Apple’s New iOS 11 Will End Cookies and Change Online Advertising Forever

You know what cookies are, right?

In case you’re not exactly sure, they’re small files some websites store on your computer that include information a company has tracked about you. Most commonly, they get used for advertising. Those retargeted ads that seem to follow you around from site-to-site have their data stored in cookies.

Cookies may also be used to store information regarding whether you’ve seen a particular newsletter subscription offer. For example, you get 10% off for joining a website’s email list. Once you sign up, you don’t get shown that ad again thanks to the cookie.

They also may store information about how you like to view a certain website. For example, ESPN lets you select your favorite teams to follow, and that info gets stored in a cookie.

That’s what cookies do. They allow the web to be customized to you in a more personal way.

But now, as is often the case with Apple, they’re changing that. iOS 11 now shifts the web to “intelligent tracking prevention” (ITP).

After 24 hours, advertisers will have their cookie data blocked by ITP. Publicly, Apple says they’re doing this to safeguard user data and deliver even more relevant advertising.

But is that the case? Learn a little more about ITP and what it will do:

  1. The Good For Consumers

You’ve heard about all those massive online data breaches in recent years. Apple’s ITP truly does offer better data protection. That’ll help you feel more at ease.

And, since those retargeted ads will have to disappear and be replaced after 24 hours, that’ll give you more relevant and useful ads. Ideally, this makes shopping online easier and more enjoyable.

  1. The Online Advertising Industry Will Consolidate

More automation and real-time activation will be needed to successfully advertise online. Companies will have to switch their focus to devices and identity resolution, rather than cookies. Any company that refuses to change, or without the capability to do so quickly enough, will fall out of relevance themselves, or have to close their doors.

  1. ITP Technology Won’t Have a Massive Effect

Though groundbreaking and disruptive in concept, only about 15% of mobile browsing happens in a browser, notes an Adage article. And 30% of that 15%, or just 5%, of mobile browsing happens in iOS.

What about all the rest of mobile advertising? It happens through apps.

Why Should You Care about This?

You’ll definitely notice the changes – both as a consumer and business. While it’s not likely to devastate your bottom line (thankfully), it will affect your approach and personal experience.

Is Google’s HTTPS Requirement Providing A Search Rankings Boost?

Google first incorporated your site’s usage of HTTPS way back in 2014. In 2017, they became more forceful and began requiring it.

Their intent has been good. HTTPS, after all, uses an encrypted connection to transfer data between your computer and the website you want to visit. Anything that makes the web more secure and more difficult for the bad guys is a good thing.

It’s not 100% bulletproof. But it’s another step that throws a wrench into the plans of cyber thieves.

So, it’s a good step.

Now, the real questions need answers:

  • Has this made any difference?
  • Do websites using HTTPS see the promised rankings boosts?

Let’s find out.

Does HTTPS Make Any Real Difference to Your Search Rankings?

SEO thought leader Brian Dean, with likely the largest subscriber list of SEO-interested folks online, did a study to learn the difference HTTPS actually makes to your search rankings.

His team found “HTTPS had a reasonably strong correlation” with rankings on page one.

So in this case, Google followed through on its promise.

However, it’s important to note that HTTPS isn’t a cure for poor search rankings. It’s not going to lift you from obscurity to page 1 by itself. The general consensus is that it gives you that extra nudge to beat your competition, assuming everything else is equal.

And How Many Sites Have Actually Adopted HTTPS?

Surprisingly, it appears not too many.

AHREFS, which makes a popular (and good) SEO analysis tool, did their own study to better understand HTTPS adoption. To get their data, they analyzed the 10,000 most popular websites.

They found:

  • Just 10% of websites have a “flawless HTTPS setup”
  • Only 35% of websites use HTTPS
  • 60% have no HTTPS at all
  • 5% have HTTPS, but with significant errors in the setup

By the way, you can read the whole study here.

Setting up HTTPS is not overly complex. But it can cost a noticeable amount of time and money.

For these larger websites, the costs wouldn’t have been prohibitive. But they would be inconvenient.

Smaller and local businesses might take issue with the cost of implementing HTTPS.

Should You Implement HTTPS?

If you haven’t already, you should do it as soon as you can. Google’s confirmed it as a genuine ranking signal.

Research supports their claim.

HTTPS is not astronomically expensive. And much of your competition doesn’t do it.

So why not give your users a more secure experience, dramatically reduce their risk of private data theft, and help them feel more confident in your website, and company as a whole?

With HTTPS, the sooner, the better.

How to Use Micro-Influencers to Gain Customers

 

You know the big-time influencers in your niche. They may have 100,000 social followers, and maybe even a million or more.

You know their name. Your co-workers know their name. Everyone knows their name.

You can’t doubt their status.

When you use the word “influencers,” that’s what most people think of.

Why Do Companies Care about Influencers So Much?

Today, they hold the key to lots of sales. And those sales come fast. They have a high level of trust with their audience, and when they tell them to buy something, their audience doesn’t hesitate.

But big-time influencers can be difficult to reach. Everyone wants to have a business relationship with them. And since they have such a high level of trust with their audience, they’re highly selective about what they recommend to them.

So, it can be nearly impossible to get through to big-time influencers on a consistent basis.

Instagram, in 2016, generated $570 million in sales through influencer marketing, for example.

So, Why Go After Micro-Influencers?

Because, they’re much easier to access, while still having a large enough audience (25,000 or less) in a focused niche that can drive serious sales.

Here’s how you might do that:

  1. Focus on Influencers Who Embody What Your Company Does

As you look at social media accounts, you’ll come across people who love to hike. If you sell products for outdoor enthusiasts who like hiking, you’ve found a natural connection.

Make sure they get a good amount of comments, likes, and shares when they post. That way, you know they have an engaged audience.

  1. Get Users to Generate content for Your Campaign

Say you run a company that conducts tours. Pretty boring on the surface, right?

Yep. But not when you involve influencers.

For example, you might ask them to post pictures of the amazing sights they see on one of your tours. You could offer them a free tour in exchange for their honest feedback, for example.

User-generated content works so well because it comes across as more authentic. Compare that to a $100,000 photo shoot depicting a celebrity doing the same thing.

Which would you trust more?

  1. Sponsored posts

These are logistically easy. Simply reach out to the influencer, ask them to create a detailed content piece about your product, but only after they experience your product firsthand.

It’s important you don’t show you’re trying to influence their opinion. You want their honest feedback…and not positive feedback just because they get their product for free.

Even if that feedback ends up not being positive, at least you learn how to improve your product to fit your market’s needs.

As you can see, building relationships with micro-influencers doesn’t need to be difficult. Just make sure you take time to qualify each one first.

Do they seem to be the perfect fit for your product?

Do they have an engaged audience?

If so, reach out. It could be just the spark your business needs to catch fire.

4 Business Essentials You Should Outsource

As a small or medium business owner, you’re aware of the value of outsourcing to vendors. Without your vendors, growth is nearly impossible. That’s okay if you want to stay small and keep your business manageable.

But if you want to grow, you need a lot of help from people you can trust. That allows you to focus on creating the strategies and implementing the processes that lead to rapid growth.

Today, outsourcing can work much differently than it used to. Are you aware you can find an independent contractor, with ease, who does the grunt work for you so you don’t have to?

It’s simple, if you’re willing to work remotely. Here are some of the essential processes to strongly consider outsourcing in 2017:

  1. Cybersecurity

You hear about big corporations who get nailed all the time, and the millions of customers who lose their data as a result. Those stories make headlines and grab people’s attention.

But you don’t hear about the SMBs cybercrooks love to attack. Why? Because they know SMBs aren’t nearly as sophisticated as corporations are with cybersecurity. So, it takes much less effort to take control of your PCs or entire network, demand a ransom, and make a clean getaway.

Cybersecurity changes so fast it makes sense to outsource to a company who keeps up with it.

  1. Web Design

Since your website is your new storefront, you need to pay constant attention to it. You can’t do what businesses used to do: make a new website, forget about it for 3-5 years, and then make a new one.

Web design changes constantly. Google’s algorithm rewards websites whose designs allow for the best user experience.

Today, it makes good business sense to have an experienced web design firm (or independent professional) on retainer.

  1. The Creative Aspects of Marketing

This can mean messaging, visual design, and more. Marketing is a huge trend now because of how difficult it is to stand out online. And, the discipline’s not old, so it takes time and effort to understand how to differentiate.

The analytical work, however, can be kept in-house. This allows you to focus on strategy.

  1. Marketing for Recruits

Today’s job search process has changed a lot also. Job seekers can research your company online and learn a lot about you before even applying. At sites like Glassdoor, for example, they can learn what your own employees think it’s like to work at your company.

So, marketing during the job search process works both ways. Your market has to put their best foot forward for you, and you have to do the same. Outsourcing recruiting allows you to make hires that fit your company better and last longer.

In 2017 and beyond, you can easily outsource these business essentials so you can focus on core activities and accelerate growth.

What You Need to Know about Google’s Mobile-First Update

It’s coming soon…

At least this time, Google told you.

With most updates, you have no clue they’re hitting. Then, all of a sudden, you realize your rankings have tanked.

What happened?

Usually a Google update.

But Google’s made no secret of this one. Its Mobile-First update will happen. And it’s going to be a big change.

What Will the Mobile-First Update Do?

Google’s ultimate goal is to have one search index based on how your site serves mobile users. However, these search results will be served to both mobile and desktop users.

People search more on their mobile devices than desktop or laptop. So from a logical standpoint, the update makes sense.

If You Have a Responsive Site, Are You Already Prepared?

Possibly. But maybe not.

Mobile users may like your website, but that doesn’t guarantee Google will too.

Your site may look good on mobile devices. But that’s not exactly what Google looks for.

For example, people may look at your website on a variety of screen sizes. Smartphones come with many screen sizes. Tablets have a variety of sizes. Then you have laptops and desktops too.

Smart corporations design a unique experience for their mobile users. The branding is similar so the site remains recognizable. However, it’s a different experience.

That’s what you do in an ideal world.

Make Your content Easy to Read

Paragraphs should have about 3 sentences in them at maximum.

One-sentence paragraphs are totally okay, and you should include them throughout your content.

Your content should still include images. However, they should be scaled down from their original size for two reasons:

  1. So they don’t eat up the whole screen on a mobile device
  2. They’ll load faster, which gives your users a better experience

Diversify Your Traffic Sources

Although Google’s much better at punishing and rewarding sites as they justly deserve, it’s not perfect. Sometimes, you can follow all the rules with perfect intent and still get whacked.

You don’t always know exactly what Google will want. And they can make changes faster than you can adjust.

Using other traffic sources, besides organic traffic, is just sound business. These could include:

  • Social media
  • PPC
  • Video marketing
  • In-person marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Online review sites

You have plenty of opportunity to win traffic and keep driving it from non-organic sources.

When you follow these tips, the mobile-first update doesn’t have to be a nerve-racking experience.

Google Analytics Now Allows You to Ask a Question to Get Data

Ever stare at Google Analytics helplessly…wondering how you’re going to get the data you need? Or, do you see the data you want, but aren’t really sure how to understand it?

Google’s revamped Analytics a little to help out people who aren’t complete data nerds.

Google’s addressed this concern by allowing you to ask a simple, plain-English question in Google Analytics. And Google Analytics will return to you with the right data.

The idea is that this helps you get the information you need faster. It also frees up those in charge of your data to focus more on strategy, and use less time tracking down information.

Now, you simply type in,”How many organic users did I have in search last week?” Google returns with (hopefully) the correct answer. They use the exact same technology that’s used in search.

If you don’t have the feature available now, you should have it soon because Google’s rolling it out in a few weeks.

How Do You Use It?

It’s quite easy. Just look for the circle icon with dots in the upper right corner of the app. For now, you can ask questions that begin with “what” and “how many.” You can also ask about this data for various market segments.

And yes, when you try it, you’ll notice the speed with which it returns results. You’ll also have the ability to ask follow-up questions based on your initial question, and Google Analytics will suggest questions you may also want to ask.

Google doesn’t support “why” questions at the moment. As you might expect, those are much more complex. However, since the system is based on artificial intelligence, it will learn to answer “why” questions and will be able to answer them in the near future.

What if you ask a question Google Analytics can’t answer? Google Analytics captures your question and works on learning how to answer it.

You will also soon have the ability to save and export the results you get from the questions you ask.

Neat, isn’t it? Not only that, but extremely useful too. Who knows what artificial intelligence will enable Google to do for you next?