Google is Ending the goo.gl URL Shortener to Focus on FireBase Dynamic Links — What You Should Know

URLs aren’t pretty. To be honest, they’re often awkward and unwieldy, especially when they include a UTM tracking code. That’s the great thing about Google’s URL shortener: it can turn any web address into a short, compact URL that is much easier to share on social media and print materials.

But recently, Google announced it is ending support for its goo.gl URL shortener service to focus on another product called Firebase Dynamic links.

According to a press release on its developer blog, Google has already shut out users who have never used the URL shortener before April 13, 2018. For the rest of us, the goo.gl console will close on March 30, 2019.

Will goo.gl Short Links Still Work?

If this is the first you’ve heard of it, you are probably having the same thoughts we did: what does this mean for goo.gl users?

Fortunately, Google has given assurance that all existing short links will continue to redirect to their intended destination. The change will ‘break’ your goo.gl short links.

But the other intriguing part about Google ending the goo.gl IRL shortener is the company’s emphasis on Firebase Dynamic Links — a term mostly unheard of outside the world of mobile app development.

What are Firebase Dynamic Links?

If you browse the web on your phone (and if you’re like 75% of the world, you do), you have probably encountered links that automatically open a mobile app when you click them. This known as deep linking, which are great for brands who want to promote a mobile app. For example, you can send users an email containing a deep link that will take them straight from their inbox to the feature in a single click.

Trouble is, deep links are prone to a few bugs:

* They do not always work perfectly on both iOS and Android devices.

* If the user has not installed the app or clicks it from a desktop computer, the link might behave differently (or not work at all).

* Users who do take the step of installing your app after being prompted will land on the app’s generic welcome screen. To get to the content they want to see, they’ll have to click the link again.

These are the issues Google’s Firebase Dynamic Links are meant to solve. Firebase Dynamic Links are designed to ‘survive’ the app installation process and take users directly to their destination after installing the app.

As for desktop users, Firebase links will direct them to the equivalent content on the brand’s website. The link’s destination depends on the device: one for desktop users, another for iOS users, yet another for Android users, and so on.

The continuing momentum of mobile browsing makes Firebase Links an incredible tool for marketers and companies that want to reach customers online. Check out these uses cases for examples of how you could potentially leverage dynamic links.

Alternatives to Google URL Shortener

Short URLs are great. They look cleaner, take up less space, and are easier to copy from print media without making typos. What makes the goo.gl console especially awesome is that it automatically tracks how many times the link gets clicked, which is vital in any digital marketing endeavour.

So as we prepare to bid farewell to goo.gl, it’s time to get to know the Google URL shortener alternatives out there.

Most social media scheduling software, like Hootsuite, have a built-in URL shortener tools that also track link clicks and shares. Many require a subscription, but Hootsuite’s Owly shortener is available to users with a free account as well.

As for free goo.gl alternatives, the go-to at the moment is Bitly, which has the added bonus of customizable URLs and social media titles in addition to click tracking.

 

Image: Unsplash

SEO Writing Tips: 5 Blog Writing Do’s and Don’t’s

Writing for SEO is not all that different from writing well in general. You want to make it clear, compelling, and as concise as possible. But there are a few essential SEO writing tips you should know if you’re new to the world of blogging.

Blogging Tips

We’ll start with keywords, word count, and a few notes on style.

1. Keywords

Writing for SEO means choosing your words carefully. If a word or phrase reoccurs throughout a web page, the search engine algorithms are more likely to dig up that page when someone searches for that phrase. Those are your keywords: words and phrases that help to define what your blog post is about.

Do: Use Keywords Them Strategically in Each Blog Post.

An effective keyword is one that:

    1. Accurately reflects what the blog post is about.
    2. Is something your customers are searching for.
    3. Does not have steep competition for the keyword.

We visit the topic of how to use effective keywords in greater depth here.

Don’t: Stuff Blog Posts Full of Keywords.

Search engine algorithms look at more than the number of times a keyword reoccurs in a blog post; they also consider its semantic value. Algorithms penalize sites that engage in ‘keyword-stuffing’, which means cramming a dense volume of keywords into a post to try and game the system. While the ideal keyword density is up for debate, writing for SEO means integrating strategically-chosen keywords into natural-sounding prose.

2. Post Length

Ironically, it often takes longer to write a concise piece than a lengthy one. But there is such a thing as being too concise when it comes to writing for SEO.

Do: Write At Least 500 Words.

Like your high school English teacher, search engine algorithms may take points off if your work is too short. There’s no strict word count for blog writing, but any page with fewer than 300 words may come under scrutiny for having thin content. We generally aim for 500 words at minimum.

Don’t: Pad It Out With Fluff.

Most readers are looking for fast, clear answers. Don’t bury key information beneath a lengthy introduction or sprinkle it among irrelevant tangents. If you are stretching to reach 500 words, consider broadening your chosen topic.

3. Active vs. Passive Voice

There are two ways to write action. One approach puts the force driving the action first; the second focuses on the person (or place, thing, etc.) at which the action is directed. That’s the simplest way to explain active and passive voice, a choice which can have a big effect on a blog post’s readability.

What does this have to do with SEO writing tips? It’s simple: the more people enjoy reading your post, the more likely they are to consume it in full, explore the rest of your site, and share it with others. Search engine algorithms take these as signals of a high-quality post that should rank well in the search engine results.

Do: Use Active Voice Whenever Possible.

With few exceptions active voice makes for clearer, more effective writing. Active voice is generally more concise and transparent than passive voice, and it flows naturally. Try reading some examples of examples of active and passive voice out loud: you’ll notice how active voice is smoother.

Don’t: Use Passive Voice Unless You Have To.

Passive voice, on the other hand, is often stiffer and less exciting compared to active writing. While most readers won’t nit-pick your post for passive voice, it will affect their reading experience. Switching from passive to active voice is a small change that has a big impact on the quality of your work.

4. Grade Level

Grade level is a way of measuring how easy a post is to read. The higher a post’s grade level, the more work it takes to read and comprehend its content. You can assess your post’s grade level using Microsoft Word’s built-in writing tools or a free tool like Hemingway Editor.

Do: Write for An Accessible Grade Level.

Don’t shut out potential readers by using long, complex paragraphs and unnecessary jargon. For a general audience, we recommend aiming for a grade level of six to eight. This limitation also has the benefit of encouraging you to write clearly and concisely.

Don’t: Make Errors.

Writing at a sixth-grade level doesn’t mean you should make sixth-grade spelling and grammar mistakes. The occasional typo is fine, but readers are unlikely to read through a post that is rifled with errors.

5. Be Connected

Your blog is not an island. There are many reasons to incorporate outbound links to other sites into your post. Chief among them is the fact that high-quality links gives your readers more value when they visit.

Do: Vet Your Sources.

Emphasis on high-quality. Search engine algorithms judge you by the company you keep, penalizing sites that link out to sub-par pages. If you wouldn’t put something on your own blog, don’t link to it, either!

Don’t: Forget to Give Credit.

There are times when backlinking is mandatory. Borrowing content from other sites without attribution is plagiarism, which can tank your search engine ranking as much as your reputation. Always take notes on the origin of your information while you’re researching your blog post.

5 Reasons Why B2B Marketers Should Use Video

You know that video assets are a powerful way to connect with individuals on social media and beyond. But, what if you’re targeting businesses? While the business-to-business world has yet to embrace video to the same extent as B2C, there are strong reasons why B2B marketers should use video as well.

Research by Google shows that 70% of B2B customers watch videos on their path to purchase. Video tutorials, reviews, and advertisements have become a main source of information for researchers and stakeholders in the purchasing process. Leveraging these channels is a way of leading them towards a purchase at all different points of the B2B buyer’s journey.

Video Supports Long Sales Cycles

One of the significant differences between B2B and B2C marketing is the comparative complexity of the B2B sales cycle. In fact, a report from Marketing Sherpa suggests that over a third of B2B sales occur a full seven months after the initial customer inquiry.

Why is the B2B sales cycle so long? The most common reasons include:

  • The purchase is just one of many priorities competing for the customer’s time and attention.
  • The decision can affect many people within an organization, thus requiring careful thought and research.
  • There are various stakeholders involved over the course of the purchasing process.

In many cases, converting B2B customers requires you to nudge them continuously towards the finish line. Closing the deal can require many more touchpoints than the typical B2C transaction.

Video marketing can support the B2B sales cycle by nurturing potential conversions at different points along the funnel. Initially, a short video can increase a customer’s interest in the product or service; longer videos can then cover the topic in greater depth.

That’s what Microsoft is doing with its new video campaign for Office 365 for Business. The featured video on their YouTube channel serves as an Office 365 elevator pitch. From there, interested customers can find video tutorials and product reviews that give them more reasons to buy in. Microsoft’s channel has something for buyers at all different points in the journey.

Video Boosts Your Other Digital Marketing Efforts

Closing a B2B sale online means hitting the customer on multiple fronts, including SEO (Search Engine Optimization), blog content, and social media. These efforts can all benefit from the addition of a video marketing campaign.

Here are just some of the ways video boosts other forms of digital marketing:

Point is, the reasons why B2B marketers should use video go beyond the returns generated by the video campaign itself. Great video content bolsters your web presence as a whole.

Personalized Videos Can Target Different Buyers

When video marketing was expensive, businesses had to target large swaths of customers at once to get the most out of their budgets. But the decreasing cost of video production gives you room to produce niche video campaigns for specific buyer personas.

Lenovo uses this strategy in the “Users Happen” campaign, which targets a number of relatable pain points in a hilarious, over-the-top way. You don’t have to be an IT manager to recognize a “power user” like Jane or a loveable dope like Chad.

Video Advertising is Growing on LinkedIn

Last year, the primary B2B social network started allowing users to upload native video files. So far, it’s been a success, with people finding expanded reach and greater engagement on LinkedIn through video. Now, LinkedIn is finally expanding the privilege to businesses with options for video ads in LinkedIn sponsored content.

LinkedIn’s deep advertising audience options will make it easier than ever to get your video content in front of your ideal customers. You can target existing email contacts on LinkedIn customers, or discover new potential customers by targeting a job title, industry, skillset, or company name.

Video Can Make Boring Stuff Shine

Face it: a lot of B2B transactions fall into the realm of what most people would deem boring. But that’s only because they haven’t seen it through the right lens. There’s a story behind every B2B transaction, and with video, you can bring those stories to life.

Take Slack, an inter-office messaging platform that means to replace such arduous tasks as ‘sending an email’ and ‘asking the person next to you if they have an iPhone charger.’ To date, this seeming-boring software has generated over a million views with its “So Yeah, We Tried Slack…” video campaign.

Another great example comes from Schneider Electric, a company that makes automated electrical systems. Not only does their imaginative “Butterfly Effect” campaign demonstrate the benefits of their product, it tells a triumphant (and hilarious) tale.

In Short: 5 Reasons Why B2B Marketers Should Use Video

  1. Video marketing can reach customers at all different points in the B2B sales cycle.
  2. Video can support your SEO, social media and blogging efforts.
  3. Video is cheaper than ever to product, allowing you to target niche buyer personas.
  4. LinkedIn lets you zero-in on specific kinds of customers with video ads.
  5. Video marketing can bring great stories to life, even in traditionally ‘boring’ industries.