Spamming, inorganic and backlink building SEOs beware. Google’s latest update, which went live yesterday, is targeting these tactics to improve search results and reward quality content.
The over-optimization penalty update was announced by Google’s head of the web spam team,
Matt Cutts, at the recent South by Southwest (SXSW). Cutts who had this to say about the update.
“Normally we don’t sort of pre-announce changes, but there is something that we’ve been working on in the last few months. And hopefully, in the next couple months or so, in the coming weeks, we hope to release it. ... So all those people who have sort of been doing, for lack of a better word, “over optimization” or “overly” doing their SEO, compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we want to sort of make that playing field a little bit more level.”
Before you join the bandwagon of angry SEOs, let’s discuss what this update means for your content and your practices.
What is Web Spam?
The fact of the matter is that Google has set guidelines on what it considers “quality” content. If you’re breaking the rules, you probably already know them, but we don’t want to leave any room for confusion.
Google identifies web spam as:
White Hat SEO vs. Web Spam
Cutts made it clear that Google’s intention is not to interfere with white hat SEO, but to eliminate web spam. Their goal is to reward high-quality sites and great content, which you should already be publishing. Actually, web masters should ONLY be linking to quality content. According to Google, this update will only impact about 3% of English sites.
Positive Implications for Content Marketing
The key takeaway from Google’s update is that content is king. Marketers should focus their efforts on creating dynamic, quality, shareable content that creates a good user experience. Aggressive web spam tactics will not be as successful now. Which means, marketers and SEOs should spend more time writing blog posts, white boards, videos, infographics and other inbound types of content that will rank organically.
We’ve written a few blogs about content marketing and inbound marketing that are helpful for SEOs looking to make the shift.
Measuring online advertisings impact on a brand is difficult, if not impossible. That was until Google announced the development of an online brand metric tool that will speak to the plight of traditional and non-traditional brand marketers everywhere.
The new Brand Activate Initiative is “an ongoing Google effort to address these challenges and re-imagine online measurement for brand marketers.” With this initiative, Google is working to build useful brand metrics into the tools marketers are already using to manage their online advertising campaigns. The ultimate plan is for this new tool to measure an ad’s ability to drive sales or think favorably of the brand - something that has miffed marketers since the early days of TV.
Google rolled out the first two Brand Activate solutions last week and here’s what we’ve gathered thus far:
In just a few weeks, marketers will get a chance to test-drive this technology within Google Display Network Reserve, which counts “viewed” impressions that tell whether a consumer viewed an ad or clicked away. According to Google, Active View will be submitted for Media Rating Council accreditation, as it is defined by the IAB’s proposed standard of at least a 50% viewable display ad for at least one second.
Once in place, advertisers will only pay for viewed impressions. Active View will become the universal currency and be offered within DoubleClick for Advertisers. Google has future plans to work on viewed impression standards along with the IAB and other partners.
GRP means gross rating point, which is TV advertising metric used to measure the reach and frequency of a TV ad. Google’s Active GRP is the online equivalent, which will extend brand marketing from offline to online in the same capacity.
Since Active GRP will be integrated into Google’s present ad tools, marketers will have the flexibility to adjust ads in real time, which is not possible with traditional advertising campaigns. Google has already launched a pilot program for DoubleClick for Advertisers clients and plans to integrate it with other products.
Not only that, Active GRP compensates for potential panel skewing and reliance on one data source thanks to its robust methodology. According to Google, “Active GRP is calculated by a statistical model that combines aggregated panel data and anonymous user data (either inferred or user-provided), and will work in conjunction with Active View to measure viewed impressions.”
This methodology will also be submitted to MRC.
Check out what people have to say about Google’s new tools:
LinkedIn is upping the ante for marketers with company pages by integrating two new features: Targeted Updates and Follower Statistics.
The goal of these features is to help companies develop lasting relationships with professionals in the social web. Which has become increasingly difficult to achieve considering cluttered inboxes and website visits declining. For the time being, only a handful of early release partners (AT&T, Samsung Mobile, Dell, and Microsoft) have access to the new features. The rest of us will get to try our hand at these features very soon.
Here’s a break down of what we have to look forward to:
Targeted Updates will give marketers the ability to send status updates to different segments of followers. This means you no longer have to send out mass messages to all your followers. Instead you can segment by the following variables: Company Size, Industry, Job Function, Seniority, Geography, and Employees/Non-Employees.
Here’s what a Microsoft employee thinks of the new features:
"Targeted updates are really exciting because it's going to allow Microsoft to message through our followers on LinkedIn, specific messages based on the audience. ... which should provide our customers with more value because the messages are specific to them..." - Kyle Cressman, Group Manager of Digital Marketing at Microsoft
LinkedIn data boasts that targeted updates have shown a 66+ increase in audience engagement.
Follower Statistics will provide a mini dashboard under the status bar with insights and analytic data to help marketers better understand their follower demographics and engagement updates. Analytic data is priceless information to have for any marketing campaign. Beyond that, analytics data is critical to successfully engaging followers.
LinkedIn so graciously provided 5 tips for creating engaging updates, and they are:
Facebook’s latest purchase of Instagram comes on the heels of it’s very recent introduction to the Android market, which sparked the introduction of thousands (maybe millions) of new Instagramers into the world of mobile photography.
Marketers are still figuring out how to harness the power of Instagram to engage consumers. A few months ago, we wrote an article on three Instagram best practices for brands. That was before the Facebook deal and Android market release, so we’re hoping that now more marketers and business owners will embrace the notion of Instagram.
Whether you think Instagram is worth the extra effort or not is not the question. The heart of the matter is that your customers and potential customers (especially if they are in the 18-24 demographic) are most likely already using Instagram to photograph your business specifically OR your competitors. The conversation is already taking place. Just like any other social media scenario, if you want to be involved in the message development, you must join and become active. Simple as that.
The previous Instagram blog touched on three best practices. This blog will give you a few SPECIFIC ways to create sharable content using Instagram.
Give Viewers a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Your Business
People are always curious about how businesses operate, products are selected and made, etc. So, why not tell those stories through photos using Instagram? That was a rhetorical question by the way.
Take your cell phone camera and start documenting your business processes. If you own a bar or restaurant, you can take pictures of food and drinks, taste testing with employees and customers, incoming shipments of veggies and friends, etc. Help customers see and understand how goods and services are chosen and developed in your company.
Push Posts to Twitter & Facebook to go Viral
Zuckerberg commented that he would largely leave Instagram alone, because it’s already wildly successful. I’m sure a few Facebook integrations are on the horizon, but as of right now, you can still post to Twitter and Facebook. From within the app itself, you can publish to both sites in an instant. Use @ mentions and hashtags for Twitter, so you reap the viral benefits. Just be sure you aren’t posting every single photo to Facebook and Twitter. That will quickly cause a domino effect of unfollows and unlikes by your audience.
Use 3rd Party Applications to Enhance Instagram Photos
People have already started adding ways to trick out your Instagram photos, because adding a filter is not the only thing you can do with Instagram. Third party developers have created applications that can add extra effects to your photo, making it even more likeable. Apps like Webstagram, Postagram, Printstagram, and StickyGam add a little extra umph to photos and allow some versatility in terms of usage. Currently, Instagram only allow you to curate pictures online, but the other applications allow you to print, make magnets, etc.
If you want to stay on the cutting edge of social media, take Mark Zuckerberg’s lead and hop on the Instagram band wagon. Start telling the story of your business through photos and share them with your customers.
Mark Zuckerberg has done it again. Yesterday, he announced that Facebook will purchase the popular photo-sharing app, Instagram, for $1 billion. Now the world is left to speculate about what changes, if any, Facebook will make to the two-year old app, which recently became available on Android phones. Previously, it was an iPhone only app.
Critics of Facebook and supporters on Instagram are not too pleased with this news. They took to Twitter yesterday with their grievances after the news broke. One of their major concerns is that the social media giant will swallow the novelty app that more than 30 million users have grown to love and use regularly. A similar situation took place after Facebook purchased Gowalla back in December 2011.
It may not be quite as easy for Facebook to stall Instagram’s momentum considering its massive following even before the Android app was launched. Now that its available on the Android market, it is clear that Instagram will quickly reach 50 million users in a short period of time.
Zuckerberg made a public announcement that shed some light on reasons why he went through with the deal. This is what he had to say:
“This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.”
Or maybe Zuckerberg was nervous about Instagrams growth and thought it wise to purchase the app at twice the value investors calculated.
Either way, for $1 billion Facebook acquired Instagram and all of its employees. Facebook has set its sights on mobile growth and they are one step closer to complete social media domination with this recent takeover.
The real question is, why didn’t Google step forward before Facebook? Google+ could have benefited from a mobile app such as this. It’s too late for Google, because Sir Zuckerberg snatched up Instagram for roughly $1 billion in a combination of cash and stock.
We will join the rest of the world in intense anticipation to see what features are developed and dumped.
The business value and return on investment for social media marketing has been the source of much debate among business owners and marketers alike. The Google Analytics Team recently rolled out their attempt to provide a solution – the new Social Reports.
The new Social Reports allow marketers to measure customer behavior on their website in real-time and measure the upper-funnel value of social media marketing efforts. In a recent blog titled “Capturing the Value of Social Media Using Google Analytics,” Google commented that even though social media has grown in popularity in recent years, brand websites remain the number one place where consumers purchase and convert.
This means two very important things for inbound marketers:
- Optimize and make websites user-friendly, and
- Tie in social media campaigns with online performance and conversion goals
The good news is Google makes the latter of those two important things super easy with the Social Report. According to Google’s blog, Social reports help marketers accomplish three things,
1. Identify the full value of traffic coming from social sites and measure how they lead to direct conversions or assist in future conversions
In order to pull in data regarding the full value of your social media marketing efforts, you need to define goals and the value of those goals. Google advises tailoring it to your business. When a customer is referred from a social media site and converts immediately that is called Last Interaction Social Conversion. If a social media referral leads to a conversion at a later time, that is called Assisted Social Conversion. The visualization below shows how this will all appear in Google Analytics.
The Conversions Report allows you to see exactly which goals are impacted by social media, classifies them as either assisted or last interaction and identifies the social media source. This way, you know what’s working and what needs improvement.
2. Understand social activities happening both on and off of your site to help you optimize user engagement and increase social key performance indicators
Prior to this new report rollout, Google Analytics only reported data and customer behavior on the website itself. A new Activity Stream tab shows how people are engaging with your web content in Google + and other brands like Badoo, Disqus, Echo, Hatena and Meetup. Social key performance indicators.
3. Make better, more efficient data-driven decisions in your social media marketing programs
With all this analytics data at your fingertips, it should be a lot easier to make the argument for social media marketing. Now more than ever, it is vital to design and implement social media marketing programs in alignment with data-driven decisions, as is the case with any marketing program. Before you start coming up with a social media strategy, take some time to analyze how much social media matters to your business by analyzing the Social Report.
Inbound marketing is not a set it and forget it or do it once type of marketing bit. It is no longer sufficient to rely solely on outbound marketing to generate leads and boost sales. The best way to position your business website and related content to be found by potential customers is to personalize your strategy based on your unique customer behavior patterns, data, successes and failures. Here are two steps to get you started:
SWOT Analysis: A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning method used to determine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of a business venture or project. It is also an integral part of a marketing strategy.
Anatomy of a SWOT Analysis:
- Strengths: characteristics of the business, or project team that give it an advantage over others
- Weaknesses: characteristics that place that team at a disadvantage relative to others
- Opportunities: external chances to improve performance in the environment
- Threats: external elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business or project
Identify your marketing issues and seek solutions for your weaknesses. If there are ways to turn your Threats into Opportunities, start brainstorming ways to achieve that as seamlessly as possible. If your Threats are your competitors, we advise monitoring their behavior (strategies or tactics that imped or outdo yours).
Determine Your Inbound Marketing Strategy: Understanding your Weaknesses and Threats is one thing, but to strategize a plan to overcome them is quite another. Unless you are Wal-Mart or some another global force, your ability to stay afloat depends on a solid inbound marketing strategy that increases your leads and builds revenue.
If for example the results of your SWOT analysis identify an issue with website conversions, new customer generation, or web hits, you might want to take a few hours to reevaluate your keyword strategy, Calls to actions, or landing pages. Unless you are new to inbound marketing, you probably already possess a list of target keywords you uncovered from the initial keyword reseach phase of your project. Create a list of 3-5 keywords relevant to your business based on difficulty and relevance. Create new content around these keywords and promote that content.
Positioning your business to be found by current and prospective customers online, your content must be optimized for search engine crawlers. There are five main on-page elements that your pages need to be found search-friendly. We wrote a whole series on SEO recently. The five elements of SEO are:
- Indexable Content
- Crawlable Link Structures
- Targeted Keywords
- Title Tags
- Meta Tag Descriptions
Create Extraordinary Content Around Your Determined Strategy:
Any marketing strategy is only as good as the content you use to convey it. What that means is that it is possible to have a rocking inbound marketing strategy and poorly execute it. The more unique, extraordinary, and thought provoking your content is, the more it will spread which equals more traffic and more leads for your business. When it comes to content creation and representation, Infographics are the latest craze. They are in essence, data visualization, and when done well and promoted in the right fashion can be a very powerful marketing tool. Whether you choose to create an infographic, run a contest, or create a simple blog post, try to make each piece of content it's own masterpiece.