Shots have been fired across the bow of the Google command ship and they came from a source that is not only extremely early, but somewhat unlikely – Facebook.
Just a short time ago Mark Zuckerberg came forward during the most recent Facebook earnings call to state in no uncertain terms that they will compete directly with Google to be the kings of search. Over the last year Facebook implemented their graph search which allows you to perform contextual searches based on your friends and what ever information they have shared with you, to hopefully find answers to what your question may be. They’re working on being more of a source of answers instead of a source of results all while targeting the mobile platform in order to facilitate mobile searches.
The Facebook graph search has by their records the largest index on hand, larger than any other web search engine. They estimate they have somewhere more than a trillion <em>connections</em> between their users, interests, groups etc. While the number sounds impressive to be sure, and while Zuckerberg believes that they happen to have the largest database on hand the proof will be found in the pudding as they say. The actual size of the index that Google has is difficult at best to try even try and envision as a number let alone an actual one, but the last count that seems to be passed around is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 billion pages, growing at a rate of 5+ billion pages per year based on people creating, modifying and changing their web presence.
Where the house of cards that Facebook has built for themselves as an opponent in a giant versus giant battle is also tied to their earnings call unfortunately. The likely timeline that Facebook could pose a realistic threat as a web search engine is in 10 years. 10 years on the web is an eternity where technology is concerned, and at the rate that Google and other search engines are growing and adapting, Facebook is likely to be left out in the cold when the time comes to fight.
It’s one thing to read news and conjecture about the death of search engine optimization, but it’s another point all together when the provider comes forward and admits that their organic search is failing.
No the news hasn’t come from any major search engine, but it has come from the worlds largest social network – Facebook. It has really only been a year or so since Facebook has come out with their graph search – their newest search iteration that tries to show you what is included in your social circles in only a few keystrokes. There were two main points that they’ve shared that has raised the ire search marketers across the web.
We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site (Facebook). We’re getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it.
So in short, now that Facebook has the attention of somewhere north of a billion users, they’re telling business page owners that if you want to be seen, you’re better off paying them if you want to be seen.
So if you have a business page on Facebook, you aren’t completely lost with the surprising information – you do have options that you can exercise instead of just abandoning the Facebook ship. One of the primary things you can do if you don’t want to deal with the changes is to completely jump ship for the other social media services out there – LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ namely. They all have their pros and cons, LinkedIn is a more professional social network and allows you to build a professional relationship around their network of users. Twitter allows you to speak instantly, and clearly to anyone who wants to listen, and Google+ while still relatively unused as a social service, has developed an almost rabid fan following of users.
Your other choice is to roll with the punches that Facebook is throwing your way and adapt to their upcoming changes and see where you come out on the other side. While paid advertising works on any network whether it’s social or search, you need to understand that a high portion of your budget is going to become general advertising overhead. It also needs to be understood that if you decide to use Facebook as a traffic generator, that your budget will have to also increase as you’ll essentially be paying people to see your page and website.
It is yet to be determined what the outcome for Facebook will be with this change to their organic algorithm, but with the change just being announced it has already caused some major friction in the search game, the social impact is yet to be seen.
In the quest for online dominance, where do you believe is the best place to lay your allegiance – Do you go after organic dominance, social dominance, or diversify?
Not that it should really be a difficult question, but putting all of your eggs in one basket, whether it be organic or social, has never been a good idea. There are pros an cons to each area of online visibility the question that really needs to be asked and answered is what type of balance should you go after as a website owner?
Going after the top of the charts for organic listings is an almost immeasurably powerful position. When you’re in the top 3 results for your key term targets you can easily enjoy 95% or more traffic than being at number 5 or 6 on the results pages. The direct benefit of being in those top spots can be the difference between sending your staff on a paid holiday as a Christmas bonus, or taking them all out to McDonalds for lunch. In a survey conducted earlier this year it was determined that being number 1 for your search term safely netted you more than a third of all traffic for that term, while being number 5 and less, dropped you to the 5% of all traffic. And the reason is actually fairly simple – users like quick and easy to get to their end destination. When a user searches for a service, say they need a banner printer locally, it’s unlikely that they will scroll down the first page passed the first couple of results as they’ll get a listing of all of the local businesses that can provide them with a banner. And when you incorporate into the organic results the inclusion of maps results when someone is looking for a business, it’s even more likely that the user won’t scroll down the page.
The only real downside to organic search engine marketing is the time factor, it takes time for your site to be listed appropriately. And with the constant changes to the search engine algorithms, what is best practices today, may be a red flag the next, it’s a continually evolving landscape that needs to monitored and tended to. As a result of the due diligence required to appropriately monitor the fluctuating search changes, there is often the cost required to keep your SEO on call in order to meet the changes head on.
Social dominance is a whole other ball of wax that requires a different spin in order to capitalize on the marketplace. When you become a force to be reckoned with in the social arena your business enjoys the fandom of (hopefully) thousands of immediate customers and subscribers that are already part of your qualified consumer base. The potential of viral marketing is currently unmatched in how quickly it can bring your company to the attention of your local audience, and potentially even the world. So in short, the social area provides you with a prequalified audience of consumers, the quick sharing of information across multiple channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc), and the potential to go viral and become world known in a relatively short time frame.
A negative to the added visibility and power of the social arena though is first off, it takes a fair bit of time to acquire your consumer base and make them believers in your products and service. It’s much like you’re contracting them to be your sales force by sharing your message as you share with them, and this required a fair bit of personal dedication. And with the potential to go viral with an incredible message (like the recent Westjet video) the potential to run afoul of the internet exists as well. Being active in the social arena needs to be carefully tempered, and your marketing team needs to be diligent in their handling of customers, both positive and negative so as not to find themselves on the wrong side of the news.
The Federal Trade Commission recently issued a warning to the major search engines requesting that they more clearly distinguish between the organic results and paid ads. This applies not only to traditional search engines, but also social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as mobile apps.
The FTC’s warning to search engines should be a wake-up call to the search marketing industry. The days of playing fast and loose with mixed paid and organic search results on search engine results pages (SERPs) appears to be coming to an end. In its place will be more stringent oversight of how search engines display paid search results and, as a result, more cumbersome and potentially onerous restrictions on what search marketing can and cannot do with their campaigns.
What are the potential implications for marketers of this new guidance? What do search marketers need to do now to begin adjusting for these changes?
It is unclear at this point the extent that each search engine will address this request, but it is expected that minor changes to the way paid ads are identified will ensue to avoid possible FTC action.
These changes, however, can impact the efforts of search engine marketers, as they will potentially need to make more drastic modifications to their search engine marketing efforts.
Here are some potential effects that the FTC’s warning will have on marketers:
Further Real-Estate Limitations
Clarifying the difference between paid and organic search listings can potentially limit the space available to both organic and paid listings. This means that either fewer results will be able to display “above the fold” without scrolling, or the character limits within each result will be reduced.
If the number of results above the fold is decreased, achieving an above-the-fold listing will be even more competitive. Businesses will be competing heavily for top placement and more of an investment will be needed to generate current levels of volume.
In the case of character limits being reduced within each result, businesses will need to update their online messaging to get their point across in less space. Paid ad titles and ad copy will likely have to be updated to fit within new limits and titles, and meta descriptions of organic mobile pages will need to be shortened to avoid being truncated when listed.
More Strategic Mobile Targeting
Paid search targeted to mobile devices is one of the fastest-growing digital marketing channels and is playing a bigger role in how consumers find products and services. The implications of the FTC warning on mobile paid search could have a big impact on how these ads are displayed. Mobile search real estate, because of the size of mobile browsers, is already very limited.
What marketers will need to pay close attention to is how they segment their mobile targeting by device type. For example, the difference in the amount of SERP real estate between tablets and smartphones is likely to increase. Targeting and bidding strategies will need to vary per device to be most efficient.
Changes to Voice-Activated Search Services
Another implication specific to mobile search is brought on by the request relating to voice-activated search results. The FTC’s warning extends to services such as Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s S-Voice. The FTC has requested that when a voice search is executed, an audio disclosure should be made to identify paid advertising. This could potentially deter users from those paid ads, making the organic listings more valuable.
Marketers must keep a close eye on search engine results and take note of any changes that occur. When used correctly and responsibly, paid search marketing can provide a tremendous benefit to brands’ online marketing and customer acquisition strategies. But in light of the FTC’s letter, the days of deceptive paid search tactics are coming to an end. That will benefit both consumers and marketers in the long run.
The next frontier that Facebook needs to conquer is search. That would help it significantly expand revenues and, in turn, its market value. Search, I would say, is a very high priority for Facebook and may be the announcement due Tuesday might well be that. Facebook has this incredible treasure trove of unstructured data on the site, but can it finally put it to good use?
Research firm eMarketer estimates that Facebook, the No. 2 company in the U.S. mobile advertising market, had an 8.8 percent share last year —up from zero in 2011. That compared with No. 1 Google’s 56.6 percent. This year, Facebook is expected to grow its share to 12.2 percent, while remaining far behind Google, but we all know the real dollars is in search.
Facebook’ biggest challenge however and potentially its most lucrative opportunity, a chance to topple Google as the king of search. Will that ever happen?
As always at this time of year we give our predictions for SEO for the following year, this year we have gathered some help from our friends & other search experts in the field who have given there twist on things to come.
In 2013, the SEO Role must go above and beyond. For example, a basic SEO strategy would obviously include some amount of reporting (for keyword rankings and traffic numbers at the least); however, I find myself analyzing the data to help my client better understand their demographic. Where are visitors accessing the site from, when do they access the site, and what are they specifically looking for when they are on the site?
All of these questions—and more—are in hopes of helping them identify new ways to effectively reach their customer base and ultimately make them more successful. It is SEO’s job to provide meaningful help.
Rand says links and rankings are just means to an end, not the end itself.
What clients really want is not better rankings and more links; they want to make more money.
The SEOs who understood and understand where Google is going and what their clients really want are the ones who are still in business and doing well. For them, the job of a SEO is content relevancy (public relations), user experience, web design, conversions, traffic segmentation, call tracking, research, writing, and anything else that sells products and services and leads to more profits for the client not just short-term, but long-term as well.
Most of all, the job of an SEO is to see the future. Those who can’t will go out of business and take their clients with them.
In conclusion, each of these experts—coming from multiple perspectives–agree that SEO will become a much broader and more complex function in 2013. Yet it will also become more vital than ever before, as it converges with every variety of online presence and marketing.
SEO 2013 predictions
So Facebook closed with a loss of 9.68 percent at $28.82, dropping below $30 for the first time and ending down more than 24 percent from its offering price of $38 on May 18.
To be honest I think it’s all a sham, some traders getting rich while others will end in the poor house.
Facebook does not have any real money making schemes like say Google, it’s advertising module is a joke and does not work and when it does it’s poor to say the least, that wont stop the advertisers throwing banners all over the place like in the late 90′s early 2000′s to try take advantage of the numbers facebook has.
However, it does have a huge database and following, it’s only saving grace as far as I’m concerned which of course is worth plenty, they just have to work out how to monetize it properly.
Well personally I see them buying RIM, you heard it here first folks, Yes Blackberry & Facebook could save each other.
Both need a helping hand at the moment, Facebook is thinking of getting into mobile and RIM needs a lot of help too, to marry could be the answer.
Looking into my crystal ball I dont see facebook being around for many a years, in fact I would be surprised to see it in say 10 years in it’s present form, the numbers and addresses they have in that database is all the wolves in the marketplace really need.
The stubling block will be Zuckerberg’s ego, we all have one, but something new always comes along, that may by Opera or RIM, but they need to do something new and different or at least work out the kinks in their advertising, or all that will be left will be the farm girls and boys playing games and the singles still using it as the dating site.
Social Media for some small businesses especially with small budgets struggle in todays market, well we may have found the answer, Social Outbreak.
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Is the revolution beginning? Check it out or Join Today and start getting seen on the biggest networks online.
It’s almost like a tragic love triangle, with Microsoft somewhere in the middle between Yahoo and Facebook. In case you missed the news, Yahoo is making a lot of fuss and bother over Facebook, and the more scrutiny that’s put into it it looks like it’s founded on some loose interpretations.
How is Microsoft stuck in the middle? While it doesn’t own Yahoo or Facebook, it does have it’s finger in both of their pools. With search and social sharing with Facebook and delivering the search results for Yahoo. Yahoo isn’t a stranger to suing others over what they see as patent infringement. They’ve also sued Google as well, which was eventually settled for some stock after a couple of years of duking it out. The difference there however, is that Yahoo may have actually won a case had they not settled. Google had began to use a similar idea to Overture’s pay per click and auction system, and Yahoo had bought the fledgling search engine. Even with changing, upgrading and innovating on the ideas, they were still taken from that basic idea that Yahoo effectively owned.
Where Facebook is concerned? Yahoo is on thin, shaky ground at best, and in la-la land at worst. Some of the points that Yahoo is going to attempt to sue? How about the “method and system for optimum ad placement on a page” which take literally on it’s own could allow Yahoo to sue any company or website using paid advertisements. If that isn’t a loose enough patent for you, how about the patent for dynamic page generation? PHP and any other database driven site or achitecture could technically be dinged on this point.
The key points which Yahoo has decided to press on in regards to Facebook infringing patents are hopefully met with a realistic view and not a literal one when the day comes. When all the points are taken together, Yahoo could almost translate any of them to suing the vast majority of the web, which is a twisted pipe dream in a literalists world.