Topic: Social

Reputation Social

How VR Experiences Will Take Marketing by Storm in the Not-Too-Distant Future 0

How VR Experiences Will Take Marketing by Storm in the Not-Too-Distant Future was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

woman wearing virtual reality headset
Imagine putting on a virtual reality headset and joining your favorite social media platform as a highly interactive experience with friends.

Imagine shopping for a new dining table by picking up your phone and seeing the table in your dining room, as though you’re taking a video of it right before your eyes.

Sound a little like the holodeck in “Star Trek”? Yes, but this may not be science fiction in the near future.

The opportunity to engage with one another, see new places and reach a mass audience will create opportunities to shop with a confidence never before available from the comfort of your home. This is what’s available through virtual reality, the newest form of marketing.

Creative digital marketing strategies will usher brands into the virtual reality realm. Read on for an idea of:

  • What virtual reality is and the ways people are connecting to VR today.
  • The opportunities VR opens to marketers.
  • Why VR in social media, gaming and commerce may be the catalyst for mass adoption.

With the virtual reality sector forecast to hit $162 billion by 2020 — up from $5.2 billion in 2016, these opportunities are not that far off.

What Is Virtual Reality?

There can be some confusion about what virtual reality is. What does VR actually do? How does it work? What am I going to look like with that headset on my face?

Let’s first get clear on the definition of virtual reality (VR). When we talk about VR, we’re talking about a computer-generated simulation of a 3D environment you can interact with using special equipment like goggles with a screen and sensors you hold in your hands.

Here’s a good explainer video from Mashable:

The key is that true virtual reality meets a few requirements:

  • Perspective: a perspective that changes with the movement of your body and head
  • Interactivity: an ability to interact with the environment, such as moving objects
  • Navigation: an ability to control where you go through the environment

How People Are Using VR Today

People are using the term VR as an umbrella term for a variety of experiences. Purists consider VR to be technology that accounts for user perspective, interactivity and navigation. But you might also hear “VR” used to describe 360 videos, like those you might have seen on Facebook or YouTube, where you can move your phone around to see a 360-degree view from where the photographer stood.

Basically, under the VR umbrella, there are four major flavors of virtual reality, depending on the technology used and whether the environment is 2D or 3D.

flavors of virtual reality

Click to enlarge.

On the 2D end, you have things like 360-degree video, which Facebook and YouTube have embraced, and several brands are experimenting with.

Here’s an example of 360-degree video (note how you have the control to move the screen any direction you wish during the video):

Google is betting big on VR, and Google positioned its Daydream View smartphone headset released last November to be one of the ways that affordable VR tech gets into the hands of the mainstream. Apps for Daydream, and other smartphone headsets like the Samsung Gear VR, include Netflix, HBO and a growing list of games. More on how the entertainment industry is going to be one of the first industries impacted by VR below …

How Virtual Reality Will Impact Businesses

VR will eventually transform much of how we live and work online, although some sectors may embrace virtual reality sooner than others — and for different reasons.

Entertainment is the sector where we’re seeing the fastest movement in VR. Product catalogs are also being enhanced with virtual reality as we speak.

The travel industry may use virtual reality marketing to entice potential travelers to their destinations.

The education sector may use VR as a way to bring concepts to life in the classroom, or to allow people to complete their university degrees from afar.

Let’s look closer at how some industries are using VR …

Virtual Reality and the Entertainment Industry

Immersive movie and gaming experiences may be the gateway to getting a VR device into households. Right now, VR is finding the most use here.

Last month, Google VP of VR, Amit Shingh, shared some statistics:

  • Daydream users watch about 40 minutes of VR media per week.
  • Over 50% of all content consumption on Daydream is YouTube content.

As a result, expect to see premium VR series and film content (not necessarily paid) coming from YouTube this year.

Experiencing a concert in virtual reality may not be too far off. Experts predict that paying for a VR concert would be an easy win, and in the future, may be an important revenue stream for musicians and producers. It could also free musicians from renting expensive venues.

Companies like VRTIFY are popping up, too. VRTIFY transforms music into fully immersive experiences using a variety of technologies, including VR.

Virtual Reality and Product Catalogs

A close cousin to VR is augmented reality (AR). AR is the technology in which you look at a screen reflecting your current environment and see a virtual layer on top of it. IKEA’s ground-breaking 2014 furniture catalog is a prime example of AR assisted shopping.

If you’re selling products, you should know about Augment.com. This service lets retailers and manufacturers put their product catalogs into an augmented reality shopping experience, like IKEA’s.

Interior design and architectural design are seeing advantages of envisioning a room or building before it is composed. Seeing an interior or building design come to life before committing with cash has obvious appeal. There are a growing number of apps and services that let users design a room with floor plans, wall color and trim, furniture and decor, then pop their smartphone into a VR headset to see their interior design in virtual reality.

Virtual Reality and the Travel Industry

Some businesses in the travel sector are already taking advantage of VR marketing.

Marriott delivers virtual travel experiences via a “teleporter station” and an Oculus Rift headset, transporting people to the beaches of Hawaii and the chic lobby bars of their hotels.

Several travel companies are already using VR to create their own promotional videos:

“We see virtual reality as an innovation that will change the travel business,” says Marco Ryan, chief digital officer for Thomas Cook Group, a U.K.-based tour operator that began testing VR content last year to boost sales. “The closer you get to the destination, the more excited you are to have that experience” — i.e., buy that experience.

To take advantage of the compelling VR experience and close the gap between the lack of VR headset owners and the consumers, “some VR producers set up at trade shows, shopping malls, pop-up stores and even on the street where they can provide the headsets.”

Travel industry pioneer Thomas Cook Group, by the way, has seen VR-promoted New York travel revenue increase by 190 percent.

Virtual Reality and the Education Industry

There are already several niche companies out there that specialize in curriculum, content and teacher training around VR like Immersive VR Education.

In 2015, Google jumped on VR education and launched Expeditions, a way for teachers to take their students on virtual field trips around the world.

Virtual Reality, and the Future of Marketing and Advertising

No matter what industry you’re in, virtual reality marketing may become part of your mix in the not-so-distant future.

Whether it’s through the storytelling power of VR content and experiences, or advertising placements within a virtual reality world, start thinking now about how your brand might fit in.

Think with Google believes that the medium has the potential to make any message even more impactful saying VR is an “incredibly powerful tool to create empathy. When a viewer feels like they are there, they have a greater sense of the situation. Messages become more impactful.”

Given that Facebook owns Oculus VR, it’s likely that social media will be a big catalyst for the adoption of VR among the masses. Once there’s money and connections to be made there, its adoption will likely become more mainstream.

In my 2017 digital marketing predictions, I predicted new forms of behavior around virtual chat rooms this year. Social media platforms are innovating new means of online engagement instead of meeting people in person.

At at the Oculus Connect 3 conference last October, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled his vision for a social virtual reality chat room.

Why Being Virtual Will Be Virtually Mandatory

Virtual reality headsets are a solution waiting for a problem. The problem is what your target audience wants and needs. The technology is just a new way to give it to them.

The only thing standing in the way of VR right now is the adoption of this new technology. To move it to mass consumption will take a catalyst — catering to the desires of your consumers.

Once this mass adoption begins, it may already be too late to be an early adopter.

So, as you think about how to continually be where your customer has a need, consider exploring new technologies like virtual reality to evolve your brand’s storytelling, marketing and advertising strategies.

I want to know if you can imagine your brand in the VR space. Tell me about it in the comments below.

Virtual reality marketing is still in the future, but your cutting-edge digital strategy should be a work in progress. Partner with a digital marketing agency and stand out above your competition today and tomorrow. Give us a call or start talks today.


Source: Bruce Clay

Guide to Leveraging Industry Experts to Craft High-Quality SEO Content 0

Guide to Leveraging Industry Experts to Craft High-Quality SEO Content was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

girl typing on macbook

There’s good content. And, then there’s high-quality content, the stuff that rises in the search engine results pages, oozing those attractive and useful characteristics both consumers and search engines value.

In my experience as an SEO copywriter (going on 10 years now), I’ve learned that there are several SEO content writing tips that make your content more “valuable and useful” to your readers than your competitors’ sites.

A crucial yet very underused method? Expert information.

If your web copy isn’t performing, it might be because it lacks credible, expert information.

woman writing project

While it takes extra time and research, the voice of an expert has the power to lift good content to high-quality heights.

Think about it like this. Would you trust an essay, a research paper or a white paper without original research and real sources? Moreover, would you trust a paper that was plagiarized? Yet for some reason we expect consumers to simply accept digital content even when it’s copied from material on the web and presented without sources and citations. On top of that, we expect search engines to reward that type of content with rankings. It just doesn’t happen that way.

Regardless of your industry or topic, expert information brings credibility to a site. Credible content not only nourishes consumer appetites, but also meets Google’s bar for the amount of E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) on a web page, boosting your rankings. It happens this way.

So is your website content credible? Does it demonstrate a high level of expertise? If so, that’s great news. You can check out the rest of our SEO Copywriting Checklist for other ways you can improve your content. If not, it’s time to make some friends with experts.

How? I’m going to share with you my step-by-step process for building and maintaining healthy relationships with industry experts, a process I had the chance to perfect as a writer for a big-brand client in the wedding industry while working here at Bruce Clay, Inc. Although the project lasted a year, the friendships I made continue as most experts, including one I interview below, have shared an interest to stay in touch for future collaborations.

Use these SEO content writing tips to make relationships with real experts who will help you publish high-quality content, whether you’re writing SEO web content, articles or blogs.

I’ll walk you through:

interview on the phone

How to Identify Industry Experts

What makes an industry expert?

Not to be confused with industry influencers, industry experts are people with the expert knowledge, experience, education, data or advice on the specific topics you’re writing about.

According to Google, the level of expertise required for a site varies depending on the topic and industry. In its Search Quality Rating Guidelines, Google gives the example that a medical site should have information with “appropriate medical expertise or accreditation,” yet suggests a site about the proper care of cats could easily be rated high-quality if it features expertise by everyday cat owners as opposed to trained veterinarians.

Ask yourself these basic yet important questions to help you identify the best expert for SEO copywriting:

  • What type of information do you need? (Studies, analyses, facts, testimonials, opinions?)
  • Who has first-hand knowledge of this information?
  • Who does your target audience want to hear from most?

For the purpose of SEO content writing, find an expert who is doing the work today (as opposed to a retiree or someone who just speaks or writes about the topic). These are doers and dream makers, the ones who can provide you with unique, never-before-seen quotes and advice.

It’s also important to talk to someone who has not only been interviewed before, but enjoys talking about what they do or know. It’s not enough to find a professional with the knowledge you need. You want an expert who can appeal to your target audience by simplifying complex concepts without industry jargon.

Next, competitor research will reveal the level of authority you want to go after. At the very least you want an expert at the same level or higher than the ones featured on competitor sites.

For me, this meant talking to wedding planners. On the topic of wedding etiquette, my first thought was to reach out to etiquette experts, such as the team at The Emily Post Institute. Yet, I went with wedding planners because I knew that they could provide me with all things etiquette, plus real-world tips on how to incorporate those rules into modern scenarios facing the couples who are their clients today.

magazines

How to Find Industry Experts

You know the title or level of expertise you need, so how do you find the experts?

Here, a few places you can begin your search:

Recent newspaper and magazine articles. If an expert is passionate about what they do and know, chances are they’ve been interviewed before. Begin your search in websites of major newspapers and magazines for the topics you’re writing about to discover notable experts.

If you’re writing about sleep apnea, for example, a recent article in the New York Times on the same subject reveals the name of Dr. Avidan, director of the sleep clinic at the University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine, someone who just might know a thing or two about sleep apnea and can talk about it in a way that’s not so (queue yawn) boring.

For my project, I needed a wedding planner, but not any planner would do. I needed the best of the best, and that meant planners who produce events and weddings for the stars. I picked well known celebrity wedding planners who helped bring celebrity weddings to life within the last year or were recently named one of the top wedding planners by reputable publications such as the Knot, Vogue, or Martha Stewart Weddings.

University faculty and professors. This is a great resource for a wide range of topics required for informational websites. Many universities have professors and staff who regularly speak to journalists for interviews. Look for the institution’s media page to find a list of faculty by expertise. For example, UCLA has this handy Media Guide to UCLA Experts.

Popular bloggers. If you want to feature information or advice by everyday people with experience in the topic you’re writing about, find an active blogger who is immersed in the conversation. If you’re writing about how to potty train your toddler, for example, it might help to have quotes or advice from a mother who is dealing with this issue today, as opposed to a pediatrician who simply gives generic advice. An active and popular lifestyle blogger who writes about motherhood is also going to give you fun, easy-to-digest information that might better appeal to your target audience.

Dos and Dont’s

Do pick more experts than you need. If the project requires interviewing two experts, reach out to five or ten. You never know who will respond and it’s always a good idea to have backups in case someone flakes, gets sick or simply has to cancel last minute. Another reason to reach out to more experts than you will need is because not everyone is going to give you the best information, and you’ll have a few options to choose from.

Do create a spreadsheet. Keep a list of experts you want to interview. Include the proper spelling of their name, company name, and contact information, including email, phone number and website. Add a column for the date you reached out, the date they responded, if they agree to an interview, and if they agree to be interviewed regularly.

Don’t reach out to competitor resources. As tempting as it might be, it’s better to find your own experts and build relationships with people who are not contributing to your competitor websites.

man and woman at laptop

How to Reach Out to Experts

It’s time to say hello. The way you reach out to busy industry experts matters, as does what and how much you say when you have their attention. You can use the telephone, but here’s why I prefer email along with the process that was most successful for me.

Send a brief but enticing email. Why email? When was the last time you picked up your office phone? It’s simply annoying to cold call someone and even more annoying to be the recipient of that call. Also, people don’t check their voicemails throughout the day, but they do check their emails several times a day. This means that an expert can read and reply on their own time, which makes it convenient for them, and you.

With one email, you can introduce yourself (your title and the company you work for), explain the reason for the interview (talk about the project, client, and benefits of being featured in the content), and let them know you’re reaching out to them specifically because they are an expert in their field. Include your deadline, and keep it open for a phone or email interview.

Personalize the email. You have time to personalize your emails and there is an important reason to do so: you’re making a real relationship. You want them to feel as though they are your top choice. A generic email without the recipient’s name is insulting and exhibits lazy behavior on your part, not a good start to a relationship.

Create a template. What can save you time is creating a template, but be careful to highlight the dynamic areas of the email so that you don’t use the wrong name, which is also very insulting.

Here’s an example of the template I used to contact a luxury wedding planner.

Dear [the expert’s name] and the team at [the business name],

[The client’s name] is building its resource library for brides.

We’re looking for wedding and events experts to provide background on wedding invitation wording and etiquette. Are you interested in being a named expert in our series? The name of [the expert’s name and business name] will be featured in the piece in front of researching brides.

If you’re interested, I would like to set up some time to talk. Both phone and email will work for the interview. My deadline is [a date], so please let me know as soon as convenient.

Sincerely,

Melanie Saxe

Content Writer

Bruce Clay, Inc.

https://www.bruceclay.com

1-805-517-1900 Ext: 1804

working at table

Tips on Conducting Interviews

These tips will help you conduct thorough interviews that will provide you with the unique, expert-level information you need to write quality content.

Here’s the prep work:

Research competitor content. Before I begin any SEO content optimization project, I want to know what my competitors are already writing about the topic or industry. Above, I mentioned competitor research is an important step to find the type of expert you need, but if you want to beat your competitors you will need to write content that’s more valuable and useful, which means you will have the basics covered and then some. While reading competitor content, you’ll find content gaps and weaknesses, which can be the areas you can focus and expand on to capture your target audience.

Research past interviews or online content featuring your expert. If your experts have been interviewed before, read every single interview as well as the content they’ve contributed to. This is because the expert might give you a similar quote, and you don’t want to run into duplicate content issues or repeat what’s already available online.

Write down your questions. Even if the conversation flows out of order, a written list will keep you on topic and ensure you get all the information you need at one time. It also shows that you did your homework. Ask the who, what, where, when, why, and how, and then dig deeper with questions that will give you the unique information your target audience needs and wants.

hands over table

When it’s time for the interview:

Email questions ahead of time. Whether it’s in person, by phone or via email, the interview will go much smoother if the expert receives your questions ahead of time. In my experience, this extra step gives them time to think about the questions and produce better, more thoughtful answers. If you’re conducting an email interview, then send your questions along with a reminder of the due date. If you’ve scheduled a phone interview, remind them of the date and time of the interview and make sure you confirm time zone differences, and that have the right phone number.

Get personal. I love to open my interviews with a discussion on the expert’s recent contributions to the industry. There are many benefits to this approach, including possibly bonding over a common interest, breaking the ice with someone who’ve just met, and opening the door for the expert to freely chat about their passions and work, a technique that’s provided me with tons of unexpected information I can then incorporate into the content.

Confirm the name and title of the expert. Don’t assume the owner of the company is the CEO, even if the website says she is. Always confirm the expert’s title as well as any qualifiers. Some wedding planners preferred “celebrity wedding planner,” while others requested “luxury wedding planner,” “event designer,” etc.

Thank them for the interview. Whether you conducted a phone or email interview, send a follow-up email thanking them for the interview, with a sentence about how you will inform them once the piece goes live.

professional with tie

Tips on How to Maintain Relationships

So far so good. You’ve interviewed the right people, got some great information, and now it’s time to honor these relationships. Here are few tips to help you foster and keep these relationships.

Stay consistent with tone and formality. Remain formal, even if the expert breaks out into casual communication. I’ve had experts write back in fragments and without punctuation, yet I remain formal because my goal is to be respectful, consistent and earn their trust as a professional. At the end of the day, this relationship is a formal business relationship and you want to earn their trust by being reliable and consistent with your communication style.

Follow up. If you don’t hear back within a few days, go ahead and send out a second email to follow up. With a few experts, I sent out more than one follow up and it proved to be fruitful because my emails went into their spam folders and they were so happy when they found out I was still interested in an interview.

Make notes. Consider this as being a good listener. With every reply and conversation, update your spreadsheet with information that helps your relationship. Identify the experts who’ve agreed to be interviewed and those who would like to be interviewed regularly.

You also want to add any new or specific contact information. For instance, 75 percent of the experts I reach out to refer me to their assistants and request to be CCd by all the correspondence; I record that in my notes.

As time goes by, you will also get to know how reliable and prompt your experts are. Those who continue to miss deadlines can be dropped off the list. Those who respond immediately and seem super eager about helping can be relied upon for last-minute deadlines and special cases. I had one expert who would always fill in the gaps when others flaked.

Follow through. Once the piece is published or live on the web, email the link and thank them a second time. is also a great time to ask them for a second interview, if you need more information from them to clarify the first interview, or for a different project. Let them know if you plan to interview them again in the future and ask if they have any favorite topics or ideas they want to contribute; this makes them feel a part of the project. I kept this process going with 10 experts, and interviewed each expert every other month.

Follow them on social media. Following experts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook shows not only support, but also keeps you up-to-date on future projects that might benefit your content.

SEO Content Solutions and Takeaways

As an SEO copywriter, you never go into a project hoping to produce mediocre content. Yet even the best writers find it challenging to write that high-quality copy that satisfies both search engines and consumers. Why? Because high-quality content has many characteristics, and without a clear SEO content strategy, it’s easy to forget some of the ingredients that set copy apart from the competition.

Consider expert information as the solid research behind a good essay; by featuring original research and citing reliable sources, you can build trust with your readers and prove to be an authority on the subject.

Are you interested in learning more about SEO content optimization to set your copywriting apart? Bruce Clay’s SEOToolSet Training is an in-person workshop that will teach you the SEO best practices to boost your content’s search rankings. Sign up for the course, held each quarter in Los Angeles, and lock in a competitive advantage.

Are you closer to the Bay Area? Bruce presents an Advanced SEO Workshop at Search Marketing Expo (SMX) West in San Jose on March 20. Learn how to help raise your rankings and visibility in search engines. Save 10% with our exclusive discount code: BRUCECLAYSMXW17.


Source: Bruce Clay

Senior Director of Revenue 0

Senior Director of Revenue

As Senior Director of Revenue, you will be responsible for leading a team of sales professionals and building business partnerships across North America, Australia, and Europe to meet corporate revenue targets. While you will report to the Chief Revenue Officer you will also work directly with the company’s development, creative and project management teams as needed to formulate solutions for your clients.

If you are interested in more than just a 9–to–5 job, are excited by working with a team of committed individuals, and want to make a difference in a thriving organization, then this is the place for you!

We offer competitive salaries and have a full range of benefits including dental and vision. We are a successful business and the world’s leading platform for media companies and agencies. Come join us!

Responsibilities:

  • Managing Department of Sales, Success and Sales Trainers including goal setting, follow up, training program development and performance management
  • Assessing and understanding client needs as communicated verbally or through RFPs, and crafting appropriate solutions
  • Development of our number one asset our talent through mentorship, training programs and a culture of accountability.
  • Prepare technical proposals
  • Prepare and professionally delivering formal and informal presentations to key prospects
  • Negotiating and closing all phases of engagements, including review and preparation of NDAs, Term Sheets and channel partner agreements

Skills and Qualifications:

  • 15 plus years of Sales Management or Business Ownership in related industry
  • Familiarity with technical concepts and processes related to software development
  • Experience building a book of business from scratch
  • Experience with complex service or solution sales involving multiple stakeholders
  • Ability to consistently achieve or exceed set sales goals
  • Resourceful and curious individual with a sharp intellect and the ability to pick things up quickly
  • Exceptional phone, written and interpersonal skills
  • World class presentation skills

Why Vendasta

Vendasta’s platform empowers agencies and media companies to grow their sales of marketing solutions for small and medium-size businesses. Our system identifies hot leads who are interested in the products you offer and allows you to provide scalable tools at the right price and service model when businesses are ready-to-buy.

Learn more about Vendasta


The post Senior Director of Revenue appeared first on Vendasta.


Source: Vendasta

In-House Digital Agent 0

In-House Digital Agent

Are you passionate about the importance of online presence and exceptional customer service? Do you live and breathe social media? Then Vendasta’s Digital Agency may be the place for you! As a part of our ever-growing Digital Agency team, you’re an account manager, a customer service rep, a digital content creator, and much more; all in a day’s work!

Responsibilities:

  • Work as a team with partners and their local business clients from all over North America
  • Complete tasks within the Vendasta Concierge platform including updating business listings, managing reviews, and monitoring mentions
  • Provide exceptional customer service for our partners, and their local business clients via phone and email communication
  • Set up and maintain mobile sites and social media accounts
  • Create quality, online content while adhering to customer instructions
  • Ongoing product testing and communication with the development team on product features and new ideas

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Solid knowledge of social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc.)
  • Superior communication (both written and oral), time management skills, and an eye for detail
  • Ability and willingness to switch gears at a moment’s notice
  • Customer service experience (ideally in a technical environment)
  • Ability to work independently within a strong team environment
  • Bachelor’s degree and/or equivalent experience

Why Vendasta

Vendasta’s platform empowers agencies and media companies to grow their sales of marketing solutions for small and medium-size businesses. Our system identifies hot leads who are interested in the products you offer and allows you to provide scalable tools at the right price and service model when businesses are ready-to-buy.

Learn more about Vendasta


The post In-House Digital Agent appeared first on Vendasta.


Source: Vendasta

Why an Insanely Fast Site Is Your 2017 Priority 0

Why an Insanely Fast Site Is Your 2017 Priority was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

performance sports car

The concept of an insanely fast site is something Google has been talking about for a long time.

Are you convinced that site speed is your top priority for optimizing user experience in 2017?

In this post, I’ll cover:

  • Why site speed matters.
  • How your mobile visitors fit into the equation.
  • The need for speed in a mobile-first index world.

Why Site Speed Matters

Throughout the years, Google has implemented a host of recommendations and tools to help website owners make their sites faster. These guidelines and tools support the core of our services as a mobile SEO agency.

After all, fast sites are good for the end user. And Google wants to feature in its results those websites that offer a good user experience.

No matter how you slice it, the message from Google is clear: faster is better.

In fact, in late 2016, Google rep John Mueller said to keep page load time under three seconds.

Back in 2010, Google said site speed would be a factor in its ranking algorithm, albeit a lightweight signal.

In its announcement, Google explained why site speed matters:

Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But faster sites don’t just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs. Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed — that’s why we’ve decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings. We use a variety of sources to determine the speed of a site relative to other sites.

Notice that last sentence: “We use a variety of sources to determine the speed of a site relative to other sites.”

If every website that shows up for a particular query has about the same average page load time (even if that happens to be on the slower side), your website will be considered normal.

However, if your website’s page load times are much slower than the average, you’re at a disadvantage.

Former Googler Matt Cutts mentioned back in 2013 that when all other things are equal, page speed can factor into rankings.

For example, if I do a search and all the relevant web pages load are between 1.5 and 2.5 seconds, Google isn’t going to use site speed as a factor for ranking.

But, if there’s a web page that takes 12 seconds to load, it’d probably see a demotion in rankings. You have to be average compared to the performance of every other web page for that query.

So the question is actually: Is faster an advantage or is slower a disadvantage? I think the latter.

Google’s no stranger to giving mixed signals, though. Remember that tweet from John Mueller? Well, here’s another tweet from Google’s Gary Illyes that mentions not to worry “too much” about page load time:

The bottom line is that you should care if you have very slow page load times.

And, you should try to meet Google’s recommendations if you can, making sure pages load within just a few seconds.

How Mobile Browsing Matters to Site Speed

Now let’s talk about how site speed manifests in various scenarios.

Mueller recommended a three-second ceiling for HTTP page load speed. But when it comes to mobile, Google’s official stance here is to have above-the-fold content render in one second or less, so that the user can “begin interacting with the page as soon as possible.”

And, in the coming months, it’s possible this will factor into mobile rankings in Google’s mobile-first index.

This is significant for site speed optimization because with the mobile-first index, Google bases its rankings on the mobile version of your website.

You can test the load times of your pages with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Here, Google explains the need for above-fold-content that is immediately usable:

PageSpeed Insights measures how the page can improve its performance on:

  • time to above-the-fold load: Elapsed time from the moment a user requests a new page and to the moment the above-the-fold content is rendered by the browser.
  • time to full page load: Elapsed time from the moment a user requests a new page to the moment the page is fully rendered by the browser.

Here’s an example of the types of issues that can improve load times as reported by the PageSpeed Insights test:

Click to enlarge.

One of the things we’ve discovered is that the results of a PageSpeed Insights test changes over time, and lately it has been very much biased by image load times.

Apparently, a lot of website publishers have gotten their overall page load time to be fast, but their images do not load quickly.

In order to make mobile page load time faster, image compression will be an area of focus. Determining whether an image is even needed may be one of the next things you have to decide in prioritizing efforts of your mobile SEO strategy.

In new research published by Google, the key recommendation is to keep the average request count (the number of individual pieces of content needed to display the entire page) below 50.

The Need for Speed in the Mobile-First Index

It’s worth noting how the practice of reducing content for mobile speed optimization may impact your rankings in this new mobile-first index world.

What is currently being served as your mobile site is what Google would consider for indexing and ranking in its mobile-first index. If the mobile version of your site only displays a portion of all available content, then Google will only consider that part in its ranking calculations (and not any additional resources available in the desktop version of a site).

If a site has a responsive design configuration, as Google recommends, everything on both the desktop version and the mobile version should be accounted for by Google, right?

Not exactly. In responsive design, you tell the site not to display blocks of text or certain images in a mobile device.

Traditionally, Google would index the desktop version of your site. Whatever the desktop image was, that’s what Google would index and use to rank. Whatever the desktop content was, that’s what Google would index and use to rank.

Then, when a person loaded that page on a mobile device, at that point, you could control what was displayed. However, the index was based on the full desktop version of the content. Responsive design just decided what was displayed or not for a mobile or tablet device.

Now Google is moving to a mobile-first index. So if the mobile version of your site is not displaying certain content or images, Google will no longer consider it in ranking and indexing.

For example, on your desktop site in your footer, you might have 50 links. But in the mobile version, you don’t want to clutter it up so you only display 10. When Googlebot crawls your page, it’s not going to count 50 links, it’ll only consider the 10.

As another example, consider the way people have approached mobile performance in the past — by cutting parts off of their page, like images or content. If that’s your approach for the mobile experience, you need to understand you’re cutting out content that may be helping you rank.

So, what do I recommend?

You do want to create a fast experience when mobile users come to the site — that’s still important. But you have to balance the content you need to rank with the mobile experience.

Design your website around the mobile experience to start.

Only display content that is worthy of being displayed on a mobile device, even on your desktop pages. It may require you to have more web pages with less content, because that 2,000-word page may not be mobile friendly.

And when it comes to speed, website publishers may cut out images because loading a particular image on a mobile device takes too long. These common activities geared towards increasing your page load times may actually cause the content to no longer be indexed in a mobile-first world.

Weighing the Option of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

This brings us to Google’s latest project geared towards speed: AMP.

We cover AMP in detail in our guide here.

AMP is an open-source project that effectively helps website publishers create faster mobile experiences via specific configurations that:

  • Pre-render website content while limiting the use of JavaScript that publisher sites can use.
  • Caches content so Google doesn’t have to fetch page content from the publisher’s server.

Google has said AMP won’t impact rankings, but with all the signs that faster is better in mobile, I wouldn’t rule out AMP’s ability to load pages faster as a way they might inherently rank better.

Keep in mind that AMP is not an easy thing to implement on a website, and the specifications for AMP are reportedly changing often. As the program expands into more and more potential types of websites (remember, it started out with just news sites and expanded from there), Google is constantly having to make compromises.

And then, of course, there is a cost to develop in AMP. You are going to need to actually change your site to support it. There are also ongoing costs as AMP specs change, because you need to update pages. Then there’s the risk that Google will abandon AMP or come up with a different system such as making your website behave more like a mobile application.

Choose your AMP pages wisely.

Beating Your Competition to the Finish Line

If you want to compete online in 2017, your website has to be fast.

The message from Google is that speed counts. But there are many ways to achieve speed.

This requires you to weigh the costs and benefits of mobile configurations, including responsive, AMP and more.

All the while, keeping in mind that changes you make to your mobile site can and will impact your rankings in a mobile-first world.

Let us help you drive and track traffic to your website with a mobile SEO strategy. BCI’s services are tailor-made to match your business goals and audience. Let’s talk more about growing revenue through mobile-friendly SEO.


Source: Bruce Clay