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The four most important SEO strategies for publishers in 2022

Naomi Rabbie, March 16, 2022

Key takeaways:

  • Preparing for MUM might not be required today, but it will keep you ahead of the game.
  • Make increasing page speed a priority and evaluate your site speed routinely.
  • Leverage Google’s tools for the best chance of earning a spot in Suggested Clips.
  • Refresh old content to build on the wins you previously had. 
MUM, Google, BERT, algorithm

There’s no denying that Google is the king of the internet. As such, all of its subjects, a.k.a. advertisers and publishers, must abide by the rules to court favor with the king in an attempt to win a coveted spot on the first page of search results. That, of course, is no easy feat. Landing a spot on page two is still a good consolation prize, but any further down is the equivalent of being sent to the Tower of London with a fate similar to Anne Boleyn.

Alas, for you publishers, the way to curry favor with the king and remain in its good graces is to focus on SEO strategies that meet its ever-changing algorithms. So, what does the ruler of the digital land have in store for us as we look at the year ahead? Google is flexing its mighty tech muscle, building on its AI and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities and focusing on how to provide internet users with better, more relevant sources of information. 

In this post, we’ll unpack the treasure chest of what Google has been working on so you can adjust your SEO strategy and prepare for tomorrow and the years to come. 

Google MUM is coming

Last May, Google introduced its new AI algorithm called MUM (Multitask Unified Model), which is built on top of its already in use algorithm BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers). According to Google, MUM is 1000 times more powerful than BERT and takes a radically different approach towards serving users’ implied search intent by understanding context, concepts, and how topics intersect.  

No one knows how MUM will affect search results. Google has been vague about that so far and about when it will be released, only saying “months to years.” At this moment, you can’t truly create a strategy to beat this algorithm, but you can start producing content that reflects the way this future algorithm will prioritize and display results: based on intent questions.

To put this in more concrete terms, Google gave an example of a person who, after hiking one mountain, wants to know how to prepare for a hike on a different mountain. Google posits that the user currently needs to perform several searches to find out about all aspects of their query – elevation levels, trails, temperatures, gear, etc. With MUM, all of those underlying non-verbalized questions would be answered with one result.

The key takeaway here is to think like a user and create content that answers more of their questions. 

Focus on improving page speed

Google cares about your site’s speed – a lot. A significant part of its last update, Core Web Vitals, focused on speed: how long it takes the largest page element to load, how elements shifted on a page while it was loading, and how quickly elements responded to clicks

You can quickly find out your scores with Google’s PageSpeed tool, and if pages are slow, there could be many culprits. Here are a few of the more technical but quick tweaks you should consider:

  • Minimizing HTTP requests 
  • Minifying files
  • Using asynchronous loading for JavaScript and CSS files
  • Deferring JavaScript loading
  • Using a fast DNS provider
  • Compressing files and reducing image sizes
  • Switching hosting providers
  • Using a CDN 

The list goes on and on, but the point is there are lots of ways to address site speed and eliminate the issues slowing your load times. 

Optimize for Suggested Clips

Video consumption is off the charts these days, and Google offers plenty of video results when users search. According to a global survey conducted by Statista, over 27% of people watch more than 10 hours of online video per week, while another 15% watch 7-10 hours, and 18% watch 4-7 hours. Chances are, you already know this and have prioritized creating video content.

So, if your written content isn’t landing you in the top ten results, try optimizing your videos to give them the best chance of appearing in Google’s Suggested Clips. Using the new structured data types, Clip Markup and Seek Markup, you manually tell Google which timestamp and label to use to create key moments and increase your chances of appearing in the results.

Refresh old content

Experts will always encourage you to create evergreen content, but the world moves fast, and things change quickly, meaning what you thought was evergreen has now fallen out of favor with Google. But all is not lost with those pages because refreshing them with updated content can restore them to their former glory. Google loves ‘fresh,’ and this is one of the quickest SEO 

strategies you can implement.

The best way to get that shine (and ranking) back is by refreshing old content. One of the best tactics is to look at the top ten Google results for a topic or keyword, put on your sleuthing cap and uncover what makes those pages rank. It could be the structure, keywords in the headers, optimized images, new data, or other factors. Take what you learn and apply it to your own page. After all, you already invested in producing this content, so giving it a refresh builds on that equity.

SEO is never done

SEO is like a castle’s defenses – there’s always work to be done, and you can always improve your site’s SEO. Thankfully, today we live in the digital age, and there are countless tools at your fingertips to help you.

Remember that these days, SEO is not just about adding keywords to your content, titles, meta descriptions, and alt tags – although all of those will help. Modern SEO is about thinking of the needs of your readers, prioritizing their experience, and answering the questions they are asking. 

If you prioritize those elements in your SEO strategy, you’ll be well on your way to becoming internet royalty – or at least snagging a top spot alongside other royals in Google-land.

If you need advice about SEO, monetization, or any other aspect of your publishing business, reach out to us.

About the author Leah Grantz is the Marketing Manager at Total Media Solutions. You can find Leah on LinkedIn or reach out to her via email to discuss content and SEO strategy!

6 publisher trends that will dominate 2022

Steve Myslinski, January 19, 2022

Key takeaways:

  • Publishers will look to diversify revenue streams further with commerce and interest-based newsletters.
  • A first-party data strategy is no longer nice to have but a necessity.
  • Demand for audio content will continue to grow.
2022, publisher trends

Life and business are in flux as we enter a third year of pandemic existence. While the Omicron strain threatens the routines we were just getting back to, 2022 doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, especially for digital publishers who are used to adapting and evolving.

This year will see the continuation of several trends that have been building steam; some were spurred into action because of the pandemic and others because of technology and consumer demands (we’re looking at you, cookie deprecation!). If necessity is the mother of invention, this is a prime time for publishers to reinvent themselves.

Below are the six trends that we predict will lead the publishing industry this year.

1. Content-commerce collaborations increase 

Even before digital consumption dominated daily life, publishers used multiple revenue streams to support their business, including ads, advertorials, and subscriptions. Although advertising still generates the most revenue, publishers are embracing new revenue streams. According to Digiday, 64% of publishers rely on direct product sales as a revenue stream, and 72% say that affiliate marketing generates a part of their earnings.

Public trust in social media is at an all-time low. Consumers are spending more time on the open web, opening the door for publishers to leverage the trust they already have with audiences to sell them products. Although reports indicate 94% of publishers use affiliate marketing, we expect to see publishers produce more content that includes product recommendations from affiliate programs they are a part of and more direct sales deals with brands.

2. Diversified monetization strategy

According to eMarketer, digital advertising will continue to grow but not at the crazy record-setting pace of 2021. The pandemic taught us that no business, publishers included, should have all their revenue-generating eggs in one basket (or two when we consider commerce trends).

For publishers that haven’t yet jumped on the newsletter train, now is the time. Newsletters can help publishers develop deeper, direct relationships with readers. While that doesn’t offer an immediate financial payoff, a dedicated readership is attractive to brands that can advertise in it or sponsor it. In fact, the Washington Post was able to amass such consistent readership and a 40% open rate with their coronavirus newsletter, Slack, Salesforce, and Goldman Sachs all became sponsors.

Subscription models will continue to make a strong showing, but some consumers report feeling fatigued will all the content available on the open web, further noting that they prefer content-specific newsletters instead.

3. Consumers want to listen, not just read

Between audiobooks and podcasts, audio has captured consumers’ attention, or ears as the case may be. Edison Research found that some 80 million Americans listened to podcasts weekly in 2021, a 20% increase from 2020. Publishers can use audio to connect with audiences at times when users want to consume content but can’t read, like when they are driving.  

Top publishers including The New Yorker, The Economist, and The Atlantic all offer readers narrated articles, not in place of written content but in addition to it. Publishers interested in this booming trend can partner with a service to create narrated content versions (like we do) or monetize their audio content through revenue-sharing agreements with audio apps such as Audm.  

4. Capitalizing on a first-party data strategy

With the demise of the cookie looming on the horizon, current privacy regulations, and consumer-initiated tracking prevention, publishers need to reassess their data collection strategies. This isn’t news, but smaller publishers have been slower to implement strategies. We expect more of these publishers to adopt a few tried and tested collection methods this year, mainly because they are quick and easy to implement.  

People are motivated by value and trade-offs. Publishers can use premium content or exclusive promotions to incentivize audiences to share at least some data like an email address. Piggybacking on that, as logins will become more commonplace, so will simplified registrations and logins. Giving users the ability to sign in quickly with a social media or Google ID will cut friction and give publishers access to more data.

5. Readers influence content production 

Competition is becoming stiffer across every industry. To create brand loyalists, businesses are becoming more customer-centric, offering products, services, and solutions that speak to customer needs. Digital publishers are also taking this approach, analyzing traffic and data to see which stories get the most clicks and using that to inform their content strategy and production. With publishers now accumulating more first-party data, making those content decisions is even easier.

A number of publishers have been using questionnaires to gather information about what piques their audience’s interest, and we expect to see more publishers implement this tactic along with other engaging formats such as quizzes and polls. As a small example, a publisher could poll readers to determine how interested they would be in audio content before allocating a portion of their budget to creating it.

6. Continued focus on UX 

We mentioned that businesses are becoming customer-centric, and Google is no different. However, for Google, customer-centric, at least partially, equates to serving users content that delivers a great user experience (UX). 

Google will continue to ramp up its Web Vitals program, which means publishers will need to find ways to improve their sites, and those that have been slow to change will need to kick change into high gear. We expect to see some major site redesigns that improve page load times, stability, navigation, and the ad experience consumers see. We don’t know if Google will add new signals to its algorithm, but it’s best to optimize for the current signals, so should new ones be introduced, the workload is achievable. 

Looking at the year ahead

The reality is that no one can predict the future, which is both daunting and exciting. What publishers should do is prepare for knowable situations like the need for first-party data and the eventual loss of cookies. Beyond that, diversifying revenue streams with audio, newsletters, advertising and commerce can future-proof a company as much as possible. In the end, the advice is the same: test new strategies, evaluate what works, and optimize along the way.

If you have questions about how to implement any of these trends, get in touch with us.

About the author Steve Myslinski is the Senior Director of Sales for EMEA at Total Media Solutions and brings years of experience helping publishers realize their true potential for monetizing their inventory.

Starting out as an engineer in the automotive industry, before getting his MBA and joining the adtech industry, he provides a unique approach to sales with an analytical and problem solving style to addressing a publishers needs.

Find Steve on LinkedIn or reach him ">by email.

The Top 5 Reasons to Deploy the Facebook Pixel on your Website

Brian Blondy, July 30, 2018

Facebook Pixel on your Website

Introduction

When someone from Facebook campaign visits your website and takes action (for example, watching a video or filling out a form), the Facebook pixel reports this action.

The pixel will also give you the opportunity to reach this customer again and get more conversions.

So, if you’re planning to spend any money on Facebook campaigns, installing the Facebook pixel is a must if you want to track your conversions accurately and optimize the results of your campaigns.

 

What Is Facebook Pixel and How Will it Help You?

According to Facebook, “The Facebook pixel is an analytics tool that helps you measure the effectiveness of your advertising. You can use the Facebook pixel to understand the actions people are taking on your website and reach audiences you care about.”

The Facebook pixel will help you in three main areas:

  • Conversion tracking: Facebook pixel allows you to track conversions on your site as a result of clicks from Facebook ads
  • Optimization: After installation, you can set up automatic bidding to target people who are more likely to convert.
  • Remarketing: Based on the information you collect from the pixel, you can create audiences that are likely to buy your products or services.

The Facebook pixel can also track events taken on your site, to implement event tracking, you need to generate extra pixel code within Ads Manager.

You can choose from a list of standard events Facebook provides for you, or create your own custom events that are based off URLs.

 

Why Should You Use Facebook Pixel?

To collect useful information regarding actions and conversions that result from Facebook traffic, you need to deploy the Facebook pixel.  The followings are the top 6 reasons why you should use the Facebook pixel:

  1. The ability to do retargeting for people who already visited your site. Retargeting will help to increase conversions from Facebook campaigns.

  2. Track conversions from Facebook ads to help optimize the FB ads for higher conversions.

  3. Build custom audiences based on what pages were visited on your website and then create unique campaigns for these audiences. Custom audiences will assist you to create additional opportunities to increase revenue.

  4. Build lookalike audiences that Facebook generates of people that you already created based on factors that expand beyond age and interests. Similar to point 3, will help to create additional revenues.

  5. We highly recommend installing your Facebook pixel inside of Google Tag Manager, as it will free up some development resources.  For additional information about the benefits of Google Tag Manager click here.

Conclusion

Facebook paid campaigns could get a significant boost by deploying the Facebook pixel on your website. 

Higher conversions by tracking and optimizing Facebook ads clicks, building audiences based on their preferences and beyond and the ease of deploying the pixel with the help of Google Tag Manager make it a lot easier decision of whether to install the Facebook pixel.

If you could benefit from professional buy-side or sell-side consulting or assistance with your Google Analytics account, or if you would like to learn more and how to create some shortcuts and using Google Tag Manager (GTM) to tackle all of the various scenarios we have outlined, feel free to contact us below.

9 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Google Tag Manager for Your Website

Brian Blondy, July 17, 2018

 

If you currently use Google Analytics, without using Google Tag Manager, you most likely are encountering multiple challenges when it comes to managing a large number of tags, using development resources to customize Google Analytics, and debugging the changes on the HTML page.

Today, we would like to present to you nine reasons why using Google Tag Manager with Google Analytics will hugely benefit your company’s ability to alleviate the challenges, resources and changes you are facing.

 

  1. Full integration with Google Analytics The built-in tags in Google Tag Manager enable a full deployment of Google Analytics via Google Tag Manager.
  2. Central control of the tags – Without a tag management system, it is extremely difficult to manage and deploy multiple tags. Most websites today are using large number of tags (java snippets) from many vendors and the idea of a central repository for tags without having to touch the HTML code is very efficient from management and development point of views.  For one, it eliminates using precious engineering resources to code the pages and secondly, it facilitates the need for a central control and updates of the different versions of the tags.
  3. Built-in debugging capabilities Google Tag Manager includes debugging features that ensure that your tags will work correctly before publishing them into production.
  4. Quick turnaround to market The ability to deploy tags without complex code changes and the involvement of a development team speeds up considerably time to market. And allows the engineering teams time to focus on other projects.
  5. Version control Every time you publish a change, Google Tag Manager stores the new version as well as keeps the older versions.  This feature is very important as it allows you to roll back at any moment to a previous version in case there is a problem.
  6. Built-in tags Google Tag Manager includes a significant number of built-in tags for universal analytics, Adwords conversions, remarketing and much more.  For non-technical marketing teams, it is a big advantage that allows them to deploy tags in a very short time without the help of a development team.
  7. User permission management – It is very easy to set permissions for individual users and control who has the ability to make changes and create tags.
  8. Easy event tracking To create events without Google Tag Manager involves adding code to the web page.  GTM eliminates the need to code the page and speed up the deployment of event tracking
  9. Security – Google Tag Manager automatically scans all tags and pauses the container if it detects any malware.

For non-developers, Google Tag Manager is a huge benefit in managing and tracking tags for faster deployment and big savings in development resources.  The fact that it is free to use make it a no-brainer decision for most online businesses.

 

If you could benefit from professional buy-side or sell-side consulting or assistance with your Google Analytics account, or if you would like to learn more and how to create some shortcuts and using Google Tag Manager (GTM) to tackle all of the various scenarios we have outlined, feel free to contact us below.

Analytics Guide: How to Remove GA Spam Traffic Once and For All

Brian Blondy, June 25, 2018

 

 Google Analytics Spam TrafficReferral spam traffic can pose a serious threat to the accuracy of referral traffic report in Google Analytics as well as inflate the general traffic numbers.

The most common way spam traffic is being generated is by building dedicated software that will go to your site and then execute your Google Analytics code.

Continue reading “Analytics Guide: How to Remove GA Spam Traffic Once and For All”

Analytics Guide: How to Setup Cross Domain Tracking for Google Analytics in 5 Steps

Brian Blondy, May 28, 2018

Cross Domain Tracking Google Analytics

If you own multiple domains and want to track a single user’s visit across them all, you should consider enabling multi-domain user tracking by adjusting your settings in Google Tag Manager.

In a case of a website with multiple subdomains, cross-domain tracking is not necessary since the default Google Analytics tracking code on your site is already enabled to function and report data across subdomains of a single website.

Continue reading “Analytics Guide: How to Setup Cross Domain Tracking for Google Analytics in 5 Steps”

Case Study – Haaretz – Advanced eCommerce Solutions

Brian Blondy, May 22, 2018

case study: haaretz

Client Overview

Haaretz.co.il, is the online edition of Haaretz Newspaper in Israel, specializes in analysis from Israel and the Middle East. Haaretz provides extensive and in-depth coverage of Israel, the Jewish World and the Middle East, including defense, diplomacy, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the peace process, Israeli politics, Jerusalem affairs, international relations, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the Israeli business world and Jewish life in Israel and the Diaspora.

Haaretz newspaper in its online edition was looking to increase its subscription base.  As such in 2015 the newspaper built an elaborate and complex subscription funnel. Haaretz is not a traditional eCommerce site, therefore tracking user journeys across such a complex flow presented a significant challenge.

Total Media identified the problem and scope through a consultative approach with the client. To add to the complexity, there is no one “owner” of their GA + GTM stack but several users and even more stakeholders. The scope prescribed was to provide a creative solution to the problem mentioned above: to give Haaretz visibility into their subscription funnel.  In addition, deliver some recommendations on an attribution model that could be useful to Haaretz.

 

Technical Ability

The high-level technical scope of the project included customization of Google Tag Manager (GTM).  The sales funnel involved four steps that needed to be programmed as events into GTM and building custom eCommerce variables to create a checkout sales funnel within Google Analytics under Enhanced eCommerce Reports.

One significant technical challenge was that the sales funnel was comprised of button clicks on the same page. Therefore the standard/traditional goal settings were not used in this situation.

The site is not a conventional eCommerce site so there was a need to come up with a creative solution that would mimic the enhanced eCommerce requirements so that a graphical and visual representation of the checkout funnel would be possible.

We decided to use GTM to create and deliver the custom events. To tie the events to enhanced eCommerce funnel we used custom variables with eCommerce specs to signal to GA that it is an eCommerce funnel.

 

Analytical Ability

Total Media conducted extensive analysis in partnership with Haaretz to find out what would be the best way to resolve this problem. Total Media partnered closely with the Haaretz business/marketing team to make sure that the proposed recommendations were suitable for their business needs. Then working closely with their technical and project management teams to ensure that our solution was implemented correctly.

The project was conducted in a mix of face to face meetings and workshops, Google Hangouts with screen-sharing and telephone calls.

Total Media, to QA and ensure the solution was implemented and working as intended, used a written spec to validate against while running GA DEBUGGER and developer toolbar on the site as well as the GTM preview.

From the initial results, Total Media identified that the portion of the funnel that was the most problematic (i.e. experienced the most dramatic user fall-off). We concluded that users were being presented with multiple, confusing options rather than an effective singular option. As a result, Total Media recommended testing with multi-variant iterations of a singular call-to-action offering more straightforward choices.

 

Business Impact

The visibility into their subscriptions funnels despite being live for a relatively short period is already delivering value. Haaretz can now see exactly where in the funnel users are dropping off and are starting to work with TotalMedia on strategies to mitigate this.

Some of the tactics employed have already given Haaretz a noticeable uptick in subscriptions.  During the process, Total Media and Haaretz discovered additional issues, which while out-of-scope for this project will form the basis of ongoing work with Haaretz:

Additional Sale Funnels: Haaretz has multiple different funnels which are entirely separate from a code perspective so will need separate tracking implemented. In addition, Haaretz also runs an English edition with a similar suite of subscription funnels which will need tracking performed.

Custom Segments: Build custom segments based on the drop within the funnel to understand how to improve conversion rates within the funnel and to potential use optimize to build custom landing pages to those segments.

Case Study – Minute Media Audience Tracking and Selling

Brian Blondy, May 22, 2018

case study minute media

 

Client Overview

Total Media and Minute Media are long-term strategic partners. Minute Media, a late stage start-up has worked with Total Media to scale their advertising technology platform. This includes ongoing consultation by Total Media around Minute Media’s technology stack and the recommendation of migrating from Google Analytics (GA) to Google Analytics 360 (GA360).

12up, the US major sports arm of Minute Media, focuses on the social conversations in and around sports by tapping into timely trends and topics.  12up includes multilingual support in English and Spanish.

 

Technical Ability

progressive

Minute Media had a high value ($100k) brief from one of their advertisers which was pinioned with a strict requirement on data and audience segmentation.

Progressive, one of the largest providers of car insurance in the United States, wanted to be able to randomly segment the 12up audience and deliver two very different creative threads to the two segments.

  • The segments had to be unique with zero crossovers, large enough for the campaign KPIs and persist through the lifetime of the campaign.
  • For the Progressive campaign Minute Media needed to be able to segment US users randomly and uniquely into two distinct segments.
  • Minute Media also had to report on the site activity of these users and the ad delivery and engagement of these users.

Delivered Solution

  • Scoped and ensured Minute Media buy-in of the solution, both in DFP and GA 360
  • Total Media recommended using the last digit of the GA Cookie, to assign the users into the segments (together with the relevant geo) to ensure unique random segmentation.
  • Assisted Minute Media in creating and managing the segments in GA 360.
  • Connected GA 360 and DFP Premium.
  • Configured audiences into DFP Premium.

Analytical Ability

To validate that the campaign would work, Total Media needed to assess and measure the segments to ensure each contained more than the 2mm UUs required in the brief. We also needed to ensure that the cookies in GA were the same in the segment pushed into DFP.

 

Business Impact

Total Media enabled Minute Media to successfully activate on this high-value campaign, enabling them to randomly segment relevant users at scale and then target and deliver to those users in DFP.

Total Media’s guidance and consultative approach ensured the campaign delivered seamlessly.

Not only did the campaign deliver all it’s KPIs, but Minute Media also provided data above and beyond all of Progressive’s other media partners.

Subsequently Progressive has booked an additional campaign with data package on 12UP from Minute Media increasing their initial spend.