Ecommerce Tips

The 2019 Yotpo Partner Awards Finalists

At Yotpo, we’re privileged to work with organizations at the top of their game, bringing expertise, creativity, and innovation to give brands the tools they need to compete — and win — in an ever-changing industry.

The third annual Yotpo Partner Awards honor the outstanding companies that push the envelope on eCommerce experiences and go above and beyond to serve their clients. This year, we’re putting the spotlight on the incredible work that enabled brands to craft engaging experiences that drive merchant growth.

Read on to see the finalists, and stay tuned for the grand reveal of the winners on March 23rd, at an exclusive industry event at Shoptalk.
Fueling growth and success
2019 was a year of major achievements driven by deep relationships with our partners. From new integrations, to co-marketing initiatives, to seamless brand deployments, our partners played key roles in our mutual ventures and shared successes.

This year also saw strengthened relationships wit …This story continues at Yotpo

4 Top Strategies for Combating Customer Returns

Unfortunately for online merchants, eCommerce returns have reached staggering heights. In 2017 alone, American consumers returned $351 billion in online and offline purchases (NRF).

Though returns are particularly prevalent in the fashion industry, where nearly nine out of 10 US shoppers have admitted to having returned items purchased online in the last year, the issue ranges across industries, from Health & Beauty, to Electronics, Home & Garden, and beyond.
What’s at the root of the returns epidemic?
In a survey we recently conducted, fit and quality issues (78.7%) emerged as the top reason for returning purchases, while nearly half of the respondents polled (48.6%) said they have sent back items because they looked different in person than they did online.
The good news
With the right strategy in place, your brand has the ability to tackle these issues head-on. By presenting shoppers with a combinatination of highly specific product descriptions, plus social proof l …This story continues at Yotpo

DWMF Global 2020

Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF Conference & Expo Global); is set to bring together over 2000+ worldwide senior digital marketing professionals for two days of thought leadership, insight and practical sessions looking at the challenges the digital future presents – alongside a whole host of networking opportunities. #DMWF provides top-level strategic content and digital marketing […]
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Position Zero Is Dead; Long Live Position Zero

Posted by Dr-PeteIn 2014, Google introduced the featured snippet, a promoted organic ranking that we affectionately (some days were more affectionate than others) referred to as “position zero” or “ranking #0.” One of the benefits to being in position zero was that you got to double-dip, with your organic listing appearing in both the featured snippet and page-1 results (usually in the top 3–4). On January 23, Google announced a significant change (which rolled out globally on January 22) …
“Declutters” sounds innocuous, but the impact to how we think about featured snippets and organic rankings is significant. So, let’s dig deep into some examples and the implications for SEO.
What does this mean for Moz?
First, a product announcement. In the past, we treated Featured Snippets as stand-alone SERP features — they were identified in our “SERP Features” report but were not treated as organic due to the second listing. As of Saturday, January 25 (shout-out to many of our team for putting in a long weekend), we began rolling out data that treats the featured snippet as position #1. SERPs with featured snippets will continue to be tagged in SERP Features reporting, and we’re working on ways to surface more data.
Here’s a partial screenshot of our “SERP Features” report from one of my own experiments …
At a glance, you can see which keywords displayed a featured snippet (the scissor icon), owned that featured snippet (highlighted in blue), as well as your organic ranking for those keywords. We’re working on bringing more of this data into the Rankings report in the near future.
If you’re a Moz Pro customer and would like to see this in action, you can jump directly to your SERP Features report using the button below (please let us know what you think about the update):
Check Your SERP Features
This change brings our data in line with Google’s view that a featured snippet is a promoted organic result and also better aligns us with Google Search Console data. Hopefully, it also helps provide customers with more context about their featured snippets as organic entities.
How does Google count to 10?
Let’s take a deeper look at the before and after of this change. Here are the desktop organic results (left-column only) from a search for “LCD vs LED” on January 21st …
Pardon some big images, but I promise there’s method to my madness. In the “before” screenshot above, we can clearly see that the featured snippet URL is duplicated as the #1 organic result (note: I’ve added the green box and removed a People Also Ask box). Ranking #1 wasn’t always the case prior to January 22nd, but most featured snippet URLs appeared in the #1–#3 organic positions, and all of them came from page-one results.
Here’s the same SERP from January 23rd …
You can see that not only is the featured snippet URL missing from the #1 position, but it doesn’t appear on page one at all. There’s more to this puzzle, though. Look at the January 21st SERP again, but numbered …
Notice that, even with the featured snippet, page one displays 10 full organic results. This was part of our rationale for treating the featured snippet as the #0 position and a special case, even though it came from organic results. We also debated whether duplicating data in rankings reports added value for customers or just created confusion.
Now, look at the numbered SERP from January 23rd …
The duplicate URL hasn’t been replaced — it’s been removed entirely. So, we’re only left with 10 total results, including the featured snippet itself. If we started with #0, we’d be left with a page-one SERP that goes from #0–#9.
What about double snippets?
In rare cases, Google may show two featured snippets in a row. If you haven’t seen one of these in action, here’s an example for the search “Irish baby names” from January 21st …
I’ve highlighted the organic URLs to show that, prior to the update, both featured snippet URLs appeared on page one. A quick count will also show you that there are 10 traditional organic listings and 12 total listings (counting the two featured snippets).
Here’s that same SERP from January 23rd, which I’ve numbered …
In this case, both featured snippet URLs have been removed from the traditional organic listings, and we’re left once again with 10 total page-one results. We see the same pattern with SERP features (such as Top Stories or Video carousels) that occupy an organic position. Whatever the combination in play, the featured snippet appears to count as one of the 10 results on page one after January 22nd.
What about right-hand side panels?
More recently, Google introduced a hybrid desktop result that looks like a Knowledge Panel but pulls information from organic results, like a Featured Snippet. Here’s an example from January 21st (just the panel) …
In the left-hand column, the same Wordstream URL ranked #3 in organic results (I’ve truncated the image below to save your scrolling finger) …
After January 22nd, this URL was also treated as a duplicate, which was met with considerable public outcry. Unlike the prominent Featured Snippet placement, many people felt (including myself) that the panel-style UI was confusing and very likely to reduce click-through rate (CTR). In a fairly rare occurrence, Google backtracked on this decision …
Our data set showed reversal kicking in on January 29th (a week after the initial change). Currently, while some featured snippets are still displayed in right-hand panels (about 30% of all featured snippets across MozCast’s 10,000 keywords), those URLs once again appear in the organic listings.
Note that Google has said this is a multi-part project, and they’re likely going to be moving these featured snippets back to the left-hand column in the near future. We don’t currently know if that means they’ll become traditional featured snippets or if they’ll evolve into a new entity.
How do I block featured snippets?
Cool your jets, Starscream. Almost the moment Google announced this change, SEOs started talking about how to block featured snippets, including some folks asking publicly about de-optimizing content. “De-optimizing” sounds harmless, but it’s really a euphemism for making your own content worse so that it ranks lower. In other words, you’re going to take a CTR hit (the organic CTR curve drops off quickly as a power function) to avoid possibly taking a CTR hit. As Ford Prefect wisely said: “There’s no point in driving yourself mad trying to stop yourself going mad. You might just as well give in and save your sanity for later.”
More importantly, there are better options. The oldest currently available option is the meta-nosnippet directive. I’d generally consider this a last resort — as a recent experiment by Claire Carlile re-affirms, meta-nosnippet blocks all snippets/descriptions, including your organic snippet.
As of 2019, we have two more options to work with. The meta-max-snippet directive limits the character-length of search snippets (both featured snippets and organic snippets). It looks something like this …

Setting the max-snippet value to zero should function essentially the same as a nosnippet directive. However, by playing with intermediate values, you might be able to maintain your organic snippet while controlling or removing the featured snippet.
Another relatively new option is the data-nosnippet HTML attribute. This is a tag attribute that you can wrap around content you wish to block from snippets. It looks something like this …
I will take this content to the grave!
Ok, that was probably melodramatic, but the data-nosnippet attribute can be wrapped around specific content that you’d like to keep out of snippets (again, this impacts all snippets). This could be very useful if you’ve got information appearing from the wrong part of a page or even a snippet that just doesn’t answer the question very well. Of course, keep in mind that Google could simply select another part of your page for the featured snippet.
One thing to keep in mind: in some cases, Featured snippet content drives voice answers. Danny Sullivan at Google confirmed that, if you block your snippets using one of the methods above, you also block your eligibility for voice answers …
A featured snippet isn’t guaranteed to drive voice answers (there are a few more layers to the Google Assistant algorithms), but if you’re interested in ranking for voice, then you may want to proceed with caution. Also keep in mind that there’s no position #2 in voice search.
How much should I freak out?
We expect these changes are here to stay, at least for a while, but we know very little about the impact of featured snippets on CTR after January 22nd. In early 2018, Moz did a major, internal CTR study and found the impact of featured snippets almost impossible to interpret, because the available data (whether click-stream or Google Search Console) provided no way to tell if clicks were going to the featured snippet or the duplicated organic URL.
My hunch, informed by that project, is that there are two realities. In one case, featured snippets definitively answer a question and negatively impact CTR. If a concise, self-contained answer is possible, expect some people not to click on the URL. You’ve given them what they need.
In the other case, though, a featured snippet acts as an incomplete teaser, naturally encouraging clicks (if the information is worthwhile). Consider this featured snippet for “science fair ideas” …
The “More items…” indicator clearly suggests that this is just part of a much longer list, and I can tell you from my as a parent that I wouldn’t stop at the featured snippet. Lists and instructional content are especially well-suited to this kind of teaser experience, as are questions that can’t be answered easily in a paragraph.
All of this is to say that I wouldn’t take a hatchet to your featured snippets. Answering the questions your visitors ask is a good thing, generally, and drives search visibility. As we learn more about the impact on CTR, it makes sense to be more strategic, but featured snippets are organic opportunities that are here to stay.Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

7 Tips to Help your Brand Grow its Customer Base

Growing your customer base is important for any business, especially new ones. Without customers, how can you grow sustainably and make profit? Your customers are your brand’s lifeblood, but in order to increase your customer base, you need to understand what a customer base is in the first place. 

All You Need to Know about Marketing to Gen Z [with Free Designs]

A lot of ecommerce store owners think that marketing to Gen Z is a skill that will only need to be mastered by their future selves. But the truth is, Generation Z is predicted to become the largest consumer group in the US already in 2020, so it’s time to turn your eyes to this […]
The post All You Need to Know about Marketing to Gen Z [with Free Designs] appeared first on Blog – Printful.

Incite Marketing Summit West 2020

Bringing together 300+ CMOs and marketing strategists from the world’s most recognizable brands, the Incite Marketing Summit (May 14-15, San Diego) is 2020’s meeting of the marketing elite. Purpose-built to guide you seamlessly into the future of marketing, there are four essential themes for 2020: Futureproof Your Brand with Purpose From Sell, Sell, Sell to […]
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Why Doritos’ Marketing Strategy Made Super Bowl History

Because we marketers all know that the real competition happens after game day. And when it comes to impeccable Super Bowl campaigns, Doritos marketing strategy has paved the way for companies to emulate.

For nearly a decade, they’ve had a spot-on Super Bowl marketing strategy that boosts engagement in a huge way.

Although Doritos may have moved onto other innovative commercial ideas (rap battles by the biggest influencers out there, for example), their legacy lives on through similar user-generated concepts.

Learn why Doritos’ Super Bowl campaign was so successful time and time again, and inspired others to do the same.
2019 Super Bowl: How Yellow Tail Was Inspired By Doritos’ Marketing Strategy
For their 2019 Super Bowl ad, Yellow Tail took a page out of the Doritos playbook and turned to their customers for ad inspiration.

The premise is simple. Yellow Tail asked for fans to submit self-produced video segments for their “Tastes Like Happy” commercial. The winning segm …This story continues at Yotpo

Customer Service Summit 2020

The Customer Service Summit (June 8-9th, San Diego) brings together an unrivalled list of senior customer service leaders from the world’s most powerful and innovative brands. Purpose-built to guide you seamlessly into the future of customer service and ensure your team is ready to meet changing customer demands. Join a community of 250+ professionals exploring the […]
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Chrome 80 Updates: ShareASale upgrades links HTTPS and supporting HSTS

ShareASale is prepared for the release of Chrome 80, are you? On February 4, Google will release an update to its Chrome browser. In this update, Chrome will limit cross-site cookies to HTTPS connections. To ensure continuous tracking during this change, ShareASale is upgrading security standards and making relevant attribute changes to cookies. In anticipation […]
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Upselling and Cross-Selling Strategies to Boost Your Ecommerce Store Revenue

Upselling and cross-selling are two sales methods you can use to drive your revenue and retain customers. They let you introduce audiences to more of your products, and make sure customers have a positive experience on your store. Read on to learn why cross-selling and upselling is important, and discover ways you can implement both […]
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SMSBump Joins Yotpo: Expanding the Most Robust eCommerce Marketing Platform for Brands

I’m proud to announce that SMSBump, the leading SMS marketing solution for eCommerce brands, is joining Yotpo!

The acquisition of SMSBump is an historic moment for us. SMSBump’s visionary founders, Mihail Stoychev & Georgi Petrov, and their team, have built a category-leading product in just a couple of years, demonstrating their technical expertise at scale time and again. Not only do they have the most advanced growth and flow builder tools, but they are also constantly leveling up. We were deeply impressed by both their product and the team’s dedication to innovation, speed, and customer satisfaction — making them ideal partners for Yotpo.

When we started Yotpo in 2011, we ultimately built what would become a content engine that helps brands collect and display social proof — reviews, ratings, photos, videos, and Q&A — at every customer touchpoint.

In 2018, we acquired Swell Rewards, now our Loyalty and Referrals solution, using our reach and customer s …This story continues at Yotpo

Smither’s E-Pack Europe 2020

Smithers are excited to confirm E-PACK Europe will be returning for a second year, this time heading to Amsterdam, The Netherlands on 21-23 April 2020. E-PACK Europe 2020 will cover the full landscape of the evolving e-commerce packaging market. The annual cross-industry conference provides a platform to discuss technical challenges for the e-commerce packaging industry […]
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Celebrating 20 years of success: Awin releases fourth edition of the Awin Report

To mark its 20th anniversary, global affiliate marketing network Awin has released a special edition of the Awin Report. The Report offers vibrant and insightful commentary on radical changes in the channel over the past 20 years, reflecting not only on Awin’s history but also the role the business has played in shaping the global affiliate […]
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Best Practices For Lead Generation and Routing

Ninety three percent of B2B buying processes begin with a search, making the information that brands publish critical to the success of their organization. Strong lead generation strategies and practices can build businesses, while errors and mistakes can result in poor ROI and countless sales left on the table. We wanted to discuss the best […]
The post Best Practices For Lead Generation and Routing appeared first on BrightEdge SEO Blog.

2020 Affiliate Marketing Trends

Annual trend features often look for a milestone or marker to base predictions around. With every new year, we typically feel the next 12 months will be pivotal but, caught up in the day-to-day of our jobs, this often never quite materializes.   As we enter a new decade, however, the landscape as laid out before […]
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How to Match Printful Shipping Rates to Your Ecommerce Store’s

As a store owner, you already know it’s essential to set up the correct shipping rates for each of your products. I’ve created an exercise to help you sort out your shipping depending on the products you offer, and the ecommerce platform you use. First off, if you use Shopify, Etsy, Wish, eBay, or Bonanza—good […]
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Cult of Chubbies, the Long & Short of it [TRANSCRIPT]

At Yotpo’s Desination:D2C Conference on September 12, 2019, 2pm Founder Web Smith sat down with Tom Montgomery, Co-founder, CMO & CTO of Chubbies, to discuss how the brand creates experiences that drive customer loyalty through product, data, marketing, and more.
Video

Transcript
Web Smith: So I want to kick this off with an important fact. Chubbies just began selling lederhosen. Is it leiderhosen or lederhosen?

Tom Montgomery: Lederhosen, I think.

Web Smith: Lederhosen?

Tom Montgomery: The crowd’s got to know that.

Web Smith: So I did a 23andMe and found that I was 10% German, so I’m one of your newest customers. I literally just bought backstage and…

Tom Montgomery: Necessary purchase

Web Smith: …I got the shipping notification within a few minutes, so congratulations.

Tom Montgomery: Good, yeah. That’s fast.

Web Smith: All right, so let’s talk about the origin of Chubbies, the name, how you came about it, a …This story continues at Yotpo

Front Row With Rebecca Minkoff [TRANSCRIPT]

At Yotpo’s Desination:D2C Conference on September 12, 2019, Vogue Business Features Editor Hilary Milnes sat down with Rebecca Minkoff, CEO of the eponymous brand, to discuss lessons learned over her 15+-year-long career in the fashion industry.
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Transcript
This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Hilary Milnes: My name’s Hilary Milnes, I’m the Features Editor at Vogue Business and I am joined by Rebecca Minkoff. Hi, Rebecca.

Rebecca Minkoff: Hi, thanks for having me.

Hilary Milnes: Yeah, of course. And thank you guys for staying. I know it’s post-5:00 PM now.

Rebecca Minkoff: Happy hour.

Hilary Milnes: Yeah. The happy hour sessions. So Rebecca, I wanted to start with the news, the latest announcement that you guys had during your New York Fashion Week presentation, which is that you’re launching a plus-sized collection in partnership with Stitch Fix. Do you want to talk a little bit about how you chose Stitch Fix as a partner and fi …This story continues at Yotpo

Google Core Update for January 2020

Following their stated policy of increased transparency, Google announced on Monday, January 13, 2020, that they had begun to roll out the first core update of the year. They claimed that the update had mostly finished rolling out by the end of the week, but that sites might still see the impact of the update for […]
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Guide to Basic SEO Concepts: Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our 3-part SEO basics series, designed to help you “speak SEO” with your team by becoming better acquainted with the basic SEO concepts most often discussed. Part 1 of our series covered basic on-page SEO terms and definitions. In this segment, we’ll define essential SEO linking concepts and search engine directives. Search […]
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A Guide to Basic SEO Practices: Part 1

To help you better understand and communicate more effectively with your SEO team, we’ve composed a 3-part series of basic SEO concepts and their related definitions. While there are many SEO terms, we’re focusing on those that are the most discussed and most basic SEO. In this first segment of our SEO instructional, we’ll go over the […]
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Guide to Basic SEO Concepts: Part 3

In this third and final segment of our guide to basic SEO concepts, we’ll touch on the more advanced SEO definitions and concepts of website “crawlability,” including basic search engine directives, common client and server errors, best practices and web developer resources. You can access Part 1 of our series, covering on-page SEO concepts, and Part 2, explaining essential linking […]
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Awin US named mThink Blue Book #2 Best CPS Network

For the fourth consecutive year, Awin US – comprised of the trusted Awin and ShareASale platforms – is thrilled to be named #2 ‘Best CPS Network.’  Every year, mThink gathers input from the performance marketing community through a vast research survey, and the results are used to rank each provider based on several considerations including reputation, influence, technology, clientele, and scale. Top networks are […]
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Re-Fashioning Steve Madden [TRANSCRIPT]

At Yotpo’s Desination:D2C Conference on September 12, 2019, Bloomberg Reporter Matt Townsend sat down with Jeff Silverman, President of Global eCommerce at Steve Madden, to discuss how the company spurred serious growth through D2C and improved the customer experience with agile technology.
Video
Transcript
This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Matt Townsend: Good morning. Thanks for coming to the event. Today, we’re talking to Jeff Silverman, President of Steve Madden. Just a few things I dug up on Steve Madden: it’s about $1.7 billion in sales. Market cap is about 3 billion. First, I want to start off – Jeff has an interesting career trajectory. I wanted to get a little bit into just how he got to Steve Madden. He actually was there previously and came back. It’s kind of an interesting tale. So why don’t we start with that, how you got to Steve Madden, where you are now.

Jeff Silverman: Good morning, everyone. Real quickly: I’ve been in the footwear busi …This story continues at Yotpo

Favicon SEO

Google recently copied their mobile result layout over to desktop search results. The three big pieces which changed as part of that update were
URLs: In many cases Google will now show breadcrumbs in the search results rather than showing the full URL. The layout no longer differentiates between HTTP and HTTPS. And the URLs shifted from an easily visible green color to a much easier to miss black.
Favicons: All listings now show a favicon next to them.
Ad labeling: ad labeling is in the same spot as favicons are for organic search results, but the ad labels are a black which sort of blends in to the URL line. Over time expect the black ad label to become a lighter color in a way that parallels how Google made ad background colors lighter over time.
Last year, our search results on mobile gained a new look. That’s now rolling out to desktop results this week, presenting site domain names and brand icons prominently, along with a bolded “Ad” label for ads. Here’s a mockup: pic.twitter.com/aM9UAbSKtv— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) January 13, 2020
One could expect this change to boost the CTR on ads while lowering the CTR on organic search results, at least up until users get used to seeing favicons and not thinking of them as being ads.
The Verge panned the SERP layout update. Some folks on Reddit hate this new layout as it is visually distracting, the contrast on the URLs is worse, and many people think the organic results are ads.
Conspiracy Theory: The REAL reason icons are in SERPs is to encourage “banner blindness” for the “Ad” text. Once people see the icons over and over, they will learn to mentally ignore the top left. pic.twitter.com/LaXdZjNLK1— Rishi Lakhani (@rishil) January 17, 2020
I suspect a lot of phishing sites will use subdomains patterned off the brand they are arbitraging coupled with bogus favicons to try to look authentic. I wouldn’t reconstruct an existing site’s structure based on the current search result layout, but if I were building a brand new site I might prefer to put it at the root instead of on www so the words were that much closer to the logo.
Google provides the following guidelines for favicons
Both the favicon file and the home page must be crawlable by Google (that is, they cannot be blocked to Google).
Your favicon should be a visual representation of your website’s brand, in order to help users quickly identify your site when they scan through search results.
Your favicon should be a multiple of 48px square, for example: 48x48px, 96x96px, 144x144px and so on. SVG files, of course, do not have a specific size. Any valid favicon format is supported. Google will rescale your image to 16x16px for use in search results, so make sure that it looks good at that resolution. Note: do not provide a 16x16px favicon.
The favicon URL should be stable (don’t change the URL frequently).
Google will not show any favicon that it deems inappropriate, including pornography or hate symbols (for example, swastikas). If this type of imagery is discovered within a favicon, Google will replace it with a default icon.
In addition to the above, I thought it would make sense to provide a few other tips for optimizing favicons.
Keep your favicons consistent across sections of your site if you are trying to offer a consistent brand perception.
In general, less is more. 16×16 is a tiny space, so if you try to convey a lot of information inside of it, you’ll likely end up creating a blob that almost nobody but you recognizes.
It can make sense to include the first letter from a site’s name or a simplified logo widget as the favicon, but it is hard to include both in a single favicon without it looking overdone & cluttered.
A colored favicon on a white background generally looks better than a white icon on a colored background, as having a colored background means you are eating into some of the scarce pixel space for a border.
Using a square shape versus a circle gives you more surface area to work with.
Even if your logo has italics on it, it might make sense to avoid using italics in the favicon to make the letter look cleaner.
Here are a few favicons I like & why I like them:
Citigroup – manages to get the word Citi in there while looking memorable & distinctive without looking overly cluttered
Nerdwallet – the N makes a great use of space, the colors are sharp, and it almost feels like an arrow that is pointing right
Inc – the bold I with a period is strong.
LinkedIn – very memorable using a small part of the word from their logo & good color usage.
Some of the other memorable ones that I like include: Twitter, Amazon, eBay, Paypal, Google Play & CNBC.
Here are a few favicons I dislike & why
Wikipedia – the W is hard to read.
USAA – they included both the logo widget and the 4 letters in a tiny space.
Yahoo! – they used inconsistent favicons across their sites & use italics on them. Some of the favicons have the whole word Yahoo in them while the others are the Y! in italics.
If you do not have a favicon Google will show a dull globe next to your listing. Real Favicon Generator is a good tool for creating favicons in various sizes.
What favicons do you really like? Which big sites do you see that are doing it wrong?
Categories: seo tips

ThinkTank Blogger Contest Winners Revealed

Awin and ShareASale are thrilled to announce the winners of our ThinkTank US 2020 Blogger Contest. From November 1 – December 25, 2019, all bloggers joined to our trusted Awin and ShareASale platforms were eligible to win one blogger ticket (valued at $250) to ThinkTank, our annual thought leadership, education and networking event, simply by creating content inspired by our 2019 Gift Guide.   We were thrilled to […]
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Fall Back in Love with Valentine’s Day: Marketing Ideas for 2020

I have quite a few Valentine’s Days behind me, but the one I have the fondest memories of is when I was 13 years old.  February 14 was the day my parents yielded to peer pressure and bought a microwave oven, first ever in our household. To celebrate this purchase, I invited friends over to […]
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Publisher spotlight: Groupon

Groupon is well known for connecting the highest quality businesses and the world’s best customers, featuring new ways to explore your city. With Groupon, shoppers can discover the best a city has to offer with Groupon Local, enjoy vacations with Groupon Getaways, and find a curated selection of electronics, fashion, home furnishings and more with […]
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Seasonal Calendar 2020

Awin releases its annual seasonal calendar for 2020 covering internal, industry and seasonal events. The start of a year brings new events and networking opportunities for marketers. But first there tends to be a few chaotic weeks of trying to determine what important industry conferences and events to plan for over the next 12 months. That’s why each year we […]
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How to Protect Your Online Store with Free Tools and Mindful Habits

Where there’s money, sharks circle. And in ecommerce, there’s plenty of both—the market saw it’s fastest growth in seven years at the end of 2019. That makes small business owners valuable targets to malicious hackers who can commandeer compromised accounts to defraud you and your customers.  But if you’re like me, you’re a bit bored […]
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How to Grow Your Store with Sublimation Printing

With digital textile printing on the rise, it’s time to look into the technique that’s projected to be the most lucrative—sublimation printing. Sublimation printing is used to print on all sorts of products, from household decor to apparel and accessories. Because of this, sublimation printing is high in demand. It’s become so popular that the […]
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Using The News Cycle for Valuable Customer Insight

The news cycle has become a critical part of our world today. According to The Media Insight Project, nearly half of Americans have signed up for news alerts on their devices and 78 percent of smartphone users turn to their devices to stay updated on the latest headlines and developments.  Additionally, about two thirds of […]
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Color Matching Guide for Print-on-Demand Products

First and foremost, you’re the designer in charge. You want your work to come out as you envisioned it, and don’t want to risk the printing software misrepresenting the colors you chose. Second, color matching is crucial because you want to meet your customer expectations. Remember those “expectations vs. reality” online shopping memes? Imagine that […]
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How Fashion Nova beats out Dior and Gucci to Become the Most Googled Fashion Brand in the World

Fashion Nova is a MASSIVE hit in the world of fashion: Generated more than $400 million within just 18 months after launching their website. A tailor-made Instagram brand with over 20M total followers on three different accounts. The value of Fashion Nova’s social media exposure is more than that of…
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Brands vs Ads

About 7 years ago I wrote about how the search relevancy algorithms were placing heavy weighting on brand-related signals after Vince & Panda on the (half correct!) presumption that this would lead to excessive industry consolidation which in turn would force Google to turn the dials in the other direction.
My thesis was Google would need to increasingly promote some smaller niche sites to make general web search differentiated from other web channels & minimize the market power of vertical leading providers.
The reason my thesis was only half correct (and ultimately led to the absolutely wrong conclusion) is Google has the ability to provide the illusion of diversity while using sort of eye candy displacement efforts to shift an increasing share of searches from organic to paid results.
As long as any market has at least 2 competitors in it Google can create a “me too” offering that they hard code front & center and force the other 2 players (along with other players along the value chain) to bid for marketshare. If competitors are likely to complain about the thinness of the me too offering & it being built upon scraping other websites, Google can buy out a brand like Zagat or a data supplier like ITA Software to undermine criticism until the artificially promoted vertical service has enough usage that it is nearly on par with other players in the ecosystem.
Google need not win every market. They only need to ensure there are at least 2 competing bids left in the marketplace while dialing back SEO exposure. They can then run other services to redirect user flow and force the ad buy. They can insert their own bid as a sort of shill floor bid in their auction. If you bid below that amount they’ll collect the profit through serving the customer directly, if you bid above that they’ll let you buy the customer vs doing a direct booking.
Where this gets more than a bit tricky is if you are a supplier of third party goods & services where you buy in bulk to get preferential pricing for resale. If you buy 100 rooms a night from a particular hotel based on the presumption of prior market performance & certain channels effectively disappear you have to bid above market to sell some portion of the rooms because getting anything for them is better than leaving them unsold.
Dipping a bit back into history here, but after Groupon said no to Google’s acquisition offer Google promptly partnered with players 2 through n to ensure Groupon did not have a lasting competitive advantage. In the fullness of time most those companies died, LivingSocial was acquired by Groupon for nothing & Groupon is today worth less than the amount they raised in VC & IPO funding.
Most large markets will ultimately consolidate down to a couple players (e.g. Booking vs Expedia) while smaller players lack the scale needed to have the economic leverage to pay Google’s increasing rents.
This sort of consolidation was happening even when the search results were mostly organic & relevancy was driven primarily by links. As Google has folded in usage data & increased ad load on the search results it becomes harder for a generically descriptive domain name to build brand-related signals.

It is not only generically descriptive sorts of sites that have faded though. Many brand investments turned out to be money losers after the search result set was displaced by more ads (& many brand-related search result pages also carry ads above the organic results).
The ill informed might write something like this:
Since the Motorola debacle, it was Google’s largest acquisition after the $676 million purchase of ITA Software, which became Google Flights. (Uh, remember that? Does anyone use that instead of Travelocity or one of the many others? Neither do I.)
The reality is brands lose value as the organic result set is displaced. To make the margins work they might desperately outsource just about everything but marketing to a competitor / partner, which will then latter acquire them for a song.
Travelocity had roughly 3,000 people on the payroll globally as recently as a couple of years ago, but the Travelocity workforce has been whittled to around 50 employees in North America with many based in the Dallas area.
The best relevancy algorithm in the world is trumped by preferential placement of inferior results which bypasses the algorithm. If inferior results are hard coded in placements which violate net neutrality for an extended period of time, they can starve other players in the market from the vital user data & revenues needed to reinvest into growth and differentiation.
Value plays see their stocks crash as growth slows or goes in reverse. With the exception of startups frunded by Softbank, growth plays are locked out of receiving further investment rounds as their growth rate slides.
Startups like Hipmunk disappear. Even an Orbitz or Travelocity become bolt on acquisitions.
The viability of TripAdvisor as a stand alone business becomes questioned, leading them to partner with Ctrip.
TripAdvisor has one of the best link profiles of any commercially oriented website outside of perhaps Amazon.com. But ranking #1 doesn’t count for much if that #1 ranking is below the fold.
TripAdvisor shifted their business model to allow direct booking to better monetize mobile web users, but as Google has ate screen real estate and grew Google Travel into a $100 billion business other players have seen their stocks sag.
Google sits at the top of the funnel & all other parts of the value chain are compliments to be commoditized.
Buy premium domain names? Google’s SERPs test replacing domain names with words & make the domain name gray.
Improve conversion rates? Your competitor almost certainly did as well, now you both can bid more & hand over an increasing economic rent to Google.
Invest in brand awareness? Google shows ads for competitors on your brand terms, forcing you to buy to protect the brand equity you paid to build.Search Metrics mentioned Hotels.com was one of the biggest losers during the recent algorithm updates: “I’m going to keep on this same theme there, and I’m not going to say overall numbers, the biggest loser, but for my loser I’m going to pick Hotels.com, because they were literally like neck and neck, like one and two with Booking, as far as how close together they were, and the last four weeks, they’ve really increased that separation. … I’m going to give a winner. The fire department that’s fighting the fires in Northern California.”
As Google ate the travel category the value of hotel-related domain names has fallen through the floor.
Most of the top selling hotel-related domain names were sold about a decade ago:
On August 8th HongKongHotels.com sold for $4,038. And the buyer may have overpaid for it!
Google consistently grows their ad revenues 20% a year in a global economy growing at under 4%.
There are only about 6 ways they can do that
growth of web usage (though many of those who are getting online today have a far lower disposable income than those who got on a decade or two ago did)
gain marketshare (very hard in search given that they effectively are the market in most markets outside of China & Russia)
create new inventory (new ad types on Google Maps & YouTube)
charge more for clicks
improve at targeting by better surveillance of web users (getting harder after GDPR & similar efforts from some states in the next year or two)
shift click streams away from organic toward paid channels (through larger ads, more interactive ad units, less appealing organic result formatting, etc.)
Wednesday both Expedia and TripAdvisor reported earnings after hours & both fell off a cliff: “Both Okerstrom and Kaufer complained that their organic, or free, links are ending up further down the page in Google search results as Google prioritizes its own travel businesses.”

Thursday Google hit fresh all time highs.

Booking held up much better than TripAdvisor & Expedia as they have a bigger footprint in Europe (where antitrust is a thing) and they have a higher reliance on paid search versus organic.
The broader SEO industry is to some degree frozen by fear. Roughly half of SEOs claim to have not bought *ANY* links in a half-decade.
Anonymous survey: have you (or your company) purchased backlinks – of ANY quality – for your own site, or any of your clients’ sites, at any point in the past ~5 years?— Lily Ray (@lilyraynyc) October 24, 2019
Long after most of the industry has stopped buying links some people still run the “paid links are a potential FTC violation guideline” line as though it is insightful and/or useful.
Some people may be violating FTC rules by purchasing links that are not labeled as sponsored. This includes “content marketers” who publish articles with paid links on sites they curate. It’s a ticking time bomb because it’s illegal.— Roger Montti (@martinibuster) October 24, 2019
Ask the people carrying Google’s water what they think of the official FTC guidance on poor ad labeling in search results and you will hear the beautiful sound of crickets chirping.
Where is the ad labeling in this unit?

Does small gray text in the upper right corner stating “about these results” count as legitimate ad labeling?
And then when you scroll over that gray text and click on it you get “Some of these hotel search results may be personalized based on your browsing activity and recent searches on Google, as well as travel confirmations sent to your Gmail. Hotel prices come from Google’s partners.”
Zooming out a bit further on the above ad unit to look at the entire search result page, we can now see the following:
4 text ad units above the map
huge map which segments demand by price tier, current sales, luxury, average review, geographic location
organic results below the above wall of ads, and the number of organic search results has been reduced from 10 to 7
How many scrolls does one need to do to get past the above wall of ads?
If one clicks on one of the hotel prices the follow up page is … more ads.
Check out how the ad label is visually overwhelmed by a bright blue pop over.

Worth noting Google Chrome has a built-in ad blocking feature which allows them to strip all ads from displaying on third party websites if they follow Google’s best practices layout used in the search results.

You won’t see ads on websites that have poor ad experiences, like:
Too many ads
Annoying ads with flashing graphics or autoplaying audio
Ad walls before you can see contentWhen these ads are blocked, you’ll see an “Intrusive ads blocked” message. Intrusive ads will be removed from the page.

Hotels have been at the forefront of SEO for many years. They drive massive revenues & were perhaps the only vertical ever referenced in the Google rater guidelines which stated all affiliate sites should be labeled as spam even if they are helpful to users.
Google has won most of the profits in the travel market & so they’ll need to eat other markets to continue their 20% annual growth.
Some people who market themselves as SEO experts not only recognize this trend but even encourage this sort of behavior:
Zoopla, Rightmove and On The Market are all dominant players in the industry, and many of their house and apartment listings are duplicated across the different property portals. This represents a very real reason for Google to step in and create a more streamlined service that will help users make a more informed decision. … The launch of Google Jobs should not have come as a surprise to anyone, and neither should its potential foray into real estate. Google will want to diversify its revenue channels as much as possible, and any market that allows it to do so will be in its sights. It is no longer a matter of if they succeed, but when.
We are nearing many inflection points in many markets where markets that seemed somewhat disconnected by search will still end up being dominated by search. Google is investing heavily in quantum computing. Google Fiber was a nothingburger to force competing ISPs into accelerating expensive network upgrades, but beaming in internet services from satellites will allow Google to bypass local politics, local regulations & heavy network infrastructure construction costs. A startup named Kepler recently provided high-bandwidth connectivity to the Arctic. When Google launches a free ISP there will be many knock on effects.
Categories: google

7 Tips to Keep Customers Come Back Several Times without Begging Them

To grow sustainably, acquiring new customers is not enough. For life-long value, you need a plan to keep customers coming back to you and increase customer retention rates. 5% increase in customer retention rate can lift 25%- 95% profits. Retaining an existing customer is 7x more expensive than acquiring a…
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Internet Wayback Machine Adds Historical TextDiff

The Wayback Machine has a cool new feature for looking at the historical changes of a web page.

The color scale shows how much a page has changed since it was last cached & you can select between any two documents to see how a page has changed over time.
You can then select between any two documents to see a side-by-side comparison of the documents.

That quickly gives you an at-a-glance view of how they’ve changed their:
web design
on-page SEO strategy
marketing copy & sales strategy
For sites that conduct seasonal sales & rely heavily on holiday themed ads you can also look up the new & historical ad copy used by large advertisers using tools like Moat, WhatRunsWhere & Adbeat.
Categories: seo tools

Affiliate Marketing 101: Why You Should Learn Affiliate Marketing

Everyone talks about affiliate marketing and how lucrative it is, but what is affiliate marketing, actually? Here’s why you should learn affiliate marketing.
In today’s modern Digital Era, connecting consumers to products is now easier than ever. Businesses of all industries have learned to take advantage of this ever-expanding online marketplace and the most successful ones are using ClickBank. For that reason, it’s best to learn affiliate marketing with ClickBank. 

Bitcoin Plunges By $300 in Minutes as Bearish Sentiment Mounts

Over the past 30 minutes, Bitcoin (BTC) has plunged by $300 from $9,515 to $9,200. As such, the cryptocurrency is now trading 3% down on the day. While this wasn’t a decisively bearish move in and of itself, a sentiment that “the rally is over” is starting to bubble in trading circles. Related Reading: Coffee…
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Chinese Altcoins Retrace from Daily Highs as Hype Falters

Late last week the Chinese President offered widely publicized comments regarding his intentions to make China a global leader in blockchain technology, which was met with mixed reactions from investors, with some analysts noting that it was the catalyst behind the recent rallys incurred by Bitcoin and altcoins alike. These comments were particularly impactful to…
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Prominent Bitcoin Naysayer Refutes China Being Behind Recent BTC Rally

Peter Schiff has refuted the notion that the Chinese government endorsement of blockchain is behind Bitcoin’s recent price rally. The price of the leading digital asset surged on Friday to a high above $10,000 on some exchanges before returning to around $9,400 at the time of writing. Schiff instead claims that so-called whales (large holders…
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