As a happily married man I find very little need to visit dating websites, although I’m a fan of the match.com adverts and quite enjoyed Dates, the new Channel 4 drama show that debuted earlier this week. God forbid if things were to turn sour and I was flung back into singledom, I’ve already got a question in mind that will weed out any potential suitoress: “What’s your favourite punctuation mark?”
It’s a polarising question and I’d either be left having a lonely dinner, or get into an interesting debate on the pros and cons of symbols and intonation.
Yesterday’s launch of Apple’s iTunes Radio streaming service puts Apple in the rare position of playing catch-up to rival streaming services like Google All Access. And, for once, the balance of power in the music industry has tilted in favour of content publishers instead of the technologists. Marketers should also watch to see how successful the iTunes Radio advertising model plays out. iTunes Radio could signal Apple’s willingness to try more ad-supported models for an increasingly mobile society.
Apple launched the highly anticipated iTunes Radio streaming service yesterday at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference. As rumoured, when iTunes Radio becomes available with the launch of the iOS operating system this fall, members will be able to create listening stations based on their personal song and artist choices, as well as their personal activity on iTunes. Moreover, subscribers will have the option of buying musical content from iTunes and its library of 26 million songs. iTunes Radio will be free to U.S. subscribers and will be supported by text audio ads. (But iTunes Radio will be ad-free for iTunes Match subscribers).
According to Apple’s Eddy Cue, who demonstrated iTunes Radio on-stage, the service will be available on all devices (including Apple TV) supported by the new Apple iOS 7 operating system, which was also unveiled yesterday.
The launch of iTunes Radio comes weeks after Google beat Apple to the market by launching its own All Access streaming service for users of Google Android smartphones. Now Apple and Google both find themselves as new rivals to popular streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora. Apple, long accustomed to locking in loyal fans by requiring them to download content on Apple proprietary technologies, has once again made a concession to the lifestyles of consumers who prefer to stream content such as music from the cloud — in particular on their mobile devices.
The proclamation that the future of SEO lies in influencer and consumer-led activity is music to the ears of content and social specialists, like myself, who value the true engagement that comes from such relationships.
This is also where we find much common ground with PRs, community managers and brand teams as well as build trust with marketing managers struggling to knit together increasingly diverse strands of brand communication.
“Integrated campaigns with consistent messaging across all channels will yield the greatest results,” asserts Tanya Carter, UK Assistant Online Marketing Manager at Boden, adding that there’s now an expectation that campaign-based SEO activity “should help increase exposure online during key periods as well as visibility in natural search”.
This is characteristic of the conversations we’re having with clients who aspire to the more connected working practices that help reap broader brand benefits. So how can we build bridges with the gatekeepers of our clients’ online personalities – those central to the success of these new ways of working?
What’s in it for them?
All successful relationships require a bit of give and take, so if we are to work more closely with brand teams we need to make clear what’s in it for both parties.
On a basic level, training and joint planning sessions can help secure SEO benefit from business-as-usual PR activity, with this also used as an additional metric through which to illustrate PR success.
Outlining how you can help PR and marketing teams to achieve reach and awareness – while keeping messaging in line with the brand identity they’ve worked so hard to nurture – may also encourage them to be more forthcoming with details of campaigns that could form the starting point of content, social and SEO programmes.
I’ve been discussing this with the iCrossing SEO team and there’s no doubt about it: mobile has transformed consumer shopping behaviour. According to research by Google and Nielsen, more than half of consumers who search for items on their mobile devices intend to buy. With 75% UK smartphone penetration predicted for the end of 2013, traditional marketing strategies have had to change. Smartphones allow more opportunities for a business to target and connect with its audiences but in order to succeed, it is critical that they communicate with the right message, at the right time on the right channel. Enter SoLoMo.
Some of the most commonly asked questions we receive from clients include the potential impact on click-through rate (CTR) from:
- authors’ photos appearing in Google’s search results
- video thumbnails ranking for competitive keywords
In general, it’s difficult to forecast the impact certain types of rich snippets will have prior to implementation as it would largely depend on several factors such as:
- The niche itself. Different niches experience different CTR increases.
- The type of the query i.e. navigational, transactional, informational.
- The reputation and expertise of the person appearing in the SERP. Easily recognisable authors (i.e. experts or celebrities) are likely to attract a higher number of clicks.
- The quality of the author’s profile picture or video thumbnail. Those more appropriate and appealing to the audience’s niche will attract more clicks.
- The number of rich snippets appearing in Google’s SERPs for a given keyword. For instance, if for a given query there is just one snippet appearing with authorship that would attract a higher CTR compared to a query where all snippets appear with authorship. Similarly, a video snippet wouldn’t see a high CTR if it ranks amongst several other video results as opposed to a video snippet being the only one rich snippet ranking for a given keyword.
- Google’s reaction. There are no guarantees Google will turn a plain snippet into a rich snippet i.e. some keywords may rank with a video snippet whereas others may not.
I’m not one for grandiose resolutions. My novel can stay as an internal dialogue, my million-dollar business idea can hold off for another 12 months, and I’m highly likely to have a cigarette at some point when the beer garden gets the better of me. However, on 1st January 2013 I decided it was about time I used more varied punctuation; so far things are going well.
I’d like to share with you some of that unbridled joy, encouraging you to add a few symbolic embellishments to your content.
In these heady days of IM and SMS, punctuation has become somewhat optional, and much of your desktop keyboard seems like an unnecessary waste of space. Some smartphone keyboards actively discourage the use of punctuation, with awkward navigation to the dreaded ‘Menu of Underused Symbols’, while a ‘smiley’ shortcut is immediately to hand.
Let’s rise against this systematic punctuational extinction, proudly weave these symbols into your tweets, status updates and blog posts, beginning with the often feared semicolon.
After weeks of speculation, Google rolled out their latest Penguin update last week. Matt Cutts announced on his blog that the update will noticeably affect 2.3% of English language, US based search queries. Exact figures surrounding UK based queries have not been released, but we can use the US as rule of thumb.
This update, the fourth refresh of Penguin since the initial launch in April 2012, is being referred to as Penguin 2.0 because the data refresh comes with a significant algorithmic change.
Data Refresh vs. Algorithmic Change
A data refresh means that the algorithm has remained the same, but the dataset that the algorithm works with has been updated.
An algorithm change means that the way that Google are looking at the data has altered.
This point is important. This update is both a data refresh and algorithm change. Google has new data and is looking at it differently.
As consumers become increasingly more connected across platforms and devices, brands must stay TRUE to their core in the content and experiences they provide. That was the key take-away from David Cooperstein’s day one keynote presentation at the Forrester Forum for Marketing Leaders in London, UK.
Cooperstein, a vice president and practice lead serving CMOs and marketing leadership for Forrester, shared the TRUE framework, which stands for: Trusted, Remarkable, Unmistakable and Essential. He then offered attendees struggling with a fast-changing technology landscape and increased consumer demand some great examples that clearly illustrate the TRUE elements:
In case you hadn’t noticed, Content Marketing is the hot topic in digital right now. Everyone is in agreement that great quality content is one of the essential ways for brands to connect with their customers online. In the world of search, links are still our main tool for increasing visibility and driving traffic to our clients’ sites; but that doesn’t mean the Content Marketing train is passing us by. Brilliant content is how we can earn quality links, which means all the content that a business puts out there needs to be providing maximum SEO value.
It’s not just about the volume or authority of the links your site attracts. The relevance and topicality of the context in which a link appears can make or break the value of that link. You can write the most entertaining or informative article of your career, but if it’s picked up by a site that Google deems irrelevant to your niche the link could be interpreted as spam.
If iCrossing were a character from The Lord of the Rings, it would be Aragorn. This was the claim of Chief Strategy Officer Mark Iremonger at the Client Summit 2013.
Iremonger drew comparisons between our agency and “the wise peacemaker who marshals resources” to illustrate the point that search marketing must integrate with a brand’s traditional reach channels to utilise the SEO potential that exists in all online engagement moments.
“Historically an SEO agency may have existed outside of a brand’s circle of trust, acting as either a Saruman – powerful but unethical, Frodo – relentless and resourceful, or Golem – where the ends would be used to justify the means,” he described. “Now SEO has been invited into the circle of trust and for the future we’re looking at an even more aligned partner model.”
- Connect – iCrossing U.K.
- Conecta2 – iCrossing LATAM & Spain
- Greatfinds – iCrossing U.S.
- Talblick – iCrossing Germany
- The Content Lab
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- Core Audience
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- Media Monkey
- Mobile, Social, Ambient by Rachel Pasqua
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- Search Engine Land
- The Content Lab
- The Facebook Blog
- The Official Google Blog
- Twitter Blog
- Wired Sussex
- WSJ Digits