Google Doesn't Care if it Ranks Your Site Properly

It's true. Google doesn't care if it ranks your site properly.

Well, if you are Amazon, eBay,,, or some other site like that they do care. But, if you aren't, they don't.

OK, maybe Google cares a little, but their focus and priority comes from an entirely different direction. This is one of the hardest things for many publishers to grasp.

How often have you heard a publisher complain about Google whacking their rankings even though they are a quality site? That they never spammed anyone or anything. Have you ever been the one doing this complaining? I have spent countless hours listening to people complain about these things to me, and trying to help find ways to understand what the issues are for their sites.

Google is a company that produces a service. It is a search engine called "Google" and they work hard to make their product better.

Google has a rigorous process for measuring the quality of their service, and for measuring improvements in that quality when they make algorithm changes or updates. In December of 2011 Google released a video of a Search Quality Team Meeting. Watch it for more information on their processes.

How the Process Starts

Google collects data on search quality problems on an ongoing basis. They have many sources for this, including spam reports from publishers, articles published about search quality problems, and their own search quality raters.

Google continuously collects this data. While I'm not sure how they manage the details, at some point they get a collection of problems that they decide they want to address.

Once the pick a potential project, they assemble a known set of problem results, or test cases, and some ideas on how to fix them. Once a proposed fix is implemented, the test cases are used to see if the algorithm indeed addresses the problems. This is only the start of the process, as Google also does rigorous testing to make sure that other results are not made worse at the same time.

Google also does live data testing with a small sample of the overall search population. This testing gives Google real world metrics that show whether search quality was improved as a whole.

From conversations I have had with various Googlers, I have reason to believe that they also watch for an acceptable amount of errors. For an extreme example, if a new algo improved overall search quality a lot, but Amazon fell out of the search results, they would still adjust the algorithm before release. If you spend some time and think carefully about the general process, you can make the following observations:
  1. Some or all of the test cases are explicitly addressed.
  2. Overall search quality went up.
  3. Any measured errors are within acceptable norms.
  4. Nowhere in that conversation is your site included (unless you are in one of the test cases). This means that the impact on your site is simply a byproduct of the algo change. To Google, how your site fared does not matter, because their overall search quality went up.
Your Site is Not One of the Test Cases

Your site may be an unintended casualty of the entire process. Your site was (hopefully) not one of the test cases. Your site was not individually examined. All Google knows is that they made their service better.


Algorithms and Signatures

If your site has been hit be an algorithm, or is hit by one in the future, it means that it shares some characteristics with the types of sites that Google was targeting. Google targeted a specific set of test case sites, and overall search quality went up. Therefore, all the impacted sites have something in common with the test case sites.

I refer to this as having a signature that Google associates with poor quality sites. It doesn't mean you have a poor quality site, just that you have something in common with them.

Let me illustrate with an example. I know a site that was hit by Penguin 1.0. The site had all original articles, and these articles covered topics in depth that are not covered by many other sites (if any). The site has never done any spammy link building, or anything of that kind.

However, as the sole exception to the preceding statements, the website had submitted articles to three different article directories. Zero money changed hands, the articles submitted to the directories were actually well-written, and no small animals were hurt in the process.

An innocent webmaster thought that they might get some exposure through article directories, and got whacked. Why? Because submitting to article directories fit a signature of poor quality sites that Penguin 1.0 identified and targeted.

The site has addressed those problems and has made a 100 percent recovery. The only link cleanup that was done was specific to the article directories. The publisher now knows to avoid that behavior, and the site is doing great.


Check Your Signatures

If you do get negatively impacted by an algo update, try to figure out what your site has in common with other sites that were targeted. You can find data from sites such as Searchmetrics on winners and losers after algo updates. Even though you may have a great site and the identified losers may be crappy sites, you have something in common with them.

This may be a very difficult exercise, and it's a bummer to have to do this work. But finding the bad signature and fixing it is the key to your recovery.

Article Post @ Search Engine Watch

Microsoft Sends Google 26,000 URL Removal Requests Per Day on Average

Microsoft has submitted a whopping 17,142 takedown requests to Google in the past two years, equating to around 165 each week, according to the latest Google Transparency Report. Since July 2011, Microsoft has asked for 13,843,300 URLs to be removed for copyright infringement, meaning Google is faced with dealing with 26,620 URLs that offend Microsoft every day.


Microsoft clearly is feeling more threatened by Google as time goes on, as Google’s handy graph portrays, indicating the steady growth in URLs ripe for removal. In 2011 Microsoft could barely muster the enthusiasm to complain about more than 50,000 URLs per week, with the number reaching a peak in the week of November 14, 2011 with 88,000 URLs sent to Google for banishment.
By 2012, Microsoft regularly identified more than 100,000 URLs for removal a week, reaching the hady heights of 262,000 pesky URLs during the week of August 13 – must have been the summer lull.

Fast forward to this year, and Microsoft is managing to find 200,000-plus undesirable URLs every week, reaching its all-time high of 372,000 the week of February 25. No wonder then that Microsoft accidentally asked Google to remove six legitimate links to its own domain recently, it must be difficult to keep track.

The main offenders according to Microsoft are with 243,000 undesired URLs, with 172,000 and with 128,000. Microsoft has even taken on a small army - well, 23 firms - to help in its fight against Google copyright infringement.

Microsoft still has a fair way to go before it catches up with the biggest complainers. Recording bodies the RIAA and BPI, and porn producer Froytal Services, have all identified more URLs for removal than the Microsoft.
Google has delisted hundreds of millions of allegedly copyright infringing links this year. Google's transparency report shows a big spike at the start of this year that continues to ramp up over time.

This time last year Google was being met with 517,313 requests to remove links to domains. The latest number is 3,555,202. That is in a month.

This article was originally published on the Inquirer.

Google+ Local App Killed Due to Extremely Low Usage

Google maps logo  
Google will officially retire the Google+ Local app for iOS on August 7.

While this retirement may seem strange from what many would believe is a popular product, it is actually part of Google streamlining and pushing users to migrate to the Google Maps for mobile app instead.

The Google Maps app already includes all the features in the Google+ Local app, so users won’t miss any of their favorite features when they transition.

An email from Google states that users will no longer be able to access the Google+ Local standalone app after August 7, but the app already seems to have been pulled from the App Store, although it isn't clear who removed it. Clicking the link to the local app now redirects users to the Google Maps app.

On the surface it would seem that Google should continue with the Google+ Local app, simply because of the current user base. However, the user base for the app was extremely small, and was dropping, likely due to people switching to the new Google Maps app.

Fewer than 0.75 percent of iPhone users in the U.S. opened the Google+ Local App at least once in June, TechCrunch reported via Onavo Insights. By comparison, that number was nearly 35 percent for the Google Maps app. So you consider that all of the Google+ Local features are in Google Maps, it makes a lot of business sense for Google to support that one.

In another App closure, Google is also retiring their Catalogs app as of August 15 for both Android and iOS, but they do plan to continue maintaining the service for U.S. users as a web-based program. There is no reason given for why they have made this change, just simply a notice given in the Google catalogs app.

Google has closed and streamlines many of their products this year, including the most controversial closure of Google Reader earlier this month, but from which spawned the launch of several similar products from competitors, including AOL.

Article Post @ Search Engine Watch

Google Will Make Starbucks Wi-Fi Faster


Starting this August, Google will be teaming up with Starbucks to roll out a faster Wi-Fi experience. Starbucks patrons will not only get a caffeine high, they'll get high WiFi speeds – up to 10x that of current speeds, according to Google's announcement. For those Starbucks in the Kansas City area, or other areas 
where Google Fiber is rolling out, speeds will be 100x faster.

Google will be partnering with Level 3 Communications, who has data centers and networking across a large range of American markets, to obtain the faster Internet connections. Level 3 will upgrade existing Wi-Fi hardware devices and provide the managed services for the new connections. Google will, over time, work with Starbucks to co-develop the next-generation Starbucks Digital Network.

Like most Google rollouts, the process will take time. The upgraded Wi-Fi networks will launch in over 7,000 company-owned U.S. Starbucks stores over the next 18 months. How will you know when your local Starbucks is upgraded? The SSID will read "Google Starbucks."

Currently, Starbucks utilizes T-1 connections which average 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps). This is slower than the national average of 7.2 Mbps. Google is aiming to increase speeds to the 15-20 Mbps range in Starbucks. In areas where they can leverage the Google Fiber networks, the speeds should be upwards near 1,000 Mbps. One could speculate that may include Mountain View and Manhattan locations.

Google has never been shy about its quest to raise Internet speeds and make access more widely available in the U.S. This project, which can reach so many people, will continue that trend.

"Google has always invested in projects that help the Internet grow stronger, including projects that make Internet access more affordable and more widely available," said Kevin Lo, the General Manager of Google Access. "We hope that speedier Internet will make the time customers spend at Starbucks even more enjoyable and productive."

US Population Distance from Starbucks

It's estimated that 80 percent of the U.S. population lives within 20 miles of a Starbucks. Using spatial analytics, Fast Company suggests the furthest distance between any two Starbucks locations is no more  than 140 miles.

From students to business people and everyone in between, customers flock to Starbucks for coffee and free Wi-Fi. After Hurricane Sandy, many who lost power and Internet connectivity flocked to Starbucks to do homework and stay connected to family and friends.

"We want to make sure that our customers can access the web effortlessly and quickly, no matter what they’re doing, or what device they are using," said Adam Brotman, chief digital officer, Starbucks. "Our goal is to continue to provide our customers with the best in-store experience possible, and we are excited to offer these kinds of unparalleled experiences at a broad scale."

Are you a Starbucks Internet user? Will this news make you more or less inclined to use Starbucks for Internet services when you're on the go?


Article Post @ Search Engine Watch

New Facebook Features: What Marketers Need to Know

Are you using Facebook for your business?

Are you wondering how Facebook’s newest features can help your business?
To learn about what these new Facebook features mean for marketers, I interview Mari Smith for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast.

More About This Show

Social Media Marketing Podcast w/ Michael Stelzner
The Social Media Marketing podcast is a show from Social Media Examiner.

It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).

In this episode, I interview Mari Smith, who is known as the Queen of Facebook. She’s the world’s leading authority on Facebook marketing and author of The New Relationship Marketing and co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day.

Mari shares how the new Facebook features can work for your business and what you should pay attention to. You’ll learn how to use the new hashtags and how to make the most of your cover image.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

Listen Now

You can also subscribe via iTunes, RSS, Stitcher or Blackberry.
Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Facebook Features for Marketers

Has Facebook rolled out a lot of changes recently in response to Twitter and Google?
Mari states that there are many reasons for these new changes, although not necessarily in response to Twitter and Google+. However, Mark Zuckerberg and his entire team do keep a very close eye on the competition.

When it comes to features that have been around for a while, Facebook tends to be late with their release simply because they are a much bigger machine. They have a lot more complexity to deal with.

facebook latest news

Facebook have a lot of complexity to deal with before they release new features.

With Facebook being a public company, they have to make money for their shareholders. They’ve made a lot of changes to their ad product and it seems like they move things around to try and get the marketers attention.

Listen to the show to find out why most of the features are there to predominantly improve the monetization aspect.

What Facebook hashtags are and why marketers should care
Mari explains that the simple definition of a hashtag is that it’s a way to group conversations together, around the same topic. This makes it easy to discover and follow conversations. Just like you see on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn.

If you think about TV ads 2-3 years ago, the call to action would be an invite to join the brand, where they would give out their Facebook Fanpage. Now the call to action is a hashtag.

You’ll hear Mari talk about the reason behind why some TV shows have niche hashtags appear throughout their broadcast, instead of one main hashtag.

sytycd hashtag 

The TV show, So You Think You Can Dance use specific hashtags for viewer interactions.

As a business owner you need to start to experiment with hashtags. Find one or two hashtags that can help you ride a wave. There’s a term called newsjacking. It doesn’t sound very nice but it’s a very popular way to get your business in front of people who are talking about something anyway.

The great thing about Facebook’s hashtags, is that they are clickable. So if you click on any, whether it’s on a Post or a Comment, it opens up into what is called the Hashtag Feed. This feed displays other posts with the same hashtag.

hashtag facebook questions 

The Hashtag Feed displays all posts with the same hashtag.

However, recently they have introduced related searches into this feature. So not only will you see the exact verbatim hashtag but also similar ones.

As a strategic marketer, Mari highly recommends every business owner make good use of hashtags. Even if you don’t have them personally, they are active for other people.

Listen to the show to find out how clickable hashtags can get you in front of new people.

Tips and creative uses for Facebook hashtags
Mari uses two generic Facebook hashtags which are #facebookmarketing and #facebooktips. You’ll hear what hashtag Mari uses to separate herself away from her peers.

It’s where you’ll find all of her posts. This is one thing to consider when you create hashtags.

mari smith hashtags 

Mari uses a mixture of generic and specific hashtags.

You really want to do your homework before you create a hashtag. Basically use the same best practices as you would on Twitter.

You can search by going to your keyword is. Every hashtag has it’s own unique URL, which you can use to drive traffic.
The hashtags are still very young on Facebook and most users don’t know how to use them. It’s something that you should experiment with and see if it makes a difference.

Listen to the show to hear why Mari believes Facebook hashtags are the tip of the iceberg and what else there is to look forward to in the future.

The changes on Facebook’s commenting system
Mari talks about the main change which is the Reply feature. It has been around for some time as a Facebook commenting plugin but was finally brought to the main Facebook site.

With the Replies feature it gives you the ability to have threaded conversations. On Fan Pages, you can turn it on or off. It’s a feature you can enable in your admin panel.

mari smith reply feature 

The Reply feature is a great way to have threaded conversations with your fans.

You’ll hear about a brand new feature that was rolled out recently, which is the ability to sort.

As a Page owner, Mari advises to make sure you use the @tag for the person or page you are replying to in the Reply feature. As a Fan Page you can hit the @sign and then start to type their name and that way their name will be a hot clickable link and they will also get a notification.

With regards to images, right now you can only use them in Personal Profiles with the Reply feature. When you hit Reply, you can add an image. It’s coming to Fan Pages and mobile too.

You’ll discover the advantages to using the threaded comment capability and what it means for your fans.

Listen to the show to find out what feature you can use to help drive traffic back to your conversation.

How marketers can take advantage of the new changes to the Facebook page cover image

The Facebook cover image is the huge header at the top of your Facebook page and is there for visual branding.

mari smith facebook timeline image 

The cover image is the perfect space for visual branding.

When Facebook first introduced the Timeline design about 18 months ago, the rules were very strict about what you could have in the image. For instance, you weren’t allowed your website name, contact information, calls to action or arrows pointing to features.

shortstack facebook timeline image 

You are now allowed to add call to actions to your cover image.

Earlier this year the rules changed and the only one that remained in place was the 20% text rule. More recently this rule has quietly disappeared out of the Page Guidelines. The only caveat is that the 20% text rule still applies to any paid products.

This new change got a lot of social media experts and Facebook experts excited.

hubspot facebook timeline image 

You can use text in so many different ways on your cover image.

You’ll discover why you need to keep your cover image visually appealing and how frequent you should change it.

Listen to the show to find out what Mari recommends you put in the description of your cover image.

What’s the deal with Graph Search? 
If you make the swtich to Graph Search, you’ll notice that the search box at the top will look completely different. Your name and your page now sits in the white search box.

When you type in any word or name you’ll get a drop down box with a bunch of different icons in there. For example, there is an icon for the hashtag and for photos.

mari smith graph search 

From the drop down box in Graph Search you'll see different icons for each category.

If you haven’t already got Graph Search, you’ll find out what you need to type in the search bar on Facebook.

You are able to search for four things which are photos, people, places/pages and interests. However, it will not surface an individual post and is only available on desktop right now.

You’ll hear Mari give an example of how you can use Graph Search to find people within a very narrow niche and how you can use it to search for specific photos.

Listen to the show to find out how you could use it in terms of a business application.

Discovery of the Week

If you want to find out what your website or blog looks like on a laptop, tablet, smartphone or desktop, then you should check out this free tool by QuirkTools called Screenfly.


Give Screenfly a try if you are interested to know how others see your site on their device.

You can enter any URL from your website and you’ll have options to see how it looks on any size desktop or any hand held device. You’ll also find many other options that are available with this tool.

It’s not perfect but it’s good enough to run a quick test if you hear from some of your readers that your site doesn’t look right on their device or desktop.

Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how this works for you.


Other Show Mentions

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve done a series on ‘How to Launch,’ using the new site we are launching as an example.

I’m very excited to let you know that My Kids’ Adventures has officially launched this week.

It’s an online magazine for busy working parents, who want to have fun adventures with their kids anywhere. It’s your go to resource to get articles on how to do really cool stuff.

These are some of the articles that came out this week:
  • Getting Dirty: Five Fun Composting Projects for Kids
  • How to Make an Adventure Movie With Your Kids
  • How to Create a Backyard Treasure Hunt, Minecraft Style
  • How to Create Glow-In-The-Dark Bowling In Your Home
Go check them out.

Call in and leave your social media–related questions for us and we may include them in a future show.

Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how this works for you.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

Help Us Spread the Word!

Please let your Twitter followers know about this podcast. Simply click here now to post a tweet.
If you enjoyed this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast, please head over to iTunes, leave a rating, write a review and subscribe.

Ways to subscribe to the Social Media Marketing podcast:

What do you think? What are your thoughts on Facebook’s new features? Please leave your comments below.

Article Post @ Social Media Examiner

How to Find Great Content to Share on Twitter

What content are you sharing on Twitter?

Do you struggle to find interesting, relevant things to tweet about every day?

In this post, I’ll show you how to curate content your followers will love so you can build a loyal community on Twitter.


Why Curate?

Today most marketers understand the need to create informative and relevant content. But it’s equally important to curate informative and relevant content.
In addition to creating great content for your site, the links to the other people’s content that you share on Twitter also matter.

When you share good content on Twitter, the kind your audience loves, it’s easier to build a strong community. And sharing great content will also increase your credibility in your industry.


When you create and curate relevant content, people are more likely to retweet and share your stuff. Image: iStockPhoto


#1: Know Your Audience

So what content should you share on Twitter? Before you can determine what is the best content to share in your social updates, you need to dig deep and go inside your followers’ heads.

You’ll want to know your social media audience. What keeps your ideal follower up at night? What are his favorite blogs? What’s the first thing that pops into his head when he thinks of you?

If you’ve ever created a buyer persona for a marketing campaign, this is the same exercise.

interests intersection diagram 

You want to find the intersection of what interests you and what interests your audience.

You can also ask your followers to find out what they want. You may find general open-ended questions—such as “What would you like me to tweet about?”—too broad to give you the information you need.

Instead, ask your followers a multiple-choice question such as, “Would you like me to tweet about a) social media marketing, b) mobile, c) productivity hacks, d) all of the above?”

You can use their answers as a starting point to plan the content you share and identify what your followers want from you.

Once you identify the content your audience is interested in, commit to this topic. Don’t dilute it.

For example, Social Media Examiner focuses on social media. So you’ll find articles about generating email leads using social media. But you won’t find content devoted to increasing email open rates or the perfect auto-responder series or other topics with no connection to social media.

Find out what topics interest your audience most and share content related to these topics on your social profiles.


#2: Tools to Help You Curate Content

Once you know your audience well, you’ll want to set up a good aggregation tool to find content worth tweeting about.

Here some of the popular news aggregators in the market today. Use the ones you like for your business to find the content you need to provide a valuable stream of daily tweets for your followers.

Feedly – Your News Delivered
Feedly is a tool to help you curate content. Feedly makes it easy for you to look for the articles most relevant for you to share.

One of the best aspects of Feedly is the variety of viewing interfaces available. You can format it to show articles in an email-type layout with headlines or arrange them as image cards or also choose a more traditional magazine layout.


Feedly is a great alternative to Google Reader and offers a variety of layouts to make RSS more enjoyable.

Regardless of the layout you choose, Feedly shows you new content from the blogs and news sources you subscribe to. And it offers a consistent presentation across devices, so you can tweet from your laptop, your tablet or your smartphone.

One of my favorite features is Feedly’s integration with multiple online tools such as Google+, Evernote, Buffer, Instapaper and more. This makes your content curation easier.

feedly share content 

You can share and save your favorite articles to multiple social networks and web tools.

Fever – Find Out What’s Hot
Do you want to know how hot the story is that you shared? Fever is a content feed reader that ranks the stories in your feed with a temperature gauge. This allows you to measure how many links and shares a story has within your network.


Fever is a paid service that reads your feeds and picks out the most frequently talked about articles from a customizable time period.

This is a visual way to see how the content you share on Twitter resonates with your audience. It’s an easy way to be sure the content you share matters to your followers.

It is important to note that Fever comes with a one-time price of $30 and you need to host the files on your own server.

The setup is a bit technical, so you may want to ask your IT department to help you get started.

Prismatic – Discover New Content to Share
While RSS readers are great for keeping up with your favorite blogs, Prismatic helps you find new and interesting blogs.

prismatic curated content 

Prismatic delivers socially curated content based on your interests to help you discover new blogs and content sources.

If you like to keep your content curation fresh and interesting, Prismatic does a great job of introducing new blogs and content sources you may never have come across otherwise .

Here’s how to get the most out of Prismatic.

Step 1: Sign up
Sign up for Prismatic using your Facebook, Google+ or Twitter login, or create a stand-alone account on Prismatic.

prismatic sign up 

Sign up at

Step 2: Choose Your Interests
After you sign up, you can pick the different topics that you and your audience relate to. As you use the service, Prismatic will suggest new topics based on what you share and click.

prismatic interests 

Find new content by choosing topics your community is interested in.

Step 3: Pick Your Favorite Publishers
You can also use Prismatic as an RSS reader. Under the Favorite Authors section, add your favorite blogs and publishers to Prismatic.

add favorite blogs 

Add your favorite blogs so you won’t miss a thing.

Step 4: Share Your Curated Content
After you’re all set up, share the articles your audience is interested in reading.

prismatic share

It’s easy to share the content you like from Prismatic.

When you share content, remember to include the author’s Twitter handle, so you can introduce your followers to new and interesting people.

And be sure to include relevant hashtags, but don’t overdo it. Buddy Media reports that tweets with one or two hashtags receive higher engagement than those with three or more hashtags.

Prismatic has good sharing features and can help you share great content with your audience.


#3: Analyze and Repeat

One of the most important steps to curating amazing content is to measure the results.

Are there certain articles that get more clicks, retweets and favorites than others? Is a certain topic or interest driving more engagement with your followers?

You can use Buffer to analyze shares, but management tools like HootSuite, SproutSocial and TweetDeck can all provide good analytics on your tweets.
These tools help you analyze metrics such as the number of clicks, retweets, favorites and potential reach each individual tweet receives.

track your content 

Track who retweets your content and the reach they have.

Use this data to see what really resonates with your audience and A/B test different headlines for your content. Here’s an example of results from two different tweets promoting the same content.

tweet with zero clicks

The first tweet received zero clicks.
tweet with 80 clicks

The second tweet had 80 clicks.

The example above shows how a simple product mention can help spread your content to a greater audience.

Be sure to measure the response to different headlines to see which one interests your audience most and learn from your results.

Share the Content Your Audience Loves
With the wealth of information that exists on the web, marketers have a harder time finding great content to share.

Use these tools and tips and you’ll not only discover content that you enjoy consuming, you’ll also find content that drives greater engagement with your Twitter following.

What do you think? Did I miss any great tools? What are your favorite tips to curate content? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Images from iStockPhoto.
Article Post @ Social Media Examiner

6 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2013: New Research

Are you looking for the latest marketing trends?

Wondering how the wide choice of devices and platforms are impacting marketers and consumers?

According to the 2013 Infinite Dial Report by Edison Research, media usage is not a zero-sum game.

Consumers want to use all channels simultaneously, and as a marketer, you have to keep up by tracking them down wherever they go.

To do that, you’ll need to understand these 6 emerging trends that will have a significant impact on your marketing strategies.

#1: Media Fragmentation

Consumers are everywhere, all at the same time. According to the Edison report, there are 256 million U.S. users on TV, 243 million on radio, 232 million on the Internet, 182 million connected at home via broadband, 177 million connected at home via wi-fi, and 139 million smartphone users.

multitasking new normal 

Media multitasking is the new normal.

In this age of multimedia consumption, consumers are using more devices across a common set of platforms to do more things than ever. That means marketers have to play catch-up and shift away from strategies of the past. Today, the “e” in ecommerce means “everywhere.”

Your goal as a marketer should be to distribute content across as many types of media and platforms as your budget can allow. Make fast, confident decisions that give digital consumers opportunities to buy.

Keep in mind that capturing your customers’ attention will become harder as media multitasking becomes the new normal. Your digital content will need to be smarter, more creative and more visual to connect and engage today’s audiences.


#2: Smartphone Device Adoption Has Reached Half of U.S. Population

With 139 million (53%) of Americans owning smartphones, mobile use has reached critical mass in the United States.

Research by eMarketer shows the amount of time people spend on a mobile device is growing at 14 times the rate of desktop usage. The same research indicates that mobile is becoming a more prominent channel for commercial transactions.

In the second quarter of 2012, mobile sales accounted for 15.1% of total B2C retail ecommerce sales, compared to only 1.9% for social ecommerce sales.

half america own smartphones 

Smartphone usage has reached critical mass presenting unparalleled opportunities for digital marketers.

What this means for marketers is that a mobile-first strategy is the new priority.
The significance of location-based marketing, which has been around for a couple of years, will only continue to grow in importance.

Finally, with a growing number of users downloading apps on their smartphones, a focused app strategy will help ensure that your brand remains forceful and relevant.

Post social media content that is easy to consume and interact with on the go; for example, more images, brief posts, easy-to-execute calls to action.


#3: Content Marketing Is Still King

There’s no argument that content is still king. A 2012 survey conducted by Outbrain and research firm eConsultancy showed that 91% of in-house marketers use content marketing to sell their products and services. Additionally, 90% of all digital marketing professionals believe content marketing will become even more important over the next 12 months.

content marketing important 

Digital marketers believe content marketing will become more important than ever.

The same research pointed to the top 3 types of content that are working best for marketers: social posts and updates (83%), email newsletters (78%) and news or feature articles (67%).

Focus on content marketing rather than advertising because consumers interact with content first, giving brands ideas or insights about what is important to them. Brands can then use these insights to craft their ads.


#4: Facebook Is Still Dominant

Despite all of the changes that continue to take place on Facebook such as Graph Search and hashtags, the number of users on Facebook is rising, giving marketers opportunities to interact with audiences in innovative ways.

facebook still dominant 

Despite constant changes to the platform, Facebook remains top dog among social networks.

Brands that use hashtags in their posts may have slightly higher reach than brands that don’t use them, according to Edgerank Checker. Hashtags will also open up new advertising opportunities for marketers, including the ability to advertise directly to users who have used or clicked on a particular hashtag.

On the other hand, Graph Search is a valuable tool for helping you find people who like your Page. If you’re a local business this means you can create content, ads or free giveaways just for fans in your geographical location, thus encouraging a more vibrant local community.

To stay ahead of the game, marketers must learn and master the Facebook environment in spite of unexpected and often frustrating changes to the platform.


#5: Users Notice More Branded Content on Their News Feed

A majority of Facebook users (62%) noticed more branded content on their news feed. Most users don’t visit a brand’s Facebook Page. They interact with brands on their news feed, which is where opportunities and challenges lie for marketers.

more content on newsfeed 

Branded content on users' news feeds presents significant opportunities and challenges for marketers.

On the bright side, users who want to interact with brand content will be more engaged and open to brand messages. The opposite is true for users who just want to hang out with their friends. They’ll simply hide any brand content they don’t want to see (especially if those posts are frequent and intrusive).

We know that photos already make up 50% of news feed stories, and that images will continue to grow in importance. To get consumers to interact with branded content on Facebook, marketers should make posts more visual and provide interesting yet relevant insights about your company.

Invest in eye-catching, high-quality photos that will be pulled into users’ news feeds when they interact with your Page.


#6: Twitter Getting More Popular

Although Facebook is at the top of the social media world, the Edison report shows that Twitter is getting more popular. Notice that only 11% of Americans “Have not heard of Twitter,” which means 89% have!

more mentions of twitter 

The hidden potential of Twitter is bigger than most people think.

You might say, “But only 15% of Americans actually use Twitter!” (See Fig. 4). True. However 44% hear about tweets on other media “Almost Every Day” and 84% have seen or heard of tweets in other media at some point (green, plus blue, plus yellow, plus purple slices = 84%). This means that an overwhelming majority of Americans have been exposed to Twitter via multimedia consumption.

This statistic justifies the conclusion that Twitter is a much bigger platform than most people give it credit for, and marketers should be the first to recognize its hidden potential.

Take advantage of the current Twitter-friendly multimedia environment and promote your brand among non-Twitter audiences. Encourage them to talk about you online using tweets, and in particular, using your brand’s hashtag.


Quick Wrap Up

The biggest takeaway from the Edison and eMarketer research is that audiences are dispersed across multiple channels and platforms. This presents its fair share of challenges for digital marketers as we try to keep up with omni-channel consumers.

If you know how media fragmentation works and how to engage with consumers across multiple channels and devices, you’ll maximize value for your brand.

Your Turn
What do you think? Which of these digital trends have you already experienced? How are you responding to them? Please leave your questions and comments in the box below.

Article Post @ Social Media Examiner

PPC Defense: Don't Let These 7 Factors Damage Your Performance


One of the most popular phrases in football is that "defensive wins championships." Same goes for managing PPC campaigns.

On any given day, countless entities are striving to damage your campaign's performance. A strong defensive strategy will help protect your hard work and preserve your positive progress.

Sustained growth and upward trends are the objectives for any PPC manager. However, there are some instances where defending your campaign and holding your ground is just as valuable as your next huge push to the end zone.

Below are seven of the most common factors that can damage your PPC campaign, as well as a defensive strategy for each.


1. PPC Sea Changes

You may remember a little tectonic shift in the PPC world that arrived last week... just a little something called enhanced campaigns. This isn't the first time PPC managers had to significantly adjust their game plan and it certainly won't be the last.

Enhanced campaigns got a lot of attention because it was a lot of changes at once – but there are incremental changes happening all the time. And PPC managers need to stay on top of them all the time.

Your defensive plan:
  • Stay on top of PPC news. Subscribe to all the critical industry publications (including this one) to make sure that you keep a pulse on what is happening in SEM right now.
  • Keep in close contact with your Google and Bing reps. Your reps usually have the inside track on changes coming down the pike that could influence your performance.


2. Fluctuating Performance in Other Channels

PPC doesn't operate in a vacuum. PPC is influenced by other marketing channels, and PPC also influences other channels as well.

We have had accounts that started to suffer from lagging performance due to a change within another channel. For example, we had a client drop off in organic rankings (due to an algorithmic change) and this impacted our PPC performance.

When we see PPC performance fluctuate we always assume we made a change that caused the ruckus (which we'll talk about later). Usually that issue is contained within the account, but sometimes the reason belongs to another channel.

Your defensive plan:
  • Monitor other channels closely. Set up alerts and reports within your web analytics so that you can stay on top of channels as such as organic, direct, referral, and social.
  • Stay on top of industry news. This sounds like a bullet point from the last section; this tip is in regard to news about other channels. You may manage PPC but that doesn't you shouldn't stay on top of developments in the world of SEO, social media, etc.


3. Negative Seasonal Trends

Every business has peaks and valleys. Every SEM campaign also has peaks and valleys.

The high tide and low tide in an account can come hourly, daily, or even monthly. The biggest challenge you need to defend against is a long stretch of decelerated performance.

Your defensive plan:
  • Develop seasonal projections. Hopefully you have historical data that help predict when the low tide in terms of volume/performance will arrive. Utilize that data! If your account is new, then you should refer to Google Trends and other third parties that may help you with these predictions.
  • Accentuate the positive and adjust your budgets. If you know when the account will be at its peak performance, take full advantage of this knowledge! We have seen accounts with annual budgets that were dispersed evenly throughout the year. If you know that Q4 is crazy-great for your account, then spend less during a sluggish period and open the floodgates in Q4.


4. Intensified Competitive Landscape

Fluctuations in competitive aggressiveness are an external factor that can be extremely difficult to predict. You never know when a competitor is going to decrease their budget or double-down on their PPC spend and try to own the landscape. This can significantly impact your campaign's performance.

Your defensive plan:
  • Set performance thresholds. Establish a baseline for your performance and when you fall below a certain watermark, and then it's time to take stock of your stable of competitors. You should keep an eye on click-through rate (CTR), cost-per-click (CPC), impression share, and impression share lost due to ranking (IS lost due to budget doesn't necessarily indicate an increase in competition).
  • Utilize a third party competitive tool. There are a handful of third-party tools that help monitor competitor behavior. To be diplomatic, I won't mention any specific tools here, but if you search for "PPC competitive tool," you'll get a whole SERP full of available options. If you want to monitor your competitive landscape, then you should compare the available tools and select the one that best suits your needs.


5. Broken Tracking and Website Errors

So fare we've reviewed external entities that may damage your PPC performance – but there are a few elements that are self-inflicted (from a certain point-of-view). You need a good defense against yourself. Actually, in this point we're talking about errors that can creep up on your website.

Website tracking is very fragile. One line of code gets deleted, or a page is reverted to an old version, and your tracking disappears – along with your performance and perhaps any automation that may be in place. Also, I've encountered instances where a call-to-action button was broken or a shopping cart had an error.

Your defensive plan:
  • Create alerts in AdWords and Google Analytics. You need to know ASAP if there an issue with your website. There are various tools can monitor the placement of codes on your website and you can check those out. However, if you don't have resources for this kind of tool, you can set alerts within AdWords and Google Analytics. For example, if your campaigns don't generate any conversions for the previous day, you would receive an alert.


6. Failed PPC Initiatives

Let's face it: not everything you launch within an account is going to work. Bids can be too high or low. Ad copy can misfire. I could go on-and-on with all the things that could go wrong in an account, but that list would take days to write.

So, how do you develop a game to guard against these issues?

Your defense plan:
  • Set reminders to monitor your new initiatives. This may seem rudimentary, but make sure that if you make any change within your AdWords that you set a calendar for continued analysis. Monitor the change until you receive enough data to be sure that everything is cool.
  • Create an alert for the campaign that received the changes. If you have a specific KPI threshold, then set it within your campaign alerts just so you'll receive a notification if performance should tank.


7. Implementation Errors / Administrative Issues

Aside from failed tests, straight-up errors can creep up in your account. Let's face it, on any given day you may be making dozens or even hundreds of changes within your account. Mistakes are going to happen.

Your defense plan:
  • Have a stringent QA (quality assurance) process. You should have a process to double-check all work completed within your account.
  • Create alerts within your campaigns. I know! This is extremely repetitive but really, alerts can be your savior! Just think if you accidentally upload an incorrect keyword that has a high volume but poor conversion rate. Set alerts for increased impressions or clicks and increased CPA. This is just one example. You can set alerts for any trend that may be alarming.



These are just a few of the gremlins looking to run amok in your campaigns. Remember, if you as a campaign manager receive feedback that an account didn't see double-digit growth in a particular month, just remind people what it takes to protect and maintain your performance.

Sometimes holding your ground is even more difficult than generating explosive growth. While we'd all prefer to see explosive growth in our campaigns, sometimes the best offense is a good defense.

Article Post @ Search Engine Watch

7 Ways To Get Links When Launching A New Website

Launching a new website is one of the hardest things you do. It’s also one of the best ways to get a nice influx of links pointing your way.

I know this because for the past 2 1/2 months, I’ve been living it. On Tuesday, July 16 at 3:52 p.m., 352 Media Group officially became 352. Our new name came with a new brand and a new website. It also came with more than 3x the traffic that we typically see.

Tapering off but still seeing a solid increase

Tapering off, but still seeing a solid increase

There are thousands of things to think about when you’re launching a new site (a million if you’re changing your URL structure or domain name), but one thing that is sometimes overlooked is what you’re going to do to promote it.

Internal Buy-In

You already have a group of people who will definitely share and talk about your new site: anyone at your company. But remember, they may not be as link-savvy as you, so don’t forget to coach them on the best way to spread the news. For example:
  • Use the “share” button from your company’s Facebook post on the launch instead of posting on their own.
  • Give them the right descriptors for your new brand, i.e., “Web design company” to “digital agency” to blog on their personal sites. Those will become both anchor text and in-text co-occurrence. 


Tell Your Clients

On the same vein as pumping up your internal team about the new launch, tell your clients, partners, friends and random people you meet in Starbucks about your new site — ask them to share it, too.

We sent out personalized emails to our clients letting them know of the change and what they can expect, ending it by asking them for their feedback and to share it with their friends. People are much more inclined to share something if you ask for their opinion first.

Pre-Launch Teasers

About a month before we launched, we started teasing our new brand and parts of our new site. We had a series of blog posts leading up to it, put screenshots of the site being built on Instagram and Facebook, and tweeted about our “big news” coming.

It got people excited; it got people talking; and, it got people to stay tuned for the official launch.

Our posts the day before we launched.

Our posts the day before we launched.


Pre-Launch Reviews

Reach out to influencers both in your industry and the Web design industry and offer them a test run of your site before it goes live. FollowerWonk is your best bet to find these people.

Asking them to review it on their blog brings you buzz, links and your first feedback from users with no association to your brand. That user feedback could be more valuable than any link you get from it.

Post-Launch Press

Last month, I went on a little rant about 11 things that we need to stop doing in link building. The “no-news press releases” was one of them. Your new site and brand are probably some of the biggest news; so, this is a perfect time for some old-fashioned press.

We sent out a release via PR Newswire; but, we also pitched our contacts in our local markets (Atlanta, Tampa and Gainesville, FL) to garner the hometown hero press.

Social Sharing

Launching your new site will easily be one of your most shared pieces on social media.


You need to be ready for that. We weren’t.

The post announcing our launch and our new brand had more than 2x the reach and engagement that our posts typically see. Twenty-seven people shared it on their pages, further expanding our reach. Unfortunately, this is what it looked like when they were sharing:

Not exactly the prettiest post to share.

Not exactly the prettiest post to share.

Amidst all of the chaos on the day of launch in getting ready for 3:52 p.m., I forgot to make sure our site was Open Graph friendly. That sucks.

Posts with photos, especially links with thumbnails, get upwards of 120% more engagement than posts without. I’m still extremely happy with the feedback we got, but one little fix pre launch would have made a huge difference. Make sure that your site is optimized with Open Graph so your shares get the most reach possible.

Web Design Galleries & Awards

Post of clarification: this is not a directory submission tactic. There are a handful of legitimate Web design galleries and award sites that go to recognizing some of the best designed sites out there. If you think yours makes the cut, submit it for inclusion. AWWWARDS, CSS Design Awards, Unmatched Style and W3 Awards are some good ones.

Note that for every legit site like this, there are a handful of automated ones. Steer clear of the services that say they’ll submit your site to a dozen top Web design galleries and opt for the manual ones.

What are some other ways you can promote a new website launch to get links?
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Article Post @ Seach Engine Land
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