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Voice search asks, can you hear me now?

August 11th, 2016 by Brandon Marley

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We’ve all been there: you ask OK Google to find a great restaurant, or Siri to find you a spot to buy some new shoes. In this new digital age, we’re finding it more convenient and fast to ask your phone to find your favorite “sushi spot in palm springs with WIFI” rather than typing in “sushi Palm Springs”. This change in the way we see and use search with our voice hasn’t gone unseen. In fact, according to KPCB there has been a 35x growth in voice search since 2008. Wow……… that’s a real game changer!

This could really shake up the way we do things day to day, and search to search. Imagine, for a moment, that you’ve just put “dogs” into your keywords and content to target potential customers. What if, instead, you had “Place to get your dog cleaned” or “over-night stays for dogs near Palm Springs”? As the number of voice-searchers continue to increase, so should our habits when creating quality content for clients. Remember, the customer always OK Googles best.

Social Media is keeping active

August 3rd, 2016 by Brandon Marley

The world of Social Media is forever fast moving and growing. It may feel impossible to keep up with who is where and what is what when it comes to things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and everything in between. Luckily we’ve put together an awesome info-graphic letting you know how social media is keeping active.


Google’s Mobile Search Algorithm Update: What You Need to Know

April 17th, 2015 by Brandon Marley


Move over Penguin and Panda, here comes – you heard it here first – Manatee!

Well, maybe not. But your mobile web presence should be prepared for something big.

Last November, mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic for the first time, according to IBM.  And nearly 28% of all online sales came from mobile devices.

Is your website optimized for mobile and ready for Google’s next update?  While there’s no appropriate animal moniker for the update yet, this one will likely have more of an impact than Panda or Penguin. And it’s only impacting the mobile results.

Google’s official announcement:

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

What you need to know:

  • The algorithmic change will take effect on April 21st.
  • This affects organic searches that are performed from a mobile device.
  • The algorithm changes will focus on a number of key areas, including rewarding sites with text that can be read without the need to zoom and appropriately sized content that eliminates the need to scroll.
  • This is at the page level, so pages will get promoted for being “mobile-friendly”.
  • Google has created a Mobile-Friendliness tool that will give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer on a per-url basis.
  • If a mobile search query is highly correlated with mobile app listings (in the Google Play and iOS App Stores), your app could see significantly more visibility within mobile search results pages.
  • Google has expanded the types of information that they scrape and pull from a site, especially in mobile. Whenever you see a little grey ‘i’ in the upper right hand corner of a mobile search result, it means that Google is probably getting a small portion of any related transaction.

How much traffic do you get from mobile?

The image below shows us how much organic traffic is coming from a mobile device. Then go to Audience > Mobile > Overview > Secondary Dimension drop down > choose Source / Medium.

MobileGoogleArticle-AnalyticsMoz believes that Google will launch a new mobile crawler (probably with an Android user-agent) that can do a better job of crawling single-page web apps, Android apps, and perhaps even Deep Links in iOS apps.

How much will it affect your traffic?

Here’s what Google has to say about it (full story here):

“The mobile-friendly algorithm is an on or off algorithm, on a page-by-page basis, but it is not about how mobile-friendly your pages are, it is simply are you mobile-friendly or not.

But as we mentioned earlier, there are over 200 different factors that determine ranking so we can’t just give you a yes or no answer with this. It depends on all the other attributes of your site, whether it is providing a great user experience or not. That is the same with desktop search, not isolated with mobile search.”

Here are some helpful steps to test your site’s mobile capacity:

  1. View your site on various mobile devices including Apple & Samsung.
  2. Review if the links and buttons on your mobile device are large and easy to find, and spaced properly from other elements of the site.
  3. Evaluate page load time. Limit the number of images.
  4. Test your eCommerce, mobile checkout.  It will convert more if you keep your number of clicks down.  If you have a small e-commerce site that processes payments with PayPal, also consider using Amazon Payments (or an API w/ PayPal) which allows customers to login with Amazon and pay with Amazon while never navigating away from your website.
  5. Show the most important & relevant content.  Content is not necessarily king, when it comes to mobile. Pair it down to the most important information. Make sure to insert a button on the bottom right that allows mobile users to go back to the top of the page instantly.
  6. Make sure there is a visible click-to-call button.  These buttons are designed to call the number, when clicked on a mobile device.
  7. Make the content, products and/or services on mobile sharable: Optimizing for social sharing standards is key.

SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) are changing all the time. Knowledge graph has jumped from 17% to 27% of Google’s queries, according to Moz’s Dr. Pete Meyers.

“Google is essentially competing against us with our own information, and I think that’s a turning point in the relationship between Google and webmasters.” -Dr. Pete Meyers, Moz

Don’t risk a continued drop in rankings, make sure your site is engaging, creative, optimized and mobile friendly.

Make sure your mobile site is nimble and a hell of a lot faster than a manatee.

Google is taking a mobile first mentality. Get on the same page.

We can help.

Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing

April 16th, 2015 by Brandon Marley


Sixty years ago, Peter Drucker said, “Marketing is the unique, distinguishing function of the business.”

We’re moving into a new era of marketing, one that is distinguishing the successful and memorable businesses from the rest. An era where customer service is part of marketing, a time where we want to live life to the fullest and share our knowledge. We’re living in an era of experiences.

This was Robert Rose’s message (& latest book) at the latest Desert AdFed luncheon at the Classic Club.

According to experts, we recently moved out of the “Relationship Era”, having started with one to one marketing in the mid-90s and moving into engagement and becoming “friends” with potential customers, online.  But let’s face it. It’s been complicated.

So, how does a company go from merely creating content to creating value and stellar customer experiences?

Instead of asking “Should I lower my prices?” or “Should we offer another product?”  ask “how high can I set the bar to deliver an experience that connects with my customers?

Marketing can – nay, must – lead this new era to create powerful customer experiences.

As a long-time beer blogger and marketer, I found myself nodding enthusiastically. Offering interesting content and showing off the latest beers and trends at beer festivals (aka “experiences”) and dinner pairings (more experiences) & in brewer interviews (valuable & relevant content) has been my blog’s main driver for almost a decade.

Today’s consumer is information driven, insightful and eager to find the best service and product experience. They want to buy from businesses that acknowledge their pain points, their needs, desires and hell, just make finding a product or service easy and dare I say, enjoyable.Marketing Experiences: Infographic

Here are a couple great examples:

  1. Kraft: Want more of your message consumed? Offer useful and relevant content to your consumers. Kraft has been delivering delicious recipes online to beef up their content marketing since the early 90s.  Okay, I’m done with the puns. About 1/3 of KraftRecipes.com are created by their culinary team and the rest is curated from their member community. The ROI on the content marketing work is among the highest of all of their marketing efforts. They’ve been so successful (100m annual visitors to its web properties) not just by giving away recipes, but by understanding customers based on their interactions with the content. Kraft has proven that its content marketing yields 4x better ROI than its traditional advertising.
  2. Saks Fifth Avenue: The nearly century old department store has successfully tapped the potential of mobile. Knowing that in-store customers use their devices to shop, the luxury retailer aimed to optimize their marketing, sales and branding. They brought in guest editors to their catalogs, giving a more magazine-like feel, presenting Saks as a fashion authority and making it more of an experience.

Content, after all, is still king.

Starting in 2013, Sakes also started offering a mobile-optimized website and an iPad app. This allows shoppers to enjoy a seamless experience that combines the efficiency of online interactivity with the immediacy of in-store shopping.  And get this, Saks Fifth Avenue even embraced the selfie. Last year, they launched a user-generated section of its site, called #SaksStyle, that aggregates shoppers’ selfies shared on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter.

And the images are shoppable. Giving consumers a standard hashtag to use and featuring their images on the site rewards them.

Now, that’s an awesome experience.

Spark interest by making your brand larger than the sum of your products. And coming on the heels of the next big Google algorithm update (Search “Google Mobile algorithm update”) on April 21st, be mobile! Google searches about location are growing rapidly, and so are consumer expectations.

Use Content Creation Management (CCM) to create experiences that delight, inspire and engage your audiences.

In today’s constantly connected world, people crave sensory experiences. Just look at IfOnly.com, the “world’s first emporium for experiences.” They offer exclusive options with semi-finalists of this year’s James Beard Awards and even a private dinner inside the Venetian Gothic Palace for some tantalizing and memorable experiences.

What do you as a brand have to offer that matters to consumers? What are you going to provide to make them want to come back to you again and again?

If we provide value and a great experience to our clients and consumers, marketing still, indeed, can be the unique, distinguishing function of the business.

Jump Start Your Business: 10 Steps to Engaging User Experience

March 31st, 2015 by Brandon Marley

“A UX designer is coordinating, orienting, helping all of the other folks [designers] achieve some common goal, a singular intent… UX designers lead organizations to ensure that great experiences get out into the world.” – Peter Merholz, author of Subject to ChangeUser Experience

User experience design (UX design) has become the key to successful websites and businesses alike. 2014 was an amazing year for experience design, embracing minimalism and imagery. Read the rest of this entry »

Twitter & Google Reach Deal To Put Tweets in Search Results

February 5th, 2015 by Brandon Marley

If you didn’t think it was important to be on Twitter for your business, then this should change your mind. The constantly moving social network will start to roll out tweets in the place we search for everything: Google.Twitter Google Search Results

According to Bloomberg, Twitter reached a deal with Google that will make your tweets searchable.  Twitter is expanding its already massive reach and your tweets will have a larger audience.

Real-time tweets from Twitter will appear in the largest search engine “in the first half of this year.” Google currently displays tweets in its search results but it crawls the site for content.

Twitter and Google struck a similar agreement back in 2009, but it was not renewed in 2011. Terms of this apparent new deal will make tweets visible inside Google’s search results immediately after they are tweeted out.

Tweets coming from Twitter’s 284 million users could very well be more prominently featured by Google.  Twitter’s hope? To serve those beyond its registered users, drive more traffic and ultimately increase new users.

Twitter has indeed been busy. Twitter also recently announced plans to sell ads outside of its own platform for the first time, striking deals with news-reading app Flipboard and Internet portal Yahoo Japan to show promoted tweets.


Desert AdFed – AdBAM, Massive Marketing Summit

January 30th, 2015 by Brandon Marley



Our little digital desert community is growing. While I thrive on everything digital, technical and growing my client’s business – it’s awesome to connect, in real life, with fellow professionals in the Coachella Valley.

Desert Ad Fed recently held the first Ad BAM, massive marketing summit and media auction. It’s a premiere event where digital marketing and advertising business leaders share their ideas, successes and trends in what has become – the new normal.

Discussions encompassed all things advertising and digital with a memorable keynote speaker and great breakout sessions, where we could take our pick from six speakers.

After soaking in all of the emerging technologies and experimental marketing practices – the excitement lead into their annual AdFed Media Auction.  Attendees purchased media at drastically reduced prices.

Peter Buck, Creative Director at Red Bull, North America started off the summit with an in-your-face keynote “speech”.  Red Bull sells more than 5 billion cans of soft drink a year. He had a European Mad Men’esque sort of demeanor.

“I’m not going to talk about customer relationship marketing, about KPIs and I will not talk about ROIs. What I’m going to talk about is the ‘Oh My Gods,’” said Buck.

Yeah, I liked him immediately.

Buck has experience working for some of the best agencies in Europe: from Munich, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt to London – before joining Kastner & Partners in Los Angeles as a Partner and Creative Director.

His message was to look beyond the obvious, have fun and do the don’ts.  All messages I personally love to live by, in varying degrees.

His “Element of Surprise” presentation started off with getting “surprisingly close”, with a Red Bull POV mountain biking video with inhumane flipping, spinning and leaping on a narrow, dirt trail that left our hearts racing.

I thought, “Oh my God.”

Get surprisingly personal, surprisingly thoughtful or surprisingly entertaining.

Check out the commercial that put Cadbury back on the map.

What does a gorilla have to do with a chocolate egg?  Nothing, really. But this was inspired and surprisingly entertaining and was able to capture imagination.

And it took Britain by storm.

Or, get surprisingly noisy.

Red Bull stormed into Pairs as they launched its energy drink in France in 2008, joining up with hundreds of other Red Bull minis at the Arc de Triomphe.  The drivers then surprised curious Parisians by giving them free samples of the energy drink.


Photocredit: (c)Richard Walch/Red Bull Photofiles)

Get surprisingly simple, surprisingly silly or surprisingly dramatic.

A Belgian agency brought the drama to Belgium with a real-life, crazy stunt.  Goading people to push a big red button… well, you’ll see:

Duval Guillaume was the agency for the TNT stunt, a leader in guerrilla agency tricks in Europe. It was one of the biggest viral video ads of the year, with 4.5 million views in the first 24 hours.

Who else wouldn’t want to see football players, gunfire, fistfights and bikers in lingerie all at the same time?

Alternatively, companies can get surprisingly emotional, which this small Los Angeles based fashion label did with their “First Kiss” video.

Wren produced a video in 2014 featuring 20 strangers who were asked to kiss for the first time. Here, a kiss isn’t just a kiss. It proved to be sensitive, heartwarming and oddly passionate.

Peter Buck talked about the minimal branding and how that helped it made a massive success. I thought the song chosen was brilliant and honestly made me tear up. It was – indeed – surprisingly emotional.

The “First Kiss” video has been viewed 156 million times. The budget for the video was about $1,300.

Buck then gave more amazing advertising examples. Try your marketing hand at being surprisingly scary, surprisingly shocking, surprisingly curious or one of my favorites, surprisingly empowering.

It can’t be easy to promote more feminine products, but Always created a campaign that won over not just girls, but Dad’s – like Buck – across the world.

Be disruptive. Be daring or long lasting. Do the don’ts.

Never stop surprising.

Say Hello to Ello

January 9th, 2015 by Brandon Marley

ello-banner---698x400Any social network that is able to gain global interest and popularity by some Californian drag queens will spark my curiosity.

The animated artists fled Facebook after the giant social network began to impose a “real names” requirement on users. But these smoky eye experts haven’t been the only social-ites that are fed up with Facebook.

Ello was created by a group of artists and designers from the Berger & Föhr Studios who were tired of social networks that rely on users to sell advertising and selling their users’ data to other advertisers.

Users are rushing to join Ello and – at one point – the network was seeing 35,000 sign-ups hourly.

These design-minded owners fueled more interest with their invitation-only membership. A fellow web-minded cohort and I requested account invitations at the same time. When I received mine and he didn’t, we both had to wonder what their selection process was, if any.

Perhaps it’s part of the allure, rolling out the network like a Hollywood club, pulling back the red rope to the “VIP section”.  And admittedly, I did feel a little cool.

It reminded me of using a Mac for the first time as a longtime PC user.

It’s simple, hipstery and so-minimalist-it-hurts. It was almost daunting at first.

When I started poking around and following fellow Ello users, I realized that most of the users were photographers, artists, designers, architects, filmmakers and the like.

It’s like Burning Man digitally exploded on my desktop.



Did Ello somehow find out that photography was my first love? Either way, I was intrigued.

Soon they’ll be offering “special features” that people can pay for if they’d like to add them to their account. Will it out-social Facebook?  I doubt it.  Not after Facebook has spent billions and have snatched up other services like Instagram and WhatsApp. And I don’t think people will abandon Facebook so quickly after spending years building their moments and connections.

Some can even argue that well targeted ads are welcome (new craft brewery in L.A. you say? Okay, I’ll “like”.). Despite this, Ello is a breath of fresh air.

Here are 15 things you should know about the new social network:

  1. No advertising: the owners pledge that your account data will never be made available to third parties for advertising or commercial purposes.
  2. The site is a platform built for posting and sharing content publicly. Search engines will be able to see the content you post.
  3. Ello is more similar to Twitter and Google+ than Facebook. You can follow any user without having to be followed back, and anyone can follow you.
  4. It’s currently only available on desktop, for another two months. They will release the mobile app in Q1 2015.
  5. You place accounts that you follow into one of two groups: Friends or Noise.
  6. Like Tumblr, you can post photos and written thoughts, long or short.
  7. There is no “like” button. They may roll out their own version, in order to save posts for reading later.
  8. Your username is also your URL, which you can change at any time.
  9. You can view your “NOISE” stream as the same layout as your “FRIENDS” stream. Just toggle your NOISE layout back and forth from expanded to compressed view by pressing Shift—5.
  10. Find the Ello logo, to place on your website here.
  11. The company plans to offer more advanced features in an a la carte fashion. And these features will not likely be free.
  12. Brands can request invitations to Ello just as anyone else can.
  13. Ello now has more than 1 million members.
  14. To create a post, click the black box and start typing. Upload photos by clicking the double window icon just below the gray text box.
  15. Ello’s founders and investors have signed a new charter that prohibits the company from selling user data or ads, and should the company be sold, it would also force the new owners to comply with these terms.

Here’s how to get started:Ello Social Network Infographic

  • Request an invitation:  You can be invited by others. Those who don’t know anyone offering invites can be put on a waiting list for Ello-extended invites by entering their email addresses in the form on the home page.
  • Once you have an invite code, go to https://ello.co/join to create your account.
  • Signing up:  Ello asks you to choose a username, which is also your URL.
  • Click the large circle to upload a photo – recommended size is 340×340.
  • Create a post. Go ahead, upload an unusually large image and write a paragraph or three.
  • Discover: Click on the Discover icon to find interesting users to follow & friend.

Above your friends list, you see a button for adding/discovering friends, one for sending invites and another for settings.

Ello Social Network Friends ListAs of January 7th, the programmers listed some updates (quoted from “Dev Update” in Ello):

  1. Ello should be way faster. We updated some stuff that makes stuff post and update like lightening.
  2. The REPLY ALL button in comments is now only available on your own posts. We did this to prevent Spam as we found a few people overusing this button a bit (shame on you!).
  3. The comment bar no longer has the poster’s username pre-populated. When you comment on someone’s post, they’re automatically notified. If you want someone else to be notified, mention them!
  4. Users can now follow & unfollow the @ello user, which is a running stream of some of our favorite posts from Ello.


“We are not trying to compete with Facebook,” Budnitz says. “We see Facebook as an advertising platform. We see Ello as a social network.”

Whether Ello is the next big thing remains to be seen.

Right now, Ello is an escape for people wanting to express themselves on a clean canvas. Social behavior continues to evolve, signaling the need for marketers to grow, blossom and connect in new, different and beautiful ways.

But don’t be fickle. Don’t say goodbye to the other social networks just because the younger, sexier one has come along.  More importantly, understand social behavior by using your interactions to build trust, loyalty and advocacy.

The Plus in Google is a Plus for Search

January 5th, 2015 by Brandon Marley

Back in the old days (the 90s), there were about 20 different search engines, and it wasn’t all that difficult to rank a website.  Oh, how times have changed. Now, because of the massive increase in people on the web and the technological advances and advent of social media, there are numerous factors to consider when trying to rank on the Internet.thumb---google+_infographic

The only thing that’s certain in life – and in Google search results – is change.

Owned by one of the most powerful brands in the world, Google Plus is the second largest social network, after Facebook.  Or, as it likes to describe itself, this “Social Layer” enhances your other online properties and helps build an excellent reader base for your content.

In other words, Google Plus is not just a social networking site but it can give good results in search. When you think about posting on Google Plus, you should think about how it relates to your search efforts.

Alternatively, Facebook is more and more controlling who sees our posts, our interactions and the engagement of potential customers. With Google Plus, there’s more potential to control your own destiny.

Google Plus is a social platform that connects all of Google’s services together. Google+ is a content marketing machine. It’s also a social network.Google Plus + Infographic

Many businesses are utilizing the awesome features on the network. Your business’s activity on Google+ is tied to your website, your Maps listing and your YouTube channel.
And it’s also a very visual platform. The tools and features within Google+ make it an ideal platform for local businesses and companies using visual content.

It recently reached more than 2 billion registered user accounts, according to Greg Miernicki.

You can create a live hang out with friends or customers easily and it works similarly to a TV live broadcast.

What are some of the basics to get you started?

  1. Start with a Google+ personal profile and then create your business page from there (similar to Facebook).
  2. Follow people & brands. Follow people and pages that are interesting to you.
  3. Look at your settings. To keep on top of a conversation, adjust your settings to receive a notification every time someone makes a new contribution.
  4. Be human. Be helpful.
  5. Join a few “Communities”. These are places where like-minded people seek help & find vibrant discussion around specific topics. Here, you can humanize your brand.
  6. Check out CircleCount. It gives great analytics and is a fantastic discovery tool.

As of Dec. 3rd, you can pin a post to the top of your Google + profile or business page. To pin a particular post, open the drop down menu on any public post. When someone visits your page, they’ll see the pinned content first above the rest of your posts.

Google+ and social media on a whole is an opportunity to elevate a conversation, foster community and expands offline activities into not only a vibrant online space, but a vibrant and successful business.

Google Search, Then & Now

December 22nd, 2014 by Brandon Marley

Google.  For many, it’s the big abyss: a sea of nearly an endless amount of information, products and ways to improve our lives.thumb---googleSearch-infographic

Have you ever wondered how the websites, blogs or news stories appear after typing in a few words?

While it may seem magical at times, it’s actually carefully crafted algorithms that help Google deliver the best results for what you’re looking for.

When you’re searching Google, you’re searching Google’s index of the web – you’re not actually searching the web. The company that has become a verb – when searching for anything your heart desires – is the most effective search engine and a part of our daily lives.

So, how does it work?

A couple years ago, Google put together a helpful 8 minute video. While there have been some updates between then and now, the majority of it holds true.

Step 1: Searching the web.

Google navigates the web by crawling. The building blocks of their search functionality is known as “Googlebot”.  Google keeps track of it all in the Index.

Step 2: Organizing the informationGoogle Search - Then & Now

Google has written intelligent and complex programs and formulas to deliver the best results possible.  As you search, algorithms go to work to better understand what you’re looking for. Relevant data is then pulled from The Index.

While their algorithms are constantly changing, the heart of their software is PageRank ™, a system for ranking web pages developed by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But it also analyzes the page that casts the vote and the popularity and importance of that page. It basically tell you how important a page is, compared to other pages.

If you’ve installed the Google Toolbar, you may have the PageRank meter installed.

Step 3: Delivering the results

Your search results can take a variety of forms, from the knowledge graph and snippets to the news and images.

The knowledge graph provides results based on a database of real world people, places, things, and the connections between them.  The news results include results from online newspapers and blogs from around the world. Google loves this because of their relevance, link value and because they are constantly getting updated.

Google takes the following into account when delivering pages in a particular order:

  • Content relevance
  • Content quality
  • Content freshness & updates
  • Users geographic region
  • Site legitimacy
  • Popularity of the site (how many links are pointing to the site)
  • Value of the inbound links
  • Social media popularity & promotions

Links remain the most important external signal for search rankings.  But with this, link quality is also important in determining the search results. An inbound link from a large and reputable website is going to count more than a link from a smaller and less respectable site.

At this point, Google search has become more fresh and current, and crawls very frequently, catching updates and new content. It’s with the amazing amount of content and Google’s “secret sauce” utilizing over 200 different ranking factors that it delivers the best pages that match the search query acroos the entire index.

What’s next?

Google is looking more into artificial intelligence and machine learning, to help computers think like humans. Google purchased DeepMind Technologies and seven other robotics companies to aid in this next breakthrough in technology.

According to Larry Page, many of these breakthroughs are crossing computer science and neuroscience to understand what it takes to make something smart.

Check out the year in search, 2014:

Search on.