Cornerstone Content Defined in 60 Seconds [Animated Video]

By Demian Farnworth

Cornerstone content is vital for both seasoned bloggers and anyone launching a brand-new website because it can help you accomplish many of your content marketing goals.

Goals like:

  • Getting links to your website
  • Finding new readers
  • Attracting subscribers
  • Ranking in search engines for competitive keywords
  • Highlighting archived material

But what exactly is cornerstone content?

Watch our short video for cornerstone content

With help from our friends at The Draw Shop, we whipped up 12 definitions from our new Content Marketing Glossary into short, fun whiteboard animated videos.

Here’s our video for the definition of cornerstone content:

Animation by The Draw Shop

And for those of you who would prefer to read, here’s the transcript:

Online, cornerstone content is the basic, essential, and indispensable information on your website that answers common questions, solves problems, entertains, educates, or all of the above.

The key is creating compelling content that’s worth linking to and then finding ways to get the word out. A page hosting cornerstone content helps readers by pulling all of your content about a specific topic together in one place.

You’ll often link to your cornerstone pages in your everyday content because they help define common topics you talk about on your website.

Each cornerstone content page is a home for related content. It groups basic, essential, and indispensable information onto one page.

Cornerstone pages let you highlight your most important archived content. They also help you attract links, get subscribers, and increase traffic.

And that’s the goal of every profitable website.

Share this video

Click here to check out this definition on YouTube and share it with your audience. You’ll also find 11 additional Content Marketing Glossary videos.

Additional cornerstone content resources

More in-depth cornerstone content education can be found in these articles:

Learn more from the Content Marketing Glossary

We’ll feature the other videos soon, but if you don’t want to wait, you can watch all the videos now by going directly to the Content Marketing Glossary.

By the way, let us know if you have any definitions you’d like us to add to the glossary! Just drop your responses in the comments below.

The post Cornerstone Content Defined in 60 Seconds [Animated Video] appeared first on Copyblogger.

Source: Copy Blogger

    

How to achieve face-melting content marketing ROI

By Chuck Price

Rage against irrelevance

Jason Miller knows a thing or two about content. He’s the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Linkedin, who presented a session titled “How to Achieve Face-Melting Content Marketing ROI” at ClickZ Live NY last week.

With that title, the session immediately piqued my interest and Jason did not disappoint.

In case you were wondering, face melting is:

“The condition in which, due to an extreme exposure to an event of epic awesomeness, horror or any other emotion on the more extreme end of the spectrum of emotions, one loses all perception of space and time including (but not limited to) a brief lapse in physical awareness. Such an emotional rush can even override Pain, which in some cases may be the cause of the rush.”

Source: The Urban Dictionary

To put this in context, you don’t need more content; you need more EPIC and AWESOME content – aka more relevant content.

According to Jason, in a recent survey, 44% of overall respondents say they would consider ending a brand relationship because of irrelevant promotions. An additional 22%, say they would definitely defect from the brand.

Developing relevant content doesn’t need to be a difficult exercise. It doesn’t require any special tools or secret sauce. It all begins with having empathy with your prospects and customers. The formula looks like this:

Useful x Enjoyable x Inspired = Innovative Content ~ Ann Handley

The process begins with the creation of a piece of “Big Rock Content” Not a 2,000 word evergreen piece, but something closer to a 50 or 100 page ebook. Something Awesome. Something Epic. Something like The Sophisticated Marketers Guide to LinkedIn

Big, thick, juicy content is the gift that keeps on giving. A single piece of Big Rock content can be repurposed to attract links, generate traffic and build brand awareness for a year or more. Jason suggests thinking of it as something akin to Leftover Turkey.

leftover-turkey

If distracted by the turkey, this may be a better visual for you:

repurpose

Once your content is published, blast the news EVERYWHERE: Company pages, email, blog, sponsored updates, Display ads, SlideShare, PPC, Twitter, etc. Use turkey slices to fuel your content hubs.

Execution

It’s easy to develop a set of goals, but a plan is specific, time phased and measurable. After determining what constitutes your Big Rock & turkey slices, Jason gave an example of a five week rollout

  • Week 1: Publish Big Rock Content, Influencer Outreach, Sponsored Updates
  • Week 2: Big Rock Webinar, Influencer Outreach, Sponsored Updates
  • Week 3: Big Rock Webinar, Influencer Outreach, Sponsored Updates, Turkey Slice 1, Turkey Slice 2
  • Weeks 4 & 5: Big Rock Webinar, Influencer Outreach, Sponsored Updates, Turkey Slice 1, Turkey Slice 2, Turkey Slice 3, Turkey Slice 4

Your blog ties it all together

Sticking with his food analogy, Jason developed some Blogging Food Groups:

Blogging Food Groups

To be served up on the following schedule (with the associated time commitment)

  • Monday: Vegetables (35% time spent in development)
  • Tuesday: Meats (20% time spent in development)
  • Wednesday : Whole wheat & grains (25% time spent in development)
  • Thursday: Condiments (5% time spent in development)
  • Friday: Desserts (15% time spent in development)

The marketing team of the future

Jason may like his food, but he really loves Kiss.

He used the band as an analogy of how digital marketing symmetry works:

  • SEO – Lays the groundwork
  • Social – Fuels the content
  • Content – Fuels the demand

In the case of the band:

  • They consistently deliver content that their fans want to consume and share
  • Their PR efforts guide their vision as one of the hottest bands in the world
  • They deliver amazing experiences on tour (Event Marketing)
  • They built a thriving community

The Takeaway

Big Rock content isn’t something that would be nice to have. It’s something that you need. As Hummingbird, RankBrain and other algorithms get better; you need to become a smarter marketer. Following this approach to content marketing is sure to give you an edge over most competitors.

To learn more about the changing face of digital marketing, come to our two-day Shift London event in May.

Chuck Price is the founder of Measurable SEO and contributor to Search Engine Watch.

Source: Search Engine Watch

    

A Close Look at the Five Most Interesting Talks from BrightonSEO 2016

By Andrew Tweddle

Last Friday, myself and a number of fellow Distillers made our twice-annual pilgrimage to Brighton for the excellent BrightonSEO. Throughout the day, we took in as many different tracks as possible to get an overall view of what was on offer.

There are a number of excellent tip lists already available. In fact, I’ve linked to a few at the bottom of this post.

These are excellent if you want to pick up a few quick tips and upgrades, and without wanting to repeat what’s already been written, we’ve decided to take a deeper dive into five of the most interesting talks from the day, and what we learned from them.

1. Deep diving into featured snippets: How to earn more and rise to the top – Rob Bucci (STAT Search Analytics)

As CEO of STAT Search Analytics, Rob Bucci is a man who backs up his presentations with plenty of data. His talk at BrightonSEO was certainly no different. Taking a deep dive into featured snippets (the blocks of texts that sometimes appear at the top of SERPs), Rob walked us through the best tactics for helping your own brand or client feature in these snippets.

Why featured snippets?

Featured snippets, as Rob puts it, “represent a valuable opportunity to drive organic traffic for sites that are capable of getting them” and give your content a “big credibility boost in the mind of the searcher”. They’re valuable, basically.

Number one isn’t everything

Looking at Google’s traditional method of ranking, you’d expect that results sitting at number one in the SERPS would, by default, enjoy seeing their brand in the featured snippets. However, as the stats show, over 70% of rich snippets are not sourced from the first ranked result.

Subjective words rarely appear

Featured snippets are designed to give an answer. This means ‘objective’ words are more likely to appear. General question and definition words, like ‘does’, ‘cause’ and ‘definition’; as well as financial words like ‘salary’, ‘average’ and ‘cost’ are likely to trigger a featured snippet. Conversely, the word ‘best’ triggered zero featured snippets in over 20,000 instances.

There are tactics to help you appear in featured snippets

Beyond analysing the data, Rob suggests a few tips to help you appear in the featured snippets. Start by looking at your keyword opportunities to identify what high-frequency featured snippet keywords match up with your existing keyword targeting. You can also bring in Q&A formatting in your content, ideally by devoting one page to answering a single question.

2. What is AMP and do I care? – Dom Woodman (Distilled)

Here at Distilled, we’ve had Google Accelerated Mobile Pages on our radar for quite some time now. In fact, our CEO Will Critchlow wrote about AMP way back in October, and we’ve watched eagerly as the new initiative has been rolled out throughout the early parts of 2016. Therefore, it’s fitting that the Distiller representing us on stage at Brighton, Consultant Dom Woodman, was talking all about AMP.

What the heck is AMP?

As Dom explained in the opening part of his talk, AMP is two things. You probably already know that it allows you to create web pages in a very specific way, so as to guarantee speed. However, it’s also a way of Google having a greater level of control over the distribution of content. With this in mind, the first companies hopping on the AMP bandwagon have understandably been publishers.

Should non-publishers be using AMP?

As is often the way, the answer is ‘it depends’. In his talk, Dom laid out a number of questions you need to ask in regards to your site, which will help you decide whether or not you should be investing time and energy into AMP.

Interestingly, the answer is never ‘no’, but sometimes it is ‘hold off’. If Google News is an important source of traffic, if you have an ongoing problem with site speed, or if your site gets a large proportion of traffic from mobile, now might be the time to start getting AMP on your site.

What benefits will AMP bring?

The first and most obvious benefit you’ll see from AMP pages vs regular desktop pages is a huge decrease in load time. The time it takes for a document to load fully can be reduced by a huge 84%.

Beyond that, AMP is mainly a bet on the future. We’re assuming that the initiative will continue to gain traction, but having the backing of Google and the quickly growing list of supported ad networks (12 in February, 26 as of writing), signs are positive that AMP will continue to grow.

3. What games can teach us about user experience and conversion – Aferdita Pacrami (90 Digital)

I admit, I’m always skeptical about analogies as a basis for a presentation topic; they can sometimes feel a bit stretched. Aferdita Pacrami‘s talk was certainly not one of these. In just 20 minutes, she explored how video game techniques can be used when improving a website’s user experience with a surprising amount of useful tips.

Visual cues provide navigation information

From the use of the mini-map to guiding lines pointing the player in the direction of where they should be going, there are a number of visual cues that can help us create important landing pages. For example, framing a CTA at the most visually standout part of an image will draw the user’s attention.

Video game designers are also experts in using colour as a method of making an important object or game mechanism stand out. This can be carried over to website design by making important CTA buttons one consistent colour, while avoiding the same colour in other areas.

Treat micro conversions as side quests

Put simply, micro conversions are seen as positive steps towards a macro conversion, such as signing up for an email newsletter (micro conversion) may lead to a sale (macro conversion). To keep this user flow in mind, you can treat them like side quests in video games.

Side quests are important for helping users feel more involved in that game’s ‘universe’. The same can be said for a website, because users want to feel a connection to a brand and micro conversions can help create this. However, as with video games, good side quests are not repetitive or disruptive.

4. Psychology of persuasive content – Nathalie Nahai

Sometimes living in the SEO bubble, it’s good to get a different perspective on something. As a web psychologist, Nathalie Nahai is in a perfect position to show us a new and interesting perspective of both the web and our own decision-making process. As this year’s BrightonSEO keynote speaker, it’s unsurprising that Nathalie’s talk was packed full of interesting and insightful advice

What is web psychology?

Definition-wise, web psychology is “the empirical study of how our online environments influence our attitudes and behaviours”. It is useful as it allows us to create more persuasive content, websites, apps and user experiences.

Put trust above all else

While many of us would like to think of ourselves as rational, emotion plays a huge part in decision making. There are ways to use this to your advantage. First of all, Nathalie suggests earning people’s trust, which is no easy task. Trustworthiness isn’t a tactic or a ‘hack’ but something you need to entrench in your brand’s values and express them throughout your business.

Remember the ‘Big Five’ personality traits in your persuasive content

There are multiple personality tests, with varying degrees of usefulness. However, the ‘Big Five‘, according to Nathalie, is the gold standard of these tests. It takes into account five (surprise, surprise) personality traits, which are: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

People high in certain traits are more likely to connect with certain types of ads. For example, making ads that make people feel safe and secure will appeal to those with high levels of neuroticism.

Nathalie Nahai – Psychology of persuasive content (Brighton SEO) from Nathalie Nahai

How to identify and fix crawl optimisation issues – Barry Adams (Polemic Digital)

In the morning’s Crawl session, Barry Adams of Polemic Digital took us on a whistlestop tour of crawl optimisation problems, along with ways to fix these common issues.

Crawl optimisation is the process of “ensuring search engine spiders waste as little time as possible crawling the right URLs on your site.” Wasting crawl budget means the pages you want crawled and indexed are unlikely to be so.

Using a crawler like Deepcrawl/Screaming Frog can help you identify if you have wasted that precious crawl budget. Deepcrawl, for example, tells you the number of discovered URLs vs. unique pages, and you can compare Screaming Frog crawl with the number of indexed pages.

7 mistakes that are wasting your crawl budget (and how to fix them)

  1. There are wrong URLs in your sitemap – you can avoid this by by only checking URLs in the sitemap that are final destination pages

  2. Allowing Google to crawl pagination unnecessarily – use rel=”prev” or rel=”next”

  3. Allowing Google to crawl unnecessary faceted navigation – block facets in robots.txt and nofollow links to pages with those parameters

  4. Google is crawling your site search results – block search results in robots.txt

  5. There are internal redirects that Google is crawling – crawl the site using Screaming Frog and update the links on your site (Tip: after a migration, keep pages that now return a 301 in the XML sitemap so that Google can discover them and remove them from the index)

  6. Over-used canonical pages – don’t use canonicals as a solution to the above problems

  7. Slow pages – you simply need to make your site faster (easier said than done)

How to Find & Fix Crawl Optimisation Issues – #BrightonSEO from Barry Adams

Other BrightonSEO 2016 roundups

Wrapping up

There you have it, our pick of the five most interesting talks. Remember, it’s all subjective, and while we endeavoured to take in as many talks as possible, there were a number we didn’t get to see.

Were you at BrightonSEO? Did any of the talks we’ve not discussed stand out to you? We’d love to hear your best tips from the conference in the comments section below.

Source: Distilled

    

Taking your analytics practice to the next level

By Adam Singer

ClickZ NY analytics

As both a Googler and ClickZ team member, I recently attended and participated in the always-inspirational ClickZ Live New York event.

Along with Katie Morse, Vice President, Social and Search at Nielsen and Pierce Crosby, business development and experienced data analyst at StockTwits, we had a panel discussion on how brands can take their analytics practice to the next level.

First, a quick description of the panel:

Data has become everyone’s domain, in all aspects of your marketing and business. Most companies do a good job at collecting and reporting data and have a basic process in place. But many are stuck as to what to do next to elevate value of data in their company.

As our conversation, and those questions the audience asked, were so good, I wanted to pull out some of the best questions and summary of answers we shared with attendees.

Pierce, Katie, and Adam presenting at ClickZ Live NYC. Photo by Search Engine Watch columnist Thom Craver (used w/permission).

1. Most companies have varying groups that need access to analytics insights. How do you efficiently get them all what they need and how do you ensure it’s most useful for them?

The answer is process. Ensure that you have the right metrics delivered to the right people at an anticipated frequency. Also ensure that you have conducted proper resource allocation in order to allow time not just to share dashboards, but flesh out insights for your teams to take action on.

If you are just delivering dashboards without context, you’re not doing your job. Actually, you’re performing the job a script can do – which isn’t a good place to be.

The more formalized you can be with your processes, the better, as this will make you incredibly efficient and free up time for the creative, valuable (and fun!) analyst projects.

2. How do you see a breakdown of time spent on analytics between data capture, reporting, and analysis? What are the best ways to help get organizations to move up the value chain?

The more time you can spend on analysis, the better. But if you’re not capturing the right data and reporting it in an articulate way, your analysis won’t be accurate or defensible. That’s why it’s important to spend time up front on ensuring your data quality is excellent and you’re effortlessly generating beautiful reports.

Need some hard numbers to serve as a guideline? Aim for 10% of time spent on data capture, 20% on reporting, and 70% on analysis and delivering insights to your team (my previous ClickZ column goes over the reporting part in more detail).

The way to get an organization to move up the value chain is easy: trend down the time you spend on capture and reporting. It’ll happen organically.

3. Can you talk about how you are using data across tactics — such as how does search inform social, email or other areas of marketing?

Data should not exist in a silo. You should be using it to inform everything you do, and you should be using it to understand your users, not simply to fill in dashboards.

For example: if you notice visitors to your ecommerce site are frequently querying a product name or type you don’t have in site search, you should share this data with your product team and persuade them to offer it. Marketing isn’t just about promoting products anymore.

Marketing now needs to be involved in the actual strategic decisions companies make, and data is how we get a seat here. Our user data should be informing what we do next, not just showing successes of our sites and apps. This all starts with breaking down silos and using insights cross functionally – beyond marketing.

4. Let’s talk about goal setting: how you can quantify success outside of just ROI? What are some other metrics that we might want to take a look at?

ROI in dollar terms is great. Everyone can understand this, especially your CFO. But generating revenue is just one outcome from your marketing and content, and just one thing to optimize.

For example, if your call center or social CRM team notices a recurring question about your company’s product they have to answer repeatedly, that’s a huge opportunity. What you need to do in this type of situation is measure what your user’s problems are and use this information to power answers in an automated / self-service fashion such as an FAQ page on your site or chatbot.

Creating this type of content in a data-driven manner can help trend down easily answered questions, freeing up your customer service team to focus on tougher problems which require a human touch and making your customers happier by simply getting the information they need immediately. That’s a win-win: and very measurable!

5. What are some actionable ways or things we could all do to become better at analyzing the “what happened” and “why” at our metrics?

This is an area of practice makes perfect. The answer is to hire skilled leaders for your team that can inspire and grow your team’s analyst skills. But personal growth helps too: so attending events like ClickZ Live, trainings and courses (such as our Analytics Academy) and reading blogs and books (like Avinash’s definitive book, Web Analytics 2.0).

Although, there is simply no substitute for hands on experience at making data-drive decisions and becoming fluent in the world of digital measurement.

Working at an agency and on hundreds of clients across industries helped me get to where I am, so that’s a path I can personally recommend. Although there’s no reason you can’t build your skills in-house too.

To learn more about the changing face of digital marketing, come to our two-day Shift London event in May.

Source: Search Engine Watch

    

Updating the same model in backbone fails from the second time onwards because of duplicates

By sedhu

put 1 request payload

I’m using same model instance to fetch and save. On save/put I return back the updated model. So from the 2nd save onwards, it throws 400 error because of the duplicates which was appended during the previous save/put request.

Call Flow

1. options->making a get request (fetch)

  1. options->put request(save)- returns the same
    model data if save is successful.

    put1 response
  2. options->again put request (save), but fails (400 -bad request) this time. because it contains duplicates.

put2 request payload

put2 failure response

I’d expect model to replace the old values instead of appending it.

Backbone github issue Similiar Issue

Source: Stack Overflow

    

Memory use keep increasing in for loop while using dynamic array.(C++)

By Zhean Lee

The following is my C++ code.

I found the memory use will keep increasing if I try to use test1 array to calculate anything.

double **test1;
test1=new double *[1000];
for(int i=0;i<1000;i++){
        test1[i]=new double [100000000];
        test1[i][0]=rand() / (double)RAND_MAX*100;
    }

    for(int j=1;j<100000000;j++){
    //#pragma omp parallel for
        for(int i=0;i<1000;i++){

            test1[i][j]=test1[i][j-1];  //this cause memory use increase.
        }
        if(j%10000==0){
            cerr << "T="<<j*0.00000001<<endl;
        }
    }

If I delete the line.

test1[i][j]=test1[i][j-1];

The memory use will become a small constant value.

What cause the memory use increasing?

Source: Stack Overflow

    

Error while extracing XML data from XML file in sql server

By user2998990

DECLARE @TablesList TABLE 
(
    TableName VARCHAR(500),
    RefTable VARCHAR(500),
    RefTableIDColumn VARCHAR(500)
)
DECLARE @Query AS VARCHAR(MAX)


SET @Query = 'DECLARE @badIds AS VARCHAR(500) DECLARE @TableXML AS XML'
SET @Query = @Query + ' SELECT @TableXML = xCol FROM (SELECT * FROM OPENROWSET (BULK ''\10.0.0.60TemppathDataItemTables.xml'', SINGLE_CLOB)AS xCol) AS R(xCol)'
SET @Query = @Query + ' INSERT INTO @TablesList SELECT ref.value(''tablename[1]'',''nvarchar(500)'') AS tablename,'
SET @Query = @Query + ' ref.value(''refTable[1]'',''nvarchar(500)'') AS refTable, ref.value(''refTableIDColumn[1]'',''nvarchar(500)'') AS refTableIDColumn FROM'
SET @Query = @Query + ' @TableXML.nodes(''//Table[@name="Description"]'') AS R(ref)'
SET @Query = @Query +'select * from @TablesList'

EXEC(@Query)

I am executing the above script. But I am getting an error as below

Msg 1087, Level 15, State 2, Line 1
Must declare the table variable "@TablesList".
Msg 1087, Level 15, State 2, Line 1
Must declare the table variable "@TablesList".

What I am doing wrong. But when I write the query in dynamic form like below , it works fine. The problem is that I want to remove all the dynamic portion of the SP .

DECLARE @Query AS VARCHAR(MAX)

SET @Query ='DECLARE @TablesList TABLE ( TableName VARCHAR(500),RefTable VARCHAR(500),RefTableIDColumn VARCHAR(500))'
SET @Query = @Query + ' DECLARE @badIds AS VARCHAR(500) DECLARE @TableXML AS XML'
SET @Query = @Query + ' SELECT @TableXML = xCol FROM (SELECT * FROM OPENROWSET (BULK ''\10.0.0.60TempPathDataItemTables.xml'', SINGLE_CLOB)AS xCol) AS R(xCol)'
SET @Query = @Query + ' INSERT INTO @TablesList SELECT ref.value(''tablename[1]'',''nvarchar(500)'') AS tablename,'
SET @Query = @Query + ' ref.value(''refTable[1]'',''nvarchar(500)'') AS refTable, ref.value(''refTableIDColumn[1]'',''nvarchar(500)'') AS refTableIDColumn FROM'
SET @Query = @Query + ' @TableXML.nodes(''//Table[@name="Description"]'') AS R(ref)'
SET @Query = @Query +'select * from @TablesList'

EXEC(@Query)

Source: Stack Overflow

    

Do 50% of adults really not recognise ads in search results?

By Graham Charlton

paid and organic results

Around half of adults are unable to recognise ads in Google’s search results, according to a survey.

This surprising statistic comes from Ofcom’s Adults’ media use and attitudes report, released this month.

While I’ve seen studies suggesting that many people don’t know the difference between paid and organic ads, that 50% could look at a set of results like those below and still not spot them seems bizarre.

The stats

For Ofcom’s study, ‘adults who use search engines’ were shown a picture of the SERPs for ‘walking boots’.

This is what the SERP looks like now, but the study was carried out in 2015, so the shopping results were not there at that time. As the study says:

“Their attention was drawn to the first three results at the top of the list, which were distinguished by an orange box with the word ‘Ad’ written in it. They were then prompted with three options and asked whether any of these applied to these first three results.”

The 1,328 survey respondents were allowed to select more than one answer so, for example, some may have said that the ads were both paid links and the best results.

Understanding of paid-for results returned by Google searches, among adults who use search engine websites or apps:

ofcom 1

To clarify the results, 60% identified them as paid links, while 49% identified them only as paid ads, i.e. they selected only the correct answer.

Ofcom also split the results out between newer and more established internet users. Newer users in this case are defined as those who first went online less than five years ago. There were 160 newer users surveyed, and 1,113 older users.

These are the response to the same question as before, just split by old and new:

ofcom 2

In a nutshell: newer users were less likely to identify that the results with the yellow ad label were indeed paid results. 34% of newer and 51% of established users gave only the correct answer.

I asked Andrew Girdwood, Head of Media Technology at Cello Signal about the findings. He was pretty surprised:

“I’ve closely followed the evolution of disclosure in search engine ads over the years. At one point the lines were blurred – Yahoo’s paid inclusion, for example, traded your money with for some sort of organic search position. Those days, in Europe and America, are long gone. Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic watch closely.

The ad badge updates to Google’s paid search should have made it crystal clear the listing has been paid for. We’re talking about a bright yellow “Ad” label beside the result. How can you miss it? Searching for competitive keyword? Google returns a whole column of Ad, Ad, Ad and Ad mentions. It leaps off the badge to me.

It is just short of mind boggling that 50% of searchers in the UK can’t see the Ad disclosure. When Steve Krug published “Don’t Make Me Think” in 2000 to offer advice on web usability I wonder if he had imaged an audience that was both digitally savvy and web-blind as this.”

Other studies into PPC ads

I’ve looked at this issues before. In 2014, I reported on stats from UX firm Bunnyfoot, which found that 36% didn’t know that PPC ads were indeed ads (a previous study from the same firm produced a figure of 41%).

This was a relatively small sample – 103 people took UX tests with eye-tracking technology and were asked afterwards if they saw any ads.

With the help of Dan Barker, I carried out further tests on this using two separate polls of more than 2,000 UK internet users in total. We asked:

  1. Are people aware of the existence of ads on Google Search?
  2. Do they believe they click Google ads? And, if so, how frequently?

The results were very different to Ofcom’s, with just around 10% not seeing ads in Google results.

However, the very presence of the word ‘ad’ in the question perhaps implied to respondents that there are ads on Google, and gave them a clue about the answer.

There was another study by Varn earlier this year which produced a similar answer to that from Ofcom.

This time, 1,010 Uk internet users were asked the following question. 50.6% couldn’t identify ads:

varn-blog-stats-main

It is tricky to devise the perfect test for this issue. If you ask users questions, there is the obvious temptation for them to second-guess the answer and say what they think is the right answer, rather than just answering honestly.

The Ofcom test, showing users the results and asking the question seems sound enough to me. Also, that several different studies have found a reasonably high percentage of people not recognising ads, so I can only conclude that there’s something in this.

Why can’t people see the ads?

This is the big question. As someone who has worked in digital for more than 10 years, it’s hard to imagine.

After all, there’s a pretty clear yellow ad label next to the results. You can hardly accuse Google of not disclosing the nature of the link.

However, Google has taken steps which some would interpret as reducing the visibility of ads. Remember, Google has an interest in increasing the number of clicks on its ads.

For example, PPC ads used to be shaded until a couple of years ago, though there were no ad labels.

PPC ads shaded

Recently, Google has experimented with green ad labels. The reason is unclear, but it could be a way to help the ad label blend in with the URL text. Or it could simply be one of a series of experiments to find the best performing format.

green ad labels

I suspect this is a similar thing to banner blindness, in which people have just become immune to, or have learned to ignore the elements on the page that don’t interest them.

Indeed, plenty of eye-tracking studies have shown that users will simply not look at certain elements on a page. Could it be that users are looking at the top results and simply not seeing (or processing) the ‘ad’ label?

Whatever the reason, and whatever the exact proportion of search users who don’t recognise ads in Google, it seems clear that there is an issue here.

Source: Search Engine Watch