Blog

Goodbye, third-party cookies

May 10, 2021
🕵🏻‍♂️ Journal

Third-party cookies are going away. Safari and Firefox have already blocked these entirely, while Chrome is planning to next year.

Does this matter?

Let’s start by recapping what cookies are: Little bits of tracking info that your browser stores on behalf of sites you visit.

Cookies can be useful. One might store your username for a “Remember me” login box. But it might also store your demographic data for ads.

Third-party cookies take this one step further, storing data from sites you didn’t visit (at least, not directly). They have all the charm of a love note from someone you’ve never met.

So what does it mean that they’re going away?

  • It will become a little harder to target ads, and they may get more expensive, too. That means organic channels (like organic search) will become more important.
  • Getting your audience onto channels you control – like your email list – will become more important too.
  • And in general, content marketing will play a bigger role in lead generation as paid search tactics become more convoluted.

This is good for privacy, too, right?

It’s not bad. But the ad industry is way too big to not track you. So what we’re entering into now is not a golden era of user privacy, but an arms race between advertising technology vendors and users – with Google kind of playing both sides.

Does GPT-3 write everything for everyone forever now?

April 22, 2021
📗 Field Note

Lots of marketing folks are singing the praises of A.I. copywriting tools like GPT-3. The copy it generates isn’t flawless. But it does occasionally pass the Turing test, and it’s improving rapidly.

Does this mean that copywriters and content marketers should be gearing up for a war against the machines?

Maybe? But more likely, smart content people will use tools like GPT-3 as levers, to automate away hard and boring stuff (like the first, not very good, draft) and focus their efforts where they can really deliver value.

You might want to start studying up on what it’ll be like to have an AI in your toolbox. This piece on the SEMrush blog is a good place to start.

Also, we experimented with A.I. video creation and the results were… fun.

Core Web Vitals is kind of important

April 5, 2021

In about a month, Google is scheduled to roll out new ranking criteria: page experience signals.

Basically, Google will be measuring your page’s speed and design consistency in more specific ways. It’s a technical issue that can have a big effect on how well your content performs.

What should you do?

For starters, type your domain into this new tool, and see how you score. If things are red, notify your web dev – they’re the person who will fix it.

(Or hit reply in this email if you want to talk more about it with us).

Building out a B2B marketing department

February 25, 2021
📗 Field Note

Are you the first marketing hire, and trying to get all of your programs running? Here’s a quick sketch of how to start.

  • The first two people you need are product marketing and demand gen. If you have a demand gen background, hire a product marketer. If you have a product marketing background, hire demand gen. Both of these people will need to stretch into (or hire contractors for) adjacent areas. Your PMM will need to do a lot of writing, and your demand gen person will need to do some marketing ops and analytics.
  • Next, figure out messaging and positioning and, depending on the company, some basic field enablement. A reasonable guess at messaging and positioning will make your content and demand gen programs much more effective and useful over the long term.
  • Then, you’ll need a topic strategy. Here’s how to get from positioning and messaging to content. A topic strategy is your decision about what small number of topics you want your brand to be experts in. It will lay the groundwork for your content marketing.
  • By the way, we’ve put together a rigorous, but simple, process for figuring out your keyword strategy. SEO should not solely determine your topic strategy. But you can use your keyword strategy to get started with your topic strategy.
  • Next is to start producing content. Distributing your content will be a key part of this. Distribution means getting your website into a place you feel comfortable with, but it also means spinning up demand gen and community engagement experiments. Here’s more about how to do that.

Simple, right? Of course not, but we’re always happy to brainstorm about specifics, use the chat button if you’d like to set up a time.

How to serve language-specific sites

February 22, 2021
📗 Field Note

If you’re publishing copies of your sites in multiple languages, you have several options for how to organize the site for your users. But you should probably use folders. For example, https://ercule.co/jp. Here’s why:

  • Having all pages on the same domain usually corresponds to easier maintenance and deployment. And if you have separate domains, you’ll often end up with separate Wordpress installs, for example, to back each one. And that means inconsistency and poor user experience.
  • Keeping everything on your main site means that all backlinks point to the same domain. That means everything on your site benefits from better link equity.
  • Having all your sites on the same domains means that cookies can be shared across sites. For example, a visitor to ercule.co who switches to ercule.co/fr can still be retargeted and can be easily tracked with the same analytics trackers.

There are some alternatives, but we don’t recommend them.

  • A different top-level domain, e.g. site.de. These domains can be hard to acquire in every relevant country, and their authority profiles have to be built up separately in Google.
  • A different subdomain, e.g. de.site.com. While there is some debate, in our experience backlink equity is not transferred as well across subdomains.
  • A URL parameter, e.g. site.com?lang=de. Google explicitly recommends against this.
  • Automatically serving different versions of the site to different users. This is very, very hard to do reliably and is also not recommended by Google.

You can see Google’s advice here, which has a little more detail but is very similar to what we said above. A couple of last notes:

  • Don’t forget to use an appropriate hreflang tag on each page.
  • You can use the International Targeting report in Google Search Console to troubleshoot.

Attack of the giant .jpgs

February 1, 2021
📗 Field Note

You want your site to load as quickly as possible. Site speed is becoming an increasingly important factor in whether your site ranks. And it has a major impact on conversions, too.

A big culprit we’re seeing for slow site speed these days is – oversized images!

  • Your 2,000 x 2,000 pixel Ultra HD author thumbnail
  • Images that aren’t compressed at all, but could be, with no loss of quality
  • A blog image with detail like a Hieronymous Bosch painting. (Actually, this would be cool, let us know if you do this)

These are easy mistakes to make. Fortunately, they’re also easy to correct. Here’s what you can do:

  • Look through your CMS image library. Sort the images by size. Look for images that are larger than around 500kb and see if they really need to be that big. (And note that things like icons should be much, much, smaller).
  • Most CMSes have plugins that ensure images have optimal compression. Or use something like Image Optim before you upload.
  • Talk to your web dev. Ask: What are we doing to compress images? 
  • Talk to your graphic designer. Ask: Can you provide cropped and sized images, if you aren’t already?
  • Build good habits. Whenever you add an image to a post from now on, make sure the dimensions aren’t any bigger than they need to be.