Facebook’s Push to Make Money Off WhatsApp: A Mobile Payment


©iStock/gutaper

Facebook has been seeking ways to make money from the messaging service WhatsApp and has been testing payments via the app since last year in India, WhatsApp’s largest market with more than 200 million users.

Where will the rollout start?  Facebook intends to drive a global expansion of mobile payments on WhatsApp from London, accelerating its efforts to make money off the popular messaging service.  They are dispatching engineers from Britain to support its initiative.

Read more about how Facebook is plotting a global expansion of mobile payments on WhatsApp.

Desktop vs. Mobile: The Difference Between SERPs

We took 50,000 random keywords in the US database to find out just how different the SERPs are for the same search query on different platforms.

Spoiler alert: Not exactly chalk and cheese, but the big picture is disturbing.

There are a lot of deviations between platforms: not too many extremes, but only 13% of websites get to retain the exact same position across devices. SERPs on different devices are distinct due to different SERP features and, obviously, the screen space, which drastically changes the user experience and your website’s visibility.

With the share of mobile traffic eating up more and more global bandwidth, this becomes a point of great concern.

Our Research Methodology

In our study, we used the SEMrush Organic Research tool to look into URL Deviations and Domain Position Deviations for the 50,000 random keywords in the US database.

Picture it like this — we took snapshots of desktop SERPs and compared them to snapshots of mobile SERPs for the same query. Data on the URL Deviations shows an overall picture of how many pages lose their positions in mobile search.

For a more precise and detailed presentation of the difference between desktop and mobile SERPs, we have used the Domain Positions Deviations. By tracking domains and not specific pages, we have ensured that we are taking into account mobile versions of pages with different URLs.  

More on this Competitor Analysis: Keywords and Backlinks Post Elena Terenteva

About the Organic Research Tool

SEMrush’s Organic Research is a simple tool that grants deep insight into the organic performance of any domain. Within seconds you will get the top keywords bringing traffic to the website, see its recent ups and downs in the search rankings, and if it is ranking for any SERP features, you will also get the list of its main organic search competitors and more.

URL Deviations

How many pages lose their visibility in mobile search?

We tracked how many pages lost their position in mobile search compared to the desktop results. A staggering 30% of pages that are present on the first page of desktop search results are moved beyond the top 10 results in mobile search.  

The table below shows how many desktop results dropped out of the top 10, 30, and 100 on mobile devices.

Number of pages that lose their visibility in mobile search

Domain Position Deviations

How many domains changed their position in mobile search?

The next table presents how many domains get to keep their position. As we have already established, only 13% of websites have the same position across devices.

Digging further, we counted how many domains shifted in mobile search within one, three, or ten positions from their place on desktops.

Shifting one position may not seem like a big deal, but you have to keep in mind that mobile and desktop search result pages have different scroll depths and click-through rates. Compared to desktops, dropping out of the top 3 on mobiles will take a much more drastic toll on your traffic.

Number of domains that changed their position in mobile search

Comments From the Industry Experts

Cindy Krum

Cindy Krum
CEO, MobileMoxie

Overall Thoughts:

  • The stats are very compelling. They speak to what I have been saying for a long time, that people really need to look at actual mobile SERPs to see what is going on.

  • Mobile & desktop are different – sometimes very different. This is especially true because things like Knowledge Graph, which show on the right in desktop, show on the top of mobile, pushing other results down.

  • According to SparkToro/JumpShot, most mobile searches don’t result in a website click – 62% of people stay in Google’s hosted assets. That leaves 38% of people that *MIGHT* click on your website and only the clicks that go to your website get into your analytics. If you are below position 1 in organic rankings, the likelihood of you getting the click goes down and down; basing an SEO strategy on this kind of shaky data alone seems crazy!

Strategies:

  • I have been speaking and writing a lot about Entity-First Indexing, as opposed to Mobile-First Indexing, because I believe that Google’s shift to Mobile-First Indexing was a move to organize information around their Knowledge Graph. You can notice how websites (‘Seen on the Web’ results) are being pulled INTO maps (part of the Knowledge Graph) rather than the other way around.

  • SEOs need to think about the Topic Layer likely how web content gets categorized into the Knowledge Graph. It seems like sometimes bits of information get enough engagement from web content to move them into the Topic Layer. It seems like this may be partially influenced by ‘Related Topics’ in the Knowledge Graph, as well as popular ‘People Also Ask’ Interactions.

  • Google has doubled down on media optimization recently because media is highly engaging content that can be searched for and accessed through regular search or voice search; this means that brands need to:

    • Make and optimize videos & live streams – ideally hosted on YouTube.

    • Make and optimize podcasts – submitted to Google as an XML feed.

    • Use great Images with descriptive alt text.

    • Launch Native Apps, Web Apps or PWAs  – Indexed with Google’s new Indexing API or Hosted in Firebase

    • Optimize Google My Business with Info & Media

We tend to describe the bits of information that get pulled in from the Edge Layer to the Topic Layer as ‘Fraggles.’ This word is a combination of the word ‘Fragment’ and ‘Handle’ because often, when these assets are highlighted in a search, Google will open the page and scroll directly to the content on the page, as if an HTML handle or jump links were there. Sometimes these are present, and sometimes Google seems to just know where to scroll on its own.

What is important here is that one page can rank, but within that ranking, there can be a vertical or horizontal carousel of additional, clickable snippets of information all from the same page. This makes the listing take up more space and look more authoritative, driving more clicks, and when people find exactly what they want, more engagement and happy customers. Fraggles are new, but in our unscientific research, it seems like the following things tend to drive Fraggles:

  • Adding jump links – especially for content that is H2/H3.

  • Star rankings/ratings for responses.

  • Q&A Markup & Star Ratings for ‘Best Answer’.

  • Anything you might otherwise do to drive Featured Snippets/Google Answers (tables, bulleted lists, schema, etc.).

  • Understand how your brand and brand assets are understood by Google and the Knowledge Graph using the following tools:

    • Run by Google

    • Not run by Google:

Craig Campbell

Craig Campbell
SEO Consultant & Trainer

Why are 31% of desktop search results not visible on mobile SERPs?

I read a few months back that over 50% of all search results are taken from the mobile index, so this may explain why 31% of desktop searches are not visible on mobile search. This coupled with the fact that people are designing the mobile side of things to be more about user intent and closer to the buying stage, means desktop searches tend to have a lot more information on the pages and are more tailored towards people looking for information.

Wondering why only 10% of URLs able to keep the same position on Desktop and Mobile?

Factors like CTR and a number of other things will be higher on mobile devices, simply because more people are coming onto websites from mobile devices, so those smaller factors that are part of the algorithm will have much more interaction and this could potentially result in better positions on a mobile device than the desktop. Things like page speed and mobile friendliness are also important factors on the mobile side, and again people are working that side of things. And it would also appear, according to what I read, that over 50% of Google’s search results come from the mobile index and that will increase, and then we should have a more settled bunch of URLs on desktop and mobile.

A good position on both SERPs: A “Good” Position on Desktop vs. “Good” on Mobile

I think it makes sense to have good positions on both desktop and mobile devices, as you never know where your next customer will come from, so being higher up on either of those will give you more of a chance of getting that customer onto your website. As the stats suggest, more people are using mobile devices in a lot of cases, so I would always want to work on that side as a priority, but I wouldn’t ignore desktop at this stage, as personally I still get a fair amount of traffic from desktop.

Fernando Maciá

Fernando Maciá
SEO Consultant

The data obtained from this SEMrush study shows that traffic to a mobile-first index is progressing rapidly, although it is probably not yet fully completed either by Google or by many websites. If more than 30% of the results that appear on Google’s front page for desktop searches are not retained in the results from mobile devices, it is probably because there is still a similar percentage of websites that have not been adapted to mobile devices. In this scenario, websites with similar content that have already implemented it win the game and ”crash” into the first mobile results.

On the other hand, we find that only 10% of the results maintain their position; this could be caused by multiple factors. It is possible that geolocation in the search from mobile devices is of high value, while it is not that important when searching from desktop computers. This means that local results have greater opportunities to appear in mobile searches, while proximity does not weigh so much on the relevance for desktop searches. In addition to geolocation, the influence of personalized results, the acceptance of the suggested searches to avoid typing further, the searches themselves, which are different when you have a physical keyboard or not, or even voice searches, all have an influence so that the order of the results can be different on mobile and on desktop.

There is a curious fact that the number of domains that hold their position is higher than the number of URLs; this could be due to domains that have adopted specific mobile versions in subdomains of type “m.” In these cases, it is possible that Google was displaying different URLs in desktop and mobile searches, although in both cases belonging to the same domain (though different subdomains). Despite this, we are also seeing in recent days URLs of type “m.” in results obtained for searches from desktop (which then redirect to the desktop version).

Given the increasing use of mobile phones to access the Internet, I believe that it is imperative to adapt all websites to mobile devices, not only to make them compatible, but to make them fully functional. Equally, it is important to consider mobile searches, different types of keywords, voice searches, suggested searches or the way in which it affects the default geolocation that Google introduces – keep all of this in mind when setting goals of visibility, keyword research, content optimization, and analysis of the results.

More on this Mobile SEO is a Must: How to Stay Competitive in Mobile-Friendly World Post Nikolai Boroda

Conclusion

The importance of mobile optimization is not news, but we hope that our research highlights just how much harder it can be to compete in mobile search, and how big of a deal it is to keep up.

Does Your Small Business Need a Mobile App?

mobile app

By Atman Rathod

The app market is literally brimming with apps of all types and businesses. According to Statistica, Google Play store now has more than 3.5 million apps, and the Apple App Store has another 2.2 million apps. From the outset, it gives an impression that every second business probably has its own mobile app. But that’s still not the case. A vast majority of small businesses still do not have an app for their business. But the situation is fast changing and most businesses irrespective of their size and business outreach is striving for a mobile presence.

This is expressly the reason why it is important to know why small business needs mobile apps or to be more precise, what value additions mobile apps offer to a small business.

Before we explain the reasons let’s put forward some recent statistics on the popularity of mobile apps among small businesses.

  • 42% of small businesses now already have a mobile app to their name and another 30% of small businesses wish to have one in near future.
  • The vast majority of small business preferred having a mobile app for the express reason of attracting new customers.
  • Small businesses owned by young people and millennials are particularly geared for a mobile app. 55% of small businesses owned by millennials have mobile apps.

Here are the key reasons for a small business to have a mobile app to its name.

Remaining Discoverable All The Time

As per recent statistics, an average American spends at least a couple of hours looking at his or her mobile screen. While only a handful of apps grab the large share of their mobile usage, the users still try to find new app appropriate for their purposes and uses.

Moreover, most users prefer using an app from a brand or business they are fond of. Naturally, if you have a loyal or regular customer base, there is no better way to drive engagement than with a mobile app. A mobile app will help your seasoned users to stay connected with the brand throughout the day.

Mobile Web And Mobile App Are Complementary To Each Other

If you have a business website it must perform well on mobile devices as most of the users now access the web on their mobile devices. Now, if your mobile or responsive website finds steady traction with a group of users, you can further promote them to download your native app and stay connected. Having a mobile website and a mobile app can be complementary to each other in terms of the scope of business promotion and brand loyalty.

Remember, it is the mobile user experience of your website that can be crucial to making the first impression of your brand. When you are successfully through with great mobile web experience, the users can better respond to your call for downloading and engaging with your mobile app.

Beat The Competition With An App

A mobile app is also a competitive tool for your business. If you see that the closest business competitors from your area have mobile apps to their name, you can consider them to be better positioned on the digital landscape. Check out the App Store and Play Store to see whether any of your competitors have already an app. Check out their app rating, reviews and have an idea of the user experience and how they are serving their target customers.

When you evaluate the mobile apps of your competitors you have the better chance of delivering a better user experience by avoiding the shortcomings of your competitor apps. Simple user interface optimised to help your customers in real life situations make a great business app.

Develop Branding And Recognition

A mobile app is also an invaluable tool to push brand awareness and recognition for your business. A business brand and its recognition are built over a period of time through consistent user engagement and a mobile app plays a crucial part in it.

Brand: A mobile app works better than any outdoor billboards or media ads. With a style statement in the user interface, superb functional output and performance on the user experience front and continuous value additions with subsequent updates you can create a lively entity out of your mobile app that continuously draws attention to your brand.

Recognition: More frequent becomes the involvement of your customers with the app more they are likely to opt for your products and services. An app by becoming always discoverable and visible open the chances of engaging users on a continuous basis and thus actively helps to push sales and business conversion.

Enhance Customer Engagement

Whether you are selling products or providing services, customers should find a means to contact your business brand. When your digital presence opened the avenues to get visible customers far and wide, your physical presence in the form of a store or office doesn’t matter until and unless they can reach you over the web or mobile app.

Through an app, you can provide your customers with a help desk that remains open throughout the day. Instead of calling for food delivery, you can book a restaurant seat or order food through the dedicated app just with a few clicks. Customers can book a hotel room or buy the latest gadget with a few clicks on the mobile app and get notified about promotions and delivery status.

An App Should Solve The Problem

Mobile apps particularly gain popularity when they solve problems of customers in a contextual and relevant manner. If your app can help customers to solve problems in their practical life, it clearly gives your brand an upper hand. For example, if you are selling equipment for construction and your app offers various measurement guides and tools to help engineers and construction workers, you are likely to get more traction and this will positively impact your sales as well.

Conclusion

A mobile app can become the most important storefront or channel for your small business provided you built the app with your target customers in mind. By launching a mobile app besides your regular mobile website, your digital footprint can be complete.

Atman Rathod is working as the Business Director at CMARIX TechnoLabs, a leading web and mobile app development company with 13+ years of experience. He loves to write about technology, startups, entrepreneurship and business. His creative abilities, academic track record and leadership skills made him one of the key industry influencers as well.

Mobile stock photo by maicasaa/Shutterstock

6 Ways to Get Customers to Opt-In to Mobile Marketing

mobile marketing
Image source: Photospin.com

In order for customers to accept mobile marketing from you in the first place, you have to show them how you can improve their lives. Here are six options for providing value via mobile that will enhance their lives so they will engage with your campaign.

1. Location-Specific Information

This category is a no-brainer. Location-specific knowledge is the No. 1 reason that people access the mobile web via mobile search. Regardless of whatever fun, creative, and exciting elements you include in your mobile campaign, be sure to include location-specific information in your mobile presence. A location-focused campaign includes information about your business, including addresses, driving directions, maps, and photos of your storefront, and anything else that will help customers find you or your location. Make sure you have keywords included in your local search campaign. For example, if you are a plumber, be sure to put search keywords (plumber, plumbing, frozen pipes, and plugged toilet) on your mobile site so that people can search and find you. Then use these same words when you are asked for tags or keywords to describe your site. Be sure you have your business listed in every local search engine/local directory possible.

2. Timely Knowledge

If you need to alert your target market quickly about special information, even faster than by email, mobile is the perfect way to provide value to your customers. One example could be a pricing alert (gas prices are going up in 4 hours), or an availability alert (your favorite hairstylist has an opening in 3 hours, or your back-ordered item is now in stock), or a combination of these (we have open tables tonight, and if you come in before 7 PM, you will receive a free dessert). This could also be a readiness alert (when your order is ready to be picked up) because once you check your email or retrieve your phone messages at home, you may not want to go out again. Travel alerts (flight delays or gate number changes) are a perfect example of providing this value because timely knowledge is instantly valuable wherever you are.

3. Ideas for Making Life Easier

Anything you can offer that makes life convenient and more efficient for your customers is a good option for your mobile campaign. This category is wide open because there are dozens of ways to make your customers’ lives easier via mobile. A good place to start is to consider what questions your customers/potential customers ask you frequently. Think about where your customers are and what information they might find helpful now. For example, a busy working mom needs menu choices for dinner tonight when she is in the grocery store, or she needs a list of healthy snack options to bring to her child’s classroom. Or consider the exercise enthusiast who tracks workouts and calorie consumption, and wants instant access to this data anytime, anywhere. By developing a clear picture of your customers, you can answer the following questions: Who are they? What do they do with their lives? What problems do they want you to solve? How can interacting with your business make their lives better, and how does that extend to mobile?

An excellent example of making life easier using mobile is the Sea World iPhone and Android app that is designed to help visitors explore the park more efficiently with more information at their fingertips. The app features information about shows, restroom locations, access to Wi-Fi locations, food options, the animals, and even the wait times at each ride. All of this can be provided in more detail, with up-to-date information on signs and printed maps. 

People love to save money, find a good deal, and feel special. Finding a way to help your customers achieve these three things provides value. When you offer coupons, discounts, or special offers via mobile, think creatively. Integrate your offer into your customers’ mobile environment so when they first receive it, the offer is actually there when they want to use it. One example is displaying signs outside a store with a text message coupon that can be redeemed instantly by walking inside. Incorporating your loyalty program tracking (offers to buy 10 items and get the 11th one free) into your mobile campaign not only gives your customers a reason to interact with you via mobile, it also keeps them buying directly from you. Keep in mind that customers will want a more intrusive, customized coupon (one they can receive on their phones) to offer a bigger incentive. A coupon for a 50-cent discount that they see in the newspaper may be enough to motivate them to get out the scissors, clip the coupon, and take it with them to the grocery store, but they need more incentive to receive something on their mobile device. They might want to get a combination of coupons or a bigger ticket item. Just be careful not to overdo this option. Because a financial incentive is easy, it is likely to be the most used and the first to be overused.

One of my favorite examples of financial incentive is the following Bath & Body Works SMS coupon: “BBW: Hello Yellow SALE starts TODAY! Show text for $10 off $40 purch Max1/cust val 6/11-6/27 in BBWUS stores only [email protected] #2684 TextSTOP2endMsg&DataR8sAply.” You will notice that the coupon used many abbreviations, but it was all understandable. The cashier inputs the four-digit code into the store system to acknowledge that this coupon had been redeemed.

5. Entertainment

Those who have a few minutes to spare and a mobile device are likely candidates for you to entertain via mobile. Games, trivia, contests, recordings, and scavenger hunts are good mobile options. You can create your own games, sponsor an existing one, or even offer people a list of game sites. If customers have to sit and wait to interact with your business at any point, your waiting area can become one of your best marketing tools. Or what if people begin interacting with your business while they are in another waiting room, standing in line, riding the bus/subway, or just hanging out with nothing to do? Think of ways you can entertain your customers via mobile that will also offer them value.

6. Connection

Younger generations have grown up connected to each other through the internet and cell phones where other generations have not. This younger generation gets connected to each other by mobile phones, unlike any other group before them. Through text messaging and sites such as Twitter and Facebook, these under-30 folks now expect to reach out to their friends at any time through the social networking software on their mobile devices. Don’t be tempted to dismiss mobile social networking just because you’re not using it or don’t understand it. There are ways to add connections to your customers’ lives, even if they are not the younger crowd. One example of this is OrbitzTLC Traveler Update feature (www.orbitz.com/App/ViewTravelWatchHome). Through this mobile social networking site, travelers can update and check timely information including parking availability, security delays, taxi lines, and comments from fellow travelers via their mobile devices. OrbitzTLC connects people who are otherwise strangers while they are traveling to and from the same place or within the same airport. This service adds value to their lives and connects them via their mobile devices.

These types of services can be offered as a value through the sponsorship of a social networking site, advertising on one of these sites, or creating one for your customers to use. This will work best if your customers want to start a group offline or if they discover a common interest while they are interacting with your business. This connection also links customers to your business. The “popularity” of your company or anyone in your company can attract customers who want to connect to you. Having a solid brand community comes in handy when a company is providing value through connections.

This excerpt is provided with permission from the publisher from The Mobile Marketing Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Dynamic Mobile Marketing Campaigns  (Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2012) by Kim Dushinski.

Google News Digest: 15 Years of Gmail, Mobile Usability Resources, Ads Editor V1, and More

The past couple of weeks have brought a number of substantive updates within the Google ecosystem. Among the more notable developments is the new editor in Google Ads, updated functionalities in Gmail, and what Google calls the “Masterful Mobile Web” resource for webmasters.

Going beyond the news, guest speakers Casie Gillette, Sr. Director of Digital Marketing at KoMarketing and Colin Gray, Founder of ThePodcastHost.com will discuss best practices for content marketing research in this week’s Marketing Scoop podcast. They will address everything from how to use the best tools available to how to determine the topic that will resonate most with your target audience. You don’t want to miss it.

Feedback and comments are welcome! Please feel free to weigh in on the digest as well as this week’s podcast. 


Google Search News

Hotel Search Update

Google announced the expansion of its “hotel search experience” to include a wider range of vacation rentals worldwide. Mobile users can now view and book vacation rentals from a variety of service providers (with Google partners such as Expedia, Hotels.com, and TripAdvisor) and narrow their search by applying filters such as price, amenity, and availability, as well as read reviews and browse photos. Google says its vacation rentals filter will be available for desktop users in the next month.

Hotel search update gif

Source: Find and book vacation rentals, with help from Google

Testing New Search Menu with Icons

Sharing screenshots on Twitter, Joe Youngblood notified the SEO and search community that he had spotted Google testing a new search bar menu. As reported by Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz, Google is displaying icons next to search categories like news, images, maps, and shopping. Schwartz noted that Google had experimented with icons next to the same search filters in 2010, but removed them from the desktop version the following year. He further stated that it is unlikely any changes to the user interface will impact search marketers and SEOs.

new items in google search menu

Sources: Google testing new search menu with icons for maps, news, shopping and moreTwitter: Joe Youngblood

2018 Webspam Report

Google recently published its 2018 webspam report, outlining trends and its efforts to combat it. Although “well under 1 percent of results visited by users are for spammy pages”, it says three types of spam persist: “spam on hacked websites”, “user-generated spam”, and “link spam”. According to its post, Google helped to reduce the impact of user-generated spam by more than 80%, and acknowledging the value of relevant and authoritative links as an important ranking signal, has been dealing swiftly with egregious link spam to keep the search rankings from being manipulated. Google continues to offer resources to webmasters, developers, and users to help overcome this problem and make the web a safer place for everyone. Some of these resources can be accessed on: how to prevent abuse of your site’s public areas, help, I think I’ve been hacked!, SEO starter-guide, and reporting link spam.

Source: This year in Search Spam – Webspam report 2018

UX Improvements with Mobile Search Page Speed

Acknowledging that webmasters have increased their page speed for mobile search since it was included as a ranking factor in 2018, Google recently highlighted the performance improvements on its webmaster blog:

  • “For the slowest one-third of traffic, we saw user-centric performance metrics improve by 15% to 20% in 2018. As a comparison, no improvement was seen in 2017.

  • We observed improvements across the whole web ecosystem. On a per country basis, more than 95% of countries had improved speeds.

  • When a page is slow to load, users are more likely to abandon the navigation. Thanks to these speed improvements, we’ve observed a 20% reduction in abandonment rate for navigations initiated from Search, a metric that site owners can now also measure via the Network Error Logging API available in Chrome.

  • In 2018, developers ran over a billion PageSpeed Insights audits to identify performance optimization opportunities for over 200 million unique URLs.”

Google went on to thank webmasters for their efforts and encouraged them to continue optimizing their sites for better user experience. Google suggests webmasters who are unsure how their pages are performing can refer to its the tools and documents on the subject: PageSpeed Insights, Chrome User Experience Report, and Documentation on performance on Web Fundamentals. Google also said to bring any questions to its help forums, specifically mentioning its webmaster help community.

Source: User experience improvements with page speed in mobile search


Google Ads News

Google Ads Editor V1 Announced

Google has introduced Google Ads Editor, v1, which it describes as a new and improved version of its Editor of the past 13 years. According to its announcement, the release “incorporates a significant update that addresses long-standing requests from the community.” The new Editor supports full, cross-account management, meaning that users will be able to use it seamlessly across their Google Ads accounts. In addition, Google says it has improved the interface of its ads editor to help campaign managers navigate features and execute tasks more quickly and easily. The announcement further touts how the new ads editor will help users to manage accounts at scale with functionalities for bids and budget, calls and messaging, and workflow.

Sources: Manage across accounts with the new Google Ads EditorThe Google Ads power tool.

Cross-device Conversion Data in All Attribution Reports

Starting May 1st, all attribution reports in Google Ads will include cross-device activity and conversions, giving campaign managers insights into how users interact with their ads on multiple devices. Previously, cross-device activity in Google Ads was limited to Devices, Assisting Devices, and Device Paths attribution reports which made it difficult for advertisers to understand the different aspects of their conversions data. According to Google, the update is in response to feedback from users that its existing cross-device attribution reports “resulted in inconsistent conversion counts across different reports”.

Source: Adding cross-device activity to all attribution reports


Google Tools News

New Way to Discover and Suggest Google-selected Canonical URLs

Google has updated its URL inspection tool in Search Console so it now displays any Google-selected canonical for a URL, instead of just those users manage for properties. Webmasters can now check whether or not Google is using the best canonical URL for the site owner’s content by entering a given page’s address in the URL inspection tool within the Search Console. If the URL is not the best match, webmasters can follow the steps Google has provided on their duplicate URLs help page and suggest your preferred URL for consideration. With these changes implemented, Google is now retiring the info: command which, until now, has been an alternative way to explore canonicals. As per Google, the info: command “was relatively underused, and URL Inspection tool provides a more comprehensive solution to help publishers with URLs.”

Source: How to discover & suggest Google-selected canonical URLs for your pages

Upcoming Changes in the New Search Console

In January, Google had announced some imminent changes in search console that would take effect towards the end of March. The changes include the new index coverage report for crawl errors and sitemaps data, the URL inspection tool, and additional dedicated reports per vertical in the structured data dashboard. Old reports will be retired, as Google recently announced on Twitter: “As we announced in January, today we’re retiring another set of reports. If you didn’t check the new reports, please do, and let us know what you think – we’re committed to enhancing our product to support you better.”

Sources: Focusing on the new Search Console; Twitter: Google Webmasters

15 Years of Gmail and New Features

Marking the 15th birthday of Gmail, Google provided a rundown of all the new features available to Gmail users worldwide. These features include the following:

Updating Smart Compose to Expand Its Reach and Include More Languages

Previously, Google’s AI-powered Smart Compose was only available on Pixel 3 devices but now it is available on Android, and soon, iOS. It will also include new languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese. According to Google, Smart Compose is getting smarter as it will now provide personalized suggestions for users, including a subject line based on the email content.

smart compose

Scheduling Email to Be Sent At a More Appropriate Date or Time

With this feature now added, Gmail users can decide when they would like their emails to be delivered to someone’s inbox. According to Google, it’s a helpful way to manage your emails if you’re “working across time zones or want to avoid interrupting someone’s vacation.”

email scheduling

Taking Action Without Leaving Your Inbox

Users will now be able to take actions without leaving their Gmail inboxes, such as responding to a comment thread in Google Docs, without having to open a new tab or app. 

Dynamic Email

Google has also announced that it is “making emails more useful and interactive in Gmail” with dynamic email. With dynamic email capability added, users can stay up to date and always see the freshest information within their inbox. In addition, as mentioned above, they can “easily take action directly from within the message itself, like RSVP to an event, fill out a questionnaire, browse a catalog or respond to a comment.”

Sources: Hitting send on the next 15 years of GmailTake action and stay up-to-date with dynamic email in Gmail

New Guide to Google Analytics and Google Ads Integration

Google recently introduced an “integrated solution” via a “powerful partnership” that links Google Analytics and Google Ads to help marketers gain a deeper insight into the customer journey.” The details are is explained in its guide, “Linking analytics and ads: The solution to today’s marketing challenges”.

According to the search engine, linking Google Analytics and Google Ads enables marketers to make the most of insight-driven marketing, optimized bidding, customized messaging, and advanced machine learning, which in turn helps them to deliver better experiences and gain higher returns on their investments.

Source: Google Analytics and Google Ads: A Powerful PairingLinking analytics and ads

A New Resource for Mobile Usability Evaluation

Google has launched its “Masterful Mobile Web” resource to help webmasters discover how the world’s top brands are creating mobile experiences so they can start doing the same. According to Google:

  • “71% of users globally now access the internet via a smartphone

  • 72% of internet users globally rely on their smartphone as much as, or more than, a desktop or tablet

  • 28% of users globally purchase products and services at least as often via a smartphone as via computer”

Google came up with the list of top brands providing “smooth, fast and highly-engaging” mobile experiences in Retail, Travel, and Finance categories by assessing over 1,000 of the most visited sites in these categories for five usability areas: findability, product pages, registration and conversion, mobile design, and speed. The sites that top the list in their respective categories are Coolblue (Retail), Booking.com (Travel), and Bank Norwegian (Finance).

For webmasters wishing to build masterful mobile websites, Google has also included a comprehensive list of resources for them to uncover customer insights, design, and implementation solutions, as well as to test and improve their mobile sites. These tools and resources can be accessed from the resources menu of the webpage.

Sources: Masterful Mobile WebTwitter: Google Analytics

Mobile Friendly and AMP Test Tools Update

Google has rolled out a new feature to both AMP and Mobile Friendly Tests tools which now supports code editing and rerunning tests live. With code editing, webmasters can make code changes and see how they are impacting the AMP and/or mobile-friendly tests of their websites in real time.

Source: Twitter: Google Webmasters


So, that is it for this edition of the news. Hope to see you back for more news in two weeks and as David always says at the end of the podcast, “Stay fantabulous and do one thing that scares you”. Remember to comment on and share this article. 

Mobile Marketing: 6 Ways to Provide Value

mobile marketing
Image source: Photospin.com

In order for customers to accept mobile marketing from you in the first place, you have to show them how you can improve their lives. Here are six options for providing value via mobile that will enhance their lives so they will engage with your campaign.

1. Location-Specific Information

This category is a no-brainer. Location-specific knowledge is the No. 1 reason that people access the mobile web via mobile search. Regardless of whatever fun, creative, and exciting elements you include in your mobile campaign, be sure to include location-specific information in your mobile presence. A location-focused campaign includes information about your business, including addresses, driving directions, maps, and photos of your storefront, and anything else that will help customers find you or your location. Make sure you have keywords included in your local search campaign. For example, if you are a plumber, be sure to put search keywords (plumber, plumbing, frozen pipes, and plugged toilet) on your mobile site so that people can search and find you. Then use these same words when you are asked for tags or keywords to describe your site. Be sure you have your business listed in every local search engine/local directory possible.

2. Timely Knowledge

If you need to alert your target market quickly about special information, even faster than by email, mobile is the perfect way to provide value to your customers. One example could be a pricing alert (gas prices are going up in 4 hours), or an availability alert (your favorite hairstylist has an opening in 3 hours, or your back-ordered item is now in stock), or a combination of these (we have open tables tonight, and if you come in before 7 PM, you will receive a free dessert). This could also be a readiness alert (when your order is ready to be picked up) because once you check your email or retrieve your phone messages at home, you may not want to go out again. Travel alerts (flight delays or gate number changes) are a perfect example of providing this value because timely knowledge is instantly valuable wherever you are.

3. Ideas for Making Life Easier

Anything you can offer that makes life convenient and more efficient for your customers is a good option for your mobile campaign. This category is wide open because there are dozens of ways to make your customers’ lives easier via mobile. A good place to start is to consider what questions your customers/potential customers ask you frequently. Think about where your customers are and what information they might find helpful now. For example, a busy working mom needs menu choices for dinner tonight when she is in the grocery store, or she needs a list of healthy snack options to bring to her child’s classroom. Or consider the exercise enthusiast who tracks workouts and calorie consumption, and wants instant access to this data anytime, anywhere. By developing a clear picture of your customers, you can answer the following questions: Who are they? What do they do with their lives? What problems do they want you to solve? How can interacting with your business make their lives better, and how does that extend to mobile?

An excellent example of making life easier using mobile is the Sea World iPhone and Android app that is designed to help visitors explore the park more efficiently with more information at their fingertips. The app features information about shows, restroom locations, access to Wi-Fi locations, food options, the animals, and even the wait times at each ride. All of this can be provided in more detail, with up-to-date information on signs and printed maps. 

People love to save money, find a good deal, and feel special. Finding a way to help your customers achieve these three things provides value. When you offer coupons, discounts, or special offers via mobile, think creatively. Integrate your offer into your customers’ mobile environment so when they first receive it, the offer is actually there when they want to use it. One example is displaying signs outside a store with a text message coupon that can be redeemed instantly by walking inside. Incorporating your loyalty program tracking (offers to buy 10 items and get the 11th one free) into your mobile campaign not only gives your customers a reason to interact with you via mobile, it also keeps them buying directly from you. Keep in mind that customers will want a more intrusive, customized coupon (one they can receive on their phones) to offer a bigger incentive. A coupon for a 50-cent discount that they see in the newspaper may be enough to motivate them to get out the scissors, clip the coupon, and take it with them to the grocery store, but they need more incentive to receive something on their mobile device. They might want to get a combination of coupons or a bigger ticket item. Just be careful not to overdo this option. Because a financial incentive is easy, it is likely to be the most used and the first to be overused.

One of my favorite examples of financial incentive is the following Bath & Body Works SMS coupon: “BBW: Hello Yellow SALE starts TODAY! Show text for $10 off $40 purch Max1/cust val 6/11-6/27 in BBWUS stores only [email protected] #2684 TextSTOP2endMsg&DataR8sAply.” You will notice that the coupon used many abbreviations, but it was all understandable. The cashier inputs the four-digit code into the store system to acknowledge that this coupon had been redeemed.

5. Entertainment

Those who have a few minutes to spare and a mobile device are likely candidates for you to entertain via mobile. Games, trivia, contests, recordings, and scavenger hunts are good mobile options. You can create your own games, sponsor an existing one, or even offer people a list of game sites. If customers have to sit and wait to interact with your business at any point, your waiting area can become one of your best marketing tools. Or what if people begin interacting with your business while they are in another waiting room, standing in line, riding the bus/subway, or just hanging out with nothing to do? Think of ways you can entertain your customers via mobile that will also offer them value.

6. Connection

Younger generations have grown up connected to each other through the internet and cell phones where other generations have not. This younger generation gets connected to each other by mobile phones, unlike any other group before them. Through text messaging and sites such as Twitter and Facebook, these under-30 folks now expect to reach out to their friends at any time through the social networking software on their mobile devices. Don’t be tempted to dismiss mobile social networking just because you’re not using it or don’t understand it. There are ways to add connections to your customers’ lives, even if they are not the younger crowd. One example of this is OrbitzTLC Traveler Update feature (www.orbitz.com/App/ViewTravelWatchHome). Through this mobile social networking site, travelers can update and check timely information including parking availability, security delays, taxi lines, and comments from fellow travelers via their mobile devices. OrbitzTLC connects people who are otherwise strangers while they are traveling to and from the same place or within the same airport. This service adds value to their lives and connects them via their mobile devices.

These types of services can be offered as a value through the sponsorship of a social networking site, advertising on one of these sites, or creating one for your customers to use. This will work best if your customers want to start a group offline or if they discover a common interest while they are interacting with your business. This connection also links customers to your business. The “popularity” of your company or anyone in your company can attract customers who want to connect to you. Having a solid brand community comes in handy when a company is providing value through connections.

This excerpt is provided with permission from the publisher from The Mobile Marketing Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Dynamic Mobile Marketing Campaigns  (Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2012) by Kim Dushinski.

5 Mobile Apps to Help Increase Your Sales

By Manan Ghadawala

In today’s competitive world, it is important that you use modern technology to draw the attention of the masses to increase your business sales. Mobile applications are very in these days with almost all of the population using smartphones. It has been surveyed that the number of smartphone users is expected to rise to 4 million by 2020.

Mobile applications have made life easier since they came into being. Mobile app development companies have designed a number of apps for shopping, ordering food, tracking locations and places. Apps are also used for promoting and expanding the business so that the business sales go up.

There are a number of mobile apps that can increase sales and promote growth in your small business. Here are five worth a look.

This is customer relationship management software (CRM) that incorporates a lot of functions and can be used in businesses to access client information, keep record of customer interactions, computerize sales and keep business-related information organized.

Sell keeps reps informed of pending deals and helps them examine the data. It creates opportunities and keeps the sales team notified about the highest value leads. Sell manages the customer relationships by making them happy and the customers in turn promote the business. The sales data and information is at hand always.

Sell also connects your company website to automation marketing and provides leads to the marketing team, saving time. It reduces managerial burden and increases work productivity. It also suggests a scientific way to go about in the future.

Marketing departments of various companies are flooded with information. The important points gathered from meetings and over the phone are spread in different places. Evernote brings all the information and details in a single place so that your team can access it all at once.

It also provides you the option of accessing the details from different gadgets in your other offices or at the site. The sales process can be supervised by tracking the client updates, saving notes and vital files in the same place. The information is easy to find and share.

Expensify takes care of your financial details. Receipts can be tracked via this application and it automatically records mileage through GPS and groups the expenses for taxes. Unrestricted receipt scanning and expense approving can be computerized. Repayment reports can be delivered within a day. Business card dealings can be automatically taken into consideration.

The app can be connected with other applications for direct receipt import and record. All the expense data is secured. Custom export reports can also be formulated. It detects false receipts, validates transactions and makes sure that the exchange rates are accurate.

Salesforce manages the activities relating to the customers by collecting information and noting customer transactions. It suggests the best solution for client problems and offers a range of tools to help grow your business. Salesforce is user friendly and you can track your performance from anywhere and get updates from your team members by connecting with them instantly. Any action regarding sales can be accessed right away.

Zoho CRM helps you to augment your business sales. Your revenue can be estimated and targets can be assigned to be achieved in time and it can also help boost the performance of your company. It keeps track of the customer contacts and segregates customers based on territory. With this feature it can detect the regions where sales exceeded the targeted amount or where it made a profit.

Recurring jobs can be computerized and the sales team can spend more time attending to customers’ needs. Sales reporting can be done without any hassle.

All of these marketing apps can be downloaded to your smartphone and used from anywhere. What app would you add to this list?

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Manan Ghadawala on Twitter
Manan Ghadawala
Manan Ghadawala is the founder of 21Twelve Interactive which is one of the best mobile app development company in India and the USA. He is an idealistic leader with a lively management style and thrives raising the company’s growth with his talents. He is an astounding business professional with astonishing knowledge and applies artful tactics to reach those imaginary skies for his clients.

Only 3 Percent of US Retail Sales Completed Via Mobile Wallet

A new infographic from Expert Market has mapped out mobile wallet usage in 36 countries around the world. In the US, only 3% of retail sales were completed through a mobile wallet.

The global penetration rate of this technology is still very low topping at 6%, except for one country. The one outlier in this report is China, which has a staggering 36% of the population using mobile wallet. This is nine times the global average of 4%.

As consumers move away from cash, businesses have to implement payment solutions capable of addressing this change. This is because they now have more ways than ever to pay for the product and services they purchase.

Businesses have to make the payment process as seamless as possible and remove any pain points for their customers. With smart mobile phones, consumers have a technology which brings most of what they need in one platform.

Lucy Crossfield of Expert Market, addressed this aspect of the technology in the emailed press release.

Crossfield said, “Mobile phones are becoming the no.1 device for everything from chatting to friends to watching TV to paying for all of our worldly possessions, and why? Because it’s just so much more convenient to have everything in one place -in today’s world, convenience is king!”

It is this convenience which will drive in more customers to your place of business. As Crossfield added, “Our study confirms it – the days of fumbling around in your wallet for your credit, debit and thousands of loyalty cards are seriously numbered.”

Businesses have to start deploying mobile wallet technology as part of their overall POS system sooner than later.



Besides China, What Countries Are Making Gains in Mobile Wallet Adoption?

The report by Expert Market says by 2022 only 17% of global payments will be made using cash. And digital wallet usage will go up to 28% during the same period, an increase of 24%.

The growth in China will be more dramatic as e-wallet users will increase by more than 140 million people every year.

One of the challenges for the rest of the world is the reliance on contactless card payment systems. The reason China has high numbers of mobile wallet users is they all but skipped credit cards in the country.

People in other countries are going to have to wean themselves out of using credit cards and get used to mobile wallets.

When it comes to Europe, the UK is the top mobile wallet user at 5%, with Spain and The Netherlands coming at 3%, and France at 1%.

In the Americas Argentina is first at 4%, with the US coming in at 3% followed by Brazil with the same amount, and Canada at 1%.

For the rest of the world India and the UAE were above average at 6%, with Australia at 2%.

Who is Using Mobile Wallets?

According to the analysis from Expert Market, millennials make up 35% of the mobile wallet users around the world.

A further break down of the group reveals 40.4% are high earners, 32.2% medium income, and 27.4% low income.

The report says businesses who renovate their payment infrastructure and adopt new technologies can seize the opportunity this lucrative demographic will provide as they grow in purchasing power.

Take a look at the rest of the data from the Expert Market infographic below.

Mobile Wallet Usage Around the World

Image: Depositphotos.com

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Ditch Your Laptop: How to Take Your Business Completely Mobile

business

By Jennifer Pattison Tuohy

Small business owners have one thing in common — they’re always on the go. Startups especially can take advantage of smartphones and cloud-based apps to do almost anything, unencumbered by the limitations of legacy desktop software.

Smartphone apps are often more user-friendly versions of desktop software, and you can now find apps that let you process payments, e-sign documents, draft contracts, run your payroll, generate invoices, and manage your company’s accounting easily and securely from your phone.

Going mobile allows you to be more productive both digitally and in real life, and the security offered on many mobile devices today — such as biometric sensors that allow for facial recognition — means your data is safer than ever. A desktop computer may be essential for some businesses, but for those who simply need computing power to run their business, going mobile is entirely possible.

Still need convincing? Here’s a look at some of the most common reasons we use laptops or desktops, and how you can do them on a smartphone.

Create impressive presentations

Creating presentations on a smartphone is easy thanks to great software and larger screens, but you can’t use your smartphone’s screen to show your work off to a room full of clients. Instead, just plug it in to any newer television or monitor using an HDMI cable (Android) or a Lightning Digital AV Adapter (iPhone). If your client has an Apple TV or Chromecast, you can even show off your presentation wirelessly.

Type long emails and documents

Going completely mobile means ditching any devices that physically turn your phone into a desktop computer, but one accessory that is worth investing in is a portable Bluetooth keyboard. This will make composing longer emails and typing documents on your phone more efficient.

Edit documents and spreadsheets

G Suite, Microsoft Office, and Apple’s Pages and Numbers are all excellent apps for writing documents and creating spreadsheets on your phone. Quick updates and edits are easiest when working on a smaller screen, but a Bluetooth keyboard can help if you need to compose a long document or create a detailed spreadsheet.

Keep on marketing

You can even create email campaigns and keep an eye on your marketing plans from your phone. Services like MailChimp and Constant Contact are the go-to software for many marketers and business owners looking to get their message out and have robust mobile apps.

Manage email

Apple Mail and Gmail are powerhouse mobile email apps that make it easy to compose and reply to email on your phone. Email triage is a cinch, too — a simple swipe lets you archive, delete, snooze, or file messages with just a flick of a finger.

Edit photos and videos 

According to Popular Photography, some excellent photo editing apps include Lightroom Mobile, Snapseed, Photo Editor by Aviary, and Photoshop Touch. In many cases, these apps work better than desktop counterparts because touch is such an intuitive interface for editing photos. Touch screens are also excellent for on-the-go video editing; Consumer Reports recommends Adobe Premiere Clip, Apple’s iMovie, and Magisto.

Communicate with your team

Apple’s FaceTime now supports up to 32 people at a time and works across all of Apple’s devices, making it possible to set up video conference calls right from your iPhone. For multi-platform users, Microsoft’s Skype for Business is compatible with Lync, allowing for even greater cross-platform communication.

Instant messaging is increasingly becoming the preferred way to communicate, and Slack is a leader in this industry. Features like video conferencing, project management tools, and the ability to screen and file share make it ideal for small businesses and work well on smartphones.

Microsoft Teams is another strong option with similar features. With deep links to all Office 365 services, it’s a good choice if you’re already in the ecosystem.

Make security a priority

If your whole business is on your phone, it’s much more susceptible to loss or theft than a desktop in your office. Remember to back everything up to a secure, cloud-based service and enable all the security features your phone offers.

In today’s high-tech world, it’s easier than ever to take your business completely mobile. Consider these mobile tips to decide if going desk-free is the right move for you.

Jennifer Pattison Tuohy is a freelance writer and contributor for Xfinity Mobile. She covers the intersection of sustainability and technology and writes about smart homes, mobile phone technology, consumer tech, small businesses, and green living for a variety of newspapers, magazines, and online publications.

Mobile business stock photo by Maridav/Shutterstock

What You Need to Know About Mobile Game Monetization

By Maria Atmanaki

Hurray, you’ve finally developed a game! But for the vast majority of game development teams, creating games is not only a hobby but a real gold mine. Nowadays more than 80% of Americans have smartphones and more and more prefer using them instead of computers or tablets. Thus, mobile game development has become a truly lucrative niche.

However, to achieve success you can’t just lie back and expect things to happen. A lot of developers don’t think about monetization till the last moment. That’s wrong, because, actually, many aspects of your game depend on the type of monetization you choose.

It is obvious that games can be free or paid, but that’s not your only choice – you can combine it. There aren’t many games that can be considered as totally free. Yes, you allow users to download your app for free and yet make profits. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? In a few minutes, you’ll have learned ways to turn your game into a profit-generating machine.

Paid Games

While it is the simplest way to get revenue from your game, on Google Play you can find over 3 million apps and only 3% of them are paid. But it doesn’t mean that this option is unprofitable. A few successful examples of paid games include Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

You can make users pay only once in order to download your app or subscript, which implies paying a fee to continue playing your game (usually on a monthly basis). You can suggest a free trial giving users the chance to try your game before paying. Here comes pressure to make sure the game is good enough to keep players engaged for longer and buy it. A paid game may also be a sister-app of a similar free one with certain functional limitations.

Usually, gamers prefer paid games because they want to have complete freedom during playing without irritating ads. But there are successful exceptions like Electronic Arts with “Star Wars Battlefront II”, which costs more than $50 and, in addition, includes in-game purchases.

Free Games

The freemium monetization model is dominating the market nowadays. That means your app is free to download but has additional paid content. For example, premium levels that can be unlocked only on a paid basis. But let’s review other monetizing methods of “free” games.

Advertisement

It is the first thing that comes to mind and it’s really the most popular method to monetize your mobile game. According to Gartner Research, mobile advertising reaches $18 billion annually. Nevertheless, tolerance to ads varies from player to player, so you should be ready that it will upset quite a lot of players (and they can even uninstall an app as a result). So ask yourself:

  • What sort of ads would the target audience prefer?
  • Will these ads potentially ruin part of the experience for users?

It can be banner ads that are placed at the top or at the bottom of the screen. They usually irritate users, so think twice before agreeing to integrate one into your game.

There is also interstitials that are displayed on the entire screen and it’s the best variant. However, you should choose the right moment for ads carefully. The last thing a player wants to see after failing a mission or losing a life is an ad. No wonder the player will leave.

Many games allow gamers to watch videos in order to gain virtual currency but it’s important that the user experience won’t suffer. If you force users to watch an ad for 30 seconds, they might decide to delete your game. But let’s turn to Tap Titans. It is a great example of a game that uses rewarded video successfully. Letting players earn coins by choosing to watch videos provides also a nice break from the constant tapping.

In-App Purchases

While using in-app purchases, you can be sure that you don’t overwhelm your users with too many messages. But, unfortunately, the vast majority of players will never make an in-app purchase, which makes in-game advertising the most preferred method for many mobile game developers.

If we look at in-app purchases, over 50% of revenue comes from less than 1% of users. Nevertheless, in the U.S., Candy Crush is more popular than any other mobile game. It generates $2.2 million every day and $819 million annually. And it’s a perfect example of an app that encourages players to pay in order to get in-game currency. This app lets users purchase gold bars with real money and use them for in-game privileges such as extra lives.

Premium Levels

Ensure that your premium levels have several more interesting features and tools to offer the user. Puzzle game Heart Box successfully uses the unlock new levels strategy to encourage its audience to pay. When users conquer a few levels, they’re engaged enough to pay for the full-fledged version for more hours of fun.

Summary

The strategies, described above are just templates. Do not copy them, be creative and get inspiration from other lucrative businesses to find out how they monetize their games. The developer of Flappy Bird spent two days on developing his game and it ended up earning around $50,000 a day thanks to its in-game advertising. Who knows, maybe you can be even more successful?

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Maria Atmanaki
Maria Atmanaki is a Content Marketer at an independent game development company Knocknock Games based in San Francisco, CA. Her studio’s experience in game art and design, publishing and developing on different platforms allows her to share expertise with others.