Search Engine Optimization Guide For Beginners (PART 2)

As I have already discussed about Search Engine Optimization Technique in my first part:  Search Engine Optimization Guide For Beginners (PART 1) .

Lets discuss about Google Guidelines and many more Advance SEO techniques.

google guidlines

 

Google Guidelines

Here are some of the important tips and tricks that can be employed while dealing with Google.

do

  •  A website should have crystal clear hierarchy and links and should preferably be easy to navigate.
  • A site map is required to help the users go around your site and in case the site map has more than 100 links, then it is advisable to break it into several pages to avoid clutter.
  • Come up with essential and precise keywords and make sure that your website features relevant and informative content.
  • The Google crawler will not recognize text hidden in the images, so when describing important names, keywords or links; stick with plain text.
  • The TITLE and ALT tags should be descriptive and accurate and the website should have no broken links or incorrect HTML.
  • Dynamic pages (the URL consisting of a „?‟ character) should be kept to a minimum as not every search engine spider is able to crawl them.
  • The robots.txt file on your web server should be current and should not block the Googlebot crawler. This file tells crawlers which directories can or cannot be crawled.

Not to do

  • When making a site, do not cheat your users, i.e. those people who will surf your website. Do not provide them with irrelevant content or present them with any fraudulent schemes.
  • Avoid tricks or link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking.
  • Do not employ hidden texts or hidden links.
  • Google frowns upon websites using cloaking technique. Hence, it is advisable to avoid that.
  • Automated queries should not be sent to Google.
  • Avoid stuffing pages with irrelevant words and content. Also don’t create multiple pages, sub-domains, or domains with significantly duplicate content.
  • Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with hardly any original content.

Crawler/Spider Considerations

Crawler

Also, consider technical factors. If a site has a slow connection, it might time-out for the crawler. Very complex pages, too, may time out before the crawler can harvest the text.

If you have a hierarchy of directories at your site, put the most important information high, not deep. Some search engines will presume that the higher you placed the information, the more important it is. And crawlers may not venture deeper than three or four or five directory levels.

Above all remember the obvious – full-text search engines such index text. You may well be tempted to use fancy and expensive design techniques that either block search engine crawlers or leave your pages with very little plain text that can be indexed. Don‟t fall prey to that temptation.

Ranking Rules Of Thumb

thumb

The simple rule of thumb is that content counts, and that content near the top of a page counts for more than content at the end. In particular, the HTML title and the first couple lines of text are the most important part of your pages. If the words and phrases that match a query happen to appear in the HTML title or first couple lines of text of one of your pages, chances are very good that that page will appear high in the list of search results.

A crawler/spider search engine can base its ranking on both static factors (a computation of the value of page independent of any particular query) and query-dependent factors.

Values

values

  • Long pages, which are rich in meaningful text (not randomly generated letters and words).
  • Pages that serve as good hubs, with lots of links to pages that that have related content (topic similarity, rather than random meaningless links, such as those generated by link exchange programs or intended to generate a false impression of “popularity”).
  • The connectivity of pages, including not just how many links there are to a page but where the links come from: the number of distinct
    domains and the “quality” ranking of those particular sites. This is calculated for the site and also for individual pages. A site or a page is
    “good” if many pages at many different sites point to it, and especially if many “good” sites point to it.
  • The level of the directory in which the page is found. Higher is considered more important. If a page is buried too deep, the crawler
    simply won’t go that far and will never find it.
  • These static factors are recomputed about once a week, and new good pages slowly percolate upward in the rankings. Note that there are advantages to having a simple address and sticking to it, so others can build links to it, and so you know that it’s in the index

Query-Dependent Factors

google-confused

  • The HTML title.
  • The first lines of text.
  • Query words and phrases appearing early in a page rather than late.
  • Meta tags, which are treated as ordinary words in the text, but like words that appear early in the text (unless the meta tags are patently
    unrelated to the content on the page itself, in which case the page will be penalized)
  • Words mentioned in the “anchor” text associated with hyperlinks to your pages. (E.g., if lots of good sites link to your site with anchor text
    “breast cancer” and the query is “breast cancer,” chances are good that you will appear high in the list of matches.)

Meta Tags (Ask.Com As An Example)

Though Meta tags are indexed and considered to be regular text, Ask.com claims it doesn’t give them priority over HTML titles and other text. Though you should use meta tags in all your pages, some webmasters claim their doorway pages for Ask.com rank better when they don’t
use them. If you do use Meta tags, make your description tag no more than 150 characters and your keywords tag no more than 1,024 characters long.

Keywords In The URL And File Names

It’s generally believed that Ask.com gives some weight to keywords in filenames and URL names. If you’re creating a file, try to name it with
keywords.

Keywords In The ALT Tags

Ask.com indexes ALT tags, so if you use images on your site, make sure to add them. ALT tags should contain more than the image’s description. They should include keywords, especially if the image is at the top of the page. ALT tags are explained later.

Page Length

There’s been some debate about how long doorway pages for AltaVista should be. Some webmasters say short pages rank higher, while others argue that long pages are the way to go. According to AltaVista’s help section, it prefers long and informative pages. We’ve found that pages with
600-900 words are most likely to rank well.

In case for any queries feel free to comment.

How to Create an Instagram Photo Hack

photo-2

Social media users across the web have created amazing photo hacks for their Google+, Facebook and Twitter profiles, and you may have even recreated some yourself. So, why not show your Instagram profile a little hack love?

Hacking your mobile or web Instagram profile comes with some challenges, since each time you post a new picture, the profile shifts and looks a little different.

User @heralddayrit, who had nearly 5,000 Instagram followers at the time of this post, has perfected the art of the Instagram hack on his mobile profile. He incorporates quotes into his posts, using them to highlight images that transition seamlessly.

While photo apps like InstaBanners can split one picture into nine images for you, we wanted to take our hack to the next level and make something really special. We encourage you to do the same.

Here is our finished product:

photo-2

For those of you who want to take a crack at it, we’ll walk you through the process, step by step. Then, show us your creative genius in the comments below. 

To hack your Instagram mobile profile, you’ll need the following: nine different images, a photo editing service like Photoshop and patience — a lot of patience. For our hack, we chose to combine several different shots together to make one unified image, but you can also create a pattern or split one image into separate photographs.

1. A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

We started on Pinterest, which was a great place to scroll through images until we found the right ones. By compiling the images onto one board, we could easily swap one option for another by taking a screenshot of the image we wanted to use. (Flexibility with image placement helped, too.) More often than not, an image we originally chose to use as the “mouth” of the face ended up being one of the “hair” pieces.

pinterest-board

2. Start Strong

Once you have a solid number of pictures to work with, decide strategically where to start. It may be easier to begin in the middle and push outward, or start in the lower-left corner and work your way up and over.

cropping

3. Crop to Perfection

Open each photo individually in your photo editor. While this step may not be necessary for every collage, we found it very helpful to line up the images next to each other before we sending them to our phone. It helped ensure that the hack didn’t turn out like this:

photo-3

4. Up, Upload Away

Once you crop your images, email them to your phone and save them to your phone’s photo library. Then upload them to Instagram in reverse order.

5. Now, It’s Your Turn

Congratulations! You now have the coolest Instagram profile of all your friends. Let’s see your finished collages, whether they’re on your mobile profile or the web version.

Canned Social Media Marketing in an Hour Per Day

Can-of-Social-Media

 

Under normal circumstance, I do not like the types of social media strategies that try to can them into basic processes with time limits. Sure, it’s good to have guidelines, but I find that they’re normally too limiting to allow people to make the right decisions. This infographic is somewhat like that, but it’s design is just too cool in its simplicity to ignore it altogether.

The concepts are actually pretty strong, but unfortunately they’re not realistic in many ways. Spending 15 minutes on content curation and 15 minutes on blog writing, for example, are both potentially unrealistic for all but those who have their processes down (and have the ability to type really, really quickly). It also seems to be giving too much time to everything else other than Facebook which requires much more than 10 minutes a day for it to be effective.

Those disagreements aside, the aesthetic of the infographic is still quite awesome. In a world of complex infographics, having something this simple is refreshing. Is it possible to get social media done in an hour a day? Yes. Is it easy? Yes. Does it take practice and strong strategies? Absolutely.

Social-Media-Hour-Infographic

 

Infographic via Dendrite Park.

How to Know in 30 Seconds if Your Facebook Presence is Working

 

Investigating

Over the last couple of weeks, my exploration into the world of effective automotive social media has turned more towards pitches and consultations. We’ve spent 9 months now digging deeper than ever before into what constitutes success and we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s pretty simple – if you aren’t selling cars and driving business to the service drive through social media, you’re not doing it right.

The posting strategies that have proven to be successful are a whole other topic that couldn’t fit into a single blog post, so for now I just want to explore the quick and easy methods that I’ve used to tell if a Facebook page is working or not. It comes down to reach, which means that the answer has absolutely, positively nothing to do with fans. I’ll demonstrate that in a moment.

First, let’s take a look at what you want to see on your page or other pages to determine if they’re posts are actually being seen and having an influence on local people on Facebook.

Low-Engagement-Ratio

 

All of the examples above have varying levels of likes, many of which are higher than most dealers. This is used to grade how well a page is doing, but it’s a false positive. The real number to look at rather than likes is the number to the right – “talking about this.” You can determine how many people are actually being reached based upon this number. For example, look at the second example from the top. It has a ton of fans so it must be doing well, right? Wrong. With only 67 people talking about it, that means that the vast majority of the “fans” are not seeing the posts at all in their news feeds.

Keep in mind that it’s a small ration of reach. In other words, the bottom example that has 70 people talking about this is reaching much more than the one above it that has 14 people talking about it. As a rough estimate, you can multiple the number of people talking about it by 20 and that’s approximately the number of people being reached by the page in a given week. In other words, the bottom example is reaching around 1400 people per week and the one above it is reaching around 380 per week.

Here are some examples of what pages should look like after a few months or even weeks of doing the right things on their page:

High-Engagement-Ratio

 

As you can see, the engagement ratios (determined by dividing the number talking about this with the total number of likes) are much higher in this batch. Even the page at the bottom with a mere 267 likes is talked about by nearly three times as many people as the page above with over 73K fans. The number of people reached by the dealerships’ messages through use Facebook news feeds is much, much higher for these properly managed pages.

It’s not just about how many people you’re reaching. It’s also about where the people you’re reaching live.

Here’s an example of a page that is reaching a lot of people:

Wrong-Area

 

As you can see, they have 2,769 people talking about the posts. They have a good engagement ratio relative to their fans and they’re growing nicely. They are very popular in New York City and reaching more 18-24 year olds than any other demographic. You can easily tell when they started targeting more people with Facebook ads based upon the graph.

It all looks great, right? Well, considering this is a dealership in California, it’s likely that they’re focused on getting nationwide popularity. This is a very bad idea.

I went through 74 people who had liked, shared, or commented on their posts. I could not find a single person engaging with the dealership that was within 30 miles of the store. You cannot easily sell cars to people when you’re targeting the whole country. Is it possible? Sure. Is it much less likely than if you maintain a strong local following and target the people who can actually drive to the dealership and buy a car or get their transmission serviced.

In thirty seconds and two clicks of the button, you can tell very quickly if your Facebook presence is working even without seeing the Facebook Insights. I’ve shown dealers how to dig deeper into their insights to prove it even further, but these two telltale signs are very clear indicators of a page’s presence and how well it is working.

Facebook should be localized. The number of fans is a much less important indicator than the number of people who are actually seeing your posts. The sooner you understand the way that Facebook marketing truly works, the easier it will be for you to find success and start selling cars as a result.

The Importance of Brand Ambassadors

Car

 

We’ve all heard the cliches.

  • “Build raving fans!”
  • “Word of mouth is the best form of advertising!”
  • “Delight your customers!”

These sayings would start to get really annoying if they weren’t 100% correct.

As I said in part 1 of this series, it isn’t what you’re saying about your brand on social media as much as it’s about what other people say. Unfortunately, many people only talk about a brand if they have something bad to say. To counter this from both a reputation perspective as well as an exposure perspective, brand ambassadors are the most important people in your public relations world as it pertains to social media.

Everyone already knows that you love your brand, that you believe in your product, and that you have the best of everything to offer your customers in your opinion. If you didn’t believe that, you wouldn’t be in business, so most claims by a company are not believed. Not every brand can be the best, but every brand claims to be the best. As a result, people go to two forms of outside sources to confirm or deny claims. They go to experts in many opinions – Roger Ebert has made and broken many movies with his words over the decades. The other place they go thanks to the power of social media and review sites is to their peers. What are other people who have already tried your brand, product, or services saying about you?

The presence of brand ambassadors is not just a matter of encouraging happy customers to write reviews. Reviews are great and extremely important, but there’s no real “skin in the game” when they post to these sites. They’re one within a group. If a company has 100 Google Local reviews, what’s one more added to the mix, at least from a customer’s perspective. It’s not a personal thing when someone posts to review sites.

Social media, on the other hand, is a personal thing. Those who take their social media seriously are much less likely to say something good about a brand. When they do, it actually means something. Their friends and family who already have an opinion about the person will take their recommendations on social media more seriously. This isn’t even taking into account FacebookGraph Search which has the potential to amplify this even more (we’ll see). This is simply looking at the state of social media today. If someone’s willing to say that they love your brand, product, or service on social media in general and Facebook in particular, it’s the most powerful review anyone can give you.

It’s the “skin in the game” that isn’t present on review sites.

If your company is actively building brand ambassadors, you’re  already seeing the amazing results. You’re hearing from your customers either through social media itself (“You were right, Bob. ABC Motors took great care of me, too!) or at the store itself. If you aren’t hearing about people coming to your store because they heard about your from a friend, you’re not building brand ambassadors. I’m not trying to use circular reasoning here. Just stating a fact. If you build brand ambassadors regularly on social media, you will hear about it at the store. It’s that simple.

In the next story, we will go into detail about how to identify potential brand ambassadors.

How to Take the Perfect Profile Picture

Photographer

 

You never get a second chance at a first impression. The Internet has changed many things, but not that old bit of wisdom. First impressions can be as indelible when made online as in real life, and in the era of social media, profile photos can play a major role in making them.

Having a great profile photo on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Twitter may impress the social media friends you already know, but it can be even more important for your flagship shot to make the right impression on ones you don’t know yet — especially when they might be deciding whether to hire you.

We asked Marjorie Kase, a solutions consultant at Adobe Social, and Tony Gale, a New York-based commercial photographer, for some pointers on how to create a profile photo that presents you in just the right light.

1. Use a Recent Photo of Yourself

This may seem like a basic point, but we all have social media friends whose profile photos are clearly not shots of them or are childhood photos. Both Gale and Kase advised against that approach. “I understand that you like your kid or your dog or your favorite beer,” said Gale, “but it’s not you, and your profile picture should be you.” Kase suggested using secondary profile images, like the cover photo on Facebook, for family photos and other shots that shed light on your interests.

There are practical reasons for using a current photo of yourself, too. As Kase pointed out, “If people are looking to connect with you and your name is very common, in a search they’re not going to be able to identify you with your picture.”

2. Find Someone to Photograph You

It may take a little more effort, but you’re likely to get the best results if someone else photographs you. When you’re interacting with another person, your expression is likely to look more natural and engaging. “I try to have a conversation with the person,” said Gale, who has taken portraits of many of the people he’s connected to online as part of his ongoing Facebook Friends project.

If you do end up going the self-portrait route, follow Gale’s advice and don’t take pictures in the mirror. Use the self-timer on your camera and set it up on a tripod or another support. If you have a camera that’s compatible with a remote viewfinder app, that will help you get the focus and composition right. Gale recommended working through a series of expressions to achieve a natural look. “Start with no smile, then a little bit of a smile, then a bigger smile,” he advised. “Once you know that half smile is the ‘perfect me,’ you can try several of those, changing the angle a little.”

3. Be Consistent and Professional to Promote Your “Brand”

Social media can be an important avenue for promoting yourself as a professional, especially if you’re an independent contractor or small business owner. As Kase said, “You’re always sort of in the market for a new job in this economy, because you never know.”

To promote yourself effectively, Kase recommended approaching profile photos as part of a personal “brand.” Use the same image of yourself on every site where you have an account in order to create a consistent, distinctive social media presence, and make sure your look is appropriate for the field you work in (or want to).

“You want to maintain a level of professionalism,” Kase said. “Make yourself look like you would on the way to a job interview.” She also emphasized that business acquaintances might run across social media material intended for a personal audience, especially with sites’ constantly changing privacy settings. Often, Kase said, “We think we’re in a walled garden with our own personal friends and family, but really the whole world is watching.”

4. Keep the Focus on Your Face

A profile photo should communicate who you are, and the best way to do that is to fill most of the frame with your face. Keep the composition simple, and don’t include more of yourself than your head and shoulders. Avoid busy backgrounds and distracting clothing and jewelry, and make sure your eyes are in focus. Kase recommended using a background that reflects the field you work in. Creative professionals, for example, might opt for more vibrant colors or scenes.

Even if you choose an interesting background, you don’t want it to be more interesting than you. Gale recommended standing at least five feet in front of background elements and using a relatively shallow depth of field to blur the background. If you have a camera that lets you select the f-stop, you can choose a lower f-stop to limit the depth of field — Gale recommended f/4.0 or f/5.6 — and many snapshot cameras have automatic portrait modes that will achieve the same effect.

5. Don’t be Too Sexy for Your Boss

One of the most frequent mistakes made with profile photos is overposing. “You see a lot of people using different angles and facial expressions because they think it’s attractive,” Kase said. But they often miss their mark. Kase emphasized that there are always potential employers and clients looking at social media photos. “You want to ensure that whatever image you’re putting out into the world, you’re ready for your boss to see,” she advised. (Not to put too fine a point on it: Skip the sexy duck lips.)

Shooting from a slightly high angle is an effective way to hide a double chin, but using a very high angle while gazing up at the camera can evoke a media genre that you probably don’t want your colleagues to envision you starring in. A natural smile is usually the best expression for a profile photo, and a head-level or slightly high camera angle keeps the shot both flattering and professional.

6. Find Flattering Light

If you’re shooting outside, avoid direct sunlight. Inside, avoid overhead light. Both can create harsh shadows.

“When you get shadows under the eyes and nose, it’s not very flattering,” Gale explained. “It tends to make people’s eyes look too deep. In a good picture of someone, the eyes are very important. It’s a very expressive part of the portrait, and if that gets lost because of shadows, it just doesn’t feel like that person.”

Window light and the light from a lamp that illuminates you from a slightly high angle on the side are good light sources for portraits. If the light is too strong, use a translucent, neutral-colored curtain or shade to diffuse it.

It’s important for your skin tone to look natural in a profile photo, so whatever light source you use, make sure your camera’s white balance setting matches it. Gale pointed out that artificial lighting often throws off automatic white balance systems, and Kase ruled out one kind of camera altogether because of color issues: “I’m not a fan of the camera phone picture,” she said, “because the colors can be off.”

7. Choose the Right Focal Length

If you have a choice of lens or a zoom lens, opt for a focal length somewhere in the normal to telephoto range. “Somewhere between 70 and 135 millimeters is generally the most flattering focal length for a portrait,” Gale said. “If you go wider, you get a little distortion. People’s noses look a little big.”

Camera phone lenses tend to distort faces as well — another reason why your phone is not the best option for a profile photo shoot. However, if you don’t have an alternative and your camera phone lens is distorting your face, try holding the device farther away to reduce the distortion and then cropping the image for a tighter composition.

Facebook Offers: Coming Soon to Business Pages

If you have a local Facebook Business Page you’ll soon have a new tool to add to your social media marketing arsenal. The new “Offers” service, announced by Facebook last month, is expected to roll out to more Facebook Page admins over the next few months.

 

FacebookStore

 

 

If you have a local Facebook Business Page you’ll soon have a new tool to add to your social media marketing arsenal. The new “Offers” service, announced by Facebook last month, is expected to roll out to more Facebook Page admins over the next few months.

Facebook Offers is a new feature for page admins to create and share discounts or coupons with the people who Like their Page. Currently, Offers are available in beta to a limited number of local business pages, but Facebook said it plans to launch Offers more broadly soon.

If Offers has not yet been made available to you on Facebook — and you don’t want to wait for a broader roll-out of the feature — you can take the proactive step of asking Facebook to use the feature by filling out an application/request form.

How Do Facebook Offers Work?

In typical Facebook style, Offers is an easy feature to use. From the Sharing Tool at the top of your Facebook Timeline, you can click  OfferEvent + an then click Offer. A simple form will require you to:

  • add a headline for the offer (e.g. Buy one pair of shorts, get a second pair free)
  • upload a photo that resizes well as a thumbnail icon image
  • set a number of “claims” (e.g. good for 500 customers)
  • choose the offer start and expiration dates
  • add terms and conditions for the offer

Facebook Offer specifications require the headline text be no more than 90 characters, while the terms and conditions text is set to 900 characters, and your offer image should be 90 x 90 pixels in size.

With the details in place, you can preview your new Facebook Offer and publish it — or make edits until you’re happy with it. If you start an Offer campaign but decide you no longer want to run it, you can delete the offer (simply  remove it from your Page like you do any post) but remember that people who have already claimed the offer might still redeem it, and Facebook warns you must honor any such redemptions.

To redeem the offer, people will click the “Get Offer” link that’s shown below your Offer headline text. The offer is then sent to the primary email address associated with the person’s Facebook account.

Facebook cautions businesses to make sure an offer complies with applicable laws and also makes it clear that you cannot user Facebook’s offer creator tool to offer “the equivalent of a gift card, gift certificate or store value card.” When you’re not sure about regulations, it’s always best to check with an expert rather than risk losing your Facebook account because you violated Facebook’s Pages Terms.

Minimal Targeting Options for Facebook Offers

When you create an offer, you have only one basic targeting option to control who will see your Offer when it’s published. You do this using the dropdown Public menu (next to the Post button) and select Language/Location. Here, you type in the countries or languages of the people you want to see the offer.

Facebook has said it is not possible to target offers by other demographics at present time; anyone visiting your Page will be able to see your offer, unless you’ve targeted it to a specific country or language.

While Facebook Offers is free to use, it’s a feature that compliments Facebook’s options for Sponsored Stories — an advertising option that is generated from the actions people take with your business.  Sponsored Stories, like any of Facebook’s advertising campaigns, lets you be more specific with targeting.

Best Tips for Creating Successful Facebook Offers

On Facebook, businesses need to make sure all posted messages, including offers, are well created and designed. Since people can easily hide your posts in their news feed, it’s important to make sure your Offer is clear, that the offer has value and that it doesn’t look like a “Facebook Spam” message.

When creating an Offer, Facebook does not force any minimum values or discounts, but the social networking giant does recommend you offer substantial discounts of at least 20 percent off regular prices or offer something free to reach more people. Here is Facebook’s list of recommendations for creating Offers:

  • Keep it simple: describe your terms and conditions as simply as possible, and don’t require customers to perform unusual activities.
  • Use a clear and engaging image: photos of people using your product typically perform better than photos of your product by itself, and both of these generally perform better than your business’s logo.
  • Pin it: keep the offer pinned to the top of your Facebook Page so more people will see it.
  • Use direct, natural language: make sure your headline leads with the value of the offer instead of marketing slogans.
  • Use a reasonable expiry date: give people at least a few days to see and claim an offer. Take advantage of word-of-mouth promotion by allowing time for your offer to be shared between friends.
  • Share existing offers: re-share an existing offer instead of creating the same offer twice so it’s easier to track how many people are claiming it.
  • Train your staff: Make sure your employees know the terms of your offer and how people can redeem it.
  • Track offers: keep track of how many people claim, like, share, comment and use each offer to better understand what works and what doesn’t for your customers.

 

Losing Likes on Your Page? Don’t Worry, It’s Just Facebook Cleaning House

Facebook-Fake-Profile

Facebook is cracking down on something they deem harmful to the integrity of their site, and your fans may be in danger.

You may have experienced a small dip in the total likes on your Facebook page in the last couple of days and yes, it does mean that people are fleeing your page. Why have you suddenly become so unpopular? You haven’t really – the fans fleeing from your page aren’t actually real fans.

In fact, they’re part of a subset Facebook likes to refer to as likes “gained by means that violate our terms.” To you and me, that means fake or fraudulent likes.

Late last month, Facebook announced a site-wide purge of fake likes – ones derived from malware, fake accounts, compromised accounts, duplicate accounts, and bulk purchases.

Have you seen a drop in your page’s total likes since Facebook began the purge? Do you think that Facebook is doing the right thing by upping their efforts to weed out the fakes? Would you be more likely to advertise on Facebook if you knew that the likes you may receive would be legit? 

“A Like that doesn’t come from someone truly interested in connecting with a Page benefits no one. Real identity, for both users and brands on Facebook, is important to not only Facebook’s mission of helping the world share, but also the need for people and customers to authentically connect to the Pages they care about. When a Page and fan connect on Facebook, we want to ensure that connection involves a real person interested in hearing from a specific Page and engaging with that brand’s content.

Facebook was built on the principle of real identity and we want this same authenticity to extend to Pages,” said the company in a security note in August.

Here’s the daily data for the top 30 Facebook pages, provided by PageData. Notice anything?

Weekly growth is still up for most pages, but daily growth is in the red for most of them.Core Vision  confirmed with Facebook that the fake like purge officially began on Wednesday.

When Facebook announced the fake like initiative, they said that it would only result in less than 1% of total likes disappearing. That looks to be the case with all of Facebook’s top 30 pages. For instance, Texas HoldEm Poker only lost about 0.15% of their likes in the day, and that’s by far the biggest chunk taken from any top page.

That’s an example of one of the most-liked pages on the entire network. What does this like purge mean for your business?

Facebook says that it will help brand pages by giving them a more accurate depiction of their popularity:

“These improvements to our site integrity systems benefit both users and brands alike. Users will continue to connect to the Pages and Profiles they authentically want to subscribe to, and Pages will have a more accurate measurement of fan count and demographics. This improvement will allow Pages to produce ever more relevant and interesting content, and brands will see an increase in the true engagement around their content.”

Although most pages have only seen a small dip in their like totals (if any), some have reported more substantial losses, even up to 18% of their total likes. For that business, every advertising dollar they’ve spent in the past was going out to both real and fake users. If Facebook can’t convince page owners that buying ads on the network is going to produce real, genuine likes, then they have a major problem with this form of revenue going forward.

I assume that Facebook knows this and that it serves as at least part of the impetus behind this war on fake likes.

Page owners have a gripe as well. Take for instance this commenter who described their frustrations:

We’re cringing because businesses pay for advertising and so it appears we were advertising to both real and fake accounts and paying for every one of those clicks. I assumed ALL of my fans were real people. This is terrible on so many levels; facebook decides to clean up now and those of us who paid for advertising are down on the number of fans and now we discover that we had already been cheated out the money and the potential clients/customers (fans) we paid (at more than $1-2 ppc) for. I’m not down 10s of thousands like other pages, but I lost hundreds of my fans. To lose my time, and money from my advertising budget for this makes me feel cheated, both by facebook and by the faKebooks.

Although the fake like purge is better now than never, it could leave some advertisers with a bad taste in their mouths.

This update to their security systems will go far to improve integrity, as eradicating fake likes from fraudulent accounts is a nice fall cleaning for the network. It will be nice for page owners to know that the vast majority of their likes come from real people (who can be impressed upon). And the fact that this is an overall “increase in [Facebook’s] automated efforts,” rather than a manual one-time cleanup, is comforting.

But getting rid of the fake likes is simply treating the symptom. The problem remains that it’s incredibly easy to create a fake account on Facebook (or multiple fake accounts) and inflate a page’s like total. And it would be really hard for Facebook to create a gated system that would be tough enough to keep fake profiles out but not so tough that it prevents legitimate users from signing up.

Maybe if Facebook can treat the symptom, and focus on purging fake likes, that will be enough. What do you think?

Around the World in Social Networking

Core

When we hear about how social media is growing, we often look at the rest of the world. Americans are all on social media, right? Not so fast.

In this infographic, we highlight the way that social media is consumed on a global basis. It shows some good and bad trends from a pure business perspective in America – on one hand, there is still an amazing upside to social in the states with more potential popping up left and right. On the other hand, the biggest cities and fastest growing countries on social media are not in North America, making it even more important for businesses in the US to be mindful of who they follow, who is following them, and how the content interacts with the world. It’s not that we want to shut out the world. It’s that we have to stay focused on the local benefits even if the rest of the world is starting to catch on quickly.

Coree

Facebook’s new Graph search: Five things users should know

FB

Facebook has spent eight years nudging its users to share everything they like and everything they do. Now, the company is betting it has enough data so that people can find whatever they want on Facebook. And on Tuesday, it unveiled a new tool to help them dig for it.

Designed to unearth specific kinds of information 

The tool, which the company calls graph search, is Facebook’s most ambitious stab at overturning theWeb search business ruled by its chief rival, Google. It is also an effort to elbow aside other Web services designed to unearth specific kinds of information, like LinkedIn for jobs, Match for dates and Yelp for restaurants.

Facebook has spent over a year honing graph search, said Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, at an event here at Facebook’s headquarters introducing the new product. He said it would enable Facebook users to search their social network for people, places, photos and things that interest them.

That might include, Zuckerberg offered, Mexican restaurants in Palo Alto that his friends have “liked” on Facebook or checked into – though not status updates as yet. It might be used to find a date, a dentist or job, other Facebook executives said.

“Graph search,” Zuckerberg said, “is a completely new way to get information on Facebook.”

Graph search will be immediately available to a limited number of Facebook users – in the “thousands,” Zuckerberg said – and gradually extended to the rest.

Every Internet platform company has been interested in conquering search.

Social data related search

But Facebook search differs from other search services because of the mountain of social data the company has collected over the years. It knows which parks your friends like to take their children to, or which pubs they like to visit, and who among their network is single and lives nearby.

The company is betting that its users are more eager to hear their friends’ recommendations for a restaurant than advice from a professional food critic or from a stranger on Yelp.

The search tool is based on the premise that the data within Facebook is enough and that its users will have little reason to venture outside its blue walled garden. What they cannot find inside the garden, its search partner, Bing, a Microsoft product, will help them find on the Web.

Search limited to data within your social network

For now, the Facebook tool will mine its users’ pictures, likes and check-ins, but not their status updates. Graph search, Zuckerberg explained, is aimed at answering questions based on the data contained in your social network, not serving you a list of links to other websites.

Say, for example, you are searching for a grocery store in Manhattan. You would type that question into a box on your Facebook page and the results would show stores your friends liked or where they had checked in.