A NodeJS Script for Accessing the Google Search Console API

One of the biggest challenges for SEOs is Google itself. The black box of Google, as Dan described it to me early on at my time at LSG, limits its displayed metrics in Google Search Console to representative calculations. Google causes even more SEO indigestion when you try to claw out a site’s historical performance from these tools and you run into the, now defunct, 90-day limits for GSC queries data. It gets even worse when you’re trying to compare dozens of sites you manage that target the same niche. If you know where this is going (which is a NodeJS script that connects to the GSC API and downloads all the analytics data for each site managed by a single Google account), feel free to skip down to the bottom. If you’re unsure of why this might be useful or what kind of day-to-day work this might replace, read on!

The old-fashioned way to get data from all your sites is to go through each property you can view, click through to the search analytics tab, and then export the data as chopped and screwed as you’d like. This is totally a valuable exercise that all SEOs probably need to do occasionally (and particularly at the beginning of their careers). Any SEO worth their salt could burn through those click-throughs in a matter of seconds, and are probably hindered more by their ISP/Google’s latency and the time it takes your browser to render the page than they are by anything else. But you might as well light your hands on fire as a sacrifice to the carpal tunnel gods at that point.

At the end of the day, there are no real good options for doing this that doesn’t require an unlimited budget or a little technical know how; and even if you’re the best damn SEO in the land, combing through a thousand sites individually creates an absurd opportunity cost with literally every other thing you’re doing as an SEO. Even if you’ve got the best damn keyword tracker in the land, if it’s not setup flawlessly, then you’re probably missing some important keyword cannibalization issues that you didn’t even think about. Now, I’m not suggesting this script is a silver bullet for inter-site keyword cannibalization that will magick away all your micro-keyword optimizations, but this is a good start at significantly reducing that opportunity cost of discovering keyword competition/cannibalization between your sites that you aren’t aware about.  

An example of this unknown unknown keyword competition might be a few local car dealerships selling Kia’s in two different markets from two different websites. Let’s say one site is for a dealership in the DFW area in Texas, which has high sales volume, and the other site you manage is a dealership in a place like Lamesa, Texas, a small town that will have a comparatively low sales volume. If the small market, low sales volume site is kicking ass, and in particularly kicking the ass of your large market, high sales volume site, then knowing that can help you move your high volume site back to the top of organic search.

Moreover, what if you’re like Local SEO Guide and you’ve got clients with a hundreds, if not thousands, of websites within their individual portfolio? Well, you’d really want use the Google Search Console API, of course. There are some great scripts offered by Google for using Python to access the GSC API, but what if you’re unfamiliar with Python and have done some client-side JS work in the past? Well, Google currently doesn’t have any documentation with regards to how one might access using the NodeJS (Server-side Javascript) API, so I figure this will also be a good stand-in until the brilliant folks at Google get around to it. Thankfully, there were plenty of models for authentication and token exchanging provided by other examples with NodeJS APIs, so rest assured, a good chunk of this was written by those Google geniuses.

You can get the script here.

Now, for the nitty gritty details about the API. The GSC API limits each API to 200 queries per minute, and each month you are given a 100,000,000 query limit, which means you could fire off the max queries per minute and you will still have about 90,000,000 queries remaining on your quota. While this script is in no way optimized to fire off 10 million queries per month, it’s a good start on burning through your limits.

This script will access all sites authorized in your GSC account and export all queries by page over the past 90 days; and that’s just the default behavior. It also enables downloading queries using custom dates, accessing queries using most dimensions available within GSC (i.e. mobile, desktop, country, etc), and search types (web is default, but image search and video search are also available).

Just download the zip file and extract it. Inside you’ll find a detailed README written in Markdown that should be easy to follow. The script was written using Node 8.4.0, and so no guarantees it will work with prior versions of NodeJS. That being said, it does not leverage any super recent additions to the NodeJS API such as async/await, so it will likely work on most other Node versions down to 0.10.x.

If anyone has any suggestions or comments for improving or updating the script please let me know, as this will eventually be moved to github and added as an NPM package. My email address is mike.mitchell.nyc@gmail.com.


A NodeJS Script for Accessing the Google Search Console API was posted via Internet Marketing


What We Learned in January 2018: The Digital Marketing Month in a Minute

Facebook plans significant changes to news feed

Facebook seemed to be always in the press through January, as it announced major changes to its news feed, with the main action to make posts from businesses, brands and media less prominent. The overall aim of these changes is to reduce the number of posts that are “crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other”.

Will Critchlow added commentary around potentially the real reason Facebook was making these announcements, while Facebook advertiser and writer Jon Loomer explained how he thought this would impact advertisers.

Read the full story (BBC News)

Users spending less time on Facebook

Users are spending less time on Facebook, and according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, this is a good thing. Reportedly users are spending 50 million hours less per day on Facebook, equating to a 5 percent decline in time using the app versus the previous quarter. But what if this is a cover on the part of Facebook as speculated by Shira Ovide, a writer for Bloomberg Gadfly?

Read the full story (Recode)

Massive vulnerabilities in essentially all processors

Reports in early January indicated that almost every processor produced in the last 20 years contained fundamental security flaws. These flaws dubbed Spectre and Meltdown would allow attackers to access information that was previously considered protected. The response from major operating systems and chip manufacturers including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Intel and AMD has been to release patches throughout January to address the security flaw.

Read the full story (CSO Online)

YouTube changes monetization criteria

YouTube has moved the goal posts for channels to have eligibility for monetization. The new requirements state that channels must achieve 4,000 hours of watch time within the previous 12 months and 1,000 subscribers to be able to monetize the channel. It is thought that the changes will affect “a significant number of channels”, though the vast majority of channels affected were believed to have made less than $100 in the last year.

Read the full story (YouTube Creator)

Using page speed in mobile search ranking

Google has announced that in July 2018 it will be releasing its “Speed Update”. The update is targeting pages that deliver the slowest experience and will only affect a small number of search queries. This update shouldn’t come as a surprise, site speed has been on the Google radar for a while now, particularly with tools such as the Site Speed tester openly available. As ever, site speed will continue to have a direct impact on user experience and conversion rate, and as such should continue to be high on the priority of webmasters.

Read the full story (Webmaster Central)

New chairman at Google

John Hennessey has been revealed as the new chairman of Alphabet/Google. Until 2016, Hennessey was the president of Stanford University, has been on the board at Google since 2004, and also serves as director for Cisco Systems, the Daniel Pearl Foundation, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. He is known for his sense of humour, and his willingness to be blunt on occasion. IEEE Spectrum questions whether this role will be Hennessey’s side hustle to being a professor, only time will tell.

Read the full story (IEEE Spectrum)

New Google Search Console rolls out for nearly everyone

The end of January saw the new version of Google Search Console rolled out to the vast majority of users. Fortunately most of you probably already knew this due to the millions of emails that Google sent to remind everyone.

Read the full story (Search Engine Land)

Stripe gives up on bitcoin as a payment method

Four years after becoming the first major online payment platform to accept bitcoin as payment, Stripe has reversed its decision. Stripe cited its main reasons for the decision being due to the amount of time a transaction takes to process and the massive fluctuations in the price of cryptocurrency. Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin, Square has been testing buying and selling Bitcoin through its app and on January 31, fully rolled out the acceptance of Bitcoin as a payment method.

Read the full story (Recode)

Apple releases HomePod voice speaker to compete with Google and Amazon

Apple has finally entered the voice speaker market with the release of its HomePod smart speaker. The HomePod missed its original release date in December and comes with a $349 asking price. Apple claims the HomePod will have better sound quality than other smart speakers, making it more of a speaker with smart features than a smart device. It faces stiff competition from both Google and Amazon products, both of which significantly cut their prices on entry-level smart speakers over the holiday season.

Read the full story (Reuters)

Leaked Snapchat numbers

Early January saw a vast amount of Snapchat’s usage data leaked, showing that the company had been seeing slow growth, and the number of users using Stories is flat. The lack of growth also gives deeper insight to the recent redesigns in an attempt to grow the number of total users.

Read the full story (TechCrunch)

Distilled News

This has been a busy month for Distilled CEO, Will Critchlow. This month Will shared his processes for building business cases and improve forecasting in the marketer’s guide to models. He also wrote down his thoughts on reports that organic traffic on Facebook is in decline more than had been reported.

Discussing a recent study by conversion.com, Will discovered that 59% of e-commerce sites are not testing their most important channel, and finally he took the time to speak to Edge of the Web covering topics such as voice search, AMP, SEO split testing and SearchLove San Diego 2018.

Senior Designer Leonie Wharton gave us her winter edition of creative content that has inspired us (extending the series: summer, autumn) and Seattle office manager Kayla Walker lead us through her tactics to improve the workplace and get people working from the office.

Over on Moz, Senior Consultant Dominic Woodman reacts to the Maccabee update and investigates the impact it had on some of his sites.

We are super excited that SearchLove San Diego is now less than two months away and tickets are selling fast! For more information you should head to the SearchLove San Diego page where you will find:

  • Early bird tickets with $200 off full price tickets (offer ends February 23)
  • Full speaker lineup and schedule, including all topics and full session descriptions

To remind you why this is such a great event we are offering three of last years top speaker videos for free. It’s not just the presentations, of course, San Diego is a fantastic place to spend a few days for search, sea and sun. Head of Events, Lynsey Little talks us through her top five reasons to attend SearchLove San Diego. Best be quick: super early bird tickets sold out, and there are only 2 VIP tickets left.

What We Learned in January 2018: The Digital Marketing Month in a Minute was posted via Internet Marketing

9 Top Marketing Trends for 2018

Top Marketing Trends 2018

There is no question that 2017 was an incredible year for marketing.

What’s even better than a banner year is fresh optimism for the next. Predictions and trends for 2018 present even more opportunities for marketers that can see the signal amongst the noise.

As we continue to grow, I’ve been researching what trends are worth considering and investing in for B2B marketers. The result is the following list: Influencer Marketing, Content Experiences, Artificial Intelligence, Data, Video, Privacy Protection, Audience Development, Voice and Purpose Driven Marketing.

Influencer Marketing Grows Up

Within the realm of influence, there are big shifts towards engaging with microinfluencers, always on programs, greater accountability of influencer reach and effectiveness and an emphasis on measuring influencer marketing ROI. Marketers are also taking a more holistic view of who an influencer is, including customers, members of their community and employees.

Many marketers are shifting their focus away from big name influencers towards niche players and for good reason. Microinfluencers deliver 60% higher campaign engagement rates and those campaigns are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than those with influencers with larger followings.

Beyond niche industry influencers are the internal influencers to a company: employees. Companies are increasingly realizing the value of tapping this invaluable resource of credible influence. 90% of brands say they are either pursuing employee advocacy programs or have programs already active.

In 2018 we’ll see even more marketers transitioning from campaigns to always on engagements with influencers in a way that emphasizes mutual value. Influencers can build credibility by becoming ambassadors for the brand and the brand develops relationships with the influencer’s audience.

Ongoing engagements with influencers also help build a more authentic experience for the audience vs. one off campaigns promoting a specific product or service. Always on and ongoing influencer engagements with brands will pave the way for greater influencer marketing ROI. That said, those arrangements are only as strong as the relationships and as we all know, relationships are not automatic – they take time and investment.

Integrate Content Experiences with Influence

It is no longer enough to inform buyers, they want to feel something. Content experiences that are highly relevant, purposeful and engaging can come in many forms from video to interactive. All help engage customers intellectually and emotionally.

There is a strong connection between influencer marketing and content experiences. Amisha Ghandi, Head of Influencer Marketing at SAP (client) puts it best;

“Working with influencers to co-create content delivers mutual value. When that content is interactive, it creates an experience that is more engaging and inspires action.” @AmishaGandhi

With so many options for content, customers expect to be “info-tained” not just informed. Brands that can integrate trusted industry and internal experts with interactive and engaging content they are proud to be a part of, will be appreciated by contributing influencers just as much as they will be rewarded by customers.

Optimize with Artificial Intelligence

In a study by Smart Insights, AI and Machine Learning were rated the #3 marketing activity that will make the largest commercial impact on business in 2018.

Another study by Salesforce found that high-performing marketing teams are more than 2 times as likely to use AI in their campaigns than under-performers.

What are marketers doing with AI? Areas of focus with AI in marketing include advertising automation and optimization, chat bots for service and assisting in sales, and content personalization.

Bots for service are not new, but an increasing number of marketers are using chat apps and bots to engage customers during the sales process. In fact, 1.82 billion people worldwide are projected to use a chat app in 2018 and by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.

I don’t remember where I heard it first, but the saying “Marketers are data rich and insight poor” is more true today than ever.  Machine Learning and AI can help marketers make sense of all the “dark data” they’re sitting on as well as structured and unstructured data online to surface insights about ideal content, offers and even emotional triggers to inspire conversions.

Of course, marketers shouldn’t use AI to automate and optimize their marketing because they can, but because that’s what it will take to meet customer appetite for personalized experiences.  The increased competition for customer attention amidst the huge amount of media each consumer is confronted with each day requires every advantage to optimize for reach, engagement and conversion.

Data Informed and Inspired Marketing

Speaking of data, it has become clear that few successful marketing programs are not informed by data in ways that were not considered 10 years ago. While companies only analyze 12 percent of the data they have available, senior marketing executives are more informed about what is possible and taking action. Josh Mueller, SVP, Global Marketing at Dun & Bradstreet (client) puts it well:

“A data-inspired framework is absolutely essential for modern marketers. To implement this necessity, we’ve fully integrated our content and demand gen organizations, with shared editorial planning and KPIs across the entire customer journey. With these common insights, our teams have built a continuous feedback loop – from topic selection through performance – that ensures every piece of content we create has a purpose and is measured against that purpose.” @jmueller03

Rather than being limited to using historical campaign data to iterate future campaigns, companies are using evolved marketing automation, machine learning and dynamic personalization platforms to apply customer insights from their data to marketing in real-time. There’s a lot more of that to come in 2018.

Video Stars Are Everywhere

There’s been a substantial increase in demand and production of video by brands wishing to better engage with customers. What is catching marketers’ and customers’ attention most with video is live streaming through popular live video platforms including Facebook live, YouTube live, Instagram live, Twitter, and Periscope. According to Facebook’s stats, live videos get 3X the views than recorded videos. Video optimized for mobile experiences is also hot for marketers and customers. Mobile video ad spend alone will grow 49% to roughly $18 billion in 2018.

Everyone with a smartphone and apps is empowered to create, publish and promote video content. Video is not the plaything of B2C anymore either as more B2B companies invest in creating engaging stories through video and publishing them on LinkedIn. I think we’ll see a lot more creative video coming from B2B brands in the new year.

Privacy as Marketing and Good Business

With the increase in compromises to customer data, concern over privacy is something more marketers are tapping in to. Realizing that certain segments of customers care about privacy, some marketers are using it as a marketing attribute.

Another consideration for greater focus on privacy is the oncoming implementation of GDPR in Europe. Companies anywhere including the U.S. that market to citizens of Europe must comply or face potentially significant consequences. Compliance with GDPR requires changes in opt-in, communications and data handling that marketers must address and soon.

Not only is compliance good for customers, it is also a solid marketing message and good business.

Capture and Captivate Your Audience

Numerous studies show buyers don’t trust ads or brand communications as much as the people and sources “they know”. Brands that develop audiences and community by providing value not only create relevant context but also hedge against the increasing challenges around customer trust and privacy. Companies are also making progress towards growing their own audiences with content marketing vs. buying access to those audiences with ads.

As Robert Rose of Content Marketing Institute says,

The key trend that I’m seeing that will actually help content marketers move the needle will be a move to direct access to subscribed audiences – and the data they provide – as a means of building value for the practice of marketing. @Robert_Rose

Voice – Can You Hear Me Now?

Search queries are evolving from obscure sequences of words typed into search box on laptops to sentences either typed or spoken into a variety of devices.

In 2017 20 million units of smart speakers were sold. Voice assistants like Siri and smart speakers like Echo and Google Home are training customers to use voice in ways that marketers must adapt to. Voice accounts for 20% of searches and is expected to hit 50% by 2020.

Voice content in the form of podcasting is also seeing great growth: 68 million Americans listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. Marketers looking for ways to engage with customers in a more meaningful way are looking at podcasting as a way to do that.

Two of my favorite new podcasts are “Data Inspired” from Rishi Dave, CMO of Dun & Bradstreet (client) and the “CMO Moves” podcast by Nadine Dietz. I have no doubt many more brand and executive podcasts will launch in 2018.

Purpose and Profit

With over 80 million Millennials and over $1 trillion in spending power, consumers are increasingly factoring things like brand mission, values, and sustainability into their purchase decisions. A study by the Economist Group found that 79% of consumers prefer to purchase products from a company that operates with a social purpose. Companies must consider what their purpose means in terms of communications and marketing.

Defining purpose is an initiative we are undertaking within our own company and it’s not as easy to translate into marketing communications as you might think! But brand purpose resonates with modern buyers and more companies will be incorporating their purpose into how the brand is positioned and how they operate – including marketing.

Beyond all the tactics of chatbots, microinfluencers, livestreaming, optimizing for smart speakers and purpose driven marketing is the strategy that answers “why” and for “who”.  To inform marketing strategy, there is one universal truth for marketing: customer centricity. With a eye for optimization on customer preferences and behaviors, marketers will always have the right marketing mix.

How do you make sense of what trends to focus on? At our own company, we deliver “best answer” content marketing programs that integrate influencers, SEO, social, advertising, design and marketing performance optimization. Will optimization for voice search play a part in that mix? Sure. Do AI and machine learning have a role to play in optimizing search and social ad campaigns? How using AI to surface insights about the best content to create and offers to make? Of course.

As a marketing agency it is tempting to chase shiny marketing objects to differentiate. To know what’s possible, we really have to. But we’re also focusing on customers and the core expertise that satisfies 95% of the performance expectations of our marketing programs. By being exceptional at very specific things consistently, we’ll be able to exceed expectations. We’ll also have room to experiment and find data that supports new and customer-centric areas for innovation.

2017 was also a record breaking year for our marketing agency, TopRank Marketing. We added 15 new amazingly talented staff and had the largest increase in client programs and new customer engagements than any year before. While we’ve seen much success with B2B influencer and content marketing programs, it is our focus on the intersection with data from SEO, social and analytics plus all new interactive design capabilities that has enabled great results and more opportunities.

What are the marketing trends you’re most focused on in 2018?

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9 Top Marketing Trends for 2018 | http://www.toprankblog.com

9 Top Marketing Trends for 2018 was posted via Internet Marketing

Digital Marketing News: State of Social, Super Super Bowl Ads, Scheduled Posts on Instagram

State of Social 2018

The State of Social 2018 Report: Your Guide to Latest Social Media Marketing Research [New Data]. Buffer teamed up with Social Media Week to collect data from over 1,700 marketers and create a new report with insights ranging from huge opportunities with messaging apps to how successful marketers are measuring social media ROI. Buffer Blog

The IAB Offers Guidance to Publishers and Marketers Considering Partnering With Influencers. The wild west of influencer marketing gets some guidelines from the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s social media, native and content committee. The group has produced an in-depth guide for publishers considering new influencer marketing options as part of their branded advertising packages and for marketers and their agencies trying to figure out how to best leverage influencer marketing programs. AdWeek

Instagram now allows businesses to schedule their posts. The official support for post scheduling doesn’t extend to ads, nor is it directly available with the product itself. Instead, the support is being added to Instagram’s API – meaning that social media software applications like Hootsuite, Sprout Social or SocialFlow now have access to the functionality. TechCrunch

Twitter Is Working on a Snapchat-Style Video Sharing Tool. Hopefully the feature will have a better impact for Twitter than Snapchat’s run lately. Twitter shares gained as much as 1.4 percent early Thursday. Snap fell as much as 5.1 percent. Bloomberg

Survey: Siloed Data Stifling B2B Marketing Efforts. A new study from Harvard Business Review reports 55% of marketers say not being able to merge information from disparate silos in a timely manner is “hobbling” their initiatives. Lack of analytics skills and issues with data were also challenges. Chief Marketer

Research: 97% of B2B decision-makers know which vendor they want before selection process. The survey of 113 B2B global marketers also found that in 84% of cases, groups that make purchase decisions contain a ‘champion’, who lobbies on behalf of the winning vendor. Now more than ever, B2B marketers need to engage buyers emotionally as well as rationally. B2B Marketing

Facebook updates branded content policy to clarify what qualifies as content. Facebook will bar publishers and creators from using its branded content tagging tool to promote content that they were not involved in creating. MarketingLand

Live Video

Marketers’ Top SEO Priorities for 2018. Marketers say social media, on-site optimization, and content creation are their top search engine optimization (SEO) priorities this year, according to recent research from Clutch, which surveyed 303 marketing decision makers in the U.S.. MarketingProfs

Digital Video Ad Revs Forecast To More Than Double On YouTube, Facebook. Advertising spend on YouTube and Facebook will hit $37 billion by 2022, up from an estimated $16 billion in 2017, according to Juniper Research. MediaPost

In a blow to marketers, Google will let users opt-out of remarketing ads. Google announced that it is expanding the number of places where its “Mute this Ad” functionality will be available. In addition, it will be applying “Mute this Ad” across devices. Once a user tells Google she doesn’t like an ad, Google will stop displaying it across all the devices that user is logged into. Econsultancy 

Facebook starts polishing its privacy messaging ahead of GDPR. As the May 25 deadline for compliance with the EU’s updated privacy framework approaches, including fines that can scale as high as 4% of a company’s global turnover, Facebook is continuing to PR in the form of “privacy principles”, the changes it’s making to try to meet the new data protection standard. TechCrunch

Twitter will host its first-ever #BrandBowl to honor top Super Bowl campaigns. Twitter will recognize the brands that received the most attention on its social network during the NFL’s championship game. MarketingLand

On the Lighter Side, Super Bowl Edition:

Febreze Introduces a Man Whose ‘Bleep’ Doesn’t Smell for the Brand’s Second Super Bowl Appearance. This year, the brand created Dave—a man who can use the bathroom to his heart’s desire without leaving a single smell behind, or as Febreze so wonderfully puts it, his “bleep don’t stink.” AdWeek

5 Ads You Don’t Want to Miss During Super Bowl LII. From Dilly Dilly to celebrity rap battles: Bud Light, Doritos/Mountain Dew, Pepsi, Kia, and Skittles. AdWeek

TopRank Marketing In the News:

The TopRank Blog – The Ultimate Content Marketing Stack: 26 Essential Resources for Awesome Content. Articulate Marketing

Lee Odden – 13 SEO Myths That Are Probably Killing Your Ranks. Cognitive SEO

Lee Odden – B2B Trends for 2018. SquareDot

Lee Odden – Are Your Influencers Buying Their Followers? Onalytica

What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week?

We’ll see you next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories. Also, be sure to check out the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2018. |
Digital Marketing News: State of Social, Super Super Bowl Ads, Scheduled Posts on Instagram | http://www.toprankblog.com

Digital Marketing News: State of Social, Super Super Bowl Ads, Scheduled Posts on Instagram was posted via Internet Marketing

The Real Story in the Decline of Organic Facebook Reach

Recent Facebook announcements about upcoming News Feed changes have been underscored by widespread sharing of the story that publishers are seeing declines of 20-something% in organic Facebook reach already over the last year. Digging into the data a little deeper, I think the story is even worse: I believe publishers are seeing traffic outside the Facebook ecosystem down more like 40%.

The last few years has seen breathless hot-takes, and dramatic over-reactions to the ebbs and flows of organic Facebook reach and traffic.

Off the top of my head, I remember:

Then, throughout 2017, we saw a pretty steep trend downwards in organic visibility on Facebook causing big drops in Facebook’s referral traffic out to other sites. As if this wasn’t enough writing on the wall, Zuckerberg kicked off 2018 by announcing major news feed changes that will dampen organic visibility of media sites even further.

This was entirely predictable – we have been speculating that Facebook could even remove links entirely from the news feed (much like Instagram) if they lead outside the FB ecosystem. Nonetheless, it’s caused much media hand-wringing [warning: possibly NSFW headline].

The reporting of declining Facebook referral traffic through 2017

Over the last few years, Parse.ly, which provides analytics tools primarily to publishers, has repeatedly published data showing the ebbs and flows (I linked to some of their data above). No doubt they’ll continue to do this and show us what the 2018 news feed updates look like for media.

It’s been interesting to me though that the charts they have been releasing, and that have been widely covered have been presented either:

  1. as a % of total referral traffic (effectively Google+Facebook) which looks like Google is growing strongly when in fact it’s only showing modest growth primarily in AMP; and/or
  2. including AMP/instant articles which obfuscate some of what I think is happening

When you look at a chart like this widely-shared one:

It’s basically impossible to tell what’s really going on with Facebook referrals – because what is really happening is a much steeper Facebook decline (this is a % chart and the total is declining for this sample set, driven by the Facebook drop.

Facebook referral traffic to normal web pages is down closer to 40%

I think that the more interesting chart is actually one of the less-shared ones in that Parse.ly report. This chart shows absolute traffic levels rather than %s, and if you read it carefully you can tease out four numbers – Facebook traffic to instant articles and to regular pages and Google traffic to AMP and to regular pages:

By reading the chart carefully, and working with the % numbers shared in the report itself, we get the following changes:

Google traffic changes for Parse.ly publishers in the last year

  • Google AMP pages: up 87%
  • Google non-AMP pages: up 6%
  • Google total: up 17%

Facebook traffic changes for Parse.ly publishers in the last year

  • Facebook instant articles: up 3%
  • Facebook total: down 25%

So far, so much as reported.

But for me, the mind-blowing implication is that if instant article traffic is basically flat, but total Facebook traffic is down 25%, that means that Facebook traffic to the normal web pages in the Parse.ly network is down 38%:

I think this is the more interesting number because it is the metric for traffic outside the Facebook ecosystem. It’s great that Instant Articles are still doing OK (though +3% pales in comparison to Google AMP traffic up 87%) but the issues with Instant Articles and the fact that it’s a clear path to everything staying entirely within the Facebook ecosystem would have me very concerned to build a business model on it.

I’ve been fascinated at the surprise that I’ve seen from sharing the Parse.ly data – a 25% decline is a big deal, but I had assumed it was bigger than that for many publishers, and digging into the data appears to back me up.

If you want anecdote to go with the data, I enjoyed listening to this podcast episode from Recode Media that describes the cratering of Facebook traffic to Bleacher Report:

Our traffic from Facebook is a fraction of what it was at the peak. I’m talking like 15, 20 percent of what it was.

Bleacher Report CEO, Dave Finocchio, talking to Recode Media

While I’m not sold on the “pivot to Instagram” as a long-term strategy (fool me once?) I’m rooting for BR and am fascinated to see where it goes.

Meanwhile, all of this is far more dramatic than was generally reported in coverage of the parse.ly report, and remember that it is before the 2018 news feed changes kick in so we are likely to see plenty more of it this year. It’s not hard to predict the 2018 trend, so I’m interested to see the various responses we see from different publishers. If you’ve seen public statements on their plans, please do share them in the comments – I would definitely be interested to see them.

The Real Story in the Decline of Organic Facebook Reach was posted via Internet Marketing

What Are Hashtags Really For? #Confused #Blessed #NoFilter

What Are Hashtags Really For?

What Are Hashtags Really For?In late 2014, the hashtag #WhyIStayed was trending on Twitter. Frozen pizza slinger DiGiorno, known for being snarky and clever on social media, wanted to join the fun:

DiGiorno Hashtag Social Media Marketing FailThere was just one problem: #WhyIStayed started in response to a video of domestic abuse. Women used the hashtag to tell their own story of abuse and talk about the societal pressures that led them to stay with their abusers.

At best, DiGiorno looked clueless. At worst, it looked like they were making light of a very serious issue. All they wanted was a little brand visibility…and they got it, but not in the way they were hoping.

Hashtags are an integral part of Twitter and Instagram (and Facebook, to a much lesser extent). As such, they should be part of our social media marketing on each platform. But as DiGiorno and many other brands have shown, it’s not enough to look at the trending tags and hop on board. Marketers need to understand what hashtags are for and how our audience is using them before we jump in.

Here are the #fundamentals you need to avoid invisibility or embarrassment with hashtags.


Hashtags started as a feature on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channels back in 1988, when the internet still ran on steam turbine power. The “#” in front of channel meant that it was available for users across the internet, not just on a local area network.

Twenty years later, IRC fans who were early Twitter adopters proposed using the symbol to help classify common topics or groups. Twitter itself didn’t officially recognize hashtags for two more years. In 2009, the site started automatically hyperlinking hashtags to search results.

Facebook added hashtags in 2013, but they don’t see as much use on the platform. By contrast, Facebook-owned Instagram practically runs on hashtags. It’s not unusual to see a post with a four-word captioned followed by a paragraph of tags: #NoFilter #WokeUpLikeThis #BeachLife #SanDiego #ChihuahuaLove. Clicking any of the tags leads to a custom feed of images with the same tag, much like Twitter’s search functionality works.


Hashtags began as a way to categorize information for future searchers, much like the category or topic tags on a blog. In that case, using the right hashtags is more like SEO than anything else; it’s all about making sure your message comes up for the right query.

But hashtags aren’t really for search anymore. Hardly anyone is going to the search box on Twitter or Instagram and putting in a keyword to pull up a specific hashtag.

Hashtags are not really for marketers to boost their brand or their content, either. We can strategically use hashtags for that purpose, but we must remember that’s an off-label use. It’s important to tread lightly on using hashtags promotionally — as DiGiorno and many others can attest.

If it’s not about search or self-promotion, how should marketers think about hashtags? Or, better question, how does your audience think about hashtags?

Odds are, though, your audience doesn’t actively think about why they use or interact with a specific tag. There’s an innate understanding that makes some tags look “right” or “natural,” while others feel “forced” or “commercial.”

The best way I can think of to express that innate understanding is:


Social media feeds move fast. Hashtags are a way for users to block out space to have a conversation. “We’re telling this type of story in here.” “We’re sharing this type of picture in here.” Using a specific existing hashtag should come with the knowledge that you’re entering someone else’s conversation space.

The social media manager at DiGiorno likely wouldn’t go up to a group of people talking about a sad and serious topic in hushed tones and shout, “PIZZA!” But that’s exactly what they did on Twitter.

So before you jump into a conversation, make sure that:

  • You understand what’s being discussed
  • Your brand has (and should have) a position on the topic
  • You have something relevant to contribute

When you’re making your own hashtags, keep in mind that you’re starting a conversation. You can’t control who contributes to that conversation and what they might add to it.

For example, in 2012 McDonald’s used the hashtag #McDStories in a tweet, seemingly inviting users to share their own special memories of the chain. Instead, they got stories about food poisoning, diabetes, heart attacks, and animal cruelty.

It turns out McDonald’s had intended to use the tag to promote stories from employees and others affiliated with the brand. But they accidentally started a much wider conversation. With a little forethought, the mess could have been avoided.

So, when creating your own hashtag, keep in mind:

  • Who are you talking to?
  • What are you trying to say?
  • How else could your hashtag be interpreted?
  • What other conversations might it start?


Good hashtaggery starts with understanding that hashtags are a conversation. From there, the optimum tactics for using hashtags vary from platform to platform. The good folks at Buffer have an in-depth guide that touches on each of the major social media sites.

Here are some simple tips that I recommend to supplement Buffer’s advice:

  • Use hashtags sparingly on Twitter; no more than 2 per post, preferably just one
  • Don’t use tags on paid tweets. They’re proven to dilute your CTA
  • Go nuts on Instagram; 11 hashtags is the optimal number
  • Don’t bother tagging on Facebook. Research shows your post will do better without them
  • Use CamelCase to keep longer tags legible (Remember the “susanalbumparty” debacle?)


Hashtags started as a tagging tool for search. Today, they’re used to create a space for conversations, group people with similar interests, and fill Instagram feeds with puppies. To be most successful with your hashtags, respect conversations that exist already, and be cautious about the conversations you start.

Need to #LevelUp your social media marketing? TopRank Marketing can help.

What Are Hashtags Really For? #Confused #Blessed #NoFilter was posted via Internet Marketing

New Report: 59% of E-commerce Sites Not Testing Their Most Important Channel

I enjoyed reading through the new report from Conversion.com and econsultancy based on research they carried out to understand the big trends in e-commerce and specifically focusing on attitudes to testing and experimentation.

One particular part caught my eye and I thought I would repurpose (with permission) some of their research and data to illustrate a point that I found interesting.

The original report contains this chart:

I was immediately struck by the big gap in the organic search line – it is the channel that has by some margin the biggest number of e-commerce companies which simultaneously rely on the channel and do not test to improve and understand their performance in this area. (And this accepts at face-value the claim by 29% of respondents that they do test organic search which is high, from my experience).

Regular readers will be unsurprised to hear that I’m interested in this given the huge investment we have been making into making SEO testable and quantifiable. So having noticed this tidbit, I reworked that chart to order by the gap and got this:

We very often hear from our clients and customers that they are under significant pressure in the business to measure and justify organic SEO investments. If you find yourself repeatedly having conversations where your boss asks how are you measuring the value of these on-site SEO changes? Or do you know which of the investments we are making in on-site SEO are paying off?

(Or if you’re the boss and you don’t know the answers to these questions).

Then maybe it’s time to check out the latest thinking in SEO split-testing – drop us a line and we’ll be happy to show you how it works.

New Report: 59% of E-commerce Sites Not Testing Their Most Important Channel was posted via Internet Marketing

Why SEOs Will Always Have Jobs…

The chatter amongst the SEOratti is that Voice Search, AI, Machine Learning and SkyNet are a-coming and you better either get ready or prepare for extinction.

If it pleases Twitter, in rebuttal, may I present Exhibit #532 in the case for Shotland’s Law (“The better something looks on the surface, the worse it looks underneath”).

Even those slick Japanese Blade Runner toilets inevitably get clogged and need a plumber…

Search “I need a financial advisor” on mobile Safari.

Why SEOs Will Always Have Jobs… was posted via Internet Marketing

Death of Facebook Organic Reach = New Opportunities for Influencer Marketing

Facebook Zero Influencers

Earlier this month, marketers were shocked to learn that Facebook would be making more major changes to its News Feed, effectively bringing brand and publisher organic reach to zero by prioritizing high engagement content from family, friends and groups.

In a formal statement posted on his own Facebook page, Mark Zuckerberg said:

“We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.”

“But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other. … Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook.”

While the announcement seemed to be the final nail in the organic News Feed coffin, the death of organic reach on Facebook has been a long time coming. Back in April 2015, Facebook announced it was updating News Feeds to strike a better balance between friends, public figures, publishers, businesses and community organizations. Then in late June 2016, Facebook said it would be making further refinements to ensure users don’t miss updates from their friends and families.

Now, after an intense year of political and social upheaval — not to mention the emergence of the fake news engine and the Russian advertising scandal — it’s no surprise that Facebook is re-examining things yet again.

But What Does It All Mean for Marketers?

Naturally, disappointed marketers all over the world are wondering how this change will truly impact their social marketing efforts. From our perspective, the change:

  • Ends the organic reach of the News Feed and increases the importance of adding pay-to-play to your marketing mix — something that will likely require a bigger budget.
  • Bolsters the importance of channel diversification.
  • Makes it more important than ever for you to zero in on who your audience is and what motivates them, so you can share content and create an environment that will pique interest and engagement.
  • Means Instagram will more than likely follow suit in the near future.

The Influencer Implication

Since Zuckerberg’s announcement, there’s been one implication in particular that’s captivated our attention. The way we see it, the value of influencer engagement on Facebook will increase even more.

Our CEO, Lee Odden, has long been an evangelist for working with influencers, believing that influencers can help brands bypass several obstacles. AdBlocking, for example, is in use on over 600 million devices, costing business over $22 billion in ad revenue, according to PageFair. Working with credible influencers who are trusted amongst an audience allows brands to bypass the adblocking obstacle and better connect with buyers.

Lee has also talked about other challenges such as distrust of brand advertising. In fact, 69% of consumers don’t trust ads, according to research by Ipsos Connect. And yet another obstacle is information overload. Americans are confronted with an average of 63GB of media on a daily basis (USC/ICTM).

All of these obstacles, according to Lee, are addressed by working with industry influencers. The virtual elimination of organic News Feed visibility for brands and publishers on Facebook is no different and marketers would be smart to think about how influencer engagement can keep organic Facebook visibility alive.

So, to sum it all up: Now that the organic News Feed is effectively dead, new life is being given to influencer marketing opportunities. Here are a few key considerations:

#1 – If you’re not in the influencer marketing game yet, you can no longer afford to wait.

Last year, we saw influencer marketing explode — becoming one of the most talked about topics among marketers and arguably our most-requested digital marketing services among both B2B and B2C clients. In addition, our own research shows that 57% of marketers say influencer marketing will be integrated in all marketing activities in the next three years.

This quote from Lee sums it up well:

“For any kind of content a business creates and publishes to the world, there is an opportunity for collaboration with credible voices that have active networks interested in what those voices have to say. In many cases, [audiences are] far more interested [in an influencer’s insights] than in what the brand has to say.”

With Facebook reducing branded content and elevating content from individuals, there’s no better time to invest in influencers — which can have an impact across all social platforms.

With #Facebook reducing branded content and elevating content from individuals, there’s no better time to invest in influencers. #influencermarketing
Click To Tweet

#2 – Influencers now hold more power than ever to more strategically align themselves with brands of their choice.

Influencer marketing was already poised to be big in 2018, but this change to Facebook’s platform will absolutely spur more brands and businesses to dip their toe into the water. As a result, influencers will see an uptick in requests, giving them more power to be very choosy about which brands they lend their time, insights and audience to.

Influencers have more power to be very choosy about the brand they lend their time, insights and audience to. #influencermarketing
Click To Tweet

#3 – Influencer nurturing will be more important than ever.

As illustrated by the previous two points, the Facebook change will lead to an increased adoption of influencer marketing, giving influencers more options. So it’s no surprise that it’ll be time to double-down on your commitment to influencer nurturing.

Now, we’ve always said that when it comes to building relationships and rapport with influencers, it’s critical that you put the time and effort into nurturing — rather than simply reaching out when you have a need. There has to be shared value.

But I think most marketers would admit that they have significant room for improvement in this area — and there’s no time like the present to recommit yourself.

With #Facebook’s recent algorithm change, it’s time to double-down on your commitment to nurturing your influencers. #influencermarketing
Click To Tweet

Capitalize on the Opportunity

Let’s face it. This “major change” to Facebook’s platform isn’t the first and it certainly won’t be the last. As a result, now is the time to fully capitalize on the opportunity by better working with industry influencers. Now is the time to refocus on connecting with your audience — and influencers can help you do just that by adding authenticity, credibility, unique insights and new eyeballs to your content.

What else is in store for influencer marketing in 2018? Check out these rising influencer marketing trends that you need to pay attention to.

What do you think about the latest Facebook News Feed algorithm change? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Death of Facebook Organic Reach = New Opportunities for Influencer Marketing was posted via Internet Marketing

New Report: 58% of E-commerce Sites Not Testing Their Most Important Channel

I enjoyed reading through the new report from Conversion.com and econsultancy based on research they carried out to understand the big trends in e-commerce and specifically focusing on attitudes to testing and experimentation.

One particular part caught my eye and I thought I would repurpose (with permission) some of their research and data to illustrate a point that I found interesting.

The original report contains this chart:

I was immediately struck by the big gap in the organic search line – it is the channel that has by some margin the biggest number of e-commerce companies which simultaneously rely on the channel and do not test to improve and understand their performance in this area. (And this accepts at face-value the claim by 29% of respondents that they do test organic search which is high, from my experience).

Regular readers will be unsurprised to hear that I’m interested in this given the huge investment we have been making into making SEO testable and quantifiable. So having noticed this tidbit, I reworked that chart to order by the gap and got this:

We very often hear from our clients and customers that they are under significant pressure in the business to measure and justify organic SEO investments. If you find yourself repeatedly having conversations where your boss asks how are you measuring the value of these on-site SEO changes? Or do you know which of the investments we are making in on-site SEO are paying off?

(Or if you’re the boss and you don’t know the answers to these questions).

Then maybe it’s time to check out the latest thinking in SEO split-testing – drop us a line and we’ll be happy to show you how it works.

New Report: 58% of E-commerce Sites Not Testing Their Most Important Channel was posted via Internet Marketing