All posts by Christopher Ratcliff

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Five common mistakes small businesses make with their online presence

Please note, this is content written in association with Single Platform.

All small businesses need to know how to create a consistent online presence. 54% of small businesses currently have a website, but this isn’t nearly enough if you want to create an effective web presence in order to approach potential customers.

Often small business owners can feel overwhelmed when trying to explore the most suitable online opportunities. So to help out, here are some of the most common mistakes they can avoid in 2017.

1) Ignoring local SEO

97% of Internet users search for local businesses online, which means that a business cannot afford to ignore local SEO and its potential benefits.

Local SEO helps you attract customers who perform searches for a particular location, such as “sushi in NYC”. By optimising your site for local queries, you are helping customers discover your business and your services. Therefore reaching a new audience that’s interested in the most appropriate search results for the particular area.

The best ways to boost your local SEO are:

  • Verify your Google My Business listing: Google My Business connects your business with customers. Once you verify your page you can update your NAP (name, address, phone), add the right categories for your business and a relevant description. This helps customers find more information about your business, increasing the chances of attracting more visits.
  • Embed a Google Map in your website: A Google Map that links to the Google Plus local listing allows your business to offer all the required information to its customers.
  • Optimize meta tags and page content for local keywords: It can be beneficial for a business to add the city and the state in the title tag and the meta description to increase the clicks derived from local search results.
  • Use consistent contact information across your online profiles: It is important for every business to maintain a consistency on its contact information on every online source, from its site, to its social networks, or Google My Business and Yelp.

2) Not having an accessible site for the modern connected user

As modern connected users become more demanding, businesses should ensure that they pay special attention to mobile optimisation, site speed, and overall usability.

According to a survey from Google, 72% of mobile users consider it important for a website to be mobile-friendly. In fact, a mobile-friendly website increases the chances of conversion and similar results occur when focusing on optimal site speed.

Even a 1 second delay in a website’s loading time can lead to a lost conversion of 7%, while 40% of users will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. This makes it imperative for a business to measure the performance of its website to examine the best ways to reduce its loading time.

Google has also recently introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in an attempt to increase the number of fast mobile web pages and help users enjoy their mobile experience without the frustration of slow loading pages.

Wired saw a 25% increase in click through rates from search results after implementing AMP, while Gizmodo noticed that 80% of its traffic from AMP pages was new.

As modern users become impatient in a fast-paced world, an accessible website should be a priority for a small business, improving the customer experience and beating the competition on important issues that are frequently ignored, although they still affect conversion.

3) Not taking advantage of customer reviews

Online reviews have become an important part of consumers’ purchasing decisions, with 88% of them trusting reviews as much as personal recommendations. The more reviews a business has, the higher the chances of earning trust among new customers.

Small businesses should encourage reviews as they serve as the best social proof when they are highlighted in a website. It’s important to find the best time to ask for them, while it may also be useful to incentivise consumers for each review with the right rewards.

Five common mistakes small businesses make with their online presence

Even the negative reviews can be helpful and every business should embrace them, building a trusting relationship with the prospective customers, while working towards improving its performance.

As online reviews still count as fresh content for a website, they can also contribute to an improved SEO, with review signals accounting for 9.8% of the total ranking factors that define a page’s position on search results.

4) Not joining up their data between online, offline and mobile

There is a growing challenge for small businesses expanding their online presence to come up with the best way to measure the effectiveness of their efforts.

It’s not just about examining the ROI for online marketing, now it’s more important to explore the best method to combine the data between online, offline and mobile marketing. This allows businesses to get a better understanding of how they should allocate their budget, finding what works and what can be improved.

The inability to combine these data sets leads to incomplete conclusions, which may turn into missed opportunities for increasing sales.

5) Not communicating with their customers

It’s vitally important for a business to understand its audience, as this will guide it towards future commercial goals.

A business with a good online presence pays attention to its customers and listens to their needs to become genuinely helpful. There’s more chance of increasing sales when businesses seek authentic relationships with existing and prospect clients.

Five common mistakes small businesses make with their online presence

The goal of building an online presence is to get closer to where the customers are and build meaningful, tangible engagement. Two-way communication between the business and the customer, all the way from initial user experience to any method of contact, should be measured and analyzed to prove the value and effectiveness of all touchpoints.

This will help businesses optimize every key point of engagement, helping to improve and iterate, to get maximum value from each.

These mistakes may be common, but they can all be fixed with a series of small steps in the right direction. And if a small businesses is feeling too daunted by these steps, there are companies devoted in helping them strengthen their SEO, such as Single Platform, a leading specialist in making it easy for local businesses to stand out online.

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What is an exact match domain (EMD) and how can you safely use one?

In which we describe what an exact match domain (EMD) looks like, how they can manipulate search rankings and why it might be best to avoid them.

What is an exact match domain (EMD)?

An EMD is a domain name that precisely matches a search query that will likely drive traffic to your website. For instance, if you call your website BuyCheapJeansOnline.com.

The search query ‘buy cheap jeans’ is a lucrative search term, and if you call your website this then you might assume this is a short cut to the top of a search engine results page (SERP).

But as you’ll learn, even if this works in the short term, you may want to avoid doing it.

What’s the problem with EMDs?

First of all, it could be considered a sign of a spammy website if its URL exactly matches a search term. Just think of all those ‘watch movies for free’ websites that proliferate SERPs when you search for that phrase.

Even if you remove the word ‘free’ and search for ‘watch movies online’, the SERP is a wild west town full of unsavoury characters.

What is an exact match domain (EMD) and how can you safely use one?

You have to scroll halfway down the page before you get to legitimate streaming companies like Crackle or Hulu. And Netflix barely makes a dent.

Most domains from legitimate companies will take its name from the brand name itself, with perhaps a single keyword they may hope to rank for. As long as its in the brand name. To use Graham Charlton’s example: glassesdirect.com.

EMDs have been long thought of as having an unfair advantage.

As opposed to websites that rise to the top of Google through quality content, solid architecture, trusted backlinks and assorted other white hat best practices, Exact Match Domains can just rise to the top by shoe-horning in a few tasty keywords.

Bill Slawski wrote in 2011:

“A company may attempt to “trick” the search engine into listing the company’s website more highly. For example, if the search engine gives greater weight in ranking results to words used in the domain name associated with websites, a company may attempt to trick the search engine into ranking the company’s listing more highly by including desirable search terms in the domain name associated with the company’s listing.”

It’s basically unfair to the legitimate companies, and risky for the user.

A paid-for film streaming service offering the best possible user experience and security is surely preferable to one that will download malware to your hard-drive and take you through all sorts of unsavoury black hat practices.

But as you can see from the examples above, Google hasn’t quite got it right just yet.

What is Google doing about EMDs?

In 2012, Google’s then Head of Webspam Matt Cutts announced an algorithm change meant to reduce the amount of low quality exact match domains in search results.

What is an exact match domain (EMD) and how can you safely use one?

Cutts also tweeted, “New exact-match domain (EMD) algo affects 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree. Unrelated to Panda/Penguin.”

However things went a bit quiet on the EMD front post 2012, until this past weekend when Search Engine Roundtable reported a few interesting tweets sent Google’s Gary Illyes on Friday.

It seems Illyes is on the hunt for spammy EMDs once again…

And is asking for assistance too…

How do I stay on the right side of Google?

There are plenty of examples of EMDs that manage to stay high on the SERPs without fear of penalty – cheapflights.com being one of the more high profile examples.

It does this by being a legitimate non-spammy operation.

And that’s really all you need to worry about. As Illyes also stated on Friday…

If you’re a low quality site, with an EMD and you’re engaging in spammy tactics – then you should definitely worry.

If you’re a solid, genuine business that just happens to have a brand name that also looks like an exact match domain, but is otherwise a bastion of trustworthy internet practices – then you should be fine.

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Happy Thanksgiving from the Search Engine Watch & ClickZ team

To all of our readers and anyone else who has swung by accidentally thinking that this is an actual search engine (you’ll be surprised at how often this happens; you won’t be surprised at their most popular search terms), a very happy thanksgiving from us all!

We’ll publish a couple more things for Europe tomorrow morning if you do happen to swing by the site. We apologise in advance for the pyjamas and meat-sweats. In the meantime, have a safe and peaceful Thanksgiving.

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Google adds real-time data to its Popular Times tool in Search and Maps

You can now check whether a shop, bar or restaurant is busy right at this very moment with Google’s new real-time view.

There are few other tweaks and improvements to aid the search experience too, as outlined below. Most of them designed to keep you out of the cold and away from Black Friday frenzy for as long as possible.

Crowd control

Popular Times has been a feature in Google Search and Maps since last year. It’s a way of seeing what time and day during the week a business is typically busy.

But now, Google is adding real-time data to this functionality so you can see whether it’s worth leaving the house or not right now.

Perfect timing for this coming Black Friday.

Here’s a sneak preview of how it will look…

Time management

Google has also added a feature where you can check to see how long people typically stay at any given location. This is particularly useful to those of you who wish to keep their fun on a strict itinerary.

Department and service hours

And finally, Google has improved its ‘operating hours’ features for businesses, service providers and restaurants, within larger premises.

More often than not, businesses have multiple opening hours for different departments and services. Google will now tell you what time is best to visit the pharmacy, when takeout begins at a local restaurant or when a particular concession stand opens and closes.

Google adds real-time data to its Popular Times tool in Search and Maps

Now that the Penguin algorithm has been updated with real-time fixes for penalties and RankBrain is processing 450m brand new and unique search terms every day, Google Search is inching ever closer to providing a fully real-time experience across every tool and function.

To the user this means unprecedented access to up-to-the-minute information. To the marketer, this means they have to work even harder to nail local search.

The roll-out of these features has already begun. Have a peaceful Black Friday.

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Google releases new AdWords improvements and stats ahead of Black Friday

Google is adding more store visits data to AdWords distance reporting, available when measuring geographic performance of your ads.

At the moment you’re able to view your ads’ performance based on different locations, revealing the places your customers are located and the locations they’re most interested in visiting.

But now if you use the location extension you can see a distance report that will show store visits based on how far away people are from your store when they search.

To use an example from Google, if your store visit rate is highest within one mile of a store, you could apply targeting around that specific radius.

Store visits distance reporting is available for Search campaigns right now and will roll out to Shopping campaigns soon.

Google also stated that store visits performance is also coming soon to geographic and user locations reports too. This will show you which geographic areas are driving the most ad clicks resulting in a store visit.

Google data on Black Friday Shoppers

Ahead of Black Friday madness, Google has also released a bumper crop of data revealing shopping searches and store-foot-traffic trends for 2016.

Let’s take a quick look at the stats:

  • 76% of people search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day.
  • Foot traffic is heaviest in the afternoon, but mobile shopping is all day long.
  • During Thanksgiving people don’t wait till 6pm for stores to open, 59% of mobile shopping searches happen earlier and long after doors close, peaking at 8pm.

Google releases new AdWords improvements and stats ahead of Black Friday

  • On Black Friday, store foot traffic peaks in the afternoon between 12pm – 4pm. Mobile shopping searches on the other hand remain steady all day and peak in the evening.

Google releases new AdWords improvements and stats ahead of Black Friday

Google releases new AdWords improvements and stats ahead of Black Friday

  • By 10am on Black Friday, more than 1/4 of New England shoppers have stepped inside a store, the rest of the country lags behind by an hour. The same is true on mobile.

Google releases new AdWords improvements and stats ahead of Black Friday

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Guide to 301 redirects and canonical tags

When you need to redirect a website or individual webpage to a different location, there are a number of different tactics you can employ.

Each comes with their benefits and their problems, but if implemented correctly with best practice in mind, you shouldn’t need to worry too much.

In this guide we’ll be focusing on 301 redirects, 302 redirects and canonical tag options, discussing what each one does, how you can overcome duplicate content issues and how to implement each without affecting your existing search visibility.

Some of the advice has been sourced from an earlier article published on SEW written by Brad Miller, with updated guidance from Moz, Google and our own contributors.

What is a redirect?

A redirect will simply send a user from the URL they originally requested to a different webpage. This works for both visitors and search engines.

Why would you use a redirect?

According to Hubspot, there are three main reasons why you would use a redirect.

1) To associate common web conventions with one URL to maximize domain authority

So if there are multiple versions of your domain name (for instance http://www.example.com and plain old example.com) there’s a chance you’ll encounter duplicate content issues. By setting up a permanent redirect (a 301 redirect) from one version of your site to your preferred version, search engines will know the correct domain to index.

2) To rebrand or rename a website with a different URL

You’ll want to set up a permanent redirect if your website name changes.

3) To direct traffic to a website from other URLs owned by the same organization

Occasionally brands may purchase website URLs that are variations on their existing brands in order to secure them. These URLs can be redirected to the proper brand domain.

There are countless other reasons why you’d set up a redirect, and it can just be for an individual webpage rather than a whole domain.

What is a 301 redirect?

As mentioned earlier, a 301 redirect is a permanent redirect. It basically tells users and search engines, “That information now resides somewhere else.”

Benefits of 301 redirect

According to our own guide to response codes written by Aimee Jarboe…

A 301 response is ideal for correcting visitors who come to the wrong version of your domain, like non-www redirecting to www. This code should also be used when you update and move content within your site.

In terms of SEO, a link from a 301 redirected page shouldn’t lose any ranking power compared to a link from a non-301 redirected page.

There was a previously held assumption that there would be a loss of PageRank (around 15%) but this is no longer the case. As reported by Moz in August 2016:

  • In February, Google’s John Mueller announced that no PageRank is lost for 301 or 302 redirects from HTTP to HTTPS.
  • Google’s Gary Illyes stated that Google doesn’t care which redirection method you use, be it 301, 302, or 307. Google will figure it out and they all pass PageRank.
  • Gary Illyes also announced on that any 300 redirects no longer lose PageRank at all.

Problems with 301 redirect

Redirects can cause problems when the new location isn’t relevant to the old location This can be seen as a misuse of the function and is therefore a common spam indicator, and may result in a manual penalty.

Especially if you buy multiple irrelevant websites and point them all at your site.

Moz also states the following to keep in mind:

  • PageRank only forms a small part of the ranking factors used by Google
  • Try and keep every element on the page the same, except of course for the URL
  • Migrating a site to HTTPS is less likely to lose PageRank then before, but there are many others issues that can affect crawling and indexing, so do be careful.

What is a 302 redirect?

Also taken from Aimee Jarboe’s guide to response codes, this is a temporary redirect that acknowledge the user’s request and says, “I found the information you want, but it’s somewhere different at the moment.”

Google’s John Mueller has stated that Google does not penalize for 302 redirects, and the index will eventually treat a 302 as a 301 if it remains long enough.

However do be wary (as with any method of redirection) when implementing 302. Moz has stated that although it has seen 302s eventually pass PageRank, this only happens after considerable time has passed. “In contrast to 301s that pass link signals fairly quickly, we don’t yet know how 302s are handled in this manner.”

What is a canonical tag?

The rel=”canonical” tag can be added to the HTML of any webpage. It basically tells search engines that, when there are multiple versions of the same webpage content, to only index a specific version.

When would I use a canonical tag?

For content syndication, which is the tactical republishing of an article on another third-party website. This particularly useful if you’re a smaller publisher or an up-and-coming writer who wants a larger audience.

The canonical tag on the republished article should link back to the original article and tell search engines to only index that version.

Guide to 301 redirects and canonical tags

You should also use a canonical tag if you have duplicate content on your site. To use an example from Brad Miller…

If you have two (or more) pages both listing the same series of products. One lists them alphabetically and the other by price. They contain the same content, but have different URLs.

If you were to leave both pages alone, Google would index both, but pick which one it believes is the most relevant and could filter the page you actually want to be appearing in search results pages.

By placing rel=”canonical” on the alphabetical page telling the search engines that the price page is your preferred choice, you avoid all these issues.

What’s the difference between a 301 redirect and a canonical tag?

With a canonical tag, all versions of a piece of content are available for anyone to see, but they aren’t indexed. Nor do canonical tags pass any ranking boost to the original article.

With a 301 redirect, the original page will no longer exist (in a manner of speaking) and any link authority will be passed on.

The rel=”canonical” attribute is often incorrectly used as a 301 substitute. Rather than physically sending users to a more recent or relevant page, rel=”canonical” is a signal that’s purely for the benefit of the search engines.

Problems with canonical tags

As Brad Miller states…

Though most search engines state that they pay close attention to rel=”canonical”, they aren’t obliged to follow them. This means that you may still see your duplicate pages occasionally being shown ahead of your preferred page in some SERPs.

The canonical tag is also commonly misused. Unless a page contains a considerable chunk of duplicate content, the rel=”canonical” tag probably shouldn’t be used.

Another misuse occurs with multiple, related pages. If you’ve written a long blog post but decided to break it up into five pages, you may be tempted to include a rel=”canonical” tag pointing back to the first page of the series.

However using rel=”canonical” tells the search engine that the content on each of the pages is almost identical and that you want it to always show the first page in search results. This will effectively stop pages 2-5 from ever being shown, even if they carry a high level of relevance and authority for that specific search.

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This is how Google will present the results of the 2016 US election…

By presenting an animated gif of everybody screaming and crying?

By turning off its search engine (and by extension the entire internet) so everyone can just be with their loved ones and not think about the world post 9th November?

Or by just hosting some classic re-runs of The Simpsons (circa 91 – 98) in order to keep everyone’s blood pressure at a healthy, non-panic attack triggering level.

Close…

Google will in fact be presenting the results of the US election in a real-time count built right into the first search results page.

You’ll also be able to see detailed updates and results of the Presidential, Senatorial, Congressional, Gubernatorial races as well as state-level referenda and ballot propositions.

And these results will be available in 30 languages around the world.

Google even made this fancy Gif in order to show you how the results will look in real-time.

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Also note Google’s ‘very careful’ bi-partisan results in the above Gif. Which is false of course – deep down we all know Google would vote for Kodos.

Google has been providing searchers with more in-dpeth information on voter registration, the voting process, how to vote, who’s on the ballot and how to find local polling place over the past few months.

Since the introduction of these tools, there’s been a 233% increase in traffic for “how to vote” compared with 2012. In addition to “how to vote,” Americans are also actively searching for “where to vote” particularly in battleground states such as Ohio and Florida.

Google also revealed that over the past few weeks viewers spent over 20 million hours watching presidential debate live streams on YouTube and that tonight from 7pm ET YouTube will be live streaming election results coverage from more news organizations than ever before, including NBC, PBS, MTV, Bloomberg, Telemundo and The Young Turks.

Now get out there and do your democratic duty. And then at least you’ll have the right to complain tomorrow.

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Guide to Google ranking factors – Part 10: backlinks

Last week we published the ninth instalment of our complete guide to Google ranking factors.

It concentrated on outbound links and how and why these affect your site’s ranking.

This week, we tackle backlinks.

What is a backlink?

A backlink is link from a third party website, back to your own.

These can also be called ‘inbound’ or ‘incoming’ links.

Why are backlinks important?

As revealed by Andrey Lipattsev, the Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google Ireland, earlier this year, links pointing to your website are one of the top three Google ranking factors.

Backlinks are a vote of confidence that someone outside of your own web property trusts your content and believes it has value. Google weighs up each of these links and assigns the linked-to webpage its own value.

What does Google look for when it comes to backlinks?

1) The number of referring individual domains linking to your website or webpage is a very important factor in Google’s algorithm.

2) The authority of the website or webpage linking to your site is also key. A few high authority links are far more valuable then many from low quality sites.

This from our own guide to authority websites:

An authority website is a site that is trusted. It’s trusted by its users, trusted by industry experts, trusted by other websites and trusted by search engines.

The more good quality links you have the better.

3) An authority website doesn’t necessarily have to be one of the usual big publishers. If you’re a niche website or blog with high quality, relevant content, you can be as highly regarded as any other source.

4) Backlinks from older websites may be worth more than links from newer sites.

5) Backlinks from relevant sites in your niche will be worth significantly more than ones from irrelevant sites or webpages. Some people believe that links from competitors for the same search position as you are worth more than others too.

6) Links from low-quality sites will do very little for your visibility. If the site practices Black Hat SEO (link-schemes, spamming, doorway pages) then can potentially harm your ranking.

7) Links found within the main body text of a webpage is more valuable than links found in separate plugins or widgets found elsewhere on the page.

8) If a site links to you using the ’nofollow’ meta tag then their website’s authority won’t be passed to you. Some publishers automatically nofollow all external links, which is bad practice. Nofollow links should be reserved for sponsored or paid for links and content you don’t necessarily trust but still want to use as an example.

9) Links from a diverse range of websites is good, many links from a single domain to your site (especially if it’s one of the very sites linking to you) can be seen as spammy.

10) Despite previous assumptions, a link from a 301 redirected page shouldn’t lose any PageRank compared to a link from a non-301 redirected page.

11) Anchor text can affect how Google weighs up links to your site. If linking to your homepage and referring to your brand, anchor text should just say your website or brand name. Links to your homepage that are more descriptive “leading experts in local SEO” can be seen as manipulative, so you want to avoid this.

12) Anchor text to specific webpages on your site should be descriptive (but concise) as possible in order to benefit from the link.

13) Links at the top of a page carry more weight than those further down.

14) Links from longer form, evergreen content (a 1,000+ word article that’s been popular for a long time) will be higher value than short, news-based posts.

15) Although the top-level domain isn’t necessarily considered a factor, some people believe obtaining a link from .edu or .gov domains can carry more weight than others. This may be because these sorts of websites have high authority anyway.

For more chapters in our Google ranking factors series, check out:

Part 9: outbound links
Part 8: internal links
Part 7: site-level signals
Part 6: trust signals, authority and expertise.
Part 5: duplicate content and syndication.
Part 4: content freshness.
Part 3: quality content.
Part 2: keyword relevancy, frequency and Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI).
Part 1: on-page signals such as title tags, H1 tags and meta descriptions.

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Five most important search marketing news stories of the week

Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from around the world of search marketing and beyond.

This week, mobile internet use takes over desktop across the globe, Instagram introduces yet more shopping options and Bing reveals search habits immediately after a presidential debate.

Worldwide mobile internet use surpasses desktop for the first time ever

As we reported this week, mobile and tablet devices accounted for 51.3% of internet usage worldwide in October compared to 48.7% by desktop.

Although don’t get to excited, as there is a huge difference from country to country, with the US and UK still lagging behind other territories.

In the UK, desktop users account 55.6% of the online population, compared to 44.4% on mobile device. In the US the gap is even more pronounced (58% desktop vs 42% mobile).

Despite desktop still clinging on in western countries, it’s the rest of the world that has seen mobile truly dominate. India for example has over 75% internet usage through its mobile devices. In Japan it’s over 76%, and in China mobile accounts over 54% of internet use.

Publishers are struggling with AMP page monetization

As Al Roberts reported this week, many publishers using AMP are seeing their faster mobile pages generate substantially less revenue than their non-AMP mobile pages. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Multiple publishers said an AMP pageview currently generates around half as much revenue as a pageview on their full mobile websites.”

Five most important search marketing news stories of the week

One of the reasons for the lower revenue is likely that while AMP supports around 75 different ad providers, including many of the largest, there are fewer types of ad units available.

“AMP pages rely heavily on standardized banner ad units, and don’t allow publishers to sell highly-customized ad units, sponsorships or pop-up ads as they might on their own properties.” The Wall Street Journal’s Jack Marshall explained.

Instagram tests new shopping feature

As Tereza Litsa reported in ClickZ this week, Instagram has announced that it’s testing new shopping features with 20 US retail brands, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Kate Spade, JackThreads, and Warby Parker. These brands will have access to:

  • Tap to view: a new detailed view that showcases up to five products with product descriptions, price and all the relevant information for them
  • Shop now: there will be a new link to lead consumers directly to the brand’s website, making the shopping experience easier.

The additions will initially be available to a sample group of people with iOS devices in US. However, Instagram is planning to expand its shopping features globally in the near future, turning the platform into a more powerful tool for ecommerce brands.

Forms now supported in AMP

According to a post on the AMP project blog, support for webforms in AMP HTML has been launched.

“With the “amp-form” extension, the <form> element and its related elements like <input type=”text” /> can be used to build forms within AMP documents. This enables building experiences ranging from a product color picker on an ecommerce detail page to an email field to capture newsletter signups to an interactive poll to engage readers within an article.”

Bing reveals top search enquiries after each presidential debate

Bing has revealed the top queries made on its search engine during the moments and days after each US presidential debate.

The results are illuminating:

The First Presidential Debate: “What is the second continental congress?” Searchers were interested in brushing up on their American history as the 2016 elections began.

The Vice-Presidential Debate: “Who won the Vice Presidential debate in 2012?” Tim Kaine vs. Mike Pence VP triggered memories of Joe Biden facing off against Paul Ryan.

The Second Presidential Debate: “Why is election day always on a Tuesday?” Good question… it’s something to do with a longstanding tradition of farming and religion.

The Final Presidential Debate: “What is the Electoral College?” Voters wanted to learn more about the electoral body.

Rather than say, “Oh god when will this madness finally end?”

10 most shared Christmas ads of all time, shockingly not *too* dominated by John Lewis

Look, it’s November. There’s no getting around the fact that for the next 52 days you’re going to be pounded with Christmas stuff. This is your life now. But you’re marketers, YOU CHOSE THIS.

It’s an established fact that Christmas no longer begins when supermarkets start stocking up on Quality Street, it begins when John Lewis releases its Christmas advert. And here’s something that may send a shiver down your cynical spine – it’s happening next week.

Can you bare the anticipation?

There are so many questions to be answered… Which heartstring will John Lewis cruelly manipulate?

Last year it was older people, the year before that, bears. This year I predict some kind of sentient tea towel. Full disclosure: I hear John Lewis accidentally bulk ordered a ton of tea towels and they need to get rid of them.

Also, which terrible 90s Britpop song will be given a bloodless, pallid cover by an unknown Scandinavian artist? This year I predict something by Shed Seven.

Or maybe John Lewis won’t bother this year and merely show a creaking conveyor belt featuring some out of date chocolates from last Christmas – because THAT’S all we should expect from 2016.

Either way next week will be full of tears. So in anticipation of this, may I present the 10 most shared Christmas ads of all time, according to video ad tech company Unruly.

And as I said in the headline, you may be surprised at the results…

1) Edeka: “#Heimkommen” (2015) – 3,984,010 views

Yes, a German advert in which a grandfather fakes his own death to trick his family into visiting him is the most shared Christmas ad of all time. Take that Monty the Penguin!

2) Universal: Minions movie 2014 – Minions Go Caroling – 3,849,214 shares

More than 3.8 million people found this entertaining enough to share. I’ll let you digest that for a minute or two.

3) WestJet: Real-time Giving 2013 – 2,221,976 shares

Santa Clause uses his special Christmas powers* to delight** airline passengers before they board their flights.

*a network of ‘elves’ rooting through your bins and drawers

**buy the silence of

4) Kmart: Show Your Joe 2013 – 1,857,872 shares

It’s no ‘Ship My Pants’ but so little is these days. Sigh.

5) John Lewis: “Man On The Moon” (2015) – 1,672,666 shares

The first of three John Lewis ads in this list, and also its most recent – last year’s Man on the Moon. I interviewed my mum about this advert last year. She cried.

6) John Lewis: The Bear and the Hare 2013 – 1,226,467 shares

Rabbit selfishly wakes bear up early from its hibernation, upsetting its natural sleep cycle. Bear miraculously doesn’t rip its face off.

7) Sainsbury’s: “Mog’s Christmas Calamity” (2015) – 1,072,251 shares

I hate to ruin your day but Mog the cat is technically an… uh… ex-cat in the children’s picture books. So this advert is non-canonical.

8) John Lewis: Monty the Penguin 2014 – 1,012,605 shares

After two years of writing about this advert, you’d think I’d have run out of jokes by now. And you’re right. So here’s the advert recut to The Babadook trailer.

9) Sainsbury’s: Christmas is for Sharing 2014 – 771,387 shares

2014 saw Sainsbury’s manage to commercialise the horrors of war to sell a limited edition bar of chocolate. Good for them.

10) NBA: Jingle Hoops 2013 – 564,475 shares

“OF COURSE THE CAMERA WAS ON, do you think we’d have spent 25 million dollars on this advert only to NOT TURN THE CAMERA ON LEBRON!!! On a separate note, can we go for a second take? Please?”