Does Social Media Help With Google Rankings?

Social Media and Google RankingsSocial media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest have become a big part of most business’ repertoire in the last few years; the race not to be left out in the world of shares and likes is fuelled by a feeling that if your business isn’t on one or more of the big social sites, you’ll miss out somehow.

Social media can be a useful tool, especially if you like cats, and have a burning desire to find out which American president you were in a past life. But at the same time, just having a social media account or two won’t make a huge difference to your Google rankings, and this has been confirmed by the people who should know – the experts at Google. Knowing how to use social media to your advantage, however, can do your SEO a big favour.

People will still be able to find you even if you don’t have a Facebook page or Twitter profile, but you can really make social channels work for you once your potential clients have found you. A lot of your web traffic will come across you by searching Google with unbranded keywords, but if they are interested in you, they’ll have a look on Facebook to see if you engage with your customers on a business page, or check out your reviews on one of the many review sites.

If you know how to use resources like Twitter properly, you can get them to work to your advantage. Find the people you really want to connect with – experts in your industry, popular bloggers, influencers and prolific tweeters, and befriend them so that you can butter them up a bit. If you can get them to give your products a great review on their website, or post some content for you, you get the double whammy of exposure for your brand, plus more followers on social media (people are like sheep, if they see that their favourite blogger is tweeting you a lot, they will more often than not follow you too).

Another way of making the most of social media channels is probably less obvious; testing your brand and product names. Find out what’s popular and what works before you settle on the final name of a product range, mess around with slogan ideas and get a feel for the best keywords by seeing what gets more shares, click-throughs and likes.

 

Whats Better? Social or SEO?

One question we get asked a lot is if SEO is better than focusing on social networks. It’s one of those questions that we sometimes hate answering purely because the answer is normally ‘DO BOTH’.

SEO is right on top of the list when it comes down to gaining relevant leads that actually convert into a sale. Do your research, it’s a well known fact. However, does that mean that you can simply ignore social media? Well no, not really.

Social media is like the icing on the SEO cake. People can find you without knowing your brand (via some keywords like ‘buy whatever product”), they research your brand before they hand over their hard earned cash. This is where social media can kick in. alongside helping gain sales from the social networks themselves.

We found this infographic that pretty much covers some valid points when comparing SEO against the Social networks. We think it hits the spot and it’s easy to digest so why not share it?
seo-vs-social-media

 

 

40% of web users don’t trust “most or all” online reviews

In the last 12 months there have been a number of scandals involving online reviews. Sites such as BuyOnlineReviews.net have been sued for promising to generate fake positive reviews for businesses on a host of local directories and subsequently there a crisis of confidence has emerged among consumers regarding online review sites.

New survey data from Maritz Research suggests that large numbers of web users don’t trust ratings and reviews that they see on prominent sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp. Even among the most popular of sites, 40 per cent of users surveyed admitted they didn’t trust “most or all” of the content as accurate.

Within the report, TripAdvisor is shown to be the most trusted of all the current review sites and networks, with almost two-thirds (59 per cent) agreeing that “most or all” of the review content live on-site is accurate.

Since the BuyOnlineReviews.net scandal it would appear trust in Yelp.com has declined with only half (53 per cent) of users largely confident in the accuracy of its reviews. Additionally, less than half (49 per cent) believed in the accuracy of Google+ reviews.

One reason some web users will remain sceptical of the authenticity of online review sites is that they simply don’t contribute themselves and think the worst of others. Maritz found that men and the younger generation were indeed more likely to be sceptical than women or older users.

This report is contradicted by a recent Nielsen study which said that online reviews were among the most trusted sources of online information for consumers.

Its study revealed that 84 per cent of consumers now take on board recommendations from people they know, compared with 78 per cent back in 2007. Word of mouth remains a highly powerful marketing tool and if you provide a high quality product with warm, attentive service you’re on the right road to success.

The most increasing trend between 2007 and 2013 was the number of consumers who now take notice of text ads on mobile phones. More than a third (37 per cent) now trust text ads; and that’s a 19 per cent increase on 2007 (18 per cent).

Implementing video on Facebook leads to 25% more engagement

A new Adobe Social Media Intelligence Report has found that the use of video on Facebook results in 25 per cent higher engagement rates – including likes, comments and shares – within posts.

Video ad and post replays on the social network are up 785 per cent year-on-year, according to the report, which was interestingly conducted shortly after Facebook’s auto-play ads were officially introduced.

The report also revealed that Facebook experienced increasing revenue per visit (RPV) quarter-on-quarter (two per cent), compared with Twitter and Tumblr which experienced 23 per cent and 36 per cent declines in revenue respectively.

Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at Adobe Digital Index, said: “Marketers are learning how to best reach their audiences across different social media channels and companies like Facebook are making changes to their algorithms and adding functionalities like auto-play of videos, which impact brands and users and how they engage with content.”

The research showed that Facebook’s ad clicks had increased 70 per cent year-on-year and 48 per cent quarter-on-quarter, with ad impressions up 40 per cent year-on-year and 41 per cent quarter-on-quarter.

The only Facebook ads which appear to be losing their attraction are text-only. These are losing both their share and engagement value, but posts with links soared 167 per cent quarter-on-quarter and 77 per cent year-on-year.

If you’re looking for the ideal day to post on your Facebook page and encourage optimum social engagement, the report suggests Friday as the most popular day.

Fridays drive the highest number of posts and engagement rates on social. Meanwhile almost a quarter of Facebook video plays and 16 per cent of post impressions also take place on Fridays alone.

Facebook recently announced $2.5bn in revenue and earnings of 31 cents a share in Q1 2014. The popularity of the social network and its revenue potential seemingly knows no bounds at present.

Gmail celebrates 10-year anniversary

Gmail celebrated its 10-year anniversary this month, bringing much-needed competition to the email service market back in April 2004.

The Google-led email service was almost three years in the making and offered users an initial email storage capacity of 1GB – 500 times the size that Microsoft’s popular Hotmail service was offering.

Gmail has since turned out to be revolutionary, blowing away the likes of Hotmail and Yahoo Mail – previously the dominant free webmail services of yesteryear. Its vast storage and feature-laden interface resulted in it becoming the first major cloud-based app.

The main man behind Gmail, Paul Buchheit, came up with the idea for a web-based email whilst working on a personal email software project as a college student back in the 1990s – even prior to the launch of Hotmail.

Buchheit created the very first version of Gmail in just one day by simply recycling the code from Google Groups. The functionality was initially only available for Google employees to use, but Buchheit was clever enough to acknowledge that vast quantities of internal email resulted in a need for search functionality.

Google concluded a five-year beta phase in March 2004 after it had invited 1,000 industry figureheads and friends and family to test the software. Despite going public on 1st April 2004, invites were still needed during this beta phase – during which invites went for more than $150 on eBay.

Gmail has always been the choice for the tech-savvy, what with unlimited storage capacity. In April 2012, Google announced the increase of free storage to 10GB as part of the launch of Google Drive.

Storage was then merged the following year between Gmail, Google Drive and Google+ photos. For start-ups and small businesses working on the move and wanting instant online access to simple tools, Gmail and Google Drive has always been no-brainer.

So much so that 11 per cent of web users in the United States now have a Gmail account – that figure is even greater in India where almost a quarter (24.4 per cent) of users in India own a Gmail account.

The system is now used by approximately 500 million people worldwide.

What makes Gmail such a fascinating product is that its success comes from the continuous focus on problem solving for its users. Back in 2004 it helped solve storage problems; 10 years on and it has become more action-oriented, providing such functionality as live flight statuses within messages and reimagining it for smartphones and tablets.

Gmail is most definitely here to stay.

 

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Social Media for Small Businesses – Can you really beat the big boys?

As I was driving yesterday I was listening to an audiobook about Social Media Marketing and I heard something that made me stop and think.

The author, Mitch Joel, was enthusiastically explaining how social media is democratising the web and how it allows small businesses to compete with the ‘big boys’ and propel their own brands and businesses into the limelight.

He talked about social sites being the one space where money couldn’t by you a larger share, where you had to be passionate and committed to gather an audience.

He went on to say that most large corporations are either scared of the social space or haven’t realised it’s value yet so the opportunities were there to become kings of the new frontier!

His words hit me like a brick.

A creeping thought I’ve had for a while coalesced into a chilling reality.

His words just aren’t true anymore. (To be fair I must point out this book was published in 2010!)

Now most big brands are in the social space, and is this world of promoted posts, social ads and social media marketing departments, money is buying them a larger audience.

Once again the playing field is decidedly tilted against the small business 🙁

So what should you do? Just Give up?

Errr… No!

Just because the ‘big boys’ have come to play it doesn’t mean the game is over!

Smaller businesses have several advantages, if you choose to use them…!

1. You’re more agile, with less layers between the top dogs and the workers (or in a lot of cases no layers!) you can see what’s happening and respond quickly.

2. Smaller businesses are more  personable.

The social space is all about people, not representatives. If you engage with your customers in the social space they know you’re there because you want to be, not that you are being paid to respond but you are more concerned with what you’ll have for your dinner!

3. Local is loved!

Times have changed, now the majority want to buy local wherever possible. As a smaller business you are more likely to fit that profile so get out there and meet with people local to you online!

4. The ‘big boys’ are often thought of as the ‘bad boys’

We used to trust corporations, we figured that if they’d got that big they must have been doing something right! Now they are viewed with suspicion, a lot of this is down to the fact that so many of them have behaved badly! As a smaller business you have the advantage of being seen as hard-working and honest.

5. Enthusiasm is contagious!

I assume you do your business because you love it? Well that enthusiasm will really work for you! Share your passion, your knowledge and your expertise and you still have a fighting chance! The social space is all about sharing, and it’s full of people that want to be entertained, educated and enlightened! Tell us your stories and your tips and tricks! It will help us care about you.

So there you are, the playing field might still be a little tilted but it just makes it more fun!

One little word of caution though, you must be passionate and willing to actually converse with people online to succeed. If you aren’t it will show, not just in what you do but in what you don’t do!

The British Book of Social Media Marketing
The British Book of Social Media Marketing

Gemma Thompson is the author of the best-selling “The British Book of Social Media Marketing”. She is a full time social media consultant and speaker who loves helping businesses grow. When she’s not working she can often be found watching Dr Who with her teenage daughter or indulging in a spot of inept D.I.Y (but no, she still hasn’t managed to make her house bigger on the inside than it is on the outside!)

https://twitter.com/GemLThompson

http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=31683913&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

Facebook pages – you ain’t getting nothin’ for free

Facebook has recently admitted that businesses looking to increase their brand exposure across the social network will have to fork out for Sponsored Posts in order to get their posts and information in user newsfeeds.

Businesses with Facebook pages have found it extremely challenging to reach out to their target demographic organically using unpaid promotion of content. In fact, even business pages with thousands of ‘fans’ are finding that only a mere fraction of their fan base is finding their content in newsfeeds.

Is this because Facebook is gently trying to push us all toward the use of Sponsored Posts just to enable our businesses to be seen by those who already like our brands? It would appear so.

The harsh reality is that if Facebook is to increase the number of business posts displayed in newsfeeds they would much rather be paid for it than do so for free. The evolution will hopefully not be such a surprise to some who may have seen this coming; in a similar way that Google is placing the value of paid advertising on an ever-growing pedestal.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect for businesses with thousands of ‘fans’ already is that there is no guarantee of engaging with these fans in the future; even with fantastic content that’s right up their street – unless you pay for it.

Those who have already invested a lot of time and resource into developing a huge fan base on Facebook will no doubt feel somewhat ripped off. With the limited exposure to unpaid brand content in newsfeeds these fans are now beginning to look pretty darn expensive to keep in contact with.

In summary, you won’t be using Facebook as a marketing channel much longer if you don’t want to dedicate a budget towards Sponsored Posts. And as more businesses are forced into paid content, the cost of promoting posts on Facebook is sure to multiply.

We all know Facebook has plenty of shareholders to keep happy and a new, constant revenue stream is sure to put smiles on faces. But for the bread and butter customers who are going to be affected it could be the end for small businesses on Facebook.

Promoted Pins make debut on Pinterest

Now, we haven’t discussed too much about Pinterest as a social media marketing tool, but there has been an interesting recent development to speak about regarding the debut of its ‘Promoted Pins’ in pin streams across the network.

Pinterest announced last month that it would be experimenting with advertisers by implementing promoted pins as the company’s first foray into the world of monetising its network. These pins will appear identical to regular pins on your boards; in fact you may not even realise they are promoted pins until you spot the small notation at the foot of each pin.

Facebook’s sponsored posts are well visible to users. By contrast, Pinterest’s promoted pins look almost identical to user-pinned images which may indeed cause some friction with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC has already confirmed it is looking more closely at native advertising to ensure that any paid advertising is clearly displayed as just that.

If the FTC feels Pinterest falls under the umbrella of a “search engine”, it could fall foul of the recently-updated Search Engine Ad Disclosure Guidelines which warned companies to abide by honest, transparent paid advertising rules.

At present, the promoted pins are entirely free for advertisers to make use of during the initial testing period, but not all Pinterest users will be able to see the pins as they are currently only being viewed to a proportion of members.

Sarah Perez, of TechCrunch.com, said: “The company is declining to disclose which advertisers are the first to test Promotional Pins, but would say that currently the advertisers are not paying for these placements.

“However, the pins in the wild starting today will look and act like they would if they had been paid ads, allowing Pinterest time to refine and further test the experience ahead of a wider launch.”

It is thought Pinterest will be keen to refine and get its paid advertising service up-to-speed in time for the upcoming festive shopping season.

Google Trends adds new ways for users to explore online trends

As a tool for online webmasters, digital marketers and business owners alike to spot trends and devise exciting marketing strategies, Google Trends is a very useful way to discover new and diverse things that are happening in our world.

Due to the popularity of Google’s tool, it is adding new ways for its searchers to explore things that are trending on Google.

This summer, Google Trends unveiled a new feature called Top Charts – a real-time function to explore places, people and things ranked by search interests. At present this is only available in the United States but is soon to be rolled out to more countries. Google has updated Top Charts to show not just search volume trends, but what is also increasing in comparison with usual search volumes.

A recent article found that although the United States was the most search country by Google users in the US, if you look more closely at recent trends both Syria and Russia ranked as the top two trending countries for the previous 30 days. This tool is accessible by navigating to the arrow icon above each Top Chart.

Another impressive feature is its new view of 30 days of ‘hot searches’. Users can click a monthly calendar and find out what was ‘hot’ on a particular day of the month within the 13 countries in which Google supports this particular function. Searchers can also get additional data on every trend by simply hovering over the topic.

The explore page has also enjoyed a much-needed makeover with users now having the ability to search data for any topic and use it to compare how it trends worldwide, as well as time and category-related. The interface is now very similar to that of Google’s search engine, with search parameter options now visible in the top navigation.

Behold: the Twitter archive

Now, we all know that Twitter is fantastic for keeping track of real-time news and reports, but previously searching through your history for tweets on a particular subject was somewhat more frustrating; even with the use of hashtags!

It is said there are approximately 450 million tweets sent across the network each and every day. Finding one from four or five years ago has often been harder than finding a needle in a haystack! However, a social-analytics company based in the United States is attempting to change that.

San Francisco-based Topsy, which offers advanced Twitter search tools already for the network, took it one step further by opening up an archive of Twitter’s entire history to the masses – totally more than 425 billion tweets, videos, images, blog posts and location pins dating back to Twitter’s first-ever tweet made by founder, Jack Dorsey back in 2006.

Topsy’s analytics tools have been used to great effect for a number of years on Twitter. Twitter was able to use Topsy’s analytics functionality to determine public sentiment for each political candidate involved in last year’s US presidential race.

This exhaustive new archive could greatly benefit marketing campaigns. For example, if a campaign wanted to go back and gauge public opinion surrounding a specific topic a few years ago, it can now do so just by searching Topsy’s archives.

Top-level archive information is available to all Twitter users at Topsy.com. However, the more advanced analytics tools are reserved for marketers that use “Topsy Pro”, according to the company’s spokesperson.

Users of Topsy’s free version can still ascertain how many times a specific search term or string of keywords was mentioned in the last 30 days, but they will only be able to view the top 100 tweets matching their search.

 

Update 2019: Topsy has since closed since this post was made. Apple now owns Topsy