Promoting your business on Twitter

Many businesses use Twitter to promote themselves and also to engage with their followers. If used properly, this can be very effective in obtaining new business, getting more visitors to their site and in promoting brand. There are still businesses out there who are not harnessing the power of social media and who will miss out. If you are one of these and are not sure about taking the plunge, what are you waiting for? You do not need to spend all day on Twitter, if that is one of your concerns, set aside a little time each day and engage with your followers. So, what is Twitter and how do you go about using it in such a way as to make it work for your business?

Twitter Basics

The most basic description of Twitter is that it’s a service that allows users to update what they’re doing in 140-character, bite-size messages that are broadcast to their group of followers. As a Twitter user, you can follow people to get their status updates (“tweets”) and others can follow you to get your updates. It’s really that simple. Sort of. Read on for more details.

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Terminology

A grasp of Twitter terminology is vital to anyone using the service. There are a lot of terms unique to Twitter, and it can get very confusing, very fast if you don’t have some idea of what others are talking about. Here’s a quick guide to the most common terms you’ll likely hear.

  • DM or Direct Message: This is a private message sent to another Twitter user. It’s preceeded by a “D” and can only be sent to a user who is following you.
  • Hashtag: Hashtags are single-word phrases used to organize different topics, chats, and events on Twitter, and are preceeded by a hash mark “#”.
  • Lists: Lists are a fairly new Twitter feature, and are just what they sound like: lists of Twitter users created and categorized by other Twitter users. You can follow entire lists rather than having to follow each individual user.
  • Reply or @reply: To reply to another Twitter user, or include them in a tweet, you put an @ symbol before their username. If the @symbol is the first character in the tweet, the reply will be shown to them and anyone following both of you. If the @ symbol is not the first character, then the tweet will be shown to all of your followers, plus the person whose username follows the @.
  • RT or Retweet: Retweets are re-broadcasts of another user’s tweet. This is traditionally done by including an “RT” before the original poster’s @username. This has long been an unofficial feature of Twitter, though Twitter has recently added official support for it. Some users use other characters (such as a full stop “.”) for brevity’s sake.
  • Trending Topics: These are the most popular terms appearing on Twitter at any given time and may include hashtags.

Etiquette

There is no official etiquette for Twitter, though there are some guidelines and rules within their terms of service. Most of the official rules regard spam and inappropriate content. Click here to continue

Further reading

16 creative ways to use Twitter for business

How to win business with Twitter

Social media as part of your online marketing strategy

Social media has become a major part of many people’s lives and for the B2C business, this is an opportunity not to miss. It is a way of connecting with customers, informing them of special offers or new lines or just giving them interesting information. The beauty of social media, is that it can be used in a variety of ways to get your message across and allows your customers to engage with you. We are all aware of the power of the social media for business but with so many different platforms, how do you know which one will be best for your company?

There’s no doubt about it – a strong social media presence can lift your brand. But while you may be tempted to put your product in front of as many eyeballs as possible – there are over 550 social networking sites, according to KnowEm.com – not every business needs a presence on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook… (the list goes on). So here’s what to consider before signing up on your next social media platform.

 

Don’t chase the shiny object

Before registering for any social networking channel – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ are the most trafficked and most prominent – find out where your customers are and “fish where the fish are,” says Randall Craig, president of Toronto’s 108 ideaspace, a web and social media strategy firm.

 

It’s easy to be seduced by the latest offering, but sometimes a brand simply doesn’t align with a channel’s user base, and the result can be fruitless appeals to a disinterested audience.

 

“For example, it makes no sense for a management consulting firm to do a video contest on YouTube, but it might be perfectly appropriate for a consumer products company,” says Craig.

 

Businesses also need to clearly understand what they want to achieve from joining each channel – whether it’s to develop customer relationships, improve customer service, increase loyalty and cross-selling opportunities, reduce costs, or generate sales – and how they’re going to do this.

And don’t think of your social media efforts as just a tack-on to your marketing strategy.

 

“Your social marketing should impact everything from new leads, sales, customer service, new candidate recruitment, internal collaborations and your company’s overall results,” he says.

 

Pull out the calculator

 

While social marketing tools are typically free, there can be significant costs associated with creating a comprehensive social media strategy. According to a recent Forbes article, it takes a mid-size company at least 32 hours a month to successfully manage just one social media channel. Additional expenses can include legal fees, plus expenses related to promotion, search engine marketing and staff training.

– See more at: http://www.starbusinessclub.ca/technology/4075/

Further information

How to choose the right social media tools for your business

How your business can benefit from social media

Making the most of Google+ for your business

These days having a prominent presence in social media is very important for businesses and professionals. With so many different sites, how do you know what to choose? Well, it is a good idea to have an idea of which ones your customers use and harness those to get your message across. Google+ is becoming quite a big player and as the Google search engine makes use of the information in Google+, it really is a good idea to have a profile/account there too. Using it could not be easier, see this handy guide to help you make the most of your account.

Since its makeover in May, Google+ has been steadily winning a war of aesthetics over Facebook, which has yet to roll out its redesigned News Feed to all users.

While a visual overhaul is a great way to draw in users who have long neglected the mandatory social component of the Gmail address, Google+ has yet to succeed at making some of its new, highly powerful features more noticeable.

To the average person who may only casually use Google+, it’s a better-looking yet more empty social hub when compared with its competitors. When taking into account the ways in which Google+ is in fact a richer, more discussion-based and interactive experience, the social network begins to look like a far better place to spend one’s time online.

Luckily, these somewhat lesser-known features are not at all hidden, but do take a bit of explaining. Here’s three of the best Google+ has to offer today.

Hashtags: Google+’s Discussion Discovery Feature

Facebook made a splash last month with the debut of its own hashtags offering, mostly because it was yet-another move aimed at beefing up its discovery offering with features that have worked wonders for other services.

But while hashtags are synonymous with Twitter and the trending war between it and Facebook, Google+ has in fact had the hashtag feature since last year. The important question is: is there any more utility with Google+ hashtags than you get on other platforms? It turns out that yes, there is, for a number of reasons.

Most importantly, what makes Google+’s hashtag option not only easier and more elegant to use, but more functionally powerful as well, is the fact that clicking a hashtag does not take you away from the page and away from what made you click in the first place, as it does with both Facebook and Twitter. Click here to continue

Further information

Complete user guide: Google+ pages for business and brands

How to set up a Google+ page for your business

How to get the best keywords

Keywords are an essential tool which enable people and search engines to find your website. There are many ways of choosing keywords and doing a thorough keyword research to begin with will help you decide which ones would best suit your needs. Long tail keywords are particularly useful for local searches and should be investigated if local custom is important to your business. So, what tools are available for you to use to find relevant keywords? Here are 3 that are free to use

Choosing the right target keywords builds the foundation for an entire SEO campaign. If the right keywords with the highest potential for return are not selected, the foundation of the campaign will be weak and, therefore, success is nearly impossible.

In order to select the right keywords, data must be collected and analyzed so projections on return can be made. Gathering the necessary data, however, can be expensive and many businesses will not invest in best-of-breed SEO tools.

For those with limited budgets and without access to paid SEO tools, impactful keyword data is not out of reach. There are plenty of data sources and tools that can be used for free or offer free versions. By leveraging several free tools, advertisers can generate enough information to make informed decisions on keyword targets and set themselves up for successful SEO campaigns.

Below are three such tools. In a subsequent post, I will examine the best free SEO tools for auditing and troubleshooting.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool

The first step in choosing the right keywords is to understand what keywords consumers are searching and the demand of each of those keywords. This data can be determined using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. In order to gain full access to the data you need to sign up for an Adwords account. You do not need to set up any campaigns or spend any advertising money.

There are three main ways to find relevant keywords using this tool, including inputting the website or page that is to be optimized, the category of the products or services the website offers, or a seed list of keywords related to those products or services. Before researching the keywords, however, it is important to implement the correct settings. Since we are looking for specific keywords that the market is searching, we want to analyze at the demand of exact match keywords rather than variations. In order to see the demand (search volume) of the keywords, use the “Match Types” option in the right sidebar and select [Exact].

 

The first way to identify keywords is to input the domain or page you are trying to optimize. Google will crawl the website and return a list of suggestions based on the content. For example, if you are looking for keywords relevant to www.MediaWhiz.com, you would enter the domain into the Website field and click the Search button for a list of relevant keywords. Once results are returned, be sure to select the Keyword ideas tab as opposed to the Ad group ideas tab. This will provide a comprehensive list of keywords with associated search volume. This can also be done using the domains of direct competitors.

 

 

For keywords related to a specific page, simply input the URL of the page rather than the domain into the tool for a list of keywords specific to that page. Click here to continue

Further information

SEO Tutorial video: choosing the best keywords

The resurgence of long-tail keywords in SEO

How to check your site for organic links

In the post Panda/Penguin world, having organic links is more important than ever in order to keep your website getting traffic and remaining in the organic listings on the search engines. If your site is slipping down the rankings there could be many causes and it is important to explore as many of the possible causes as you can. Take a look at this handy guide which will take you through many of the common causes and what action you can take to clean up your site.

Do you think that your website, or your client’s, has suffered a Google penalty due to bad link building? Or do you just wonder why a website isn’t ranking well? If so, then you probably want to take a look at the link profile for the website. Pouring over a list of links can be cumbersome, especially when you just want to do a quick analysis. Thankfully, there are link research tools that allow you to see potentially issues at a glance.

Signals of an Unnatural Link Profile

Let’s look at some signals that may tip off Google that a website has an unnatural link profile and the tools that make those signals easy to spot. The following is an analysis of Interflora.co.uk, the site most recently trending for their penalization for links, using the inBound Analysis tool by cognitiveSEO.

Overuse of Keyword Anchor Text

One of the easiest to spot signals of an unnatural link profile is overuse of keyword anchor text. It’s an easy metric to target because a website with nothing but organic links would naturally have a variety of anchor text. Your average webmaster would link to a website using the website / business name, the URL itself, or potentially random keywords like “my favorite shop” or the infamous “click here” as opposed to “flower delivery.”

Low Authority Backlinks

Trust, authority, reputation – these are all major factors when it comes to link building. A link from a website with high authority can help your rankings. Alternatively, a lot of links from low quality websites can hurt them.

Irrelevant Backlinks

Again, when you’re considering an organic link profile, backlinks that were not relevant to a website would occur, but not in mass amounts. If a flower delivery website has a ton of links from gambling, casino, or other sites that are considered bad neighborhoods, it sends up the red flag that something is wrong. Even a lot of irrelevant links from good sites may do more harm than good.

Backlinks of a Certain Variety

Organic links are ones that are given to a website without request. Organic links typically happen on sites like blogs, social networks, media outlets, and forums. Links that are requested by someone typically happen on article directories, web directories, and press releases. If a website’s backlink profile consists mostly of non-organic links, Google will not rank it as highly as those that have organic, unsolicited links. Click here to continue reading

Further information

What is organic link building?

Link building strategies: organic link building

Some ‘Chatter’ about SEO in 2013 and what not to do

SEO in 2013 - What to Do (and AVOID like the plague!)SEO in 2013 – What to Do (and AVOID like the plague!)
http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/niche-site-duel-2-pre-seo-alex-becker/ – In this video I interview Alex Becker from http://www.source-wave.com, who shares …

 

Understanding Google Penguin

With all the furore that Google Penguin caused when it first appeared, you would think that those whose websites were unaffected would be ‘safe’ however, Penguin 2.0 has been rolled out and a new swathe of sites have been penalised. Keeping your site Google proof has become a goal and a challenge for many. There are of course ways of doing this, ways that will ensure that you do not find yourself on the receiving end of penalties. Remember that there are no quick fixes, this is a marathon rather than a sprint and it is a bit like nurturing a seedling so that it grows into a strong and healthy plant, it cannot be hurried and takes time, dedication and patience. First of all, you do need to understand how Penguin works, take a look at this guide.

In April 2012, Google released one of its biggest algorithm changes to date. Penguin 1.0 targeted sites that featured questionable link profiles, low quality backlinks, and anchor text that was too keyword rich or overly optimized for a single term. As a result of the sweeping and significant impacts of Penguin 1.0, anticipation surrounded the release of Penguin 2.0, which officially rolled out May 22.

While a lot of the specifics of the update are still shaking out, there’s a great deal of information already emerging. Here’s a closer look at what we know, how Penguin 2.0 is affecting sites, and what to do if your site has been impacted.

The History of Penguin

Google’s updates tend to be thematic. Each change to the search algorithm is done with a single goal in mind: to serve up better, more relevant search results to people using Google to find information.

As you consider the internet, it’s easy to see why this is necessary. Webmasters and SEOs develop techniques to manipulate the rankings; as a result, less relevant sites sometimes land on the first page of Google for specific queries. It becomes an endless circle of sites working to rank better and search engines working to weed out web spam.

One of Google’s most feared (and effective) algorithm updates was Panda. Panda focused on eliminating sites that didn’t have enough quality content, and were more geared at moneymaking than providing useful content. This led in part to the current proliferation that we see around the discussion of content strategy. Read more here

Further reading

SEO writing post-penguin 2.0 checklist

Why is the Google algorithm so important

 

Making the most of your content marketing

Achieving those organic search engine rankings is the usually what most website owners strive for but getting them and keeping the site up there can be tricky. It is so important to do only those things that are approved by the search engines and there are no quick shortcuts. Content marketing is an excellent way of driving traffic to your website in a natural way so that the search engines take notice and like this. Reaching the right audience for your content is essential, so taking care to place it well is just as important as what you are writing.

One of the most successful ways to generate leads and expand reach is through content marketing. We spoke with Elie Ashery, managing principle of RegReady, about how to monetize content marketing and a brand new way of looking at co-registration. What we uncovered were cost-effective secrets to generating leads, developing trust, and increasing engagement.   Online marketing has changed dramatically recently by becoming more content centric. What are some of the challenges marketers now face?

New investments in content marketing are transforming the business models of marketing departments into ones more representative of publishers. The three most prominent challenges that have emerged with content-centric marketing are purchasing lags, fringe audiences, and the lack of lead volume. However, just as with publishers, these challenges can be solved with simple economics to create better business model efficiencies.

Developing content can be expensive and hard to monetize. How can marketers maximize their content investment?

Even though there are ways for content marketing to be effective, part of the investment often goes unmonetized when it fails to generate quick purchases or highly qualified lead volume. Monetizing marketing content, if done thoughtfully, can help to maximize its value when less qualified or unready sales leads and impressions are exchanged for well-qualified ones. A co-registration community such as RegReady offers an efficient way to grow your marketing lists and sales leads by working with contextually relevant partners. Click here to continue

Further information

How to write great web content

5 keys to successful content marketing strategy

 

Links – Google – ‘Interviews & Courtrooms’ and the new world of SEO

Yesterday I wrote a post about Google and getting rankings, positions on the engine, comparing the situation today with a few years ago. It was a bit of fun really, but there was a serious side to it, as things have changed and anyone in my industry needs to get used to the new world that they now are forced to live in.

The situation led me to compare the jobs market in the early 1970’s with the one today and Search Engine Marketing in the early 2000’s with the way it is today.

Why these two areas? Well in my view the similarities are just two great to ignore. You see in the early 70s (when I first started work) the job market was an easy one. You could walk out of one job into another with ease, quite the opposite of today’s job scene. Similarly, in the early 2000’s you could get a ranking on Google relatively easily too, all you had to do was repeat the text you wanted to be found for and fill the meta tags in the same manner. Later of course things got a bit harder, links, leading to a higher Page Rank, being the name of the game. Again today things are a lot different and I mean a lot different.

So the situations are the same, but there is more to the similarity than that. I say this as, as the job market got harder people started getting and asking for (more) help with their CV, then as it got harder still, people asked for coaching in interview skills.

In the Seo world, people too had to turn more and more to the experts, to the extent that today any Seo professional has not only to help write the ‘sites’ CV’, but also has to make sure it is good enough to pass muster at the ‘interview’, in a similar manner to the way a job coach will ensure that a persons’ CV cannot have any holes picked in it.

Thus both areas have moved from the point of ‘just helping someone write a CV and then leaving them to it’, to in a sense ‘accompanying their client to the interview in the full knowledge that they will have to be able to back up their clients statements’, showing good cause for all statements /  links.

This in turn means that they now have to be very careful when building these same said links in the first place, as any could be questioned.

In the SEO world, the similarity breaks down at the interview stage a bit though, as what actually happens is more like a court hearing than a job interview, the website owner of course being tried in their absence.

This of course means that what the SEO company must do is to ensure that the links can stand up to scrutiny by themselves and not, for the most part require any explanation.

What I am trying to say is that in today’s SEO world any agency must build links with a view to having to attend that interview / courtroom and be ready to justify what they have done.

They can no longer just build links and walk away like in the old days.

In the next post, I’ll be examining what links you should build and why this will vary depending on the age of the site.

Applying for a ‘Position’ with Google – Then and Now

This is the story about the owner of a web design company and their attempts to get some rankings on the first page of Google a few years ago,  and just last month, and how it has all changed….

Then

Mr Jones, the owner of ABC Web design approached the office of Google with a great deal of hope, he had done his homework, bought all the right software and followed all the ‘rules’ (and used a few, let us say, shady tricks that were known to work too) when building his website and the links to it. He was happy and extremely confident, the sun was shining, just what could go wrong?

The Interview

Mr Jones was ushered into the Google offices, they were nice and tidy, with pictures of that ‘nice Mr Google’ on all the walls, his smiling face beaming from the images on all who passed. The queue was not that big and he did not have to wait long. Best of all the mood in the room was good, everyone waiting for their appointments looking comfortable.

Soon his time came and Mr Jones dutifully followed the directions to Mr Google’s offices. In those days he did the interviews personally, after all there were not that many, and he loved to see all the applicants and discuss with them how he decided who to include and what the rules were.

Mr Jones handed over his application and Mr Google inspected it with great interest. Opening the first page, all about the way the website was built, his smiled broadened still further. “You have really helped us here” he declared, “You have used the phrase ‘web site design’, let me see, seven times on the home page alone, AND placed in the H1 headers 3 times”. Looking further down the page, he sees that all the images are tagged using the words ‘web design by ABC Web Design’, “My word”, he said “You certainly can’t miss what you do, it is plastered everywhere. You know, people like you make our job (of picking the best sites) so much easier, Thank you so very much.”

Moving onto the section about links to the ABC site, Mr Google’s smile increased so much, you wondered if his face was about to split into two. “Gosh, just look at this lot, there’s literally thousands of links here, and from so many places too”. “LOOK, there’s one from a fish farm in Florida, and another from a Yak canning factory in Mongolia, my you sure get around don’t you.”

Looking further down in the list he notices that every site that ABC had ever built had a link back to the designers’ site, each one saying ‘web design’ or ‘web designers’. “ I see you have helped us again here too, EVERY page you have ever built links back to you, it sure does help us work out what you do and how many times you have done it, thanks again.”

Finally, he turned to pages about ‘chatter’, looking for times that ABC design had been mentioned. This sort of thing was limited then, just the forums and Bulletin Boards, mostly inhabited by techies being available for people to place their thoughts on. “Well he declared, I can see you are mentioned here and there, we don’t expect much from this sort of area, so it will do”.

The meeting ended with that nice Mr Google shaking Mr Jones hand and declaring that he expected his application “would be successful”,  saying this with a smile and a friendly glint in his eyes.

Mr Jones went back to his offices a happy man, and sure enough, he did get first page rankings for a whole host of words, but best of all he was number Uno for the term ‘web designers’….

 

Now

Mr Jones opened the letter from Google with much trepidation, he heard that lots of businesses, had ‘had the call’ about having to attend a meeting about their rankings and was distinctly worried. He had heard on the grapevine that things were changing, but just how much, and what would it all mean?

The Interview

When Mr Jones got to Google’s offices he was astonished, they had altered so much, gone was the homely set of buliding, now they were huge, gleaming white in the sunshine, it was all quite dazzling. Massive signs declared the company motto ‘Do No Evil’  (although he did notice that someone, in very small writing had added the words ‘and make a lot of money in the process’  at the bottom).

Inside he noticed that the pictures of that nice Mr Google had gone, instead images depicting all the products (and there were many) that Google had developed, and the companies they had acquired adorned the walls.

The queue for the interviews was a lot different as well, it was huge, the waiting room being packed. But most of all he noticed the change of mood in the room. The happy joking faces had been replaced by worried ones, many of them despondently staring at their shoes. Every now and then someone was led away for their interview, their body language resembling someone being taken to the executioners block. It was not a happy place. Mr Jones gripped his application book (that was not a lot different to the first one) and prayed to all the Gods he had ever heard of.

Eventually his turn came. As he walked to the interview room he thought of the rumours he’d heard about the people that were carrying them out, some had said they acted like ‘animals’ but he was not sure what they meant…

Inside the room, his worst fears were realised, sitting at the vast resplendent desk sat the biggest Panda and Penguin that he had ever seen. He took his seat and waited, wordlessly passing his application book across the pages, under it seemed to him a compulsion that he could not control.

Mr Panda went first (it seemed to be the way to address him, although Mr Jones was unsure), saying that Mr Google no longer carried out these interviews, there being far too many now, and besides, they now needed to be run by people with ‘specialist knowledge’. The last words were said in a way that created tingles all along the back and neck of Mr Jones.

The Panda then opened the section about the way the pages had been built. Immediately his face creased with concern, then indignation. “What do you take us for” he boomed, “We are not idiots, we don’t need you to use the phrase ‘web designers’ 7 times on the front page”,” and we certainly don’t want you to put more than 1 in H1 tag”. He leaned across the desk at this point saying in menacing tones “It’s like you are trying to manipulate our decisions, like we are a bit stupid or something “ all the while sounding like an American gangster “Mr Google don’t like that sort of thing anymore you know.”

He pushed the book to the Penguin, who leafed to the pages about links. His face too creased up, the creases becoming so deep, it quickly resembled one of those relief maps you see of a mountain range, complete with deep valleys and staggering peaks.

“I see you have thousands of links to your site”, “I expect that you think it will impress us?” Mr Jones began to stammer a reply based on the idea ‘that it used too’, but was quickly waved to silence. “I see you have a link from a Florida fish farm here, did you do some work for them, or are you interested in farming fish?”  the latter said with a sort of snarl. Going on he the spotted the Mongolian Yak link. “Do you design web sites for companies in Mongolia?” Mr Jones shook his head.  “So what is this link doing here then?” Mr Jones hoped it was a rhetorical question, it was.

Not waiting for a reply, he moved on to the links from the all the pages on all the sites, that ABC web design had built. “I see that you have built lots of sites over the years, I expect you are very proud of them all”, “But” going on “Is that a good reason to link to your site from every page?”

“It’s like my associate Mr Panda says, it’s like you are trying to influence us or something…”

The Panda grunted, it began more and more to look like one of those police interviews, you know the ones with the good cop and the bad cop, the only difference being that this time, there were just two ‘bad cops’.

Finally, Mr Penguin moved onto the section about ‘chatter’. This was an area that had changed quite a bit, there being entries for Google +,Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. “I can see you have been reasonably busy in this area”, “We like that don’t we Mr Panda” he said. The Panda nodded and even smiled briefly.

The Penguin mentioned the positive comments on some Facebook posts, these being about  the designs ABC had been responsible for.  Speaking to the Panda, “You know Mr P, we could use positive and negative comments to rate pages too if we wanted”. “What a good idea” the Panda said, “I’ll add it to the list. Let me see that makes about 200 more things we will be checking for soon, Wonderful”. High Fives of flipper and paw were exchanged before the Penguin turned his attention to Mr Jones once more.

The Penguin went on to say, in a warning tone, that Mr Jones should be aware that they will be looking ever more closely into the area of Social Media and that he should not to abuse it, but at the moment, at least they were really just looking for mentions of the brand or domain name and that here at least he had done the right thing.

The latter comment caused a pit to form in Mr Jones’s stomach (about a mile deep it seemed).

The meeting concluded with a shake of hands / paws and flippers, but every time, Mr Jones felt that it was his neck , not his hand that was really being shaken…

 

Epilogue

In the end, it was not all bad news. Taking the advice he had heard, he quickly went to work removing the multiple use of  key terms like ‘web design’ on all his pages and also removed lots of links from all the sites that he had built, leaving just one or two on each. This he thought was bound to impress both Mr Panda and Mr Penguin. He even thought of using that new ‘disavow tool’ to get rid of the links from the Florida fish farm and that dammed Yak factory.

Time, and the changes yet to come will write the fate of Mr Jones and  the ABC Web Design company. It will all in the end depend on how well they listen to the Grapevine and learn to dance to whatever particular tune Google and its animal friends are playing at that time…

See the follow up post