Saturday, 3 December 2016

A Few Key Points Regarding Human Raters at Google

Contrary to popular belief, not all that goes on behind the scenes with regard to Google’s SERP rankings is controlled by machines. Instead, there is also a bank of professional human raters at work, charged with the task of determining search results quality.

In terms of what such individuals are looking for, a document was recently leaked detailing the guidelines provided by Google – some key examples extracted and takeaways from the document including the following:

1. Human raters have no influence over SERP rankings themselves, but instead help Google determine future algorithm tweaks. Which in turn means that no matter what a rater thinks of your website, it will not have a direct impact on its position in the rankings in the immediate moment.

2. There are three factors taken into account by raters when it comes to determining the quality of a page – trustworthiness, authoritativeness and expertise.

3. The primary purpose of human raters is to determine whether or not the results successfully met the needs of the searcher. They work with complex analytics and the sites themselves to evaluate Google’s own algorithms, in terms of performance and accuracy.

4. One of the most important things taken into account by raters is whether or not the site is mobile-friendly – those that are not instantly fail. Google has been paying greater attention to mobile-friendly site content as of late than ever before – a trend set to continue indefinitely.

5. Length of content only has any relevance if the content itself is of comprehensive value and relevance. Expanding word count just for the sake of it does not bring the page any additional value in the eyes of Google.

6. Google is beginning to pay much closer attention than ever before to the kind of supplementary content that either takes away from the value of the page or is simply distracting. This includes unnecessary pop-ups.

7. The vast majority of solid websites are rated as ‘medium’ which is actually a decent accomplishment. You have to do something particularly special to achieve a higher rating.

8. One highly important point for those selling services or products is to make the company’s contact details as clear and obvious as possible. It should not be necessary to look for them and the required information should appear on multiple pages.

9. Google is also continually showing growing preference to websites that display customer feedback. Quite simply, the more reviews, recommendations and items of customer feedback you collect, the better for your overall SEO performance.

10. The smallest details can have the biggest impact when it comes to the way in which a website is interpreted by Google – spelling mistakes and grammatical errors rarely going overlooked.

11. Scrapped content never slips under Google’s radar and should therefore be avoided at all costs. Breaking the rules may not lead to an immediate drop in the rankings, but could prompt a manual site inspection that may lead to penalisation.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

How the Internet of Things will Impact Digital Marketing

Right now, it’s probably pretty safe to say that the Internet of things really isn’t having an enormous impact on your life. You’ve read about it, you’ve been aware of its existence for quite some time and you are continually told it will be the biggest revolution since the Internet itself. But at the same time, you don’t see a great deal of evidence of it actually happening.

But what makes this particular subject different than the usual chatter is one simple thing; it really is going to happen. The simple fact of the matter is that the reason the Internet of things hasn’t yet taken over is the way in which the consumer public in general doesn’t seem quite convinced for the time being. But they will – you only need to look at the way technology has become a part of everyday life to know this is the case. It might be a while before the Internet of things becomes the new standard, but it absolutely will happen – sooner or later.

And when it does happen, there are going to be quite spectacular changes for those who work in digital marketing. In this instance for sure, it could indeed turn out to be the biggest thing to happen since the Internet itself came about.

So with this in mind, what follows is an outline of four ways the Internet of things will alter the world of the digital marketer once and for all:

1. Conversational Queries Take Over
First of all, we are slowly but surely entering an era where conversational queries are gaining ground on standard text search standards. Rather than simply using one or two obvious keywords, we are now telling computers exactly what we want, in order to get more accurate and targeted results. The simple fact of the matter is that if you have ever interacted with Siri or Cortana, you are well on your way to becoming dependent on conversational queries. Even if it seems a little clumsy and far from perfect for the time being, it really won’t be long before you forget that conventional search engines ever existed. Suffice to say, a pretty important development and transition from the perspective of the digital marketers.

2. SERPs Disappear

Given the fact that it is entirely possible traditional search may no longer exist in the future, this would effectively mean that SERPs would be wiped from the face of the Earth. Right now, millions of marketing professionals the world over are embroiled in the constant battle to hit the highest of high levels in SERP rankings. It’s an industry worth billions, but one that technically could soon be worth absolutely nothing at all. Well, that’s not true entirely, as rather than investing heavily in topping visible results rankings, it will instead be a case of focusing on how to top the invisible rankings behind the scenes.

3. Google May Be Forced to Share
Given the way in which approaches to search and web interactions are set to change so radically due to the Internet of things, there’s a very strong possibility that Google will face new competition. Of course, they have the power and indeed the buying power to snap up and capitalise on the kinds of opportunities few others can hold a candle to. But at the same time, the way we find videos, products, information and so on will be so radically different than it is now, that the Google we know today may be in at least some capacities obsolete.

4. Personalisation Will Be Everything

Last but not least, location services and cookies may have worked wonders for personalisation, but we really have only just seen the very tip of the iceberg. When the Internet of things takes over as the new standard in our lives, chances are everything we do on a 24/7 basis will be monitored, tracked and used for a variety of purposes – marketing included. Even the way we drive and our sleeping habits could potentially be transformed into the kind of data marketing teams will be crying out for.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Small Business Link Building – DIY Tactics to Try Today

While most small business owners understand the value of link building, the overwhelming majority do nothing about it. Even if they hire others to tackle the job on their behalf, they themselves tend to make no effort whatsoever to contribute to the cause. Which is a shame, given the way in which strong backlinks have a multi-pronged beneficial effect on the business they point to.

Of course, most business owners would argue that they a) do not have the time to get involved in link building and/or b) lack the expertise necessary. In reality however, there are various simple yet incredibly effective approaches to make a real difference starting right now.

So rather than just sitting back and wondering whether you could and should be doing more, here’s how to give yourlink building efforts a boost starting today:

1 – Why Not Ask?

First of all, chances are that whatever niche you’re in, there are literally thousands of businesses just like you that are gagging for good-quality links. As such, why not make the first move and simply ask them outright if they are interested in a link exchange? Worst case scenario, they say no and you try elsewhere. Best case scenario, you get seriously powerful and invaluable links free of charge. Send an e-mail, make a telephone call or even go visit them in person. There’s absolutely nothing to lose by trying and if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

2 - Complementary Products and Services

Take a moment to think about the products and services you sell. Now, take another moment to think about the kinds of products and services that complement what you yourself have to offer. You run a taxi service, how about a car wash or motor spares shop? You sell toys for kids, how about children’s clothing or kidder theme parks? Think not about your rivals, but those that offer something within the same niche that you and they alike could send business between. Once again, you need only pick up the phone and ask.

3 - Use Infographics

Never underestimate the power of infographics when it comes to link building. And for two very good reasons as well – the first of which being that research has shown that infographics are exponentially more likely to be read, shared and to generate links than most other types of content. Not only this, but you can create (or have created) one outstanding infographic and have it published a thousand times over, without search engine spiders picking up so much a word of duplicate text. If you aren’t already working with infographics, it’s high time you started.

4 – Contests and Competitions
Last up, there’s one very slightly sneaky approach to link building and traffic-generating that’s more than worth exploring. In a nutshell, you run some sort of competition on your website, but instead of creating a competition page, you add the info to an existing product page or even your home page. You list your contest in competition directories, you ask as many sources as you like to feature it and in doing so, you get a ton of high quality backlinks to the permanent pages of your website. And just as long as you make sure that the competition itself is legit and relevant, you aren’t breaking so much as a single rule of any kind!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

RIP, Intrusive Interstitials - Webpage Popups: Time of Death, January 10, 2017

If you’re the kind of web user that practically screams with frustration every time screen-covering popups appear…well, you’re certainly in good company. And as you probably know, it is even more infuriating when the same kinds of annoyances appear on a smartphone screen. You’d quite like to get rid of them, you do your best to hit the ‘X’ in the corner and you instead hit the popup itself and are whisked away.

Seriously…it doesn’t get much more frustrating.

Which is precisely why this will probably turn out to be one obituary that doesn’t exactly fill you with a sense of grief. Quite to the contrary in fact, as Google has announced that as of the beginning of next year, it is officially declaring war on ‘intrusive interstitials’ as far as mobile websites are concerned. The long and short of it being that just a few months from now, any websites continuing to bombard mobile visitors with these annoying interferences will face the wrath of the powers that be. Namely, a hefty punishment and the potential to plummet well and truly down the rankings.

Specifically, the time of death for intrusive interstitials has been pre-set for January 10, 2017, which is the date these penalties will start being handed out. In terms of why they have decided to turn their attention to these kinds of tactics, the statement from Google said that they “can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.”

Something of an understatement, as those with devices boasting screens with less than 5 inches of real estate will know.

Now, if you have entered into something of a panic wondering whether or not you yourself will be in Google’s bad books, they’ve clarified things quite comprehensively. They’ve made it clear that “pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly” and have mapped out the rules as follows:

Pop-ups that cover the primary content of a web page the moment the visitor arrives.

Pop-ups that cover the primary content of a web page when the visitor moves from one internal page to another.

Standalone pop-ups that force the visitor to interact with them, before the page’s content can be accessed.

Still struggling to grasp it? No problem – here’s the diagram Google published to illustrate what not to do:

As for the kinds of interstitials that will still be permitted without punishment, Google gave the following guidelines:

Pop-ups that are necessary for legal reasons, such as those that inform about cookies, check the age of the user and so on.

Those that ask for login credentials to access the site or its content.

Pop-ups of a size that can be easily closed and do not cover the primary content of the page.

And here’s the diagram outlining how things should/can be done:

Technically speaking, it shouldn’t be an enormous undertaking to ensure that any mobile pop-ups you currently use abide by the new rules by the time they go live. In any case, those who don’t get their ships in order by January face the kinds of heavy penalties that may take some time to recover from.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Why Your SEO Strategy Has Hit a Brick Wall

Having invested heavily in an SEO strategy, the very last thing you want to see is a sudden slump. All seemed to be going as planned, only for your website to drop in the SERP rankings for no apparent reason.

Of course there is a reason why this happened – it’s simply a case of identifying the cause and addressing it. Easier said than done? It certainly can be, though if you’re guilty of any of the following crimes against SEO, you’ll most likely have your answer as to why you’ve hit a brick wall:

1 – Too Much Keyword Focus

First of all, it’s crucially important to acknowledge that we have well and truly entered the age of the natural language search. These days, consumers in growing numbers are speaking or typing extensive search sentences into their chosen engines, as opposed to just using one or two keywords. As such, the kind of keyword focus that would have struck gold in years gone by is slowly but surely becoming obsolete.

2. Dancing Around Google’s Every Move

One of the most critical mistakes any business or marketer can make is that of continually adjusting their approach to SEO, in accordance with Google’s latest algorithm updates. Why? Well, quite simply because if you are focusing on what matters, you will automatically satisfy everything Google is looking for. The SEO rulebook will always change, but only as a means by which to highlight and promote sites of quality. Which means that if you focus on quality, you’re future-ready.

3. Website Alterations

Never forget that each and every change you make to your website can have an impact on its SEO prowess. Even in the case of changes implemented to vastly improve the overall user experience, there’s still every chance you’ll experience a slide in the rankings. Which is precisely why it is a good idea to consult with the experts, before going ahead with any overhauls.

4. Content Stagnation

Just because your website ranked extremely well last week doesn’t mean the same will be true this week, if you are unwilling to regularly and routinely refresh its content. Even if your evergreen content is top-notch, it will quickly go stagnant in an SEO capacity and needs to be complemented with regular additions.

5. Bum Links

The same also goes for both the links you present on your website and the backlinks pointing your way. If your own links become invalid, it’s bad news. If you lose a quality backlink, even worse news. It’s crucial to carry out regular link audits to check on the health and relevance of both, in order to keep your SEO strategy on the straight and narrow.

6. Fierce Competition

Last but not least, it’s also worth bearing in mind that it may in fact be nothing that you yourself have done wrong, but rather what your rivals are doing better. If you are not continually stepping up your game when it comes to new-generation SEO, it is inevitable that you will be overtaken by the competition

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

8 Rather Revealing Social Media Marketing Statistics

Regardless of whether you yourself are personally active on social media, you are probably aware of its power and potential in a business setting. Which makes it all the more surprising that a striking proportion of businesses are still making little to no effort whatsoever to capitalise on social media. With no less than a third of the entire global population now actively using at least one social platform, never in history has there been a marketing tool with such extraordinary reach.

So with this in mind, what follows is a quick overview of 8 social Media Marketing statistics that could (and perhaps should) prompt a change in your current marketing policies:

1. First of all, a recent study carried out by Pew Research found that no less than 76% of Internet users now regularly use at least one social media service. What’s more, heavy and routine social media use is no longer confined to millennials – every single age group has grown over the past five years.

2. On a global basis, there are now somewhere in the region of 1.98 billion mobile social media users. Considering the fact that the total global population of social media users is around 2.3 billion, this clearly illustrates the importance of focusing on mobile. After all, mobile is the access method of choice for no less than 85% of social media users.

3. According to MediaPost, the average amount of time every Internet user is spending interacting with social media is increasing all the time. In fact, people are now spending an average of 109 minutes – or 7% of their entire day – using their chosen social media platforms. That’s 7% of every single day, 365 days a year.

4. And in terms of time spent online, the folks at comScore report that one in every five online minutes is now spent using social media. Which means that for every hour the average web user spends online, a solid 12 minute are spent using social media platforms.

5. By the year 2020, the vast majority of businesses will be spending somewhere in the region of 25% of their entire marketing budgets on social media. That’s according to a recent CMO Survey, which found that even those businesses that are already investing heavily in social media intend to up the stakes enormously going forward.

6. In terms of communication, millennials are much happier to get in touch with businesses via social media than by any other conventional means of contact. Which technically is nothing but a good thing from a business perspective as communicating via social media really couldn’t be easier.

7. Despite the fact that more than 80% of professional marketers say that they understand the power and importance of social media, the majority remain entirely unaware of how to fully capitalise on it. Reluctance to outsource or involve third-party professionals is one of the biggest of all roadblocks when it comes to social media marketing.

8. Last but not least, while so many businesses continue to regard Twitter as something of a one-way communication channel, research has shown that almost three-quarters (72%) of consumers expect a response to their customer service tweets in less than 60 minutes.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Some Top Tips For Making Money Online

First, the good news: absolutely anyone can make money online if they learn how to go about it. The not-so-good news? It takes time, effort and a lot of trial and error before you get it right. If you’re a start-up online business with a very limited budget then you will naturally want to do as much research as possible before taking the plunge. This way, you can maximise what assets you have.

Here are some of the key strategies you can employ to set you off on the right foot:

Research the Market: You may think you have a great product that’s going to sell like hotcakes, but how do you know until you’ve tested it out? Don’t waste time and money by taking your idea straight to market until you have ironed out any kinks, or found out if there is even an audience for it. Get feedback by carrying out market research with potential customers. 

Why not try running a campaign on crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter to gauge pre-orders? This way, you will know the potential of your product and also get some idea how to market it online.

Know Your Competitors: Do your homework and find out everything you can about your competitors in the market – both larger and smaller players. What kinds of customers are they targeting and what kinds of services do they offer and is there anything you can learn from the way they do business online? Is there anything unique you can bring to the table? Once you ‘know your enemy’, you can work out ways to differentiate your brand, and this leads us on to the next point.

Marketing Plan: Once you have discovered both what your competitors can do well and what they are lacking, it is time to develop a sound marketing strategy that plays to your relative strengths. Your action plan should begin with an idea of what you want to achieve (whether that’s a turnover figure, customer numbers and so on), and then you can break it down step by step in a way that will help you achieve this. 

Assuming you are working to a limited budget to begin with, think about getting your head around free marketing methods such as blogging, social media or article marketing. If you do this right it can really pay off, but it does take time so be patient.

Build A Strong Website: In this day and age, not only is it absolutely vital for a company to have a website (particularly, of course, if you want to do business online!) but you also have to spend a great deal of time making it look professional and update it on a regular basis. 

Make sure that your products and services are clearly displayed and described and don’t over-clutter it with unnecessary images, text or videos. Above all, ensure you invest in a good check-out system that makes it easy for clients to buy your products. If it’s slow, the modern customer can quickly lose patience and go elsewhere.


Saturday, 25 June 2016

Video Marketing - A Future Dominated By Video Content – The Numbers You Need to Know

Right now, the vast majority of internet marketing experts are predicting a future absolutely dominated by original online video content. Video marketing may currently be the stomping ground of much larger companies, but research suggests that even the smallest and newest businesses out there could benefit enormously by upping the ante in video-stakes.

By the end of the current decade, video content will account for the overwhelming majority of all global web traffic. Which is precisely why now is the time to take into account a few of the most important facts and figures, which help solidify just how crucial it is to pay closer attention to the power and relevance of video marketing right now.

60 Seconds of Video = 1.8 Million Words

A picture is worth 1,000 words, but how about a minute of video? Well, according to one Forrester Research guru by the name of Dr. James McQuivey, you’d need to pen somewhere in the region of 1.8 million words to deliver the same level of information and impact as just 60 seconds a video. How exactly? It’s easy really – simply consider the subtleties, body language, atmosphere, music, hidden meanings and so that can be presented in just a few seconds of video.

Unrivalled Reach

Each and every day, somewhere in the region of 100 million Internet users go online specifically for the purpose of watching online video content. In addition, close to half of all Internet users watch at least one web-based marketing video every month. Video marketing gives businesses of all sizes the ability to reach gigantic global audiences like nothing else.

90% Influence Rate

In terms of influence, somewhere in the region of 90% of consumers say that their spending decisions and actions in general are influenced directly by helpful and relevant video content. For example, online stores that use video content to promote their products and promotions tend to close far more sales than those that do not.

16 Minutes, 49 Seconds

As of last year, the average time each and every Internet user spent watching video marketing materials online every month was 16 minutes and 49 seconds. Once again, you only have to refer back to the value of a single minute of effective video content to understand just how relevant this statistic really is.

Nurturing Action

Out of the hundreds of millions of web users that come across video marketing content every day, no less than 26% seek further information with regard to what the video they encountered was promoting. In addition, 22% go on to visit the website of the company responsible for the video, while around 12% will eventually buy the advertised product or respond exactly as intended.

Conversion Rates

Last but not least, on-going research has shown that each and every time an Internet user views a marketing video online, the chance of them going all the way to conversion increases by an incredible 64%. Not only this, but webpages featuring video content generally have vastly lower bounce rates and encourage consumers to spend considerably more time viewing and reading their content.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Should I be blogging for my business?

Once upon a time, blogging was just for journalists, fashionistas, foodies and other people who though the world needed to hear what they had to say. Though bloggers became very influential, they remained within the ‘bloggosphere’ and few large corporations jumped on the blogging bandwagon.

Fast forward a few years however and things are very different. Thanks to the impact of social media and the influence of Google’s updated algorithms, blogging is now very much a tool for business. In fact, blogging is now so effective your company can no longer afford to ignore its power.


If you’re trying to improve your company’s SEO and boost your URL up the Google rankings, incorporating a regular blog into your website is an absolute must. For a while now, Google has been favouring sites that keep their content fresh. Adding a weekly or monthly blog to your site shows Google that you’re maintaining and updating it. A blog is also an excellent chance to add more keywords to your site and fill it with information rich links and images.

Social media

Social media is an incredibly powerful - and affordable - marketing tool. Used properly, social media helps you to connect with your clients, build a personality for your company and create a loyal customer base. If you add a blog to your site, you can promote it on social media and show your customers that you’re an active participant in the network.

If your blog is interesting and relevant enough, the members of your social network will like and share it, boosting brand awareness and giving your business high quality marketing for free.

Growing your business

As well as being good for your company image, blogging is also great for business. A whopping 60% of companies who blog acquire more customers, a statistic that even the most cautious business owners can’t afford to ignore.

Building a relationship with customers

A blog is a great way to create a dialogue with customers and to build a solid business relationship. Through a blog, customers can get to know your company, your products and your services, ensuring that you’ll be the first name they think of next time they’re looking for anything you offer.

A blog also shows that you’re an authority in your area, giving existing and potential customers confidence in your abilities.

If you’re one of the many businesses that hasn’t yet embraced the blog, now’s the time to begin

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Creative And Low-Cost Online Marketing Strategies

With so many companies vying for attention on the online marketplace, it’s becoming harder and harder to get through to your target audience. This is particularly true if you don’t have the seemingly limitless marketing budget of some of the biggest players. But this needn’t be a handicap: if you want your online customers to take notice of you then all you have to do is think a bit more creatively.

Here are some low-cost marketing ideas you may not have considered:

Find Niche Blogs: It’s a good idea to use other media platforms to gain exposure, but of course many smaller companies couldn’t expect to get on the front cover of a big trade magazine. Instead, what you could do is seek out niche blogs that appear to be popular and well-respected. You can then suggest that you write a guest article for them focusing on some particular issue related to your sector. This is a good way to spread your company’s name (because you can usually include a link to your website) and set yourself up as someone clients could turn to for advice.

Create YouTube Videos: YouTube has hundreds of millions of unique visitors each month, which makes it a pretty powerful platform for business marketing. It’s also free to use, so you should make the best use of it by putting together a great video. Make sure the headline uses the right keywords and that it has a clear call to action (such as encouraging the viewer to visit your website or subscribe to your channel). Try to be original and make it either useful or entertaining – nobody wants to watch another dull corporate overview of a company.

Get Endorsement: Yes, if you’re a small business you can probably rule out finding a major Hollywood star to come on board. But have you thought about sounding out local celebrities to see if they would be willing to endorse your business? These don’t have to be actors, singers or TV personalities – it could simply be somebody who is well-known in the local area as a positive role model. You can then send them a free gift or trial of your products and follow this up later on to see if they would be willing to write you a testimonial. People are much more likely to buy something if somebody they recognise and trust has given it a positive review.

Start LinkedIn Group: Creating your own professional network can set you up as a useful information resources while increasing the number of visitors to your site and building up new contacts. Add to this to the fact that it’s free to do and there’s really no good reason no to. Just remember that this is a networking resource: at no point should you be attempting the hard sell.