Tag Archives: SERPs

Talking about social effects on SERPs visibility

eyefortravelEarlier today an interview I did for EyeforTravel was published. It is in their Social Media and Marketing section.

I am talking, quite tactically how social media activities can impact your visibility in the SERPs.

This follows some recent posts I have done here about, my presentation at Traverse conference and a some thoughts about the future of SEO.

While I was away on holiday!

I took a (well deserved) week off and went to Turkey for a all-inclusive holiday with the family. And while I was gone Google decided to launch a new product. So, back in the office there are a barrage of questions from marketers, management and analytics folks about Google Instant and the impact it might have on our search marketing.

First of all here is a photo across my pool to the sea. I can also say that my internet usage was minimal (was hard, think I am an online addict). Oh and we learn’t to sail.

The view over the pool to infinity and beyond!

The view over the pool to infinity and beyond!

OK, back to Google instant. I think the jury is still out to start with. This is essentially a autosuggest front runner as another layer to personalisation. It may kill the long tail and it may force up PPC bidding to hit the head terms for the users that stop when they get some answer rather than the longer more precise answer. It also might change the order SEO’s optimise pages to hit the exact matches of the type in. Or even make some short-termist to change the optimisation of pages to game their sequential load order. Or it could be just another ‘flash-in-the-pan’ product that doesn’t get full rolled-out. We will see and then make any alterations to our long term strategies.

And in-case you wish to find your way to that hotel/resort, here is a map.
[googlemap lat="36.98649427898108" lng="27.552316188812256" align="undefined" width="630px" height="440px" zoom="16" type="G_HYBRID_MAP"]Turkey[/googlemap]

Online reputation management

Does your reputation need a life-line?

Does your reputation need a life-line?

How to make your companies reputation management plan – online version.

Now some of this will depend on your industry and I don’t claim to be an expert in everything, well almost everything ! This post is meant to be a generic plan, a list of ideas or activities that you could consider in making your plan ready, sharing with all that need to be aware of it.

Why you might need a reputation plan?

The scenario you are likely to be in if you need an online reputation plan is normally not a good one. This may be your making (and you may deserve it?) or it may be through no fault of your own. But you should be ready with a plan that you or a number of people can turn on very quickly.

What might you be able to control?

The idea of this plan is to take control of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). This will allow you or your company to try and control what people fine who are looking for you. This is definitely not a fall-proof plan by any means. And depending on the topic you may actually want to stay quiet. But if you are informed and have a plan, then you have a choice to act or not to act.

A couple of simple current examples could the recent ash cloud from Iceland that has messed around with people travel and holidays. Through to natural disaster or pandemics e.g. earthquakes and swine flu.

Generic objectives

  • To provide emergency information
  • To surpress bad or damaging online content

The planning

You should take stock of all the digital assets and resources you could have in your arsenal.

These could commonly be:

  • Press Releases ready, with a hungry PR team/agency
  • PPC creatives – maybe to swithc from sales to customer service/advice
  • SEO page(s) with the appropriate key messages
  • Digital assets of images, video and the like

How to flood the SERPs and “own the page”?.

First of all check out the search demand in KW research tools, the autosuggest in Google and trending topics – to see if you the need to do anything. It might be a storm in your own office !! But if people and journalists are going to be searching for you or your company by name/brand you can try to flood the results.

In the modern Google world, with the latest QDF (Query Deserves Freshness) the blended results could contain a variety of media.

Leverage existing assets

  • TV ads online e.g. in YouTube or Vimeo. This could also be interview or TV appearance clips

Social media marketing

  • Facebook page – make updates and spark conversation
  • LinkedIn groups – as above
  • Twitter – get your own accounts working, support your other initiatives and spark others to RT or talk about you. If you trend, these will appear in the one box
  • Wikipedia – always shows on Information searches
  • Forum answering, Q&A – if appropriate, get involved
  • Guest post, get your big guns and names out

Sales and marketing channels

  • Get a lot of mentions on pages and social by releasing coupons and amazing deals

Normal comms and PR

  • If comments are out there – answer them and provide your side of the story (if you are right)
  • Use your PR teams to get you everywhere legitimately
  • Send our old, but ‘evergreen’ PRs, through all levels of distribution services, even through article and SEO ‘pr’ hubs
  • Bait journalists with more juicy stories / “distract them”

Paid activities

  • PPC/SEM with as many ‘sitelinks’ as you can buy to push the results down the page
  • Buy business directories

Leveraging your size & network

  • Get your name on your sister site companies, suppliers and friends. Make them also rank for your company name
  • Get your employees who blog to write

The outcome

The aim is to push the bad press down. This will only work if the opposition don’t go on a big hunt as they may be very motivated and may play nasty.

If you are trying to diseeminate information to help people this too can effective as sometimes if you don’t act, your reputation may suffer too.

If you know your position and you judge you can win, then you can make an informed choice.

Types of Link Bait

Do you need bait to get a link?

Do you need bait to get a link?

Obtaining links to your site (still important as of today) is hard work. We all know the obvious methods and some of you may know some other more advanced techniques too. A commonly used term in the “be creative and people will link to you” approach is “link bait”.

Link Bait by its definition is producing something that is either sensational or interesting enough to warrant a mention and a link to it from another site. The overarching goal could be branding, or a PR stunt etc etc. But the SEO’s objective is quality inbound links, ideally in volume.

So, what types of link bait are there? And in my personal favourite order list:

  1. Infographics
  2. – a favourite of mine. This is when you design a pictorial way of showing something exciting.

  3. Videos [Funny, Outside the Box]
  4. – always a winner – hard to achieve true fame, but if you are good they are impressive in how far they can fly.

  5. Top x Lists
  6. – if you are working on content syndication strategies, quick easy, accessible lists are always a favourite. They must just tap into the human psyche

  7. Controversial Topics
  8. “no such thing as bad press”

  9. Complete Guides and Reports
  10. – data is king. If you are the expert in a field, produce an industy report e.g. Hotel Price Index by Hotels.com. This has so much mileage

  11. Interesting Polls and Surveys
  12. – more data – everybody loves to know that 64% people love to give opinions in polls! These are easy for bloggers and journos to take and fill up space easily

  13. Topic Specific Recaps and Roundups
  14. – if you attend an event or conference and can do a digest – others who are lazy to take notes or others who couldn’t attend will find it useful

  15. Interviews
  16. – if you are able to access people or companies of interest, others will find it interesting too

  17. Free Tools and Software
  18. – got to love a freebie. Also here can be “how to’s”, if you find a keyboard shortcut or a new feature share it

  19. Awards
  20. – if you are issuing an award, then all nominees will link to the award page, and if they win, more links, plus the industry pundits will pick it up too

  21. Giveaways, Freebies, and Sweepstakes
  22. – mass approach – timeless way of PR, also competitions fit in here

  23. First to Discuss
  24. – Innovation and Expert status mean people cite you as a reference

  25. Widgets
  26. – either gratitude will get you a link or you could embed a link back e.g. wordpress themes

  27. First to Cover Breaking News
  28. – similar to no.12. Being fast means you are the best/most relevant/authority

  29. Inside Look/Previews
  30. – if you represent/gatekeeper to a topic, insider information is of interest to your audience. They are already warmed up and ready to link. Just look at how many links Google blog gets when there is a half-heads-up on, well, anything

That is my list. I thought I would write it down before I forget it. Can you think of any others?

Day 2 of SMX advanced London 2010

SMX Advanced London 2010

After my rant after day 1, day 2 followed as you would expect and on the whole I thought was much better.

I do really think that the word Advanced should not be used and the level of effort in organizing the event was a bit ‘credit crunch’ worthy. Next year will have to decide whether to attend, at least in the UK.

Day 2 was a day of social media and analytics.

The first session was titled “Proving Social Media’s Value”. The panel were from econsultancy, Freshnetworks, MSN adcenter & Bazaarvoice.

Linus from econsultancy cited some statistics, that 64% of companies can’t prove the ROI of social media, and that 65% in their survey were going to be doing more in 2010, than 2009! That is definitely my experience too. The resounding corporate favourite is Twitter, raising from 2008 of 3%, 2009 was 49% and now in 2010’s respondents want 81%. IMHO, mainly as it is easy and straightforward? There were comments on how corporates are trying to measure including just going for sales and clicks as these are standard web metrics that most can understand. But few people cite branding etc, but don’t measure brand recall like they would if they invested in a TV campaign!

The suggestion was not to measure the quantity of followers or FB friends. But you should measure the number of re-tweets, referrals and how influential these people are. You should treat the measurement more like display or offline media in terms of recall and attitude change. But the issue here is that people think SMM is like SEO is free ! Oh, how naive.

Charlie Osmonds analogy was to describe the situation the most corporates treat SMM as “a series of one night stands”, whereas “[you] should focus on long term relationships to existing customer and not new people”.

I then de-fluffed myself and moved over to the analytics track for “Bullseye! Reaching and Closing Your Ultimate Customer”. This was a session. The panel was from Google, Comscore and Facebook. Despite the title, it was not an analytics panel, it was about how to reach your potential customer.

There were some fascinating Comscore stats such as the total searches across Europe were up 27% YoY. But the standout was Spain, that is 56% up YoY. And the average number of searches per month is 122. But the UK is 144, Germany is only 101. And the American are only 108!

They also showed a map showing the volume of searches and western Europe which is so dominated by Google with 75% to 90% of all searches. And the final stat is that 28% of Europeans are already watching online videos.

Staying with the analytic theme I sat and listened to “Top Ten Customised Search Analytics Reports”. It was a pragmatic start highlighting the daily challenge of having too much data and the best thing to do is to “minimise the gap between data to knowledge”.

Things to take back to the office. Add in Pacing lines on progress reports. To check bounce rate by keywords

After recharging on caffeine, and with my attention focused at the front the session was “Social Media, Search & Reputation Management”.
The opening fact was that 98% of modern journalists go online daily. I think this was my favourite session of the day and could the potential for a future elaborated post.

Real time search is potentially a reputation management nightmare. It seems that the QDF and Caffeine updates in Google, seem to allow trending topics to appear in the 1 box and bypass the classic hard SEO work and history of that page/URL combo!

More to come on this topic in separate posts, once I can collect my thoughts and add some value. Plus, somewhere for me to keep these notes if/when I need to use them!

The final session of SMX Advanced London was “Social media: give it up”. This half inspiring and half aimed to keep your feet on the ground. Melissa Campbell on behalf of Distilled reinforced the legal aspects of social media. A similar comment to earlier really about back to basics when we learned to be marketers before we concentrated online. At last being a bit more ‘mature’ works in your favour!

Chris Bennet from 97th Floor shared some of his favourite techniques. The take-away for me is the idea of using infographics. And this could work alone side some other great material we have access to already. It is all about leveraging the assets you already have.

Overall, it was far better than day 1. But it has taken this long til posting as having to catch up with work and actually enjoy the mini-heatwave that swept through London.

Sifting for nuggets in tedium – SMX Advanced London 2010

SMX Advanced London 2010

Today was a hard and long day sifting through mediocre, lack-luster, single tracked ?Advanced? SEO at SMX advanced. The overall score was <50% of the speakers I would says were either good/enthusiastic or insightful.  I am afraid that I think the organisers should vet the speakers and their presentations before they charge a lot of money for this event.

I will be putting this on the formal feedback form too, so don’t worry I am not just blogging for my own ego and not prepared to give real feedback.  Today was just tired.  At least one of the presenters had references to the last time they presented the same deck which was quite a while ago ! To be able to speak at a conference and be an expert amongst peers should be a joy and not (by some of the faces & delivery) a chore!  It is easy to whinge – I guess one I day I should volunteer and put myself out there to be ridiculed.

But, to also give credit where credit is due, there were some nuggets.  And half way through SMX Advanced London 2010, I am still confident on what we are doing with the day job and have a few inspired extension ideas and things to do when I get back to office.

So, what was good?

The Day 1 keynote from Barack Berkowitz from Wolfram|Alpha was right-up-there to spark my inner geek.  I had seen and used Wolfram literally on its launch but not since. It is definitely going places. The idea of a fact engine, who has the ambition of “democratising knowledge” and providing answers must be a good thing.  And in the long term, I genuinely believe services like this will be a game changer.  There were some concerns/comments from the audience regarding where they get their data from and how they will monetise its service in the future.  Berkowitz answered the questions fully, which is refreshing from a speaker these days.  That much of the data is “curetted”, which he defined as chosen/verified by a team of scientists, academics or subject matter experts. That much of this is public information, obtained from official sources such as governments and some licensed from ‘expert’ sites e.g. weather services.  The monetisation question was explained as their next challenge and may include paid listings e.g. answers provided by advertisers and/or that the user could buy additional information behind their query.  So effectively micro-data buys rather than whole data set buying that is normally out of reach of the average individual/student. I am going to be looking out for their widgets which are coming soon. The data geek in me loved the way they dynamically charted traditionally non comparable metrics or something simple by charting comparisons e.g. life expectancy in UK versus France.

In the SEO ranking factors in 2010 session, Rand from SEOMoz referred to the patent granted to Google about the “the Random Surfer Versus the Reasonable surfer” as excellently written up last week by Bill Slawski on SEOBook’s blog.

This re-inforced the view that I and many others I know have had that not all links are treated equally. It makes perfect sense, and the equal distribution of “rank” or “link juice” which we have observed and tested is in their thought process too.

The other question posed publicly was whether the audience thought that social media affected the SERPS.  Eventually a conscensus that I can subscribe to was proposed that it does.  That a trending topic may affect the settings, the ones on the search bar where you can choose freshness over established ranking.  So, a trending topic, may play with these filters and you will find that established text based listings may be replaced temportarily by references that have no history or inbound links; but may be from a site that has still has domain rank.

It is always good to Andrew Girdwood go on a rank about “link building” and how this was wrong and how it should be “building links . The whole panel agreed that building relationships with sites was the future of ethical link building, and people who are just doing link building were doing it wrong !

There were a few cheeky little tips on how to automate spam by a few of the speakers.  Who obviously supplemented those comments that it was a bad thing to do.

I hope day 2 is a bit better.

SearchMe no more!

Back in 2008 I did a post about SearchMe. It was definately innovative at the time. Very US focuses – but you have to start somewhere I guess. Anyway, when I was doing a link check on this site, I found out that this site has closed.

Another great idea bites the dust.

SearchMe no more!

SearchMe no more!

The same visual style is available in Bing, iTunes and even some browser plugins such as Mozillas FoxTab and Coolris. Maybe it was too early. They are selling their intelectual property if you are interested!

My excuses for why Rankings aren’t all they are cracked up to be!

They change so often. Try doing a search, search again and now…. search again – are they the same?

I am on the phone with you and we are comparing rankings. I am in London and you in New York. I bet we see different results. The major players try to help with geo-targeting results. Especially if you have a geography in the search term.

You see ranking different to me?! Are you logged into your Gmail account when searching in Google. I bet the boss has been obsessing about a competitor, on their site for days. And then searches for us, we won’t be there and the competitor is there in natural search and PPC. The engines believe is you have been to site a lot, then you like it and gives you it more in your personalized results.

Vanity terms. People always talk about the vanity terms of very precise terms/phrases. But being high on this term may not be the terms that will actually make your money. You can always use your PPC campaigns to validate and if necessary educate your stakeholders. Maybe you too focus on these terms and you wonder why with a good position the $$$ isn’t rolling in!?

Universal or blended search. It seems and from bitter experience you get a #1 ranking and then the engines decide to put a map, with listings, reviews, news, stock information or a image above the classic one spot. So your potential click through rate has vanished!

Although I always love a number one ranking. And still a secret objective!

Interesting reading 2009-06-26

A huge pile of reading!

A huge pile of reading!

So what from my reading has stood out this week?

My stance on content is to produce helpful, informative and engaging content. That keyword research tools are used to help design the angle of the page, but not to lead the final content. There was a great article on ScienceforSEO which talks exactly about this.

Glenn Murray summarised his approach to content planning as:

  • Do some keyword analysis to identify what customers are searching for;
  • Plan a cluster of pages around each target keyword phrase;
  • Supply the copywriter with a list of topics to write about (preferably one topic per page).

On Social media, there was a standout article on SiteVisibility about what you should measure.

The article suggests a) Clicks per thousand followers, b) Follower velocity, your follow rate, using a 3rd party site such as Twitterholic, c) CTR, clicks vs followers, an indication of what is popular and d) RT’s, how socialable your posts are. Makes sense to me, its an steer on your buzz

Changing tack and looking at some history, Stuntdubl has a easy to follow chart showing the evolution of SEO, check it out when you need a reminder/flash back to the milestones we have all encoutered. See the chart here.

EConsultancy have an article talking about the use of social media by ‘real’ journalists. Here is an extract from their article.

In 2008, 44% were reading feeds regularly; while 19% were reading five or more feeds every day. Use of online video had jumped from 28% to 38%.
This year alone has seen quite a shift: Over 70% of journalists surveyed wanted organizations to provide a page in the online newsroom containing links to every social media environment in which that company participates. 38% of journalists prefer to receive information via company tweets!
28% now say RSS feeds are important, and 62% read them regularly.

It seems in the time pressed world of writing, getting information sent to you helps!

Then on a techie note, on the official Google blog there was an article talking about making the web faster and some of the things that have happened in the past few years. Such improvements in JavaScript speed, code optimisation, server work and the new standard of HTML 5. All of which are currently on my tech wish list for my current employer.

Andrew Girdwood, I think “ranted” (IMHO quite rightly) about the state of the UK SERPs on his personal blog. I won’t even try to paraphrase – take a read.

Google squared

One of the things I have played with in Google labs today is Google squared.  It has sparked more questions than it has answered.  Just recently with the release of ‘search options’ and the ‘wonder wheel’ this is making me think that Google is thinking of ways of displaying results and allowing every increasing amounts of personalisation.  This is also just after the launch of Wolfram the computational engine.

If you think back there are 3 layers 1) data 2) information and 3) knowledge.

If you consider a regular search is returning teasers from informational pages,  sparked by a user entering just a bit of data.  Then trying to make comparisons, by displaying more relevant information on the results page is trying to turn that raw data/information into knowledge.  And that is where the real value add is.

I have just done a search for New York hotels and this is what I got.

Google squared results

Google squared results

If you click on the image or any cell, it displays the URL of where it got its information from.

Google squared, with source shown

Google squared, with source shown

It is clearly not ready for a full on release.  Mainly because its returning blanks when trying to complete its grid. But I do find this totally fascinating.

The bit that might become annoying, is that in this example, it has returned my website as an image result but it has given a direct contact alongside.  So, they are using my image from my site costing me money to help their results.

I guess that this is for informational searches.  I have tried adding some simple action terms to the search e.g. Book New York hotels etc and it doesnt want to return back buying links.

I suppose that we need to find a way of measuring this result and ensuring we maximise our opportunities!