How to Use Search Analytics in Google Sheets for Better SEO Insights

Posted by mihai.aperghis

As an SEO, whether you’re working in-house or handling many clients in an agency, you’ve likely been using this tool for a bunch of reasons. Whether it’s diagnosing traffic and position changes or finding opportunities for optimizations and content ideas, Google Search Console’s Search Search Analytics has been at the core of most SEOs’ toolset.

The scope of this small guide is to give you a few ideas on how to use Search Analytics together with Google Sheets to help you in your SEO work. As with the guide on how to do competitive analysis in Excel, this one is also focused around a tool that I’ve built to help me get the most of Search Analytics: Search Analytics for Sheets.

The problem with the Search Analytics UI

Sorting out and managing data in the Google Search Console Search Analytics web UI in order to get meaningful insights is often difficult to do, and even the CSV downloads don’t make it much easier.

The main problem with the Search Analytics UI is grouping.

If you’d like to see a list of all the keywords in Search Analytics and, at the same time, get their corresponding landing pages, you can’t do that. You instead need to filter query-by-query (to see their associated landing pages), or page-by-page (to see their associated queries). And this is just one example.

Search Analytics Grouping

Basically, with the Search Analytics UI, you can’t do any sort of grouping on a large scale. You have to filter by each keyword, each landing page, each country etc. in order to get the data you need, which would take a LOT of time (and possible a part of your sanity as well).

In comes the API for the save

Almost one year ago (and after quite a bit of pressure from webmasters), Google launched the official API for Search Analytics.

Official Google Webmaster Central Blog Search Analytics API

With it, you can do pretty much anything you can do with the web UI, with the added benefit of applying any sort of grouping and/or filtering.

Excited yet?

Imagine you can now have one column filled with keywords, the next column with their corresponding landing pages, then maybe the next one with their corresponding countries or devices, and have impressions, clicks, CTR, and positions for each combination.

Everything in one API call

Query Page Country Device Clicks Impressions CTR Position
keyword 1 usa DESKTOP 92 2,565 3.59% 7.3
keyword 1 usa MOBILE 51 1,122 4.55% 6.2
keyword 2 gbr DESKTOP 39 342 11.4% 3.8
keyword 1 aus DESKTOP 21 55 38.18% 1.7
keyword 3 usa MOBILE 20 122 16.39% 3.6

Getting the data into Google Sheets

I have traditionally enjoyed using Excel but have since migrated over to Google Sheets due to its cloud nature (which means easier sharing with my co-workers) and expandability via scripts, libraries, and add-ons.

After being heavily inspired by Seer Interactive’s SEO Toolbox (an open-source Google Sheets library that offers some very nice functions for daily SEO tasks), I decided to build a Sheets script that would use the Search Analytics API.

I liked the idea of speeding up and improving my daily monitoring and diagnosing for traffic and ranking changes.

Also, using the API gave me the pretty useful feature of automatically backing up your GSC data once a month. (Before, you needed to do this manually, use a paid Sheets add-on or a Python script.)

Once things started to take shape with the script, I realized I could take this public by publishing it into an add-on.

What is Search Analytics for sheets?

Simply put, Search Analytics for Sheets is a (completely free) Google Sheets add-on that allows you to fetch data from GSC (via its API), grouped and filtered to your liking, and create automated monthly backups.

If your interest is piqued, installing the add-on is fairly simple. Either install it from the Chrome Web Store, or:

  • Open a Google spreadsheet
  • Go to Add-ons -> Get add-ons
  • Search for Search Analytics for Sheets
  • Install it (It’ll ask you to authorize a bunch of stuff, but you can sleep safe: The add-on has been reviewed by Google and no data is being saved/monitored/used in any other way except grabbing it and putting it in your spreadsheets).

Once that’s done, open a spreadsheet where you’d like to use the add-on and:

Search Analytics for Sheets Install

  • Go to Add-ons -> Search Analytics for Sheets -> Open Sidebar
  • Authorize it with your GSC account (make sure you’re logged in Sheets with your GSC account, then close the window once it says it was successful)

You’ll only have to do this once per user account, so once you install it, the add-on will be available for all your spreadsheets.

PS: You’ll get an error if you don’t have any websites verified on your logged in account.

How Search Analytics for Sheets can help you

Next, I’ll give you some examples on what you can use the add-on for, based on how I mainly use it.

Grab information on queries and their associated landing pages

Whether it is to diagnose traffic changes, find content optimization opportunities, or check for appropriate landing pages, getting data on both queries and landing pages at the same time can usually provide instant insights. Other than automated backups, this is by far the feature that I use the most, especially since it’s fairly hard to replicate the process using the standard web UI.

Best of all, it’s quite straightforward to do this and requires only a few clicks:

  • Select the website
  • Select your preferred date interval (by default it will grab the minimum and maximum dates available in GSC)
  • In the Group field, select “Query,” then “Page”
  • Click “Request Data”

That’s it.

You’ll now have a new sheet containing a list of queries, their associated landing pages, and information about impressions, clicks, CTR, and position for each query-page pair.

Search Analytics for Sheets Example 1

What you do with the data is up to you:

  • Check keyword opportunities

Use a sheets filter to only show rows with positions between 10 and 21 (usually second-page results) and see whether landing pages can be further optimized to push those queries to the first page. Maybe work a bit on the title tag, content and internal linking to those pages.

  • Diagnose landing page performance

Check position 20+ rows to see whether there’s a mismatch between the query and its landing page. Perhaps you should create more landing pages, or there are pages that target those queries but aren’t accessible by Google.

  • Improve CTR

Look closely at position and CTR. Check low-CTR rows with associated high position values and see if there’s any way to improve titles and meta descriptions for those pages (a call-to-action might help), or maybe even add some rich snippets (they’re pretty effective in raising CTR without much work).

  • Find out why your traffic dropped
    • Had significant changes in traffic? Do two requests (for example, one for the last 30 days and one for the previous 30 days) then use VLOOKUP to compare the data.
    • Positions dropped across the board? Time to check GSC for increased 4xx/5xx errors, manual actions, or faulty site or protocol migrations.
    • Positions haven’t dropped, but clicks and impressions did? Might be seasonality, time to check year-over-year analytics, Google Trends, Keyword Planner.
    • Impressions and positions haven’t dropped, but clicks/CTR did? Manually check those queries, see whether the Google UI has changed (more top ads, featured snippet, AMP carousel, “In the news” box, etc.)

I could go on, but I should probably leave this for a separate post.

Get higher granularity with further grouping and filtering options

Even though I don’t use them as much, the date, country and device groupings let you dive deep into the data, while filtering allows you to fetch specific data to one or more dimensions.

Search Analytics for Sheets Grouping

Date grouping creates a new column with the actual day when the impressions, clicks, CTR, and position were recorded. This is particularly useful together with a filter for a specific query, so you can basically have your own rank tracker.

Grouping by country and device lets you understand where your audience is.

Using country grouping will let you know how your site fares internationally, which is of course highly useful if you target users in more than one country.

However, device grouping is probably something you’ll play more with, given the rise in mobile traffic everywhere. Together with query and/or page grouping, this is useful to know how Google ranks your site on desktop and mobile, and where you might need to improve (generally speaking you’ll probably be more interested in mobile rankings here rather than desktop, since those can pinpoint problems with certain pages on your site and their mobile usability).

Search Analytics for Sheets Grouping Example

Filtering is exactly what it sounds like.

Choose between query, page, country and/or device to select specific information to be retrieved. You can add any number of filters; just remember that, for the time being, multiple filters are added cumulatively (all conditions must be met).

Search Analytics for Sheets Grouping Example

Other than the rank tracking example mentioned earlier, filtering can be useful in other situations as well.

If you’re doing a lot of content marketing, perhaps you’ll use the page filter to only retrieve URLs that contain /blog/ (or whatever subdirectory your content is under), while filtering by country is great for international sites, as you might expect.

Just remember one thing: Search Analytics offers a lot of data, but not all the data. They tend to leave out data that is too individual (as in, very few users can be aggregated in that result, such as, for example, long tail queries).

This also means that, the more you group/filter, the less aggregated the data is, and certain information will not be available. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use groups and filters; it’s just something to keep in mind when you’re adding up the numbers.

Saving the best for last: Automated Search Analytics backups

This is the feature that got me into building this add-on.

I use GSC data quite a bit, from client reports to comparing data from multiple time periods. Unless you’ve never used GSC/WMT in the past, it’s highly unlikely you don’t know that the data available in Search Analytics only spans about the last 90 days.

While the guys at Google have mentioned that they’re looking into expanding this window, most SEOs have had to rely on various ways of backing up data in order to access it later.

This usually requires either remembering to manually download the data each month, or using a more complicated (but automated) method such as a Python script.

The Search Analytics for Sheets add-on allows you to do this effortlessly.

Just like when requesting data, select the site and set up any grouping and filtering that you’d like to use. I highly recommend using query and page grouping, and maybe country filtering to cut some of the noise.

Then simply enable the backup.

That’s it.The current spreadsheet will host that backup from now on, until you decide to disable it.

Search Analytics for Sheets Example 2

What happens now is that once per month (typically on the 3rd day of the month) the backup will run automatically and fetch the data for the previous month into the spreadsheet (each month will have its own sheet).

In case there are delays (sometimes Search Analytics data can be delayed even up to a week), the add-on will re-attempt to run the backup every day until it succeeds.

It’ll even keep a log with all backup attempts, and send you an email if you’d like.

Search Analytics for Sheets Backup Log

It’ll also create a separate sheet for monthly aggregated data (the total number of impressions and clicks plus CTR and position data, without any grouping or filtering), so that way you’ll be sure you’re ‘saving’ the real overview information as well.

If you’d like more than one backup (either another backup for the same site but with different grouping/filtering options or a new backup for a different site), simply open a new spreadsheet and enable the backup there. You’ll always be able to see a list with all the backups within the “About” tab.

For the moment, only monthly backups are available, though I’m thinking about including a weekly and/or daily option as well. However that might be more complicated, especially in cases where GSC data is delayed.

Going further

I hope you’ll find the tool as useful as I think it is.

There may be some bugs, even though I tried squashing them all (thanks to Russ Jones and Tori Cushing, Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Roundtable, and Cosmin Negrescu from SEOmonitor for helping me test and debug it).

If you do find anything else or have any feature requests, please let me know via the add-on feedback function in Google Sheets or via the form on the official site.

If not, I hope the tool will help you in your day-to-day SEO work as much as it helps me. Looking forward to see more use cases for it in the comments.

PS: The tool doesn’t support more than 5,000 rows at the moment; working on getting that improved!

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October 22, 2016  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

Content Gating: When, Whether, and How to Put Your Content Behind an Email/Form Capture – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Have you ever considered gating your content to get leads? Whether you choose to have open-access content or gate it to gather information, there are benefits and drawbacks you should be aware of. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand weighs the pros and cons of each approach and shares some tips for improving your process, regardless of whichever route you go.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about content gating.

This is something that a lot of content marketers use, particularly those who are interested in generating leads, individuals that their salespeople or sales teams or outreach folks or business development folks can reach out to specifically to sell a product or start a conversation. Many content marketers and SEOs use this type of content as a lure to essentially attract someone, who then fills in form fields to give enough information so that the sales pipeline gets filled or the leads pipeline gets filled, and then the person gets the content.

As opposed to the classic model that we’re used to in a more open content marketing and open SEO world of, “Let me give you something and then hopefully get something in return,” it’s, “You give me something and I will give you this thing in return.” This is a very, very popular tactic. You might be familiar with Moz and know that my general bias and Moz’s general bias is against content gating. We sort of have a philosophical bias against it, with the exception of, on the Moz Local side, some enterprise stuff, that that marketing team may be doing, may in the future include some gating. But generally, at Moz, we’re sort of against it.

However, I don’t want to be too biased. I recognize that it does have benefits, and I want to explain some of those benefits and drawbacks so that you can make your own choices of how to do it. Then we’re going to rock through some recommendations, some tactical tips that I’ve got for you around how you can improve how you do it, no matter whether you are doing open content or full content gating.

Benefits of gating content

The two. This is the gated idea. So you get this free report on the state of artificial intelligence in 2016. But first, before you get that report, you fill in all these fields: name, email, role, company website, Twitter, LinkedIn, what is your budget for AI in 2017 and you fill in a number. I’m not kidding here. Many of these reports require these and many other fields to be filled in. I have filled in personally several that are intense in order to get a report back. So it’s even worked on me at times.

The opposite of that, of course, would be the report is completely available. You get to the webpage, and it’s just here’s the state of AI, the different sections, and you get your graphs and your charts, and all your data is right in there. Fantastic, completely free access. You’ve had to give nothing, just visit the website.

The benefits of gating are you actually get:

  • More information about who specifically accessed the report. Granted, some of this information could be faked. There are people who work around that by verifying and validating at least the email address or those kinds of things.
  • Those who expend the energy to invest in the report may view the data or the report itself as more valuable, more useful, more trustworthy, to carry generally greater value. This is sort of an element of human psychology, where we value things that we’ve had to work harder to get.
  • Sales outreach to the folks who did access it may be much easier and much more effective because you obviously have a lot of information about those people, versus if you collected only an email or no information at all, in which case would be close to impossible.

Drawbacks of gating content

Let’s walk through the drawbacks of gating, some things that you can’t do:

  • Smaller audience potential. It is much harder to get this in front of tons of people. Maybe not this page specifically, but certainly it’s hard to get amplification of this, and it’s very hard to get an audience, get many, many people to fill out all those form fields.
  • Harder to earn links and amplification. People generally do not link to content like this. By the way, the people who do link to and socially amplify stuff like this usually do it with the actual file. So what they’ll do is they’ll look for State of AI 2016, filetype:pdf,, and then they’ll find the file behind whatever you’ve got. I know there are some ways to gate that even such that no one can access it, but it’s a real pain.
  • It also is true that some folks this leaves a very bad taste in their mouth. They have a negative brand perception around it. Now negative brand perception could be around having to fill this out. It could be around whether the content was worth it after they filled this out. It could be about the outreach that happens to them after they filled this out and their interest in getting this data was not to start a sales conversation. You also lose a bunch of your SEO benefits, because you don’t get the links, you don’t get the engagement. If you do rank for this, it tends to be the case that your bounce rate is very high, much higher than other people who might rank for things like the state of AI 2016. So you just struggle.

Benefits of open access

What are the benefits and drawbacks of open access? Well, benefits, pretty obvious:

  • Greater ability to drive traffic from all channels, of course — social, search, word of mouth, email, whatever it is. You can drive a lot more people here.
  • There’s a larger future audience for retargeting and remarketing. So the people who do reach the report itself in here, you certainly have an opportunity. You could retarget and remarket to them. You could also reach out to them directly. Maybe you could retarget and remarket to people who’ve reached this page but didn’t fill in any information. But these folks here are a much greater audience potential for those retargeting and remarketing efforts. Larry Kim from WordStream has shown some awesome examples. Marty Weintraub from Aimclear also has shown some awesome examples of how you can do that retargeting and remarketing to folks who’ve reached content.
  • SEO benefits via links that point to these pages, via engagement metrics, via their ranking ability, etc. etc. You’re going to do much better with this. We do much better with the Beginner’s Guide to SEO on Moz than we would if it were gated and you had to give us your information first, of course.

Overall, if what you are trying to achieve is, rather than leads, simply to get your message to the greatest number of people, this is a far, far better effort. This is likely to reach a much bigger audience, and that message will therefore reach that much larger audience.

Drawbacks of open access

There are some drawbacks for this open access model. It’s not without them.

  • It might be hard or even totally impossible to convert many or most of the visits that come to open access content into leads or potential leads. It’s just the case that those people are going to consume that content, but they may never give you information that will allow you to follow up or reach out to them.
  • Information about the most valuable and important visitors, the ones who would have filled this thing out and would have been great leads is lost forever when you open up the content. You just can’t capture those folks. You’re not going to get their information.

So these two are what drive many folks up to this model and certainly the benefits of the gated content model as well.


So, my recommendations. It’s a fairly simple equation. I urge you to think about this equation from as broad a strategic perspective and then a tactical accomplishment perspective as you possibly can.

1. If audience size, reach, and future marketing benefits are greater than detailed leads as a metric or as a value, then you should go open access. If the reverse is true, if detailed leads are more valuable to you than the audience size, the potential reach, the amplification and link benefits, and all the future marketing benefits that come from those things, the ranking benefits and SEO benefits, if that’s the case, then you should go with a gated model. You get lots of people at an open access model. You get one person, but you know all their information in a gated content model.

2. It is not the case that this has to be completely either/or. There are modified ways to do both of these tactics in combination and concert. In fact, that can be potentially quite advantageous.

So a semi-gated model is something we’ve seen a few content marketers and companies start to do, where they have a part of the report or some of the most interesting aspects of the report or several of the graphics or an embedded SlideShare or whatever it is, and then you can get more of the report by filling in more items. So they’re sharing some stuff, which can potentially attract engagement and links and more amplification, and use in all sorts of places and press, and blog posts and all that kind of stuff. But then they also get the benefit of some people filling out whatever form information is critical in order to get more of that data if they’re very interested. I like this tease model a lot. I think that can work really, really well, especially if you are giving enough to prove your value and worth, and to earn those engagement and links, before you ask for a lot more.

You can go the other way and go a completely open model but with add-ons. So, for example, in this, here’s the full report on AI. If you would like more information, we conducted a survey with AI practitioners or companies utilizing AI. If you’d like the results of that survey, you can get that, and that’s in the sidebar or as a little notification in the report, a call to action. So that’s full report, but if you want this other thing that maybe is useful to some of the folks who best fit the interested in this data and also potentially interested in our product or service, or whatever we’re trying to get leads for, then you can optionally put your information in.

I like both of these. They sort of straddle that line.

3. No matter which one or which modified version you do, you should try and optimize the outcomes. That means in an open content model:

  • Don’t ignore the fact that you can still do retargeting to all the people who visited this open content and get them back to your website, on to potentially a very relevant offer that has a high conversion rate and where you can do CRO testing and those kinds of things. That is completely reasonable and something that many, many folks do, Moz included. We do a lot of remarketing around the web.
  • You can drive low-cost, paid traffic to the content that gets the most shares in order to bump it up and earn more amplification, earn more traffic to it, which then gives you a broader audience to retarget to or a broader audience to put your CTA in front of.
  • If you are going to go completely gated, a lot of these form fields, you can infer or use software to get and therefore get a higher conversion rate. So for example, I’m asking for name, email, role, company, website, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In fact, I could ask exclusively for LinkedIn and email and get every single one of those from just those two fields. I could even kill email and ask them to sign in with LinkedIn and then request the email permission after or as part of that request. So there are options here. You can also ask for name and email, and then use a software service like FullContact’s API and get all of the data around the company, website, role and title, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc., etc. that are associated with that name or in that email address. So then you don’t have to ask for so much information.
  • You can try putting your teaser content in multiple channels and platforms to maximize its exposure so that you drive more people to this get more. If you’re worried that hey this teaser won’t reach enough people to be able to get more of those folks here, you can amplify that through putting it on SlideShare or republishing on places like Medium or submitting the content in guest contributions to other websites in legit ways that have overlapped audiences and share your information that you know is going to resonate and will make them want more. Now you get more traffic back to these pages, and now I can convert more of those folks to the get more system.

So content gating, not the end of the world, not the worst thing in the world. I personally dislike a lot of things about it, but it does have its uses. I think if you’re smart, if you play around with some of these tactical tips, you can get some great value from it.

I look forward to your ideas, suggestions, and experiences with content gating, and we’ll see you next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by

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October 21, 2016  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

Earning the Link: How to Pitch and Partner with the 5 Publisher Personas

Posted by QuezSays

I stood up from my office chair, stepped behind it and leaned on its back with both hands so I could stare at the email from a new angle. I was silenced by the response of the blogger:

“We’ve had a recent policy change here, and we no longer offer followed links. It’s hurting our reputation and being flagged by Google.”

In that moment, the game changed for me. I’ve received some interesting responses from editors and bloggers about links before, but never as adamant and uninformed as this. I realized that I needed to develop a communication strategy for my emails to publishing partners about links.

The challenge

Content marketing is a great way to amp up the reputation and visibility of your business. This includes well-placed bylines on high-authority sites that cover your market place. From our perspective, it’s completely appropriate to receive an attribution link in return. Creating interesting, authoritative, and valuable content is something my team excels at — that’s not the issue. The issue is working with publishing partners who have preconceived notions about links.

Publishers, bloggers, and editors have a wide range of opinions when it comes to links and how they’re treated by Google. This can create challenges for content creators who want to submit their work to these publishers but are being refused a link back to their site in their author attribution. A variety of people find themselves in this situation — SEOs, content marketing professionals, freelancers, thought leaders, etc.

The fact that people have different opinions on links is not exactly breaking news. My CEO, Eric Enge, does a good job recapping how this nofollow madness came about.

So how do you communicate with publishers in these circumstances in a way that’s credible, respectful, and effective?

After placing roughly 150 pieces of content on a wide range of sites, I’ve learned that it’s crucial to identify someone’s perspective to effectively communicate with them. There are so many myths and misconceptions about links and how Google treats links — you never know what perspective you’ll be dealing with.

This piece will help you quickly identify the perspective at hand, personify it, and from there, help you strategically communicate to give you the best chance of attaining that well-earned attribution link.

Step 1 – Pitch properly

As Rand Fishkin said in his 2012 Whiteboard Friday, “Stop link building and start link earning.” This context is the foundation of all communication with publishing partners.

Practice good pitching etiquette and do your homework researching the site. There are many resources that cover this, so I won’t go in-depth here. However, I will touch on my pitching strategy because I truly believe in its effectiveness.

When I draft all of my pitch emails, I refer to a sticky note stuck to my monitor that outlines the four sequential questions an editor is going to have when they receive my email:

Sticky note.jpg

1. What does this person want?what they want.png

Answer this question in the subject of your email, and in the first sentence. Eric Enge suggests you treat this as your value proposition.

2. Is this credible?

is this credible.png

Ask yourself the question, “What would make my communication more credible in this person’s eyes?”

For example:

  • Name-dropping a big brand that is a part of the collaboration
  • Mentioning an accolade that your writer has earned (e.g. rated top Southern mommy blogger back-to-back years)
  • Highlighting other places the author has been published (e.g. monthly Forbes and USA Today contributor)
  • Mentioning a very specific piece of information that proves you’ve spent a lot of time on their site:
    • “Penny Pens has a lot of tips to share on how to road trip around the Midwest. I think this would complement your travel-heavy July editorial calendar. It would also build nicely off of Christina WritesALot’s piece on Choosing Travel Buddies Wisely.”
  • Speaking directly to their content strategy:
    • “I think that Bobby Beers UCLA Tailgating guide would be a great piece to help promote football ticket sales on your events page.”

Worth noting: If you’re unwilling to do the in-depth research that allows you to speak this way, don’t slapdash this communication. Go another route. “I read your recent article on plants and found it very interesting” doesn’t give you any credibility, and it can even hurt you by coming off as insincere. Emails like that already plague editors.

Don’t believe me? Check out Michael Smart’s article on how we’ve ruined the compliment approach to pitch introductions.

In fact, I’ve even seen software that mimics this approach for marketers that are trying to scale their outreach. The user selects the publication and editor and the software creates an email template that automatically pulls in the title of the last article the editor published. That is how manipulative the email outreach environment has become.

3. Is this valuable?

is this valuable.png


4. Will this work?

will this work.png

Ask yourself what details would be worth including here. Is the detail crucial to the communication? Would including it prevent the recipient from misunderstanding your offer or not responding?

For example, when I pitch writers that work for a big brand, sometimes I mention that we’re not interested in giving or receiving any compensation for the contribution I’m offering. I’ve had experiences where the editor sees the name of my Fortune 100 client and immediately thinks that I’m offering a sponsored post. Or they think that my writer wants payment and will immediately write off the opportunity because they don’t have the budget for another writer at that time.

By answering these questions clearly and in this order, I’m helping the editor quickly determine if this is an opportunity that interests them. Assisting editors in being able to make that determination quickly, and prioritizing that over being persuasive, is the best gift you can give them. It shows that you respect their time and will keep the door open for future opportunities. It’s how to begin building trust in a long-term relationship.

Side note: Talking about links during pitching

I generally don’t talk about links with an editor upfront and often wait until they’ve had a chance to see the completed content. First of all, the attribution link is only one of the benefits we’re looking for (reminder: the others are reputation and visibility). It just doesn’t seem fair to talk to the editor about your author attribution before they see the piece. They don’t know you and want to see that you can deliver something valuable and non-promotional first.

It can also come off as unnatural to some editors. Do you really want to risk having your email mistaken for one of the hundreds of spam emails they regularly get promising “high-quality relevant content in exchange for only one dofollowed link!”? Unfortunately, talking about links right away can sometimes trigger an editor to see your content opportunity as low quality.

Step 2 – Earn the link

Once the editor requests your content, work with the writer or content creators until you have something that you’re proud to represent. Ask yourself this question: “Is this link-worthy?” If the answer isn’t a resounding “Heck yeah,” then you won’t have the leverage that you need later on if you end up in a sticky situation (i.e. if you aren’t given a link or you’re given a nofollow link). In those situations, you need to make a powerful request to remedy the situation. Are you willing to make that request for a piece of content your team created half-heartedly? That’s up to you. You need to decide what type of content you want associated with your personal brand.

In short, there are no shortcuts. Earn the editor’s respect and earn the link.

link building vs link earning.png

Step 3 – Write a simple “white-hat SEO” author attribution and submit

For example:

  • Usually no more than two to three sentences
  • Avoid direct-match rich anchor text
  • Link to a page that has high relevance to the author or the content
  • Don’t include more than one to two links

Step 4 – When encountering a nofollow link or missing link, communicate strategically

Once in a blue moon, when you check to see if an article you’ve submitted has been published, you’ll find a nofollow tag or a missing link.

What you SHOULDN’T do in this situation is send an email that justifies or explains why you deserve the link, or why the link is important to you. Don’t make an assumption as to why the link isn’t there. You don’t know what happened.

What you SHOULD do is make a simple request. There is no need for the email to be longer than three sentences:

“Hi Max, thanks for making Sally McWritesALot’s article look so great. It looks like the link in her attribution is nofollowed. Can you remove that nofollow tag?”

The editor’s response will give you hints on how to proceed. Below, I’ve outlined some of the flavors of responses you might get, with a publisher persona associated with each one that will help guide your communication strategy.

Skeptical Sally

skeptical sally.png

  • How to identify:
    • Skeptical Sally might respond with something like this (real examples I’ve received):
      • I don’t allow follow links on the site in sponsored or guest content. As I’m sure you are aware, it can dramatically damage our Google ranking. I love Andrea’s piece, but can’t risk a portion of the site … this is my full-time job — and one that I love. My Google ranking can affect future business opportunities.
      • We do not allow dofollow links any longer; this is in an effort to abide by SEO best practices for our blog.
  • Skeptical Sally’s perspective:
    • Sees links in general as very risky, especially a link that may be associated with a brand
    • Due to their policy change, she now plans to put a nofollow tag on every outbound link, “just to be safe”
    • Has an immediate skepticism of people asking for links
  • Communication strategy:
    • Move on. It is unlikely that Skeptical Sally will be open to a new perspective about links. If you try to educate her on the issue or talk through it, she may even get offended. Oftentimes, it’s just not worth impacting the relationship. After all, there may be ways to collaborate in the future that don’t involve content links (social media cross-promotion, interviews, etc.). Best to say thanks and move on. You still get the reputation and visibility benefits of the article that was published, but you now know that Sally’s site isn’t one where you can expect fair attribution.

Pseudo-Smart Steve

pseudo smart steve.png

  • How to identify:
    • Pseudo-Smart Steve might respond with something like this (real examples I’ve received):
      • The [client] link is just to [client] and will appear spammy to Google. Big red flag.”
      • Other language to look out for — any mention of “PageRank sculpting” or “retaining link juice”
  • Pseudo-Smart Steve’s perspective:
    • Has absorbed some SEO advice from outdated or unreliable sources
    • Knows that links are important, and wants to cash in on the best way to use them on his site
    • May attempt some type of “page sculpting” strategy to prevent precious PageRank from leaking off of his domain (note that this notion is a myth)
  • Communication strategy:
    • Make an attempt to educate these people, standing shoulder to shoulder with them. Sometimes they are just doing the best they can with the knowledge that they have and are open to new information.
      • For example, if the editor responds, “We prefer to nofollow as it retains the link juice,” then perhaps there is an opportunity to send them a link to a resource that will explain that the PageRank that would have been distributed to that nofollow link is NOT redistributed, it is essentially wasted (such as this Matt Cuts blog post).
      • Important – I wouldn’t recommend explaining SEO concepts in-depth over email. What would be more credible and powerful is to make your point in a sentence or two and then provide a link to a resource that backs up your point from an obviously credible source (Google’s blog, something that contains a quote from Google, a reputable study, etc.). Empowering an editor with the information they need to make their own decision is powerful and helpful.
      • Here are a couple of recently published resources to have bookmarked in case you are in a situation like this:

Here’s the extent I’d recommend explaining something in the email itself (real example):

  • Me: “Regarding the link, you can nofollow if it’s an absolute sticking point for you. However, we do feel that since the link is going to a relevant page (where you can find more writing by Julia), there won’t be any risk. Also, there are millions of websites linking to [client], so we feel from that standpoint, it’s not really going to raise any red flags.”
  • Editor: “OK — that all works. The nofollow link really isn’t a sticking point … I appreciate your feedback.

Savvy Shelby

savvy shelby.png

  • How to identify:
    • Responses that comment on how a topic relates to user experience, engagement, visibility, or other editorial areas
  • Savvy Shelby’s perspective:
    • Knows what she needs to know about links — that they are important to people, relevant to search engines, and are a form of currency when working with writers and freelancers
    • Knows that there are things that she doesn’t know about links — that search engines and technical marketers know a lot more than she does about exactly how links work
    • Knows that user experience is what really matters — that if a link doesn’t feel valuable to a user and isn’t a gesture to reward a contributor for a brilliant piece (trusting the contributor enough to know that it won’t be harmful), it may not be something she wants to include
  • Communication strategy:
    • If the link was omitted entirely, explain why including that link will positively impact user experience.
      • Will it provide author credibility?
      • Help users find more content that the author has written?
      • Expand on the topic somehow?
    • If the link has a nofollow tag, let the editor know that the author you are working with prefers to have the freedom to include a followed link in their attribution. This is why it’s so important that you’ve earned the link and provided incredibly valuable content to her and her audience. Trust must have been built by now.

Side note: Make this editor your best friend. They are your most powerful publishing partner.

Oblivious Oliver

oblivious oliver.png

  • How to identify:
    • There may not be specific language to look out for here, besides hints that suggest complete apathy or a lack of editorial structure or direction. Look for off-topic content or grammatical errors during your initial research. You probably don’t want to do a lot of work (and build an association) with a site that doesn’t scrutinize the work of their guest contributors.
  • Oblivious Oliver’s perspective:
    • Doesn’t know anything about links or an association between links and search engines
    • He’s willing to do almost anything with links, as long as it doesn’t make the page look bad
    • May be so hungry for original content that he’s willing to sacrifice quality in general
  • Communication strategy:
    • If you’re just realizing that you’re dealing with an Oblivious Oliver at this stage, it may be a sign that you’re not doing enough detailed research on the site upfront. Perhaps there were some hints within content on his site that you could have picked up on.
    • Regardless, at this point it doesn’t matter. Follow through on your word to deliver a high-quality piece of content and move on to the next opportunity.

The biggest takeaway here is the simplest one: Email communication around controversial or misunderstood topics (such as links) is difficult. Because of this, it will benefit you to keep your communication in simple editorial vernacular until you have earned the right to talk about links — by providing something valuable. When you identify a Savvy Shelby, cultivate the relationship. And for the rest, I hope that this guide empowers you to respond in a manner that’s more effective and will get you results.

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October 20, 2016  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

All Content is Not Created Equal: Comparing Results Across 15 Verticals

Posted by kerryjones

Are you holding your content marketing to unrealistic standards?

No matter how informative your infographic about tax law may be, it’s not going to attract the same amount of attention as a BuzzFeed Tasty video. You shouldn’t expect it to. In order to determine what successful content looks like for your brand, you first need to have realistic expectations for what content can achieve in your particular niche.

Our analysis of hundreds of Fractl content marketing campaigns looked at the factors which have worked for our content across all topics. Now we’ve dived a little deeper into this data to develop a better understanding of what to expect from content in different verticals.

What follows is based on data we’ve collected over the years while working with clients in these industries. Keep in mind these aren’t definitive industry benchmarks – your mileage may vary.

Content-by-Vertical-01 (1).jpg

First, we categorized our sample of over 340 Fractl client campaigns into one of 15 different verticals:

  • Health and Fitness
  • Travel
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Politics, Safety, and Crime
  • Sex and Relationships
  • Business and Finance
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Sports
  • Automotive
  • Home and Garden
  • Pets
  • Fashion

We then looked at placements and social media shares for each project. We also analyzed content characteristics like visual asset type and formatting. A “placement” refers to any time a publisher wrote about the campaign. Regarding links, a placement could mean a dofollow, cocitation, nofollow, or text attribution.

Across the entire sample, an average campaign received 90 placements and just over 11,800 social shares. As expected, the results deviated greatly from the average when we looked at the average number of placements and social shares per vertical.


Some verticals, such as Health and Fitness, outperformed the average benchmarks by more than double, with 195 average placements and roughly 62,600 social shares. Not surprisingly, verticals with more niche audiences had lower numbers. For example, Automotive campaigns earned an average of 43 placements and 1,650 social shares.

What were the top-performing topics?

The average campaigns in Health and Fitness, Drugs and Alcohol, and Travel outperformed the average campaigns in other verticals. So what does it take to be successful in each of these three verticals?

Health and Fitness

Our Health and Fitness campaigns were nearly nine times more likely to include side-by-side images than the average vertical.

Many of these side-by-side image campaigns were centered around body image issues. For instance, we Photoshopped women in video games to have body types closer to that of the average American woman. We also used this tactic to highlight male body image issues and differences in beauty standards around the world.

Takeaway: Contrasting images immediately pass along a wealth of information that can be difficult to capture as effectively with standard data visualizations like charts or graphs. Additionally, they carry emotional power.

For instance, we created a morphing GIF of Miss America from 1922 to 2015. The difference between Miss America in 1922 and Miss America in 2015 is stark, and the GIF makes a powerful statement. Readers and publishers were also able to access information about the images that wouldn’t have come across in figures alone (such as the change in clothing styles and the relative lack of diverse contestants).

As part of the project, we also charted the decline in BMI for pageant winners. Depending on the project and available information, it may be helpful to provide some quantitative data to support the narrative told through images.

Interestingly, although Health and Fitness campaigns were 36.4 percent more likely to use social media data than the average vertical, each of the social media campaigns were in the bottom 68 percent of all Health and Fitness campaigns by social shares.

Drugs and Alcohol

Our Drugs and Alcohol campaigns were 2.2 times more likely to use curated data (65 percent versus 30 percent) and 1.4 times more likely to have interactive elements (26 percent versus 19 percent) than the average campaign.

Takeaway: When dealing with emotional and controversial topics like drugs and alcohol, you don’t necessarily need to collect new data to make an impact. Readers and publishers value visualizations that can help explain complex information in simple ways. An additional benefit: creating interactive experiences that allow your audience to explore data on their own and make their own conclusions.

One good example of these principles is our “Pathways to Addiction” campaign, in which we created interactive platforms for exploring data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, including information about the sequence in which people have tried different substances.

This format allowed readers to explore a controversial topic on their own and draw independent conclusions.

Pro Tip: Whether you choose to use curated data or collect your own data, it is imperative to be impartial in your presentation and open in your methodology when working on campaigns around sensitive or controversial topics. You don’t need to stay away from controversial topics, but you do need to take precautions for your agency and your client.


Our Travel campaigns were 28.6 percent more likely to use social media data and 30.5 percent more likely to use rankings and comparisons than a campaign in the average vertical.

Takeaway: Travel is an inherently social behavior. For many people, travel isn’t complete until they’ve captured the perfect photo – or five. Travel content that acknowledges this social aspect can be really powerful. Rankings, which also feature heavily in travel content, are strong geographic egobait for readers and publishers and play up the social aspect of the Travel vertical.

Stratos Jet Charters’ Talking Tourists, which combined social media data with rankings, is a great example. For this campaign, we gathered over 37,000 tweets to determine which places were the most and least friendly to tourists.

Talking Tourists was successful (96 placements and over 56,000 social shares) because it used content types with proven success in the travel vertical (social media data, rankings, and maps) to explore a topic that isn’t often explored quantitatively.

How to achieve content marketing success in every vertical

The three industries listed above are ripe for highly successful content, but does that mean less popular verticals should go in with low expectations?

Even with topics that are more difficult to attract the attention of readers and publishers, it is still possible for your content to perform well beyond other content in the vertical. This is particularly true when campaigns align with trending stories or tell a completely unique story.

However, not every piece of content can hit it out of the park. Rand estimates that it will take five to ten attempts to create a piece of successful content. Even then, the average high-performing Science content will not receive the same amount of attention as the average Health and Fitness content.

So how can you maximize the chances for success? Here’s what we’ve observed about our top-performing campaigns in the following verticals:

  • Automotive: If you want to create automotive content that appeals to a wider audience, consider using data from social media. Four of our top seven campaigns (by placements) in this vertical featured data from social networks.
  • Business and Finance: When it comes to money, people want to know how they stack up. Our top Business and Finance campaigns (by social shares) relied on comparisons or rankings. If you’re looking for social shares, this is the way to go.
  • Drugs and Alcohol: Finding interesting correlations or stories in existing datasets can prove popular in this vertical – the majority of top campaigns used curated data.
  • Education: Our top Education campaigns featured social media data and interactive features.
  • Entertainment: Timely content that connects with a passionate fan base is a recipe for success.
  • Fashion: Successful fashion campaigns focused on solving problems for the audience.
  • Health and Fitness: Side-by-side images that show a strong contrast perform extremely well in this vertical.
  • Home and Garden: To attract attention from readers and publishers in this niche, make your content timely or pop culture-related.
  • Pets: The highest-performing campaign in this vertical appealed to readers and publishers because it focused on the social aspects of pet ownership. We also included a geographic egobait component by highlighting distinct regional differences in popular dog breeds.
  • Politics, Safety, and Crime: Our top-performing campaign (by social shares) in Politics, Safety, and Crime used social media data to explore a trending topic.
  • Science: In this vertical, relating complex topics to pop culture figures, like superheroes, can boost your content’s social appeal. Creating interactive platforms to explore complicated data can also help your audience connect with your campaign.
  • Sex and Relationships: Talking about sex and relationships feels a little scandalous, which piques interest. Two of our top three campaigns in this vertical, both by placements and by social shares, used social media data to measure conversation around these topics.
  • Sports: This vertical naturally lends itself well to regional egobait. Although only two of our Sports campaigns included maps, these were the most shared of all our sports campaigns.

Browse through the flipbook below to see examples of top-performing campaigns in each vertical.

Try a mixed-vertical strategy

For many of our clients at Fractl, we create content both within and outside of the client’s vertical to maximize reach. Our work with Movoto, a real estate research site, illustrates how one company’s content marketing can span multiple verticals while still remaining highly relevant to the company’s core business.

When developing a content marketing strategy, it is helpful to look at the average placement and social share rate for various verticals. Let’s say a brand that sells decor for log cabins wants to focus 60 percent of its energy on creating highly targeted, niche-specific projects and 40 percent on content designed to raise general awareness about its brand.

Three out of every five campaigns produced for this client should be geared toward publishers who write about log cabins and readers who are on the verge of purchasing log cabin decor. This type of content might include targeted blog posts, industry-specific research, and product comparisons that would appeal to folks at the bottom of the sales funnel.

For the other two campaigns, it’s important to look at adjacent verticals before determining how to move forward. For this particular client, primarily creating Travel content (which yields high average social shares and placements) may be the best course of action.

In addition to the data I’ve shared here, I encourage you to analyze your own content performance data by vertical to set realistic expectations. Vertical-specific metrics can also help identify opportunities to create cross-vertical content for greater traction.

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October 19, 2016  Tags: , , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

Is Your Camera the New Search Box? How Visual Intelligence is Turning Search Keyword-less

Posted by purna_v

My neighbor has the most beautiful garden ever.

Season after season, she grows the most exotic, gorgeous plants that I could never find in any local nursery. Slightly green with envy over her green thumb, I discovered a glimmer of hope.

There are apps that will identify any plant you take a photo of. Problem solved. Now the rest of the neighborhood is getting prettied up as several houses, including mine, have sprouted exotic new blooms easily ordered online.

Take a photo, get an answer. The most basic form of visual search.

Visual search addresses both convenience and curiosity. If we wanted to learn something more about what we’re looking at, we could simply upload a photo instead of trying to come up with words to describe it.

This isn’t new. Google Visual Search was demoed back in 2009. CamFind rolled out its visual search app in 2013, following similar technology that powered Google Glass.

What’s new is that a storm of visual-centric technologies are coming together to point to a future of search that makes the keyword less…key.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are the critical new components in the visual game. Let’s focus on what this means and how it’s going to impact your marketing game.

How many kinds of reality do we actually need?

The first thing we think about with the future of visual is virtual reality or augmented reality.

There’s also a third one: mixed reality. So what’s the difference between them and how many kinds of reality can we handle?

Virtual reality (VR) is full immersion in another universe – when you have the VR headset on, you cannot see your actual reality. Virtual reality is a closed environment, meaning that you can only experience what’s been programmed into it. Oculus Rift is an example of virtual reality.

Augmented reality (AR) uses your real environment, but enhances it with the addition of a computer-generated element, like sound or graphics. Pokémon Go is a great example of this, where you still see the world around you but the Pokémon-related graphics – as well as sounds – are added to what you see.

Mixed reality (MR) is an offshoot of augmented reality, with the added element of augmented virtuality. Here, it merges your virtual world with your real world and allows you to interact with both through gestures and voice commands. HoloLens from Microsoft (my employer) is an example of mixed reality – this headset can be programmed to layer on and make interactive any kind of environment over your reality.

The difference is a big fat deal – because an open environment, like HoloLens, becomes a fantastic tool for marketers and consumers.

Let me show you what I mean.

Pretty cool, right? Just think of the commercial implications.

Retail reality

Virtual and augmented reality will reshape retail. This is because it solves a problem – for the consumer.

Online shopping has become a driving force, and we already know what its limitations are: not being able to try clothing on, feel the fabric on the couch or get a sense of the heft of a stool. All of these are obstacles to the online shopper.

According to the Harvard Business Review, augmented reality will eliminate pain points that are specific to every kind of retail shopping – not just trying on the right size, but think about envisioning how big a two-man tent actually is. With augmented reality, you can climb inside it!

If you have any doubt that augmented reality is coming, and coming fast, look no further than this recent conquering by Pokémon Go. We couldn’t get enough.

Some projections put investment in AR technology at close to billion by 2020 – that’s in the next three years. HoloLens is already showing early signs for being a game-changer for advertisers.

For example, if I’m shopping for a kitchen stool I could not only look at the website, but I can see what it would look like in my home:



It’s all about being able to get a better feel for how things will look.

Fashion is one industry that has tried to find ways to solve for this and is increasingly embracing augmented reality.

Rebecca Minkoff debuted the use of augmented reality in her New York Fashion Week show this September. Women could use AR app Zeekit – live during the show – to see how the clothes would look on their own body.


Image credit: Zeekit

Why did they do this? To fix a very real problem in retail.

According to Uri Minkoff, who is a partner in his sister’s clothing company, 20 to 40 percent of purchases in retail get returned – that’s the industry standard.

If a virtual try-on can eliminate the hassle of the wrong fit, the wrong size, the wrong everything, then they will have solved a business problem while also making their customers super happy.

This trend caught on and at London Fashion Week a few weeks later there were a host of other designers following suit.

Let’s get real about reality

Let’s bring our leap into the visual back down to earth just a bit – because very few of us will be augmenting our reality today.

What’s preventing AR and VR from taking over the world just yet is going to be slow market penetration. AR and VR are relatively expensive and require entirely new hardware.

On the other hand, something like voice search – another aspect of multi-sensory search – is becoming widely adopted because it relies on a piece of hardware most of us already carry with us at all times: our mobile phone.

The future of visual intelligence relies on tying it to a platform that is already commonly used.

Imagine this. You’re reading a magazine and you like something a model is wearing.

Your phone is never more than three feet from you, so you pick it up, snap a photo of the dress, and the artificial intelligence (AI) – via your digital personal assistant – uses image search to find out where to buy it, no keywords necessary at all.

Take a look at how it could work:

Talk about a multi-sensory search experience, right?

Voice search and conversation as a platform are combined with image search to transact right within the existing platform of your digital personal assistant – which is already used by 66% of 18- to 26-year-olds and 59% of 27- to 35-year-olds, according to Forrester Research.


As personal digital assistants rise, so will the prevalence of visual intelligence.

Digital personal assistants, with their embedded artificial intelligence, are the key to the future of visual intelligence in everybody’s hands.

What’s already happening with visual intelligence?


One of the most common uses exists right within the Amazon app. Here, the app gives you the option to find a product simply by taking a photo of something or of the bar code:

Amazon1.jpg or Amazon2.jpg


The app CamFind can identify the content of pictures you’ve taken and offer links to places you could shop for it. Their website touts the fact that users can get “fast, accurate results with no typing necessary.”

For example, I took a photo of my (very dusty) mouse and it not only recognized it, but also gave me links to places I could buy it or learn more about it.


Pinterest already has a handy visual search tool for “visually similar results,” which returns results from other pins that are a mix of commerce and community posts. This is a huge benefit for retailers to take advantage of.

For example, if you were looking for pumpkin soup recipe ideas and came across a kitchen towel you liked within the Pin, you could select the part of the image you wanted to find visually similar results for.


Image credit: Pinterest


Google’s purchase of Moodstocks is also very interesting to watch. Moodstocks is a startup that has developed machine learning technology to boost image recognition for the cameras on smartphones.

For example, you see something you like. Maybe it’s a pair of shoes a stranger is wearing on the subway, and you take a picture of it. The image recognition software identifies the make and model of the shoe, tells you where you can buy it and how much it costs.


Image credit: Moodstocks

Microsoft has developed an app that describes what it sees in images. It understands thousands of objects as well as the relationship between them. That last bit is key – and is the “AI” part.

Capbot.png was created to showcase some of the intelligence capabilities of Microsoft Cognitive Services, such as Computer Vision, Emotion API, and Natural Language. It’s all built on machine learning, which means it will get smarter over time.

You know what else is going to make it smarter over time? It’s integrated into Skype now. This gives it a huge practice field – exactly what all machine learning technology craves.

As I said when we first started, where we are now with something like plant identification is leading us directly to the future with a way of getting your product into the hands of consumers who are dying to buy it.

What should I do?

Let’s make our marketing more visual.

We saw the signs with rich SERP results – we went from text only to images, videos and more. We’re seeing pictures everywhere in a land that used to be limited to plain text.

Images are the most important deciding factor when making a purchase, according to research by Pixel Road Designs. They also found that consumers are 80% more willing to engage with content that includes relevant images. Think about your own purchase behavior – we all do this.

This is also why all the virtual reality shenanigans are going to take root.

Up the visual appeal

Without the keyword, the image is now the star of the show. It’s almost as if the understudy suddenly got thrust into the spotlight. Are they ready? Will they succeed?

To get ready for keywordless searches, start by reviewing the images on your site. The goal here is to ensure they’re fully optimized and still recognizable without the surrounding text.

First and foremost, we want to look at the quality of the image and answer yes to as many of the following questions as possible:

  • Does it clearly showcase the product?
  • Is it high-resolution?
  • Is the lighting natural with no distortive filters applied?
  • Is it easily recognizable as being that product?

Next, we want to tell the search engines as much about the image as we can, so they can best understand it. For the same reasons that SEOs can benefit by using Schema mark-up, we want to ensure the images tell as much of a story as they can.

The wonderfully brilliant Ronell Smith touched upon this subject in his recent Moz post, and the Yoast blog offers some in-depth image SEO tips as well. To summarize a few of their key points:

  • Make sure file names are descriptive
  • Provide all the information: titles, captions, alt attribute, description
  • Create an image XML sitemap
  • Optimize file size for loading speed

Fairly simple to do, right? This primes us for the next step.

Take action now by taking advantage of existing technology:

1. Pinterest:

On Pinterest, optimize your product images for clean matches from lifestyle photos. You can reverse-engineer searches to your products via the “visually similar results” tool by posting pins of lifestyle shots (always more compelling than a white background product shot) that feature your products, in various relevant categories.


In August, Pinterest added video to its visual search machine learning functionality. This tool is still working out the kinks, but keep your eye on it so you can create relevant content with a commerce view.

For example, a crafting video about jewelry might be tagged with places to buy the tools and materials in it.

2. Slyce:

Integrate Slyce’s astounding tool, which gives your customer’s camera a “buy” button. Using image recognition technology, the Slyce tool activates visual product recognition.


Image credit:

Does it work? There are certainly several compelling case studies from the likes of Urban Outfitters and Neiman Marcus on their site.

3. Snapchat:

Snap your way to your customer, using Snapchat’s soon-to-come object recognition ad platform. This lets you deliver an ad to a Snapchatter by recognizing objects in the pictures they’ve just taken.

The Verge shared images from the patent Snapchat had applied for, such as:


For example, someone who snaps a pic of a woman in a cocktail dress could get an ad for cocktail dresses. Mind-blowing.

4. Blippar:

The Blippar app is practically a two-for-one in the world of visual intelligence, offering both AR as well as visual discovery options.

They’ve helped brands pave the way to AR by turning their static content into AR interactive content. A past example is Domino’s Pizza in the UK, which allowed users of the Blippar app to interact with their static posters to take actions such as download deals for their local store.


Now the company has expanded into visual discovery. When a user “Blipps” an item, the app will show a series of interrelated bubbles, each related to the original item. For example, “Blipping” a can of soda could result in information about the manufacturer, latest news, offers, and more.


Image credit:

Empowerment via inclusivity

Just in case you imagine all the developments are here to serve commerce, I wanted to share two examples of how visual intelligence can help with accessibility for the seeing impaired.


taptapsee logo.PNG

From the creators of CamFind, TapTapSee is an app specifically designed for the blind and visually impaired.

It recognizes objects photographed and identifies them out loud for the user. All the user needs to do to take a photo is to double tap on the devices’ screen.

The Seeing AI

Created by a Microsoft engineer, the Seeing AI project combines artificial intelligence and image recognition with a pair of smart glasses to help a visually-impaired person better understand who and what is going on around them.

Take a look at them in action:

While wearing the glasses, the user simply swipes the touch panel on the eyewear to take a photo. The AI will then interpret the scene and describe it back out loud, using natural language.

It can describe what people are doing, how old they are, what emotion they’re expressing, and it can even read out text (such as a restaurant menu or newspaper) to the user.

Innovations like this are what makes search even more inclusive.

Keep Calm and Visualize On

We are visual creatures. We eat first with our eyes, we love with our eyes, we become curious with our eyes.

Cameras as the new search box is brilliant. It removes obstacles to search and helps us get answers in a more intuitive way. Our technology is adapting to us, to our very human drive to see everything.

And that is why the future of search is visual.

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October 18, 2016  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

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