Blogging in the process by which you can really make sure that all your users and Google are totally aware of what your site is about.

Making Google Panda EXTINCT in 2012 by using the Right Content!

If you look at the Search Engine Marketing forums on the web, you will often see pleas for help regarding Google’s Panda update, these asking EXACTLY what is needed to get back lost rankings.

If you follow the chatter further, you will see that people have tried to remove the penalties by adding more and more content, a process that rarely seems to have worked. But why is this, was not the main thing that Google were trying to achieve more content?

This is the issue, as people think that just adding new (or more) content to your site will reverse their Panda issues, but they are wrong, research has shown that you need to add the right kind of content and perhaps will need to make other major changes to your Web site.

The sites that have been worst hit by Panda have one or more of the following problems to deal with:-

  • Duplicated content
  • Excessive use of manufacturer descriptive text (often from xml feeds)
  • Non-unique content
  • Excessive on-site ads
  • Poor on-page optimization

Google Have Tried to Help (a little)

But you cannot say that Google have not tried to help (even if it was a bit late in the day) as in May 2011 Google’s Amit Singhal posted an item on the Webmaster Central Blog:-

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/05/more-guidance-on-building-high-quality.html

The post gave some insight into how Google assess a high quality site, there being over twenty questions on the content of a site. Just how Google’s systems actually check all these is a marvel (and perhaps some are done by humans?) but if Google are pointing to them, then they must be worth checking up on.

How to get back into Google’s Good Book

So, WHICH content is going to get your site back in Google’s good graces? Well the answer appears to be User Generated Content, or  (UGC).

The next question must therefore me “What is UGC?”

Basically, “User Generated Content” is content that users adds to a web site or which you add as a result of discussions with them

UGC includes any of the following:

  • Customer testimonials
  • Product or service ratings
  • Product and service customer reviews
  • Discussion boards
  • Customer or site-driven WIKIs
  • Product tutorials (video or text-driven)
  • How-to guides or FAQ’s
  • Company or customer interviews
  • Social media content (blog comments, likes, tweets, etc.)

All this sounds to me to be very much like a Forum, as these often serve a niche community, a community that adds content, and promotes and shares that content to others.

This could also of course be achieved by the use of a Blog.

The Blog – the Bridge Between Websites and Social Media

This idea is nothing new, and at Serendipity we have been pushing the idea of a blog being the ‘link’, the bridge between a website and the Social Media for months now. The reason behind this simply being that Social Media Signal is increasingly becoming important to Search Engine rankings, something that is now being found to be fact, Google, via Panda, effectively demanding the sort of content that a blog will provide.

The Emotional Connection

However, word on the street is that even good content won’t be enough any more, no, you also need content that will make an emotional connection with your audience, and thus provide content that they will take on board and run with, posting on Facebook and Tweeting as they go.

To make this emotional connection is in my view not that easy, but for a start you can consider providing content that is

  • Funny
  • Informative
  • Educational
  • Or
  • Just plain shocking (although this is risky)

My advice is to first ensure that your site has reached the first base here, in that it has good relevant unique content, and then work on the emotional connection. Whatever you do, you can rest assured that many will do less, and that will give you the advantage, so do what you can and do it as soon as you can.

May the Fourth Be With You..

Sorry for the Star Wars pun (yes another one on the band wagon) but it is relevant to Search Marketing, as the Fourth Factor in SEO is becoming something that you cannot afford to ignore.

But Hey, you say the Fourth, What are the other three then?

Traditionally Search Engine Optimisation was about two areas, On Page optimisation and Off Page optimisation. The first dealt with the words on the pages and how they ‘talked’ to the Search Engines, whilst the second was all about the links to a site.

Then a third started being banded about. I’m not totally certain just how valid this is, but logically it sounds like it could well be a factor in Google’s algorithm (you know the one that they won’t publish) and that makes it one to bear in mind, at least in my opinion.

Activity – The Third Area of SEO

Basically, the third area is about ‘matching’ the visitor profile (numbers) with the linking profile (number of links), the argument being that if you have a site with lots of links and no visitors then it must (a) be pretty useless or (b) all the links to it have been constructed (i.e planted by an SEO company – shame on them…).

Either way, it is said that Google will consider the site to be of little interest and it will therefore ‘file’ it in the basement, which of course means it rarely, if ever, gets ranked on any results page that is worth having.

So, bear this in mind when doing your SEO. By the way, the best method of getting around this issue is to buy some Adword clicks, that way you are sure to get some traffic and be placed on the Google radar for future reference. Another way, one that overlaps the ‘Fourth’, is to start Tweeting and use the Google URL shortening tool in the Tweets. If you make the Tweet interesting enough you should get a click, which as they use the shortened URL alerts Google to the visit to your site – job done!

But how about the Fourth One then?

The fourth issue is of course SOCIAL MEDIA. By now, anyone following the latest trends in Search Marketing will have picked up on the link between Twitter and Facebook and SERP’S (Search Engine Results Pages).

I am pleased to say that I spotted the link some months before Google and Bing came clean about it all, and am now making very sure that this angle is totally covered, but it is still a new game and one that will take some time to understand in full.

So, if you are interested in getting the very best rankings you can, check out the Google announcement of 2010 and start making sure that you are using the FOURTH (area of SEO) to full effect.

Yoda Rules OK..

When is a Tweet Not a Tweet?

Getting a celebrity to endorse a product is nothing new. We’ve all seen adverts featuring David Beckham etc, the idea being that this is supposed to make us want whatever it is too. Not sure it works for me, but the big brands spend mega bucks on such things so it must work (mustn’t it).

Of course, most endorsements are easily seen as adverts so those nice people in the Advertisement Standards Agency are not concerned, as no one is misled in thinking that young David really likes the ‘Smell for Men’ he is fronting for (although of course he might?).

However, what if a celebrity started Tweeting about how wonderful say the new 4*4 from Range Rover is. Sure they may have one and may think it is great, but what if they have been given one as a ‘payment’ for the Tweets? Would you rate the Tweets in the same way, in other words would you believe what the Tweet said if you knew the content was not coming from the heart, but instead perhaps the wallet?

This is the quandary that the ASA finds itself in. One one hand it wants to protect everyone, on the other hand it does not want to stifle advertisers. In Rovers case, it has said that it would act if there were complaints, which if upheld would result in the advertiser having to withdraw the Tweet and ones like it. It is, however, perhaps the negative publicity and loss of consumer confidence that brands are worried about most though.

The USA have taken a different view though, their Federal Trade Commission has issued guidelines, these requiring that brands take steps to ensure that any Tweeter that has received payment in some form has to reveal this fact. The accepted method is to add ‘ad’ or ‘spon’ in the Tweet.

If you want to keep within the rules, then bear in mind the following advice. According to the Office of Fair Trading, if you don’t disclose such payment connections, then, ‘if it is likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision they would not have taken otherwise’ you could fall foul of the Consumer Protection Regulations.

This issue is also shedding more light on the practice of some advertisers who place positive comments about their products on review sites using false persona’s as well as the other tricks that advertisers (and SEO companies?) are using these days?

Cookies and Stream

Social Media marketing is a strange beast and the things that work can really surprise. In previous articles I’ve talked about how using Twitter and Facebook ‘properly’ is totally different from the way it is being used by most. The issue is that using it the way it should be is both time consuming and difficult, the later for the simple reason that getting it right is not that simple.

Stream Marketing

This new term concerns the ‘rivers’ of comment that come from the 500 million people on Facebook and 200 Million on Twitter. Tapping into these rivers has been dubbed “stream marketing,” by a certain Mr. Lazerow. Mind you, we do have to bear in mind that his company helps brands use Social Media to best effect, but even with this in mind what he says does ring some bells.

He reckons that what goes into those ceaseless rivers including updates and content from fans and friends, is some of the most powerful and important creative that we’re going to see. What’s more this content is ‘talking the way that your customers talk’, for the simple reason that it is your customers talking!

This however gives writers a bit of a problem as it requires a different set of skills to what most of them are used to produce. Gone is the ‘promote or die strategy’, this perhaps being changed to ‘promote and die’ as it seems people don’t want to talk brands, instead they just want to chat and not be sold to while they are doing it.

“May the 4th Be With You.”

An excellent example of something that worked (and surprised all when it did) was the message that BlackBerry used to celebrate Star Wars day. The Tweet turned out to be one of the most effective they have ever sent. The Tweet actually reached 150,000 people,and 98% of responses were positive. They were also mostly seen as a positive association with the brand, and what’s more increased followers by 15%. Not bad for Tweeting something that had nothing to do at all with the brand in the first place.

As Mr Wallace of Blackberry said, “You need to be skilled at understanding how a seemingly random-type message can — in the end — contribute to the company brand.”

Redefining relevance

It seems marketing executives all over the world are having experiences like Blackberry and Mr Wallace. In the past marketing was all about ‘Relevance’, but the rise of Facebook and Twitter looks to be forcing a change and redefinition of what is Relevant in the first place.

It seems that people using social networks don’t actually want to read and talk about your products, they it seems just want to talk. The experts will tell you that promoting a brand using Social Media has always required that conversational touch, but many are surprised by just how conversational.

In fact there is increasing evidence that the most effective kinds of Social Media marketing are simple, random, even banal posts and Tweets.

Examples of ones that have worked are ‘What are you doing this weekend?’ or ‘What is your ideal holiday?’ Simple posts like this commonly receive in the region of 8,000 likes and 500 comments.
Reaction to these posts far outpace other conventional ones which concern product tips.

Perhaps the time when you spend a lot of money and time on creating and approving messages is over, it being replaced with very simple questions, like ‘What’s your favorite film.’

So your content should lean towards the conversational

The experts are now saying that 66% of a company’s Facebook content should be conversational, but saying that the exact ratios will vary depending on the market place. Also with the whole area being so new there is little data around to tell anyone just how conversational posts compare to promotional ones in terms of marketing success, but much evidence is clear.

Some data from Facebook shows that ‘conversational posts’ produce eight to 12 times the response of brand oriented ones. It’s not always about your brand, it is all about the fact that people are there to connect with other people and not you. Getting them to connect with you means getting them to like you.

And at last the Cookies I mentioned in the title

Oreo Cookies in the USA are masters in handling the balance between brand promotion and conversation. Examples from some of their recent posts and the responses are:

  1. “Ever try dunking an Oreo cookie with a fork or anything else?” 8,200 likes and 2,300 comments
  2. “Pick a flavor, any flavor! If you could create a new Oreo cream flavor, what would it be?” 7,100 likes, 12,500 comments

So it seems that using Social Media is more complicated and unusual than many thought, it is certainly going to lead to ‘Interesting Times’.

The Link Between SEO and Signal Gets Stronger

There has been much chatter about what the link is between SERP’s and Social Media ‘Signal’ but the rumours seem to be turning into concrete fact.

See Matt Cutts talking about Google Rankings and Twitter & Facebook Signal and you’ll see what I mean.

More later

You Can’t Teach an Old Blog New Tricks – Or Can You?

Sorry for the terrible pun (and I do hope our canine friends will forgive me), but I just could not resist the idea. I expect it has been used before (although it was not coming up in Google) but whatever, I thought it was worth another airing.

But Can You Teach A Blog New Tricks?

I don’t know how many blogs you have looked at, but I’m afraid to say that the death rate is quite high, many blogs simply not being updated. The main reason for this I’m sure is lack of time, but I also imagine that a fair number are not kept up to date as people think that they are not being looked at.

Of course the problem may be that the content is poor, but it could also be the fact that not enough people are aware of the blog in the first place. Here the issue will be lack of marketing, some blog owners not even ensuring that their blog ‘pings’ the networks to tell of a new post. Also, not all make use of Twitter or Facebook to spread the word about new content.

So, if an ‘old blog’ is not using either pings or Social Media, then you can certainly teach it a new trick or two.

But there is MORE, much MORE that can be done…

Watch this space for more tips and tricks and make 2011 the Year of Your Blog!

Facebook Community Group set up today

Getting your message out there is what Social Media Marketing is all about and one sure way of helping this is to get a Facebook Community page going.

So we have….

See http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Search-Engine-Social-Media-Marketing-Tips/137724582954936

See You There!

You Can’t Teach an Old Blog New Tricks – Or Can You?

Sorry for the terrible pun (and I do hope our canine friends will forgive me), but I just could not resist the idea. I expect it has been used before (although it was not coming up in Google) but whatever, I thought it was worth another airing.

But Can You Teach A Blog New Tricks?

I don’t know how many blogs you have looked at, but I’m afraid to say that the death rate is quite high, many blogs simply not being updated. The main reason for this I’m sure is lack of time, but I also imagine that a fair number are not kept up to date as people think that they are not being looked at.

Of course the problem may be that the content is poor, but it could also be the fact that not enough people are aware of the blog in the first place. Here the issue will be lack of marketing, some blog owners not even ensuring that their blog ‘pings’ the networks to tell of a new post. Also, not all make use of Twitter or Facebook to spread the word about new content.

So, if an ‘old blog’ is not using either pings or Social Media, then you can certainly teach it a new trick or two.

But there is MORE, much MORE that can be done…

Watch this space for more tips and tricks and make 2011 the Year of Your Blog!

Testing Times !

Blogging is all about making the best possible use of all your ‘words of wisdom’ and that means taming the technology to do your bidding.

This post is to see if the taming has started..

2011 is to be the Year of the Blog!

Having consulted the runes and the entrails of a few SEO Guru’s (well their blogs and other witterings anyway), I must agree that 2011 is going to be Year of the Blog.

Have you got a Blog ready and the ideas for its content??

Now is the time to act..