Experts in the search marketing world have been watching the last major manual Panda Refresh the past three days. This was the 25th and final announced and published update to Panda, Google’s anti-web spam algorithm. Google has stated that “Panda is becoming more of a ‘rolling’ update.” Google Distinguished Engineer, Matt Cutts, is quoted at SMX saying:
Rather than having some huge change that happens on a given day. You are more likely in the future to see Panda deployed gradually as we rebuild the index. So you are less likely to see these large scale sorts of changes.
This is encouraging to us at Globe Runner, we are monitoring all of our clients’ sites and have not been hit by the major Panda updates and with only small tweaks coming in the future, we are confident that we can keep doing what we are doing to rank well. Google is recognizing our clients’ quality sites.
Pinterest has finally announced an analytics tool! The analytics will show verified website owners the information they have been waiting for since Pinterest began: the number of people who have pinned items from the site, the items/images that are the most popular to pinners, how many people have visited your site from Pinterest, and even the most popular repins. For businesses looking to quantify the value or traffic coming from Pinterest to their site, the process just became much easier. At Globe Runner, we are encouraging our clients to contact us if they have questions about their Pinterest strategy or would like to begin using Pinterest.
There were also a few updates to Google+ this month. The three main updates are a new local reviews tab, an easier interface to update your information, and a new aspect ratio for cover images. The new aspect ratio is enormous. Photos can now be 2120 x 1192 pixels, this means your cover photo can now cover the entire screen “above the fold” of the Google+ page.
Globe Runner Internal Update
Our CEO Eric McGehearty was featured February 28 in the Upstart Business Journal for an article he authored on why young entrepreneurs are “too dumb to fail.” The article tells Eric’s story from artist to entrepreneur two times over before the age of 30. Read the full article.
Just for Fun
If you have ever wondered how Google Search works and did not want to engage in a long and involved technical conversation with an algorithm engineer, Google has released a website entitled How Search Works. The site is interactive and allows you to follow a search query through the process to the results. Google’s Inside Search blog describes the content as including:
- An interactive, graphical explanation of Google Search
- A view into major search algorithms and features
- A 43-page document explaining how we evaluate our results
- A live slideshow of spam as we remove it
- Graphs illustrating the spam problem and how we fight it
- A list of policies that explain when we’ll remove content
Globe Runner SEO Updates
Meet the newest member of the Globe Runner team, Claire Elizabeth McGehearty! She joined the team in Lewisville, Texas on February 15, 2013. She is by far the smallest member at only 7lbs 9oz and 21 inches long. She and her three big brothers keep founders Eric and Heather very busy!
This month Google announced Enhanced PPC Campaigns. These campaigns will be “smarter” and multi-device friendly. A single campaign will now support different locations and devices, thus replacing the old system of creating duplicate campaigns for each location and device for which you want your ad to run. Within an Enhanced PPC campaign, you will be able to customize your ads and bids based on the time, device, and location of the customer. Enhanced campaigns will also offer advanced reporting that will allow comparisons between different types of conversions; for example, app downloads vs. phone calls lasting longer than 60secs. All of these changes are geared towards reducing the number of campaigns and the complexity of your Adwords account.
Google plans to roll out the Enhanced campaigns slowly by first giving advertisers the option to switch some of the campaigns to the Enhanced version to test out the new system. At Globe Runner, we are excited for this change and have already switched a couple of accounts to play with the new system and prepare for every account to be Enhanced. By the middle of this year, Google plans to upgrade every account.
The most famous adverting day of the year, the Super Bowl was this month. This year’s Super Bowl ads sold for $3.8 million per 30 sec spot. However, the now infamous 34 minute blackout opened up a unique opportunity for real time marketing. The brands that were able to react quickly to the black out with relevant and creative content have been praised by the social media industry. Social media is the ideal real-time marketing platform.
By far, the most praised real time marketing and social media “win” during the Super Bowl blackout was Oreo’s tweet, “You can still dunk in the dark.” This tweet was a win because it highlighted a current event in a non-disparaging way and tied it into the brand’s message in a creative way.
A great social media strategy incorporates current events that can be easily tied to a brand’s message in a way that makes sense and provides a positive feeling about the brand. The brand’s message should not be lost in the “noise” of the surrounding issue. Only a few brands have done this well, and Oreo is the most recent example.
Just for Fun
The high price tag of a Super Bowl ad spot had those of us in the digital space talking about how much further that $4 million would go if used on internet marketing. A few examples of this are an 8 day homepage ad on YouTube (which is one of the top five most visited pages on the web), 200 pieces of Buzzfeed-sponsored content (which is a personal favorite and highly shared site for those of us Globe Runner), and a spot on Twitter’s Promoted Trending Topic every day for a month! For more on what $4 million can buy online, see http://www.digiday.com/brands/what-a-4-mil-superbowl-ad-could-buy-in-digital/.
Globe Runner SEO Updates
November has been a busy month with some internal changes including the format of our monthly and weekly reports. Do not be surprised if the reports you see in January are formatted differently than what we have previously sent out.
Continuing our season of networking events, our SEO Team Lead, Cody, went to the Dallas Digital Summit. The speakers at the Summit had a central theme around the wealth of data that is provided with digital marketing and how using this data appropriately leads to better decision making and an increased ROI. Our philosophy at Globe Runner this year has been “data driven decision making” we have seen this confirmed by our peers as a winning strategy and many of our clients have benefited from these decisions.
2013 SEO Predictions
Our CEO, Eric McGehearty, recently put together some predictions for the coming year in the online marketing space. The talk was originally given for the members of TIE. In the talk, Eric discussed likely changes in the Google algorithm, possible tech mergers and acquisitions, continued growth of mobile and upsets in the social media space. The talk also focused on opportunities for entrepreneurs to leverage online marketing to their business advantages. Here is a preview of the talk.
If you are one of the millions of Twitter and Instagram users then you have probably noticed that Instagram photos no longer show up in your Twitter feed and you will now have to click on the Instagram photo link to see the photos. This is just one of the ways the social sphere is becoming more and more cutthroat as each social media platform vies for dominance. It is becoming even more important now to have a social media strategy that customizes your messaging specifically for each platform.
Customers are more tech-savvy than ever and the number of consumers who grew up interacting online is growing. Businesses have been flocking to the online world to spread their message and look for new buyers, but all too often the message is fake, forced, or just not relevant to modern customers.
Perhaps the most important orthodoxy underlying a brand’s online presence should be authenticity. Being online isn’t enough; you have to be real. It’s what people expect today, and they know the difference when it’s forced.
“I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my business card, so pay me maybe?”
The Internet IS the public sphere, especially in the area of social media. It’s where people gather, exchange comments and ideas, and network. But just because this is taking place online instead of face to face doesn’t mean common rules of personal etiquette don’t apply, even for a business
If you go to a dinner party or industry networking event, do you walk around introducing yourself to people, hand them your business card, and brow-beat them with information about your services and company? No. You try to have a real conversation with equal parts speaking and listening. You begin to build real relationships. And so should any authentic business looking to create a positive presence online.
Luckily, there are more tools for businesses to do this than ever. Don’t worry about being everywhere; no one belongs to every social club in town. Pick the ones that work best for your business and be real.
Authentic People Are Aware
Another key to online authenticity is awareness. Authentic people are aware of what’s going on around them. They follow up with friends and ask how their recent vacations are or how that big meeting went at work last week. Unaware people are sloppy. An unaware person forgets names. An authentic business has the same awareness about their community of online followers and the general world around them.
Unfortunately, there have been quite a few examples of brands online who haven’t made awareness, and therefore authenticity, a priority in their online presence. Take the National Rifle Association, for example. The morning after the tragic shootings in Aurora, CO, earlier this year, the NRA tweeted, “Good Morning, Happy Friday! Weekend plans?” While the NRA commented that the tweeter wasn’t aware of the shooting, the tweet stayed on their page for hours. A more aware online presence would have addressed the issue, or at least deleted the tweet, much more quickly.
Compare this with episode with Kitchen-Aid. During the first Presidential debate of 2012, the Kitchen-Aid twitter account posted: “‘Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’.” The tweet instantly went viral, and was almost immediately deleted and followed with a swift succession of tweets explaining that a staffer posted to the wrong account, apologizing for the comment, and reaching out to press outlets offering official comments. That is an aware brand.
Now, this brings up the situation of allowing others to tweet on your company’s behalf or scheduling posts ahead of time. There’s a lot of conjecture about both of these practices, but long story short, if the underlying principal of authenticity is maintained, neither are “wrong”.
Penguin And Panda Will Get You
Thanks to Google, we’ll never look at cute penguins or cuddly pandas the same way ever again. Penguin and panda are code-names for recent updates Google made to their algorithms that return search results, with Panda targeting online content and Penguin focusing on links. Google is always working to show the most relevant and legitimate search results, so it wants to weed out spam and bad content as much as possible. That means Google is looking to reward authentic content and punish bad or unauthentic content.
Websites with weak content, content that doesn’t relate to the purpose of the website, or was copy and pasted from another source, will face the wrath of penguin and panda. However, websites that have original, thoughtful, and engaging content are rewarded.
There’s more online content being generated by businesses than ever. It’s a lot to sift through. And while most businesses won’t ever have the great viral video that the whole world sees, having an authentic presence online will help ensure that when you’re brand is found online, potential customers will want to spend time with/on what you have to say.
A couple of months ago, I had a couple of trees in my yard that needed to be trimmed. I did a quick Google search to find a local arborist and gave him a call. After a quick chat to schedule and discuss some specific instructions, they came to do the work. However, they didn’t follow my instructions or complete the job as we agreed. I called them, but the company didn’t answer. So, I did what more and more people are doing these days: I left a comment on their Facebook page. I have yet to hear back.
Unfortunately, this is still a common problem with social media. Customer service is evolving. The traditional channels: a 1-800 customer service line and a customer support email address are no longer the first choice of today’s tech-savvy consumers. Customers are social, they want to interact with the companies whose goods they purchase.
According to Gartner, by 2014, customers will expect the same level of interaction with businesses through social media as they do through the telephone. Also, according to a recent American Express Global Customer Service Barometer survey, 83% of customers who use social media for customer service abandoned an intended purchase because of poor service or lack of response.
But it’s not just about meeting some customers expectations. Using social media as part of your customer service approach can also save money. By monitoring your company’s mentions on social media sites, you can catch potential problems before customers call in. By catching them early, you save the time and money required to deal with the call. If, for example, each call averages 5 minutes, and you catch 10 potential problems each day, the savings could be hundreds of dollars per day. And all because you met your customers where they’re already gathering online.
Social media isn’t going anywhere. Do you need help building a social media strategy for your business or monitoring your reputation online? We can help. Call us at 877.215.3880 or visit our website for more information: www.globerunnerseo.com/social.
Last week Twitter was abuzz with news about LinkedIn’s new social advertising using member’s profile pictures and established social connections. The ads were merely intended to show people what businesses their connections were following, which would lead to more connections. The ads featured the profile photos of the friends who liked the subject of the ad, and had been running since June in a trial period. But one blog post from a disgruntled member makes people notice that they’ve opted into this advertising, and the dissent goes viral. It’s all a matter of choice….or a lack thereof.
Opt-out advertising has been the choice of social networks since the beginning. Even before Facebook, did anyone really opt into junk mail or telemarketers? It’s so much easier on the network to assume their members know how to opt-out (and magically chose not to) rather than offer some incentive for them to opt-in.
Probably my favorite case of opt-out advertising gone awry was Facebook Beacon, launched in November 2007 and unceremoniously dumped in 2009. Ostensibly, the point of Facebook Beacon was
watching you sleep to allow targeted advertisements and enable users to share their activities with their friends. Certain activities on partner sites such as Zappos and Fandango were published to a user’s News Feed. Facebook added in this service and was shocked! shocked! when users shied away from having their purchases broadcast to their entire social network. One guy had his proposal ruined when his friends saw he’d bought an engagement ring (and how much he paid for it) off Overstock.com, which posted the story to his facebook wall without his consent. Not only did Facebook have to bow to the uproar over Beacon by making it an opt-in feature and then finally doing away with it altogether, but they also had to pay a class-action settlement to the tune of $9.5 million.
Opt-out marketing is the lazy way to falsely increase “engaged audience” figures while setting a dangerous trap for yourself if the wrong angry blogger finds out their settings were changed without their choice. It is far better to offer an incentive to opt-in than hush money and PR damage control after people couldn’t opt-out.
As promised, Facebook had a big announcement this morning- they’re introducing group chat features within the regular chat application, updating chat’s design, and adding video chat through a partnership with Skype. These features will certainly help Facebook stay one step ahead of Google+, but shouldn’t outpace them- Google+ has group VIDEO chat, and Facebook haven’t created any additional customized privacy settings or safeguards, which is one of the main selling points of Google+ as a social network.
Partnering with Skype was a smart move because they’ll be able to help Facebook manage the huge changes coming for the site, and because to “Skype” someone has become synonymous with video chatting. My friends and I “Skype” each other using GChat all the time. Might as well join them, since you can’t beat Skype for branding.
What I thought was the most interesting takeaway from the announcement was the intro from Mark Zuckerberg discussing the way social sharing has grown exponentially over time. Zuckerberg placed a high emphasis on the responsibility Facebook has to maintain this “social infrastructure” while moving their resources away from developing apps. Zuckerberg said apps are best left to specialists, meaning for the most part Facebook apps will now be the purview of third-party developers. Sorry guys, you might have to make that music-sharing service yourself.
This falls in line with Facebook as a platform, a concept they’ve moved toward for a few years. In a post-Myspace world, I’m glad to see that Facebook is still interested in competing and adding new features to keep up, but I appreciate that they know their place as well. And good news for app developers- I hope this means that Facebook will reach out even more to developers and offer them the resources they need to build apps that fully realize the potential of the Facebook platform.
Today Google released a new add-on tool to their user dashboard- “Me on the Web”. It offers a streamlined way to monitor your reputation and social mentions online. It’s very similar to setting up a news alert for your name and online identities or handles (I have mine looking for “Lauren Perdue”, “LPerdue” and “Oodleday”) and doesn’t take long to set up.
The first step is to set up a Google Profile so you can use this tool, but you should take time to fill out your information completely so it can be of maximum benefit to you. The coolest aspect of this service is the Removal tool- which has huge implications for Google further humanizing the SERPs.
The Removal tool helps you take content off the SERPs. This is great for reputation management because it’ll speed the process of removing old webpages with information you don’t want disclosed online. Google still wants you to go talk to the page owner first and get them to remove the content, but if that doesn’t work, the Removal Tool will speed up the process. It’s also great for protecting your personal data and passwords because you can report a breach of your private information.
Google says the Removal tool is NOT for the following:
- To get the right “version” of your site indexed
- To take your site “offline” after being hacked.
- To “start from scratch” with your site.
- To remove crawl errors from your Webmaster Tools account.
- To clean up cruft.
What I can’t wait to see is how people use this tool- if people use it for its intended purpose, then Google might expand it to business use for business/brand reputation management. I also look forward to some fun schadenfreude when inevitable black hat SEOs try to remove competitor listings with the tool. As Google says:
Important! The URL removal tool is intended for pages that urgently need to be removed—for example, if they contain confidential data that was accidentally exposed. Using the tool for other purposes may cause problems for your site.
I love the smell of de-listings in the morning.
Enjoy this new Google tool and if you come up with any success stories, I’d be interested.
I spend most of my day signed into Twitter (I hate leaving it behind when I leave my desk) and have my Trending Topics set to Dallas-Fort Worth. Cody our Internet marketing specialist pointed out to me that #ZebraGirl was trending, and neither of us knew what that was, let alone how it ended up the third-most popular topic on Twitter for DFW.
It took awhile looking through the search results for #zebragirl to figure out why people were talking about it, but Cody and I quickly discovered people were talking about a girl on the campus of the University of North Texas in Denton who was wearing a two piece black and white outfit in a psychedelic print, and they had nicknamed her Zebra Girl. People sent in “sightings” of Zebra Girl, and there seemed to be an unwritten rule that someone SHOULD tell her, but no one was going to.
In an hour or so since it began, it has become the second highest trending topic, second only to Promoted Trend #subwayfan. It’s trending higher than “Marvin’s Room”, the name of a new single by hip-hop artist Drake which was organically trending nationally. Someone was tweeting about this girl every ten seconds, and that’s not even at the peak of the trend.
The trick to this becoming an organic trend was that it was left alone, just like any other piece of bad PR. But in this case there was also a mystery- who was this girl? Where was she going? People were out on campus trying to spot her. If this were guerrilla marketing, she’d have some sort of reward for those who found her in the form of a promotion or free product. But the authenticity here is what’s keeping the trend going and why people have been talking about a pair of leggings all afternoon. This wouldn’t continue if people were trying to find the BRAND NAME Zebra Girl Spokesperson. It wouldn’t be fun OR funny to find her around campus. The allure is in the idea that her outfit looks insane and she ostensibly doesn’t know.
Authentic intrigue is the key to establishing a social media trend. Upset the ordinary and people will talk about you. Both Alamo Drafthouse and NYC restaurant Jo’s have figured this out recently by creating the best anti-texting PSA ever and writing a scathing rebuttal to a Yelp Review respectively. They threw out “business as usual” (some people might argue it flies in the face of “the customer is always right” to tell people their business isn’t welcome if they act up) and it got them serious attention. You’d think this would be an obvious proposition, but the common approach seems to be “sneak in the marketing and see if they notice” a la Virgin Mobile’s new “Sparah” campaign. You can’t tell me Ashton Kutcher was really excited about that.
No, the hardest thing to do in social media is simply to be interesting, and too many people afraid to be different. But go against the norm, and organic trends are yours.
Eric: Hi, it’s Eric with Goldrunner SCO and I’m talking to Ryan here with The BOSS Group. We were just chatting a little bit about using social media for recruiting. The BOSS Group is a recruiting agency and, Ryan, what insights do you have? What kind of social media tools you like? What platforms do you like?
Ryan: We’ve mainly used two different things. LinkedIn is, obviously, the best resource for us for a couple of different reasons. It gives us breadth of how many people we can go and extend our network to. So, not only who am I linked in to, but who those contacts are linked in to.
You can also read the recommendations that people have and, being inside of groups, we’re able to go and post questions and instantly have answers to who is the best iPhone developer in all of Dallas. Instantly, there’s people saying “This is who it is” and it gives us a good starting spot to go and find candidates on who to call.
The second thing would be, in Twitter we’re able to go and, not only see and find out about candidates, but, from a client perspective, we’re able to see who’s looking. Just last Friday, we had a client that didn’t even think about reaching out to us that said “We need a developer for 48 hours over the weekend.” It was at 4:30 on Friday and we had someone to him by five o’clock.
If it wasn’t for Twitter, then we would’ve never known about the opportunity. So, both from a candidate perspective and a client perspective, we’re able to go and access information through listening, kind of what we’re talking about today, and going and just actively posting content and trying to get feedback.
Eric: On LinkedIn, do you find that you can do most of what you need with the free version of LinkedIn or do you really rely on the paid recruiting tools on LinkedIn?
Ryan: Well, I don’t rely on a super heavy recruiting tool. We do have a beefed-up account, mainly for two things. One, it allows me to go in and send a lot more in mails. The people that don’t want to be contacted, then it allows me to access people. As long as my feedback is good, which it traditionally always is because I’m looking for jobs for people, and I’m constantly using the in mail feature.
The second thing is it allows me to categorize where people fall in place. I can instantly go and say “Hey, here’s an SCO person” so I’ve got 50 people that I know that I can rely on.
Then I say “Oh, I know Eric. I can go pick up the phone because I know he’s an SCO go-to type guy.”
So it allows me to categorize where all the people, because I started gathering some so many contacts.
Eric: You can organize through the thousands of people that go.
Ryan: Yeah. That’s the biggest thing with the beefed-up version of LinkedIn. It allows me to organize as opposed to just doing keyword, like SCO, than I may have 1000 people in my contacts show up. I want to know who are the 50 that I actually want to pick up the phone and talk to or send an email to.
Eric: Those are fantastic tips. Thank you so much, Ryan. Those were great tips. I appreciate you taking a moment to talk to us. Check out The BOSS Group’s website. If you’re looking for a job or if you need to hire somebody, these guys can help you out.
If you’ve done a search on Bing or Google recently, you may have noticed the addition of “social circle” qualities included within the search results. For example, links that have been “liked” by members of your Facebook network may be pushed towards the top of the search results when searching with Bing. Or, if you’re using Google, you may see links that have been shared by members of your Twitter network included within the search results. This new feature of a social search allows a user to view more personally relevant results determined by the user’s social networks, making results unique to each person who has their own network of friends. Traditional search algorithms are used alongside the new social search feature, so search results will still appear normal if not shared or liked by anybody in your social network.
Through research, Bing states in a recent blog post that 90% of consumers look to their family and friends when making a purchase decision, and almost 80% of consumers will postpone a purchase decision until getting approval from a friend. Adding social qualities within the search results creates more of a conversational aspect to the search process, using the collective knowledge of the web as opposed to only facts and inbound links. Your friends, and the global community, can now help you discover information that is more relevant to you.
There was one issue with Bing’s social search that I found misleading when searching for a particular product. After searching for a specific product category, like cameras, it appeared on the search results page that a handful of my friends on Facebook liked some of the camera product pages on certain websites. In reality, that was not the case. My Facebook friends only liked the parent website that the products are listed under, i.e. Overstock.com, and not the actual product page. This may fool some consumers into making a purchase because they perceive they’re friends “liking” the product page when they actually have no interest in the product. Bing claims this will allow you to trust the source from which you are buying your product, but I don’t think users will view it that way.
Now you may be asking yourself, “What about Google?” Google still has a stronghold on the search process with a large following. Although Facebook and Bing have created a partnership to give Bing better access to Facebook’s information for search results, Google can also use your “social circle” to give you personally optimized and relevant results. Google uses Twitter, Flickr, Blogger, and other publicly available sites to show you results that people in your social circle have shared or recommended. It operates in a very similar way to the Bing social search, but without access to Facebook data. Google claims they will soon find a way to access Facebook’s data for similar search purposes, but I wouldn’t expect a partnership to form.
Google is also trying to implement a new social layer, called “+1″, which will allow a user to publicly approve of a link or website. This appears to be Google’s attempt to compete with Bing’s inclusion of Facebook data in their search results. Something tells me that it’ll be difficult for +1 to catch on with users, as there is already a wide assortment of social features and buttons on the web, and adding another might create more clutter for the user. Although, Google has surprised me in the past, so I can’t ever completely count them out.
I recently attended a seminar for the Dallas Ft. Worth Search Engine Marketing Association where they discussed these new social search features in detail. Their was much talk about creating valuable content that will entice viewers to like, share, or repost within their social circles. After all, content is the reason your brand gets shared. Finding the social “influencers” of the net and using them to share your content can help generate traffic and exposure. Conversations are happening right now about your brand, and real-time marketing should be implemented to be a part of that conversation. There is social relevancy in what is being said about your brand, and having a consistent presence in conversations will work in your favor.
How do these new social search feature effect your business? Are you going to have to change your current SEO tactics? Do you need a Facebook page? Will this benefit local search? Contact us today to learn how our team at Globe Runner can help your business adapt and benefit from these changes.