Tagged with " internet news"
As a website owner, the past year was a bit of a roller coaster ride where search and search engine activity was concerned. Between Pandas and Penguins attacking across the web, and Bing and Facebook amping up their own search options, it can sometimes be a bit of a surprise that you came out the other end on a positive note. It’s a simple task to take a minute and search around for the projected search shifts for the year, so instead here’s a short list of topics you should focus on for your website, regardless of the unknown changes in search to come.
First things first, you need to address your website and its content. The search engines over the last year, contrary to popular belief, have been ramping up efforts to deliver quality websites with real content as opposed to scraper sites which offer only a sliver of real information. When you are going over your sites content you need to take the time to ensure that you’re delivering your message, in your own unique way. Keep your articles clear and on topic, and try to work in the trending terms or topics which relate to your niche. Once you’ve gone over your site and reworked everything you can then begin pushing it out, either on Facebook or Twitter social channels, or even providing snippets to industry white paper sites. It’s free to market yourself on your social pages, and if you didn’t get the message last year, search engines are slowly pushing towards integrating social content into the results pages. As an added bonus, if you’ve done a bang up job creating your content, you’ll garner backlinks and it will help your efforts that much more.
Since you’ve taken the time to rework your content (you’ve done these steps right?) you need to go the next step and break down your website. I’m not insinuating that you take it offline or anything, but you need to carefully deconstruct your site, performance, appearance, layout, and then once you have finished optimizing for desktops you need to consider tablets and mobile displays. Over the last few months especially, the amount of users on mobile devices conducting search queries has grown to around 25% or so, and while that may not seem like much on the surface, think of that percentage again with the realization that there are more internet connected mobile devices on the planet than there are people. Ignoring the mobile search market is just as bad as ignoring the social angle, you’ll only continue to shoot yourself in the foot online. So load up your website on your tablet or smartphone and try using your pages, if you’re experiencing issues, correct them and count your fortunes later.
Now that you have your site mobile friendly, and you’re taking advantage of the mobile search growth, you have one more small step to take, and it is one that has been touted for a number of months as a trending market to grasp. You need to work on focusing your efforts into your local market, even if you don’t have a brick and mortar store, zeroing in on your target area and demographic will have the search engines loving your site more and more. Take advantage of the maps and local information that you can include on your website and social profiles, as the search engines will build a default local page for your site if you don’t already have one. Encourage your visitors to post their reviews to your social pages and engage your customers. Be active with them and you’ll soon find yourself with more work than you can handle.
When you perform a search with Google or Bing, one of the elements which allows a website to climb the results pages are the backlinks pointing to the site. When the links are from a similar site, which is related to the site they’ve provided a link for it tells the search engine that “even though we’re an authority, this other site is better than we are” type scenario. This is an extremely basic description of how the search engine results pages become filled with those little blue links, but Facebook search is going to try and do something a little different.
Facebook isn’t necessarily concerning itself with virtual locations, they are wanting to focus on the real world version of a page. Instead of using a similar system of backlinks however, they will be going down the route of using a like system, using your friends list as a foundation. It’s a twist on a way to determine a search results page, and it’s going to have some interesting applications moving forward with some people having hundreds and thousands of friends.
A solid description of one of the goals of Facebook search that I came across was it can be considered a multi-dimensional search results page. If you have a vacation planned for Las Vegas for example, you would need a hotel to stay at and try to plan it around the shows and events you would want to enjoy. Performing the search on Google or Bing, will return you the pages that have typically the best SEO laid out based on your search terms. From there you would do more research until you made your decision. The goal of Facebook search and using the Like idea, is that when you perform the same search within their service, you instead get a results page populated with the results based on your friends feedback. Instead of your results being based on the best optimization team, it will be based on the experiences of your friends, and if they enjoyed their visit to a particular venue.
There is a great deal of discontent already for the way that SEO works, and a lot of speculation that the methods used are gaming the search engines and breaking and bending rules to cheat to rank. The system, while built on solid principles does have it’s flaws, but it works as it is implemented. When Facebook introduces it’s method of basing their results around a like and share system, at that point I believe we will truly see what it is like to game a results page.
We’ve written countless times about the basics of online marketing and that the trying to work with the search engines, not against them, is a constantly shifting landscape. Once you’ve followed the basics, gotten your site steadily climbing the results pages and are working on your back link profile there is one more key component you can add that will help your position and your site. Take a look at your site, your content, and your activity on your pages and think to yourself: Would I link to my own content?
You need to add some link bait to your site occasionally, so instead of continually hunting for back links, others in your industry (hopefully) will be following you and decide to naturally link to you because of your content. This is usually referred to as creating link bait, and it’s one of the quickest ways that you can build up a quality link profile for your website. You can start creating your link bait content by knowing what you’re talking about, everyone has an opinion and if you’re knowledgeable about yours, there is no reason not to share it. Sharing opinions is a great way to start a dialogue with people, whether it’s your customers or others in your business space, it gets people talking, and talking about you.
Everyone has a hiccup every now and then when it comes to creating your content, especially if you’re the lone person responsible for it, so don’t be scared to talk to your co-workers. Sometimes a brief conversation can help you decide on a blog topic, a new page to create or a way that you can help drum up news or a flash sale for a product or service that you may offer. We all need inspiration sometimes, and everything becomes easier when you ask for a helping hand. Being able to write a high quality page or article is fine, but if you’re unable to grab any attention with it, or drum up some discussion with it then you won’t garner a great deal of backlinks from it, if any at all.
The new Facebook Graph search has a grip on the social world of course, being assisted on the web search by Bing. It doesn’t take but a few minutes of typing “Facebook Graph” into a search bar to find that there are more than a few people hailing the new service as taking the fight to Google. The information and the action of the new Facebook feature however, doesn’t have me convinced that Google has a whole lot to worry about.
The first part of the feature that struck me as a tad odd, was the introduction of using your social signals to deliver search results which have been tailored to suit you. Based on your friends activity and online postings, your search becomes filtered, delivering you only the topics and trends which apply to you. It places you within a search bubble, and there has been a growing outcry against Google delivering personalized results to people for the last year and a bit, so why the introduction of a Facebook search should suddenly change peoples opinions struck me a little odd.
They put together a convincing trailer about the graph search on their site, but the offering from Facebook left me rather unconvinced as to it’s full usefulness. With somewhere around a billion users, and with user profiles that are nearly five times in friend size (from 100 friends on average 5 years ago to 500 now), it seemed to me that the “searches” that were performed in the video, would have been questions you already knew the answers to. Regardless of the amount of friends you might have on your list in Facebook, you already know and can identify those nearest to you that share your interests. You don’t need to search for them or what they may like, because you already likely know.
One of the greatest advantages however to the introduction of a search service to Facebook, is the cost of advertising. Google has long been an incredibly dominant force in the web advertising space with its Adwords and Adsense programs, and depending on the terms you wanted to pursue your costs could climb rapidly. The ideal revenue model for the Facebook Graph search service would be the same idea, an advertising model that caters to what you may be searching for at the moment. And on the surface that may look like it spells doom for Google and the way it does business, but it is actually a very good thing. Competition drives creativity, it promotes change and spurs innovation. Google has always said they want people to enter the search space, and Facebook is working on it now. We’ll have to keep watch on it to see just how far it can go.
Later today there is going to be an announcement, it’ll be a change to the way you conduct yourself online, and will likely affect your friends and family as well. Late yesterday I saw word of the impending news, and in just a few hours the tech world will get it’s answer, just what could Facebook have planned?
There’s been a lot of ideas thrown around about the future of Facebook, with discussions covering almost everything from phone hardware and/or software, to search engines. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Facebook is the largest social site on the web, and with somewhere near a billion members for a user base they have the potential market to influence massive online change. As for what option really makes sense for the company is anyones guess, but you can bet that there is going to be a massive audience tuning in for it.
Facebook likely won’t be going down the road of building their own phone, while the company has a strong digital presence, it wouldn’t likely translate into as strong an audience in the hardware market. A great option, and one that makes sense especially since they recently closed their purchase of Instagram, would be to add video support to the platform. It’s already globally accepted as a way to rapidly share the photos you take, it would make sense in a number of ways to offer the same feature to any videos that are taken. Not only would this allow Facebook to monetize any videos that are put up by placing ads in the stream, but it would give a reason for YouTube to possibly step up it’s game as well. It has been the dominant online video source for ever it seems.
And then there’s the elephant in the room, the question that has been asked of Zuckerberg and the Facebook machine a number of times – are you building a search engine. Other times when the question was pointedly asked, they have sometimes shied away from the question by avoiding it, and other times saying no, not yet. Perhaps today is the day, where Facebook announces their own search engine, driven entirely by social signals? Even if today is the day that Facebook does let loose with a new search engine, or even a coming one, the true effect of what that could do to the online scope is unknown. There would be a great deal of unknown territory, as a search engine driven by social signals would be prone to massive manipulation, both positive and negative. And with a user base of somewhere around a billion members, that’s a lot of leverage that can sway an algorithm one way or the other. The other question that could be asked, is what happens to those people who remove their accounts, either by deleting or deactivating them, what happens to their social links they may have bestowed? Over the last month in the UK there have been more than a half million accounts deleted from the social service, what would happen to a search service if a mass migration hit the site? So many unknown variables, stay tuned to the web in a few hours and the picture will begin to become clearer.
Since Google has been given the all clear signal from the FTC about the charges of them using anti-competitive behaviour, it loosens the reins a bit for the company. To be completely fair, the evolution of search and the ever present forward advancements should be evidence that the industry has never really stopped evolving.
Bing sold itself initially as a decision engine, conduct your search and you can make a decision then and there instead of digging through results pages. Then, just a short time later they started to re-brand themselves again, into the “do” engine. It’s been a year since then, and while they’ve had their hiccups (and tantrums) along the way, they’re also growing and changing with the web. It’s not just the internet that’s evolving, to technologies like IPV6, fiber connections and what not, users are evolving and changing at just as frantic a pace. Bing recognized this, and has been trying to tap into the market of people who are ready to make a choice now. Google has also recognized this in online users, when they introduced their “instant” version of search results. Instant search is basically a cached version of search results which begin to appear, if you have the feature turned on, as quickly as you can type your query. It was just one step of many to come, by both search engines to engage a quickly growing user base, those who want information now, not just options to dig through.
So what’s to come with search in the future? No one really knows for sure, but Google and Bing both have their teams working furiously to try and embrace the changing landscape. Amit Singhal, Googles head of search was even heard to say:
I would be so bold to predict that in the next two years, you’ll have a conversational search engine that you can talk to like you’re talking to me.
As much things change with the search world however, for the time being there are a few points you need to continue to work with. Remember the basics, and follow the best practices guidelines for building and maintaining your website. Your keywords are important, you can’t just slam a ton of text on your site and expect the search engines to sort it out for you, it needs to be properly written and useful to your users for the engines to take notice. Your website titles, they should follow some sort of relation to your business or service, but again, shouldn’t be filled to overflowing with keywords as that’s a no-no in the guidelines. Your URL structure is important too, as it can be used to create quick, and simple navigation for users and for crawlers as they go over your site. Having your pages properly named, and instead of using query strings for a dynamic site only helps your site gain brownie points online. As an example, what’s easier to remember on a website, an www.yourwebsite.com/about-us/ url, or www.yourwebsite.com/?q=7s9b992 . And lastly, it’s slowly making it’s way out, but your metatags still have some information to share with the search engines and your users, as you can layout what keywords you deem important and the description you use for your website. The future is definitely on the way for search, but you can’t move forward and completely forget what got you there in the first place.
Since you have your website built and online, you’ve added some great content and attached some analytics to monitor your traffic. You’ll start to notice a term in the layout that often gets more read into it than it really means – bounce rate.
Your websites bounce rate isn’t a mystery, all of the answers as to why people would leave your website are right in front of you, on your website. Where the confusion sometimes comes from is when users start to confuse the terms bounce rate and exit rate, as they’re not the same thing. WOrking with the definition of bounce rate from Wikipedia:
It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and “bounce” (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.
Then, compare this to the base meaning of exit rate:
represents the percentage of visitors to a site who actively click away to a different site from a specific page
and you can see why they might get confused as they seem the same on the surface.
To begin with bounce rates, there is no such definitive value with which to balance your websites individual bounce rate. If you have a website built to sell running shoes for example, customers in search of loafers who searched for comfortable shoes will likely “bounce” off of your site once they see a front page full of cross trainers. With your analytics installed on your website, the only real clue and method to deduce why your bounce rate may be at a given level, is to go through your keyword breakdown, and see if there is a discrepancy there. If you find that you’re listing for terms which don’t entirely match with the goal of your site, you’ll experience a bounce rate roughly equal to the ratio of unrelated terms.
The exit rate from your website, may not in fact be a bad thing, depending of course on the aim of your website. If you act as a referral site for example, and you have a high exit rate to the sales or sign up site, then you’ve served your purpose. If you’re concerned that your bounce rate seems to be higher than you believe it should be, examine your content, and examine your message. All of the answers are there for the picking, you just need to take the time to work out the kinks.
When you’re busy at your computer, or even just taking some downtime and cruising around on Facebook connecting with your friends and family, have you ever wondered how the one of the two largest online properties continue to operate? They offer their services for free access, and you don’t even need to sign up to use it, at least in Googles case. If you’ve found that when you think about it, you really don’t know where their money comes from, you’re not alone.
In a survey conducted in August of last year it turns out that just over a third of internet users out there believe that search engines sell their data to marketers. Another third thought that maybe other companies pay annual dues to use those websites and even 20% of respondents thought that the sites offered premium features. While Google is somewhat transparent about how they make their dough, adwords and ad placements via adsense, Facebook is still working on fleshing out a clear revenue model. They have ads that are on every sidebar and profile page on the site, but with metrics showing that interaction on those ads being rather low, and with costs still high, it hadn’t fleshed out as reliable as of yet. At least in Googles court they’re not selling your information to marketers, still haven’t seen a clear answer from the Facebook side of the web however.
It’s been a number of years now, I think most who work full time on the web have stopped counting, but Google is the dominant force in the search world. Globally rocking somewhere around an 80% share with desktop users and where mobile is concerned, there really isn’t anyone else in the game. It’s no wonder that with the way the last year has gone with Panda/Penguin updates that some businesses have found themselves floundering, as it looks like they put all of their eggs into one, big, Google basket. Most analytic software can tell you where your traffic came from, whether it be Google, Bing, Facebook, or even from a referral link of sorts from a community driven site like Reddit. Using that information you can build a chart of sorts to get an idea of where your traffic is coming from. It’s likely you’ll find that a high percentage of your traffic, 65% and up does indeed come from Google, but if it starts getting higher than that you need to take a look at your website, and about diversifying your online position. In an ideal world, you’ll be getting almost an equal share of traffic from different sites, with Google making up the largest portion of the pie, say 50% or so, and the rest from other online sources. Because just like those who found themselves at the mercy of Panda and Penguin, if you’re relying too heavily on Google traffic, you’ll be in the dumps if you break any rules.
While you can’t make everyone happy all of the time, you can make most of your customers/clients happy most of the time, one of you will make a mistake and ultimately someone will leave with bad feelings. There are a number of things you can do in this situation when you’ve been on the receiving end of a bad review. Here’s a tip: throwing a fit is the wrong answer.
1) Try talking to the complainant
If everything worked in a perfect world, then you would never have any bad reviews or unhappy customers ever, but sorry to say, it will happen eventually. In almost every case where an author of a bad review was asked why they chose to write it, it was after they tried contacting, or dealing with the company directly. The black mark only came to exist once those avenues were exhausted, so if you have someone on the phone with a complaint, or someone at your door with a grievance, it’s in your businesses best interest to deal with it as quickly and promptly as possible.
2) Sleep on it
If you’ve managed to miss the window of opportunity to deal with the customer before they air their dirty laundry on the internet, the best thing you can do for yourself, and for your business is to do nothing. At least at first, once you read or hear of a scathing review, it’s human nature to want to lash out to protect yourself and your interests. It’s a normal response and one that you don’t need to fret about having, but it’s the wrong response. In the online world of word of mouth, those who fire the first shot often win. Consumers usually side with the reviewer, who is often perceived as the “nothing-to-gain” victim facing a profit-focused business owner. While consumers expect local businesses to show a more personal side in how they speak with customers, there is little sympathy for defensive and unprofessional responses. So sleep on the review, send the author an email or private message if possible, and attempt to correct what ever the issue was. You may find that by taking the time to calmly address the complaint, that the review becomes modified to reflect your attempts at correction, or even disappears altogether.
3) Wait and see
If you’ve attempted to correct the issue with the services provided which made your customer/client so upset, and had no success, the next available action for you to resort to is to wait and see what the public does. Community review sites like Yelp, allow businesses to post their own version of events relating to a review, so it gives you a window of opportunity to share your side of the story. Because every business has had one of them: that obnoxious customer who wouldn’t be satisfied no matter what your recourse. As a respondent online to a bad review, you won’t win any friends or arguments by slinging insults back and forth at each other.
Once that bad review has been written, all avenues exhausted for reconciliation, and the bad press is still there, you do have an option to deal with the situation. You could bury it. You don’t physically bury it of course, but you make it a point to your customers that have positive experiences to post to the same review site, as well as others, to speak of their encounter with your business. It won’t happen initially, but over time the good will steadily drown out the bad, until it’s finally, entirely buried.
With the vast majority of the world becoming more and more digital and available online, there is so much opportunity for business growth and expansion that it’s almost dizzying. There are new areas of customers, there is no open or close time as your site can be online and selling your products or services for you 24/7. Internet marketing and proper online branding can place you and your business in the position to experience massive growth in business and in connections, all the way from the local sector to the global one.
But there is also the other side of the coin, the flip side of the web and it can be a terrible place. Not referencing black hat SEO or any of the under handed tricks that can be used to rank highly or do shady business. I’m speaking about online reviews, and online reputation management – they say that bad news travels faster than good, and that goes ten fold online.
Any business, especially the smaller local ones face high stakes when it comes to online reviews and their online reputation. According to a study conducted last year, approximately 72% of consumers surveyed said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business. Yelp is one the more well known services which feature reviews of businesses, and businesses are beginning to encourage their visitors to use the service to rate them by offering prizes to verified posters. So where is the driving force behind that decision? A Harvard study conducted in 2011 found that a one-star increase among Yelp reviews of Seattle restaurants led to 5-9% growth in revenue.
Hitting a little closer to home, it was nearly a disastrous year downtown for some businesses as they were built and improved up around the newly returned Winnipeg Jets franchise to town. When the league was locked out and there was no hockey going on, those businesses began to falter. For any one of them to receive a bad review due to poor food, service, attitude, or what have you, it will be the death of their business. Negative reviews can happen, will happen, as not everyone is happy 100% of the time, but there are correct ways to respond, and incorrect ways. We’ll begin to cover that ground tomorrow, as it’s not a short topic.