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What are the chances you’ll be reading this on your phone or other favorite mobile device? About 70%, according to the latest research. For more, check out this Quartz story.


Are you ready?


While others are discussing their politics, we at ion have been discussing their landing page strategy. There???s an important lesson to be learned from the presidential candidates regarding the role of landing page optimization in your overall campaign strategy. In a recent study, we identified landing page optimization wins and losses in both of the candidate campaigns race to the election.

ion???s study provides a detailed view into each candidate???s overall landing page strategy and spans social media, email marketing, search engine marketing, and mobile device integration.

It was a tight race on the landing page scorecard, but there???s a clear winner. Check out our latest infographic now and see what campaign wins ion???s landing page optimization review.

Internet communications lessons from the Great Communicators….


According to a recent Gomez study, 74% of consumers will wait 5 seconds for a web page to load on their mobile device before abandoning the site.  Even more staggering, the same study found 46% of consumers are unlikely to return to a mobile site if it didn???t work properly during their last visit.

Mobile adoption isn???t coming, it???s here. It???s time for marketers to drive meaningful, engaging experiences regardless of what channel they are coming from or how they are accessing your campaigns.

Don???t worry. It doesn???t have to be hard. Outlined in our latest infographic Top Ten Mobile Landing Page Tips, we???ve included best practices to get you on the road to mobile maven today.

Click to enlarge.

Handy little graphic for mobile-izers.


Responsive design is the new HTML5, a fancy term thrown around to prove that you ???get it??? in mobile. On the surface, responsive design makes total sense: design for an optimal experience across a wide range of devices.

It???s why publishers like New York magazine, SB Nation and others are moving in this direction. Brands like Starbucks, Jack Daniel???s, Grey Goose and Sony have also embraced it. And yet responsive design isn???t a Web design cure-all like many believe, according to Patrick Emmons, director of professional services at Adage Technologies. In fact, it???s a little overrated.

???Obviously there is a lot of confusion in the marketplace right now in regards to where organizations should spend their resources: mobile versus desktop, or native versus Web,??? said Emmons. ???So, of course, a simple solution is the most attractive. People like simple, and Ockham???s razor exists for a reason. And from my experience, the simplest solution is usually the correct one.???

Responsive design certainly has its challenges. For example, it will hide content on small screens, but the content still needs to be downloaded, and this causes performance issues on mobile phones. Load times could be long. Other less attractive characteristics of responsive design include time constraints; it takes a longer time to create Web pages, and they need new content-management workflows.

Additionally, responsive design requires a whole new process for image optimization, since there are all these different screens to take into account. Also, from a retail perspective, there aren???t a lot of merchandising options in e-commerce with responsive design. And lastly, testing is way more complex. Since you are trying to create a dynamic solution based upon some known and some unknown variables, you will need to test everywhere.

???It???s very similar to Java,??? Emmons said. ???When Java was first introduced, the most compelling argument was ???write once, run everywhere,??? but in actuality, it became, ???write once, test everywhere.??????

Java was consistent, but the implementation of the virtual machine was different on different systems. So with Java and responsive design programmers need to define specific scenarios for presenting the content in a semi-targeted way and then have a very ???lowest common denominator??? version of desktop versus mobile.

Why then, one might ask, is responsive design so hot right now? Cost, says Emmons. By utilizing specific style sheets, a designer can use all of the same programming to format the content to a specific form factor. This reduces the cost of development. Another benefit is that the structure of the content is primarily similar.

The moral of the story is that responsive design is just one tool in the digital marketer???s tool box. It should be part of a brand???s strategy, not the whole strategy, Emmons said. By using responsive design, you can limit your spend while determining whether or not the market exists for ROI in investing in platform-specific interfaces.

???Don???t believe that hype that [responsive design] is the only tool you need to concern yourself with,??? Emmons said. ???If there are platforms that you determine are worth the additional investment of a platform-specific solution, you can always leverage responsive design and use Google to track usage to help validate the market.???

Was just discussing this topic at WP users group mtg last night. What timing…

Facebook IPO: Comparing Facebook vs. the Google Display Network - Which is the best advertising network for advertisers?

Facebook IPO: Can Facebook beat the Google Display Network for Online Advertising? - Facebook IPO: Can Facebook beat the Google Display Network for Online Advertising?[INFOGRAPHIC]

  • Read the Press Release: New Research Compares Facebook Advertising to Google Display Network: Who Comes Out on Top?
  • Read the Surprising Follow-Story: Why I Bought Facebook IPO Shares Today
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    Facebook vs. Google Display Advertising - Comparing the value of the world's largest advertising venues. [INFOGRAPHIC]

    ?? 2012 WordStream, Inc., a PPC and Search Engine Marketing tools company.

    ?? 2012 WordStream, Inc.

    This Facebook vs. Google Display Network Infographic is Property of WordStream

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    In case you were wondering….


    No, that???s too long.

    Remember when you were willing to wait a few seconds for a computer to respond to a click on a Web site or a tap on a keyboard? These days, even 400 milliseconds ??? literally the blink of an eye ??? is too long, as Google engineers have discovered. That barely perceptible delay causes people to search less.

    ???Subconsciously, you don???t like to wait,??? said Arvind Jain, a Google engineer who is the company???s resident speed maestro. ???Every millisecond matters.???

    Google and other tech companies are on a new quest for speed, challenging the likes of Mr. Jain to make fast go faster. The reason is that data-hungry smartphones and tablets are creating frustrating digital traffic jams, as people download maps, video clips of sports highlights, news updates or recommendations for nearby restaurants. The competition to be the quickest is fierce.

    People will visit a Web site less often if it is slower than a close competitor by more than 250 milliseconds (a millisecond is a thousandth of a second).

    ???Two hundred fifty milliseconds, either slower or faster, is close to the magic number now for competitive advantage on the Web,??? said Harry Shum, a computer scientist and speed specialist at Microsoft.

    The performance of Web sites varies, and so do user expectations. A person will be more patient waiting for a video clip to load than for a search result. And Web sites constantly face trade-offs between visual richness and snappy response times. As entertainment and news sites, like The New York Times Web site, offer more video clips and interactive graphics, that can slow things down.

    But speed matters in every context, research shows. Four out of five online users will click away if a video stalls while loading.

    On a mobile phone, a Web page takes a leisurely nine seconds to load, according to Google, which tracks a huge range of sites from the homes of large companies to the legions of one-person bloggers. Download times on personal computers average about six seconds worldwide, and about 3.5 seconds on average in the United States. The major search engines, Google and Microsoft???s Bing, are the speed demons of the Web, analysts say, typically delivering results in less than a second.

    The hunger for speed on smartphones is a new business opportunity for companies like Akamai Technologies, which specializes in helping Web sites deliver services quicker. Later this month, Akamai plans to introduce mobile accelerator software to help speed up the loading of a Web site or app.

    The government too recognizes the importance of speed in mobile computing. In February, Congress opened the door to an increase in network capacity for mobile devices, proposing legislation that permits the auction of public airwaves now used for television broadcasts to wireless Internet suppliers.

    Overcoming speed bumps is part of the history of the Internet. In the 1990s, as the World Wide Web became popular, and crowded, it was called the World Wide Wait. Invention and investment answered the call.

    Laying a lot of fiber optic cable for high-speed transmission was the first solution. But beyond bandwidth, the Web got faster because of innovations in software algorithms for routing traffic, and in distributing computer servers around the world, nearer to users, as a way to increase speed.

    Akamai, which grew out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology???s Laboratory for Computer Science, built its sizable business doing just that. Most major Web sites use Akamai???s technology today.

    The company sees the mobile Internet as the next big challenge. ???Users??? expectations are getting shorter and shorter, and the mobile infrastructure is not built for that kind of speed,??? said Tom Leighton, co-founder and chief scientist at Akamai, who is also an M.I.T. professor. ???And that???s an opportunity for us.???



    Last week my colleague, Michael Martin presented Mongoose Metrics data that demonstrates that less than 10% of you are mobile ready in 2012.  He also presented some pretty compelling reasons for going mobile in 2012, including the Compuware study that 57% of customers would not recommend a business with a bad mobile site, and 40% would actually even go to a competitor with a better mobile experience.

    If you???re a regular reader of this column and you don???t have a mobile experience, you are in the majority of site owners; but you???re also way behind and may not be able to catch up if you wait much longer.

    So are you ready? Let???s talk about the ideal set up for your mobile site for SEO purposes.

    There are cheaper, easier solutions, but this is the one that I would recommend to webmasters looking not just for a mobile friendly solution, but something that???s truly optimized to bring in traffic from mobile searchers.

    If you want to build a mobile site in a way that will increase your organic search engine traffic, this is how to do it.

    1. Make It Truly Mobile

    Before you even think about subdomain options, you better know your mobile user: the person who you???re building this for who will ultimately make it a success or failure.

    What are they looking for and why? Use the AdWords keyword tool to get mobile volumes and desktop volumes for keywords related to your brand, and to your products and services, and then find the mobile percent of total volume, or the mobile ratio, as Sherwood Stranieri put it. This gives you a sense of what concepts and keywords overindex with smartphone and mobile searchers, and it will help you build more than a desktop experience.

    For example, for Walgreens, it???s clear from their brand keywords that index high among mobile searchers that the majority of searchers are looking for a Walgreens near them. It???s clear from the volume of queries where more than 30% of the total volume is mobile (smartphone and feature phone):

    And it???s clear from a long tail analysis of the same list:

    These are highly qualified searchers, as they???re very likely to convert offline, so why not make it as easy for them as possible?

    Now that we know what our mobile users want, we can design the mobile site so that it provides those things with ease. And this will differ for all businesses, but it???s likely to be different from how your desktop website is structured.

    Walgreens seems to know this, as they designed their mobile website differently than their desktop website, specifically taking advantage of the unique capabilities of a mobile device.

    Instead of having their mobile searcher find a site with a lot of irrelevant content crammed on to one page that???s intended for desktop users, they???ve highlighted those areas that are most relevant to the mobile user experience.

    For example, instead of doing nothing with their site and hoping that a mobile searcher finds the sections they???re looking for (which I???ve highlighted in red in the second image):

    Walgreens has presented a simplified version of the home page that highlights those areas of the site that are most relevant to the mobile user experience:

    When you hit the ???find near me??? button, it uses the phone???s GPS to find the locations closest to you, taking advantage of the specific functionality of mobile browsers rather than completely transcoding the desktop site with desktop functionality to look good on mobile browsers (i.e. responsive design).

    Walgreens.com isn???t the paragon of mobile SEO, unfortunately, as they???ve done a lot of things wrong when it comes to the findability of their mobile site. With the design they really should have included a small keyword-rich text box that conveys the relevance of the page to users and search engines, as there???s not a lot of text or keywords on the page to help search engines understand that it???s relevant for what search engine users are looking for.

    For some brands, there may also be concepts and keywords that aren???t included in the desktop site that need to be linked to from the homepage.

    I???m guessing this is because the page was designed with users rather than SEO in mind, as someone hired the non-search-friendly mobile platform Usablenet to design the site and disallowed it in the robots.txt file so that it only appears in search engines when you put in the navigational keyword [m walgreens com].

    They also promote the app over the mobile site by sending the searcher to a splash page first, which isn???t good for users or search engines.

    Nonetheless, like State Farm and too few other companies, they did build a separate mobile user experience rather than used stylesheets to serve a formatted desktop experience, which is the first big step to getting a search-optimized mobile site.

    2. Create A Hybrid Of Mobile-Optimized & Mobile-Friendly Content

    Once you???ve settled on the design and site architecture, you need to determine the best way to host your mobile site. Though there are many opinions on the matter, the best solution is to host your mobile homepage and mobile-only pages at m.domain.com subdomain or /m subfolder.

    For all other pages with content that won???t change from desktop to mobile, it???s perfectly acceptable to keep them at the same URL as your desktop and simply reformat them for mobile user agents. Redirects work fine too, but the best practice for transcoded desktop URLs is currently to add canonical tags to pass the link equity back to desktop pages.

    For mobile only pages that are not strict duplicates, canonical tags are unnecessary, and could make your most valuable pages invisible to searchers.

    3. Redirect Appropriately

    For mobile-only content, you???ll need to set up the proper redirects. My colleague Cindy Krum has a handy tool for PHP and .NET redirects that makes it easy for novices to set up mobile redirects.

    When Googlebot comes by, serve it your desktop content; but when her sisters Googlebot mobile and smartphone Googlebot arrive, give them your feature phone site (if you have one) and your smartphone site, respectively.

    If you have a tablet site, by all means serve it to tablet searchers instead of your desktop or smartphone site, but there currently is no tablet Googlebot to receive your tablet site.

    If you don???t have a tablet site, serve your tablet searchers desktop content, as research shows that???s what they respond to best. Just make sure you???ve removed all traces of Flash before serving it up to the iPad or other tablets that don???t support Flash.

    4. Don???t Forget the Images!

    It has been a long time since mobile SEO was about optimizing WAP sites, and in the near future we may be optimizing for a literal pair of Google Goggles, with a Terminator-like overlay that searches for more information on the things around us, just by analyzing images and comparing them to Google???s image and Google Goggles image database.

    SEOs can prepare for this brave new world today by ensuring images are optimized for mobile searchers.

    5. Analyze & Optimize

    Sure, there are mobile SEO best practices beyond this, but best practices only go so far. If you want to retain the edge that optimizing your site in this way gives you, you can???t just set it and forget it.

    Given how rapidly this practice is changing, and how much it has changed in the last five or six years, mobile SEO requires regularly looking to your web analytics and to columns like those in the Mobile Search section in Search Engine Land in order to stay optimized.

    There are many ways to go mobile, and many of them will actually hurt your visibility among mobile searchers. If you create mobile content when appropriate, redirect appropriately, optimize your images for mobile searchers, and analyze your site for new opportunities, there won???t be many mobile webmasters who will be able to compete with you in natural search.

    Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

    Related Topics: How To | How To: Mobile Marketing | Intermediate | Mobile Search | Search Engines: Mobile Search Engines | SEO: Mobile Search

    About The Author: is Director of Content Solutions at Resolution Media, and a primary architect of Resolution Media’s natural search product and Digital Behavior Analysis. You can follow him on Twitter @BrysonMeunier

    Connect with the author via: Email

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    Need to pay attention to this.


    Igor Faletski is the CEO of Mobify, a web platform that optimizes ecommerce and publishing sites for mobile and powers more than 20,000 sites.

    Remember when it took 23 clicks to find movie showtimes on your mobile phone? While that may seem like an eon ago, in reality it???s just been a few short years. The mobile evolution has been advancing at a break-neck pace.

    ???Mobile is ramping up faster than any other technology we have seen in the past,??? says Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins. Mobile web adoption is happening eight times faster than traditional web adoption in the late ???90s.

    With that growth comes a new set of user behaviors and consumer trends. What???s the reality when it comes to the new mobile commerce landscape? Here are five facts that will have striking implications for the future of mobile commerce.

    1. Customers Spend More Time on Their Mobile Devices Than Desktops.

    My company powers about 20,000 ecommerce sites. The average desktop order in 2011 was $95.19, and the average mobile order amounted to $96.92. The difference of $1.73 per order may appear small, but that 2% increase in average cart size can dramatically affect a company???s bottom line.

    While multiple factors contribute to this data, the most important may be the power of the tablet, which has quickly emerged as the third digital screen in consumers??? lives, in addition to desktops and smartphones.

    Adobe???s Digital Marketing Insights report looked at data from 16.5 billion visits across more than 150 retailers to find that the average order value when shopping on a tablet was $123, compared with $102 on a desktop.

    IPad users generally have higher education and higher income than general internet users. The same Adobe study found that tablet owners more often fall in the 18-34 age demographic, and that 29% have an annual income over $75,000. The group has proven a lucrative customer segment for retailers.

    Beyond the demographics, the iPad???s interactivity (aka touchscreen) may make shopping easier than desktop, despite the smaller screen size. A 2011 study reported that 52% of tablet owners prefer to shop online using their tablets, while 40% preferred using a traditional computer.

    The moral of the story for retailers? Tablet users are a key customer group and their influence will surely grow through 2012 and beyond.

    2. Mobile Shoppers Are More Focused.

    While it may seem counter-intuitive at first, the average keyword search on mobile for both Android and iPhone is roughly double the length of the average desktop search.

    But searches don???t take longer on mobile because the devices are harder to use, but rather, because mobile searchers and shoppers are task-focused and more specific in what they???re seeking.

    Microsoft reports that 70% of PC search tasks are completed in one week, while 70% of mobile search tasks are completed in one hour. Mobile searchers have a sense of urgency not seen as often in traditional search methods.

    This difference has very real implications for both multi-channel retailers and ecommerce retailers. Mobile users are looking for information or assistance to help them make sourcing and buying decisions right at the point of sale: 88% of consumers searching on a mobile device will make a purchase within 24 hours.

    As savvy retailers understand, mobile shoppers need to be able to simply research products and quickly make a purchase. Therefore, there should be as little extraneous content included on mobile commerce websites.

    In contrast, a full desktop site is packed with brand-related content, community interaction, company information and detailed research methods. Mobile, on the other hand, is lean, mean and clean.

    3. Click-Through Rates Are Higher on Mobile than Desktop.

    While smartphones and tablets are still in the relatively early stages of adoption, they are already showing persistently higher click-through rates for search advertising.

    A Marin Software study found that consumers are more likely to click on search results ads when using smartphones or tablets than when using a desktop or laptop. Actual click-through rates in Q4 2011 measured 1.25% for smartphones, 1.31% for tablets and 0.95% for desktops and laptops. Performics reported that mobile click-through rates were 45% higher than desktop through the end of 2011 and January 2012.

    Click-through rates on search advertising are tracked closely because they???re important indicators of the intention of the searcher. Higher click-through rates are associated with searches of a commercial or consumer nature and translate into a more valuable consumer for both advertisers and retailers.

    That more valuable consumer is now on mobile and tablet.

    4. Mobile Shopping Peaks at Night.

    We tend to think of mobile as synonymous with ???on-the-go,??? and picture the mobile shopper browsing or shopping during commute times. However, it???s social media activities and email, not online shopping, that dominate commuters??? time.

    When we consider mobile vs. desktop, we see that hourly trends vary based on device type. According to data from Google Mobile Ads, searches from computers mirrors time spent at work, while tablet usage spikes dramatically at night. And people searching on their mobile phones overlaps both periods, growing steadily throughout the day and peaking at 9 p.m.

    While both tablets and smartphones can viewed as ???lean back??? devices, smartphones alone are used on-the-go throughout the day and evening, including time at work and time at home.

    5. The Importance of the Mobile Web.

    Yes, we???re living in an app culture. Yet the power of the mobile website (i.e. a site reached by browsing, not via an app) tends to get overlooked amidst all the hype.

    Consider that 30% of all social media traffic originates on mobile devices. Of that traffic, over 42 million people accessed social networks via their mobile browsers in 2011, while 38.5 million accessed via mobile apps.

    Marketers need to see that, with the exception of certain niches like gaming, the mobile web is still essential and apps additional. The mobile web is bringing in business for all customers, whereas apps can be viewed like loyalty programs for repeat customers.

    Apps can be a big part of a mobile strategy, but are best for repeat customers who already know the brand and have downloaded the app. Unless your business exclusively deals with repeat customers, it???s best to start by tackling your mobile web presence and augment your mobile strategy with apps.

    Looking Down the Road

    By 2015, more U.S. Internet users will access the web through mobile devices than through PCs. And sales of smartphones continue to exceed all other types of computing devices combined, including tablets. Canalys reported that 488 million smarthphones were shipped worldwide in 2011, compared with 415 million ???total client PCs,??? including 63 million tablets. Finally, tablet ownership in the U.S. nearly doubled this past holiday season (mid-December to early January).

    The macro trend is clear: The variety and complexity of connected devices will continue to grow. There???s no doubt that 2012 will be an fascinating and innovative year for mobile commerce.

    Image courtesy of iStockphoto, -bilge, Matt_Brown

    Time to take heed.

    Referrer spam in your Analytics reports

    This is Referrer Spam

    Have you checked your Google Analytics traffic sats recently and noticed a bit of traffic from some unlikely sources?

    When checking your referrers (which sites have sent you traffic) have you spotted sites such as www.forex-ninjas.com and www.rock.to?

    If so, then you have had some referrer spam. This traffic is no good at all to you, and isn???t actually the result of them visiting your site at all. Confused?

    What is referrer spam?

    When you add Google Analytics (or indeed any public facing analytics code) to your website you are placing a small script on your web pages. When someone visits your pages the script tells Google about the visit and Google then show it on your Analytics report.

    However, as the script is visible in your page source (try navigating to your web page, then click ???View Source??? in your web browser tools and find ???analytics???) it can be used in a bad way too. Here???s what happens???

    If I had a website whose traffic I wanted to artificially boost, I would copy the analytics code form your web page and paste it (along with the code from thousands of other websites) into my own web page. Then I would navigate to my web page. This would immediate execute all of the analytics code scripts in the page, making it appear to Google that I had visited each of these pages.

    That???s rubbish, I hear you say. Why would I want to waste my time doing that?

    What benefit does referrer spam have for the perpetrator?

    Well. When you see these sites appear in your Google Analytics reports what do you do?

    I have actually visited a few to see where my link appears on their site.

    So, if I have visited their sites to have a look, then I???m sure that you have too. That???s what they are after ??? traffic, which delivers impressions for their advertisers, and which looks good to site owners if they have employed a rather shady web company to help build their traffic.

    Can I do anything about it?

    Filtering Google Analytics Traffic

    Google Analytics Profile Filter

    I???m guessing that Google will eventually get on top of this and stop these referrals appearing in your analytics reports, but unfortunately as soon as one route is shut down another will open up.

    You could play around with the filters on your analytics profile (excluding specific domains), but that???s probably a little too much effort ??? especially if you have multiple sites and lots of different spam referrers.

    Is Referrer Spam a risk to me?

    Probably not if you ignore it.

    However, if the site was malicious in some way (for example, by automatically downloading something nasty to the computers of anyone who visited it), that might be different.

    So, my recommendation is not to visit any of these sites at all ??? even if you have spam and virus protections running on your computer or built into your web browsers.

    Can referrer spam represent real visits to my site too?

    Yes. I have described a way that spammers can trick Google Analytics users into thinking that they have had a visit, but of course they can pay real visits to your site too. This may have the added complication if you display a list of referrers on your site ??? some people do, and this can give good search engine link juice to the spamming site!

    In case you were wondering. Pollution on the internet.