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On the subject of Internet Marketing

Majestic SEO Search Explorer

Mike Sparkes Mike Sparkes

December 18th, 2013.

A review of Majestic SEOs new search explorer

 

Majestic SEO, the web’s biggest open link map, just recently updated their search explorer tool to version “Alpha v0.3”.  The search explorer allows marketers to search on a specialised search engine which ranks pages based on how influential on the web graph they are. The approach is no nonsense and provides realistic search results, which exclude ads, authorship and the influence of temporal algorithm rankings.

 

So what should we expect?

Majestic says, we shouldn’t expect the tool to rival the major search engines, but it turns out they don’t have to as they believe the time is right for a subscription based engine with no advertising and which offers complete transparency. This makes it a great tool for digital marketers, because for the first time, we can more accurately see what factors are influencing high rankings in our niche.

The new update sees two new features that should have the mouths of SEOs watering: The new live rank factors and a new link prospecting methodology.

Live Rank Factors

Labelled as “transparency at your fingertips” by Dixon Jones (marketing director at Majestic), the live rank feature allows users to search by keyword to see what factors are increasing the rankings for theirs or their competitors sites in the SERPS. From this, SEOs can gain a better understanding of what it might take to rank for specific sets of keywords or topics.  “For the first time, you can run a search query and see exactly why one search result appears above another”.

The Live rank feature search results tab allows users to analyse the corresponding data on a much granular level than anything before. When performing a search, your results are scored on variables such as InTitle, InAnchor and InURL.  Majestic’s trusty flow metrics are also involved as well as referring domains and total external backlinks.  These metrics when combined are giving us a great understanding of how Majestic are interpreting the search data.

 

Live rank factors - Majestic SEO

 

Getting your hands dirty

From the Live rank factors page, you can dig deeper to get a better grasp of the data being presented. Go to the “Ranking Factors” tab and you can switch from “Data” to “Chart”, which allows you to easily digest the information being presented. From here you can see that if your site is dominating majestic’s search explorer but neither of the big search engines, then this may well mean that there are other factors which are at play, such as personalisation, ads, authorship and so on.

 

Data vs Chart - Majestic search explorer

 

All of this offers great insight to us as SEOs because it allows us to know when enough high authority links have been built and the onsite optimisation of our pages is in good order. If you’re under pressure from clients or your boss to “BUILD MORE LINKS” then be sure to show them the data. Make them aware that although you’re ranking high in Majestic’s search explorer, building more links might not be the way forward and you may end up tripping the big search engines’ spam filters.

Majestic has commented on its plans for its live rank reports going into the future, saying that they’re looking to increase the variables in the algorithm which will be more closely aligned to those of Google and Bing, (well the ones that are perceived as common knowledge in the SEO field).

 

Link Prospecting Methodology

The link prospecting methodology makes use of AQS (advanced query syntax), our good old friend “site:”. Using this command will return sites that are more than likely to be authorities in their given fields/topics. You can also go further by using the command to bring up blogs on all kinds of platforms.

Example:                          

 

“Keyword site:blogger.com site:wordpress.com site:blogspot.com site:tumblr.com site:squarespace.com”

 

Link prospecting methodology - Majestics search explorer

 

Extra Tip:

The “bucket list” feature allows you to save a list of competitors URLs and run a search against only those URLs. This is an amazing way of benchmarking against your closest competitors.

I love this new feature as it can be used to go beyond link building. I can use this tool for research by cherry-picking the types of results I want in my bucket list, such as trusted and accurate news sites. For example, if I want to research a specific celebrity, I can exclude any news source that offers little substance (red tops and glossy magazines).  Majestic also commented that this tool can be used by PR professionals who want to work on reputation management.

To take a full tour of the tool you can view Majestic’s “how to” webinar below. It’s packed full of great instructions and tips for getting the most out of the tool.

 

 

I’m excited to see how it’s going to develop over the coming months as they start to add more and more data. I have but one recommendation for going forward…

 

Geo targeting

The issue I found when using the tool for the first time was one that could quite often pop up for many SEOs. It is that of searching and building for branded terms.

Example:

Searching for “Sony” will return results from Sony TLDs and international sub folders such as:  .com, .net, .co.uk, .jp etc. However, the same search in Google will come with geo targeting and return results such as: .co.uk, local, news, Wikipedia and Amazon, which would be a truer version of what my target customer would be seeing.

 

Majestic search explorer - Geo targeting

VS

Sony example - Majestic SEO

The only way I can think of to resolve this would be to include the Google results in my bucket list, but that can also be limiting in a way because I’d constantly be changing half my list due to the amount of variables in the results on any given day, such as news.

I would personally like to see a Geo toggle implemented within the search explorer to give better flexibility in the results. Other than that, I personally love what this new tool has to offer.

 

 

Commodus

Joe Joe

November 25th, 2013.

Nobody Cares About Your Brand

One of the biggest problems facing Content Marketers is how best to represent ‘The Brand’ when developing engaging content.

I’ve got a newsflash for you:

YOU DON’T HAVE TO!!!!

In fact, I’d go even further and say you should always try to move away from your brand when building content. The less ‘advertorial’ the content is, the more engaging and sharable it will be.

Far be it from me to tell you your brand is boring, but unless you own a company that makes Star Wars costumes for cats, the internet won’t care what you have to say.

The best content is the stuff that:

  • Fills a knowledge gap,
  • Answers an important question, or,
  • Gets people worked up into a frenzy of commenting and sharing.

You need to ask yourself one important question when planning your content:

Who Will Find This Interesting?

The best answer to this question is ‘Everyone’. You need to ensure maximum appeal to encourage maximum sharability. You need to be getting your content in front of high authority websites and bloggers. If they see the value of the content, they’ll be more willing to use it and provide you with that all-important link. You will never, ever, ever be able to trick people into posting an advert for your website. That’s just not how it works. However, if you’re offering something entertaining or useful that they can reuse to their advantage, they’ll be much more willing to promote your brand.

Here’s a nice thought experiment to explain what I mean:

You’re at a festival with two stages. On one stage, a man is stood talking about the history of his company. On the other stage, a man is riding a lion and juggling swords while a penguin tries to shoot an apple off of his head with a revolver. Who do you think would draw the bigger crowd? Which will be filmed and go viral on the internet and which will be ignored?

The internet is the world’s biggest festival. There’s plenty of content out there, so make sure yours stands out.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘But, Joe! My brand is interesting. I’m offering something unique and my clients love it’. That may be true, and it’s a great system for driving sales. Unfortunately, web content for the most part isn’t about driving conversions – it’s about promoting the brand, building authority and increasing engagement.

I’ll agree your brand probably is very interesting, but I guarantee you’ll find your content more successful if you focus on using your unique industry position to inform your content, rather than define it. I’ll bet you’re sitting on a goldmine of insider information that would be perfect for filling knowledge gaps or creating a useful resource. Everyone has some information lying around – whether you’re a travel company with a great knowledge of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe or a rug manufacturing company with an insight into the psychology of rug design. Put a spin on your data and make it as interesting as possible.

Here’s a takeaway list of things to remember when planning content:

Interest: You need to make it interesting. Make sure nobody will be saying ‘So What?’

Emotion: Getting people worked up on a human level is a surefire way to increase engagement. Happiness and funny content are well shared, but (I’ll let you in on a secret…), making people angry is the best method. The more furious people get, the more active they become. That’s how the Daily Mail is so successful (See Matt’s post: ‘Why the Daily Mail became the world’s most read newspaper‘)

Topical: Try to tap into a current trend on Social Media or in the news. If you can give it a new slant, all the better.

Usable: Usability is a hugely beneficial trait of online content. If people think their friends might find it helpful, they’ll send it to them. Life Hacker is a fine example of this in practice.

In summary: sometimes it pays to step away from your brand a little in the name of creating good content. Especially on the internet.

Take a look through our Complete History of Viral Content and apply this criteria to see why things were successful.

hummingbird-dd

Joe Joe

October 10th, 2013.

Google’s Biggest Update in Years has Already Happened: Hummingbird

Those of us interested in how search engines work have been talking this week about ‘Hummingbird’. Not the hollow-boned, nectar-loving tweetie-pies; rather Google’s newest and most revolutionary search engine algorithm in quite some time.

You’ll likely have heard of ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’. They were algorithmic updates which supposedly made the search results better. Unlike their counter-parts in the animal kingdom, they weren’t cute and they didn’t make for good YouTube videos; but they did improve the quality of websites and the practices of SEOs.

‘Hummingbird’ is a different beast entirely. Far from being an update to an existing algorithm, it’s an entirely new feature which shows Google’s desire to move searching away from ‘Keywords’ and towards ‘Semantic Searches’. They’re approaching what they call “conversational search”

In 2001, you may have searched for:
‘CINEMA + TIMES + LONDON + AVENGERS’

And you may have been presented with an article from The Times about a new movement of filmgoers in London who are avenging the demise of arthouse productions.

But search isn’t like that anymore. People search more or less how they talk, so searches are more like:
‘Cinema times in London for The Avengers’.

And the rise of voice search on mobile devices means people will try to search:

‘What time is The Avengers playing in London?’

Words like ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘when’ etc. now have a value in Google’s searches. They want to give the most accurate response to your request.

What does that mean for website owners?

As a website owner you’ll need to be improving the information content of your site. Undoubtedly keywords will still matter, but since Google is now holding keyword data to ransom, the best thing you can do is improve the quality of your on-site content. This also means you can stand out in your industry – if you’re the world’s authority on Playstation Game Artwork then make sure you can answer questions like ‘Who designed the GTA 5 artwork?’.

‘Hummingbird pays more attention to each word in the query, ensuring the whole query is taken into account – so if a resulting page is a bit less strong in general, but it’s the most relevant to your search terms, that’s the result you’ll get.’ – Google, as told to The Register.

People are asking questions. If you’re equipped to answer them then your site should reflect that.

Personally I think this is a step in the right direction. The internet is becoming more personal, so responding to the intricacies of language is more essential now than ever before. It makes far more sense to work out what people mean rather than just responding literally to the words they use.

adtech

Martina Martina

September 12th, 2013.

Things I learned at ad:tech London…

adtech

Today is the day that ad:tech came to town!

Behind the glass doors at National Hall, Olympia lay a  smorgasbord of digital know-how; from online marketing guru’s to customer relationship management specialists and experts on mobile marketing.

With seminars to the left, conferences above and pop-up stands everywhere else, people from far & wide scattered about the building, shuffling papers and clutching iPad’s on a journey to learn how to be better at their job.

After circling the perimeter to check out some of the businesses on show, I found my way to Oban Multilingual‘s free seminar, where Jonathan Murphy covered tips on how to successfully run multilingual PPC campaigns.

Helpful tips on multilingual PPC campaigns:

  • Some PPC campaigns are generally easier to rank in non-English speaking countries, because competition isn’t always as fierce.
  • When setting up domains in foreign languages, Google translate should not be an option.
  • Whilst Google is king of the search engine in the UK, this doesn’t always apply abroad; Asia favors Baidu and Yandex is popular in Europe – this should be taken into account.
  • Webpages should be translated (by a qualified copywriter) after research has been carried out on things like colloquialisms or Americanisms  such as “free delivery” that  changes to, “free shipping” for websites in the USA.
  • Call-to actions and the colour used to display them is important; red is popular in Asia whereas orange is something that would be used in the UK (where red is usually a no-go for a call-to action).

Other useful marketing tips:

After the above I milled about, popping in and out of other talks, to see what other gems I could pick up – Here are a few I particularly liked:

  • New international website with no inbound links and no indexed pages? – Try PPC!
    Instead of waiting for Google to trawl through the pages on your website and index them, think about how Google uses it’s robot: adsbot-Google.
    Pages will be read if you are buying traffic to them, which can eventually lead to rankings, even when the website is relatively unknown.
  • Using video marketing in Google’s display network? – Include a transcript!
    YouTube allows you upload transcripts for your videos to determine the video’s keyword relevancy for a user searching for that topic. However, it has been tested and proven that Google also uses these transcripts outside of YouTube to index these videos too! So transcripts could help your video turn up in a Google search…
  • Are your YouTube videos getting enough attention? – Stop other ‘related videos’ videos showing up after yours yours (when embedded on a website)
    Suggested videos are great and all, but not when they could potentially drive business away from you. Simply disable related-video suggestions on YouTube before embedding them. Problem solved!

I hope you find this information useful, I did! ;-)

bad-email

Martina Martina

August 23rd, 2013.

Putting an end to creepy emails!

bad-email

Spend enough time wading through spam emails and you’ll be amazed at what you find. From dodgy salutations to cringe-worthy formatting, on a very slow day this makes for a good few minutes of entertainment.

Here are some of the most ‘creepy’ elements of bad email-ship:

Over personalisation

Why it’s done & why it sucks:

This is usually an attempt at making a company look uber-friendly, since the emails they send you are formatted like a buddy would send them.

The downside is that sometimes we sign up with nick-names, tags or misspellings which can quickly turn a harmless greeting into a spammy annoyance. Seeing “Happy Birthday JaneDoe101!” or “JaneDoe101 we miss you!” littering up your mailbox is usually the first step on the way to an unsubscribe!

Archaic greetings

Why it’s done & why it sucks:

Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom this may concern” are clear-cut indicators of cold calling (or cold mailing) – sure they’re gender neutral but boy are they impersonal. They scream “Someone, anyone – please read me!” rather than seeming relevant to the recipient. 

Too many imperatives

Why it’s done & why it sucks:

It’s true that the call-to action is a huge part of the science behind a smooth conversion, so putting in punchy phrases like “click here!” and “buy now!” seem standard procedure, but there is such a thing of over-doing it.

Ultimately, I don’t want bossy emails, and legally anything being sold is an ‘invitation to treat’ so in your next sales email, try the passive approach with an A/B test to see what gains a better reaction.

Too long

Why it’s done & why it sucks:

It’s been a while and there’s a lot to say, but how long do you think I’ve got? People are time conscious, say less!

If you need to explain something a nifty way of doing so is by linking back to a blog post published on your website. Not only is this considerate of your customers, it’s also potential for indirect conversions; they may just browse other parts of your website…


And in taking my own advice, I’ll keep this short and sweet – but feel free to add any other examples you can think of in our vowel to make electronic mail, sustainable! ;-)

links

Adam Adam

August 21st, 2013.

How to Check a Link is Live (and Scrape It’s Anchor Text) Using Google Docs

I’ve been using Google Docs to keep track of links built to client sites and to track the progress of any link removal work. Occasionally I’ve noticed links have either been removed, the linking page no longer exists, or the links reported in that incredibly useless ‘sample link report’ are wrong. As SEOs/link builders/content marketers/inbound marketers/digital ninjas (select/insert your choice of title here) this is something you’ll want to check from time to time.

Whilst tools like ScreamingFrog are great for this sort of thing, sometimes you might want the convenience of checking this within Google Docs:

=lower(index(importxml(A1,”//a[contains(@href,'www.datadial.net')][1]“),1))

This lovely little formula grabs the lowercase anchor text of the first link containing ‘www.datadial.net’ of the URL in cell A1.

 

Very handy!

markenlogo_searchmetrics_0

Matt

July 18th, 2013.

Using Searchmetrics And VLookup For A Competitor Rankings Comparison Report

Searchmetrics is a brilliant SEO tool, the amount of insight that it gives on client and competitor sites is incredibly useful. One of my favourite reports, along with some manipulation in Excel is to run a quick rankings comparison report on your competitors so you can gain insight into what they’re ranking for, more importantly what they’re ranking for and you’re not, and also how your site matches-up a full range of industry keywords.

For this sample report I’m going to take a look at some of the bigger sites in the insurance sector.

http://www.aviva.co.uk
http://www.churchill.com
http://www.lv.com
http://www.morethan.com

Other good insurance companies do exist, along with quite a few terrible ones.

Run each domain through Searchmetrics and run a long-tail keyword report on each of the sites that you wish to compare.

Organic   Rankings   aviva.co.uk  Weekly    Searchmetrics Essentials

Export and download each of these reports.

Organic   Rankings   aviva.co.uk  Weekly    Searchmetrics Essentials2

 

In Excel create different sheets for each of the exports along with the first sheet which should be named ‘comparison’ this is where all of the magic happens and your data will be pulled-in.

sheets

Paste each sites data into onto it’s own sheet, as well as cumulatively into the ‘comparison’ sheet.

Then under Data > Remove Duplicates remove duplicated keywords on the ‘comparison’ sheet.

remove-duplicates

Then delete the  following columns in the ‘comparison’ sheet  – URL, Pos, Title, and Traffic Index. This should leave just Keyword, Search Volume and CPC.

Next add columns for each of the sites that you wish to compare. This should leave you with a sheet that looks something like this.

sheet

Then, using VLOOKUP you’ll need to pull the ranking data from the other sheets into the comparison sheet. So for example into Column C all of the rankings for Aviva will appear.

The formula you’ll need is =VLOOKUP(A:A,Aviva!A:G,3,0) The easiest way to generate this is to use the insert formula function,

function

Lookup value – Is the value that you’re looking up, in this case is column A, the keyword.
Table array – is the table you’re finding the value in, which is the Aviva sheet, so click in the table array entry field, then go to the Aviva sheet and highlight all of the columns.
Col index num – is the column with the data in that you wish to import, so column 3, the ranking position.
Range lookup – Enter FALSE or 0 here to find an exact match. This will cause #N/A to be returned if the site isn’t ranking for the keyword.

Repeat this for each site. And then expand the selection by dragging the corner of the box down to apply to each of the cells in the sheet.

expand

Tidy the sheet up by formatting as a table, and (hopefully) you should have something that looks like this.

final

If the #N/A results are annoying you can easily remove them by modifying the VLOOKUP formular from

=VLOOKUP(A:A,Aviva!A:G,3,0)

to

=IFERROR(VLOOKUP(A:A,Aviva!A:G,3,0),”-“)

You can also colour-code the rankings using conditional formatting.

endsheet

 

If you would like to download this example sheet I have added it here – CompetitorReport

 

 

Facebook1

Joe Joe

July 11th, 2013.

How We Gained 1000 Facebook Fans in 2 Weeks

How we gained a client 1000 new fans in two weeks.

‘How can we increase our social following?’

It’s a question we get asked all the time.

There are a number of ways to boost your social profile, but the most efficient and effective is a targeted and well-publicised competition.

This is something we told our friends at The Turtle Mat Company when they approached us to help build their social reach. We sat down and developed a plan for a brief but effective competition – tying in with the launch of their new range of door mats and their promotional stall at the Chelsea Flower Show.

The prize was simple, but attractive to their target demographic: £100 in Gardening Vouchers, with runners up receiving a mat from their new range.

turt mat

We wanted to make a big impact, so rather than relying on Facebook’s somewhat costly promotional posts and adverts, we developed an app using Offerpop – a really straightforward and comprehensive competition design service.

Entry to the competition required Liking the page; answering a simple question: ‘What’s your favourite flower that blossoms in May?’ and also included the option to leave an email address to sign up for more promotions and news.

In the run-up to the competition launching, we publicised the competition via email, Facebook and Twitter; then during the course of the competition we arranged for some paid-exposure through relevant social platforms.

The results were phenomenal:

–          Turtle Mat’s Facebook fans boosted to over 1200 in the two week run of the competition

–          90% of people who Liked the page also supplied an email address for future contact.

–          Since the competition was targeted, the responders were passionate and excited to be involved.

–          Cross-promotion on Twitter led to a run-off increase in Twitter followers.

Overall the competition was a huge success, and gave a huge boost to Turtle Mat’s marketing power on Facebook.

Social competitions are a really effective way to generate a buzz around your product, engagement with your brand and (most importantly) give a natural increase to your marketing potential.

To talk to us about boosting your social profile, give us a call!

info

Joe Joe

July 8th, 2013.

Interactive Content: Building strong links via infographics

In response to the growing need to get creative in the link building world, our content team has been putting a lot more effort into developing Infographics as part of the outreach process.

The offer of a resource with great data and a huge visual impact is something that’s useful to both the bloggers we want to work with and their readership. Ultimately, it’s a more engaging method than standard Guest Posting.

We tested our theory with our friends at www.ppcgb.com, who specialise in parts and accessories for performance cars.

I reached out to www.autoblog.com, an AOL-affiliate in the Auto industry, and we worked up something that fit with both their editorial style, and the needs of PPCGB. At our end, we researched the facts and got the infographic made up. They then wrote the story and broke it as news.

the cost of motoring compared worldwide v2

http://www.autoblog.com/2013/05/29/infographic-the-cost-of-motoring-around-the-world/

The primary response was fantastic.

Socially:

Facebook Shares: 329

Tweets: 100

Google+ +1s: 30

On-Page Comments: 61

These are great figures and it shows that infographics are exactly the sort of thing that make a big impact socially. The big benefit of social success is a boost in visitors to the page, meaning an increase in click-throughs and a generally stronger link.

The secondary response was where the real magic happened.

Backlinks

Dozens of pages ‘borrowed’ the infographic, and after a bit of nudging via email and Twitter, they all supplied proper author credits to PPCGB and ultimately contributed to a fantastic link profile.

More than that, high-authority domains from around the world found a use for the infographic, each focussing on a different aspect of the information (examples below). That’s one of the major benefits of dealing with infographics as a platform: as long as the information is laid out simply and is visually stimulating; it has universal appeal.

The Greek version of Autoblog:

http://www.autoblog.gr/2013/06/01/infographic-the-cost-of-owning-a-car-world-wide/

‘Auto News’: A Russian car blog

http://autonews.autoua.net/novosti/issledovateli-izuchili-stoimost-vladeniya-avto-v-r.html

‘Carplace’: A Portguese lifestyle website

http://carplace.virgula.uol.com.br/infografico-mostra-custo-de-ter-um-carro-ao-redor-do-mundo/

‘Niconico’: A Japanese Pop Culture website

http://ch.nicovideo.jp/autoblog/blomaga/ar248903

Overall, we’ve been able to prove the power of infographics, and undeniably, people love them.

BUT…

Just like anything in the world of digital marketing, change is constant and there is always a need to think one step ahead. There’s been a lot of talk lately that the next updates to Google’s algorithms will factor in methods such as infographics, so we’re currently working on ways to drive traffic and links directly to our client’s sites.

We’re currently working on building resource-type static pages, which answer big industry questions. ‘Definitive Guides’ and ‘How tos’ as well as entertaining and engaging content which is purpose-built to make a big impact on social media.

We’re always looking to push the limits and create more engaging content to get people spending time with each brand, so get in touch to talk about a Content Marketing strategy to suit your brand.

 

pjoene

Joe Joe

June 25th, 2013.

The 3 Options for Making Your Website Mobile and a 4th.

All of the briefs we’ve received this year have included a request for a ‘mobile version’ of the proposed new site.

But what does this mean? And do I hear the creak of an overloaded bandwagon?

Just as 2011-12 was the year of the Social Strategy [with no specification as to what that actually means], 2013 is fast becoming the year of the Mobile Site. 

Yes, it’s true that mobile use is increasing:

chart

Source Monetate E-Commerce Quarterly.

But how should you respond?

People could be accessing your website from any number of devices (such as phones (of all shapes and sizes), tablets (of all shapes and sizes) and even smart TVs (of all shapes and sizes). So, as a website owner, you shouldn’t be asking whether you should be considering mobile options, you should be asking which mobile options to consider – or shock-horror, opting to do nothing.

So  there are 4 main options available to you. Each has its pros and cons, so let’s get the run-down:

 

#1 Responsive Web Design

What is it?

In a nutshell, this is designing your site so that its layout responds to the device on which it is being displayed..

Advantages

–          Streamlined: The site is hosted on the same domain and uses the same URL so there are no SEO issues or redirecting issues.

–          Consistent with Desktop Content: The same content is just presented in a different layout.

–          Low Maintenance Cost: Although initial build costs may be slightly higher, the cost of maintenance and updating should be lower (as you are only maintaining one site).

Disadvantages

–          Slower Loading Times – If you are adapting an old site to a responsive site you may find that it is not fully optimised for mobile and is slow to load. However, if you are building a new site and taking a ‘Mobile First’ approach, this shouldn’t be a problem. But 3G and 4G coverage remains sporadic and unstable – so some content may take time to download.

–          General Usability – Mobile users will generally have a goal in mind when accessing a website. Whether it’s buying, reading or checking-in, they may not want to go through the same process as a desktop user. They may expect a stripped down version of the site similar to an App.

–          Lack of Mobile Features You won’t be able to get the same level of integration from a responsive site – features such as camera, photos or calendars.

–          Lack of Zoom - if you are used to pinching and zooming into websites on mobile in order to be able to read the tiny text then you will not be able to on a responsive website.

Whether or not to go responsive divides opinion. We’ve been experimenting on our own site with responsive design and generally prefer the regular layout, when viewing on an Iphone.  But all sites and companies are different and user needs should be a chief consideration.

 

#2 Dedicated Mobile Site

What is it?

Dedicated mobile sites are purpose built versions of the original website which are hosted at a new domain address (usually by adding ‘m’ before or after the original address: m.tesco.com or www.argos.co.uk/m/.

The web server normally recognises which device is being used and serves (delivers) the appropriate site to display.

Advantages

–          Different Content – A site purpose-built for mobile will usually have features which can load more quickly on mobile platforms, and you can dispense with some of the superfluous elements found on the desktop version.

–          Speedy Development – Compared with alternatives, a mobile site can be built relatively easily. This is less labour-intensive and subsequently less costly than other mobile options.

–          Mobile-Focussed – Development for the mobile platform means that navigation and usability are friendlier for mobile users.

Disadvantages

–          Slower Service – Redirection from main sites to mobile sites takes time. It may only be seconds, but it still damages the overall user experience.

–          Double Maintenance – Essentially two sites need to be managed; adding new functionality would need to be done twice.

–          SEO Issues – Since the content (and therefore the traffic) is split across two URLs, there’s the chance that your overall SEO will suffer. However, there are ways around this which I’ll outline later in this article.

We built a mobile shop-page for an automotive client. The desktop site’s main focus is selling car parts, so we stripped it down to the essentials to make it easy for mobile users.


 #3 Mobile Apps

What are they?

Apps are programs that are saved to the device. They’re relatively small (compared with full websites) and they tend to serve one function (reading articles, shopping, checking-in). They can be a useful way to allow mobile users to access one of your site’s main utilities, or to promote your brand (with a game or similar App).

Advantages:

–          Completely Mobile Friendly - Apps have the distinction of being native to the device, so they can access and utilize any of the phone’s capabilities (Camera, Calendar, Maps etc).

–          Offline Options – While some Apps require the internet to function fully (social platforms), many others can operate offline, or cache data when an internet connection is available ready for when one isn’t.

–          Quicker Loading Times – Since the App is self-contained, loading times should be quicker. Of course this depends on (and is limited by) the device’s memory and processor power.

–          Push Notifications - Apps have the ability to update you with the things you need to know. Such as when you receive a new friend request on Facebook, or when you’re near a public toilet.

Disadvantages:

–          No Cross-Functionality – Apps are made for specific platforms. iOS Apps will work on iphone or ipad, but will not be usable by Windows devices – or any non-Apple devices for that matter. This means Apps must be developed for each platform, which is expensive.

–          Updates – Apps need to be constantly updated and tweaked. This is in terms of both user-feedback and changes to the device. This can be time-consuming and costly.

–          Downloading – Apps have to be downloaded for use. Success in the App world may require considerable marketing and promotion.

We’ve applied appropriate aptitude to developing an App for a company that focusses on standardised testing. The App allows mobile users to practice the tests wherever they are.

The 4th Option

So those are your three options regarding adapting to mobile.  There is of course a fourth option and that is that of doing nothing.  Most website operate perfectly satisfactorily on mobile and indeed users who know your site will welcome the fact they do not need to relearn where everything is on the page and the new navigation options.  This is a strong argument for keeping the status-quo which is not receiving enough credence now that the dash for “mobile first” has been triggered in marketing departments.

So in conclusion beware of the bandwagon, think about the implications before you jump.  If someone says “Mobile first” to you ask them what they actually mean and what they want to achieve.

If you would like any more information, please get in touch.

And as a special thank you for reading this far, I’ll now present a guide on how to optimise mobile sites for SEO in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet:

You’ve built two sites; one desktop, one mobile,

But now you’re concerned that your traffic’s split,

And now you’ve come to visit Datadial,

To fix your SEO a little bit.

There are two points that must be mentioned here,

Two tags to put in your HTML,

(On each version of the page – let’s be clear)

They are two tags, and they both start with ‘Rel’.

Rel=”alternate” on the desktop

Make sure it points to the mobile and all…

And pointing back, just so it doesn’t flop

On mobile: Rel=”canonical”

But other things cannot be avoided.

Like linking to mobile, just like I did:

 

So basically add some links in the HTML of each page that look like this:

Desktop: <link rel=”alternate” href=”http://m.example.com/page-example”>

Mobile: <link rel=”canonical” href=http://example.com/page-example>

 

plane

Joe Joe

May 2nd, 2013.

Social Media Tactics: Travel Companies

It’s time to answer the age-old question: How do Travel Companies use Social Media?

Two questions arise first: How do they convince their audience to keep them in their networks, among their friends and family? And how do they convert Social Media users into customers?

Below is a review of some of the biggest names in one of the biggest international market places: The Travel Industry.

For uniformity and narrower scope, we’ll be looking at the UK arms of each company.

Let’s start with the big dog: Thomas Cook.

Facebook

The Facebook stats for TC are more or less what we’d expect…

 

1

 

In fairness, the figures could be higher since Thomas Cook is one of the biggest travel agents in the UK. Let’s take a look at what they’re doing right (and wrong):

Posts

The typical post on Thomas Cook’s Facebook wall is one that encourages ‘Liking’ pictures.

Normally the idea users are encouraged to like is something that everyone inherently likes. In fact I daresay everybody on earth likes Relaxation and Saving Money. 

Playing it safe: generating a big response.  Also, check out the very subtle link to their website. Every post on their page is an advert, but you wouldn’t know it.
2

 

They also run a weekly competition to win: Nothing. They encourage users to guess the destination and share and like the picture. There’s no incentive, but it appears to work. In my opinion it’s the nice picture that helps. People love sharing pictures. If this had been a picture of a ruined village I doubt it would have generated the same level of response.
4

 

Interacting with Customers

The posts from other people on Thomas Cook’s page appear to almost exclusively be complaints from customers.

 

5

 

With the examples below I’m immediately struck by the bureaucratic nature of the responses. The Facebook page is the face of the company, and here it is fobbing off problems to other parts of the company. It would have served them better to say something conciliatory: ‘Sorry to hear that, let’s try to get it sorted’. These responses don’t help the customer or allay their dissatisfaction.

On the bright side, they do give informative answers to non-complaints, and ‘Claire’ seems to be willing to put her name to the posts.

Moving on to the next company, we have Intrepid Travel. A smaller company, focussed on ‘Adventure Holidays’ to exotic destinations.

 

Facebook

Even though the company is smaller, we can see immediately that they have a great engagement with their audience.

 

6

 

This is a typical post:

 

8

 

They’re promoting the work of one of their fans, with everyone’s favourite sharable media: A Nice Photo. Even better, it’s a photo taken by one of their customers and Facebook fans. It’s a great way to generate a buzz within the community and it acts as a superb advert for a holiday to Nepal.

Another type of post serves a completely different purpose:

 

7

 

On this occasion they’re plugging another Social Media event. Again, this is an advert; but surprise-surprise they’ve used a cool picture to disguise it.

Noticing a trend yet? Here’s another example:

 

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Advert in disguise. Very clever.

 

Interacting with Customers

Intrepid Travels have praise lumped on them as much as Thomas Cook receive complaints. Moreover, they engage with their customers as people rather than a faceless company:

 

10

 

Even though they’re plugging another part of their Social Profile, we can forgive it because they’re so friendly and encouraging. Plus the feature in question is a photo album of their customer’s travels. Croud-sourced content. Great stuff.

They’re also well informed and helpful:

 

11

 

Twitter

Whilst the numbers are lower than the Facebook page, Interpid’s Twitter stats are nothing to be sniffed at:

 

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Their Tweets are pretty much what you’d expect, along with some questionable #Hashtags.

 

13

 

Industry news along with links. And asking engaging and amusing questions:

 

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Another Adventure Travel site of note is Wild Frontiers. An even smaller company with a significantly smaller Social Profile:

 

Facebook

15

 

What’s the one thing we’ve learnt works?

Pictures!!!!!!

With that in mind, it’s fairly easy to see where these guys are going wrong:

 

16

 

Sharing a link to your own site under a block of text (and the full link at that!) is not a good way to get people excited.

The next example is a great piece of industry news with a lot of chances for incredible pictures; and although they’ve tried to encourage involvement with a question, the question is rather niche and the post feels cluttered.

 

17

 

Interaction with Customers

On the plus side, they’re very informative in their responses to customer’s questions (although perhaps a little slow).

 

18

 

Even when fans are just keen to share their love of TV Documentaries staring Chris Tarrant, they give them the time of day and respond in kind.

 

19

 

Twitter

WF’s Twitter standing is reasonably good compared with its Facebook:

 

20

 

The Twitter stream is very much focussed on audience interaction. Twitter is used to promote the blog (company news, industry news and all company projects etc.):

 

21

 

WF’s link with its blog is great to see. Not only does it promote the blog by getting the content into the social sphere; it also shows a conscious desire to engage with the audience.

Also, it never hurts to help your fans sing your praises:

 

22

 

And once again, back to the sure-fire winner… nice pictures!

 

23

 

Moving away from adventure holidays and into luxury travel: Next up on our list is Western and Oriental.

 

Facebook
24

 

The Facebook statistics seem rather paltry for W&O, and taking a look at the typical wall posts, it’s easy to see why…

 

25

 

Although they’ve caught onto the trend of using stunning pictures, the accompanying text reads like a press release. They’ve even gone as far as keeping terms and conditions in the post, and using the pure URL. All this screams one thing.

They’ve also picked up on the trend of using regular features. The ‘Wonderful Offer of the Week’ isn’t particularly catchy, but once again they’re let down by a focus on stats rather than an appeal to emotion. Check out this link for more in the same genre.

 

26

 

Although they do get one thing right: combining nice pictures with regular features to get: ‘Picture of the Week’. This got a good response in comparison to the marketing posts:

 

27

 

Interaction with Customers

Having few fans means little need to react to their questions, but to their credit, on the one occasion someone did ask something they were very helpful:

 

28

 

Twitter

Compared with their Facebook page, W&O have a great following on Twitter:

 

29

 

They use their Twitter presence to spread industry news (with out-of-place hashtags):

 

30

 

Although, almost counter-intuitively, the marketing material seems to generate more of a response than the stories about animals:

 

31

 

Although the cynic in me thinks Tom Browne works for W&O since he retweets nearly all of their posts…

Moving onto another slightly bigger travel agent, we have Sta Travel.

 

33

 

They have a good following and their posts generally generate a good response:

 

34

 

I like that the above example takes advantage of the dominance a picture has in a Facebook post. Yellow is eye-catching and its a very evocative image. The text is also both topical and carries a great incentive.

Equally posts that are purely promotional/marketing traps use incredible images and shortened URLs. The point is clear and the opportunity to engage is very easy.

 

35

 

And it’s always nice to see a company link its Social Media with its blog:

 

36

 

Engagement with Customers

STA have an exemplary customer relations attitude. Even when a customer offers a vague question such as the one below, they give a full comment with examples and research – and even drop in a bit of upselling completely naturally. This is the best only way anyone should use Social Media as a sales tactic – dropped in almost as an afterthought.

 

37

 

Also to its credit, STA offered a Q&A with its online team where Facebook fans could ask anything they want about Thailand. The response was great, and even though STA didn’t answer every question, other members of the community were more than willing to help each other out. It made for a great foundation for an online travel group:
39

 

40

 

Twitter

STA’s Twitter following (whilst not quite as big as it’s FB following) is still respectable:

41

 

By mentioning unconventional holiday activities, they’re able to inspire engagement and response:

42

 

It seems that even by acknowledging their own marketing methods, they’re able to use them to a decent effect:

 

43

 

And as ever, it’s great to give your fans a bigger platform to praise you from:

 

44

 

Overall, great customer engagement and a focus on more unique aspects of travel give STA a great social media presence.

And finally on our hitlist, we have Eastern travel specialists, Travelfish.

Travelfish are quite unique as all of their social media appears to be run predominantly by one man: the owner, Stuart McDonald. In any case, their Facebook stats are very good:

 

45

 

This post takes advantage of the ‘great picture’ phenomenon, as well as giving the appearance of a kind of travelogue or diary entry. It appears to have generated a good response whatever the reason:

 

47

 

Conversely, this very promotional product-based post did less well. I still thing it’s weird when people use full links. The full one seems overwhelming.

 

46

 

And also posts about industry news with stunning photos are used to generate a decent response (still with the full link though :( )

 

48

 

Twitter

This is where the obvious flaws in having one person run an entire company’s Twitter becomes apparent…

 

51

 

Despite a decent following, the Tweets don’t seem to generate much of a response.

I think it’s because they’re largely idiosyncratic. The mini-blog style doesn’t lend itself to corporate social media:
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Also giving off-brand reviews about other Social Media tools (which you use!) is probably a no-no:

 

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The majority of the rest of the Tweets are conversations with fans about eastern travel. In this sense, the personal touch is a benefit as McDonald is clearly an expert in his field and loves talking about it. It does leave the rest of us feeling rather left out though:

 

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As a sidenote, Travelfish is the only one of our subjects here that features a Facebook App as one of its social tools…

Unfortunately the ‘App’ is a still image which shows the date in Asia along with some bizzare travel related images. That’s it.

 

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Overall it seems that the best posts in Social Media are ones that contain unique perspectives and nice pictures. However, this is totally down to each brand.

Ultimately, it’s important to stress that Social Media shouldn’t be used as a Marketing Tool, it should be used as a way to interact with your customers; and for them to be able to reach you easily.

Sewing the seeds with sharable engaging content means that you can use subtle advertising methods once your audience grows to a decent size.

The real challenge is coming up with a Social Media plan to suit your business.

But that shouldn’t be too hard…

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Kerry Jones Kerry Jones

April 9th, 2013.

6 Simple Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Page for Graph Search

I’m going to Paris in a few weeks. Should I  turn to Google and review sites to find restaurants and places of interest to visit, or would I rather turn to more trusted sources, like my friends?

 

I’m going to prefer recommendations from my friends, of course. This is the genius of Facebook Graph Search: personalized results based on data collected from people your network. Google is aiming for this through Google Plus and Search Plus Your World, but the more personalized data Facebook has access to arguably makes it a better source for this kind of search.

 

Released this January, Graph Search initially made waves, with some calling it a direct competitor to Google. Graph Search’s future is still uncertain and for now it seems laughable to think Facebook will give Google a run for its money. But, in its current iteration Graph Search is pretty useful for helping potential customers find you (without them ever needing to leave Facebook).

How Graph Search Works

Users can search for information about friends, such as photos and interests, but they can also search for businesses.

Facebook social graph search

 

For now, it looks like the biggest benefactors from Graph Search will be businesses with physical locations. But, I suspect Facebook will begin rolling out other search functions as time goes on.

 

You can search for businesses based on location.

social graph- search for business by location

 

You can also search for types of business that your friends have visited (a.k.a checked in to).

social graph- businesses friends have visited

 

Results will show you which of your friends checked in where. You can also use the filters on the right to refine the results.

social graph business search results

 

Preparing Your Page for Graph Search

Just like you add certain information to your website in order to be found in search engine results, you can increase your page’s visibility in Graph Search with a few optimization techniques.

 

1. Fill in Your About Page

Make sure the description in your About section is keyword rich and describes all of your service offerings. If you have a physical location, make sure to include an accurate address and store hours so people searching for businesses in your region can find you.

 

2. Customize Your Vanity URL

If you haven’t already done so, updated your page’s vanity URL with your business name and/or your business’ keywords.

 

3. Categorize Your Page

Check that your page is categorized properly. Place pages can have sub categories, so make sure to include any applicable subcategories, as well.

categorize facebook page for social search

 

4. Claim Your Place Page

Anyone can create a Place for a business on Facebook (this happens automatically when someone checks in to a business that doesn’t have an existing Place listing). The good news is you can claim these Place listings and merge them with your Facebook page.

 

Search for your business through Graph Search and then claim any existing Places. Visit the Facebook Help Center for the instructions on claiming and merging pages.

You’ll also want to try to check in to your business on your mobile (while you are at or near your location) to find any other rogue Place pages. Check out how your Place listings appear on iPhone vs. Android phones, since results might vary in different mobile versions of Facebook.

 

5. Encourage Check Ins to Your Business

The more people are checking into your business, the better chance your page will show up high in the Graph Search results.

 

For example, when I searched for Indian restaurants in Paris, I was surprised to see the top results did not have a lot of Likes on their page, but instead a lot of check ins. It looks like offline popularity trumps online popularity in this instance…

indian-restaurants

 

Start encouraging check ins by offering discounts for checking in and putting up signage in your storefront to let customers know your business is active on Facebook.

 

6. Keep Your Page Active

Consistently sharing great content on your page will keep your fans engaged, which will help your page appear higher in Graph Search.

The fuss seems to have died down since its release, but Facebook has invested huge in building its own search engine. Expect Graph Search to become a more integral part of Facebook as its features are refined and users begin seeing its value. Businesses that prepare their pages now to rank well in Graph Search will be ahead of the curve if and when this becomes a popular way to search on the web.

 

Kerry Jones is a freelance writer, editor and blogger based in Tampa, FL. Her background is in online marketing, where she gained experience doing social media consulting and management for Fortune 500 companies. img credit

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