setting up your testing platform
  • Analyzing and learning from your A/B test results
  • Ensuring continuous growth through CRO

…and more!
Guide from VWO and HubSpot on increasing website conversions

After you’ve followed this guide, you’ll be equipped with the know-hows to increase conversion rates time and again, instead of doing it just once.

What’s more, even if your company is young or on a shoestring budget, you would be able to effectively practice conversion optimization in-house, all by yourself.

Grab your copy of The Complete DIY Guide To Improving Conversions in 60 Days here.

The post VWO Partners With HubSpot To Create An 8-Week CRO Planner appeared first on Blog.

7 ways protections for online content are being eroded

Recent changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act raise questions about how safe from liability publishers will continue to be for user-generated or third-party content. Contributor Wesley Young discusses threats on the horizon to those protections.

The post 7 ways protections for online content are being eroded appeared first on Marketing Land.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) is critical to the foundation of online commerce as it’s exercised today. That’s why the recent debate about tweaking it to tackle online sex trafficking pitted some of the biggest online players against the interests of some of the most vulnerable victims in our society.

In the end, the law in question (the Fighting Online Sex Trafficking Act, or FOSTA) was defined narrowly enough to fix the targeted problem, created by Backpage.com, and the large publishers backed off.

But many are still concerned about the impact the change will have on the internet. Additionally, more direct threats have been ongoing for some time, mostly on the state and local level, which have the potential to significantly disrupt all kinds of online content including local advertising. Then there was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress, during which he seemed to acknowledge that the social network can and should take responsibility for the content published on it by others.

Below I take a look at the concerns surrounding publisher immunity and how they can affect the local search industry and more.

The issue

One fundamental principle that has shaped how the marketing industry has evolved, including local search content and advertising, is the protection for publishers against liability for third-party content.

“Publishers” is a broad term in this context that includes everyone who controls, hosts, operates or manages online content that includes the ability to moderate user-generated content.

It’s a critical protection since so much content is created by third parties but hosted by publishers, including social networks, search engines, review sites and more. Search results serve up third-party website content; reviews capture user-generated recommendations and critiques; and both print and digital media display advertisements created, and sometimes even served, by third parties.

Even operators of personal websites or owners of social media pages that exercise control over content might be considered publishers when they host ads or solicit engagement with their content. Thus, “publishers” is a broad term in this context that includes everyone who controls, hosts, operates or manages online content that includes the ability to moderate user-generated content.

Without immunity for third-party content, a publisher might be held liable for misleading advertising, false reviews or slanderous comments. For example, if I clicked on a sponsored post that guaranteed a “double your money in one week investment opportunity,” I might sue the website owner when I lose all my money for “promoting” the scam. Publisher immunity laws mean the originator of the content is responsible for its own speech and publishers don’t have to screen every user-generated statement for veracity.

The protections for online publishers come from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 which states: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

Many states have their own protections for publishers via exemptions from consumer protection laws for advertisements that violate those laws as long as the publisher didn’t know the ad was deceptive. For example, California provides this exemption for publishers in its prohibitions of false advertising:

This article does not apply to any visual or sound radio broadcasting station, to any internet service provider or commercial online service, or to any publisher of a newspaper, magazine, or other publication, who broadcasts or publishes, including over the Internet, an advertisement in good faith, without knowledge of its false, deceptive, or misleading character.

These protections have been used for a lot of good, but unfortunately, some bad, too, as detailed by the decade-long battle courts have had with Backpage.com, a classified ads site whose adult section was used widely by perpetrators of online sex trafficking. (That section was shut down in 2017, and the site was seized by The US Department of Justice earlier this month.)

This shutdown of the website, along with Congress’s amendment to Section 230, has brought the debate about eroding publisher protections to the forefront.

FOSTA

FOSTA (The Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) was signed into law by the President last week. (SESTA was the Senate version before some changes were adopted into FOSTA.) It amends some criminal laws targeting those who commit trafficking crimes.

With regard to the Section 230 protections for publishers, FOSTA creates a narrow exception to the immunity granted. Publishers are not protected if their site is managed or operated “with the intent to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person . . . .” Thus, the exception only affects those who operate with criminal intent, a standard that shouldn’t cause much concern in the internet industry.

A change in FOSTA to US Code Section 1591 also adds language specifying it is a crime to facilitate sex trafficking when you know the victim is forced into it or that he or she is a minor. While a “knowing” standard is also a high standard, there is enough uncertainty to cause online personal classifieds sites, many of which are well-known for illegal postings, to shut those forums down.

Much of the media coverage on FOSTA criticizes it for weakening publisher immunity. But even to the extent these changes weaken publisher immunity, the changes were necessary to address severe and heartbreaking crimes against child victims.

Between 2010 and 2015, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security found an 846 percent increase in reports of suspected child sex trafficking, directly correlated to the increased use of the internet to sell children for sex. Backpage successfully wielded Section 230 for the better part of a decade to avoid prosecution or liability before being shut down just this month. As a result, Congress passed the bill in as close to a unanimous vote as we’ve seen in this contentious political environment.

The bigger threats to publisher immunity

The real concern regarding FOSTA for publishers is the precedent it sets. There have been numerous attempts to make publishers more responsible for content in the past, and the fear is that FOSTA may be used to justify a broader erosion of protections, which would have a much more direct impact on local search and other online businesses.

If publishers are made responsible for third-party content, a variety of online marketing products and services, including local search, will become much more expensive. Uncertainty regarding enforcement, both from regulators and private action, means higher risk for liability. With higher risk come higher prices to cover insurance or pay damages in a civil suit. Or, in the worst-case scenario, publishers will stop hosting third-party content in those areas where there is exposure.

Below are some examples of some bigger threats to publisher immunity, including examples of legislation that has been pushed, and a look at the ways online businesses in general, and local search in particular, will be affected if those proposals or ideas move forward:

1. Public concessions in response to PR crises
There is a growing perception, among lawmakers and others, that publishers ought to have some responsibility for the content on their sites or platforms, contrary to the Section 230 protections. That mindset is being fed by some very public statements by some of the largest publishers in response to PR crises.

It’s understandable and a common PR strategy to apologize and accept responsibility as a way to move the discussion forward from the bad act and on to next positive steps. However, that becomes problematic when the statements are so broad as to nearly invite additional regulation.

The most recent example of this is from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg during testimony at Congressional hearings involving Cambridge Analytica. He made statements that the company is “responsible for the content on its platform” and that Facebook needs to take a “broader view” of its responsibility in the world.

While the hearings were ostensibly primarily about data security and privacy, Zuckerberg’s own words indicate he was not necessarily limiting them to the privacy issue, and lawmakers’ questions covered everything from content censorship to Facebook’s responsibility for illegal pharmaceutical ads. Statements like Zuckerberg’s will likely be cited in arguments for expanding publisher liability.

2. Local businesses are asked to screen ads they host
These questions about ads have also been addressed in a number of state bills that aimed to impose requirements on website operators or administrators to screen ads prior to allowing them to display on their sites.

For example, some call for the websites to identify the products or services being advertised and include mandatory disclosures for certain business categories. Other bills have mandated that website owners check that the advertiser has required permits or licenses before allowing their ad to run. A bill formerly introduced in California contained the following language addressed to the entertainment industry:

The operator of an Internet Web site that posts casting advertisements shall not post the advertisement of a person subject to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) unless the person has provided information to the operator to establish that the person is the recipient of a valid Child Performer Services Permit, including a permit number and a form of identification to verify that the person is the recipient.

Most ads aren’t even placed in a manner that would allow them to be individually reviewed and are instead populated automatically via programmatic advertising (more below). Even if an individual ad was sold, such a manual screening process is not only prohibitively inefficient but burdens small businesses with legal risks of knowledge and compliance outside of their expertise.

For small business owners, requirements like these would make the risk far outweigh the benefit of hosting ads on their sites.

3. Publishers are asked to verify the veracity of directory listings
Similarly, state bills have imposed requirements on traditional local search publishers of search results or directory listings. These bills often involve business categories that have plagued regulators seeking to catch or shut down abusive operators, such as locksmiths and adoption agencies.

Legislative bills have sought to make publishers verify advertisers’ compliance with professional regulations before listings or ads can be displayed. For example, some bills have asked publishers to verify physical addresses or check license numbers against state agency records. Others, like one introduced in Maine, would have made publishers determine compliance with the proposed regulation as a whole, reading:

“Publication prohibited. A person may not publish by means of a public medium an advertisement that violates this section.”

Making publishers ad hoc regulators is not only ineffective, but a responsibility misplaced. It would also place a significant restraint on the development of local search products and services, as publishers would be unwilling to bear legal risk in areas where these laws existed.

4. Programmatic advertising is threatened
Many of the attempts described above arise out of a lack of understanding about the way today’s online system works. We saw clear evidence of that shallow knowledge most recently in Congress’s questioning of Zuckerberg. One questioner asked how Facebook could offer the platform for free. Zuckerberg couldn’t suppress a smile after he answered, “Senator, we run ads.”

Many publisher liability bills are written assuming individual pieces of content, such as ads, cross the publisher’s “desk” on their way to going online. Obviously, programmatic advertising does not work that way. But when laws are passed that are incompatible with an existing platform, that could bring significant components of the system to a screeching halt.

There are also those that understand just enough to be dangerous. Bills have been introduced to regulate the “advertising network” of programmatic advertising, but they include definitions that would rope in ad agencies, software companies and platform developers, as well as publishers and website managers. Disruption to the programmatic ecosystem posed by bills like these has the potential to be costly.

5. Publishers are exposed to low legal standards for enforcement
Perhaps in an attempt to goad publishers into action, many bills that impose publisher liability are drafted with the same penalty on both the advertiser and the publisher for illegal content. Thus, even though the advertiser makes the misleading statement or fails to get licensed, the publisher is held to be just as guilty for allowing the content to be displayed.

This low bar exposes the publisher not just to enforcement by state agencies, but also to private causes of action. For example, a competitor could sue for lost profits because the publisher allowed the unlicensed professional to steal away business.

Publishers are likely to be easier to find and have deeper pockets than the scammer or careless advertiser who placed the ad and would be much easier targets in an enforcement or damages claim.

6. Penalties for violations are unreasonable
If publishers are held to the same liability as advertisers, they would also be subject to the same consumer protection remedies. Consumer protection laws often allow treble damages and attorneys’ fees. Civil fines often have minimum damage limits. But most serious is when violations also include criminal penalties.

The worst example I’ve seen was legislation that imposed strict liability on publishers — that means any violation, regardless of fault or care taken, is subject to penalties. And all violations of this proposed legislation were deemed to be punishable as a felony crime.

7. Large publishers used as the standard for reasonable care
One question that I’ve faced in legislative committee hearings on publisher liability bills is “why can’t they make an algorithm for that?” The perception is that large technology platforms like Google are so highly proficient in programming that they should be able to write code that will implement the legal standards being sought.

First, if software could analyze a factual scenario and exercise legal judgment to determine the appropriate applicability and compliance, then there would be no need for lawyers. Second, legislators often fail to see the forest of other businesses behind the huge Google and Facebook trees. Yet legislation being debated always affects a much broader set of publishers.

As discussed above, “publishers” frequently references a broad group including local business websites, media and news sites, online directories, search engines, map platforms, blogs, retail websites, e-commerce sites, apps, video sites and social media pages. If large technology companies with huge financial and human resources determine the standard of reasonable care that all of those publishers must adhere to, that will place undue expectations on smaller publishers.

Closing thoughts

The amendments to Section 230 of the CDA won’t affect the vast majority of us and are important in the fight to protect the most vulnerable victims of our society. Yet the threat to protections for online advertising and content is real — it’s coming from the strong undercurrent and changing perception regarding the responsibility we have in hosting user-generated or third-party content.

All of the above examples of bill language were dropped or amended before being enacted. But they are indicative of what could be if we’re not careful. We take these protections for granted, but it’s important to be aware of the potential impact laws like these might have on our ability to do business and speak up in support of the protections that keep our online presence open and free.

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Walmart is the Latest Retailer to Offer a Personalized Online Shopping Experience

Big news for Walmart – and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with yodeling. Last week, the retail giant announced a major redesign of their website. The new Walmart.com, which is slated to roll out in early May, will feature a cleaner, more modern design, a new color palette, icons, fonts and many other […]

The post Walmart is the Latest Retailer to Offer a Personalized Online Shopping Experience appeared first on Brooks Bell.

Big news for Walmart – and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with yodeling.

Last week, the retail giant announced a major redesign of their website. The new Walmart.com, which is slated to roll out in early May, will feature a cleaner, more modern design, a new color palette, icons, fonts and many other visual changes.

However, the most significant change comes from within: Walmart’s new site will offer a more personalized shopping experience for its customers.

Personalization is the practice of optimizing your online experience based on a customer’s individual behaviors, needs, likes and dislikes. It requires applying behavioral psychology, statistical models and machine learning to thousands of data points. Thanks to new personalization technologies like Dynamic Yield and Evergage (among others), more and more enterprise companies are looking to personalization to increase conversions and drive a better brand experience.

For Walmart, the new site will recommend new, best selling or seasonal products based on the categories a customer has been buying or browsing. It’ll use geo-targeting to show items that are trending in a user’s location. Additionally, customers will be able to see what services or special promotions are available in their specific location.

In rolling out this new experience, Walmart joins the ranks of other online retailers using personalization to drive sales—among them Amazon.com, and niche players like Stitch Fix, Wayfair and Best Buy.

But personalization is not just for retail. In fact, for any enterprise company facing plateauing-results despite already optimizing their digital experiences, personalization can offer a means of winning more business by delivering a hyper-targeted customer experience.

At Brooks Bell, we’re helping enterprise-level companies (including Barnes and Noble, Chick-fil-A, Microsoft and more) improve the performance of their website, and deepen their understanding of their customers.

Our Personalization Jumpstart program enables our clients to build and scale their own personalization strategies, using a unique process that can be implemented in its entirety or a la carte. 

5 Steps to a Personalized Web Experience with Brooks Bell

  1. Align: Brooks Bell’s consultants evaluate the objectives of your users in the context of your company’s goals, success metrics, structure and existing technologies. Then, we develop customized growth plan with advice for execution and implementation.
  2. Discover: Our team of analysts reviews your data resources and identifies gaps in how you collect, store, merge and surface information. Then we develop statistical models, either in-house or by utilizing the tools and technologies you already have.
  3. Build: Personalized experiences built from statistical models only work if they target the right type of customer–and avoid the wrong ones. Once we identify your optimal users and their needs, we work to profile their attributes to gain a true understanding of the people behind your data, and build strategies based on those insights.
  4. Validate: At this stage, we bring in our full-service optimization team to ideate, build, launch, analyze your personalization experience. Our company is rooted in experimentation and our ability to validate our work— whether they are experiences, algorithms or a combination of both—is second to none.
  5. Launch: Finally, we work to scale your personalization efforts, measuring the impact of each test to confirm that as an experience changes, so does the desired outcome from that user interaction.  By doing so, we identify the most simplistic and manageable set of experiences that optimize your return on investment.

If you’re interested in learning more about Personalization Jumpstart or any other Brooks Bell service, contact us today.

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Index Bloat: Why Deleting Website Pages Is Great for SEO in 2018

You might have dozens, hundreds, or thousands of low-quality pages on your site — in Google’s eyes — and might not even realize it. We call this index bloat.

Gone are the days when you could easily hack SEO by loading a page with keywords and creating artificial backlinks.

Today, Google is consistently rolling out changes to its algorithms to reward quality.

Unlike the past, if you have low-quality pages on your website, it can negatively impact your overall ranking.

What’s a low-quality page?

It’s one that isn’t used or visited, is full of duplicate content from other pages, has thin content or very low engagement in the eyes of Google.

Here’s the thing:

It’s entirely possible that you have dozens, hundreds, or thousands of low-quality pages on your site — in the eyes of Google — and you might not even realize it.

We call this problem index bloat.

It happens when Google has indexed a lot of URLs for your website that it views as low-quality.

In this article, we’ll show you:

  1. An example of index bloat
  2. Common causes
  3. The exact steps you can take to see if you have a problem

Note: We can help you spot and fix issues on your website that are harming your overall ranking.  Contact us here.

Index Bloat: A Real-life Example

We recently started working with an eCommerce client and discovered something fascinating (and troubling) as we did our standard checks to evaluate their site.

After talking to them, we expected the site to have somewhere around 10,000 pages.

When we looked in Google Webmaster Tools, we saw — to our surprise — that Google had indexed 38,000 pages for the website. Find this chart here: Web Tools > Search Console > Google Index > Index Status.

A real-life example of index bloat.

That was way too high for the size of the site.

We also saw that the number had risen dramatically.

In July of 2017, the site had only 16,000 pages indexed in Google Analytics.

What happened?

How a Hidden Technical Glitch Caused Massive Index Bloat

It took a while to figure out what had gone wrong with our client’s site.

Eventually, we found a problem in their software that was creating thousands of unnecessary product pages.

At a high-level, any time the website sold out of their inventory for a brand (which happened often), the site’s pagination system created hundreds of new pages.

Put another way, the site had a technical glitch that was creating index bloat.

The company had no idea their site had this problem, which is common with a site that has a technical glitch.

For eCommerce sites that automatically generate new pages for products, brands, or categories, things like this can easily happen.

It’s one common cause of index bloat, but not the only one.

Other common causes include:

  1. Pages with too little original content
  2. Old blog posts, news releases, or case studies that get little to no traffic
  3. Search pages that get accidentally indexed by Google

Don’t think you’re safe just because your list of indexed pages looks like this:

Even if the overall number of pages on your site isn’t going up, you might still be carrying unnecessary pages from months or years ago.

Even if the overall number of pages on your site isn’t going up, you might still be carrying unnecessary pages from months or years ago — pages that could be slowly chipping away at your relevancy scores as Google makes changes to its algorithm.

The good news is: it’s relatively easy to identify and remove pages that are causing index bloat on your site.

We also have a free tool you can use that will help.

How to Identify and Remove Poor Performing Pages

Here’s the step-by-step process we use with our clients to identify and remove poor performing pages:

(1) Estimate the number of pages you should have

Estimate to the number of products you carry, the number of categories, blog posts, and support pages, and add them together. Your total indexed pages should be something close to that number.

(2) Use the Cruft Finder Tool to find poor-performing pages

The Cruft Finder tool is a free tool we created to identify poor-performing pages. It’s designed to help eCommerce site managers find and remove pages that are harming your SEO ranking.

The tool sends a Google query about your domain and — using a recipe of site quality parameters — returns page content we suspect might be harming your index ranking.

Mark any page that:

  1. Is identified by the Cruft Finder tool
  2. Gets very little traffic (as seen in Google Analytics)

These are pages you should consider removing from your site.

(3) Decide what to keep and what to remove

For years, you’ve been told that adding fresh content on your site increases traffic and improves SEO. You should be blogging at least once a week, right?

Well, maybe.

If a blog post has been on your website for years, has no backlinks pointing to it, and no one ever visits it, that old content could be hurting your rankings.

Recently, we deleted 90% of one client’s blog posts. Why? Because they weren’t generating backlinks or traffic.

If no one is visiting a URL, and it doesn’t add value to your site, it doesn’t need to be there.

(4) Revise and revamp necessary pages with little traffic

If a URL has valuable content you want people to see — but it’s not getting any traffic — it’s time to restructure.

Could you consolidate pages? Could you promote the content better through internal linking? Could you change your navigation to push traffic to the page?

Also, make sure that all your static pages have robust, unique content. When Google sees thousands of pages on your site with sparse or similar content, it can lower your relevancy score.

(5) Make sure your search results pages aren’t being indexed

Not all pages on your site should be indexed. The main example of this is search results pages.

You almost never want search pages to be indexed because there are better pages to funnel traffic that have better quality content. These are not meant to be entry pages.

This is a common issue.

For example, here’s what we found using the Cruft Finder tool for one major retail site: over 5,000 search pages indexed by Google.

Examples of how the Cruft Finder tool can help you find index bloat.

If you find this issue on your own site, follow Google’s instructions to get rid of search result pages.

The Results and Impact on Traffic and Revenue

What kind of impact can index bloat have on your results?

And what kind of positive effect have we seen after correcting it?

Here’s a graph of indexed pages from a recent client that was letting their search result pages get indexed — the same way we explained above. We helped them implement a technical fix so those pages wouldn’t be indexed anymore.

Index bloat can impact both your traffic and revenue.

In the Google Analytics graph, the the blue dot is where the fix was implemented. The number of indexed pages continued to rise for a bit, then dropped significantly.

Year over year, here’s what happened to the site’s organic traffic and revenue:

3 Months Before the Technical Fix

  • 6% decrease in organic traffic
  • 5% increase in organic revenue

3 Months After the Technical Fix

  • 22% increase in organic traffic
  • 7% increase in organic revenue

Before vs. After

  • 28% total difference in organic traffic
  • 2% total increase in organic revenue

Remember that not all pages on your site should be indexed.

This process takes time.

For this client, it took three full months before the number of indexed pages returned to the mid 13,000s, where it should have been all along.

Note: Interested in a personalized strategy to reduce index bloat and raise your SEO ranking? We can help.  Contact us here.

 

The Best Place for Error Messages on Forms

Where are you placing the error messages on your form? If they’re not placed where users expect to see them, you could jeopardize their capability to complete your form.


Where are you placing the error messages on your form? If they’re not placed where users expect to see them, you could jeopardize their capability to complete your form.

When users make mistakes, they need to understand what those mistakes are so they can correct them and re-submit the form. They want to complete your form, but if doing so takes too much effort they’ll change their minds.

Top of Form Validation Vs. Inline Validation

The two most common placements for error messages are at the top of the form and inline with erroneous fields. Which placement is more intuitive for users?

A research study discovered that displaying all error messages at the top of the form puts a high cognitive load on user memory. This forces users to recall each error message for each erroneous field.

error_message-comparison

The approach that reduced the user’s cognitive load was displaying error messages inline with erroneous fields. Inline validation relies on recognition instead of recall so users can correct their mistakes faster and easier.

Another study found “the distance between the erroneous field and error message influences the efficiency of error correction”. Top of form and bottom of form validation resulted in the longest amount of time to initiate correction, while inline validation resulted in the shortest.

Top of form and bottom of form validation also resulted in the highest error rates, longest completion times, and the least user satisfaction. Bottom of form validation had the lowest error correction success rate compared to top of form and all inline validation locations.

User Preference of Error Message Locations

The study proved placing error messages inline with the erroneous fields lead to the best performance. It also showed which location next to the field was the most intuitive.

error_message-preference

Users rated which error message location they found most satisfying. There was a strong user preference and expectation for right of the field placement.

Error messages placed to the left of the field were rated the worst. Error messages placed above the field caused the highest cognitive load followed by error messages below the field.

Why Right of the Field Is Best

It’s important to understand why placing error messages to the right of field is preferred and expected. This way designers can better educate others about how users behave when making design decisions.

error_message-right

The western reading system goes from left to right. When users move their eyes from the input to the error message, it feels like a natural progression that requires little mental and visual effort. Moving their eyes from the error message back to input for correction also follows the natural flow for rereading text.

Why Left of the Field Is Worst

Placing error messages to the left of the field goes against the western reading system. Users move their eyes in the opposite direction of their natural reading flow when the error message appears. Instead of a natural progression, it feels unnatural and is suboptimal when users want to complete the form.

error_message-left

It also feels counter-intuitive because users expect higher priority elements to be on the left side. Placing the error message on the left makes it more important than the field. But the field is more important because users need to focus on it to correct their input.

Why Above the Field Increases Cognitive Load

Users experience a higher cognitive load with error messages above the field (i.e. forms with top aligned labels). This is caused by a combination of the error message and field label text that confuses users.

error_message-above

The close proximity of the two texts creates visual noise that distracts users when they’re trying to read the error message or the label. Seeing both texts in their field of vision makes it difficult to concentrate on just one of them and can confuse them.

Best Error Message Location for Mobile Forms

Mobile screens lack the horizontal space to display an error message and field side by side. This means error messages to the right of the field is not the best location on mobile forms.

error_message-below

Instead, place your error messages below the field. This was users second most preferred location in the study. Although it doesn’t correspond with the user’s natural left to right reading flow, it does correspond with their natural top to bottom reading flow.

When users read text, they move their eyes left to right going down a page. Error messages below the field feel less awkward than above the field because it follows their vertical reading progression.

Placing the error message too close to the field label below it can increase cognitive load when users read the text. You can prevent this by separating them with enough spacing.

Right of Field Vs. Below Field: Which Is Best?

Both to the right of the field and below the field are optimal locations for error messages. But which placement should you use? This depends on how much work you’re able to do.

If you want the placement that takes less time to implement for desktop and mobile devices, opt for error messages below the field. Implementing them for desktops will make them usable for mobile devices as well.

If you have time to implement error messages for both devices, opt for placing them to the right of the field on desktop and below the field for mobile devices. Not only will error messages to the right aid user scanning better, but it also results in a shorter form length.

Intuitive Error Message Placement

Follow these practices and place your error messages where users expect to see them. Error messages should correspond with user reading flow, so errors take less cognitive effort to correct.

When users work and think less, they’re able to complete your form faster. No one enjoys filling out forms. The faster you help users get through it, the sooner they can move on to what they really want to do.


How to Prepare for a Business Failure

Each business has its own level of difficulty. Do you know what to do when things are no longer working? How can you prepare yourself when the time comes to close up shop? Be ready for your next business idea.

The post How to Prepare for a Business Failure appeared first on CXL.

Each business has its own level of difficulty. Do you know what to do when things are no longer working? How can you prepare yourself when the time comes to close up shop? Be ready for your next business idea.

The post How to Prepare for a Business Failure appeared first on CXL.

Here’s What to Expect at the 2018 MarTech West Conference

Are you attending the MarTech West Conference, which starts today and runs from April 23-25, 2018 in San Jose, CA? This is Merkle’s first time participating as we’ve had many clients give the event enthusiastic reviews. This is an excellent chance to g…

Are you attending the MarTech West Conference, which starts today and runs from April 23-25, 2018 in San Jose, CA? This is Merkle’s first time participating as we’ve had many clients give the event enthusiastic reviews. This is an excellent chance to get an objective view of the state of marketing technologies, network with other brands to see how others are managing their technology, and meet some of the new players on the martech scene. Personally, I am particularly interested in talking with some of the CDP providers and seeing the evolution of their solutions.

How to Master Amazon Logistics (All Questions Answered)

The Amazon Logistics infrastructure can either help or hurt third-party sellers, drastically improving their ability to serve customers and deliver goods or significantly… > Read More
The post How to Master Amazon Logistics (All Questions Answered) a…

The Amazon Logistics infrastructure can either help or hurt third-party sellers, drastically improving their ability to serve customers and deliver goods or significantly... > Read More

The post How to Master Amazon Logistics (All Questions Answered) appeared first on Retail Performance Marketing Blog - CPC Strategy.