What Does Google’s Hummingbird Update Mean For Your SEO Efforts? Nothing

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News broke at a Google press event that the largest upgrade to its search algorithm since 2001, dubbed Hummingbird, had already rolled out last month. “Algorithm?” you ask. “Isn’t that the thing the determines how websites are ranked? And you say this is the biggest change in their algorithm in 12 years?! What about all my SEO work? Is it ruined? Do I have to change everything?” Rest easy, you don’t have to change anything about your SEO efforts, at least not if you’re already doing what you should have been doing all these years.

If you’re looking to get all the details on the Hummingbird update then head straight on over to Danny Sullivan’s Hummingbird FAQ at Search Engine Land. But if you just want to know what you need to do about Hummingbird, then I’ll save you the task of reading Sullivan post and cut to the chase. It comes near the end where Sullivan asks the question “Does this mean SEO is dead?” He answers:

No, SEO is not yet again dead. In fact, Google’s saying there’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about. Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.

Nothing has changed. If you have original, high-quality content, and you have high-quality and relevant websites linking to your own website, then your website is still going to rank well. If anything, your website’s rankings will improve just as they should have after the Penguin and Panda updates rolled out.

The key to making the right decisions about SEO is to understand where Google is going. Google’s goal is that when someone creates a new search, what Google shows that person is exactly what the person wants or needs. We’ve all had the experience of searching on Google and seeing websites come up that obviously aren’t what we want. We don’t even need to click on the link to figure that out, because what Google shows us is enough. When this happens to me I think “Good heavens, why in the world would Google think that’s what I wanted when I typed in those words?” Google wants to get to the point where I never think that again. To lose sight of this goal would be the death of Google. This is, in part, why Google employs a few thousand PhDs.

Many people have been frustrated by Panda and Penguin, and they’ll now see Hummingbird in a negative light. Don’t fall into that trap. If you’re the best at what you do, these updates Google has been rolling out are opportunities to separate yourself from your competition. They may have been engaging in spammy tactics to get good rankings, but if you’ve been focusing on creating content that provides real value to potential customers, their days are numbered. These changes will help you rise above, and the good news, as mentioned above, is if you’ve been doing the right things for your SEO you don’t need to change a thing.

Have you seen any impact to your website(s) as a result of the Hummingbird update? Do you see any details in the update you feel will give you an advantage?

Top 10 Mistakes Beginner Bloggers Make With Pinterest

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Pinterest is a social network that focuses on sharing images… visuals, as opposed to text. Bloggers can use Pinterest to their advantage for promoting products, services and building your brand online. Yet, there are some major mistakes beginner bloggers need to avoid when it comes to Pinterest. Here are the top 10:

1. Using Dull Images

Pinterest is all about visuals. Your images should be engaging, and filled with good descriptions and colorful text. Some beginner bloggers use stock photography, not understanding the value of quality, compelling images.

2. Not Utilizing Keywords Enough

Create categories, and assign each board to a specific category. Each board should have a description, which uses detailed SEO keywords. This helps other Pinterest users locate your pins based on they’re searches. However, try not to over-analyze your descriptions. If so, users will assume you’re just pushing some product and won’t follow you.

3. Limiting Your Genres

This is one of the top beginner blogger mistakes. Many will stick to only one genre. Just because your company specializes in landscaping doesn’t mean you have to pin only images of lawns, trees and landscapes. Your target audience is all over Pinterest, interested in many different topics. So, you should be all over the place too. For your landscaping company, pin home cleaning and design tips also. Have a guided imagery business? Pin boards with inspirational quotes. Keep your pins related, but don’t be too narrowly focused.

4. Not Networking

Competition can be a good thing. So, don’t fear it. Search for other companies and bloggers you admire who are active on Pinterest. Then, band together with them, pinning their content in exchange for them pinning yours. You can also band together to create group boards. This will help to increase your visibility on Pinterest and online in general, increasing your traffic.

5. Not Linking Properly

This is another top beginner blogger mistake. Users get very annoyed with they click a Pin that takes them to a page not relevant to the post they were expecting. Some users will become very frustrated maneuvering around your site looking for that particular post. Others will close the screen and move on. All of your pins with links should send users directly to the post with the featured image.

6. Not Following Others

If you find pinners and boards that your target audience might find interesting, follow, follow, follow. Following others adds to the content and images your Pinterest followers have access to. As long as your images link to your blog content, this will help you boost traffic and generate leads. Also, many other bloggers will follow your Pinterest boards and pins in return. This assists you with building online communities on the Pinterest social network. So, be sure to like and repin any images you truly love.

7. Not Adding Descriptions

All of your images should have accurate descriptions. This helps Pinterest understand which pins and boards to display in search results. It also helps Google and other search engines understand what your images are all about. This helps your search engine optimization, which helps to raise your search engine rankings. It will also help you get found via Pinterest’s own search tool.

8. Not Using It to Recycle Content

All great content doesn’t necessarily need to begin from scratch. In order to provide your users with great content, gather it from various resources. Pinterest can be great inspiration when you’re writing. You can also repurpose content using Pinterest. Create an infographic out of a blog post. Link to your pins in your post. Create boards to supplement your topics. Get creative!

9. Not Staying Up-to-Date with Pinterest Changes

Did you know that Pinterest has new rules about running contests? Are you aware that Pinterest displays vertical content differently than it has in the past, which effects how infographics are displayed? Do you know how Pinterest has been updated recently? Stay on top of how Pinterest is changing so you can always get the most out of it.

10. Not Using Pinterest!

Pinterest is a very popular platform for promoting visual content, such infographics, cartoons, even videos. Get your content up there as soon as you publish and use pinterest.com/source/YOUR-URL to check what others are pinning from your blog.

Do you use Pinterest to market your business blog? How have you implemented your pins and boards into your daily tasks in order to increase traffic to your blog?

4 Social Media Goals Every Business Should Measure

Are you winging it when it comes to your social activity?

The expression “social media ROI” gets tossed around frequently and you know it’s important.

But where do you start and how do you relate what to measure online with your overall business goals?

Here are four business goals, how social media can impact these goals and most importantly, how you can measure the impact of your social media efforts on these goals.

Determine how each goal below relates to your specific business goals and then choose which social media results are relevant to measure.

Goal #1: Raise Awareness of Your Brand

Do you want to increase your brand recognition and online influence?

It’s important to stay relevant. If customers aren’t aware of your brand and what it stands for, your business may be spinning its wheels.

When customers are aware of your brand and interact with it on different social media sites, they are more likely to recommend it to their friends by liking posts on Facebook and retweeting you on Twitter.

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Here’s how to measure your brand recognition and influence online.

Klout looks at your various profiles from across the web to assess your influence. Your Klout score is a reflection of your brand’s social influence based on your activity across many social networks and ranges between 10 (low) to 100 (Bieber).

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Digging deeper into your score, Klout can provide further analysis, including:

  • True Reach: How many people you influence (the width of your influence)
  • Amplification: How much you influence people (the depth of your influence)
  • Network Impact: How influential your audience is (the impact of your influencers)

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To measure the effectiveness of your PR and branding efforts, record your Klout Score, True Reach, Amplification and Network Impact on a spreadsheet each month. Then, over time, your changes in scores will allow you to understand which efforts improve your score.

NOTE: It’s important to remember that Klout is simply evaluating your external social media presence. It is not a direct measurement of your revenue or success as a business. It’s an important distinction because people can get easily swept away in trying to increase these social media numbers.

Goal #2: Website Traffic

Have you wanted to drive more traffic to your site or blog?

Traffic is important to all sites, especially if you’re selling online.

While website traffic should never be the end-all, be-all goal of your website, in orderto accomplish other website goals, you must have a baseline level of traffic.

If you create the most beautiful, efficient website you can, it won’t matter without traffic.

Don’t get me wrong, there many other factors that can influence conversions, but website traffic is the fuel required to even begin the race.

Besides sales opportunities, the more people you have visiting your site, the more chances people have to engage with your blog content, click your social media widgets, interact with your brand or share your site with friends and followers using your sharing buttons.

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Here’s how to measure visits from social media traffic.

Google Analytics makes this process very simple for any website owner.

To understand traffic, use Google Analytics Social Reports, which show site data generated directly from over 400 social sites.

  • Open your Google Analytics account.
  • Select the Traffic Sources tab.
  • From the Social drop down menu, select the Overview page.
  • Record Visits and Visits via Social Referral into your spreadsheet.

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Goal #3: Website Visitor Loyalty

Do you want to increase the amount of time spent on your site or blog?

The more time people spend on your page, the more likely they are to buy from you.

If the people visiting your page only do it once, then you’re not executing a long-term web strategy. Ideally, you want to create loyal visitors who frequent your site.

Another very important aspect of visitor loyalty is to understand on average how many visits are required for one of your visitors to convert.

conversion could be a visitor purchasing from your site, signing up for an email newsletter or downloading an ebook.

Customer Loyalty

 

Here’s how to measure visitor loyalty from social media.

This measurement requires a one-time setup step (Part A), but once completed it can be easily reused for future measuring (Part B).

You’ll need to create a custom segment inside Google Analytics specific to your social media traffic.

Visitor loyalty numbers will depend greatly on your site type, your readers and the content you produce. Therefore, it’s important to look at your baseline levels, set a goal and measure your trend over time.

Part A—Setup

  1. Open Google Analytics, and click into your Admin panel.
  2. Click the Advanced Segments link. Click Create + New Segment.

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  • Name this new segment “Social Media Sources.”
  • Click the green drop down menu and select the green Source. Inside the text input box, enter the URL of one social media site, such as “Facebook.com.”

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Click the Add OR Statement, then click Add a Dimension, and again select Source to add another site. Repeat Step #4 to add another social media referring source such as Twitter.

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  1. Repeat Step #5 to add all major social media sources, such as Facebook, Twitter, t.co, YouTube, StumbleUpon and Digg. Once these have been added to your Custom Segment, click the Save Segment button.

Part B—Measuring Loyalty

  1. From Google Analytics Standard Reporting, select the Audience tab.
  2. From the Behavior drop down menu, select the Frequency & Recency page.
  3. Click the Advanced Segments tab, check your custom Social Media Sources, and hit the Apply button.

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Add the percentage of total Visits (top percent number) for the first three Count of Visits rows (3 visits or fewer) and subtract this percentage from 100% to calculate your Regulars value. Record your Regulars percentage on your spreadsheet. My goal is to increase my Regulars percentage over time.

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Goal #4: Conversion Rates

Do you want to increase total conversions from social media?

Most business owners want to understand the direct relationship between social activities and sales.

You should know the traffic source for any important business goal and these goals should be set up in Google Analytics or your software of choice.

For most of you, the most important web goal is a visitor converting to a lead captured by entering personal information into one of your web forms. For businesses that conduct the majority of business online, these goals are the lifeblood of the organization and are key measures of success.

Even if you’re just getting started acquiring customers or leads online, you should make this measurement a primary focus of your efforts.

Buy Now!

 

Here’s how to measure conversions from social media.

Using the Social Reports within Google Analytics, we can understand the specific value of each social network. Of course, you need to have goals set up within Google Analytics for the conversion information to be displayed.

Do the following:

  1. Open your Google Analytics account.
  2. Select the Traffic Sources tab.
  3. From the Social drop down menu, select the Conversions page.

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Record Conversions and Conversion Value into your spreadsheet. Consider recording this value more often than monthly.

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Conclusion

I recommend you measure your goals on a monthly basis, record these numbers in a Google spreadsheet and monitor the increases or decreases month-to-month. As a bonus, the measurements outlined here can all be done with free software.

Don’t fool yourself into believing that social media is completely free marketing. Your time is valuable, especially if you’re just starting up or you’re a small business. Unfocused efforts spent on social media can quickly become a huge time sink.

By measuring your social media impact, you ensure the best use of your time and resources.

What do you think? What social media metrics are you measuring? What questions do you have about measuring goals? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

Facebook Bugs Have Been Messing With Your Page Reach

Page Reach

 

In yet another Bad News Friday post, Facebook has informed us that it hasn’t exactly been counting the audience for our posts quite correctly. In fact, the social network has been significantly understating the “reach” of Facebook posts – especially paid posts – for at least the past several months.

In a blog post yesterday on Facebook Studio, the social network’s marketing hub, the company admitted that coding errors have been misrepresented the audience reached by Facebook posts since sometime last year (though it hasn’t yet been much more specific than that). Facebook stresses that these bugs have only impacted reporting and not delivery, meaning fans were still receiving the posts, even if Facebook wasn’t counting them properly. The company said the stats should update once Facebook cleans up its code.

This admission could be a big deal for Facebook, which has taken some serious heat from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and other big brands for allegedly throttling their access to their Facebook fans. Last November, Cuban complained, both on Twitter and inheated articles on sites like The Huffington Post, that Facebook was restricting brands’ ability to engage their fans in order to juice sales of paid “promoted posts.”

Less Bang For The Buck

The bugs Facebook is describing, however, could also conceivably have led brand and business owners like Cuban to believe they were getting less bang for their Facebook marketing buck. In its post yesterday, Facebook claimed that the bugs held down the reported audience for paid newsfeed posts, meaning that such promotional posts actually reached a larger number of users than the social network’s statistics previously suggested.

“As soon as we found the bugs our engineering team began work to resolve them as quickly as possible. We’re rolling out fixes beginning this morning and over the weekend,” Facebook’s post states. That’s certainly reassuring for anyone who relies on Facebook for social marketing, but the underreporting to date is still a pretty big deal. It’s an even bigger deal where paid reach is concerned, since that involves placing ads placed in users’ news feeds – ads that then reported back inaccurate numbers.

Here’s what will change as a result of the ongoing bug fixes, according to Facebook:

  • Total reach to stay the same or increase for most Pages
  • An increase in paid reach if you ran News Feed ads
  • An increase or decrease in organic reach, depending on many factors such as the composition of your fan base, when and how often you post and your spending patterns
  • A change in metrics computed from reach and impressions, such as engagement rate and virality
  • We know that accurate data is fundamental to building and improving your Facebook presence. We are taking this very seriously.  We have already put a number of additional quality and verification measures in place to prevent future bugs and resolve them quickly if they arise

Where It All Began

Facebook says the problems originated during an update to its iOS and Android apps,TechCrunch reported. While trying to speed up mobile performance of its site, Facebook ended up stripping away a little too much of the data reported back to its servers. This resulted in a couple of bugs that failed to count page posts as users upgraded to new versions of the apps, and then a lesser bug that counted the viewing of a desktop news feed ad twice, as both an organic and then a paid impression.

It wasn’t until a number of complaints from clients that Facebook decided to perform an internal audit, which uncovered the bugs and forced the company to begin an intense three-week fix.

While you can certainly argue that the bugs didn’t cause that much damage – after all, many pages will soon show improved reach as a result of the fixes – the problem certainly does some damage to Facebook’s reputation as a secure and accurate social hub for business.

But if you’re a brand manager who’s been feeling a little down in the dumps over your failure to engage readers with paid posts, you can take heart in Facebook’s two-minute video reiterating its solutions. With alarmingly low depth-of-field, a woman with a very calming voice explains everything you need to know about this not-a-real-problem to soothing piano music. Surely your average social media manager shouldn’t require much more than that to fend off frustration.

An SEO Fixation Will Destroy Your Internet Marketing Strategy

SEO Perfect Company

 

Don’t get me wrong: I love SEO and we do a lot of SEO work. However some businesses turn SEO into an obsession, and that’s a big mistake.

The fatal flaw of an SEO fixation is that it takes your eye off the ball. SEO is about traffic. Traffic is important, but it’s not the goal. The fundamental purpose of Internet marketing, as I see it anyway, is conversion.

First CRO, Then SEO

A typical scenario, and one that makes no sense to me, is when a firm spends tons on SEO and pennies on conversion rate optimization (CRO). They’re driving more traffic to their site – but so what? If their lead generation site features ho-hum offers or no offers at all, people won’t inquire. If their e-commerce site has baffling navigation, people won’t buy.

For companies like these, even sizable increases in search traffic will fail to translate into a meaningful increase in conversions. The result:

  1. A significant part of the SEO spend is wasted
  2. Companies grow dissatisfied with their SEO program
  3. Companies change their SEO strategy or hire another provider
  4. The cycle of ineffectiveness continues

That companies should tune-up their sites for conversion before launching into a big SEO program is as obvious as can be – so why do so many people miss it? I’d love to know your thoughts about this, but here are some of the reasons I see:

Why Companies Fixate on SEO, Not CRO

  • Ego problem one. Companies want to see their name as the number one result on Google for their pet keyword phrases.
  • Ego problem two. Companies tend to feel their products and services are so awesome that the mere mention of them on their website will have prospects stampeding to the order desk. They don’t recognize the need for compelling offers, intuitive navigation, and an all-around positive user experience.
  • Monkey see, monkey do. The world is inundated with SEO practitioners and SEO advice. Most companies are led to believe that SEO is indispensible, that their competitors are doing SEO, and they will get their butts kicked if they don’t participate.
  • Monkey don’t see, monkey don’t do. In contrast, how many CRO gurus are out there banging the drum for their extremely important discipline? They are badly outnumbered, and as a result, fewer businesses come to fully appreciate the value of their specialty.
  • Easy and accessible metrics. Traffic and ranking statistics are easy to grab and easy to grasp – on the surface, anyway. A company sees traffic and ranking trending up, and figures the program must be working.
  • Fuzzy lead tracking. Conversion tracking, on the other hand, is rather tricky to set up properly, which is why a lot of small and midsized firms have little or no idea where their web leads are coming from. That being the case, they have no way to formulate a conversion optimization strategy
  • No appetite for offers. Due to budget constraints, decision-by-committee, lack of imagination or a number of other reasons, firms have a tough time coming up with offers that are big enough and creative enough to win the hearts and minds of visitors.

Conversion Isn’t The Only Problem

This could be a post in itself, but I’ll just mention in passing that SEO can no longer be executed in isolation; for SEO to succeed today it must be thoroughly integrated with other marketing disciplines in addition to conversion optimization – most notably, with social media.

There are still too many SEO campaigns that fail to leverage social sharing, and fail to include meaningful and strategic content creation. Programs like these simply cannot succeed.

Companies need to look at online marketing holistically, rather than trying to pick and choose specific disciplines to invest in. This sounds logical, just like putting the CRO house in order before diving into SEO. And yet, how many small and midsized firms actually have a holistic strategy?

How to Stop Feeding the SEO Habit

Again, I am not suggesting that SEO is bad or that companies should suspend SEO activities while they shore up other aspects of their marketing. SEO is something that must be done continuously; it has a cumulative effect. So rather than stop or suddenly change gears, take these actions to make a smooth transition from SEO-obsessed to SEO-balanced.

  • Do a CRO audit. If a business looked at a comprehensive set of conversion optimization recommendations, I think it would be quite shocked to see how much room for improvement there was – and the tremendous upside of making those improvements. If that’s the case with your site, remember that a new investment in CRO will be partially offset by improved results from your existing SEO program.
  • Do a holistic strategy review. As I said earlier, it’s unproductive to arbitrarily decide which marketing activities to emphasize. SEO is only valuable in terms of how its ROI compares to other activities, and is in many ways reliant on other activities to maximize its own ROI. Whether yours is a $100,000 business or a $100 million business, the best results come from a strategic approach.

Going through these exercises will put you in a much better marketing frame of mind.

Where do you see SEO fitting in to your marketing strategy? How do you see the relationship between SEO and social media evolving?

Facebook ads vs Google Ads [INFOGRAPHIC]

Check out this infographic from WordStream who did a ton of research to test out the comparison between Facebook ads and Google ads. As always, click on the image to enlarge.

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Social Media Blunders

As the popularity of social media continues to accelerate, it’s no surprise that famous faces and well-known brands are increasingly using these platforms to reach the people responsible for their fame. The power of these social media channels allows actors, comedians, athletes, and companies to interact with their followers, yet the casual comfort of these conversations can sometimes result in social slip-ups.

This infographic that shows how the improper use of social media has caused some big names to gain unfavorable attention, but has also allowed them to quickly win back their faithful fans. First of all, celebrities view social media as yet another stage, but one where they can show more of their real personalities instead of playing a character. Their fans and followers usually shower them with adoration and attention, but sometimes their casual comments can spark major drama.

Actor Ashton Kutcher made one such social media slip-up by taking to Twitter to express his outrage over the firing of Penn State Coach Joe Paterno. Unfortunately, Kutcher was unaware of the sordid sexual details behind the termination and his words angered many. Taking advantage of the real-time nature of social media, the actor quickly deleted the tweet and said he was sorry for his rash statement. Following the controversy, Kutcher let his media team control his commentary.

Athletes have also been quick to jump into social media and their fans flock to interact with their larger-than-life heroes. Many sports stars love being able to speak their minds, but sometimes their comments can score serious fan fury. As long as the matter is handled quickly and permanently, all can be ultimately forgiven. This was the case when Kareem Jackson tweeted a picture of himself at a cockfight in the Dominican Republic with a comment comparing the huge spectator turnout to the crowds at a college football game. The brutal photos caused public outrage when people equated them to the Michael Vick’s dog-fighting scandal. Fortunately, the tweets were rapidly deleted and the dilemma disappeared.

Of course, businesses appreciate how social media lets them engage their customers and clients in a more personal way, but they don’t always use good business sense on these sensitive social media networks. This social media infographic shows how Kenneth Cole paid the price for the company’s tactless posts about the uproar in Egypt. Despite an apology on Twitter within hours, the media had already spread word of the gaffe, which led to the hashtag #boycottKennethCole and numerous similar tweets from imposters.

Nestle also committed a social snafu when facing the wrath of Greenpeace over the brand’s contract with a firm reportedly destroying the Indonesian rain forests. A snide and snarky response from the brand’s Facebook administrator only angered activists even more, despite their subsequent decision to end the controversial contract. This became a notorious model of social mismanagement. Surprisingly, some social media mistakes end up having positive results. When a staff member at The Red Cross accidentally used the organization’s Twitter account to make a personal tweet about Dogfish Head beer, The Red Cross calmly issued a tweet stating their deletion of the comment while assuring followers that they do not ‘drink on the job’ and have regained control of their commentary.Their responsibility and sense of humor over the situation shed a positive light on The Red Cross and actually led to a deal with Dogfish Head.

Put your social media marketing in the hands of seasoned social media professionals who understand the marketing, legal, PR, and brand benefits of a targeted social media strategy.

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