Category Archives: facebook

Socially Searching – Google and Bing Social Metrics

Search Engine Results Pages or SERPs as it’s less of a mouthful, is the organic listing of relevant results returned from a search query. Or even simpler put, it’s the list you get when you search in Google, Bing or any other search engine. Google states that they have more than 200 different ranking factors which determine the results pages. Criteria ranging from anchor text, titles, incoming links and so on down the list. Bing, while they have a different algorith, hence different results, works upon the same principles as Googles. There needs to be some backbone, or authority to the people linking to your site to really have any significant driving force. Growing your site, and letting your information onto the web is akin to sprinkling seeds to contribute to your growth, it’s where the term organic results comes from. And now to muddy things up a tad, Google and Bing have started with a new layer of criteria, social factors.

It’s one thing for a robot to navigate the web, and rank websites according to which sites have the most content, or relevant content and return those results to you. But it’s another when you add into the mix that your Facebook friends (presumably) enjoy the same things as you do and ‘Like’ a site with that dastardly Facebook button. Bing is riding on this wagon, as when you’re signed into Facebook and search on Bing, you’ll receive results with your Facebook friends list helping to determine what’s relevant to your search as well. Google social, grabs the trending social information out there, and if it’s relevant to your query returns it as well, primarily in a scrolling box as new results come in.

As I mentioned in yesterdays blog post, social media will not be going away. The web is a social environment, encompassing the globe for anyone and everyone to say their piece. How you use that to assist in leveraging your business can’t be a half though out idea. If social media marketing is important to you, you will need to put hours of your time, or someone who knows your business to help push it in the social arena. Everything from tweeting sales and upcoming deals, to answering customers questions and concerns on Facebook. There was a decent Q&A by Danny Sullivan about how Google and Bing are starting to use social media as search leverage of sorts, an interesting read but the answers weren’t surprising.

Is Social Media Worth Your Time?

Facebook is vying to be a one stop portal on the web, what with offering communication, connections to your friends and families, business information if you can bothered to use their mediochre search functions, games and the list is growing. Facebook has become a destination for approximately half of its 500 million users, but with such a huge user base, the type of user would need to be qualified; a lot of older people, home makers and the younger information generation primarily.

As search and online shopping demographics become available from time to time, it’s becoming more and more obvious that the majority of online shopping which used to be the stay at home wives and mothers, has begun to shift to the 30+ crowd that has worked hard for their income. Facebook doesn’t have a money making angle as of yet that they’ve disclosed, but one that’s been discussed is being a marketing portal for users to but and use online services. With the online purchasing power moving more towards the 30 something career crowd however, it won’t be a terribly positive revenue model.

The chief problem, is Facebook itself. It’s clunky, often slow to navigate and the site will just randomly stop working at times giving you it’s “Oops, we don’t know what just happened” error page. It’s those issues which will serve as some reasons as to why the 30 something crowd stays away from Facebook. Contributing to the reluctance to join, is most notably, disinterest. Social media is not a fad, it’s definitely entrenched within the pseudo-mainstream with Twitter and Facebook holding court, but aside from having “friends” whom you’ve not seen since you left high school 15 years ago, there’s no draw to the join either of the sites.

We’re all equals here, we all put our pants on the same way, we all wash and we all need sleep and food. Micro-blogging on Twitter and Facebook serves as a valuable go between for business in that your customers can feel they can leave a direct line and voice their question or concern. As for personal use, there really is none for the “normal” everyday person. As for personalized advertising coming from using Facebook and Twitter? Programmers have been writing query strings to pull information from databases for years, if you’d like to have a look see, create an account using a strange or silly name and see the types of ads you’re served.

Cheap SEO “often too good to be true”

 Getting your company noticed online is not always an easy thing to achieve. If your Website does not appear near the top of the first page on a Google search, chances are it will not see very much traffic. So in what is becoming an increasingly cutthroat business, how does an organisation draw attention to itself online?

By employing a  specialist search marketing company like fresh traffic whose goal is to help customers to find new business online, there are two distinct options for driving traffic to your Website. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about making your Website friendlier to search engines, thereby achieving a higher ranking on the page. SEO focuses on optimizing elements such as keywords, navigation, images and videos, in order to obtain the best possible ranking on a search engine page.

The second option is Google’s AdWords, a paid for offering designed to maximise your online return on investment (ROI). AdWords ensures that when a Google search makes use of one of your keywords, your advert appears opposite the organic search results. Since it uses a pay-per-click system. AdWords can be more costly than SEO, but it is also more targeted and will not fall foul of changes in a search engine’s algorithms.

The down side to this is the fact that not only do the majority of users look predominantly at the left hand side of the page, (the organic SEO side) they also trust organic search results more, meaning they are more likely to click on these. Other problems include the rising cost of pay per click, along with the limited amount of copy space available – everything needs to be squeezed into a 70-character limit.

Businesses paying to improve their websites with search engine optimization (SEO) should be prepared for the cost, many companies today are paying a small amount of cash and expecting big results, but that as with most things “you get what you pay for”.

People investing in SEO should be wary of companies who charge very little as if a deal seems to good to be true, it probably is.

SEO to some can seem like smoke and mirrors, some companies we know now simply offer search engine submission, or Google adwords and camouflage it as SEO.

Doing it half way will leave you no better off than when you started down this path and don’t forget the thousands of dollars you could potentially spend in the effort, businesses should invest time and money in proper organic SEO and remember that the service is not a “one-time hit”.

Our company has experts who can help in respect of both SEO and AdWords. Call us today 204.942.4200

You can always add social media into the mix with a facebook or twitter account if needed.

Facebooks impressive views

In some of the newest numbers to come from Hitwise, it seems that Facebook has the current mantle of most page views on the web. According to the hitwise numbers:

“The market share of page views for Facebook.com was 24.27% last week, 3.8x the volume of the 2nd ranked website YouTube.com with 6.93%.”

It sounds like some incredible traffic until you take into account that the big guy on campus, Google, owns the number two entrant Youtube. When it comes to traffic, page views or visits it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. When it’s truly thought about, it should be no surprise that the largest social media site on the web would generate so many page views.

Page views, click throughs, page loads, unique visitors, they’re all very different metrics which terms are used when speaking with clients about SEO and SEM. When you really boil it down, toss in all of the information, your most important metric is your conversion rate. When your SEO or SEM is implemented and properly maintained, your conversion rate is what matters. It’s your sales, your leads, your newly signed clients. And as someone said it best about the Hitwise numbers:

“You have to separate “pageviews” from “visits”. Every time someone clicks “refresh” in their browser, it’s a pageview. I know a lot of people who leave a tab permanently open to facebook, and pop over to it every 10 or 15 minutes and click refresh to see if there’s any updates.

It’s the crack cocaine of the internet.”

The future of the Web – Facebook Style

Lots of news came out of the Web 2.0 summit, and there was an interview hosted by Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle where they spoke with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. They touched on a number of subjects, ranging from the new Facebook Messages service, to privacy and on to opinions and thoughts of “what’s next?” for the web.

Zuckerberg said that initially the idea of Messages came to him when having a conversation with a high school student who lamented that email is “too slow”. Taking the idea to the drawing board, the development team decided that they could lose certain aspects which makes email a “slow” medium of conversation. Things like the subject line, multiple paragraph letters and formal signatures. Messages aims to streamline communications between instant messaging, SMS (simple messaging service) and email.

When Zuckerberg was asked about Facebook and some of the privacy concerns, as well as the seeming mantra of “Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness” he deflected the conversation within a sentance or two back to the Messages service. Mark made the point that even though Facebook allows the friendship relationship to share information across wide groups, he made the point that “I don’t know that we’re 100% right about it”. Also admitting that Facebook is often in the crosshairs of privacy watchdogs because “Facebook is at the forefront of the internet privacy issue, and are trying to come up with solutions” Getting everything right, everytime isn’t a possibility for any company on the web, but it’s perhaps the two values being pressed to development teams at Facebook that keeps it in the privacy limelight; move fast, and be bold. If an idea is fleshed out, take the chances and move fast on it and let it into the social world. Change is always scary, but it’s also the quickest and surest way to grow and adapt.

A rather pointed question about competition was directed about the ad network on Facebook, in the form of being socially driven. Zuckerberg somewhat deflected this question as well, stating that he’s not sure it’s the right direction right now, and that there’s still a lot of work left to do on the web. When it came to the user base of Facebook, the metric which was given was that “50% of user accounts on Facebook are active everyday” and in the next 5 years or so, we’re going to see the internet moving into a more socially interactive model. Seeing as how Facebook is *the* social place to be online right now, the question was asked if there will be other social graphs to make an appearance and gain importance. In answer, Zuckerberg showed that a few years ago, app developers wouldn’t have contributed to the web space mainly because the user base wasn’t centralized. Now that developers can safely assume that 60% of their userbase are Facebook users and are “socially enabled” it allows companies and businesses to develop apps and services that even just 2 years ago didn’t make sense. The expectation is there will be various social graphs online, and they will all be able to work together.

One of the better questions pose was in terms of with Facebook becoming such a giant in the social space, is Facebook aiming to be the prime destination online, or is Facebook wanting to be an enabler for the web. Unexpectedly in a sense, Mark made the admittance that Facebook will be more of an enabler of the web as we move forward. There was a graphic at the summit, outlining the web in different countries in a way. At the end of the interview Zuckerberg pointed out that the image should be changed. As the graphic detailed the internet and online industry in a “zero sum” fashion, as in no room to grow or change other than taking anothers place, the image should be comprised primarily of an undetermined space. It’s the skewed view of the media, and a great many industry analysts that the web is a defined space, that leads to the headlines of “Facebook declares war on Google” and so on.

It was a good interview to listen too, and Zuckerberg had some interesting points to share on the web industry as a whole. Have a watch for yourself and see.

Facebook Monday

So the big day has come and gone, Facebook talked about it’s new messaging service, and the web has been a cacophony of “Gmail killer” and other wild statements to that effect. And one of the funniest points I picked from all of the coverage of the day, was that Schmidt and Zuckerberg were almost playing nice, to a point. With their statements coming out generally like Schmidts “I’m glad they’re launching a service” And Zuckerbergs “Gmail and Gchat is an amazing service”, it’s almost like an unofficial truce of sorts.

I did however, come across a post detailing the top reasons why the new Facebook service will be “Facebook E-Mail Is Google`s Biggest Threat” and I had a really hard time making it past the second item on their list. I’m only going to share the headings of the points they’ve come up with, as the text that followed was almost uncomfortable to read. So headfirst we go:

Gmail means a lot – Okay great, Gmail means a lot. The text which followed that they used to back up their claim, was based on the idea that without Gmail, people wouldn’t use Google. And when I hit that sentance, I had to stop.

Search capabilities are there – And then unfortunately, I came to their second point. I had a hard time trying to wrap my mind around their claim that while Facebook’s search features are “primitive”; non-existant is a more accurate term, to think that they could come close, in the game that Google essentially owns, was ludicrous to read for me.

It’s where the users are – Granted now, Facebook is starting with a userbase of 500 million, definitely not a small number. But, if all you want to count are users, then if you want to include actual numbers, you’d need to include the average user base of Google to compare the two services. The point that made me chuckle here, was the assertion thatusers “spend over 700 billion minutes per month” on Facebook. That’s a whole lot of Farmville! And Googles aim? Speed up the web and it’s usage, not tie you in place.

Video – 500 million users, compared to Youtubes userbase, and the point was Facebook between June and July, Facebook saw unique viewers increase by three million, and total videos watched by 22 million. Funny thing is, all the videos I happened to see were hosted on Youtube..

Ads, ads, ads – I honestly can’t even go here.

The world, and especially the web are constantly growing and changing. It’s when things stay the same that they lose their appeal and die. Schmidt even made the point that it’s not that Google and Facebook have ever openly competed, but the media loves to drum it up that when any company launches any service, they’re competing with someone. When in fact what really ends up happening, is we all get the better end of the deal, new services, new ideas and most importantly, a choice as to which you’ll use. Me, I’ll stick with my Google and my Gmail.

Facebook Email Soon?

There’s been a great deal of speculation about the Facebook media event on Monday. As many are expecting Facebook to announce the launch of it’s very own Facebook email client. It’s not a terribly surprising step for the social media giant, however seeing the terms “Gmail killer” in news headlines is over reaching.

Being mired in their own personal sea of privacy concerns, the idea that every single Facebook user, around the 500 million mark, would use the service as their email client of choice is somewhat laughable. One of the better comments I’ve personally seen about the idea was summed up as “Facebook is going the way of AOL, making the web dumber to use”. But personal opinions aside, a Facebook email client just isn’t attractive to use.

The major strengths of the feature were listed around the “potential” strength of inbox control, seeing as Facebook would intrinsicly know who you contact the most. Funny thing is, if you’ve used email for more than a month or two, you know how to setup sorting and labelling in your client anyways. No need to have a service do it for you. So that more or less equals out, also deemed to be a strength is the Facebook webmail client could be used to display information from all of the messages you receive from your friends via games, or payments of Facebook credits. Seeing as how you already login to Facebook with an email address, and you receive notice (by default) of all of these events anyways, again they equal themselves out.

The biggest positive I can see about having a Facebook email address myself? It’s a great way to keep all of the Facebook spam in one central place, and out of my normal email provider.

SEO is Dead!? Again?

In the not so new news, the death of SEO is being cried again. The cause this time is the Facebook and Bing partnership. I’ve read about the social search changes that have been incorporated, and just as Google shrugged it off, I’m inclined to do the same.

The changes that Bing and Facebook bring together is definitely interesting, no doubt. However, the idea that the entire industry of search marketing, search engine optimization and search engine rankings being dealt a deathblow by this partnership is laughable. If anything, the new partnership relies on SEO and SEM to function appropriately.

For another perspective, imagine going into a hardware store, and seeing all of the isles and rows numbered and having short labels for the contents of each row. Makes your shopping trip quick and efficient to know that you can find power drills and skill saws in the power tools isle. This would be a very basic example of SEO. Now applying the new Facebook/Bing method, you’re in that same hardware store, nothing is labelled or itemized (because it’s killed SEO remember) but you know there’s a power drill in there that your friend likes and owns. Great to know that your buddy has a favorite tool that you were thinking about, but how do you go about finding it?

Two very basic examples, but they illustrate the interpretation of the new personalized search Bing and Facebook are rolling out. Social Media Optimization (SMO) isn’t a new idea, it’s not revolutionary, it’s adwords on a more personal level. It displays information relative and relavant to your account and what it knows about you, not for your searchs. One last point to consider and digest, without search engine optimization, social media optimization wouldn’t exist, and without SEO, SMO will disappear.

Another Facebook Privacy Issue

It’s been a busy few days in the search world. Last week Bing and Facebook announced their joint partnership in delivering fully personalized search results to people using Bing as their engine. Google responded with an unenthusiastic “Ok, and? Our mobile made oodles of dollars.” and as of this Monday, Facebook is still making news.

The Facebook/Bing partnership is an interesting twist in the “World of Mouth” direction of the web. Using Bing as your search engine, you will see your results with social search automatically enabled for you; Facebooks rather famous “opt-out instead of in” ideology. You’ll be able to peruse what your friends and family on Facebook felt about the subject you’ve decided to search on. It adds that familiar ” Likes this” to your SERPs. A module built into Bing which you can disable, but with a forward looking future, able to deliver more dynamic personalized results.

Jump to Monday afternoon, and Facebook finally admits that yes, their app developers may have had a privacy problem. Engineer Mike Vernal said they believe devs were unintentionally sharing Facebook user id’s, but that it was a violation of the site wide privacy policy regardless. “Knowledge of a UID does not enable anyone to access private user information without explicit user consent,” he claimed.

“Nevertheless, we are committed to ensuring that even the inadvertent passing of UIDs is prevented and all applications are in compliance with our policy.”

It’s estimated that millions of apps users are affected by the programming error, and that the top ten most popular apps all had the issue. Farmville, Mafia Wars and other Zynga titles were all sharing unique, private Facebook User ID’s. A blatant breach of privacy, to add to the list of concerns already with the social networking giant. And if that isn’t enough to make you stop harvesting crops on Farmville, or knocking over a bank in Mafia Wars, Facebook doesn’t even know how to fix the privacy problem.

Why does this relate in anyway, other than name, to the Facebook/Bing social search partnership? It bears mentioning that if the module works the way it’s described, it accesses your personal information on your computer in order to build your personalized results. Imagine all of the cookies the average Facebook user has in their browser history for that module to munch on; and share.

The New Social Search – BingBook?

There was the big conference today from Microsoft Bing and Facebook, and from the sounds of things they’re trying to give the world of search a stiff shake. The partnership idea that’s been rolled out (very small snippet) is when you search for an item or topic on Bing, your socially relevant searches would appear first. Your friends likes/dislikes on a subject or topic that you’ve plugged in. Some good questions have been asked from the conference, items of privacy of course what with Facebooks infamous history thus far, and of course someone asked about the money incentive (no answer on that last one). The far reaching goal is that your search is tailored exclusively for you. It’s personalization of the SERPs for *everyone* who uses Bing.

About the privacy factor, the social search angle is functioning like a module within Bing. A module, which can be turned off should you choose to shut it.

Zuckerberg stated : “We have this idea. 500 million people can look you up on Facebook. We think why shouldn’t applications be able to do this to?”

Because everyone is searchable on Facebook, set to private or not, the train of thought is to allow applications the same level of trust. Bascially you’re allowing Bing, to see all of your informationg you’ve made public on Facebook, and makes that information searchable to your friends list.

The social search angle isn’t meant to completely remove the traditional SERPs page you’re accustomed to seeing, it’s being added to help personalize your queries and provide you with unique results, relevant to you. It’s an updated twist on the personalized search results you start to see within Google for example, minus the cookie saving sessions. The negative side I personally see at this juncture, would be the fact that you need to Opt-out of the service should you choose not to use it. Some would think Facebook learned their opt-in, opt-out lessons by now. Only time now will be the determining factor on this new idea.