ThinkGlobal Retail Conference Recap

ThinkGlobal Retail is the conference for online businesses. With a primary focus on eCommerce, ThinkGlobal brings retail Directors, CEOs, and eCommerce Managers from all over the world to speak and learn about the latest and greatest in online retail. The 2-day agenda was jam-packed with powerful sessions to teach attendees how to improve their online business and connect with their customers.

11947457_10152990957322882_5027879957715182237_nImage Courtesy of Tim Ash

As many can agree, one of the best things about ThinkGlobal is the intimate nature of the conference. Most conferences can home thousands of attendees and hundreds of speakers, causing attendees to run around from session to session and speakers to miss out on opportunities to connect. Luckily for ThinkGlobal attendees, there was a perfect balance between gaining knowledge of new online marketing trends, tips for improving eCommerce, and several opportunities for conversation with industry leaders.

Averaging about 350 attendees, ThinkGlobal offered a welcoming environment where attendees could actually connect with speakers in the hallways and at exciting after-parties. The first day concluded with a networking event at Caesar’s Vista Cocktail Lounge where everyone was able to dress up a little nicer than usual and mingle over a glass of wine and cigar.

11137098_10152990950567882_6267283525798715757_nImage Courtesy of Tim Ash

Aside from opportunities for conversation, here are a few highlights from the ThinkGlobal Retail Conference.

Keynote Sessions Designed to Inspire

Each keynote session was packed full of insightful information and inspiring pick-me-ups for online businesses. Keynotes included James Tobyne of Alibaba.com, Bob Schwartz of Nordstroms.com, Tim Ash of SiteTuners, and Brett Tabke of Pubcon.

Founder of Nordstrom.com, Bob Schwartz reminded the audience of how simple, yet important it is to connect with the people. During his keynote he offered several examples of how building a community of people through products can create a brand on it’s own. He tested this out for himself during a video contest with Magento, an eCommerce software. The contest invited users to shoot a video describing what they loved most about the service. It quickly took off and before they knew it, several customers were submitting homemade videos sharing why they love Magento and in the most creative of ways. This helped build their brand using their own customer testimonials.

11949265_10152990946147882_4930540635119297103_nImage Courtesy of Tim Ash

“We created a movement, we created energy, and we created a company with soul,” Schwartz said referring to the Magento contest. You can achieve this by thinking more about how to engage the people, and less about how to receive the most conversions. Learn how to inspire your audience and customers to Tweet, share on Facebook, or tell a friend about your business and let the brand build itself. Bob shared some of the best ways to get your customer’s hearts beating and business growing is by:

  1. Serving your customer, first and foremost!
  2. Building the brand as a business.
  3. Make the business successful, duh!
  4. And grow.

Other keynotes also shared similar insights about new ways to brand and improve business over time. Brett Tabke, Founder of online marketing conference Pubcon, ended the ThinkGlobal conference Friday afternoon with insights on how to prepare for change in the online world. Emphasizing changes with design, Brett warns everyone to get with it and avoid using 3d buttons and css rollover.

Key Takeaways from ThinkGlobal

“Google Display Network does the design work for you and gives you images within about 20 minutes.” -Jim Banks

“A classic mistake is thinking your US site will work in China. Always redesign for regions.” -Michael Bonfils  

“If you are using Facebook Advertisements, but don’t have a pixel on your site, do it YESTERDAY!” – Darlene Thomas”

“If you are going to cold call on social media, then add value.” – Marty Weintraub

“Don’t just localize your site, localize your strategy. No-one uses email in China.” – Maile Lesica

Like what you saw and want more? Ready to stay connected with the online world of retail? ThinkGlobal has two MeetUp groups in America, one in New York and the other in Los Angeles.

Enterprise SEO – AuthorityLabs HoA Recap, Video, & Podcast

This episode of the #Authority HoA was originally streamed live on August 19th with featured guests Carolyn Shelby, Director of SEO at Tribune Publishing, & Scott Polk,CEO and Founder of Marketing Nomads, and hosted by Melissa Fach, produced by Michelle Stinson Ross, and color commentary from AuthorityLabs CEO, Chase Granberry. Below we a have a quick written recap, the video and a podcast from the hangout.

The Recap

Melissa Fach: What is the biggest hurdle to getting things done in the Enterprise from an in-house perspective vs. consultant? How is that different? What are the pro’s and con’s of those different perspectives?

For Carolyn, the biggest challenge is getting the necessary buy-in from key players. Getting SEO built into an enterprise site requires working with the developers on a level that SMBs don’t require. But getting the buy-in from the people that do the work is a huge hurtle both in-house and as a consultant. Scott agrees that dealing with the departmentalization of enterprise businesses is the biggest challenge. There are internal company politics that go along with getting the necessary resources and budget for an SEO project. There are so many stakeholders involved that the most important skills an SEO has are negotiation and relational skills needed to navigate the politics.

Scott goes on to say that the ideal for dealing with enterprise SEO is a mix of both in-house SEO assets and outside consultants. The consultant is able to help fill in gaps and sometimes be the expert to get projects pushed through with management.

MF: For a company that values and understands the importance of SEO, how is an enterprise SEO team typically structured? Who is responsible for what? How many team members?

Carolyn says that there is no one ideal way to structure an SEO team. Even though size of companies may be comparable, the way they do business varies so widely that team structure must vary just as widely to accommodate need. She says that it comes down to having the people to do all of the work. That may be 2 people, that may be 10 people, that may be 100 people spread across several specializations. The roles that need to be covered include analysts, content writers, technical SEOs, developers, and trainers that can help specialists understand the bigger picture.

Scott has built in-house teams of analysts, content writers, outreach specialists that all tie directly to the SEO efforts. Beyond that, it’s important to identify the champions for your SEO cause in other departments that you have to tap into.

MF: For big sites in big organizations… what are the metrics? What do you need to look at every day to make sure nobody broke anything important SEO wise?

Scott keeps an eye on the search console of Google Webmaster Tools on a daily basis. He also tracks search ranking data over time to spot detrimental fluctuations. Carolyn says that with the ever-changing nature of their content, search rankings aren’t the best metric for them. The most useful thing she can do is track referral traffic. Watching for unusual dips in traffic is the best way to find and quickly isolate problems. For their publishing business, a drop in traffic is usually the first sign that there are technical SEO and coding issues.

MF: What kinds of software do you use to help make your jobs easier / more productive?

Scott’s Top Tools:

  • AuthorityLabs
  • Deep Crawl
  • SEMRush
  • Search Metrics
  • Link Research Tools  

He says he’s a firm believer in automation, but there’s no automated tool that can beat putting hands on certain situations and looking at it for yourself. 

Carolyn’s Tools:

  • Screaming Frog
  • SEMRush
  • BrightEdge

Carolyn and Scott both had a great deal of very technical SEO information to share through the course of viewer questions. Be sure and check out the entire video or listen to the podcast and tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Carolyn Shelby and Scott Polk will both be speaking at Pubcon this fall. They are teaming up with Michael Gray to offer a Pubcon Masters Group SEO Fundamentals Workshop. Carolyn is presenting as part of a panel on SEO and Content Marketing Relationships. Scott will also be on a panel on How to Recover from the Penalty Box.

Video and Podcast

Our Next Hangout, September 2nd, 2 PM EST

Be sure to mark your calendars now and join us for the next #AuthorityHoA to discuss Retargeting for SEO & Social with Sean Dolan and Daniel Morrison.

How to Perform a Basic SEO Website Audit

Auditing a website is something  many businesses just don’t do. Unless they hire a professional web developer, SEO agent, or agency, most business owners don’t have a clue how to perform a proper website audit, let alone an SEO audit. Without auditing a website for SEO, businesses can miss out on several online opportunities, as well as violating Google’s policies, and hurting their chance of ranking against competitors.

Whether you perform a website audit for your own company or are preparing one for a client, ask yourself these questions before you begin:

  • What is the ultimate goal of the website? New clients, sales, awareness, etc.?
  • How would you define a “quality” lead? Where do they usually come from? Where would you like them to come from?
  • How often are you looking at analytics?
  • What terms should you be ranking for?
  • Do you know what competitors rank for and who the competitors are?

The answers to the above will help you clarify some of the most important aspects of the business, as well as how the website should run. Keep this in mind as you analyze how you can better improve the website and audit for SEO.

Keywords & Ranking

A great starting point for SEO audits is with keywords and rankings. Working hand-in-hand, keywords help you rank better while ranking analytics help you find better keywords. Use tools like Authority Labs to dive deep into the backend of a website to discover keyword and ranking opportunities. With Authority Labs you can analyze:

  • ­ Keyword competitor activity
  • ­ New long-­tail keywords
  • ­ Discover SEO rankings
  • ­ Check on local search rankings
  • ­ Create a list of keywords your website is potentially missing out on
home-top-screen

Page by Page Edits

Once you have a better grasp of keyword opportunities and where the website ranks, you can begin to audit each individual page of the website. A slow loading page or one filled with spammy content results in lost visitors and occasional penalties. Having a page that loads instantly, or at least almost instantly, will increase the chances of visitors actually staying on the page, especially if you have great content to match. Optimize each page for the following:

  • Optimize each URL.​ Does each URL contain keywords for SEO or a bunch of unnecessary text? Avoid URLs with irrelevant categories like example.com/12/about and instead create fluid URLs that are easily read and contain keywords: example.com/about. Neil Patel gives a great example of how to optimize URLs.image162
  • Discover what the page speed is. C​heck the page speed for each page using G​oogle’s PageSpeed Insights.​ Google’s insights will not only tell you how fast the page loads, but also provides recommendations on how to improve the page speed.
  • Match keywords with their correct page.​ Without stuffing, carefully add keywords to relevant pages in relevant paragraphs so the content flows naturally. Don’t include keywords about fishing on the rafting page unless it makes sense with the content and surrounding links.
  • Create enjoyable content. Y​ou don’t have to be a professional writer to curate content, but you do have to have a solid understanding of the topic you’re writing about. Each page’s content should be clear, concise, and understandable. The easier a page is to understand the more likely it is to be digested.
  • Update title tags and meta descriptions. The title tag and meta description is your chance to give users a quick intro to what the page is about and why they need to visit. Keep the title under 55 characters and descriptions around 150-­160 characters, both including keywords.Screenshot at Aug 08 15-06-54
  • Format text sections.​ Break up chunky text boxes throughout the page using headlines, bullets, and emphasized font such as bold, italics, links, and underlining. If a page has too much text, even with bullets and headlines, include videos and images to help give users a break in-between reading.
  • Optimize images with descriptions. E​ach image needs to have a relevant description and title. Image descriptions are a great place to include relevant keywords that match what the image is. When choosing images use high resolution images that are compressed. Compressing large file images help increase the website speed.
  • Remove duplicate content.​ The same content should never exist on multiple pages, subdomains or any other domains you own. Each page should have unique, keyword­-rich content.
  • Check for broken links. T​his is especially true if you are moving an old website to a new website. During the domain transfer, double­-check all of your hyperlinks and update them with their new domain and proper URL structure.

Full Website Edits

When performing an SEO website audit, it’s important to not only look at each individual page, but the website as a whole. There are several errors you can come across that affect SEO that aren’t necessary on just one page. Take the time to work with Google Analytics and various other tools to ensure the website is up to SEO standards.

  • Is the website easy to navigate? T​he menu bar needs to showcase a clear pathway of where users are supposed to go and how they can find the information they need. Create a path specific to how your demographic thinks for the greatest chance of success.
  • Link to relevant pages. T​he call­-to­-action button on the homepage needs to link to a page that makes sense, completing the action you are requesting them to take. Don’t insert unrelevant links, especially in places that just don’t make sense. Google can flag you and visitors can leave you for this.
  • Include social media sharing options. B​usinesses thrive on engagement, especially online. Having social media icons and sharing buttons on each page, especially with blog posts, can increase the chance of your website and brand being seen. Take it a step further and have a Twitter and Facebook feed displayed in page rails so users can follow along and see activity from social networks.
  • Count the inbound and outbound links. Check how many inbound links the website is receiving and how many outbound links it has.
  • Create sitemaps, then submit them. ​An HTML or XML sitemap offers an easy to read version of each page for both readers and bots. Once the sitemap is created, register the sitemap in Google Webmaster Tools.
  • Redefine the footer. Remove any unnecessary links and local stuffing inside of the footer. Excessive amounts and inappropriate type of links in the footer is spammy and can be flagged. The footer should only have the website’s main pages, contact information, social buttons, and recent blog posts.Screenshot at Aug 08 15-07-57
  • Setup proper 301 redirects. If moving an old website to a new domain, set up 301 redirects to point to the correct domain and page.
  • Create a mobile­-responsive layout. T​he website’s layout needs to appeal to both desktop and mobile viewers, using mobile­-responsive themes and designs. Always check on multiple mobile devices for proper design functionality before going live.
  • Setup mobile analytics.​ People respond differently on mobile than they do on desktop, hence why it’s important to track analytics for both.
  • Check form and button functionality. Depending upon what kind of programming or coding you’re using for forms, double­-check that you are receiving the form information correctly and the button is properly spaced on mobile and desktop.

Once you’ve completed the above steps and made any necessary changes, request Google to re-crawl the website with it’s updated SEO. Still have questions on how to conduct an SEO audit? Comment with your questions or tips for auditing in the comments below!

Join Us Oct. 7th for Drinks with AuthorityLabs #Pubcon

Breeze Bar AuthorityLabs Get TogetherAuthorityLabs is holding a get together at the Breeze Bar at Treasure Island at 6PM on Wednesday, Oct. 7th.

We invite you to come meet our team, network with others and enjoy some free drinks on us. Yes, we said free drinks!

The Breeze Bar is located close to the registration desk and is hard to miss. It is also a well-loved spot by Pubcon alumni, so we couldn’t think of a better place to hang out with Pubcon attendees.

The U.S. Search Awards starts at 7pm at TI, so if you are attending please stop by and hang out with us for a bit. We really look forward to meeting you and learning more about you.

Team Members That Will Be Attending

If you have any questions please tweet us @AuthorityLabs or reach out to one of our team members. We will have team members at Pubcon everyday, so just look for our logo and come say hello. We look forward to seeing you!

Beyond the Basics of Pinterest Marketing – Interview with Daniel Maloney

While many US businesses continue to focus their social marketing efforts in legacy platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest has very strategically grown from a cool little outlier for reaching women who like to cook, decorate, and craft to a highly valuable marketing tool for all kinds of brands.

We recently had a long conversation around the advances in Pinterest marketing with Daniel Maloney, CEO and co-founder of Tailwind. Daniel is an entrepreneur who loves to leverage technology. His love of start-ups and business development enables him to keep an eye on the bigger picture while developing marketing efforts.

Daniel Maloney, CEO Tailwind

AuthorityLabs: What is the Pinterest Marketing Developer Partners program?

Daniel Maloney: The Marketing Developer Partners (MDP) program helps businesses optimize and scale their Pinterest marketing while maintaining the high quality experience that Pinners have come to expect. Pinterest has hand-selected a small group of trusted partners, such as Tailwind, who are able to access Pinterest’s APIs and data to build value-added apps for marketers.

AL: How do 3rd Party marketing partners, like Tailwind, help brands grow their business?

DM: MDP partners help brands in multiple ways. At Tailwind we focus on a few key elements that lead to better results for marketers:

  1. Provide insights that enable marketers to test and optimize their campaign strategies, ranging from the atomic-level (e.g. content performance) to high-level (e.g. ROI analysis).
  2. Build tools that promote efficient workflow, so marketers can achieve more with less. Tailwind members seem to especially love our Publishing workflow tools that enable pin scheduling and efficient content discovery.
  3. Create innovative capabilities that empower people to do things they otherwise could not do, such as running custom campaigns that can amplify their organic results by activating brand advocates.

AL: How are brands putting the first Pinterest ads to good use?

DM: Promoted Pins are proving quite fruitful for many brands. How each brand uses these ad units varies based on their strategy. For instance, we see many brand marketers such as CPG companies promoting evergreen content where their products are used in context, such as recipes containing a certain candy bar or liqueur. Conversely, we see retail and e-commerce companies more often driving Pinners straight to products. Pairing Tailwind’s Insights and ROI tracking capabilities with Promoted Pins helps promote the products that generate the best downstream return.

AL: How should brands leverage the “Buy It” button on Pinterest?

DM: The Buy It button simply makes product pins more valuable. To me, it’s a no brainer. If you sell products direct to consumers, you should implement the Buy It button as soon as possible. This will enable you to generate more revenue from every pin and repin of your products, without any incremental work on your part. With 80+% of Pinterest’s traffic coming from mobile, this is especially important. Mobile e-commerce conversion rate has been a struggle for most brands; shortening the funnel with Buyable Pins should help drive mobile purchases.

AL: How do brands that don’t have tangible or consumer focused products make good use of the activity on Pinterest?

DM: Contrary to popular belief, most of the brands we see on Pinterest are NOT selling tangible products direct to consumer. If your business does any content marketing (and it should!!), Pinterest can be a powerful part of your digital toolkit. The super power of Pinterest is that Pins are evergreen. Unlike Tweets or Facebook shares, most of the engagement with a Pin happens days or months after it is initially Pinned. Similar to how you build up organic search traffic by publishing more content and earning links back, building up Pins and Repins creates new pathways potential customers can use to find you over time.

AL: Are Pinners more inclined to make purchase decisions than users of other “social” platforms? Why or why not?

DM: Yes, our data shows that Pinners are more inclined to make purchases. Pinterest is an aspirational platform, focused on the future life Pinners want to lead. This naturally lends itself to discovering products and services they will need to achieve their goals, whether it’s the ingredients for a new recipe, where to stay on a dream vacation or a new pair of yoga pants to help achieve your New Year’s resolutions. Unlike other networks where commercial content can feel like an intrusion, Pinterest does not work without commercial content.

AL: How does Pinterest impact mobile visibility of a brand?

DM: Most brands struggle with mobile visibility for two reasons: 1. They don’t know how to acquire it and 2. Once they get it, they don’t know what to do with it. Even today, most mobile websites are terribly designed, leading to lots of wasted traffic. Pinterest is helping solve both of these problems by first activating a very large mobile-dominant user base, and then providing features such as Rich Pins and Buyable Pins that increase the value of mobile engagement, regardless of how good a brand’s mobile site is.

AL: What should brands looking for influencers and brand ambassadors do to reach people on Pinterest?

DM: The simple answer: reach out! And I don’t mean en masse or with form emails, but with authentic 1:1 outreach. I’ve always found that people are very responsive if you treat them like people and not commodities. Take an interest in what they do. Find something authentic to complement them on. Build a connection over time, and figure out how to partner for mutual benefit for later. If you treat influencers and advocates like the brilliant, creative people they are, they will welcome you with open arms in return.

Time for you to weigh in on the debate. How do you feel about the questions we put to Daniel? How are you using Pinterest to reach potential customers,  influencers, and possible brand ambassadors?

How To Use Twitter Cards To Drive Engagement

As of the first quarter of 2015, Twitter averaged 236 million monthly active users. Although there’s debate on which social network is supreme, 236 million active users is a lot of potential leads and customers ready to engage. Competing with 500 million tweets published each day, Twitter Cards is a way for marketers and business owners to stand out, reach those potential customers and increase website engagement using Twitter. But wait, what exactly are Twitter Cards you ask?

Twitter cards are simply an enhanced way to tweet your message. Attach rich photos, videos, and content using Cards to increase engagement and traffic from Twitter to a website. Calls to action, images, and videos are better displayed on Twitter through Twitter Cards. Each Card offers their own attractive features and benefits. With different Card options, Twitter Cards play a huge role in increasing engagement from and on Twitter.

  • Summary Cards
    Like all Twitter Cards, the name of the card type is exactly what the card is. The Summary Card gives Tweeters a summary of the blog post or content you are sharing a link to. Since we’re limited to 140 characters a tweet, the Summary Card is great because it provides an excerpt of content from the link you’re tweeting about. Ultimately, this gives another opportunity to entice someone to click on your link or the “View on Web” button to leave Twitter and go to your website.
    Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 6.39.13 PM
  • Summary Cards with Large Image
    The Summary Cards with a Large Image are the way to go. We all know how powerful visual imagery is, especially with online marketing. These Summary Cards include a large image pulled from the link you tweet and an excerpt from the content. Talk about a double whammy! Not only are you giving readers a gorgeous picture in their feed, but also including even more reason to engage with the paragraph summary underneath.
    Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 6.39.41 PM
  • Photo Cards and Gallery Cards
    Both Photo Cards and Gallery Cards are the same idea as above, but the image is on the top of your tweet for Photo Cards, without an excerpt underneath, and a gallery of multiple images for Gallery Cards. These cards will no longer be available on Twitter as of July 3rd. Since the Summary Cards with Large Image include so much more, Twitter will be switching both the Photo and Gallery Cards to those. No need to worry about fixing all of your old cards, though. Twitter will automatically map your previous cards to the Summary Cards with Large Image starting July.
  • App Card
    Go Apps! App developers love App Cards because of the ability to download the app right from Twitter. Leaving one program to be directed to another, and then to a download page is annoying. The App Cards keep the user experience fluid and highlights cost, rating, detailed descriptions, and icons.Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 6.40.28 PM
  • Player Card
    The Player Card is designed to play video clips and audio streams inside of Twitter. Just press play and your short video will play immediately. Thanks to spammers, and inappropriate behavior, Twitter has a pretty strict guideline of what you can and can’t share using Player Cards, even an approval process. They call it the Twitter Rules of the Road. Follow their guidelines, add the necessary HTML meta tags, await approval, and you’re set to share your new video content.
  • Product Card
    Have a product to promote on Twitter? Of course you do! Product Cards used to be the best way to promote said product, but again, as of July 3 Twitter is making a few adjustments to their Cards. Product Cards will automatically turn into Summary Cards, giving a description of your product and link for more info. I suggest sharing your product images and details on the Summary Card with Large Image, that way we can all get a glance at your product, with a little description, before clicking to your product page link.

How to Setup Twitter Cards

If Twitter is a part of yours or your client’s marketing, Twitter Cards are a must. With a little help from the web developer, or if you have website logins yourself, installing the right Twitter Card is simple.

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  1. Choose which card type you want to share.
  2. Add the meta tags that specific Card requires to a page on your website.
  3. After the tags are added you’ll want to verify they are being read. Using the validator tool, test to see if Twitter can reach your tags. Don’t forget to go through the Twitter approval process if you’re using a Player Card.
  4. After the Card has been approved, tweet the link as you normally would. You’ll notice the tweet has now become a Card and is ready for engagement.
  5. Once your Twitter Card has been correctly installed and tweeted, sit back, watch, and analyze Twitter Card analytics to measure the results.

Twitter Card Tips

Not everyone is born a pro. Follow these tips to help enhance your Twitter Cards and engagement.

  • Don’t limit yourself to one Twitter Card. The Summary Card with Large Image is the most popular card, but don’t be afraid to throw an extra visual component and try the Player Cards. Pull videos from your website to embed as a Twitter Card to increase engagement to that specific site or landing page.
  • Pay attention to analytics. As with any and all analytics, analyze and respond to what Twitter Card Analytics is telling you. If a specific Card is giving you more engagement than the other, retweet that card and continue to test different responses.
  • Don’t forget to include a call to action. Just like any other marketing campaigns, a call to action is mandatory. How you phrase that CTA in 140 characters is improved using Twitter Cards. Strategize which photo will help best match the CTA and create better engagement, as well as what content to create.
  • Timing is of the essence. Using Twitter Card Analytics, test out different times of the day with the same Card to see if one part of the day has more influence over a specific type of card.
  • Monitor trends and behaviors. Different pages and content create different impacts and engagement. Monitor which Twitter Cards are creating the most engagement and which ones need improvement.
  • Appreciate your influencers. Twitter Card Analytics will tell you who is engaging most with your Cards. Give that person a shoutout, @ mention them, and engage on their newsfeed to show appreciation, as well as connect with a new follower. You never know who may be your next customer.

Are you a Twitter Card user? Comment which kind of Twitter Card you use the most below!