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This week, Microsoft announced a free new analytics service called Clarity which aims to walk the line between in-depth insights and user privacy. 

The set of tools is said to be completely GDPR compliant while still digging deep on a wide range of metrics that matter to businesses. 

Doesn’t Slow Your Site Down

One of the biggest aspects of Microsoft Clarity is that it tracks an astonishing amount of non-identifiable data without measurably slowing your web site. Even more surprising is the lack of traffic caps – making Clarity an option even if you’re getting millions of visitors a day. 

As the company says:

“Clarity is designed to have a very low impact on page load times, so you can make sure users navigating to your site won’t have to wait for pages to load.

Additionally, we don’t place any caps on your traffic so whether you get 10 visitors per day or 1,000,000, Clarity will be able to handle your traffic with no additional cost for you.”

Privacy Focused

Despite the amount of information gathered by Clarity, the analytics service still prioritizes privacy. 

According to the announcement:

“We are GDPR compliant as a data controller for visitors to our site and processor for the data gathered by the Clarity script on your site.”

Session Playback

One of the three biggest features highlighted in Clarity is the ability to replay site visitors’ time on your site including where they moved their mouse, where they clicked, and what made them pause.  

This is shown in a simple video recreating the visitor’s browser window with highlighted cursor movement.

Heat Map

While session playbacks allow you to see what single visitors are doing on your site, Clarity’s heat maps will show you what everyone is doing on your site. 

This feature shows what page elements are getting clicked the most and where users are spending the most time on a page. 

This can provide great insights into what is catching people’s attention, and where you are starting to lose them. 

Though not available at launch, the company says they will also feature an option for scrolling metrics in the future, helping understand how users are traveling through your content. 

Insight Dashboard

To help break down and visualize all this information, Clarity includes a dashboard with a wide array of important metrics. 

“We provide a dashboard of aggregate metrics to help you get an overall understanding of the traffic on your site. At a glance you will be able to see how many users were clicking on non-existent links or how many people scrolled up and down a page in search of something they couldn’t readily find.

You can also see things like how many concurrent JavaScript errors are occurring across your clients or how much time the average user spends navigating your site.”

To start using Clarity for yourself, sign up here.

YouTube is giving us all a glimpse into how the world responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with a new batch of data showing what we’ve been watching in 2020.

The insights reveal a wide-range of trends, but an overall theme of self-care and learning new skills runs throughout. 

Let’s check out some of the most revealing details from the report:

Home Cooking

As restaurant shutdowns spread in March and remain at least partially in effect across the nation, many have had to brush up on their cooking abilities or expand their repertoire. 

Add to this that the shutdowns gave many considerable extra time to try their hands at cooking things which take hours or even days to do properly, and you may start to understand why sourdough bread was a major trend on YouTube this year.

“By the end of March, one could make a legitimate case that a good portion of the world was simultaneously fixated on how to achieve a superlative sourdough starter. And the evidence for that was on YouTube.”

Similarly, users around the world increasingly searched for “restaurant-style” cooking techniques and recipes to replicate their favorite eateries from home. 

The company notes that it is extremely rare for countries around the world to all be searching for similar topics at the same time. Still, once the pandemic began in earnest earlier this year, global searches for cooking tutorials have been consistently heightened no matter where you live. 

Self-Care

This year has been uniquely turbulent, which has led many to use YouTube to assist in or to learn new techniques for coping with anxiety or stress. 

Specifically, people have been watching countless videos related to food, exercise, relaxation, medication, and peaceful sleeping since March. 

This includes heightened searches for a variety of topics including:

  • Yoga (Daily views have doubled since March)
  • Guided Meditation (Daily views increased 40% since March)
  • Home Workouts (Daily views increased 4x since March)
  • Nature Sounds

Keeping Close While Social Distancing

Perhaps the strongest way YouTube has helped people cope with the ongoing pandemic is by providing a way to stay connected.

“YouTube viewers used video to engage with each other directly and indirectly, sometimes in nuanced ways: even just participating in a rising coffee-making trend can make someone feel more connected to other people.”

This is most obvious when looking at the data for a few notable video trends:

  • ‘With Me’ Videos (Views of #WithMe videos jumped 600% since March)
  • Museum Tours (Daily views up 60%)
  • Face Masks (DIY tutorials have been viewed over 400 million times)
  • Dalgona coffee (A briefly viral treat connected users around the world)

Building Your Identity

Without our usual ways to express ourselves, many saw YouTube as both a creative outlet and a learning tool for further developing their identity.

“Video proved to be a unique way people could both express who they were and who they might become — say, by learning a new skill.”

This is reflected in a variety of video topics which have trended up since March, including:

  • Gardening
  • How to cut hair
  • Religious services
  • Video call beauty tips

YouTube as a Mirror

This data shows that people around the world have turned to a few basic needs when it comes to their content right now. From India to the U.S., YouTube says the uniformity of these trends has been “astonishing”.

When it comes to what people are watching right now, it all boils down to three basic needs:

  • Experiencing a sense of connection
  • Maintaining positivity
  • Projecting a strong sense of self

Bing has officially completed the launch of its new Bing Webmaster Tools, which streamlines the old tool suite while offering a number of new features. 

According to the announcement, the process managed to condense the old version’s 47 unique links to just 17 different links without losing any of the functionality previously available. This was done by bundling redundant or related functions into more powerful tools.

At the same time, Bing announced it had introduced a new URL inspection tool, a Robots.txt testing feature, a site scan tool, and revamped webmaster guidelines. 

Choose Your Bing Webmaster Tools

For now, webmasters can choose to use the new or old version of Bing Webmaster Tools. The old suite is available at https://www.bing.com/webmaster/. The new version can be found at https://www.bing.com/webmasters/

However, the old version won’t be sticking around for too long. The announcement says it will be disabled sometime next month. 

Enhanced Tools

While streamlining the platform, Bing expanded the functionality of several tools. These updates include:

  • Backlinks lists backlinks for any site, including similar websites.
  • Keyword Research lets you filter data by countries, languages, and devices. 
  • URL Submission is better streamlined for easier navigation. This includes simplifying URL submission via the Bing WordPress plugin for faster indexing. 
  • SEO Reports provides improved classification of errors or issues. 

New Tools

Along with the consolidated and enhanced tools from the old version of Bing Webmaster Tools, the company revealed several new tools. These include:

  • URL Inspection: A beta feature that allows Bing to inspect crawled versions of your site for potential indexing issues.
  • Site Scan: A site audit tool that crawls and checks your site for common SEO issues which may affect your search ranking. 
  • Robots.txt Tester: Check your robots.txt file using the same inspection tools Bing uses to verify your URLs.

Bing revealed major overhauls to its Webmaster Tools suite this week. The new layout and features aim to make the tools available to SEOs and webmasters faster, easier to use, and more actionable.

As SMX West, the company said the first phase of the overhaul would be coming the first week of March, with a sleeker interface and three primary new features:

  • Backlinks Portal: The current inbound links report will be merged with a disavow links tool to become part of the backlinks report portal.
  • Search Performance: Similarly, the company is combining its page traffic and search keywords reports into a unified search performance report.
  • Sitemaps: Bing is giving its current sitemaps page a general overhaul to make it more valuable to online marketers and webmasters.

When It’s Coming

As the company said in its announcement:

“We are delighted to announce the first iteration of the refreshed Bing Webmaster Tools portal. We are releasing the new portal to a select set of users this week and will be rolling out to all users by the 1st week of March.”

What It Looks Like

Search Engine Land provided several screenshots of what the new portal will look like once it goes live:

Search Performance Report

Backlink Report

Disavow Link Tool

Sitemaps

Once they go live, anyone with a Bing Webmaster Tools account can access the new features by navigating to the Sitemaps, Inbound Links, Page Traffic, or Search Keywords reports.

Why It Matters

Despite being frequently overlooked by brands and marketers, Bing has been quietly cementing its grasp on a significant percentage of the search market. The new tools will make it easier for those taking advantage of this opportunity to better understand their website’s performance and refine their efforts for even better performance in the future.

Unless you are regularly keeping an eye on your site’s analytics, you might never know when you suddenly lose a ton of traffic or clicks. That is somewhat changing, however, as webmasters can now be notified to sudden drops in clicks through Google’s Search Console.

Search Console is now sending alerts to webmasters when it detects a “substantial drop” in clicks compared to your past week’s data.

Google is doing this by reviewing your week-over-week data in the Performance report for your site. If this week’s data is drastically different, it will send a notification to verified property owners in Search Console to alert them of the problem.

The new notification was first noticed by Vance Moore III who shared a screenshot of the notification on Twitter:

It is unclear exactly how large of a drop it takes to trigger the notification. In the case above, Moore experienced nearly a 50% drop in clicks.

Of course, the tool has some obvious limits. The first is that it only compares week-to-week data. That means slower downward trends will likely not trigger a notification. Additionally, the notification appears to only be triggered by clicks but does not account for traffic or bounce-rates.

The best course of action will always be to regularly check your analytics data to properly assess your site’s performance. There, you will find everything from your click performance, to conversions, traffic, and even demographic info about your visitors.

Still, it always helps to have an extra alert in place for when sudden changes happen to your site. That way you can respond to any new issues and quickly remedy any issues that could have led to your drop in clicks.

Analytics is an essential way to measure the effectiveness of your ads, but traditionally your results are kept in isolation. The only thing you have to compare against is past results.

Bing is changing that, with a new way to compare the results of your ad campaigns against how your competitors are performing.

These new competitive metrics, also known as “share of voice” metrics, have been added to Bing’s in-line performance views, with details on your ads and similar campaigns in your industry. You still can’t hand-pick your local competitors and spy on their campaigns, but the new metrics will give you a better view of how you are doing within your market.

To get started, just log into your Bing Ads account and select either Accounts Summary, Campaigns, Ad Groups, or Keywords. Once you’re on any of these pages, click the Columns button. This will allow you to add any metrics from the Competitive (Share of Voice) section. Once you’ve applied your changes, these new metrics will appear in your reports.

Bing says the metrics are compatible with all other reporting features offered by the platform.

The announcement says this latest update is just “one of many” enhancements to Bing analytics the company will be releasing this year, though they are keeping those upcoming updates a secret for now.

Online marketing can be a scary world sometimes. You invest time and money on building up your brand and improving your online visibility, but it can all come crashing down overnight. It’s terrifying to think of, but it is the reality of the internet – everything is always changing.

While there is no 100% guaranteed way to protect your brand from this risk, you can take a few steps to help you sleep easier and feel assured you won’t wake up to a marketing nightmare. As long as you cover these bases, you’ll be safe from the most common disasters that befall brands online.

Don’t let your domain get snatched up

Website domains are kind of a funny thing. They are the foundation you build all your online marketing efforts on. But, once you have it set it is incredibly easy to forget. It’s one of those things that seems like it should last forever.

But, of course, that’s not the case. If you aren’t keeping an eye on things, it can be easy to one day wake up and discover your domain registration has expired. That alone can be enough to make for a stressful morning, but in some cases you may find you have lost your domain entirely.

Having your domain snatched up when it lapses is shockingly common and can happen to businesses of any size. Even huge brands and public figures like the Dallas Cowboys and Microsoft have dropped the ball and had to pay huge amounts to regain control of their domains.

Thankfully, most registrars now offer services to help you maintain control of your domain. Some allow for auto-renewal, while others offer text message warnings before your domain expires. In the case of GoDaddy, the service keeps your domain safe for almost 20 days after it expires so that you can get them back.

Watch your rankings (properly)

I know more than a few business owners who maintain the same ritual. Every few days, they will pull up the browser of choice and check their ranking for a few specific keywords. So long as they remain fairly high on the first page, they stay happy.

If that sounds like you, I have some bad news. The search results you see aren’t necessarily what others are seeing and you may have been sliding down the page for everyone else all this time.

Online marketing disaster

Every major search engine does some form of customizing search results for individual users based on a variety of factors. This can include demographic data, location information, and search behaviors. So, if you’re regularly visiting your website or searching from inside the office, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be high-up when you search for your company.

Instead, get a real look at how you are performing by using an analytics service. There are a number of free services available, but I always recommend Google Analytics as a starting point. The learning curve can feel steep, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you can quickly find everything you want to know about your site’s performance.

Take control of your reputation

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A small business is gaining steam and popularity. Suddenly it all comes screeching to a halt, as your internet traffic dries up and your website stops converting. The culprit? A single bad review in the right place.

It is perhaps the scariest campfire story you can tell a business owner. Sites like Yelp have become notorious for destroying local businesses who handled a negative review the wrong way.

In some cases, the business owners just try to ignore the bad review while it festers and drives away any interested customers. Unfortunately, ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away. In even worse situations, a business owner can let their emotions get to them and lash out at the reviewer – a move pretty much guaranteed to make you go viral for reasons you don’t want.

Neither of these is the right approach, and both can cause you headaches for a long time to come.

Thankfully, there is a right way to make sure your online reputation remains stellar no matter how scathing of a review you get from a disgruntled customer – address it head on every time. Rather than letting it get to you, keep an even head and treat every customer how you’d like to be treated. You’d be shocked to see just how many angry customers can be flipped into brand advocates so long as they feel their voice is heard.

The most important thing here is to be sure to watch all the major places people are likely to be talking about your business and be able to respond appropriately. This includes Yelp, Twitter, and Facebook. Check at least once a day to make sure you haven’t gotten any new reviews that need your attention. While you’re at it, it also never hurts to take the time to show your thanks to any positive reviews or mentions you’ve received as well.

GoogleAnalytics.png

Google Analytics is an essential tool for making sure your website is performing as you would like and making improvements to keep growing, whether you are a high-level marketer or a business owner who just launched their site.

If you aren’t familiar with Analytics, however, or the technical jargon that fills your reports, it can be difficult to make sense of the huge amount of information available. That can make it hard for someone new to running a website for their business to make sense of the huge amount of information available in Google Analytics.

Thankfully, you don’t have to depend on analysts, marketers, or your company’s “computer guy”, to understand how your site is performing with Google Analytics. Search Engine Watch has put together an easy-to-understand glossary for all the jargon and confusing labels that you will come across, making it simple for you to know exactly what your reports are saying about your site.

You can see the handy guide from Search Engine Watch here.

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Google Analytics is an essential tool for webmasters and marketers looking to take control of their marketing efforts and increase both revenue and engagement. Now, Google is taking the platform even further with the introduction of the new enterprise-oriented measurement platform, Google Analytics 360 Suite.

In an announcement posted this week on the blog Inside Adwords, Vice President of Analytics, Display, and Video Products Paul Muret said:

“Sophisticated marketers who use analytics platforms are 3X more likely to outperform their peers in achieving revenue goals. It’s no wonder enterprise-class marketers have been telling us they need more from their marketing analytics tools. Many toolsets can’t cope: They’re too hard to use, lack sufficient collaboration capabilities, are poorly integrated, and require hard to find expertise.”

Muret also told Marketing Land that marketers are “trying to engage with brief moments of engagement” referring to so-called micro-moments. “If the value is not delivered” within the brief window of time, “consumers will quickly move on.”

The new platform is intended to deliver an enterprise-oriented analytics service that is both comprehensive and easy-to-use while focusing in on those brief moments of engagement and opportunity.

Google has remained mum on if there are any new data sources feeding into the Suite, and cross-device tracking remains the same. Rather, Google Analytics 360 Suite is intended to expand upon Google Analytics Premium, its previous enterprise-oriented analytics platform.

The suite includes four new tools, as well as two old mainstays:

Google Audience Center 360 (beta). This powerful data management platform (DMP) helps marketers understand their customers and find more like them across channels, devices, and campaigns. It offers native integration with Google and DoubleClick, plus it’s open to third-party data providers, DSPs and more.

Google Optimize 360 (beta). This website testing and personalization product helps marketers deliver better experiences. Marketers can show consumers multiple variations of their site and then choose the version that works best for each audience.

Google Data Studio 360 (beta). A new data analysis and visualization product that integrates data across all suite products and other data sources ― turning it into beautiful, interactive reports and dashboards. Built-in real-time collaboration and sharing is based on Google Docs technology.

Google Tag Manager 360. Built from our industry-leading tag management product, it empowers enterprise marketers to move faster and make decisions with confidence. It offers a simplified way to gather site information (all those tiny bits of code) and powerful APIs to increase data accuracy and streamline workflows.

Google Analytics 360, formerly known as GA Premium, will roll out exciting new capabilities throughout the next couple of months as investments continue to grow. It will serve as the measurement centerpiece by analyzing customer data from all touch-points and integrating with our ad products to drive marketing effectiveness.

Google Attribution 360, formerly known as Adometry, has been rebuilt from the ground up to help advertisers value marketing investments and allocate budgets with confidence. Marketers can analyze performance across all channels, devices, and systems to achieve their most effective marketing mix.

All these tools are available on the dashboard, and Google has said the platform also includes a broad set of integrated third-party providers, such as customer relationship management platforms.

The individual products will be offered à la carte, under to-be-announced pricing. Google Analytics Premium and Adometry will be relaunched under the Google Analytics 360 Suite platform “in the coming months.” Google Analytics Premium and Adometry customers will also be offered access to the new tools in a limited beta test in the future.

Tulsa Marketing Online has always believed tracking data is one of the most essential steps to running an informed marketing campaign, but apparently many search marketers are opting out of comprehensive tracking when it comes to phone conversions from search campaigns.

A new survey from Invoca has found that just 36 percent of respondents reported using call extensions or click-to-call ads in their search campaigns. Of course, call conversions aren’t a major metric for some campaigns, but the survey shows that isn’t the whole story. The results also show that 63 percent of those surveyed said phone leads are equally or more valuable than web conversions.

It is surprising that such only a relatively small percentage of marketers may not be tracking phone call conversion data, especially in light of the wealth of studies showing the value of phone calls to search marketers. Google’s numbers say that 70 percent of mobile searchers have called a business directly from the search results page and BIA/Kelsey estimates inbound calls from mobile search is going to almost double between now and 2016.

The only real explanation is that a fair portion of marketers simply aren’t considering the value of call conversions and how search marketing may be driving calls.

Without data on call conversions, it is hard to get the full picture of how campaigns and marketing strategies are performing and budgets may be getting misplaced or outright wasted. When you have all that information at your fingertips, it is easier to make truly informed decisions about your future strategies and ensure that marketing budgets are being used to their full potential.

You can read Invoca’s full report here and see their related infographic below.

Call Tracking Infographic