Tag Archives: analytics


Biometrics and neuroscience: The future of digital analytics?

Advertising has always been about emotions. Emotions lead to actions and, as such, influencing emotions is the most effective route to influencing actions.

Actions, in turn, become habits, and these habits are the driving force that creates global brands. Marketers have never hesitated to exploit this relationship – in fact you could even argue that it’s the job of a marketer to do so.

But we aren’t capable of influencing everything that drives human behavior. In his classic 1895 work on human psychology, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, Gustave Le Bon wrote:

“The greater part of our daily actions are the result of hidden motives which escape our observation.”

This holds true today, and it unsettles us as digital marketers. The utopian message that underpins our industry is that everything is measurable, with Google AdWords the gold standard bearer in this regard.

Le Bon’s statement is a truism that haunts Facebook, which offers a new form of engagement between consumers and brands, but has been plagued by measurement scandals of late.

Google’s great success has always been in that accurate measurement of actions, and the easily calculable positive ROI that CMOs crave.

Facebook brings that paradox inherent in the quotes from Le Bon and Bernays back to the fore in our industry, as it simply isn’t sufficient to measure actions alone on Facebook.

Google is not immune to these criticisms, either. We have seen this in quite sensationalist terms recently, with Google’s YouTube and Display Network coming under fire for a lack of control on their placements.

This is all the more shocking because we feel let down when the realization hits home that, within current technological restraints, perfect targeting and measurement aren’t quite within our grasp.

Why have we strayed from campaigns designed to shape emotion?

In digital marketing – particularly in search – the truth is that we have never really aimed to shape emotions in our audiences. We understand that emotion is an important driver, but it lends itself more readily to what some dismiss as ‘fluffy metrics’. Therefore, this lies outside the realm of the cold, hard numbers that we take to represent the ineluctable truth of campaign success or failure.

This makes sense, placed in context. As a direct response mechanism, search comes into play once the work to shape emotions has already been done. To be successful, we need to make optimal use of those efforts (TV campaigns, for example), or make up for branding shortfalls, to maximize sales.

Biometrics and neuroscience: The future of digital analytics?

That role is slowly changing, and in fact it must do so, if the same companies who managed Google PPC campaigns are now planning to engage in Facebook, Pinterest or Snapchat advertising.

Although all are driven by the auction-based bidding systems that PPC specialists have come to master, the core aspect that will determine the fate of each campaign is an element we have focused on much less in the past: creative assets.

To date, we have come to understand what behavior is, but we still don’t understand why consumers take the actions that they do.

The challenge of measuring emotion online

Leaving aside the ongoing battle between Facebook and Google over data ownership, notably the difficulties in sharing data across their reporting platforms, the fact of the matter is that we will never be comparing apples to apples when we assess these two rivals.

Put simply, the most successful Facebook campaigns manage to shape emotions through great creative, and drive actions through intelligent targeting.

Biometrics and neuroscience: The future of digital analytics?

However, even with that in mind, until it cracks measurement Facebook will not be able to overtake Google as the digital advertiser’s go-to platform. Reliable tracking and measurement are non-negotiable aspects of a digital campaign, no matter how great the possibilities may be for using more aspirational creative messaging.

Applying a rational framework to an irrational interaction will inevitably and invariably come up short, but it’s the best we have. Measuring the subconscious is an undeniably complex task, but it is of pressing significance as brand spend slowly permeates its way into digital channels.

Just 5% of content attracts 90% of total digital engagement, so clearly we’re getting this wrong so far. In fact, 95% of all content out there is getting single-digit views.

That level of inefficiency is unsustainable, so we simply need to get better at understanding our audience.

Whoever manages to resolve this paradox could gain access to significant branding budgets, so it should be no surprise that the usual suspects are investing heavily in this area.

How are the tech giants approaching this?

The approaches taken by Google, Apple and Facebook fall broadly into two camps: biometrics and neuroscience.

Progress has been swifter in the former camp, but we should not surmise from these advancements that biometrics alone will provide the answers we seek.

Biometrics techniques measure physical characteristics (pupil dilation and facial expressions, for example), while neuroscience is the study of brain functions and patterns of brain activity. Both tasks are Herculean, but the big tech companies are more likely to make notable gains with biometrics in the short-term.

Google and ‘Satisfaction Value’

Google is planning to incorporate biometrics techniques into its search algorithms, which will also be driven by reinforcement learning.

SEO by the Sea reported on a very interesting patent last year, which contains this image:

Biometrics and neuroscience: The future of digital analytics?

This is a crudely-drawn example, and perhaps reflects how far Google still have to go in this field, but it is a mixture of exciting and disconcerting. Google has termed this metric ‘satisfaction value’, and the measurement of facial expressions will no doubt be viewed in some quarters as overly intrusive.

Google’s Jeff Dean made the following comments to Fortune magazine, which shed some further light on what is going on here:

“It is like in a board game where you can react to how your opponent plays. Eventually after a whole sequence of these actions you get some sort of reward signal.

An example of a messier reinforcement learning problem is perhaps trying to use it in what search results should I show.

There’s a much broader set of search results I can show in response to different queries, and the reward signal is a little noisy.

Like if a user looks at a search result and likes it or doesn’t like it, that’s not that obvious.”

It’s not that obvious, but it could be discernible if Google had access to more data and more sophisticated technology in this field.

The patent also reveals that Google aims to make use of other biometric parameters, including eye twitching, facial flushing, heart rate, body temperature, and blink rate.

As with all such moves, we can expect this to happen incrementally, to the extent that consumers may not even notice these features slowly make their way into their daily lives.

Biometric measurement is just phase one, of course. Facial expressions are limited and open to interpretation, so Google and its rivals will be looking for a further level of confirmation before using this as conclusive evidence.

Biometrics and neuroscience: The future of digital analytics?

Neuroscience may ultimately provide the answers to the eternal questions of what really drives people to take actions, but this field understandably will take longer to arrive at those conclusions.

Google is certainly not alone in investing heavily in this area. Just last year, Apple acquired Emotient, a tech company that uses artificial intelligence to infer emotions from facial expressions.

The stage has been set and, given Apple and Google’s respective shares of the smartphone market, once the technology has been mastered, its mainstream adoption will occur quickly – maybe even surreptitiously.

From emotion to action, from action to habit

It is worth considering the vast array of data sources already at our disposal, along with the hardware and software that seek to unite this into one unified view. The average consumer is in possession of products built by exactly the same companies that seek to harness their personal information for commercial gain.

Biometrics and neuroscience: The future of digital analytics?

If tracking and measurement catch up with these developments, there may come a time in the not-too-distant future when reporting dashboards and planning documents pay heed to metrics that go far beyond estimated CTR and CPM, to assess the anticipated emotional reaction their creative assets will attract.

Biometrics and neuroscience: The future of digital analytics?

That is an alluring prospect and is one that allow our industry to develop significantly, with the possibilities for click fraud reduced and the rewards for useful content increased.

For now, it would be fair to surmise that digital marketers do not refuse to acknowledge the role of emotion in driving actions; it is rather the case that we have made a rod for our own back by insisting on the measurability of everything we do. Until emotion becomes measurable as a contributor towards improved performance, this area may remain an untapped source of creative inspiration.

However, with the collective might of Google, Facebook and Apple, fed by the hastening effect fierce competition has on progress, we may soon enter a fascinating and illuminating era for digital marketing.

The culmination of this process could ultimately see us deliver on the goal of measuring the motives which have, thus far, escaped our observation.

Google to fix missing data from Search Console analytics report soon

No need to panic over the Google Search Analytics report's confirmed bug. You did not lose a whole day of rankings or traffic. The post Google to fix missing data from Search Console analytics report soon appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

What Google Analytics Can’t Tell You… by @IAmAaronAgius

Google Analytics is the unchallenged champion of the online data game, but it can’t do everything. To get the full picture, you have to combine it with other tools and services. Here’s where to look to bridge the gap between Google Can and Google Can’t.

The post What Google Analytics Can’t Tell You… by @IAmAaronAgius appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Google AMP Likely Will Inflate Your Traffic Metrics, Google Is Working On Fix

Christian Oliveira has documented an issue with using Google AMP and how it will likely inflate your Google Analytics and other analytics metrics. In fact, it can report four-times more traffic than is real...

SearchCap: Google code syntax search, AdWords second line and AMP analytics bug

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. The post SearchCap: Google code syntax search, AdWords second line and AMP analytics bug appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

How do the recent updates to Google Data Studio benefit marketers?

In a slew of recent posts on their Analytics blog, Google has announced the removal of the 5 report limit in Data Studio in the US, integration with Search Console, and most recently, enhanced support for AdWords MCC accounts.

So what is Data Studio, why has Google focused so much attention on improving it, and what benefits does it provide for marketers?

Data Studio: A brief recap

Data Studio was launched in beta as part of Google’s Analytics 360 suite in May 2016. The aim of the platform was (and remains) clear: to provide Analytics users with an intuitive, shareable dashboard solution that allows them to make sense of their data.

Its functionality reflects this purpose. Users can drag and drop a range of graphs and charts onto a blank canvas, then populate them using the dimensions, metrics and goals from their GA account. As such, anyone familiar with Google Analytics should be able to create polished, professional dashboards to help inform their business decisions.

Data Studio delivers on that promise, but the restrictive 5 dashboard limit and a lack of platform integrations curbed its widespread uptake last year beyond the expensive 360 Suite.

However, these recent announcements go some way to creating a solution with universal appeal.

Data Studio integrations

Following the announcement of Search Console integration and enhanced MCC support, the list of connectors (connections to a specific type or source of data) now looks as follows:

How do the recent updates to Google Data Studio benefit marketers?

Marketers who have adopted the full suite of Google products will find a wide variety of new opportunities for data analysis and reporting here. The addition of Search Console support brings SEO into the fold too, adding the capability to show keyword-level performance through impression, clicks and CTR data.

Furthermore, the MCC updates provide two new benefits:

  • Users can now select up to 75 sub-accounts to include within their dashboard, rather than having to connect the whole account
  • Currency fields are removed if they differ across sub-accounts, removing some of the difficulties seen when Google aggregates multiple currencies into one report.

How do the recent updates to Google Data Studio benefit marketers?

The addition of Search Console support to Google Data Studio adds the capability to show keyword-level performance through impression, clicks and CTR data

But what about non-Google products? Do they integrate with Data Studio?

Yes, albeit in a slightly roundabout fashion.

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed Google Sheets among the list of available connectors. So if data from Facebook, for example, is scheduled to export automatically to Sheets, this information will then be included within your Data Studio dashboard quite seamlessly.

How do the recent updates to Google Data Studio benefit marketers?

Although not as direct an integration as other enterprise-level reporting suites can provide, this is still a hugely beneficial capability. Moreover, the customizable, intuitive nature of Data Studio should make up for this inefficiency among a large user base.

Does this mean the democratization of data analysis?

At a basic level, it might do – and this is a platform designed to engage novices, after all.  But if the improvements keep coming at the recent pace, we could be looking at a very powerful contender for more advanced data analysts too.

These highly customizable reports also allow users to circumvent many of the inefficiencies that arise from searching in GA to collect data, synthesize it and then produce compelling visualizations.

This is clearly good news for marketers and business owners alike, removing some of the barriers to entry for useful, everyday data analysis.


Seven tools to help you run multichannel digital marketing campaigns

With exponential changes in the marketing landscape over the last decade, Marshall McLuhan’s proclamation “The medium is the message” has gained new meaning.

Faced with a constant deluge of information and brand messaging, it has become a necessity for companies to be in front of customers’ eyes more than ever before, thanks to perpetual connectivity.

A strong multichannel marketing campaign uses a combination of direct and indirect means of communication to reach a broad target audience. In turn, customers are encouraged to take action through the channel of their choice. At the end of the day, multichannel marketing is all about options.

There’s no denying that customers these days have a lot of control over the buying process and consumption of information. They determine both the “how” and the “when” of the cycle leading to a conversion.

Today, there are a myriad of ways to reach consumers. As the number of applicable platforms rises, multichannel digital marketing will be more than just advantageous – it will be vital to a brand’s success.

Here are seven tools to consider when putting your strategy together.

1. ClearVoice for content marketing

Content marketing is an entity that needs to be on every brand’s radar. It is arguably THE MOST crucial element to any digital marketing campaign. According to a Curata report, 75% of marketers are still increasing their investment in content. Producing high-value material addressing issues or concerns within the industry is perhaps the best way to engage and grow a target audience.

A strong reliable content strategy needs an efficient way to facilitate and streamline discovery, development, and distribution. Enter ClearVoice. This multi-faceted tool gives the user all necessary functionality to manage content through the entire marketing process from A to Z.

This interface allows you to create content on your own or outsource to freelancers if needed. It is also linked to WordPress as well as a number of other content management systems to ensure that publication and distribution are integrated and simple to execute. Some key features include:

  • Audience targeting
  • Content categorization
  • Publication scheduling
  • Collaboration with content creators
  • Subscription to publisher/author database
  • Campaign management
  • Progress tracking

Through the content measurement function, you will gain in-depth insights on what or who performs the best, and what can be improved upon in the future.

Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to create a lasting relationship between brands and consumers. If your company is planning to automate your content process from planning to distribution, consider ClearVoice as a customizable resource to build a powerful strategy.

2. Mention for social media

The best social media campaigns do not start with postings right off the bat. They start with critical observation. They key to establishing a strong social media presence is putting yourself in the shoes of the ideal customer. Although a post may seem valuable in your eyes, the masses have a completely different perspective of your industry and what excites you might be totally irrelevant to them.

Mention is a user-friendly tool that monitors all the major social media channels on the web to keep you up-to-date and informed every time someone mentions you, you brand, competitors, or targeted keywords.

Seven tools to help you run multichannel digital marketing campaigns

Some of the premier features enable you to:

  • Track mentions across an array of online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.
  • Create alerts to notify you of any mentions of your business name, competitors, or other keywords
  • Filter and prioritize alerts
  • Assign tasks across a team
  • Track and analyze data to determine the top sources of mentions

Mention is also available on mobile so you can keep up on activity while you’re on the go and act quickly when needed.

Seven tools to help you run multichannel digital marketing campaigns

Monitoring your brand/industry is a must. An essential part of creating a social media campaign is learning what your audience wants to hear and when they want to hear it. Without these crucial insights, your messages can easily fall victim to getting lost in the never-ending stream of updates and new content. Mention is a very affordable path to get the inside scoop on your audience’s voice.

3. MailChimp for email marketing

Email will always be one of the most important tools in the realm of digital marketing. In fact, 89% of marketers swear by email’s effectiveness as the primary channel for lead generation. This is one of the best forms of direct marketing as it seamlessly bypasses all the hustle and bustle of the internet while guiding viewers down the sales funnel.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of email marketing is that the people you are contacting have already shown interest in your brand. They have signed up to receive messages from you and are ready to hear more. Emailing each of your potential customers one-by-one is virtually impossible. One of the most popular tools companies are using to make the process more efficient is MailChimp.

Seven tools to help you run multichannel digital marketing campaigns

The simply-designed dashboard gives you everything you need to:

  • Set up campaigns
  • Create segmented lists
  • Build forms to increase engagement
  • Invite colleagues to work on campaigns

What I absolutely love about MailChimp is how it makes it dead simple to track the success rates of each email blast:

Seven tools to help you run multichannel digital marketing campaigns

This platform is great for businesses of all sizes, especially if you are just starting out. A few of the additional benefits of the service are:

  • FREE for up to 2000 subscribers and 12,000 monthly emails
  • Works great with WordPress
  • User-friendly HTML template creation (no coding experience needed)

Regardless of what stage your business is in, MailChimp offers an affordable solution to keep in touch with your leads and previous customers. Optimizing your mass emailing system is a great way to ensure nothing slips through the cracks when reaching out to customers.

4. Marketo for marketing automation

Marketing automation is what even enterprise businesses dreamt of only a few decades ago. It is utopian technology that enables brands to streamline marketing tasks and workflows in a manner that boosts efficiency (and revenue) across the board.

One of the biggest advantages of marketing automation is that it levels the playing field for the smaller companies, enabling them to take on entrenched behemoths by optimizing elements like:

  • Lead nurturing
  • Audience segmentation
  • Customer lifecycle marketing
  • Cross-selling
  • Upselling
  • Tracking tangible and intangible metrics

With automated marketing, you can engineer your website and customer interaction points to provide a more personal, customized user experience. It enables you to answer two crucial questions:

  • What can I do to give my buyers more of what they want?
  • What can I do to help improve my customer’s buying experience?

Marketo is a versatile tool that provides companies of all sizes with the necessary resources and information to navigate the waters of automated marketing and do all of the above.

Seven tools to help you run multichannel digital marketing campaigns

Integrated with SaaS providers via its Launchpoint ecosystem, this platform gives marketers in practically every industry the upper hand over their competitors. Some of the primary features this tool encompasses are:

  • Robust mobile tools
  • Email A/B testing
  • Micro targeting
  • Smart lists
  • Engagement programs

From optimizing your staff’s time to pinpointing the most promising leads for your sales team, automated marketing with Marketo can be a game-changer in boosting your revenue and growing your brand. Check out their pricing options to find what would best suit your business.

5. WordStream for search advertising

PPC with search and social media marketing is a quick route to take when you’re looking to generate traffic to your website or capitalize on a trending event or occasion. However, if you decide to include PPC into your multichannel digital marketing strategy, you will need a firm understanding of the workings of digital ad platforms, networks, exchanges, SaaS products and services, as well as publishers.

WordStream is a top-notch tool that will not only set you up and provide proper data on your Google AdWords and social media PPC campaigns, but also will alert you with insights on how to adjust your approach to save money and see better results.

Seven tools to help you run multichannel digital marketing campaigns

Additionally, the WordStream Advisor includes a number of useful features such as:

  • Identification of KPIs
  • Landing page optimization
  • Call tracking
  • Grading of existing campaigns
  • Account management services
  • Cross platform integration
  • Facebook advertising

Research indicates that search ads are clicked on more often than any other form of digital marketing. PPC is a non-disruptive advertising option that can do wonders to drive traffic to your website. Perhaps the most unique element of PPC is that Google doesn’t just reward the brands with the deepest pockets, they reward quality (referring to user preference).

Basically, the more popular and relevant your ads are, the higher rankings you will receive, driving traffic to your website at a lower cost. WordStream has generous pricing options so you can determine if guided PPC is working for your business.

6. Yotpo for online reviews

There are all kinds of business benefits to online customer reviews. For starters, 90% of buying decisions are influenced by them (as BrightLocal found). There’s no denying that today’s consumers are growing increasingly immune to and skeptical of brand messaging and sales tactics. Online reviews provide third-party validation and social proof that play a significant role in boosting conversion rates.

Online reviews and testimonials are all over the internet. You will find them on:

  • Regional business directories
  • Niche listing sites
  • Product review sites
  • Social media
  • Blog posts
  • Company websites

Going out of your way to gather online reviews needs to be a priority, especially from a local SEO perspective. You are losing out on a lot of potential business otherwise. Perhaps the biggest benefit is in the form of trust that reviews build between brands and consumers.

If you are just starting out and your product isn’t exactly selling like hot cakes yet, turning to Yotpo is a great way to consistently generate authentic content from your customers and boost exposure.

Through its automated system, Yotpo uses functions such as Mail After Purchase to send review requests to customers at the most opportune time following a purchase. After a review is created, you will be able to keep the conversation going by thanking them, offering suggestions, or resolving any grievances. Additionally, each Yotpo email is designed to upsell your products with an algorithm that wisely chooses products based on the customer’s previous activity. You can go a step further and also use Yotpo Ads to by turning your reviews into promoted stories on Facebook. That way, you can let your customers do the talking for you.

Seven tools to help you run multichannel digital marketing campaigns

Yotpo’s review system can lead to a positive ripple effect for your online presence by improving:

  • Web traffic
  • Search engine rankings
  • Customer engagement
  • Brand trust
  • Depth and breadth of content

Online reviews serve as great indicators as to how your business is fairing in the public eye. The challenge is getting happy customers, brand loyalists and advocates, and industry influencers to do them. Based on your needs, take a step back and examine which plan would work best to help generate the most valuable feedback for your business.

7. WorkZone for campaign management

Putting a multichannel digital marketing strategy in motion is one thing, managing every aspect of integrated campaigns is a whole different ballgame. Without the proper resources and organization to execute your strategies, it is inevitable that some parts will fall through the cracks and results won’t match up to expectations.

Understanding the ins and outs of effective communication, collaboration, and task scheduling is essential in carrying out tasks for businesses of all sizes. It is a concept that seems relatively simple until you get into the finer details.

Luckily, there are a number of helpful tools to make program management simple. WorkZone is an easy-to-grasp platform that will make sure you have all your bases covered – it beautifully toes the line between simplistic, drag-and-drop tools and complex, multi-user software.

Seven tools to help you run multichannel digital marketing campaigns

Through its simplified dashboard, you will be able to:

  • Efficiently assign and implement all tasks
  • Manage risk factors
  • Oversee quality
  • Identify issues and roadblocks
  • Set individual calendars

WorkZone lets you use group calendars to schedule team tasks, workload reports to see who has bandwidth for the next project, threaded timelines to identify dependencies, and develop campaign assets real-time document sharing, image markup, file versioning and approval workflows.

With 15 years of real world brand usage, WorkZone has task execution down to a science. If used properly, this tool will be your strongest ally in making sure each facet of your multichannel marketing campaign is carried out efficiently. Look into their demos to find which plan suits your needs.

Seven tools to help you run multichannel digital marketing campaigns

Parting thoughts

Customer experience is one of the most prominent competitive differentiators among brands. With more touchpoints of communication coming up as shopping behavior evolves, creating a strong multichannel digital marketing campaign is the best way to get your message out there in the hope of attracting eyes and ears. This means catering to the masses and their preference of media consumption. While each channel is unique in its own way, the most important thing you can do is remain consistent with your approach across your entire campaign.

Hopefully these tools will put you on the right track to succeed and grow your business!


Does dwell time really matter for SEO?

What’s the real impact of machine learning on SEO? This has been one of the biggest debates within SEO over the last year.

Please note, this article was originally published on the Wordstream blog; it is reprinted with permission.

I won’t lie: I’ve become a bit obsessed with machine learning. My theory is that RankBrain and/or other machine learning elements within Google’s core algorithm are increasingly rewarding pages with high user engagement.

Basically, Google wants to find unicorns – pages that have extraordinary user engagement metrics like organic search click-through rate (CTR), dwell time, bounce rate, and conversion rate – and reward that content with higher organic search rankings.

Happier, more engaged users means better search results, right?

So, essentially, machine learning is Google’s Unicorn Detector.

Machine Learning & Click-Through Rate

Many SEO experts and influencers have said that it’s totally impossible to find any evidence of Google RankBrain in the wild.

That’s ridiculous. You just need to run SEO experiments and be smarter about how you conduct those experiments.

That’s why, in the past, I ran an experiment that looked at CTR over time. I was hoping to find evidence of machine learning.

What I found: results that have higher organic search CTRs are getting pushed higher up the SERPs and getting more clicks:

Click-through rate is just one way to see the impact of machine learning algorithms. Today, let’s look at another important engagement metric: long clicks, or visits that stay on site for a long time after leaving the SERP.

Time on Site Acts as a Proxy for Long Clicks

Are you not convinced that long clicks impact organic search rankings (whether directly or indirectly)? Well, I’ve come up with a super easy way that you can prove to yourself that the long click matters – while also revealing the impact of machine learning algorithms.

In today’s experiment, we’re going to measure time on page. To be clear: time on page isn’t the same as dwell time or a long click (or, how long people stay on your website before they hit the back button to return to the search results from which they found you).

We can’t measure long clicks or dwell time in Google Analytics. Only Google has access to this data.

Time on page really doesn’t matter to us. We’re only looking at time on page because it is very likely proportional to those metrics.

Time on Site & Organic Traffic (Before RankBrain)

To get started, go into your analytics account. Pick a time frame before the new algorithms were in play (i.e., 2015).

Segment your content report to view only your organic traffic, and then sort by pageviews. Then you want to run a Comparison Analysis that compares your pageviews to average time on page.

You’ll see something like this:

Does dwell time really matter for SEO?

These 32 pages drove our most organic traffic in 2015. Time on site is above average for about two-thirds of these pages, but it’s below average for the remaining third.

See all those red arrows? Those are donkeys – pages that were ranking well in organic search, but in all honestly probably had no business ranking well, at least for the search queries that were driving the most traffic. They were out of their league. Time on page was half or a third of the site average.

Time on Site & Organic Traffic (After RankBrain)

Now let’s do the same analysis. But we’re going to use a more recent time period when we know Google’s machine learning algorithms were in use (e.g., the last three or four months).

Do the same comparison analysis. You’ll see something like this:

Does dwell time really matter for SEO?

Look at what happens now when we analyze the organic traffic. All but two of our top pages have above average time on page.

This is kind of amazing to see. So what’s happening?

Does Longer Dwell Time = Higher Search Rankings?

It seems that Google’s machine learning algorithms have seen through all those pages that used to rank well in 2015, but really didn’t deserve to be ranking well. And, to me, it certainly looks like Google is rewarding higher dwell time with more prominent search positions.

Google detected most of the donkeys (about 80 percent of them!) and now nearly all the pages with the most organic traffic are time-on-site unicorns.

I won’t tell you which pages on the WordStream site those donkeys are, but I will tell you that some of those pages were created simply to bring in traffic (mission: successful), and the alignment with search intent wasn’t great. Probably someone created a page that matched the intent better.

In fact, here’s one example: Our AdWords Grader used to rank on page 1 for the query “google adwords” (which has huge search volume – over 300,000 searches a month!). The intent match there is low – most people who search for that phrase are just using it as a navigational keyword, to get to the AdWords site.

A small percentage of those searchers might just want to know more about Google AdWords and what it is, kind of using Google as a way to find a Wikipedia page. There’s no indication from the query that they might be looking for a tool to help them diagnose AdWords problems. And guess what? In 2015, the Grader page was one of those top 30 pages, but it had below average time on site.

So at some point, Google tested a different result in place of the Grader – our infographic about how Google AdWords works. It’s still ranking on page 1 for that search query, and it matches the informational intent of the keyword much better.

Does dwell time really matter for SEO?

A Few Caveats on the Data

To be clear, I know these analytics reports don’t directly show a loss in rankings. There are other potential explanations for the differences in the reports – maybe we created lots of new, super-awesome content that’s ranking for higher-volume keywords and they simply displaced the time-on-site “donkeys” from 2015. Further, there are certain types of pages that might have low time on site for a perfectly acceptable reason (for example, they might provide the info the user wants very quickly).

But internally, we know for sure that a few of our pages that had below average time on site have fallen in the rankings (again, at least for certain keywords) in the past couple of years.

And regardless, it’s very compelling to see that the pages that are driving the most organic traffic overall (the WordStream site has thousands of pages) have way above average time on site. It strongly suggests that pages with excellent, unicorn-level engagement metrics are going to be the most valuable to your business overall.

Does dwell time really matter for SEO?

This report also revealed something ridiculously important for us: the pages with below average time on site are our most vulnerable pages in terms of SEO. In other words, those two remaining pages in the second chart above that still have below average time on site are the ones that are most likely to lose organic rankings and traffic in the new machine learning world.

What’s so great about this report is you don’t have to do a lot of research or hire an SEO to do an extensive audit. Just open up your analytics and look at the data yourself. You should be able to compare changes from a long time ago to recent history (the last three or four months).

What Does It All Mean?

This report is basically your donkey detector. It will show you the content that could be most vulnerable for future incremental traffic and search rankings losses from Google.

That’s how machine learning works. Machine learning doesn’t eliminate all your traffic overnight (like a Panda or Penguin). It’s gradual.

What should you do if you have a lot of donkey content?

Prioritize the pages that are most at risk – those that are below average or near average. If there’s not a really good reason for those pages to have below average time on site, put these at top of your list for rewriting or fixing up so they align better with user intent.

Now go look at your own data and see if you agree that time-on-site plays a role in your organic search rankings.

Don’t just take my word for it. Go look: run your own reports and let me know what you find.

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The social media marketing checklist your business needs in 2017

As social media marketing becomes more challenging and time-consuming, it’s time to get more organised when managing your brand’s social presence.

It’s not easy handling a brand’s social presence, but its successful management can lead to great results. Social networks keep growing and are heading into a more mature phase, which means that the challenges grow for every brand that tries to stay current.

There are many reasons for a brand to invest in social media marketing, and the results depend on the goals set:

  • Increase awareness
  • Reach a new audience
  • Boost engagement
  • Increase traffic to the site
  • Explore new business opportunities
  • Gain new leads
  • Work with new clients

No matter what goals you set for the new year, you still need to stay on top of your brand’s social media marketing and the right checklist may help you with all the tasks you need to do at the beginning of the year.


This is the initial stage, in which you’ll think of all the new ways you can boost your social media marketing.

  • Explore the latest trends and see if any of them fit in your own strategy
  • Learn more about new platforms, or examine whether the old ones are still suitable for your audience
  • Be creative and think outside the box
  • Come up with new content ideas and experiment with them on each platform
  • Ask for help from other team members to broaden your perspective


Right after your brainstorming session, it’s time to evaluate your planning to see whether it’s effective enough to help your social media marketing.

  • Go back to your content calendar and see whether it was effective enough to use it frequently
  • What needs to be improved to the existing content calendar?
  • Decide on the channels you’re using. Should you add new ones?
  • Examine whether the frequency of the content has been effective up to now
  • Organise your goals and your KPIs
  • Do you know how to justify your social marketing efforts?


Now you’re ready to check the practical aspect of your social media marketing. Evaluating the implementation phase helps you understand whether your plan has been successful.

  • Are you happy with the way the posts are published?
  • Is the content calendar followed?
  • Is the level of engagement what you expected?
  • Are you replying to users’ comments?
  • Are you monitoring your brand’s social accounts?
  • Do you use all your social accounts consistently?
  • How is the collaboration between the team?
  • Is there a plan to deal with urgent situations?
  • When was the last time you dealt with a crisis, and how can you avoid another one?
  • Do you need to use social media for customer service?


The last – but still important – stage in the evaluation of a social media marketing plan is to examine whether the measurement is effective.

  • Start by going back to your initial goals. Are these met? Are they realistic?
  • Keep your social reports up-to-date and prepare them for the year ahead
  • Check each platform’s native analytics to stay updated on their insights
  • Use your own analytics platform to have an overview of your social media marketing performance
  • Find the best performing platforms and raise the expectations in the new year
  • Find the platforms you need to focus on and come up with new content ideas to improve their performance
  • Plan the year ahead with new KPIs
  • Consult with the team on the best ways to track the KPIs
  • Align social media marketing KPIs with your wider marketing strategy

Although the checklist and the questions you need to answer might seem time-consuming, the actual process is faster than you think. This can even be an annual task, helping you create a successful social media marketing strategy, with a clear plan, goal and measurement. There’s still time to add it to your new year’s resolutions.