New Distilled ODN features including SEO friendly URLs for enterprise platforms

If you’re a regular reader of our content, you’ve probably come across our ODN platform which enables both SEO A/B testing and more agile changes to large and enterprise sites.

Earlier this year, we had a quarter where we deployed our platform to two Fortune 100 companies’ sites and to the website of one of the largest private companies in the UK. I’ve written before about the ways that split testing is changing consulting but what we’ve found in these enterprise environments is that we are getting radically different results by adding agility to the mix. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it turns out that sometimes, being able to get stuff done is a differentiator in the enterprise. My research showed that the average SEO at a big company has been waiting over six months for their highest priority technical change and doesn’t anticipate seeing it deployed for at least another six months. Indeed 40+% have been waiting over a year!

It’s been very rewarding to attack this problem directly: our core values have always been skewed towards getting things done above simply identifying what needs to be done. Now we are hearing from our customers things like: the ability to make changes to local store pages has been one of our most successful initiatives this year, we’re up 10% and seeing the impact on footfall (that was from a Fortune 100 company – and +10% is pretty visible and meaningful in that kind of environment).

We have new functionality in the ODN

As part of improving our platform’s value in these kind of situations, we are just finishing up a series of enhancements that will be rolled up into a launch we have internally called REQMOD.

The key things this will enable us to do via the ODN platform are:

  1. Move pages individually or en masse (e.g. to serve content on SEO friendly URLs without parameters and redirect the old pages)
  2. Move sub-domain content into sub-folders
  3. Enable easy SEO A/B testing of full page redesigns

Key benefit #1: Moving pages or folders of content

We often come across enterprise-scale sites built on technologies that rely heavily on parameters. It’s really common to see, for example, e-commerce sites built 5+ years ago with no keywords in the URLs at all and often multiple query-string parameters (e.g. /store/product?id=product_id&style=style_id). In fact, there are myriad ways that URLs can be less-than-perfect for users and search engines.

In general, it’s easy to fix this on small or personal sites. A bit of .htaccess fiddling, some rewriting and a redirect or two is all it takes. The complexity (and what’s at stake) is much greater on enterprise platforms.

Having spoken to a bunch of large sites who’d buy a solution to just this problem, we figured it was a great thing to build into our platform since we have all the moving pieces. So – with this release, our platform:

  • Returns the correct page content on a request for the new (“pretty”) URL exactly as if the origin server was configured to serve it for that request
  • Returns 301 redirects at the individual page level for all the old URLs to the new pretty ones

This feature also makes it easy to create new pages by pulling in the outline of a page you want to base your new page on and updating key information (title / meta information, body content) without having to recreate menus, footers etc. It works in a very similar way to moving a page, but with no associated 301.

Key benefit #2: Move sub-domains to sub-folders

Despite the official line coming out of Google, we know that this is still important:

(The difference between the carefully-worded technical correctness of official Google statements and what happens in the real world is something that’s well-worth being aware of. If you haven’t dug deep into it, I recommend this whiteboard Friday on precisely this topic and history and background here [video for DistilledU subscribers]).

The point being, in the real world, this is something you might well want to do.

It can be tricky though: often sub-domains are created because they run different software stacks and / or use different servers, or even because they point at fully external hosted services. It can be hard or impossible to integrate them into your core web servers and so sometimes the only way to host them from a sub-folder is via technology like the ODN that deploys into the web server stack.

In a similar way to the way that the new features enable the ODN to move pages from one path to another, we can also modify the request to origin to go to a different server entirely, enabling us to move sub-domains into sub-folders, for example:

  • Redirect all blog.example.com/path pages to www.example.com/blog/path
  • When www.example.com/blog/path is requested, serve the content from blog.example.com/path

As per Rand’s tweet above, many sites have seen significant benefit from this kind of change, and deploying our stack will make it super easy to manage.

Key benefit #3: A/B test complete redesigns

Everyone who has ever had to release a major redesign of a bunch of pages that get significant organic search traffic has worried about the potential impact the redesign will have – and rightly so. There are a ton of horror stories about this kind of change going wrong. Some parts are avoidable with diligent processes – there are horror stories of brands moving to entirely JS-rendered content that flummoxes search engines for example, that could be avoided with SEO input to the new design – but some parts remain inevitably nerve-wracking.

When you redesign a page, you almost inevitably change its HTML, and it’s virtually impossible to tell in advance how Google will view it. Even further: in a world where usage signals play a role, it’s clear that it’s only on launch that you’re going to begin getting the feedback loop from new design to users’ response to it to Google’s response to that.

So. Your nerves are wracked. Now what?

Well – the new tech enables to make it easy to roll out the new design to just a small percentage of pages, and so as long as you have enough pages and enough traffic, you can run an A/B test to see how they perform in the search results. This is different to the kind of testing you can do with CRO / UX testing tools as it’s visible to the search engines and specifically designed to measure the impact on search performance.

The first test like this that we ran for a customer was strongly negative. I mean, strongly negative. We knew that this customer liked the new design and wanted to deploy it, but getting this insight about its impact on traffic and revenue enabled an iterative approach to understand what still needed to be tweaked and user-tested and then tested again for search impact before pushing the button to roll it out across the site section.

Much like the sub-domain example above, this piece of functionality can work by routing requests just for the variant pages to a new server while routing the control pages to the existing origin server. Alternatively, depending on your setup and configuration, another option is for our platform to inject a header into the request for variant pages (e.g. x-split-test: variant) and to have the origin server respond with the new template when that is present, and the old template when it’s not.

Get in touch if you want to see the ODN in action

If you work on a site that is suffering from an inability to make these kinds of changes (tidy up URLs, move pages or site sections, transfer content from a sub-domain to a sub-folder and more) then get in touch to see a demo of our platform in action.

Similarly, if you have a redesign of a large site section coming up, and you’re nervous about the impact on organic performance of deploying a totally new template across hundreds or thousands of pages then you should check out our ability to split-test at the template level and see how it performs on a smaller number of pages before you hit the big scary button.

The 12 Best Outdoor Ad Campaigns of the Year

top-outdoor-cannes-page-2-2018

In advertising’s golden age, “outdoor” was a category essentially synonymous with billboards. And while there are certainly still a few creative boards on display in this year’s top winners at the Cannes Lions, most of the golds went to out-of-home ideas that push the edges of how marketers can engage passersby.

Take, for example, the massive dead whale created by Greenpeace Philippines and agency Dentsu Jayme Syfu. What looks at first to be a colossal carcass on the beach is, on closer inspection, a sculpture made from the types of plastic trash that are killing the region’s majestic ocean life.

Then there’s HBO’s SXSWestworld, which brought eerily lifelike sci-fi interactions to modern-day Texas for a next-generation festival experience.

The two Grand Prix winners perhaps represented both sides of the equation, reflecting traditional outdoor minimalism and the blurred lines between out-of-home and activations.

Check out all the 2018 Cannes Lions gold and Grand Prix winners in Outdoor below:

See the campaigns here. 

Defining Your Online Brand In 2018

Building a brand is no easy task. A lot of people assume that their brand is just a logo or a specific selection of colors, but the truth is that there’s so much more to it than that. A brand is actually a company’s reputation – the things that people think about them, and the image that they have both online and offline. In today’s digital world, every company has a brand whether they like it or not. A world of review forums and social media channels means that there’s a constant conversation happening about today’s businesses, and the only way firms can set themselves up for success is to take control of their brand image. Here’s how groups can define their brand in 2018.

1. Begin with an Online Audit

The first step in effectively defining a brand, is figuring out what people are already saying about the company in question. Unless a business is brand-new, it probably already has some reviews and information lingering online. Conducting a quick google search and using social media listening tools can allow companies to find out what people are saying about their organization, and whether public perception fits with their image goals.

2. Establish a Vision

Once a company knows what people think or feel when they see their brand, they can begin to decide how they want to alter perception. Some brands will want to come across as sophisticated and professional, while others will want to be seen as friendly and informal. Companies will need to decide in advance what kind of personality they want to embrace for their brand, and how they can start taking steps to put that image in place.

3. Create a Verbal Identity

After a business chooses its personality, it will need to start taking steps to bring that identity to life through things like content marketing, advertising, and even social media marketing. The things a business does and says online shines through into their brand. A good way for organizations to make sure that they’re choosing the right verbal identity, is to evaluate their customer personas and mimic the voice and tone their target audience uses. This will help to create a brand that resonates.

4. Create a Visual Identity

Once the company has finished setting its verbal identity, it can begin to build on that image with visual assets. For instance, a playful company might choose animations and illustrations to bring life to it’s website and marketing materials instead of brand photography, to give it a more “fun” atmosphere. On the other hand, an organization looking to create an identity of authority and trustworthiness might use photos, graphs, and colors that promote feelings of loyalty, like blue.

5. Maintain Consistency

Finally, no matter the type of identity a company chooses to create, it’s important to maintain consistency. Customers develop relationships with the brands they get to know, and it’s hard to do that when the company is always changing its image and values. Consistency creates a sense of familiarity that can eventually lead to loyalty and commitment.

The post Defining Your Online Brand In 2018 appeared first on 5W PR News and Updates, NY Public Relations Agency Blog.

Train Wreck, EOD and your Hovering Art Director get icons for World Emoji Day


It’s a rare ad agency that doesn’t depend on Slack these days for quick communication among coworkers. A big part of that experience is the massive variety of emoji available on the platform2,823 of them.

Check marks, thumbs up and little red 100s provide brevity and specificity in a tiny, colorful package. They’re faster than typing, easy for Slack to collate and more fun than finding yet another way to say “I’m on it!”

But Slack power users know there are some common agency phrases that don’t have a perfect analog in the emoji catalogue. So to capitalize on World Emoji Day on July 17, Firstborn created the “SlackTalk emoji pack,” a collection of 22 new Slack emoji that illustrate agency-specific concepts that everyone in adland will recognize.

Continue reading at AdAge.com

How vertical brand stretching opens up further income groups

Business in growth markets has become increasingly important for multinational companies over the past decade. However, many companies are focusing too much on the premium segment when expanding into new markets, neglecting the large mid-market segment. Western managers like to underestimate how much purchasing power there is between the top ten percent of the population, the “super-consumers”, and the lower-income consumers in rural areas of the respective hinterland.

Der Beitrag How vertical brand stretching opens up further income groups erschien zuerst auf Serviceplan Blog.

This Week: The Customer Journey, Google Shopping, and Creating Clickable Social Media Posts

Happy Tuesday!

In today’s This Week in Internet Marketing, we’re focusing on the customer journey and how search, content and multi-platform optimization all play key roles. We also look at tips for creating social media posts that readers will want to click and Google’s Smart Shopping campaign. Let’s dig in!

Google Shopping Now Solves 4 Critical Problems Retailers Face


60% of a retailer’s paid clicks are generated through Shopping ads, so it’s no wonder this is their preferred ad format. With Google’s new Smart Shopping campaign, it aims to make Shopping ads more accessible and to solve past challenges. Frederick Vallaeys covers four challenges that Google has addressed with this new smart campaign. The first being the Merchant Feed. Before, Shopping ads were generated by a merchant feed (a data feed with information about products structured in a way for Google to read and understand). For retailers with a small offering, this posed no problem as manually creating a feed could be done with a Google Spreadsheet. But for retailers with a large inventory, a manual feed was out of the question and so tools needed to be used. With Smart Shopping, Google has addressed this issue with Automated Shopping Feeds. Retailers will be able to generate feeds right from their website. Read more about Google’s smart solutions for Shopping ads here.

Improving the Customer Experience Means Getting Search Right 


Search is more powerful than it has ever been—in fact many would agree that it has changed more within the last two years alone in comparison to 10 years ago. With the rise of mobile, digital assistants, and smart home devices, consumers can search more through voice, image, and text. Marketers now have the task of delivering great customer experiences at every search touch point.

Jim Yu looks at ways to do just that in this article and his first tip is to be discoverable. Consumers want information at their fingertips, and they want it fast. Research is key before making a purchase decision and with just a few clicks, they can find out what they need to know about your product. So be discoverable when they search for you or seek out inspiration/ideas. To ensure your business is discoverable, create a finely tuned website by removing duplicate content and technical errors. Next, optimize your site for mobile, ensuring it loads quickly and is secure. Find out what long-tail keywords are relevant to your business and target them, use structure data and engage with your users. For more tips on the customer experience, click here!

5 Tips for Creating Clickable Posts Your Audience Will Want to Share

Adding images to your social media is necessary—posts that feature an image will generate more attention and engagement. But just because you post an image doesn’t mean it’ll translate with your audience. Tabitha Jean Naylor looks at ways you can create posts that will resonate with your audience and entice them to share and click away!

First, be relevant. Keep your target audience in mind when posting images. They want to relate to your content. Afterall, they are following you because they have connected with your brand in some way. Next, ensure that you include a strong call to action. Sure, your post can be a great piece of content but if your audience has no clue what to do with it, they won’t take action. Don’t be afraid to tell your readers what steps to take! When it comes to design, avoid making your images too busy but do make sure they stand out enough to catch your audience’s attention. Remember that each social media platform attracts a different audience so it’s important to keep your posts aligned with that particular platform. Lastly, to create a clickable social media shareable to generate brand awareness and traffic, be unique! Your image should reflect your brand personality and be recognizable.

How Content Can Ring Up a Better Retail Experience

From trade wars to the GDPR, it’s a changing retail marketplace and content marketing is a tactic that can suit any business size and budget. Jodi Harris looks at content opportunities you can explore to remain competitive and also some of the biggest factors impacting retail and e-commerce businesses. The first is using content marketing as a means to decrease paid traffic. A tactic like blogging creates warm traffic that you can re-market to later.

With the rapid change and trends in technology such as new devices, media channels, and platforms, better opportunities are created for retailers. Retailers can respond with consistent and quality content. The key here is to track all the data for the audience that your content is creating and to consistently deliver a customer experience that is flawless across all platforms. Read on for Harris’ examples of how some well-known brands are creating quality content to drive the retail experience and to sell their brand.

Desktop, Mobile, or Voice? (D) All of the Above

Confused about where your optimization strategy should be focused on? Dr. Pete from Moz looks at why you should be optimizing for a multi-platform journey instead of one touch point. The first mistake that businesses make is by looking at their numbers and seeing that a majority of their traffic is coming from one platform. Based on this data, they make the decision to only focus on that one platform while ignoring the others. Say, your traffic is mostly directed from desktop and so you ignore mobile altogether. The problem with this is that by focusing on this platform, you ignore the mobile experience and therefore when a mobile user lands on your site, it’s not optimized and they leave. By providing a lousy mobile experience, you’ve lost that visitor completely.

The other mistake made is that your desktop audience is different from your mobile audience and voice audience. We need to treat these groups as separate and so strategic decisions need to be based on this. A customer’s journey happens between multiple devices and this is why businesses need to be optimized for all platforms. A perfect example of this is a consumer watching TV. They see an ad and they’re interested so they search on their phone for more info. Later on, they conduct some research on their laptop. The next day, they decide they want to make a purchase but at work on a desktop. This example of the customer journey and operating between devices is only going to increase. Read more here.

The post This Week: The Customer Journey, Google Shopping, and Creating Clickable Social Media Posts appeared first on The TechWyse ‘Rise to the Top’ Internet Marketing Blog.

PRM Academy Update Summer 2018

Having launched the PRM Academy last year we have seen significant uptake and interest in the programme from employees at all levels across our business.

The PRM Academy is a City & Guilds accredited programme that awards participants digital badges once evidence they have the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours required. The badges cover all areas of our business, from data protection and client sectors to lead generation and client servicing.

Since November 2017 we have awarded a total of 232 badges, with a further 19 awaiting approval and 17 in progress. Our first graduation will take place in November 2018, where participants who have completed their year-long programme will be awarded the overall Golley Slater PRM Academy completion badge.

Client feedback on our academy has been excellent, with several clients looking to invest in their own academy programmes as well as exploit the PRM Academy as much as possible. Our plan over the coming year is to develop ‘PRM Academy Plus’, which will provide our clients access to the Golley Slater workforce already working on their accounts and move them into field sales roles, having already proven themselves capable to engage, develop relationships and close sales with new prospects.

The post PRM Academy Update Summer 2018 appeared first on Golley Slater.

Content: Created Versus Curated

Content is a vital part of your marketing strategy and can help you achieve your social media goals. There are lots of different types of content in the social media world, from Facebook posts, to tweets, to Stories on Snapchat and six hundred-word articles on your website’s blog. These all help in aiding your social media journey.

However, there has always been a debate between curated and created content, and which one works better for a brand. Firstly, you must know the difference and see what works best for you.

What’s the Difference?

Created content is exactly what it says it is – created. This kind of content is original and produced by the brand or company themselves. It’s essentially content that the producer owns and can do whatever they like with it.

On the other hand, curated content is content you share from external sources. It’s articles you share links from on your Facebook page or quotes from others that you tweet about. Curated content is normally relevant to the brand’s industry and helps establish communications between companies in the same sectors. Created content is self-promotional, while curated promotes in a different way.

Created Content – Pros and Cons

There are certainly pros and cons to both types of content. For example, created content helps SEO as Google is known to prefer high quality, original content, over shared pieces. Google favours those that share information first, so brands that write their own articles will likely rank higher in search engines.

Created content also aids brand recognition and adds value to the company – it demonstrates you as a thought leader and expert in your field. Created content is unique and boosts credibility, often putting you ahead of your competition. Original pieces create relationships with your audience and help to drive traffic to your website. You also have complete control over the content, meaning you can have a consistent tone and word everything to fit your brand.

However, created content also has some disadvantages too. It can be pretty pricey and takes up a lot of time. People could plagiarise your content and not give you credit, meaning you lose any traffic or reach the content could’ve helped with. Posting created content regularly can also come across overly self-promotional too – like a first date, it’s rude to go on about yourself the whole time.

Curated Content – Pros and Cons

In contrast, curated content is useful as it’s easier to share. It is time and cost effective and helps to create relationships with others. It not only makes you aware of your competition, but also links you with others in your industry too. All you have to do is discover content and share it.

Nevertheless, curated content could cause your brand value to suffer as it’s not in your control completely. There could be legal problems if the right people aren’t accredited for their work and SEO may suffer too.

Settle on a Mix

Therefore, the content you share on social media should be a mix of both curated and created. The two combined can help improve brand identity and create trust between you and your audience. Content helps visitors stay on websites for longer and connects you with like-minded people. Through sharing both, you establish yourself as an expert in your industry and create and share content that’s valuable for others to share as well. You should always see what works best for your brand and work out the most effective way to post created and curated content to get the balance right.

The post Content: Created Versus Curated appeared first on Giraffe Social Media.

Acxiom’s LiveRamp inks deal with Sonobi as sale rumors swirl


Now that data-marketing giant Acxiom has sold its marketing solutions platform to Interpublic for $2.3 billion, eyes are turning to Axciom’s other big business: LiveRamp, which helps brands link their data with real people. While observers wonder whether LiveRamp will also go on the block, the company is adding new revenue streamspotentially stirring up an appetite among either investors or potential buyers.

LiveRamp on Tuesday announced a deal with Sonobi, which helps publishers sell digital ad inventory, that will let marketers upload their data to LiveRamp and then target signed-in users across leading publishers such as The Guardian, USA Today, Scripps and CBS. Advertisers won’t need to use additional platforms to do it, as they’ll be able to make the ad buys directly through LiveRamp’s software.

LiveRamp is perhaps best known for its Identity Resolution service, which plugs into other platforms so marketers can target ads around the digital ecoystem, much as they can within Google and Facebook. The company had not previously offered planning, buying or measurement, instead offering its services as one piece of the larger “tech stack” that brands assemble for programmtic advertising.

Continue reading at AdAge.com

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