Have you ever clicked on a search engine result and been presented with a page heavily laden with adverts above the content you are looking for? Well over the coming weeks Google will be rolling out a new algorithm update, the direct target of which will be these pages.
The algorithm change is being referred to as a “page layout algorithm” and is in response to complaints that Google has been receiving from its users. It looks as though it will work in a similar manner to the Panda updates that we have seen in previous months. The algorithm will assess the amount of advertising above the fold on pages. If the level of advertising is deemed too high on any site, the entire site will be down-ranked in the next update.
So if this algorithm affects a site that you are working on, how can you resolve the issue? You will likely have to remove some of the banner adverts, when Google next visits the changes will be noted and then when the next algorithm refresh occurs your site will return to its original rankings.
We will have to see how far this algorithm change goes, however initial thoughts are that this could heavily affect download sites which are commonly known to heavily use (often unrelated) banner advertising. This could also affect publishers and retailers who rely on banner advertising revenues. It has been stated widely though that this change will not affect sites that use roll over, overlay or pop up banners, which have become more common these days. With this in mind maybe this change may just mop those sites which are clearly filling the entire screen with banner ads. What are your initial thoughts on this change?
If someone told you that there is a hidden folder of messages waiting for you on the internet, full of elapsed party invites, unclaimed competition prizes, missed connections and even job offers from months ago, would you believe them? Of course not.
But this is no scam or hoax. Facebook – that very website you rely on to keep you in touch with friends, family and important messages like these – has been deciding on our behalf which personal messages we are likely to want to see, and which it thinks won’t be of interest to us. The messages we receive notifications for on a daily basis have been deemed worthy of our attention, and everything else automatically ends up in a buried folder. Because these less-worthy messages don’t show up with a notification, you wouldn’t know about their existence unless you specifically know to check the folder.
As soon as I found out about this quirk, I looked through my buried messages folder. I had missed out on some festival tickets I won back in July as a Facebook competition prize. I also missed out on a speaking invitation and an enquiry from a journalist, amongst countless messages from interesting people trying to get in touch with me. Facebook, that’s a fail. I trust you to connect me with these people and opportunities, and you’ve let me down.
What have you missed out on? To find your hidden messages folder, sign in to your Facebook account and go to your main news feed page. On the left hand side of the page, click ‘Messages’, and then click ‘Other’ that appears underneath this link. Be prepared to be very annoyed.
I posted my frustrations on my Facebook wall, and it turns out that many of my friends have missed equally important messages. One said, “I’m so angry! Had four messages under ‘other’ offering to buy a festival ticket I desperately needed to sell for a lot more than I ended up parting with it for.” Another ran a boat owners’ association Page on Facebook and missed messages from potential members asking for information about their boat.
The recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the annual Detroit Auto Show both saw the unveiling of new apps and tech for in-car connectivity – and highlighted the speed with which this technology is developing.
The Chevrolet Volt research concept vehicle at CES showcased General Motors’ second-generation OnStar system. Users can stream content from the cloud using the Verizon Wireless 4G LTS network, and share this between users; two rear-seat passengers can enjoy different music, video, games, news and other cached or streamed files, thanks to independent controls, as well as making Skype video calls.
The existing OnStar telematics system has been developed to enable owners of the Volt (a range-extended electric vehicle) to remotely access data on the state of its battery charge and remaining battery range, locations of nearby charging points, reservation of charging points, and vehicle diagnostics thanks to a full integration of the RemoteLink mobile app. OnStar also allows home energy management – control of thermostats, lights and garage doors whilst on the road. OnStar is also to open up its application programming interface to third-party developers, reports Gizmag, with the first partner to be car-share company RelayRides.
Useful apps are available for electric cars already on sale, such as the Nissan Leaf and its Carwings app, but BMW takes things a stage further with the app it’ll offer with the i3 (on sale 2013). A preview on Facebook advises drivers on how to integrate their car journey with other forms of transport – whether train for a long-distance trip out of battery range, or going it alone on foot.
In 2010 it was the first time that both Google and Bing confirmed that links shared through Facebook and Twitter had some impact on rankings. They even went a bit further highlighting author authority (Google) and social authority (Bing) as the most important social signals search engines take into account. In simple words, a link tweeted by an authoritative person would carry more weight and could potentially help the linked page rank higher in the search results. Several interesting experiments have been carried out since then confirming Google’s and Bing’s arguments like this, this, and this.
In a research paper published in 2010, Google openly unveiled their intent to establish a new, interaction-based metric in order to shape the social graph. The following excerpt which appears in the conclusion of the paper, is in agreement with most of the updates Google introduced in organic search over the past 12 months:
“We studied the implicit social graph, a social network that is constructed by the interactions between users and their groups. We proposed an interaction-based metric for computing the relative importance of the contacts and groups in a user’s egocentric network, that takes into account the recency, frequency, and direction of interactions”
Terms like Author Rank, Agent Rank, Social Rank and Interaction Rank are likely to become part of the daily jargon in internet marketing very soon. The following series of events depict evidently how the social graph is influencing search results more than ever before shaping a trend that will continue to grow.
I think 2012 is going to be a really interesting year for content creators like me.
Regular readers of connect will know we’ve talked a lot about the Panda update to the Google search algorithm. A key reason for this update was to try and stamp out the really poor quality content that mucked up search results. Content farms were publishing 1000s of pages using search term research to create content that did just enough to fool search engines into ranking them high up in their search results. This was seriously impacting the quality of people’s search experience.
Panda kind of worked –a lot of the junk has dropped right off the search results. Many bonafide companies would argue they have been unfairly demoted too, whilst big brands seem to have done rather well.
The changes to Google’s algorithms in 2011 make it clear that it is increasingly serious about ensuring that quality content from trusted brands gets pushed further up the search results.
Content will matter like never before in 2012 – I see a really interesting battle on the horizon.
In the blue corner! Brands
‘Brands as publishers’ is a buzz phrase that has been around a while. With the arrival of the web, publishing was democratised. The right to an opinion that can be widely published is no longer exclusive to traditional publishers like newspapers, magazines and TV.
Up to now, brands have only dabbled with publishing online content for engagement and conversation, rather than to sell products. Why?
Firstly, cost. Creating great content involves serious investment. Why bother if sales are ticking along nicely? Just because you can publish content aimed at engaging with people before they’re serious about buying doesn’t mean you actually need to.
Just 11 days into 2012 and Google is launching a major change. Anyone signed in to Google will start getting results personalised based on their Google+ network in the main Google search. Google announced that the main new features include Personal results, Profiles in search and People and Pages. So content from Google+ together with content from other social sites integrated in the main web search results. This merge of content, people and relationships is a big shift for Google that isn’t about Google bringing the Facebook (Google+) experience to your regular Google. They are bringing search into a Facebook (Google+) experience and re-hosting it as your normal Google.
A more narrow SEO view could be an expansion of Universal results. Depending on the query and its context Google’s algorithm blends the standard webpage results with images, videos, news, blog content, maps and so on. With Search plus Your World Google is going to blend personal and even private results into the existing Universal results (e.g. Google+ photos into Universal image results) and also add new boxes with content from People and Page profiles (status updates).
From a digital marketing perspective this change is going to make our lives and campaigns even more interesting. Just like with the launch of Universal results we will be looking to gain and sustain visibility in these new verticals. Our Google SEO strategies will need to be expanded to analyse keywords, customer segments and industry verticals for which we will need to come up with content strategies that gain enough social signals to appear in Google’s new results. Imagine a situation where you search for a keyword in Google and the new personalised results feature prominently. While these results will be personalised to every searcher, brands that produce content that is useful, engaging, relevant and timely will be able to gain visibility and clicks. Google’s algorithm filters out duplicate content therefore strategies for Google+ should provide content that is unique and refrain from duplicates of Twitter or blog posts.
Last summer we took a look at Facebook usage around the world, and with Facebook recently announcing that they’re currently at over 800 million active users we thought it would be interesting to extrapolate their current grown rate and estimate when they’re likely to hit a billion active users.
Using a process of linear regression on the data from the end of 2008 onwards we expect Facebook to hit a billion active users around August 2012. Looking at the data from 2006-mid 2008 it looks like Facebook was growing at an exponential rate, however more recent data suggests it’s growing in a linear fashion.
Facebook’s growth has slowed or stopped in many of its early adopting countries such as the US and the UK. However, developing countries such as India and Brazil have shown strong growth with India growing from 22
For top-level information, Google Analytics offers some nice summary graphs that help you quickly get to grips with your site’s information. For those of us that like to get our hands dirty with the data underneath though, Analytics offers a handy ‘export to CSV’ function for endless tinkering in your spreadsheet application of choice.
The default limit for exporting rows of data is set at 500 – fine for a smaller site with just a few dozen pages, or reports over a short time period. But what to do if you operate a larger site, and would like to export information for your several thousand pages? Or would like to download the entire list of keywords that brought users to your site? Based on the popularity of your site or variety of your content, these lists could easily generate tens of thousands of rows – potentially hundreds of thousands over a long enough period. This could lead to painstaking hours exporting 500 rows at a time to get at the data you need, and find the crucial insight that will change your world.
Fortunately for all of us spreadsheet-jockeys there is an easier way. Analytics veterans will be aware of a workaround to help them export larger amounts of rows at once – simply adding the text &limit= and the desired number of rows (up to a limit of 50,000) to the end of any Analytics URL, for example: https://www.google.com/analytics/reporting/keywords?……………..&limit=5000. With this extra parameter you’d be able to export up to 100 times more rows at once!
Anybody who has adopted the latest update of Google Analytics may have been dismayed to discover that this tactic will not work with version 5. So how can we achieve the same result now?
The process is similar, and hopefully a bit more straight-forward. When viewing your report of choice, scroll down to the bottom of the page and you should see this in the right corner:
From the drop-down menu, choose ‘500’. Once your page has loaded, you’ll notice an extra bit of text has been added to the end of your URL: it should now finish with explorer-table.rowCount%3D500. Replace the ‘500’ in this string with your desired figure – as before, anything up to 50,000 will work. Hit enter and export, and you have your data!
All well and good, but what if your data requirement is slightly larger? What if you need to export, say, 200,000 rows? Find the part of your URL that contains this text: geo-table.rowStart%3D0. The ‘0’ here can be amended to begin at any row you desire – so for the next 50,000, let’s start at row 50,001 with the following text: geo-table.rowStart%3D50001. The end of your URL should be changed to explorer-table.rowCount%3D100000. You’ll now have the next 50,000 rows ready to export.
Using this technique you could export one million rows by loading just twenty pages. To do this 500 rows at a time would require you to generate 2000 pages – quite a time-saving!
Last year we took a look at what we thought would be big in 2011 and mobile was one of our predictions. In this post we’ll take a look at how mobile did in 2011 and where it might head in 2012.
If we look at the data from November 2011 we can see that mobile search represented 15% of total search for popular Christmas items in the UK. With as much as 44% of total last minute gift searches coming from mobiles.
When it comes to local information and specifically maps usage, Google’s Marisa Myers predicted that by June this year mobile would have surpassed desktop usage with over 50% of people accessing map information via mobile devices. In addition 24% of UK consumers are using mobiles for in store comparison.
As we’re all winding down for Christmas, Facebook is working on a few additions which could be interesting for our social campaigns next year. Here’s a quick heads up…
1) Sponsored Stories ads
Building on the success of Facebook’s Sponsored Story as a format in 2011, the social network is readying a plan to expand the format to introduce ads into users’ news feeds from early next year.
As display ads do not currently appear in a users’ feed, the initial roll out in the New Year will be introduced ‘thoughtfully and slowly’ and will be clearly marked. A spokesperson from Facebook said that initially no more than one ad per day will be shown to users.
Initial stats from Facebook’s introduction of Sponsored Stories showed that they were effectively driving up click through rates and decreasing the cost per acquisition. The user feedback to the presence of ads in their new feeds will be interesting over the next few months so it’s definitely one to keep a close eye on in 2012.
Brand Republic has written a great article covering this.
2) Private messages for Pages
It was announced yesterday that Facebook has begun to roll out a functionality that allows users and Page owners to exchange private messages! It’s breaking news – that could potentially allow page owners and brands direct access to their audience, however, with the initial roll out Facebook is requiring individuals to initiate the conversation.
The potential for this is huge with Econsultancy stating that ‘it’s far easier to market to consumers than it is to communicate with them. Facebook may be looking to change that slightly’. The possibilities for customer service is huge and it could propel brand pages towards being a much more effective marketing tool for brands. Those brands with larger Facebook followings should look into this sooner rather than later, and be geared up for possible increased communication through the channel in 2012.
As always we will be sure to let you know of any further advances as the New Year kicks in.
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- Talblick – iCrossing Germany
- The Content Lab
Other Blogs We Recommend
- Core Audience
- Forrester Blogs
- Google Plus Blog
- iMedia Connection
- Media Monkey
- Mobile, Social, Ambient by Rachel Pasqua
- Online Marketing Blog by Tristán Elósegui
- Search Engine Land
- The Content Lab
- The Facebook Blog
- The Official Google Blog
- Twitter Blog
- Wired Sussex
- WSJ Digits