Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category
Came across this blog post, Search Engine Optimization vs. Social Media Optimization, and have a few replies:
What is the world like when real human beings can replace the best in search engine optimization?
I’ve Blogged about this notion more than a few times. If you were looking for the best Thai restaurant in New York City, would you ask Google or your friends and followers in places like Twitter and Facebook? Whose response would you trust more? Where is there more value in terms of both relationship and community building? Search engines are still hugely important in today’s world, but will their primary function shift because of Social Media and how well connected we are all becoming. We are moving ever closer to what James Surowiecki described as “The Wisdom of Crowds” (also the name of his best-selling business book).
My general response to this passage:
I think that search is so fundamental to our experience on the internet – being at the edge of something, exploring, digging, looking, searching for…something – that it will be extremely difficult for a single company to do both search and social well.
My specific responses to this passage:
1. If I were looking for the best Thai restaurant in New York City, would I ask Google or my friends and followers in places like Twitter and Facebook?
Well, that would depend on what type of answer I’m looking for and how long I’m willing to wait – it’s both a qualitative and time bound (quantitative) answer. I’ll start with the qualitative part then go on to the time bound/quantitative part.
Qualitatively, if I’m looking for an answer that is generally middle of the road, determined by the numbers, determined by the wisdom of the crowd then I’d likely head to Google (or some other search engine…or not). So, on the last point covered in this passage, the wisdom of the crowds part, we’re already there. Google determines results primarily via the wisdom of the crowds, otherwise known as the number, velocity and quality of incoming links directed at a Thai restaurant.
If I’m looking for an answer from a friend who is a Thai food connoisseur then I might head to Facebook, but more likely Twitter. Anecdotally, it seems more questions are asked on Twitter whereas people tend talk entirely about themselves on Facebook – “Is it Friday yet?”, “Something, something, republican, something, liberal, something, BP”, “YAY! can’t wait to go to Costa Rica!!!” or something entirely too personal. In either case, I’d likely head to a social media website. This is another reason why I don’t think social media websites are going to replace search engines anytime soon – each serves an entirely different purpose, a different telos.
Numbers definitely play a role in this portion of the game. By going to Google, I’m asking this machine to crunch the numbers for me, a huge lot of numbers (votes, links), and provide a qualitative answer based on the crowd. Also, I know that Google has access to a lot more “people” than I do in my little social network on Facebook or Twitter. Who is most likely to have an answer to a question I do not know? Looking at the numbers, Google. Yes, friends, you are all brilliant people, but you don’t know everything :)
Going to a social network for an answer significantly shrinks the number of minds I can tap into regarding the best Thai restaurant in NYC.
From a time perspective, I know that I will get an answer within milliseconds – the search engines are nice enough to let us know how long it took them to retrieve the answer. But, if I head to a social media website who knows when I’ll get an answer – whenever my friend feels like it.
2. Whose response would you trust more?
I think this is answered generally above, or vaguely if you wish, but to be explicit I trust both search and social. If you start getting into things like how many liters does a gallon contain then the trust issue disappears and might even lean toward a search engine, whether Google or Wolfram Alpha.
3. Where is there more value in terms of both relationship and community building?
Well, I don’t think search engines are in the business of creating value around relationships and community building, so a) I think the answer is obvious and b) I don’t understand how this is a relevant question to the topic. We do know that search engines look at relationships between sites, links, and uses them as an important ranking and relevancy signal, but in that regard they’re the objective observer taking pictures of these relationships.
I think the overall post relies on the assumption that because so many of us are engaged in social media, we will inevitably ask our social media accounts for answers to questions. And, more importantly, ask the social media accounts questions more often than a search engine. However, I don’t agree that because we spend a lot of our lounging-around time on Facebook or Twitter we will ask them for answers to questions. We are there because we’re voyeurs and exhibitionists. It’s watch or be watched. And we have short attention spans today. Search is about instantaneous answers. Give me the answer now or give me dea…another blog post to scan!
Initial, rapid fire thoughts for a more robust post…
How do they intersect?
- SEO concerned with ensuring the search engines find your websites content
- Applicable to social media in that you want not only your social media profiles to be easily found by users, but also the content that populates these profiles
- One of the little known effects of easily and readily found content are the emergent outcomes. Sites will pick up your content, sites not always known, and spread your content (and links) without your approval. Spread information about yourself by targeting your name as the primary meta data; consistently check the SERPs for your name; you’ll quickly see the outcome
- A lack of active social media accounts makes it that much easier for negative press, for example, to populate the first few pages of the search engines for a branded search – like your company name – or your name
- Tip: in order to find out if a company, a competitor, is active in the social sphere is to search for their name and see if the first few pages (the first in particular) is occupied by social media accounts. It’s not enough to simply have the profile; it must be active and tagged appropriately
- How content is developed and shared
- How = who is it for? Does it speak their language, contain the appropriate keywords?
- Shared = syndication
How do you utilize SEO to benefit social media?
- Tag your profiles and content appropriately
- Do your research before naming your videos, for example
- Do a Google Search
- Go to Google Insights
- Compare it with your current SEO campaign; what keywords are you currently targeting and does the piece of content enhance the definition of that keyword, so to speak
- Go to SocialMention.com and search the term
- Who, when, where and how is the keyword described and presented in this context?
- On a blog, Twitter, video, news, images
- Do your research before naming your videos, for example
- Make sure you add a link/s from the social profile back to your website and to your other major social media platforms
- Create a plan
- How often will you create content?
- Once a week, once a day, once every other week, 10 times a month?
- Frequency often determined by the type of content you want to create
- Hubspot study of 2,168 customers showed that businesses that published at least 5 blog posts in the last 7 days draw 6.9 times more organic traffic and 1.12 times more referral traffic than those that don’t.
- What type of content will you create?
- Blog posts, articles, videos, widgets, smartphone apps
- Repurpose your content – turn the blog post into a page, an article, a video, expanded content for your product page, a Squidoo page, a Hubpage, a tweet, a contest
- Look at your analytics. Check out the long tail, those keywords that look more like statements or questions, and create a blog/SEO landing page with that keyword phrase as the title
- Where will you syndicate your content?
- Putting it up on only on your blog isn’t good enough – neither is Facebook nor Twitter nor Youtube alone
- Utilize social bookmarking websites like Digg, Reddit, Slashdot. Participate within that community; it will increase the likelihood your submission goes viral
- How often will you create content?
It’s time to take the internet seriously say’s Edge.org. I’ll pose the idea on why you should take the internet seriously, the block of text lead by #., and you preface it with questions it might answer – Go!
(Links in this section of the post are dedicated to my previous post)
What’s the next step in the evolution of search engines? Google personalized search?
5. Consider Web search, for example. Modern search engines combine the functions of libraries and business directories on a global scale, in a flash: a lightning bolt of brilliant engineering. These search engines are indispensable — just like word processors. But they solve an easy problem. It has always been harder to find the right person than the right fact. Human experience and expertise are the most valuable resources on the Internet — if we could find them. Using a search engine to find (or be found by) the right person is a harder, more subtle problem than ordinary Internet search. Small pieces of the problem have been attacked; in the future we will solve this hard problem in general, instead of being satisfied with windfalls and the lowest-hanging fruit on the technology tree.
Why should my company blog?
How do you change stained glass…?
13. The traditional web site is static, but the Internet specializes in flowing, changing information. The “velocity of information” is important — not just the facts but their rate and direction of flow. Today’s typical website is like a stained glass window, many small panels leaded together. There is no good way to change stained glass, and no one expects it to change. So it’s not surprising that the Internet is now being overtaken by a different kind of cyberstructure
How does social and search dance?
How does the future flow…?
15. Every month, more and more information surges through the Cybersphere in lifestreams — some called blogs, “feeds,” “activity streams,” “event streams,” Twitter streams. All these streams are specialized examples of the cyberstructure we called a lifestream in the mid-1990s: a stream made of all sorts of digital documents, arranged by time of creation or arrival, changing in realtime; a stream you can focus and thus turn into a different stream; a stream with a past, present and future. The future flows through the present into the past at the speed of time
Why social media?
Wouldn’t a stream melt snow…?
17. There is no clear way to blend two standard websites together, but it’s obvious how to blend two streams. You simply shuffle them together like two decks of cards, maintaining time-order — putting the earlier document first. Blending is important because we must be able to add and subtract in the Cybersphere. We add streams together by blending them. Because it’s easy to blend any group of streams, it’s easy to integrate stream-structured sites so we can treat the group as a unit, not as many separate points of activity; and integration is important to solving the information overload problem. We subtract streams by searching or focusing. Searching a stream for “snow” means that I subtract every stream-element that doesn’t deal with snow. Subtracting the “not snow” stream from the mainstream yields a “snow” stream. Blending streams and searching them are the addition and subtraction of the new Cybersphere.
Well, after hearing about this development – both rumors way back when and current articles – I’ve finally seen Twitter (real time) results appear in Google. Ironically, they appear when I search for “Twitter results in Google” – ha! Have a look:
Translates as “Have you joined the Volunteers?” Something tells me “volunteer” was used liberally…
Don’t just do social media, be a social company. Get a company policy. Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Create an editorial calendar. Tell people to follow the calendar…or not. Measure. Stop making excuses, it’s not about you. They’re talking. Make being a social company part of your core values, your brand. Make your people be social. Make your CEO be social. Make them sign up. Being social provides links to your website; updates your site consistently via a blog; internally links with your blog; submits your content to the masses with social bookmarking; steers the conversation; provides product feedback; instigates R&D; creates culture; responsibility; accountability.
Building the House
- Treat others as you would have them treat you
- Be social, don’t simply do social
- Be transparent
- Mister Wong
- Wall poll
- Image submission and tagging
- Link out
- Personal blog
- Good Reads
Running list (and post) of why this is true:
- The Razorfish Digital Brand Experience Report – from Going Social Now: 73% of consumers have posted a product or brand review on a website like Amazon, Yelp, Facebook or Twitter
- Social Media Users Talk Brands
- Tell me what you need!
- Most Trafficked Sites
- 35 Social Media KPIs to Help Measure Engagement
- URL Builder
- How to Track the Full Referring URL in Google Analytics
- Consumers Embrace Social Shopping
- LinkedIn Opens Up
- Transparency is the New Marketing
image by Dunechaser
written on June 12th, 2009
Love: unraveling local search ranking factors. So you’re a small business (or a large one for that matter), and after doing some reading on SEO, you’ve gone to Google Local Business Center and claimed your business’ listing. You’ve read about PageRank and the importance of attracting high quality incoming links with your sparkling content. But what other factors go into the ranking algorithms for local search? How do you climb up that 10-pack? How do you improve your “Location Prominence” score–the equivalent of PageRank? In this post, Mike Blumenthal takes a look at a Google patent to help provide insight into the factors that explicitly help determine this Location Prominence.
Potential Factors in Ranking a Website Highly for Location Specific Searches:
- Incoming links – not simply directory links, but links from other authoritative sites; sites with a high PageRank or Location Prominence score.
- Reviews – I’m particularly interested in how Google uses reviews as a factor in local search rankings. There are the metrics that are already quantified–the actual number of reviews a business has received on a site like Yelp for example and rating itself, 3 stars, 4 stars or 5 stars. But how do you quantify the content of the review? How do you turn “good”, “bad”, “efficient”, “okay”, “disgusting”, “spicy” or “pusillanimous” (maybe you rented a guard dog, alright) into a number? What’s the scale for all negative words? What’s the most negative word you can give a restaurant? Does that mean that word passes along a -100 score?
- Citations – it’s not merely about links, but how many times your business and its accompanying address appear on a website, not as a link.
- Information about the business – search engines want information. It helps them develop a rich tapestry of search results. They’re machines, not humans. They can’t decipher meaning like you and me. Providing the search engines with little information about your business is like the difference between a picture from an inexpensive camera versus a professional camera. If you don’t participate in sites like Yelp, Google Local Business Center, comment on industry blogs, add your business to Best of the Web, then you’re taking a picture of your business with a cheap camera. Google wants you to use that Nikon D3X! What’s the business’ annual revenue? How many employees does the business have? How long has the business been in existence and how long have they been present in listings across the web?
Link: Page Speed
Love: the need for speed! Recently, Google announced they were open sourcing a nifty Firefox add-in, integrated with another superb tool called Firebug, called Page Speed. Page load time is a factor in quality score on the PPC side of life and there have beenrumblings about whether or not page load time plays a role or will play a role in natural search rankings for some time now. Let’s assume it doesn’t play a role in natural search rankings, though. Does that mean I should compress the images on my site, enablegzip compression or remove unused CSS from my site anyway? If you happen to have a site that takes a bit longer than usual to load, I’d vote yes. Users find pages that take too long to load annoying, which translates into users bouncing away. The thinking behind improving page load, and as a corollary the user experience, is driven by five best practices:
- Optimizing caching – keeping your application’s data and logic off the network entirely
- Minimizing round-trip times – reducing the number of serial request-response cycles
- Minimizing request size – reducing upload size
- Minimizing payload size – reducing the size of responses, downloads and cached pages
- Optimizing browser rendering – improving the browser’s layout of a page
Aside: “…reducing…cached pages.” Hmm, interesting. Nofollow links to your About Us page, AND robots.txt them out?
Love: data, but don’t allow imperfect data to cause you to freeze and not act. One of my favorite lines from this post says there is no limit to the amount of data to you can collect and store on the Internet, and it’s headache-inducingly correct. I’ve mentioned in previous posts the importance of collecting data, analyzing data and then providing an interpretation of that data for insight into what action should be taken, and I of course still feel that way, but I’m not a Quant. There’s a point where granular becomes so microscopic that the difference in dataset A and dataset B will not cause your client to change his or her decision. Therefore, you need to accept imperfection and act. I know we’re big into models and science and equations, but so was Wall Street, and we saw what happened there. Certainly collect your data, but don’t allow it to bog you down into indecision, and don’t allow incomplete data to bolster that indecision. After all, it’s all incomplete (esoteric alert!).
“How do you measure the effectiveness of your magazine ad? Now compare that to the data you have from DoubleClick. How about measuring the ability of your TV ad to reach the right audience? Compare that with measuring reach through Paid Search (or Affiliate Marketing, or …). Do you think you get more useful data from Neilsen’s TV panel of between 15k – 30k US residents to represent the diversity of TV content consumption of 200 million American television viewers?”
Love: social media for something other than retweeting, posting pictures or helping you acquire links. Social media websites work because they facilitate communication and sharing amongst users (and they allow us to talk about ourselves, of course). The good ones also work on a different level–user interface. Thinking about your website in this way, and incorporating these features, can help drastically improve your conversion rate. Remember, it’s all about the user, not you!
Love: scientifically proven ways to do anything. Who doesn’t want to be persuasive? You’re a business, right? You’re trying to tell your story in order to persuade the potential client to help you write the next chapter, right? A few favorites from the post:
- Too many options necessitate selection, and hence frustration…
- How restaurant mints are a personalized affair
- Asking people to substantiate their decision will lead to higher commitment
(Thanks to @ifss who tweeted this post)
Image by boopsie.daisy
Written on March 30, 2009
I recently bought Seth Godin’s latest book called Tribes. I’ve decided to read and take notes along the way and hopefully turn those notes into a somewhat cohesive blog post. So, in an effort to get that cohesive ball rolling – imagine a softball sized ball of tape, rolling along the floor, nabbing hairs and dirt along the trip – here ya go!
Primary thought after reading first quarter or so of book: Social media allows businesses, organizations, associations, anyone to lead a tribe. SM is certainly derided as frustratingly difficult to track (and I agree to an extent), but it provides a potentially explosive opportunity to businesses. Standing on the sidelines because you personally do not like social media is short-sighted, egotistical and, in the end, it’s really not about you. People are already talking about you whether you like it or not. It’s about the user. Your constituents. That’s the beauty of the internet.
Joel Spolsky is Changing the World
- Joel’s passion is talking about how to run a small software company
- By its nature, search is about the how – people are looking for information
- Tribe = group of people, a leader and a connecting idea
- Tribes need a leader and an idea
- To be a tribe, a group needs a shared interest and a way to communicate
- As a business with a website, you have commons, a meeting place
- Obviously, have a way to communicate
- Did not necessarily succeed economically – at least it was not their primary goal, but they created a blue print for a tribe
- Humans want to belong to a group
- Tribes make our lives better
- “…being in a tribe is a big part of how we see ourselves.” Page 3
Tribes Used to be Local
- Internet eliminates geography
- Explosion of tools that allows us to connect with people, other tribes, to connect interests
- Becomes more about our interests as opposed to who we know as a first move (Facebook, Myspace)
- More on interest networks
In Search of a Movement
- Many groups stuck – they drown out dissenters and those with views different from the status quo
- These people are aching to be a part of a movement
- Similar to The True Believer by Eric Hoffer
Tribes Aren’t So Squishy Anymore
- Prior to internet, tribes hard to connect
- Instant communication makes things taut
- Barack Obama can raise $50 million in 28 days
- Important point: the internet is a tool, it’s about us, about the people. You don’t need a keyboard to lead, but the desire
- We are hardwired to be social, internet – Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Ning, Yelp – allows us to be social
- Okay, if you don’t the desire, let someone else who does have the desire lead the tribe
- If you are the CEO, the director of marketing, it’s important to recognize those individuals in your company that are impassioned by blogging, tweeting, facebooking. If they can sell you on their efficacy, then give them the power to use their authenticity to garner recruits to your tribe. Nothing worse than disingenuous online interactions – people pick it up and revolt (see uproar about Guy Kawasaki and his use of twitter)
- “generous and authentic leadership will always defeat the self-efforts of someone doing it just because she can.” Page 7
- Googlers view on authenticity, et cetera
- It does not cost much (just buy Red Bull for the knowledgeable 23 yr old in your company). It can yield long term ROI.
More to follow as I read along and write.