Posted by: Kerry Sheahan

Posted on: April 18, 2013 3:25 pm

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When we cast our minds back to 2005, Facebook was a very different scene. Little more than an upgrade from the likes of Bebo and Myspace, it was a basic platform where people could search for friends, upload pictures and reminisce from the night before. 8 years and one billion users later and Facebook has undergone a radical transformation, providing apps, games and even real time Bingo.

The most recent bow to its arrow comes in the form of Facebook Home. Described as a family of apps, it automatically shows updates on homescreen and lockscreen, allowing you to view a steady stream of posts and photos the second you turn on your phone. Put simply, it takes over your home screen.

Mark Zuckerburg’s multi-billion empire sums up the new systems when they say “everything on your phone gets friendlier.” With faster access to the essentials, as well as upfront notifications, users can even continue their conversations whilst using other apps, surfing the internet or watching videos. What’s more, the social media giant has introduced Chat Heads. Upon a friend starting a conversation, a message will pop up with a photo of that person, allowing users to tap to open or simply swipe to ignore.

A whole new meaning to the word convenience it would seem, however has this so called `convenience` gone a step too far for some people? As to be expected from any major update introduced by Facebook, the news has been met with a sense of controversy, if not hysteria. A simple internet search can take you directly to advice on how to install Facebook Home, and rumours have already begun circulation that Google tried to block it. Google’s Eric Schmidt has been quick to dispel the idea however, stating it would be “against our religion”.

Facebook Home became available from the Android Play Store in the UK April 12th on HTC One as well as the Samsung Galaxy S3. Whilst it is not currently available for tablets, the company has hinted that it would like to venture this way in the future. It appears unlikely that Facebook Home will launch on iPhone however.

With the news not having long broken, many are still in the dark as to what Facebook Home actually is, let alone installed it yet, but as more take the plunge it will be interesting to monitor the reaction it receives.

Posted by: Kerry Sheahan

Posted on: April 9, 2013 11:59 am

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You may be feeling that the one thing missing from your Facebook experience is the ability to accompany your status updates with an appropriate emoticon? No? It may not be amongst your top priorities, but like all of the social media giant’s additions and amendments, it will probably be hard to imagine life on the network without them given a week or two.

As of today, Facebook’s lucky users will be able to share how they’re feeling and what they’re up to through a drop down menu of emoticons and media, letting friends and acquaintances know precisely what they’re reading, watching or eating.

Put simply, it makes it easier to formally tag the places we attend, the TV shows we’re watching or the music we’re listening to, and so of course inviting our friends to get more involved in the things we love. For example, a person listening to an up and coming musician in their local area would be able to spread the word amongst friends, enabling them to click straight through to the Facebook profile and hit the “listen button”.

It’s all supposed to be part of Facebook’s plan to get users to open up more. But do a series of pre-formatted pictures really help us to express how we’re feeling? A more cynical approach would see this as an attempt to over simplify our moods and feelings? How often can we say we feel 100% sad, happy or confused? And more to the point why is Facebook asking us for such personal information?

Those who do try out the new drop down box will no doubt have noticed the pop-up notifying them that “details you add to posts also appear on your About page and other pages on Facebook.”

Now it is, the “other pages on Facebook that seems to be causing the biggest stir amongst critics and users. Facebook is essentially warning us that if we choose a particular pre-formatted emotion, TV programme or brand of coffee, Facebook could potentially use this data to target us with ads.

For example someone who reveals that they are listening to Beyonce could be targeted with ads for her new album or appearance. But is this all bad? If we’ve already stated an interest in the subject, is it not surely quite feasible that we should want to hear more about it?

Either way it will be interesting to hear feedback from Facebook’s one billion active users.

Posted by: Lewis Austin

Posted on: April 2, 2013 1:46 pm

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As a continuation from a post just a few weeks ago, “Google’s Ads Aren’t Numbered”, Google has taken a step further with the use of phone numbers. As of 2 weeks ago, AdWords users were no longer permitted to submit ad text that contained a phone number as this would be disapproved.

This morning, I was welcomed into one of our clients’ accounts with this lovely message:

The learn more link forwards you to this page: http://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/176098?hl=en-GB&rd=1 .

However, the section that we should really be interested in is this:Phone numbers and vanity phone numbers can’t be used anywhere in ad text or in a sitelinks extension because doing so is confusing to users who might be expecting to be led to a call session as opposed to a website. To let customers call you directly from your ad, use call extensions instead.”

So we have been warned and we have just a few weeks to implement the required changes, or we must feel the wrath of Google. Understandably, the use of a number in the ad text as well as using a call extension can seem a little pointless, especially from Google’s perspective. Despite the fact that we marketers think it is a brilliant strategy and really emphasises the user to make a call, this is Google’s own way of ensuring quality listings.

Instead of complaining, it’s important to develop a strategy quickly to prepare for another change in the AdWords horizon. The easiest thing to do would be to use the AdWords editor and replace the phone number with “us now” or “today”. Doing this doesn’t really add much to the ad so maybe it could be worth using dynamic keyword insertion to make the ad more relevant in terms of quality score and directly to the user. For arguments sake, let’s say you are a florist in Manchester. Your ad might now say: “Call Now for Manchester Florists”. In my opinion this looks very compelling and relevant, certainly more so than just “Call Us Now”.

We will be preparing for the new implementations by keeping our ads that have a phone number and introducing are newly revised ads, running them side by side. This will allow us to gather data and compare the two different ad formats, along with what substitution performs the best. Then when Google decides to implement these changes we will be fully prepared and won’t have to make any changes to the account.

 

Posted by: Lewis Austin

Posted on: March 27, 2013 4:28 pm

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Today a couple of members of our PPC Team, more specifically: Evaldas Balcius and Lewis Austin set off to London to attend the Google Engage for Agencies event. All in all it was a really insightful meeting that helped to outline the importance of Google’s latest and greatest developments.

Enhanced Campaigns

A major focus and point of interest for the agencies was the infamous enhanced campaigns. The main benefit of enhanced campaigns was driven by context. This means that a difference in context will result in a difference in behaviour, so to make the most of these moments, we need to be able to provide content that will encourage the user to convert.

Taking the example of Niamh Mahon; if I have a pizza restaurant and someone is searching for “pizza”, on a mobile device whilst in a 1 mile radius of my store at 7PM. It is a pretty safe bet to assume that the searcher is going home and would like to grab a pizza on the way back. This context means that the searcher is very interested in making a purchase as soon as possible. As a business, it is these moments in time that are invaluable to my business and to making a sale. Based on these behaviours, I can use enhanced campaigns to set bid adjustments for: mobile devices, location and even time of day.

YouTube

We were then brought up to speed with YouTube, not so much the stats as we all know that YouTube is the giant in video sharing networks. More so about the advertising opportunities that YouTube can offer. One interesting feature available is road blocking, this is similar to sponsoring a channel, so your ad will show for the majority of a selected channels’ videos. By doing this, you can display your message to an audience who you deem to have an interest in your product. Another good point to remember is that you won’t be charged for your ad if a viewer clicks the skip button on your ad, which will save you a lot of money and, give you 5 seconds of free exposure.

Mobile Devices

The last presentation was an eye opener of how we as consumers use different devices and methods to search. It was interesting to see that you can use Google accounts to have all of your browsing data accessible across all of your devices. This means that if I was in a shop and saw a pair of sneakers that I really liked, but wasn’t 100% about the price, I could run a search using the barcode and compare online prices to what is in store. If I feel that the high tops are a little cheaper online, I could go home and open up my laptop, load up chrome and continue where I left off on my mobile.

I think that we can take a lot away from Google Engage this year, in terms of future developments and how our target market is predicted to evolve technologically in years to come.

Before you all run off to research more about enhanced campaigns; here is a quick snapshot of Google Engage for Agencies this year, our Evaldas Balcius is in there somewhere, can you see him?

Posted by: Lewis Austin

Posted on: March 20, 2013 5:51 pm

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Google did explain when the enhanced campaigns were rolled out, that the call extensions feature would make using phone numbers in ad text a thing of the past. It looks like today is the day.

It seems as though ads that are posted as of today will be disapproved if they have phone numbers in them, however I think that ad text that has been approved in the past will remain safe, or that’s what I’m hoping for.

For those that have posted ads and are still waiting for approval, if they contain a phone number, then they are likely to be disapproved just like mine, so you might as well save yourself even more waiting time and submit some close variants.

PPC Managers and AdWords users will now have to think of another call to action to use. The phone number insertion method looked great and in some cases actually received calls. If you were extra sneaky, you would have managed to utilise a number along with call extensions, which showed your number twice, obviously this is what Google is trying to avoid.

It seems as though we will have to go back to “call us now” and our other all time favourites.

 

Posted by: Lewis Austin

Posted on: March 13, 2013 12:51 pm

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On the fateful day of March 11th , Google released an article about the up and coming access update to Google Analytics. This means that now you can grant access based on property level, as well as the previous situation of profile and account level. Also there are now three different three different levels of account access: view, edit and manage users.

This update is definitely one that will be welcomed with open arms. From an agency point of view, Analytics is about to become a lot more convenient. Previously it was often the case where a client would grant access to the whole account and sometimes clients will have multiple domains which are irrelevant to the services you are providing. This means that your profile list in GA becomes colossal; hopefully this update will help to tidy things up. With regards to the access levels, it looks like some of the inspiration for this has been taken from AdWords. This is a useful feature because now agencies can replicate account access structure into their Analytics.

Businesses will also find benefit from these updates. Data can be a very important thing and a lot of people are not so enthusiastic about simply handing over this information. Now businesses have more control over their data and who can access it.

Google has said that the update will be rolled out over the next few weeks, so some people will be getting this sooner rather than later. However, there is no need to panic about account access levels as if you are currently an admin, you will be upgraded to have full rights.

Posted by: Lewis Austin

Posted on: March 6, 2013 4:57 pm

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According to Knotice, 41% of all emails are opened using a mobile device. The search volume conducted on a smartphone doubles almost every month and to top it all off, 25% of UK purchases are made using a mobile device. Those are some hard facts and to a marketer or business, should emphasise how important mobile optimisation is.

For those of you who don’t spend every waking minute following Google’s every move, Google AdWords released a huge update called enhanced campaigns. There are some advantages to be gained from this such as improved site links, but the main focus on this is to target mobiles. By making all ads display in the mobile search results, it ties the hands of businesses and agencies using AdWords. Now they must create a mobile friendly landing page, or suffer a loss at the hands of an increased bounce rate and much lower conversion rate.

It is safe to say that all the top dogs are barking about mobile. All the stats are available and there is the evidence to prove its ROI.

Let’s think about this for a second though, Google does encourage businesses to “think like their customers”. Cast your mind back to when you last whipped out your smart phone and looked for information, be it pizza, a bakery or a fact to prove that you do know what you’re talking about in the pub. You scroll through the results and find something promising and chances are if you’re not on EE and in London, you’ll be waiting a while but that’s ok because you want to see this page.

As the page finally loads next to a new day dawning, you have to navigate your way through a huge website with tiny text and elements of flash. To get any good content, you have to pinch your phone being careful not to mis-click and lose all your hard work, and then if you finally find what you are after, you click the link and your thumb or finger is “too” big, so you’re sent off to another page and the journey begins again!

From a business point of view, if a mobile user is browsing on their phone and clicks through to your site, chance are that they are pretty engaged and interested in converting. All you have to do is make it as easy as possible for them to find what they want.

Before you start listing down hardware supplies that would actually make your computers “animal-proof” no these tips is not designed to literally make your website impenetrable from any animal’s physical attacks. This actually pertains to giving you some insights on how you can make your website impenetrable against Google’s Panda, penguin and other algorithm change animals that my come out in the future. Google have been naming their algorithm updates based on animal species or common names and every algorithm update is said to be affecting a lot of websites in terms of their rankings in the search engine results page.

The Latest Updates

Before any SEO company and SEO consultant could provide protection on their sites against any algorithm update the SEO company or SEO Consultant must arm themselves with ample knowledge on what the algorithm update is all about.

1. Panda – the Google panda was developed in order to filter out the search engine results page by displaying websites with the highest quality of content. Thinly written contents as well as contents that are spinned, copied or duplicates are frowned upon by the algorithm and will actually penalise websites that will utilise such poorly written contents.

2. Penguin – the penguin on the other hand was developed in order to combat web spam. Some unscrupulous SEO companies or SEO consultants are utilising automated link building processes disregarding the quality of the link created and focusing on the link quantity. Creating massive links but are of poor quality is what the Penguin algorithm is penalising.

3. Pirate Penalty – well this is not actually an animal’s common name, but this is actually the up and coming algorithm change by Google in order to filter out contents that were proven to be infringing copyrights of others. This new algorithm will focus on penalising websites using contents such as videos, audios among others which were just copied from an original source without prior permission obtained. The basis of the penalty will be on the number of DMCA notices along with other parameters which Google refuses to divulge.

Protecting Your Website

From the three algorithm updates Google’s direction is clear, that is to provide quality content within the website that wishes to be ranked in their search engine results page and that the user should be of paramount consideration when developing content, links or the website in general.

For the Panda update developing high quality and informative content will assure you of a proper position within the search engine results page if not at least you will be sure that you site will not be penalised by Google. To combat the penguin algorithm you need to implement quality link building campaigns, that is you only build links from sites that are trusted and are in itself having a high page rank.

For the pirate penalty update, it only requires you to create your own content, never copy anyone else’s creative output. Should you copy such creative output be sure that you got the permission from the owner before you actually utilise such content in your website.

Conclusion

Whatever type of algorithm update may come from Google you can protect your site from being penalised by developing your website and its content for your visitors and not for you or for the search engine bots. Create original, quality and informative content that your visitors would love to share through social media networks.

For so long now Google have been controlling how their algorithm would function. They even have caught a lot of SEO Companies and SEO consultants by releasing new updates in their algorithm by surprise and without any ample warning. However, this new algorithm change from Google will be something different, as for the first time such change is not influenced by the search engine giant itself but rather motivated by Hollywood. Yes, the algorithm change is motivated by Hollywood who won the case against Google ordering the search engine giant to factor in penalising copyright infringement in their algorithm.

The Case on Algorithm Change

Google have been constantly barraged by Hollywood lobbyist to filter their search results by not giving high search engine results page rankings to websites that fosters copyright infringement. It was the contention of the lobbyists that Google has in its power to create a filtered search result however they actually are not doing enough to weed out those that are clearly infringing copyrights. This of course will change as Google in their recent announcement that they will start to redeveloping their algorithm to factor in penalising copyright infringement in their search engine results page.

How Will Google Implement?

According to Google’s top engineers the updates on their algorithm will implemented as soon as possible, thus anytime this coming week we might already see some search engine results page changes. However, the actual question which may be lingering through your mind is “how exactly will Google Identify websites which violates copyright laws?” This is by identifying websites that have been given several copyright takedown notifications. Therefore those websites that have received a lot of valid notification for violating copyright laws is going to be ranked lower in the search engine results page ranking.

More Questions Than Answers

For Hollywood this is a good move by Google since it will now help owners of copyrights to protect their intellectual output. Further, content with legitimate quality source will now be found easily. Still some questions remains to be answered, for example, how will Google determine which type of copyright infringement notification is valid and which one is not? Unless Google implements an accurate system to determine the validity of a copyright infringement notification this new algorithm update will just be another avenue for Negative SEO, where legitimate websites may fall prey from this type of “underhanded” search engine optimisation technique.

Conclusion on Google’s Algorithm Change

Google’s algorithm change is indeed a good change especially to protect the interests of those who creatively develop systems, films and other artistic works. It is also a good step towards delivering quality results to searchers. Problems do arise from this endeavour and if they are not addressed it could spell disaster for the search engine company. In relation to article writing, this algorithm change might help in boosting the claim of the Panda algorithm which focuses more on the quality of the article rather than the quantity of the article, thus increasing the probability that copied articles and spinned is going to be a de-ranking factor for every website containing such.

 

On May 5, 2012, the different social media sites burned because of the extensive discussion regarding the latest page rank update conducted by Google, of course a lot of website owners were very happy because of the fact that their page ranking increased and some even jumped two page ranks up. Some were felt the opposite because of the simple fact that their rankings went down. This roller coaster emotions by SEO companies and SEO consultants is because of the changes in the page ranking of their target website.

What is Page Rank?

In order to understand why many SEO companies and SEO consultants are worrying about their websites page ranking we have to understand what page ranking is. Page Rank basically is patented by Google, it is a ranking set in order to indicate the authority of the website. The ranking will start from a low zero to a high of page rank 10. The increase in page rank can be attributed with the link building SEO strategy where link page rank is passed on if it originated from a website with a high page rank. This is because of the fact that links from one website to another is considered as a “vote” to the recipient website which means that the more websites with high page rank linking the higher the page rank of the recipient website.

Page Rank and Panda or Penguin

Many would wonder if Penguin and Panda interplays with the Page rank. One of Panda and Penguins main focus is to track poor and spinned content making it reduce the ranking of the website in SERP. The main question therefore is does content now play a role in determining the page rank?

The Answer

Content nowadays play a significant role in determining the page rank of the website, this is because Google utilises the flesch-kincaid method where it tracks word spelling and sentence grammar and checks whether they are correct. Of course content is only one of the determining factors as links are still key players in determining the page rank of a website.

Conclusion

This just proves what we have always been saying on this blog time and again. In order for you to gain ranking either in the search engine results page or in the page ranking you have to incorporate quality not only in your link building efforts but most of all in your content development.

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