Facebook Marketing 2014 Wrap Up

Here’s a wrap-up of what Facebook has said to marketers over the last year. I’ve paraphrased below.

FB only tells you about big updates. There are many smaller ones you don’t know about.

Each of your posts competes with, on average, 1,500 other posts. FB will prioritize 300 of those.

FB has a “high quality” algo. This is used to push stories up in your news feed and is based on over 1,000 factors.

Media sites such as Buzzfeed are rewarded by FB with greater reach, due in large part to their abilities to publish large amounts of content that generate large amounts of engagement daily.

Clicks on links matter. FB monitors them closely in hopes to understand what quality content is.

FB expects organic reach for your posts to decline (unless you get a heck of a lot better).

Get to a certain level and reach isn’t solely dependant on engagement. FB white lists sources (sites) as being high quality.

If you are a Page, don’t post a text-only status update.

For more engagement, use a link-share instead of sharing a link.

For more engagement, Pages should tag other Pages.

Stop like-baiting. Asking for a share or a like is a FB no-no.

Google Pigeon and Local SEO

Google’s Pigeon update affects those whose queries are local in nature. Problem is, Google is seeing more and more queries as being local in nature.

For example, “pizza” is probably the most demonstrated local search query. Google knows you want pizza and knows you want it now, so it doesn’t bother showing you results from Digiorno.com. But now, more and more queries are behaving similar to local queries. Google sporting goods to see what I mean. Do you want sporting goods now? Maybe. But maybe is big change from no.

Enter Pigeon

To me, Pigeon seems like an effort to share mobile and desktop experiences. It makes sense, from Google’s perspective, to standardize these experiences as people using their service use the device that’s most convenient for them and not for the device that’s most appropriate for their location. Just because I’m at home and my desktop is on doesn’t mean I’m going to search using my desktop. And just because I’m connected to my home Wi-Fi network on my iPhone doesn’t mean I want national results because my IP isn’t issued by a mobile provider.

Image quality now a conversion factor

With Pigeon comes a reduction in Google’s use of the local 3 or 7 pack and an increase in use of the image carousel. That means the quality of the images you upload to Google Plus / Google My Business can influence conversion rate. Also, carousel images are shown side-by-side instead of top-to-bottom which diminishes the perceived ranking of one result above another.

Your star rating could be your new SERP ranking

Because carousel results are shown side-by-side, your star rating could be just as important as whether or not you rank at all. Best ways to increase your star ranking

  • Don’t suck
  • Treat your clients or patrons kindly
  • Ask for reviews on your home page and inside your email marketing

Do your NAP work

Local directories such as Yelp can do wonders for your company’s ability to rank locally. Be sure to standardize the appearance of your company’s name, address and phone number (NAP) across relevant directories. Use moz.com/local to audit yourself.

Don’t suck

This is literally my favorite piece of SEO advice ever. Focus on making your business great before ever thinking about how to get business from Google. The technical stuff can be easily fixed but a poor business model, poor service and/or a poor product cannot.

 

 

 

Before you write new content, take a look at your old content

As a writer, blogger or copywriter, you may be relying heavily on the belief that well-written content is enough and therefore, cannot be significantly improved once published.

Rather than constantly churning out page after page of content, I suggest you look at your top pages and look for ways to improve them. If your bounce rates on top pages are high, chances are you’re not learning enough from your logs and will just create more pages with high bounce rates.

This never ending tea poppin’ doe

My suggestion is that you think multi-dimensionally. It’s not just the words on the page, it’s the total user experience. Here are just a few of the many dimensions you can address:

Length – the widely held belief now is that longer is better, but I suggest that you be respectful of people’s time get to the point
Usefulness – trim the filler and expand upon what’s actually useful
Tone / Voice – try being positive, negative, sarcastic, optimistic, elitist or a commoner
Ease of use – make readers work less

 

Ease of use is really the big one. Writers, bloggers and copywriters have only recently started taking ownership of UX.

Visuals

  • Maybe what you’ve written is great but you’ve overestimated readers’ attention spans / time available to consume / commitment to your clients’ brands  (especially in cases where you’ve written big / long content)
  • Visuals make content easier to digest, provide visual breaks and increase scan-ability
  • How can you make your content interactive?
    • Is there a plug-in to add comment boxes inline with article content similar to Medium?
    • Can you mimic this behavior using existing tech like forms placed inline with content that act as micro lead generators?
    • Can you add CTA breaks that ask commenters for their thoughts mid-way through?
  • And don’t forget … video, video, video

All these things can increase time spent on page and lower bounce rate.

What have you learned from your bounce rates?

 

To brand or rebrand? That is the question.

My co-worker Kelly recently attended an iStock branding webinar and shared her notes with the team.

There were elements of the webinar that intrigued me enough to seek out the video below and to share a few of her bullet points.

 

 

Kelly’s bullet points appear quoted below. My responses appear after each.

“Do NOT start by creating a website; perfect your strategy and THEN create the website”

I see this happen all the time. Entrepreneurs think building a website is the first step towards building a business. Then once the website is built, suddenly they are a business. Not true!

“So, whatever you tell your clients to do, your site must do exceptionally well and it must demonstrate the effects of doing it well.”

This made me think of a client that has five different options for fitment and how they NEED to have videos demonstrating each option before they expect the general public to request one at all.

“Don’t try to make your business more sensational than it is. Instead, be truthful.

I like this because it’s defensible. We shouldn’t pose as experts. We should ask to partner with experts so we can learn and serve.

“Juggling multiple brands is seldom effective

Here’s an extension of the above. People do business with people and not brands, companies, industries or websites. The most important brand is your personal brand – who you are, what you can do and why you’re the only person that can do it. The company name, tag line or web address is inconsequential by comparison.

So the question remains … to brand or rebrand? When hard times befall your company or when industry changes make you feel outmoded, chances are your brand isn’t responsible. The webinar mentions a couple valid reasons for rebranding (such as a merger or outgrowing of your business) so make sure you’re just not out of ideas before you take this pivotal step. 

Disinformation: Social Signals are Not Part of the Algorithm

My co-worker Jeff sent me an interesting post by Blind Five Year old that re-opens the debate surrounding social signals and SEO.

In a nutshell, the article says that social signals are NOT part of the (current) algorithm but they ARE important (because they tend to extend the reach of content / create inbound links).

While I don’t disagree with the summary above, I do warn clients not to believe everything they read.

Here’s why.

I don’t optimize for Google today, I optimize for Google 5 years from now. Therefore, social signals ARE part of the algorithm.

Remember, Google used to say links mattered (now it has websites afraid to link).

Why would Google say “the amount of likes and shares you have is an indicator of how relevant your content is to a particular query.”

If they did, they would already be equipped to deal with the avalanche of junk data created by like builders. They may be close, but I don’t think they are there yet.

To me, it is more likely than not that Google is currently observing social sharing activity in its natural, non-like builder environment and writing algorithms to suit. Then, when unnatural activity is detected, the algo can easily compare to natural activity and act accordingly.

Failure to react to the SEO industry (link builders) quickly enough has put Google in the predicament it’s in today – it’s reliant upon a method of ranking websites that’s easily manipulated by those with knowledge and money.

At present, I’m largely reliant upon income generated from my knowledge of the current algorithm, its operation and ways to monetize sites that rank. But I don’t expect the next generation Google algorithm to be as susceptible to exploit.

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