5 ways to balance technical & non-technical SEO

In SEO’s earlier days, technical SEO was largely about coding. For a fun throwback, check out this 2008 SEL article on search-friendly code by Jonathan Hochman, an internet marketer and computer sciences grad from Yale. Technical SEO was all about how to optimize (and often, manipulate) code, metadata and link profiles to achieve better results.

And you know what? That basic purpose of technical SEO hasn’t changed.

As black hat tactics and manipulation became less effective and more dangerous, they fell out of favor. This gave rise to the more creative, non-technical SEO tactics designed to show search engines the value and relevance of each piece of content.

Technical and non-technical should never be pitted against one another, as both are critical to the health of your site and the success of your campaigns. Technical SEO is the framework on which truly great content is built, ensuring that each piece is structured and optimized for search engine discoverability and human consumption.

Here are a few tips to help you find balance between the technical and creative:

1. Understand the role of technical SEO in your organization

Today, in most organizations, technical SEO is a function entirely separate from development. You might still have some spillover between development and SEO in small companies or with freelancers. Typically, though, SEOs are an entity unto themselves, tasked with working alongside:

  • the uber-technical IT team, who manage the reception and storage of critical customer data.
  • web developers.
  • the non-technical SEOs (including link builders…

Demystifying AI: Understanding the human-machine relationship

The artificial intelligence of today has almost nothing in common with the AI of science fiction. In “Star Wars,” “Star Trek” and “Battlestar Galactica,” we’re introduced to robots who behave like we do — they are aware of their surroundings, understand the context of their surroundings and can move around and interact with people just as I can with you. These characters and scenarios are postulated by writers and filmmakers as entertainment, and while one day humanity will inevitably develop an AI like this, it won’t happen in the lifetime of anyone reading this article.

Because we can rapidly feed vast amounts of data to them, machines appear to be learning and mimicking us, but in fact they are still at the mercy of the algorithms we provide. The way for us to think of modern artificial intelligence is to understand two concepts:

  1. Computers can ingest millions of data points per second and make instant calculations and predictions based on this data set.
  2. Very specific rules can be written to help a computer system understand what to do once a calculation is made. (Or, if training a neural network, very specific inputs and outputs must be provided for the data that’s being ingested.)

To illustrate this in grossly simplified terms, imagine a computer system in an autonomous car. Data comes from cameras placed around the vehicle, from road signs, from pictures that can be identified as hazards and so on. Rules are then written for the computer system to learn about all the data points and make calculations based on the rules of the road. The successful result is the vehicle driving from point A to B without making mistakes (hopefully).

The important thing to understand is that these systems don’t think like you and me. People are ridiculously good at pattern recognition, even to the point where we prefer forcing ourselves to see patterns when there are none. We use this skill to ingest less information and make quick decisions about what to do.

Computers have no such luxury; they have to ingest everything, and if you’ll forgive the pun, they can’t “think outside the box.” If a modern AI were to be programmed to understand a room (or any other volume) it would have to measure all of it.

Think of…

This Rain Delay Is Brought to You By …

Last Wednesday, as thunder boomed and rain poured over Yankee Stadium, groundskeepers rolled out a tarp to protect the dirt infield. Standard practice, perhaps, but this tarp was in fact a giant branded slice of Glad wrap.

The delay-filled day kept the Yankees and Detroit Tigers off the field for over four hours in a double-header. Fans and players were miserable. Glad, meanwhile, savored every minute of their captive audience.

The @gladproducts tarp is on the field. We’ll update you as soon as we can. pic.twitter.com/jpYk5D11Tl

— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 2, 2017

While it’s unclear how much Glad paid for the approximately 160 square-foot infield cover, branded tarps are baseball’s newest revenue stream, with major-market teams like the Yankees and Chicago Cubs striking deals that spread messaging during the most dreaded period of any baseball game: rain delays.

“It’s a novel…

Affiliate is more than a platform

When I look at the affiliate business, I see it has truly grown in prominence over the last 10 years. Today, affiliate marketing gives brands nearly limitless opportunities to expand their partnerships, diversify distribution and reach new consumers.

And the importance of this channel for marketers will continue to grow. Forrester Consulting, in a study commissioned by my company, projected that US affiliate marketing spending will reach over $6.8 billion by 2020 (PDF). Of course, as someone who works for an affiliate network, I’m biased — but I have good reasons!

The marketing touch points that are afforded by this channel illustrate that affiliate is more than just the platform on which a program runs. Today, affiliate marketing has evolved to become the gateway for brands to create and nourish business partnerships. In fact, there is almost no one you can’t work with through an affiliate marketing relationship.

Now, I agree that a powerful affiliate platform is still integral to managing campaigns. Having sophisticated technology for tracking, payment processing, link generating tools and reporting is foundational for a thriving affiliate program.

But if you want to grow your brand, dominate market share and gain new customers, then you need an affiliate program that is much more dynamic than the platform that powers it. This is where an experienced network team that has the vision and resources to innovate scalable technology can help brands succeed in driving incremental profitable sales.

Let’s examine the ways that affiliate marketing can unlock more opportunities for brands.

Facilitating business development

Today there are almost an infinite number of publishers that brands can access. The challenge often becomes, “How do I connect with the ones that are right for my brand?”

That’s where an affiliate network comes in. Having an entire team of network development specialists, whose job is dedicated to actively seeking valuable partnerships, will allow brands to access higher-quality publishers and unique opportunities.

As brands grow and expand their program beyond “traditional affiliates,” it’s important that they start to use the channel more creatively, as a network for growing…

This Week in Content Marketing: Could Digital Advertising Be Ready to Pop?


PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher. If you enjoy our show, we would love it if you would rate it or post a review on iTunes.

In this week’s episode

Robert ponders whether we can teach ourselves to be more curious. On the news front, we discuss the state of digital advertising based on reactions to this year’s Cannes Advertising Awards, and offer our strong opinions on yet another article that throws shade at the term “content marketing.” Our rants and raves include CPA Australia and why content creators are crazy; then we close the show with an artistic example of the week courtesy of Botticelli.

Download this week’s PNR: This Old Marketing podcast

Colson whitehead

Show details

  • (00:01): An advertising blast from the past: “Gumball Bank”
  • (00:30): Robert muses on this week’s theme: Are you curious enough?
  • (04:30): Welcome to Episode 190: Recorded live on July 3, 2017 (Running time: 1:06:05)

The PNR perspective on notable news and trends

  • (08:32): Cannes delivers a lesson on the…

Big Q CMOs: The CMO’s role in today’s technically advanced world

Prakash Patel

by MarkLives (@marklives) Is there a new C-suite executive on the horizon? Is it time to redefine the role of the CMO, possibly by agreeing that the roles of CMO and CTO are aligning and need some level of collaboration? And can this result in more-effective growth strategies for organisations? We asked a panel of key industry executives for their take. First up is up is Prakash Patel of Fogg.

Once tasked with managing communications and brand, the modern CMO’s role has been expanding to include technology, data and impact (ie sales and the bottom line). Where this is not the case, anecdotal evidence suggests shorter tenures, and a loss of prominence and clout at board level.

Prakash Patel

Prakash Patel
Prakash Patel

(@PrakashPatel_1), a seasoned strategist and data-driven digital marketer, is managing director of Fogg Cape Town. Previously, he was CEO of Prezence and chief digital officer of FCB/Mesh. Prior to moving to SA, Prakash spent over 18 years at some of the world’s largest and independent data and digital agencies in the UK. Now he is trying to keep up with tomorrow today and helping brands add value in the #TraDigital era.

Is it a perfect marriage or a marriage of convenience? Either way, a marriage is in the horizon.

Today’s digitally savvy customers are far more-sophisticated, -demanding, -hyper-connected, anywhere and everywhere with their experiences underpinned by technology. This has changed their relationship with brands, where they are now in charge, and we, as marketers and brands, need to be and play where they are — regardless of what technology, platform or device they are using. This huge responsibility has most fallen mostly under the remit of both the CMO and CIO in today’s age of the customer.

Age of the customer

So, it’s with no surprise that the results in a survey conducted by Forrester quoted “what’s increasingly apparent is that to succeed in the age of the customer, CEOs depend upon their CMO and CIO to connect customer insights to business outcomes through business technology — the technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers.”

But I believe that the question is not only about how organisations and C-suite executives need to re-evaluate their roles but, more importantly, how they need to collaborate like never before to ride the waves of uncertainty for times of possibilities in aligning their goals using integrated technology, ICT, digital and data.

The Forrester report also looked at the partnerships and relationship between CIOs and CMO.

“Empowered customers have an unprecedented ability to make rapid decisions, weigh and review products with peers, and provide feedback in social channels anywhere in the world. Brand value is now tied to product experiences and the outcomes they deliver.”

In response to the survey, it’s not all gloom and doom, as technology harnesses the power of change and is the opportunity for marketers to rethink their internal business strategies from the top down. Like it or not, CMOs and marketing have found themselves in a unique position, in that technology and digital have become a prerequisite of marketing, whether it’s through websites, mobisites, apps, social media, emarketing, hardware, data, insights, databases or customer platforms — technology underpins and drives it all. Through this, the CIO and CMO’s strategic partnership is becoming…

4 Ways To Improve Storytelling When Building Your Brand

Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to appeal to audiences.

It is a method used to not only share the story of who you are, what you do, and what you want to accomplish with the public, but also a way to form a personal relationship with your audience, and create an engaging and approachable platform for you and your brand.

business storytelling

I recently noticed a Facebook video created by Catherine Howell. Catherine achieved over 10,000 views on a Facebook video in which she executed this simple storytelling technique—be candid and sincere. This allows your audience and clients to feel personally connected to who you are, encouraging trust and the desire to work with you in the future.

Catherine Howell is the Founder and CEO of Eight Loop Social, and the Facebook Ads Academy. I reached out and asked her to share some insights on how to improve digital storytelling.

From her experience, Catherine recommends 4 things whilst storytelling to enhance your brand.

1) Know Who Your Audience is and What You Want to Achieve

Before creating content, the first step is to get a solid grasp of WHO your audience is. Once you have this, you can begin to break your audience down into the various personas that make it up.

Unfortunately, most brands don’t even go down this far into their audience mapping and—as a consequence—content is too generalized and broad. Therefore, it can be difficult to create relatable content.

Catherine explains, “Once you have your personas, what you would normally do is to map out pillars of communication that are required to help the brand achieve whatever outcome is required—awareness, consideration, purchase, and loyalty. If the aim is to build awareness and consideration for a new product – the pillars may include things like sharing reviews—consideration, introducing solutions to problems—awareness, and sharing experiences provided by the product’s community—social proof/consideration”.

2) Be Specific.

By underpinning videos with specific micro-moments and experiences, brands can cut through…

Marketing Day: Designing mobile-first content, SEO for SaaS & Facebook’s video chat

Here’s our recap of what happened in online marketing today, as reported on Marketing Land and other places across the web.

From Marketing Land:

3 ways to use search query data from Google Search Console

In my last column, I covered how you can use Google’s Search Console to learn about the health of your website.

Search Console has another helpful report, called Search Analytics, which gives you an overview of how your website is performing in Google’s organic (non-paid) search results — namely, it shows some of the search queries people used to click through to your website.

In this column, I’ll explain how to read the report. I’ll also share a few simple strategies on how small business owners can use it to improve a website’s non-paid Google search results and website marketing in general.

How to read the Search Analytics report

To access the report, log into Search Console, and then click “Search Traffic” in the left-hand navigation. Search Analytics is the first report listed within this menu option. If you’re not able to access Search Console, it may be because you have to verify your website first.

The Search Analytics report enables you to see search data from various perspectives. As you can see in Figure 1, you can filter by Queries, Pages, Countries, Devices and Search Type (Web, Image or Video). Within each of these, you can filter more granularly: Click the radio button for Devices, for example, and you can filter by Desktop, Mobile or Tablet.

search analytics report
Figure 1: Search Analytics report filters

You can also customize the date range. Unlike Google Analytics, which archives data for years, Search Console only shows the last 90 days of search query data.

At the top of the report, you can check four boxes: Clicks, Impressions, CTR and Position. Once you check these, the data then appears in the rows below. (Figure 2).

search analytics report
Figure 2: Search Analytics report showing Clicks, Impressions and more.

Search Console data differs from what you see in Google Analytics, and if you’re a new user, it can be a little confusing, as the terms aren’t the same. In Google Analytics, for example, visits to a website are called “Sessions” — and one person can have multiple sessions.

Analytics also shows Sessions data by Channel, meaning the source of the searcher: Organic (non-paid search, including non-Google properties), Paid, Referrals, Direct and Social.

Search Console, on the other hand, provides click data, which refers only to the people who clicked through from the Google search engine to your website.

What I like about Search Console is that it lets you see the actual search queries people used when clicking through to a website. Before you get too excited, however, you should note that Google gives you only a small percentage of these queries — and the way it presents this data can be a little confusing at first.

If you use AdWords, the terms Clicks, Impressions, CTR and Position should look familiar to you, but if you don’t, here’s what they mean:


This is the number of clicks to your website per search query. Caution: Google does not provide search query data for each of the clicks to your website for the selected time range.

In Figure 2 (above), you can see that this particular website had 177 clicks for the last 28 days. The actual search query data, however, only shows 49 of those clicks (i.e., 28%).


This is the number of times your website listing appeared in the Google search results for various searches. In Figure 2 (above), you can see Search Console shows 12,061 impressions. Caution: Google counts impressions any time your website…

UberMedia buys Cintric to blend first and third party data for ‘always-on’ location

A few years ago most marketers didn’t know how to use location; it was about “geofencing,” Starbucks and mobile coupons. Today they literally can’t get enough of it.

Brands, retailers and agencies have discovered the versatility and utility of location data — for audience targeting, attribution and competitive insights — and are increasingly hungry for “always-on” mobile location. However always-on location is not easy to get.

It typically requires a first party relationship or data supplied via a first party relationship (i.e., an app with location enabled). Most companies working with location data access it through the exchange bidstream. That data is generally full of inaccuracy and even…