Just yesterday, Google made a pretty significant announcement of which every business owner should take note. In an attempt to further combine its social media efforts with its focus on independently-owned companies, Google has integrated its Google Places program into Google+ Local. While the benefits of this consolidation many not be immediately apparent to everyone, the potential this move has for small business owners is considerable to say the least.
According to a quote from an article on Search Engine Watch, Google’s Vice President of Product Management cites the appeal of the mobile user market as being the primary incentive behind the change. By bringing Google Places program directly into the company’s social media platform, smartphone and tablet owners will encounter business listings more frequently when they use the Google+ app or browse the network via browser. Google claims that this will allow companies that have registered on Google+ to significantly improve their level of engagement with mobile users.
An announcement video released yesterday also emphasizes a new feature that those companies listed on Google’s social network will certainly appreciate – user reviews with scores. Businesses on Google+ can now receive reviews from customers by way of Zagat, in addition to written comments. This official scoring system allows potential clientele to look up a business’ rating and help make purchasing decisions. Combined with the fairly decent amount of traffic that Google+ sees these days, customer interaction levels for companies on the network will rise significantly as a result.
Using Google+ to its Fullest Potential
Regular readers of my blog will certainly see what all this adds up to. Although Google+ doesn’t boast anywhere near as many active users as Facebook or Twitter does, the features being offered to companies going into the network are quite attractive. As Google+ users can now easily interact with and review any business previously found on Google Places, company owners need to redouble their efforts on the social media site. The following are just a few ways that businesses can improve their Google+ listings:
- Fill out as much information about your company as possible. According to an entry on Google’s blog, companies that were previously listed on Google Places should edit the details of their business through the old Places portal. This information will be immediately reflected on the Google+ listing as well and will help customers learn more about you and your business.
- Upload beautiful and eye-catching images. Google has been touting its network’s emphasis on large images and sleek presentation as being a big deal for businesses. Company owners should use high-end digital cameras or hire a photographer to produce original photos for their social media page.
- Encourage customers to review your business on Google+. People loved being asked for their opinions, and channeling those efforts through the newly revamped Google+ Local program means having a place to show both praise and criticism.
Of course, the SEO experts at WebiMax will be periodically checking in on Google+ Local to see how the new program fares. As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org should readers have any questions.
For the last twenty years, numerous SEO companies and internet advertisers have depended on keywords as being a guiding light for search engine indexers and site crawlers. A tactic commonly used by ethical and unethical online marketing agencies alike, heavily emphasized keyword implementation was so pervasive throughout the web development community that almost everyone has come to rely on it. Of course, this all started to change with the arrival of Google’s Panda updates as well as the recent release of Penguin. Now, webmasters are looking for ways to remain relevant to Google and other search engines while revising their own operations.
Smart Keyword Use: Only When Necessary
As Google made clear in its original announcement of Penguin, high-quality content is at the top of the company’s desired SERP content. The implications of this demand for engaging webpages is many, but in this case we’ll focus on the greatly reduced effect of what is known as “keyword stuffing.” This practice describes the rather unscrupulous behavior of repeatedly using key phrases and terms in order to game a search engine and artificially strengthen their relevance to the page or site in question. In the past, too many marketing agencies would repeatedly stuff their clients’ online properties with keywords, but these days search engines have become smart enough to know the difference between spam and good content.
As a result of this, everyone needs to get on the same page (pun not intended) as Google and emphasize the importance of interesting and unique content over questionable optimization methods. Although the world’s biggest search engine still uses keywords to categorize and archive pages, the repetition of a key term throughout a page means that Google’s search algorithm now regards it as having a low value. As a result, business owners and webmasters should use focused keywords only as needed.
Keyword Limitations Lead to Quality Content
While being forced to use a keyword conservatively may sound like a hassle, the fact is that it actually yields a number of benefits. For one thing, putting a limit on one’s keyword use leads to content that is fresher and also more interesting to read. Content writers should also use the situation to explore more interesting and more varied topics. For example, a keyword such as “car engines” may be the focus of a page, but that doesn’t mean that the content needs to be all about that term. Instead, users can choose to focus on the way engines work in classic automobiles versus top-of-the-line racing cars or other topics.
Even though the new obstacles set forth by the Google Penguin and Panda updates may be a thorn in some SEO developers’ sides, it’s really just another way to motivate website and blog owners to create content that users will read and maybe even share. For further advice regarding how to use keywords in this post-Penguin world, I can be contacted at email@example.com.
The last two weeks have been an incredibly stressful time for every web-focused company. Between Facebook’s recent woes concerning its IPO and General Motors pulling out of its in-network marketing, there’s been more than a little bit of uncertainty in the SEO and online marketing communities as of late. Many of our readers no doubt have their own growing concerns over the state of all-things social media and search engine-related. While current events may have everyone second guessing the viability of their social network strategies, in truth there is no reason to panic.
What about Facebook?
Anyone who watches major news network programming or reads the latest headlines will be familiar with the immense amount of criticism falling on Facebook at the moment. Over the course of the last seven days, Facebook’s underwhelming stock performance has led to a lot of serious questions regarding the effectiveness of the company’s in-network ads as well as whether its mobile efforts will pay off in the end. It’s gotten to the point where even notable SEO experts are making similar inquiries.
Although Facebook’s future is uncertain, that doesn’t mean that businesses should shy away from the social media site here and now. Many of the arguments taking place between pundits over Facebook are based on speculation, and the possible outcomes of these predictions won’t come to pass for months or years to come. While it’s easy to fall prey to the sort of fear-mongering that is common to network television, small business owners need to remember that FB will continue to be a valuable asset to their online marketing efforts.
How is that Done?
If anything, companies operating on Facebook should be focusing less on their in-network PPC campaigning and more on building up a solid social media following. The world’s most popular social network recently hit the 900 million user mark, and this milestone shouldn’t go ignored. In particular, business owners will want to remain dedicated in their efforts to expand the size of their follower base while simultaneously engaging those users that subscribe to their news feeds. This can be done in a number of ways:
- Search for groups or organizations that may share interests that match what your company specializes in. Do what you can to interact with their members and gain their attention.
- Post original and interesting content that is worth reading. This can be done by posting links to blogs and other company properties that may host these materials.
- Comment on breaking industry news that has everyone talking. Users will often take the time to add their thoughts to these posts if they are asked for their opinion.
Despite Facebook’s current predicament, the fact is that the social network still has every bit of impact it had before the company went public. The only difference is the amount of discussion taking place at the moment. Should readers have any additional questions or comments regarding their Facebook operations, they can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although the term may sound like made-up internet jargon (and to some extent it is), “gamification” is a real trend and one that has become increasingly common in society. The phrase itself refers to the rising prevalence of game-like mechanics across non-game-related media in our daily lives. Regular users of mobile apps such as Foursquare are no doubt familiar with the concept: ordinary errands and chores help a person earn points and badges with which to compete with friends and, sometimes, random strangers. Occasionally there are prizes (often in the form of coupons), but most of the time that users spend on Foursquare is geared towards friendly competition.
Gamification practices drive the popularity of many smartphone and social network applications with constant socialization and feedback loops, or cycles that involve earning points and various rewards. A recent study done by the Pew Research Center focuses on the phenomenon in depth, with results showing that the integration of gamified elements into social media will increase exponentially by 2020. Although there is a great deal of debate regarding how healthy feedback loops are for user behavior, one thing is for certain – people enjoy being constantly rewarded for their online activity.
While most small business owners lack the programming knowledge to design apps such as Foursquare, this doesn’t mean they cannot take advantage of gamification. At its very core, the concept of a and gamification and feedback loops can be boiled down to a cycle of interaction and reward. Although most businesses may not realize it, many companies on social media see their highest levels of user engagement through practices that parallel those practices seen in gamified apps.
When looking for examples of this, a business owner can examine their most popular competitors and see this activity for themselves. Raffle contests, constant question and answer sessions, and community shout-outs are seen quite often on Facebook’s most heavily-trafficked pages. While a business needs to gain a rather respectable number of followers before such techniques can be employed, these methods offer fantastic ways for businesses to keep network users interacting with their listings for extended periods of time.
Another way that businesses can gamify their social media page is through community-driven competitions. Often used by movie promoters and other entertainment-based companies, contests in which users submit original video or written works are very popular. These submissions are usually voted on by the community itself and a winner is chosen based on the final scores. While activities such as these can take a considerable amount of time to manage, the result is a follower base that continues talking and thinking about a company throughout the contest’s duration.
Of course, many small businesses end up turning to experienced social media companies for contests of this magnitude. Aside from these competitions, companies on very demanding budgets can still employ feedback loop-based tactics to keep users engaged with their company. All it takes is a design that rewards followers for their behavior and a sincere appreciation of one’s user base.
Tomorrow marks one month since the debut of Google’s Penguin, and everyone is still trying to make sense of the update. While a couple websites have come into existence as a response to Google’s most recent revisions to its algorithm, little has been made in the way of progress when it comes to actually puzzling out how Penguin works. Although it is highly unlikely that the company will ever reveal the mechanisms behind the update, the SEO community has at least come up with a few useful tips for creating content that Google’s search engine wants.
Don’t Repeat Content
Regardless of whether a website is reposting text from elsewhere or pulling materials directly from other online properties, businesses should take care to never duplicate or steal content. Aside from the obvious moral implications inherent in this sort of black hat SEO activity, content reposting is one of the many optimization behaviors that Penguin explicitly punishes. Every day, Google crawls millions of websites and then compares what it finds against existing pages. Should content be discovered as having been taken from elsewhere, then that page’s rankings and SEPR rankings are dropped as a result.
In order to avoid this issue, webmasters and business owners need to remain consistent in their efforts to create unique content for their pages. Since Google’s intended goal is to create a network through which users can find useful or interesting sites quickly and effortlessly, 100% original work is far more likely to show up in the company’s SERPs than copy-pasted material. As such, every website owner should create their pages from scratch or from personal templates when generating content.
Only Write when It’s worthwhile to the Reader
Mismanaged SEO campaigns often end up creating mountains of blogs, social media posts and webpages that lack any true substance. In an ongoing mission to secure popular keywords and gain additional indexing opportunities, many people blunder in their SEO efforts and simply generate new content that holds some SEO value but offers nothing of worth to potential readers or site visitors. Although this sort of content may initially get picked up by site crawlers and show up on search results, a lack of user engagement means that it will only end up falling down the SERPs rather quickly.
In order to create webpages and blogs that retain decent rankings and respectable traffic, businesses need to provide users with content that is worth interacting with or sharing with others. Well-written and informative pages tend to be the same ones that appear to users in their initial search results most often. While it may be tempting for a company to arbitrarily create new pages and blogs for link-building purposes, business owners should make certain that any new content made for them is interesting and engaging.
For additional information about creating quality content post-Penguin, I can be contacted at email@example.com.
A few days ago, Google unveiled its newest search feature, Knowledge Graph, to network users. For those readers who are unfamiliar with the announced program, Knowledge Graph is being launched as a sidebar addition to the company’s search engine results. While the company’s SERPs will stay the way they’ve always been, the new feature will serve up interesting facts, details and relevant information for popular keywords entered in queries. Google has stated that it has plans to bring the function to mobile platforms in the future as well.
Although Knowledge Graph has yet to become available to all Google users, numerous SEO companies already have their own stance on how the feature may affect the current state of online marketing. In the recent months, Google has been responsible for some of the biggest and most impactful changes in internet advertising. As a result, everyone in the SEO community is keeping a watchful eye on the company and will be for some time to come. While marketing agencies will let their clients know about important news, business owners should still keep aware of these latest happenings in order to actively improve their web prevalence.
What Should SMB Owners Take Away from Knowledge Graph?
Aside from the supplemental nature of Knowledge Graph, Google’s newest network feature also gives us some insight into the sort of trending page elements that the company regards in high importance. Between the information-based focus of Knowledge Graph and the strength of Wikipedia in the company’s SERPs, one can see that Google wants more informative sites these days. Yet while this realization is made readily apparent through Google’s recent efforts, not everyone is taking advantage of this fact.
Creating Quality that Search Engines Want
Many of the WebiMax blog readers are small or startup business owners who are looking to get their online properties well-represented on every engine’s search results. Although Google’s ranking trends are not entirely indicative of what other search engines are looking for these days, the company does tend to set the pace for what is seen on most SERPs. If anything, it’s a safe bet that the same sort of informative content that Google’s search algorithm finds desirable will rank well on competing engines.
In order to have better traction in the SERPs, more businesses need to work on creating content for their online properties that is not only informative to readers but also interesting. While not every page of a company’s website may have space for this type of content, a business should always devote some time to creating it where it can. Often times, company blogs and user-maintained pages act as hubs for news and information that readers will find engaging. Other venues for this type of content may include employee sites that focus on related topics and are linked to the aforementioned blog.
While it’s still uncertain where Knowledge Graph will eventually lie in Google’s overall business plan, there are still several useful conclusions that can be drawn from the new network feature. Should readers have any particular questions, I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.