Facebook has changed its policies and everything you post will be shared with everyone! Ok, not really. But there’s no doubt you noticed the panic that spread throughout Facebook earlier this week. Stock status updates were being shared by seemingly everyone in a desperate attempt to protect their control over their own posts. The problem was, it was all a hoax.
The Terms of Service document you approved of (but didn’t read) when you set you your account is what counts, not some viral status update.
What that panic illustrated, however, is how suspicious we remain about our privacy on the Internet and with social media networks like Facebook. We love the idea about sharing everything we want to share, but are terrified at the idea of that information getting out of our control. Luckily, these social networks offer many options to protect our content and provide multiple layers of control over sharing. Let’s take a look at some of these security options for some of the major social networks.
Twitter is pretty cut-and-dry: You can have a public Twitter account where everyone can see your tweets, or you can have a private Twitter account where only those you allow to follow you can see your tweets. That’s all, and it’s pretty easy to set up. Just log in to your Twitter profile, click on Settings and then check the box next to “Tweet Privacy” that says “Protect My Tweets.” Then, you’ll have to approve each person who follows you, and only those pre-approved people will be able to see your tweets.
LinkedIn has become a huge social network for professionals. In fact, it’s quickly replacing traditional resumes and becoming the first stop for recruiters. For that reason alone, it’s good to know who can see what on your account and what you choose to post there.
To review your account’s privacy settings, log in to LinkedIn and go to Settings. Then, at the bottom of your Settings page, you’ll see options that allow you to control who sees what on your profile and shared posts, when you update your profile, and even what people see when you view their profile.
It’s pretty robust, and simple to set up. However, keep in mind that the more locked down your profile is, the harder it will be for friends, colleagues, and potential employers to find you.
So, earlier this week, Facebook posts started popping up claiming immunity from some new Facebook policies that gives them control over who sees (or profits) from your content. The problem is it was a hoax. But, even though Facebook has a sketchy history of putting your privacy first, they’ve made great strides in giving you plenty of options to do so. Let’s take a look at 4 biggies.
1) Prevent people you don’t know by mutual connection from seeing what you like or commenting. One of the big complaints that the bogus Facebook status update was supposed to fix is that your content can be visible to people you don’t know by a mutual connection “Liking” or commenting on your post. But in reality, this is all controlled in your privacy settings.
When logged in to Facebook, look for the downward-pointing arrow in the upper right-hand corner. Click that, then click “Privacy Settings”.
From there, you can control how you connect with others, what get’s posted on your timeline from others (photo tagging, etc.), Apps connected to your profile, and even block people from your profile altogether.
2) Organize your friends into lists. Some of the previous settings are made even more powerful by creating lists and assigning friends to them. For example, if you have a list of old high school friends and a list of work friends, you might not share the same content with them. Or, maybe you want to keep your family from seeing those pictures from last weekend’s party. After sorting your contacts into lists, you can choose which lists will see a particular post when you add content to your wall.
3) How do others connect with you? How can they find you on Facebook? From the main Privacy Settings window, select “How You Connect.” There are a series of dropdowns that allow you to customize how people can find you (or not) on Facebook, who can send you friend requests, who can send you private messages, and who can post on your wall. These settings are very easy to set up, and very powerful.
4) Edit your Ads Privacy Settings. This one ties into the copyright concerns that were floating around a few days ago. If you’ve noticed that Facebook shows you what your friends have liked on other pages, then you’ve noticed Social Ads. If you want to make sure these things aren’t shared on your behalf by Facebook, go back to that little arrow, but this time click on Account Settings. Go to “Facebook Ads”, and you can change settings for “Ads Shown By Third Parties” and “Ads and Friends (Social Ads…)”.
Really, the only way to make sure that your social media accounts are private and locked down is to never “Like” anything, never share anything, or delete your profile altogether. Since that probably won’t happen, using these options provided by the different social networks under their terms and conditions will do a lot more than posting some silly viral status update.
Globe Runner SEO Updates
October was a month full of conferences and networking events at Globe Runner. At these events we have picked up at least four new books each. We have been reading and learning constantly over here. This is going to be a different kind of monthly summary. Rather than highlight several of the articles we are reading about search, we are going to provide some of the key insights we took from the events we have attended.
On Monday, we attended the State of Search conference hosted by DFWSEM, the oldest association of internet marketing professionals in the country. The State of Search Conference confirmed that the changes we are most closely following are the same changes and trends our peers are following. The conference had an impressive line up of speakers including: Brett Tabke, Duane Forrester of Bing, and Chris Brogan.
The two most talked about topics at the conference were Google+ and Content Marketing. This was no surprise as these are two of the hottest topics in search right now. Google + and Google + Local are slowly becoming two of the most important social signals that Google search pays attention to in ordering its results. This is because search is becoming personalized to the user. Below are a few takeaways from the Content Marketing session:
Keys to Content Marketing
- Constant content with authority
- Provide interesting, authoritative content about your area of expertise.
- Headlines matter
- People read headlines before they read the content, if your headline doesn’t catch their attention they won’t read anything else.
- Listen with empathy
- Listen and respond to your customers with empathy, understand where they are coming from and meet them there. Content marketing is not just about creating new content, it is about the conversation that is started by your new content and the community reading your content.
- Discipline for the long-term
- With a content marketing strategy, you must be dedicated to continually publishing new content. This strategy is effective only when it is consistent.
- Call to action
- Don’t forget to give your customers/readers the opportunity to take action based on what they read. Immediately after reading is when your readers are ready to buy, make your Call to Action clear and easy to find.
- Write stories that make the buyer the hero
- Your community is interested in stories that are about them and their successes, not just stories about your products.
- Understand the interests of your customers
- Write to them about their interests, not every post needs to be a sales pitch: educate, inform, entertain, and sell
- Think like a journalist
- Approach your market with fresh content that looks at old information from new angles and/or perspectives.
Another topic that dominated the conference was Google+. The fledgling social network has been dismissed by many as superfluous or a “ghost town”, but Google has big plans for it. The biggest role for Google+ is an updated way of serving up search results according to authorship.
As content continues to grow exponentially online, Google is looking for ways to separate the good and the bad. One of their new methods is Google Authorship, which attributes authorship to a blog post or online article so you can see who wrote it. According to Google, this will help add authority to the content and ensure relevance to your search results. And, since authorship is tied to a Google+ profile, this means the social network will play a big role in Search moving forward and shouldn’t be ignored. For more information on how to set up Google Authorship, read this blog post: https://plus.google.com/authorship
Google+ Authorship will play a role in Content Marketing in the future by tagging yourself as an author to the content that you create. Your authorship will lend credibility to you as an author and to your content. Tagging your content will also help it show first in the search results to the people you are connected to through social networks.
With the launch of its YouTube Channel Hungry, Citysearch is becoming a major player in the video content space. Recognizing that the web gets more local every day, Citysearch’s new channel celebrates local culture while expanding its local influence. My sister-in-law Tolly Moseley is the Austin, TX host for Hungry: Check out her latest episode to see how Hungry offers visitors a taste of Austin:
CityGrid Media, the internet conglomerate that owns CitySearch, is far more than just a website. It’s a global-scale media company and publisher that understands the importance of local content. Unlike other ad networks, CityGrid publishes massive amounts of quality content through its various sites including Citysearch, Urbanspoon, and Insider Pages. Having proven the content marketing model, Citysearch and CityGrid Media now attract local and national advertisers alike.
What can small to midsize businesses learn from the CityGrid model?
First: Invest in Quality Content
Take the time to create stories worth reading and videos worth watching. Remember, the idea behind content marketing is to produce content that becomes your advertisement, rather than purchase advertising space alongside someone else’s content. Your content needs to be good enough that people seek it out.
Second: Go Local
We all love to hear about the places we live in and travel to. If you have a local presence, make a big deal about it. If not, you can still produce content and advertisements that are targeted to the cities you serve.
Finally: Be Authentic
Find your voice as a brand, and find voices that can help you make an impact in your target cities. Local talent can make a big difference. Hungry’s local hosts, for example, all have existing fan bases that the channel can leverage and build upon.
If you’re hungry to build your business online, follow the Citigrid recipe: use authentic, local ingredients and don’t skimp on quality.
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.
September Monthly Summary
On September 27, Google released a Panda algorithm update and an Exact Match Domain (EMD) Update. The EMD update targets domains that exactly match the search terms they hope to be found with and devalues those domains. For example, domains such a playscrabble.net and purses.com which previously ranked #3 for their respective exact match phrases (“play scrabble” and “purses”) have now been dropped out of the top 10 search results. The following graph illustrates the effect of this update.
According to a tweet from Matt Cutts, “New exact-match domain (EMD) algo affects 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree.” This update is extremely important because exact match domains used to be a very common SEO tactic and after this update it is clear that this tactic/shortcut to rankings is no longer effective. As an agency, we are following this update closely and are continuing to use proven effective strategies like great quality content and link building for our clients.
On October 4, Google announced 65 changes to their search algorithm. As usual, we have highlighted the updates we are most interested in.
- #82862. [project “Page Quality”] This launch helped you find more high-quality content from trusted sources.
- #84394. [project “Page Quality”] This launch helped you find more high-quality content from trusted sources.
- #84010. [project “Page Quality”] We refreshed data for the “Panda” high-quality sites algorithm.
These updates are all concerned with making sure the highest quality pages are listed first in Google’s search results.
- #83761. [project “Freshness”] This change helped you find the latest content from a given site when two or more documents from the same domain are relevant for a given search query.
- Imadex. [project “Freshness”] This change updated handling of stale content and applies a more granular function based on document age.
Fresh high quality content is continuing to be extremely important to Google search results. The more relevant and interesting the content on your site is, the higher the algorithm will rank your pages. These updates should also begin to move down those old, entrenched pdfs that sometimes rank third or fourth for a keyword, even though they were written years ago.
- #82279. [project “Other Ranking Components”] We changed to fewer results for some queries to show the most relevant results as quickly as possible.
- LTS. [project “Other Ranking Components”] We improved our web ranking to determine what pages are relevant for queries containing locations.
- #84586. [project “Other Ranking Components”] This change improved how we rank documents for queries with location terms.
- #83406. [project “Query Understanding”] We improved our ability to show relevant Universal Search results by better understanding when a search has strong image intent, local intent, video intent, etc.
Last month’s summary mentioned that Google is now sometimes only displaying only 7 results for certain search queries as opposed to the usual 10. Google’s latest updates confirm that this will continue and that we can expect to see fewer results but an increased relevancy of those results.
Just For Fun
The holidays are right around the corner and if you are going to be flying to visit family this year, you might want to check out Google Flight Search. As of Sept. 28, you can now search for flights from your tablet. What is unique about using Google to search for flights instead of Expedia, Hotwire, or Priceline is you can search all airports near a city at once. For example, a search from Dallas, TX to New York, NY shows you a comparison of flights from both DAL and DFW to JFK, LGA, and EWR.