How Zero Click Affects SEO

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Search engine optimization (SEO) has been considered one of the most important digital marketing aspects to invest in, regardless of business or industry. When it comes to online traffic, being able to find yourself listed high in a search is what the main source of views, and those views often translate to dollars.

For the magazine industry, SEO is even more pivotal than most cases though. With the argument over print’s ability to compete with digital, a lot of publishers put their marketing eggs in the online basket they rely on SEO to generate readership and give value to online advertisement spaces.

Without decent listing and clicks, the digital traffic for magazines would be greatly hampered, and that’s not good when many feel print is questionable (though there is plenty of evidence to speak otherwise, available in our other blog posts).

Google’s newest functionality and optimization have started to lean in a different direction. Paid searches, quick snippets, and other instantaneous results have caused the majority of searches to result in zero clicks, equaling 55% of all Google clicks as of last month. This is the first time in 20 years that Google searches favor no-click searches.

In the words of a Sparktoro employee, who recently wrote a report on the situation, this is done to promote those who implement paid Google services and to help keep searchers within Google’s platforms, and not directing searchers to your content. He stated that “We’ve passed a milestone in Google’s evolution from search engine to walled-garden.” an example of a walled-garden is Facebook, they display snippets or brief content on your feeds/story that give clear information without the reader needing to fully access your content, thus keeping the reader within its walls. Sparktoro is a software company focused on audience intelligence resources, and with great expertise in search engine culture.

Online-only content producers, like Buzzfeed, who cover content in almost every facet on a localized and more general scale, are pulling traffic and searches away from content where newspapers and magazines were the primary source. They are also the likely entities that use Google’s paid features or would produce the content snippets that produce zero click searches. Publishers not helming massively powerful and notable publications cannot compete with that kind of digital power and influence.

The solution to the problem is easier than you would think. Big, super-digital companies are going to own the paid spots, but the fact stands that zero-click searches are still searches for information, and it is simply a matter of keeping pace with search engine optimization and Google’s system to stay in the game. It used to be just about meta-data and search rankings, but the game has evolved. Now snippets, audio clips, video views, and other content plays a role too.

Publishers simply need to diversify content and publish it to meet the most current SEO standards possible. Afterall, no one is better at producing content built for multiple media than publishers that are leveraging print, online, and digital to reach their audiences. Do what you do best, just do it with the intention of informing your audiences and appeasing Google.

Further Information

To learn more about Google’s “zero click” searches, click here. For more information on the details of low clicks on searches and why in general, click here. To see the Sparktoro report on the situation, click here.

If you would like more great content from Publication Printers and the Publication Printers Marketing Group, click here.

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The Economist and Newsletters

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Newsletters are a unique form of communication, and one publishers should never overlook. Whether print or digital, newsletters function just like a magazine or newspaper; they have a circulation audience, seek to inform, and are delivered in timely intervals. In a way, it is a natural extension of a publisher’s strategy to incorporate newsletters, and it comes with several perks. A perfect case study proving this is The Economist.

In the last year, The Economist has doubled the normal amount of web traffic it sees from newsletters through updates in design and content strategies. This has led to increased profit margins, better numbers on the website, and additional subscribers to the publication itself. It is through actions and campaigns like their updated newsletters that The Economist manages to make more off subscription sales than advertising (a huge rarity in today’s age).

According to their 2019 annual report, The Economist netted $333 million this past year, of which 59% came from subscriptions and circulation to their 1.7 million subscribers (print and digital). Only 17% of that $333 million came from advertising, and that is a 3% drop from the previous year.

Now we know newsletters are a part of their success, but this is The Economist, who has a massive following, staff, and budget. Is this translatable to niche publishers or regional publishers, who have much smaller pools of resources and spending? YES. The Economist’s newsletters are not an asset and profit generator because they are backed by the robust power wielded by the publication, but because the process and approach are effective, and that approach can be replicated and borrowed by any publisher.

The Economist’s newsletter editor, Sunnie Huang, was quoted last year saying “Almost every week there are some sort of experiments going on. They could be as small as testing different image sizes or as drastic as overhauling the format of the newsletter. Every week we learn something new about our audience and grow as a team.”

Huang’s words are just a glimpse into the overall strategy behind The Economist’s newsletters, but this little glimpse says a ton. First and foremost, the newsletter has an editor, someone who manages its content in the same way there are editors for newspapers and magazines. The newsletter, to them, is a standalone piece that serves the needs of the reader, not just a reiteration of another publication’s content. Second, it is clear that they treat newsletters as a way to engage and deepen the relationship with the reader, not just a way to increase reach.

During the same interview where Huang gave the previous quote, she also delved much deeper into the nuances of how they approached the creation of the newsletter, and how they deliver it. They implemented UX (user experience) design to create the newsletter to fit their audience, not just look branded or clean. They also developed test campaigns to measure pain points for readers, how to resolve them, and even address the specific content requests and preferences that their audience had for newsletters (and they were different from The Economist’s magazine preferences). Even headlines are calculated to match the most frequently-used platforms of consumption.

The results of the stated efforts and the many others that are not stated: an entirely new pool of readers that receive the content that is perfect for them, and that pool of readers is 1.4x more likely to subscribe to The Economist’s full magazine than the average, interested reader who is not a newsletter subscriber. It also provides another touchpoint for those that are already subscribed, providing unique content and approaches that differ from the main publication. This means more engagement with your audience, and that increases the likelihood or re-subscription.

The Economist’s efforts in newsletters, along with efforts in other digital and print venues, can all be summed up with a simple quote from their Head of Produce, Denise Law: The idea is to bring a new culture of becoming a subscriber-first publication … We’re not just making money from eyeballs, but growing reader revenue.”

Further Information

To learn more about The Economist’s newsletter process and related interviews, click here. To see The Economist’s annual report, click here. For more information on the benefits of newsletters for publishers, click here.

If you would like more great content from Publication Printers and the Publication Printers Marketing Group, click here.

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QR Codes for Publishers

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Publishers have been looking to maximize mobile and web for the better part of 3 decades, searching for ways to drive engagement quickly and easily from print readers. Who would have thought that one of the earliest solutions to the problem would still be a leader 25 years later: the QR (quick response) code?

Essentially a variation of a barcode, QR codes are now all over the world, used in everything from manufacture inventory to advertisement. Almost every phone is now automatically programmed to read them too.

So anyone with a smart phone can read a barcode. What does that mean for a publisher creating print content? The answer: you can drive someone from a static page to interactive media, turning a reader into an action-taker online in seconds, and you can even turn a profit from it!

1. Enhance your print content with digital, complementary content

Print publications have a number of limitations, from column inches and content-advertisement balance to page count. This means that a lot of great content gets cut from a story before it reaches the final publication. On top of that, there is a lot of story-related media that cannot go into print, like an interview recording or video footage of an event. With QR codes, a publisher can allow a reader to instantly gain access to all the story that did not make the print publication.

2. Generate results from print Calls-to-Action that are easy to track

Calls-to-action in print are very hard to track. A retailer drops $1000 on a full-page print ad promoting a promo code or exclusive sale, and how many walk into the store and buy? Unless you are doing some very complex technological tracking and collecting a massive amount of data, the answer is probably “I don’t know.” With QR codes, you can drive the reader directly to the called action, and instantly gather a lot of information. The reader gets what they want quickly, and you or the advertiser can know the actual results of the campaign.

3. Increase exposure and the chance of purchase

Due to the ease of scanning QR codes, it is easy to lead a reader from a print story or an ad talking about a product or service to the purchase page. No more hoping the reader follows a multi-step funnel to eventually convert. Just send the reader directly to what they want. The easier the process is for them, the more sales are likely to come.

4. Build “Likes” and “Leads” quickly and easily

Social media is a difficult medium for publishers, mainly because the pace of the user is faster than the content creation of a publisher, and everyone is consuming multiple things at the same time. That said, if a publisher could easily tie their print audience into the social media audience, this issue could be solved. QR codes make that possible by giving readers of a print magazine easy access to like a page, comment on or share a post, fill out a form, or any number of other quick actions that connect the person to the publisher’s digital presence while also driving engagement with the print.

BONUS: Brand QR codes to fit your colors, style, and needs

The original design of the QR code was not meant to be pretty, but instead, functional and easy for a scanner to read. Technology has come a long ways since then. QR codes no longer have to be a square, black and white, unbranded code. With a savvy designer, it is easy to make a QR code into its own branded ad tailored for the publisher, advertiser, or just personalized in general. Also, the options for what happens when you scan a QR code are now vast as there are more customization options. Do some research and figure out what you want to use it for, and make it happen!

If you need help with QR codes, or need someone to help create your branded QR code, feel free to contact us at sales@myppmg.com. We can help!

Further Information

To learn more about QR codes, their history, and how they work, click here. For more information regarding the use of QR codes for magazines and newspapers, click here.

If you would like more great content from Publication Printers and the Publication Printers Marketing Group, click here.

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Reasons Pubs Should Consider Mobile Apps

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Almost 30 years ago, the internet reshaped the way people interact and engage with published content. Now, mobile devices ­– likes phones and tablets – are doing it again. Estimates show that 60% of the web traffic related to consuming news and publisher content is coming from mobile devices, meaning mobile is a medium that needs to be leveraged.

This said, this is not an “if you build it, they will come” scenario. Publishers need to be conscientious about their decisions, and take strategic action, and right now, the data says that if you are going to leverage mobile, you do so via a mobile app, and here’s why!

1. Boasts better, targeted engagement

The majority of time spent on mobile devices is dedicated to time in applications, not on the general web browser. This alone makes a mobile app a valuable asset if you are targeting mobile audiences, but add the fact that app users average 300% more page views than mobile web browser users, and the answer is clear.

2. Personalized, branded experience

Websites these days are often dynamic, built to fit whatever device a user is on. However, just because the website conforms to the device does not mean it is ideal for it. The experience someone has from sitting at a computer is very different from that on a phone or tablet. Not to mention, on the internet, everyone is just a click away from leaving your content and going to someone else’s content. An app fully immerses the user in your brand while also making the brand experience 100% mobile optimized.

3. App Ads Are Better Than Mobile Ads

To put an ad on a website, especially one that conforms to the user’s device, requires cookies. Think of them like little trackers that follow someone around as they are on the internet. The problem is that many new security protocols, or the user themselves, can block cookies, making many ads not work. App ads, however, are not in a browser, and usually target by device ID, which is much more secure, more detailed (demographic and behavioral data), and also can track location. It is simply a better, stronger ad opportunity, not to mention the guaranteed exposure to anyone in the app itself.

4. More Revenue More Ways

From more ad options to subscriptions, in-app purchases, e-commerce opportunities, and even sponsored content, mobile apps give publishers several new ways to attract readers and monetize them. Combined with the engagement, branding, and data that an app provides, all of which also provide further revenue growth, and the evidence is clear: if you are going to leverage mobile, do so with an app!

Further Information

Contact us to learn more about how you can take advantage of a mobile app.

If you would like more great content from Publication Printers click here.

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Combatting The Top Assumption about Digital

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Digital is one of the biggest topics for publishers and has been for the better part of two decades. It makes sense, with the advent of the internet, the smartphone, and mobile devices all moving a majority of content consumption away from print and towards digital platforms. That said, the idea that print will “die” anytime soon is out of place. Digital is valuable to publishers, absolutely, but a lot of assumptions have been made as to what that value is.

Assumptions: Digital will be the end of print

First and foremost, there is an impression that digital is a “silver bullet” that can slay the print publication industry, and that digital and online titles are the only ones that will survive. If this were the case, there would be fewer print titles today than there were 25 years ago. The opposite is actually the case. Niche publications are storming the market, providing more printed content than ever.

Now there is definitely a lot of digital influence with these new titles, like websites and social media, but the money and effort are still in the print. Digital did not break the print publication industry; it actually helped it evolve towards more topic-focused and localized titles.

Assumptions: Digital means giving away content for free

Second on the assumptions list is that digital for publishers means “giving away your content for free.” For some reason, publishers have come to the conclusion that digital is the enemy of print because it involves putting all of the print content onto websites and social media in a manner that provides no return. Digital platforms provide all sorts of return if they used well. Publishers that do nothing but repost their stories online miss all the actual opportunity digital provides.

There are ad spaces to sell, new formats of content available to leverage, and entirely new audiences to discover. Digital does involve distributing your content, but there is nothing about digital that says you have to give it away with no return or not making money from it. In fact, if a publisher is “giving it away for free,” they are missing out on almost all of what digital is capable of providing.

Assumptions: Younger generations prefer digital to print

Lastly, there are assumptions that newer generations, due to the influence of digital, are reading less editorial content. This is because micro-content (like a Facebook post or Tweet) are a huge part of the digital platform culture. However, this assumption is incorrect.

Research shows that millennials are actually print’s largest and fastest-growing market. This is due to the fact that they are highly exposed to digital, and print provides them with a tactile component that is greatly missing from their normal lives. Also, print ads are native and a natural part of a print publication. This greatly differs from digital ads, which are disruptive. This backs up the fact that print that targets this generation also sees higher engagement with print advertisement.

To top this all off, while millennials are using print, baby boomers are really pushing into digital. Facebook’s largest age demographic is the 55+ group. Also, with age, ease of access is key, and digital solutions are far more versatile for people with poor vision, lack of motor skills, and other factors that come into consideration with age. Essentially, the market is moving towards print for the young and digital for the mature, further defending that print is not going anywhere.

Further Information

To see Printing Impressions‘ 10 things we got wrong about publishing in the digital age, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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9 Types of “Digital” Publishers Can Monetize

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Print is not going anywhere! Publishers have had advertisements in their titles long enough to prove that ad profits mostly come from print. In today’s market, where ads are how publishers make their margins, print needs to be the focus. That said, making additional revenue by incorporating digital is key in today’s blended media market.

Digital content is versatile. First, digital allows publishers to create more editorial and imagery. Second, publishers can use digital to help drive subscriptions and distribution. Lastly, publishers can incorporate new types of content. However, most publishers are still skeptical about digital because their focus is print. Publishers feel they have to sacrifice time, energy, and money from print to make digital feasible.

So how can publishers feel more comfortable dedicating time, energy, and money into a digital strategy? The best way is to look at how other publishers are monetizing digital successfully. Each publisher may be unique, but trends and concepts cross over the entire market, and there are plenty of publishers marrying print and digital well. These 9 types of digital are tried and true examples of this.

A. Website Related “Digital”

1. Digital Editions

Digital editions provide instantaneous access to the printed content through mobile and electronic devices. For that ease of access, publishers can easily apply a premium or upsell existing subscriptions. Also, the final print file and the file for a digital edition can be identical. Publishers upload their file, add additional links, pages, or other added media, and a digital edition is ready in as fast as 5 minutes.

Great example: 805 Living

2. Paywalls and Web Gates

Not every publication uses a paid content or subscription model for their print titles. That does not mean the digital content has to follow that same model. Websites provide ease of access and the opportunity to include additional content. That ease and extra content extend beyond the traditional offerings of a print publication, so charging for that luxury is normal. A publisher could use digital subscriptions or micro-transactions to monetize accessing exactly what the reader wants.

Great example: Albuquerque the Magazine

3. Applications

Applications combine the best of a website and digital edition, and are customized for a mobile device. It offers the ideal delivery of all content by a publisher to their audience. Apps deliver all formats of content, ads, and notifications in a controlled and branded environment. Apps also deliver in a free, freemium (it is free for some features but paid for others), or paid (costs money to download or has a monthly subscription) capacity, based on the publisher’s choice.

Great example: National Geographic

B. Connection-Related “Digital”

4. Social Media

Originally designed for recreational connection online, social media platforms have become the largest hubs of online traffic. They are the place with the largest amount of content consumption in the world. That means publishers should be using social media. Distribution of content is the obvious use, linking to the website and original editorial. The other option is to actually sell ad space on social. Creating posts for advertisers is very similar to selling sponsored content. Another option is selling ads on social media ad networks. These ads are not limited to social media, but can extend across the internet to find the relevant audience. Also, since these ads do not show up as a post, a publisher’s editorial posting is not muddled by ads.

Great example: BUILD Magazine – Big Sky

5. Email

Emails are still highly effective, and email platforms are easy to monetize and make profitable. Emails also are versatile (birthdays, holidays, events, special sales, etc.). If a publisher is doing subscriptions with email part of their required information, it is easy to build an initial mailing list. For monetization, it is easy to sell sponsorships of newsletters, put ads in a sidebar of an email, and use email to distribute offers and calls-to-action.

Great example: 5280 Magazine

C. Content-Related “Digital”

6. Video Content

As an alternative content format, video is one of the more-easily monetized forms of digital. Videos can supplement a print or web story. They can provide exclusive, additional content (upsold if done well). They can be used for education in the form of “how-to” videos. Also, they can be used as ads or promotional content. Publishers can even curate 3rd-party video related to their audience or stories, skipping the cost of making video content altogether.

Great example: Thrasher Magazine

7. Podcasts

Like video, podcasts are another type of content to leverage. On a podcast, everything is pre-recorded, giving publishers full editorial control. Podcasts are also streamable online or downloadable for offline consumption. They are affordable to produce, averaging $200 an episode. They are also easy to upsell to advertisers for two reasons. First, audio ads, like radio, get a lot of attention. Second, publishers can sell to an advertiser the option of being the podcast story; the publisher interviews the advertiser and lets them promote themselves.

Great example: Discover Magazine

8. Sponsored Content

Thought leaders, influencers, and other content generators are everywhere and seeking opportunities to be published. Externally-produced content can be tailored to any audience upon request. Also, publishers can sell sponsored content spaces for “advertorial” purposes. The sponsor would pay to have their promotional copy included amongst the editorial content. Publishers publish it for a profit.

Great example: GPS World and North Coast Media

9. Augmented Reality

Whoever said print itself does not have the power to be digital is wrong. Augmented reality provides the ability to turn any print publication into a multimedia powerhouse by overlaying other content formats (video, podcasts, imagery, etc.) over the print. It is invisible to the eye, but with a mobile device, all that additional content comes to life. The easiest way to monetize it is to sell it to an advertiser. Now the print ad can link to a website, direct straight to online products, or have virtual tours and examples. Publishers can also use it to provide additional content that could not fit in the print.

Great example: USA Today

Further Information

For more information on how publishers can monetize digital, click here and here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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