In 2017 we cant as small businesses we cant afford to stay in the sidelines and watch as this mammoth takes over and ruins our local small businesses for good. The state of technology and its advance, cripples us that are not in the know, and catching up is costly and time consuming.
Whilst I know that this video is not local to South Africa, the battle to educate is real, and it doesnt change, no matter what country you are in. The truth is that we access the internet via Google, Facebook, Twitter, the list goes on… And if we are not going to be thinking like you and me, and accessing our niche market via the same means we use those platforms then we are doing something wrong.
You have to know that not every paid online advertising model is a perfect fit, for example, a roofing company will have to follow a completely different solution to a blanket manufacturer. Such is the same for a publisher vs a marketplace. Im not saying that you wont need to advertise online, it really depends if youre growing a following or selling something. If youre wanting to do both, then you need to be looking at an earned media and paid for strategy.
All in all this is a great clip that highlights the conundrum from both sides.
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Hold on to your chairs marketers, brands and publishers, your world is about to drop off its axis.
I have on many occasions written about the massive move Facebook is going to be making, and I have on many occasions written about why you need SEO, but this time it is to warn you that you need it NOW.
Why now? On Thursday last week, the 30th of June 2016, all our comfortable marketing worlds were shattered when Facebook announced on its blog, the new algorithm update.
Facebook have moved to obliterate all your “free” marketing efforts as the algorithm is changing to send less traffic to your content sites.
The reason being says Facebooks Vice president of product management Adam Mosseri “The growth and competition in the publisher ecosystem is really, really strong, We’re worried that a lot of people using Facebook are not able to connect to friends and family as well because of that.”
Firstly, it was never your audience to begin with, so the panic we all feel is somewhat exaggerated by this realisation. Let’s dive deep into what this means for us locally. SocialFlow reported earlier this month that the reach of publishers has already dropped by 42%, and since most publishers generate about 70% of their traffic from Facebook, especially here is SA, it’s a rather bleak outlook.
It’s not like the writing wasn’t on the wall, we have all seen the little alerts Facebook pops out suggesting you should boost your post, well the future could mean exactly that. Let’s say you create this awesome Facebook post to this amazing article or offer you have and as you hit the post button Facebook gives you a message that reads: pay x amount to reach this audience. Your reaction would be along the lines of “NO that’s my audience!”… But the real answer is: No, its Facebooks audience. And we should probably get used to that as this is probably the only way we will reach those audiences.
This of course also means the cost of Ads on Facebook will go up.
Let’s look at Auto play video that took Facebook by storm, the question is: do you know why there was a sudden boom from brands and publishers to provide video? The video view counts with Facebook’s “auto play”, even though they may have been somewhat massively inflated, were through the roof, the perfect solution for publishers to prove their social media ROI, and this in turn caused a storm in the marketing world, you have to remember that the news feed does not give your video an unlimited supply of attention, it just looks that way. There is a list of 20 publishers that Facebook paid to make it look that way. Buzzfeed being one publisher that made millions off of this video move.
Gone are the days when there was a native advertising sweet spot, from now on a publisher on Facebook will be issued with a tag that says NATIVE, and this will hurt marketers and publishers as it breaks the illusion that we publishers or marketers are buying access to sacred audiences. The tag allows the brand to access all insights from a post that they are “tagged” in. It works like this: you will be able to see how much traffic you generate from NATIVE Ads rather than seeing organic traffic, this will allow marketers to calculate how big that ROI margin is and I promise you, you will be feeling like you have been robbed.
This algorithm change also means that publishers can share branded content from their official pages to drive traffic organically, but we will be having to rely on Native ads and paid advertising inside Facebook which poses a budget problem down the line.
Let’s look at how we can save this massive loss in traffic from Facebook. SEO is the only answer, it’s the only way to secure earned organic traffic. The principles of SEO do not change; quality content principles don’t change. I know some of you are saying Social is one of the pillars of SEO, yes and no. Social signals will always play a part in SEO ranking, but those are short lived, and have a life span of 48hrs in SERPs if you’re lucky. SEO on the other hand is also applicable inside social media, you just have to find the right SEO person for the job and that might be difficult with the number false guru’s we have trailing the net.
It’s not about their listing on Google, everybody is an SEO on Google Ads, its about finding the SEO that has the knowledge to give you that will equip you for the future. That will guide you and assist you not spew out an audit that means nothing to you. Choose wisely as the next 18months will be critical if you don’t.
My advice to all of you who use Facebook as your primary traffic engine or advertising channel, get SEO nowor you will not be here playing digital marketing in 18months time.
Google unpacked a prominent update to its search results page for ads. Google will no longer be listing ADS down the right hand column, for desktop queries like before. The Ads units have been increased from 3 ad blocks per search results page, and the fourth will be at the bottom of the page if Google determines as “highly commercial queries.” Only 2 exceptions to this new rule apply, those are the product listing ads (PLA) boxes and the ads inside the Knowledge Graph.
This is a major change that will affect organic search. In as many ways! Like most moguls, Google is not blind to the upsurge of mobile traffic that has occurred over the last 24 months, in fact its growing faster than the advent of the web. The new layout of desktop search results will look like that of a mobile SERPS, is said to facilitate better accurate mobile search results (aligned to your intent) like Instant Answers and provide better performance for the advertiser’s ads.
What’s not unclear is that Google are the masters of this thing called “intent” and the true nature of search is such: Users actively ask google a question, “what is, where is, how do I?, best recipe etc.” add to this The Knowledge Graph which determines the understanding of the difference between an informational query VS a transactional query.
If a consumer searched to purchase something like an IPad, Google would see it as a bad user experience for that consumer, for if the searcher/consumer had to sift through the organic listings first to only to get to user manuals and other irrelevant listings.
The value proposition is entirely suited to Google’s Programmaticadvertising product AdWords, suited to the mobile consumer, and after years of Matt Cutts from Google stressing about the value of content for ranking purposes, its quite evident now, that this no longer applies.
Already in mobile results we have started seeing that there aren’t any organic listings above the fold! Try searching this from your mobile, “makeup brushes” and you will see that there are now 7 ad spaces, 4 above the organic listings (that are below the fold), and 3 at the bottom of the page. See Below Image.
Mobile search results
The new ad layout model predicts organic SERP genocide, as per the above, excluding the impact that Instant answers will have on search results, we also have to compete with the move on Googles part around local search (most chrome browsers in SA now auto redirect to google.co.za) coupled with a local competitive search result type (Part 3) that will now be positioned after Instant answers, or before that if noinstant answer content exists, and before organic listings. You may feel that the coverage of the screen won’t have a that much of a dramatic impact, but, displaying 4 – 7 ad units on nearly all mobile queries will undoubtedly have an effect on all advertisers.
The key here is not to lose your marbles and throw in the towel, but rather take the time and research what changes have been made to search algorithms, how these will affect your marketing efforts and what the level of importance is, such as the causation for your online business if the search platforms are updating 600 odd times a year, and your online tactics are not. If all else fails, get a reputable SEO to assist you.
In the last part of this article, I will be outlining the last reason you should give up on ranking #1 organically in google search.
The blatant audacity that this article suggests, probably doesn’t site sit well with those of you still chasing that elusive position of organically ranking at #1 in Google, or those of you who have paid an agency or SEO to rank you at #1.
Firstly, this practice directly contravenes the SEO code of ethics, and in my book, utterly unethical. So if that is what you have been sold or are selling, the truth is, the game has changed and the opponent is now a Google AI algorithm.
Let’s examine the Google “snippet review” or more accurately “instant answer” the new artificial intelligence algorithm that answers what appears to be fairly simple questions:
Nifty isn’t it? Especially for the consumer experience on Google right? And what about those mobile searches for the answer you don’t need to search for, fabulous for the consumer….But this means something totally different for us who operate in this market.
The anatomy of the helpful yet equally damaging instant answer is broken down like this:
The “intent / preposition” of the person (asking for information)
The best answer for the query is determined by Google bots, and unbelievably they are not even closely related to previous metrics like DA, organic rank or SEO
Wikipedia is the unintended “provider” of the most information due to the structure of their content and the mass of content they have
Why is this bad for us? The causation here is that although Wikipedia denied it at first, it has subsequently lost considerable direct traffic due to Knowledge graph, almost as much traffic as the links that rank in position 2, 3 under the instant answer, will have no doubt lost.
Why so? The searcher not only gets an instant answer, but instant gratification too! Google answers the question, quantifies that answer down the right hand column, so great for the mobile user looking for an instant answer.
But what about marketers? While its clearly a move to support mobile first, for Google, and I’m not saying I’m against it, it was bound to happen, the reality is that this presents an issue for marketers online, as most websites don’t lift their “skirts” and bear all, the strategy is generally designed to get the user to their site before the user is rewarded with the answer / solution / product.
This new algorithm kind of throws that ranking first thing on its head now doesn’t it. Although this seems fatalistic there is a key learning here, instant answers are not available for all queries, not by a long shot. But it won’t be that way for long, that much you can be assured of.
You would be best advised to create key content pieces that provided useful information and “structured” information, and if done correctly your content could be selected by “Instant answers” and while no data exists yet for the CTR on instant articles, or the digital brand lift if any on the source sites, what I can tell you with certainty is that all things being equal if your social and site was optimised correctly, you had this valuable content I’m talking about, you optimised “everything” you posted, had a solid strategy, then ranking for number #1 would be obsolete as featuring in the instant answer box essentially means that you are the new #1.
In conclusion, and this is not a declaration, rather it’s a thought I can’t help pondering, let’s assume that Google Knowledge Graph and Instant Answers do have a devastating impact on Wikipedia traffic and manage to unintentionally squash the giant that is Wikipedia, what does that then imply about the power that Google has…. Or the ability for us to compete in an environment that is now clearly biased and of course Google answering the questions for us.
Content is the only answer, content is the very lifeblood of the internet, without that we have nothing but a newspaper insert section of useless advertising online.
In my next article Ill be discussing the next reason why you won’t be ranking in position number 1 in a hurry.
There are many articles and info hubs online that offer you all the very best advice on SEO, the on page, the off page, the H1, the user journey, the meta this, meta that, oh, blah blah fish paste!
In reality we are all looking for that hack, right? That “one button fixes it all” thing. The hack that defies the need for you to be a rocket scientist. We want instant gratification. Whilst it may look as though I am defeating the ends of justice here, or that this magician is revealing her dark arts, the fact is that these dirty little hacks are totally within your control. Totally.
So here it is, the low down dirty SEO hack guide:
Content is and always will be king. If you have crap content, nothing on this list is going to serve you in any way. Create valuable, informative, rich content and Google will not penalise your search rankings for low quality content. Research has shown that long form content is working better on desktop than this short snackable formats we have become accustomed to. Title your content with short enticing yet descriptive titles, like this article.
Alt Tabs and Descriptions:
When loading content, make sure that you fill in all the area’s, IE: The name of the piece, the description and the ALT tag, as this allows for content to rank for different keywords and terms, as I’ve mentioned before in previous articles.
If your content is authentic and relevant to your audience, your keywords will naturally populate your content, Google has a myriad of checks in an algorithm, and keyword stuffing falls directly under their radar, so make sure your keywords are only mentioned 3-5 times in a copy.
Tech Stack Compliance:
Now this one is a killer, there are so many web developers out there, all offering the most amaze graphic design and artwork, with no idea about SEO, search visibility, google algorithms, code & language, and how this affects search visibility. What I mean is this, if you go to a building contractor and say “build my shop here”, he is not going to enter into a conversation about foot trade and parking, entrances and exits to the roads is he? No, he is going to build what you tell him to. Same applies for web developers. Make sure your sites technology stack is Google friendly, if not, most of this list is probably obsolete for you.
Hmmm, yes the sitemap is very important, without this guy, Google spiders are lost, and the result is the site is literally “lost” in search results. The sitemap makes sure that all of the links and content on your site are indexed in a manner the bots understand and easy to find and follow, the low down dirty hack here is that it should be at the bottom footer on your website for a prime “crawlable” presence.
It’s not as hard as you think, and it’s not a dark art, it’s a geographical locational listing, called Google My Business. It’s a simple process: Go to your browser, search for Google My Business, and follow the instructions. Google will send you a personal code in the post, you go online to the address given and enter code, VIOLA! You can set up your business on Google.
Site Speed & Mobile Readiness
Google are issuing a bright red “SLOW” tag to all sites that are too slow to load, this is very visible from search results especially from a mobile search. As you probably suspect this is in aid of mobile search, dominating search globally, so make sure your site loads fast and that it is either responsive, mobile or you have a mobi version. The dirty on this one is, make sure your site loads in milliseconds, and Google bots wont penalise your site in desktop or mobile search results.
These are what we call Accelerated Mobile Pages and these are pages that are designed to the mobile page’s load much faster, and now with the emphasis on speed and user experience, AMP’s will definitely have an influence on search results. If you’re a WordPress user, there is a plugin for AMP, check it out.
Internal Search Data
This is a wealth of juicy data, the pot of gold, that will allow you to craft the content related to the user’s actual search terms on your site. Need I say more?
Social search is taking the globe by storm, and as I’ve mentioned in previous articles, Tweets can now be found in search results by adding a # to your search term. In Facebook the same applies, if you add a # to a term and a reader click’s on that, that user is taken to all the hash tagged content in that category and or topic! So use your social media platforms to generate site traffic and SERP’s, by staying on top of social media like Twitter, and having valuable share worthy content, you would have achieved what most hope for in search visibility.
As we can divulge, there really is no quick fix to SEO, no low down hacks, but there definitely are simple and effective processes one can do to have a positive effect on your SEO.
There is a misunderstanding about how SEO & Social Media work together, whilst we know that social media does affect the search rank, nobody seems to understand how. Social visibility is only achieved by being active, engagement is key, but creating and posting great content that shares quickly is also only half the job done. One cannot simply schedule standardized posts to go out across all social networks.
The SEO and Social Media discipline is not just about creating and posting great content, it’s about promoting that content so that it achieves the results we are looking for. Consider the following when thinking about your social media and how to derive the best SEO value from it.
Google does not directly factor in social signals, however, they do not ignore them either. It’s the results we SEO’s are looking for from social sharing, not the rank. The organic reach and engagement.
Having “social presence” does not equate to rank increase. Great content, activity and engagement will lead to increased visibility and links, and its these links that lead to a higher rank over time.
The amount of followers, connections and influencers that are connected to your social media platforms have a notable upward effect on your ranking, the SEO catch is this audience must be earned, not bought and that means you will need to build this following organically, which is ultimately a slow but very effective SEO process.
SEO’s are forever hunting the backlink, and social media provides the perfect platform for this. Google is looking for diversity in the links to your site, so social media encourages this, as long as your content is of course, useful, original, relevant to your audience both on your website and the social platform.
Post optimisation is extremely important, think about the channels you are going to use, and know that you CAN rank for the same post with different search terms. This is where SEO comes in real handy. Although this comes with a caution, if your SEO knows nothing about content you have a problem Houston. Ideally you want your content person to know a whole lot about SEO.
It is totally possible to increase your online rep and this can be significantly beneficial to SEO. Content is the answer, high quality syndicated content can increase brand presence by up to 89% simply on share value, sounds like a branding opportunity doesn’t it? It could be, but it carries a heavy warning and this is the tricky part, you will need a SMO (social media optimisation) and SEO specialist to help you. This skill truly is an art.
Social media will never be the engine of survival for sales conversions, but SEO will, together these 2 have a specific synergy that unfortunately does require investment if one is to use these 2 to drive sales and conversions.
Yes, Google and Twitter are in bed together, your latest tweets can be found in search results, Google bots go out and search for the very latest in that particular topic and if it should be your tweet, you shall rank first on a Google search. This too comes with a deep understanding that this instant rank can move to page 103 if other more relevant information can be found.
SEO and Social media are both considered to be inbound marketing techniques, or pull marketing, pushing product to your audience all the time will push them away and straight to your competitors, so focus on pulling them in with great content and conversation, identify their passions and fulfil a need, then and only then will selling be easy.
Implement Google Knowledge Graph and Google my Business as soon as possible, this helps search engines, especially Google, rank your social media and web posts better than those who do not have this implemented
As we move into 2016, it’s important that businesses’ and brands make allowances for social media, content marketing and SEO in their marketing budgets, and have these disciplines implemented in their business this year, as without these things working like a well-oiled machine, I fear those left behind in 2017 will stay behind.