Facebook algorithm changes

Noticed that your Facebook posts aren’t getting the response that they used to? It could be due to Facebook changing its algorithm on 20th September.

Paid posts now have a far greater reach than even popular, viral posts that are organic. Some brands used paid ads on Facebook to get fans. They are now effectively paying double to reach people who already like their page.

EdgeRank Facebook logoFacebook’s EdgeRank algorithm controls the visibility of posts. It is determined by the interaction between an individual user and a page. Fans who view the page more regularly, see more posts. This has now been tweaked to favour those who have paid for posts. This has provoked a storm of criticism, particularly from brands whose Facebook reach has tanked. 

Reach dropping, engagement rising

Graph showing 38% drop in Facebook page reach

A study by media buying company, Group M Next investigated the reach of a cross section of 25 brand pages after the recent change. It showed a 38% drop in how many fans of the brand actually saw their status updates.

This belies Facebook’s denial that organic status updates are hidden from fans.

graph showing engagement with Facebook posts up 96%The only silver lining for brands is that another change to the EdgeRank algorithm takes into account ‘amplified reach’, friends of fans interacting with your posts. This has meant  engagement rates have nearly doubled.

 

Seems brands will have to up the ante on their Facebook spend to appeal to the majority of their fans while also focusing on new ways to get better EdgeRank results on Facebook by posting more images and fewer links, for example.

Four must read guides on Google Plus and SEO

It is becoming very clear that there are SEO benefits to being on Google Plus. Google are using Google Plus to personalise search results, and showing a bias towards people and brands with Google Plus accounts. This is known as Google Plus Your World and already features on the US Google site. It seems to be only a matter of time before it’s rolled out world wide.

Here are some blogs to read on Google Plus and SEO:

  1. The video above is from a blog post by Rand Fishkin at SEO Moz. It shows him doing a Google search for his own name and finding his Google Plus page outranks any other content, despite his active blogging on SEO. His advice is that every marketer should be on Google Plus.
  2. MashGoogle Plus logoable have also written how the Google Plus button affects SEO. They found that having a + 1 button indirectly affects SEO by improving your click through rate.
  3. A.J Kohn at Blind Five Year Old has looked at the internal search function of Google Plus and how it is laying the groundwork for social integration.  He wrote that adding keywords to your profile can lead to much higher results.
  4. Rory Martin at Social Media Today wrote about a white paper that experimented with the Google Plus 1 and Facebook Like buttons. SEO Effects discovered that, despite Facebook having more users, the Google Plus button was much more beneficial to brands.

Four ways to get a higher search ranking on Google

Google has made recent changes to the ranking system to allow the best quality sites appear on the first page. Search engine optimisation (SEO) tricks and black hat techniques could now lead to a website being banned by Google

So how do you appear top of Google?

  1. Blog 

Blogging is one of the best ways to boost your SEO on Google. It’s important to create  content that is relevant to what people are searching for. Having a site that regularly updates can push you up the rankings. But it isn’t enough to publish lots of content stuffed with keywords that nobody wants to read. Google will weed you out. The quality of the content matters. Great content will naturally attract people and links to your site. Don’t forget to tell people about your blog posts on social media!

2. Links

Make the most of inbound links pointing back to your site. This is not about using link farms. Once again it’s quality over quantity. You should focus on getting high quality links from popular and trusted websites.  A link from a relevant website using the same keywords will rank higher than one from a website on a completely different topic. Use anchor text around relevant keywords rather than the common ‘click here’. For example, if you’re Joe Bloggs, Landscape Gardener – it is better to wrap the link in your job title than your name.

3. Be social

Social media can be a great way to drive traffic to your site. Make sure that all your social media profiles link back to your site. If your fans or followers are activethey will like, retweet and share what you’re posting from your site. Another site to keep in mind is Google Plus, which has a +1 button. It’s not entire clear yet exactly how this is impacting on SEO. Google has stated that Google Plus users blocking a site could definitely lead to lower search engine rankings. This seems to suggest that users +1-ing your site could lead to higher search rankings. Yet another reason to focus on quality content.

 

4. Get on Google PlacesGoogle Places logo

When a user searches for a product or service, Google assumes they’d prefer somebody local.  Google Places pages will appear at the top of the organic search rankings. You should set a Google Places page for your business linking to your website. Make sure to verify you are the business owner. You can then add photos and regularly update the page with deals and news.

You may not get Google highest search ranking over night, but over time if you focus on quality content and follow these tips, Google should follow.

Harnessing the power of Google Analytics

Nate Silver correctly predicted the electoral college results of all 50 US states the 2012 Presidential Election. His blog was the most visited page on the NY Times website during the election. This would make him the world’s leading political analyst, except he is a statistician. Despite stinging criticism from journalists and politicos who called him a ‘joke’ and his skill a ‘numbers racket’, Silver’s success shows that data does not lie.

If data can predict something as notoriously difficult to call as voting patterns, then figuring out people’s habits online should be easy. And it is when marketers make use of the analytics tools now available. Many social media sites have analytics features built in that businesses can access to track traffic to their pages.

The leading light in web analytics for marketing is Google Analytics. There’s so much information at your finger tips if you know how to use it. We at ChatterHound hold training workshops to help businesses use Google Analytics to make their online marketing more effective.

Contact us if you’re interested in learning how to track your online campaigns and make the most out of your website.

What is Google Plus?

Google + Circles logoGoogle Plus now has 100m active users. It has been described as an information network where people can share and follow interests rather than a purely social site like Facebook. So how do Google Plus features stack up?

 What are circles?

Google Plus allows you to group people into circles. This mean you can pick and choose which content to share with different circles.  It’s not a new idea. We’ve always had different relationships with family, close friends and work colleagues, Google Plus just allows us to do it online. The default circles are Friends, Family, Acquaintances, and Following, and can be renamed at any time.

 The Following feature is similar to Twitter. You can follow celebrities or thought leaders in your field. There are some great circles for online marketers

Circles are private. Nobody knows which Google Plus circle you’ve put them in. They can’t see the name of the circle or who else is in it.  Somebody else may have you in a close friend circle while you group them as an acquaintance, they’ll never know.

Hangouts

Hangouts are video chats with a group of up to ten people. It takes what people love about Skype and adds a social element. Families or groups of friends with people scattered around the world can catch up at a time pre-scheduled using Google Calendar.

Businesses or NGOs can use Google Hangouts to hold meetings. A great feature is that people can share screens or watch the same YouTube video during the Hangout.

Celebrities and public figures often hold Google Hangouts on air, streaming Hangouts publicly on Google Plus profiles, YouTube channels and websites. YouTube can automatically save the Hangout to be shared like any other video.

 

Google + 1 vs Facebook Like

Google Plus 1 buttonWhen you Like something on Facebook all your friends can see it in your newsfeed for a while. But then other things are posted and your like gets buried . The difference with Google Plus 1 is that when your friends later do a Google search for that product or topic, your +1 will be displayed in their results. The buzz lasts. This makes a Google Plus 1 much more useful to marketers than a Facebook Like. 

 

Games Tab

Facebook game and app invites constantly popping up on your feed can be very annoying. Google Plus instead has a games tab where people can check what others have been playing lately and then start competing with friends.

What does Facebook have over Google Plus?

Abandoned Grand Central Station NYC

700 million more users. At the moment Google Plus could be compared to a beautiful building with nobody in it. But as Google Plus becomes more integrated with search and SEO, it is only a matter of time before more people start to take advantage of it’s features.  Google Plus hit 100 million followers a lot quicker than Facebook or Twitter. Is the next stop global domination?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why use Google Analytics?

Google Analytics logoSearch engine optimization (SEO) and keywords have become central to any digital marketing strategy. But they only work when you have an insight into how people actually use your site. Using Google Analytics is the best way to achieve higher organic listings and more conversion on Google AdWords.

Google Analytics is the leading tool for monitoring traffic to your website. It provides a wealth of information about visitors to your site. However, many businesses struggle to interpret Google Analytics reports.  Here are a few things to keep an eye on:

Social media referrals

Google Analytics reports can track whether you get more traffic from Facebook. Linked In, Twitter, Google + or Pinterest. You can then use this information to decide on which pages deserve more effort.

Screen shot of Google Analytics showing pie chart

AdWords campaign tracking

If you’re a Google AdWords customer the reports will show you what people do on your website after they click on your ad. This is central to measuring conversions.  Google Analytics show you whether your landing page is converting customers. If it’s not, you can change it.

Mobile

Google Analytics shows which mobile devices are used most to access your website. You can then specifically tailor your mobile marketing efforts.

 Pages

Google Analytics tracks which pages are more popular that others. Perhaps a particular blog post, product or service is getting a lot more attention than the others. You can measure this and respond accordingly. This is very useful if you rely on content marketing.

 

Word cloud with keyword as the search term

Keywords  

Google Analytics can show you which terms people are typing into search engines to access your website. This is invaluable for SEO as you can tell whether your keywords are right.

It’s important to set time aside regularly to properly read Google Analytics reports and review anything on your site that is not serving your business or organisation. 

Using analytics in marketing

Graphic showing a left/right brain

Marketing needs creativity and analysis

 

Times are changing –  marketers are no longer just creative types with copywriting skills and social media know-how. We also need to understand how to use web analytics.

This is not the enemy of creativity it may appear. Applying analytics can help track campaigns, allowing you to try different avenues and only repeat what works.

Today I read some handy tips for creating an analytics-driven marketing culture that Chatterhound recommends for progressive marketers.

 

 

Why use online content marketing?

Who would you listen to when deciding what to buy? A sales person who only pushes the benefits of their own product or service? A trusted expert who gives you valuable advice?

Content marketing is about creating and sharing free content that builds a relationship with customers.  Although the content can and should be related to what you sell, it is not a form of advertising.  The most important thing is to be informative, helpful and – if it’s not too much of a stretch – entertaining.

people dancing

Viral is healthy

With online content marketing, businesses create content that speaks directly to their target audience and promote it using their websites and social media.

Thanks to the  power of sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, businesses have lots of opportunities to share their quality content for free. Content that catches on and shared by a lot of people is said to have gone viral.

Practically useful content or posts that arouse emotion in people are always more likely to be shared. You should also try to make it visually interesting – a good picture, infographic or video often gets shared.

SEO benefits

In 2011 search giant Google changed their algorithm to prioritise fresh and original content.  This was seen by many as the nail in the coffin of traditional SEO, where web companies could use tricks to appear higher in search ranking.  Due to this change online content marketing is now at the core of  search engine optimization. This is because websites with relevant, good quality and frequently updated content such as blogs will rank higher than those with flat, unchanging content. Traditional SEO tactics such as link building and keywords content should also be built into your content to maximise reach and effectiveness.

 

Don Draper from Mad Men on the phone

Don Draper just heard that content is now more effective than advertising. (Image copyright of AMC)

 

Web traffic drives sales

Content is the best way to get people to like and trust your brand. This is what conventional ad campaigns used to do but can’t seem to do as well online. This criticism does not apply to Google Adwords or Pay Per Click campaigns.

Online content marketing such as blogging and social media can drive traffic to your site that you can focus on converting into leads or sales.  See your businesses as fulfilling a need or desire and let your content reflect that. The more informative and/or entertaining the online content, the better chance you have of converting visitors to customers.

Be patient 

Online content marketing is not a quick fix but could transform your business over time. It

Aerial view of Rome

Rome: Construction took a while

takes planning, hard work and dedication to identify your target market and craft quality content. It is easy to dismiss something that may not immediately generate revenue, but effective online content marketing will ultimately pay off.

Twitter Tips and Statistics

Twitter is like a big chatroom with millions of people talking about different things. It can be hard to get heard among all the chatter. Many companies open a Twitter account and don’t know what to do next.  Some business owners have unrealistic expectations of what Twitter can do for them. Most of us find it difficult to figure what tweets get the best response.

Luckily some number crunchers have produced stats to help us see how people behave on Twitter. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before plunging head first into the world of 140 characters or less.

What to tweet?

This is the big one. What should you tweet? Dan Zarella’s research shows the list of what type of content is most popular on Twitter. He’s also done lists of the most and least retweetable words. The most important thing, though, is to keep it interesting and relevant.

 

Stats on what to tweet

Why tweet?

This question can be best answered by looking at what Pew Research found were the subjects people usually want to tweet about.

What People Use Twitter for - bar chart

Why do people follow some people and not others? This is key. Dan Zarella looks at the titles people give themselves to attract followers. It’s no surprise that those who seem to be expert on a subject are more trusted than those with no credentials. But in the world of Twitter it’s easy to become a self-appointed authority just by adding the word ‘expert’ to your profile.

Bar chart most retweetable bio words

 

When to tweet?

According to a Hubspot report, the best times to tweet are Thursday and Friday between 3 and 5pm as well as between 9pm and 11pm.  Many companies tweet only during regular office hours with less and less enthusiasm as the working week comes to a close.

Tweets distributed by hour - graph

 

 

Tweets distributed by hour - graph

It’s also important to space your tweets.  Flooding your followers’ feeds with 5 or 10 tweets at once could lead to you losing them.

Who tweets?

Younger adults aged 18-29 are still more likely to tweet but the numbers tweeting in the higher age brackets are steadily rising. Women are more likely to tweet than men, which could have implications for some brands. College-educated people have slightly higher than average tweeting numbers. Figures are from a Pew Research survey.

How to Tweet?

To make your Twitter marketing effective you must have access to relevant data and have clearly defined objectives.

Twitter can help you build relationships with customers rather than generating one-off sales.

Here are some useful links if you want to know more about making the best use of Twitter.

http://mashable.com/guidebook/twitter/

http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/40-twitter-tips_b8973

http://twittertips.org