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On the subject of SEO

Katie Hopkins

Joe Joe

January 6th, 2014.

The Daily Mail Thinks You’re a Dribbling Simpleton

 

The Daily Mail Thinks You’re a Dribbling Simpleton

“The Daily Mail is a worm-ridden sack of pus, sucking the life out of everything that’s beautiful about our world”

– reportedly the opening lines of The Dead Sea Scrolls. That said, they run one of the most successful websites on the internet.

Now I’m going to tell you how you can be loathsome and get 100,000,000 visitors to your site. I’ll also tell you how you can do it without being loathsome. That’s the kind of nice guy I am.

First, a quick note on ‘Virality’ and ‘Sharing’. ‘Viral Content’ is a term that can only be applied retrospectively. Nobody makes intrinsically ‘Viral’ things – it’s theoretically possible for anything to go viral provided it’s appealing and enough people share it. When I talk about ‘Sharing’, I mean exclusively the sharing that takes place on social media. Tweets, Retweets, Likes, Shares etc. The two concepts go hand in hand.

I’m a big fan of Jonah Berger, author of ‘Contagious’. Berger has scientifically tested different theories about virality and sharing to see what makes the best web content. He gives a selection of ideas. They are:

Social Currency – Make sure you’re supplying information that people will want to know.

Triggers – Make sure it’s something people are likely to be talking about.

Emotion – Make people emotional – this is really important (I’ll explain why later)

Practical Value – Make something useful

Public – Do everything you can to make it sharable

Stories – Tell a story. People love stories.

I will now go through and systematically address each of these points and explain how the Daily Mail uses them to great success.

Social Currency

People love to show off about things they’ve learnt. ‘Pub Ammo’ is the toe-curling cliché that seems to sum this phenomenon up neatly. If you make something that you think people will want to tell people then they’ll want to share it.

Take this example:

hoverboards

A cursory glance is enough to make you think we’ll all be riding around on ‘hoverboards’ next week, but a little critical thinking tells us that this would only apply to hoverboards that were 1mm in size. Take away the misleading opening question and this article could be quite interesting – and it certainly fills a knowledge gap (albeit not the one it advertises), plus 447 people shared the article

hoverboard shares

 

…presumably with this expression on their face:

You don’t have to be misleading with your own content. Just telling people something really, really interesting will be enough to ensure it gets shared around.

Triggers

In creating content, I would normally advise you to see what people are talking about by going on Twitter or Reddit and trying to tap into that subject with your own slant. Giving a different perspective can be good. However, if you’re the Daily Mail, instead of adding to the discussion you can just make news up about anything you like.

Here is a selection of things deemed newsworthy by The Mail. I have provided notes on how each tapped into ‘Triggers’.

‘The Only Way is Pregnancy: Billy Faiers and boyfriend Greg are ‘expecting their first child’ in the summer

(5 shares in the first 20 minutes. Not bad. I have no idea who these two people are, but based on the particularly rubbish pun I guess they’re reality TV stars. Obviously I’m not the target audience, so possibly they’re well-known in certain circles. The people who are interested in the breeding habits of television stars will be likely to share it).

‘What are THEY doing together? Justin Bieber takes Selena Gomez for a Segway ride around his neighbourhood’

(Obviously ‘Justin Bieber’ is a hot topic. I forecast that there is someone Googling ‘Justin Bieber’ somewhere in the world every second of every day. By running a non-story about ‘Justin Bieber’, The Mail ensures it will appear in the news results for ‘Justin Bieber’, increasing its clickthroughs and engagement. This article had 79 shares in an hour)

 ‘I would rather be alone with dignity’: ‘Relieved’ Jack Cockings opens up on Twitter following abrupt ‘trial separation’ from wife Melanie Sykes

(Only 4 shares for this one. Probably because nobody knows who Jack Cockings is. I’ve heard of Melanie Sykes, but she’s not the focus of the story, so this is quite unremarkable.)

‘Sam Faiers leaves home to cheers from family before being ‘hidden’ as she arrives at secret location ahead of CBB’

(Obviously the whole world will be tuning in for ‘CBB’ tonight. And readers will be pleased to learn that Sam Faiers (possibly a relation to the Billy Faiers above?) is a potential housemate. A reality TV star is going on a different reality TV show. This is the greatest thing to happen since The Flintstones met The Jetsons. For tapping into a ‘big new story’ (CBB) they’ve earned 34 shares).

You may think that these articles don’t have a particularly huge number of shares, but bearing in mind The Mail produces hundreds of new pages each day, these shares (and views) soon add up.

Emotion

We all know that the Daily Mail’s articles usually tick one or more of the following boxes:

Inaccurate, insensitive, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-NHS, warmongering, scare-mongering, sensationalist, science-fearing.

That’s because they’re trying to make people emotional.

According to Jonah Berger, the best emotion for getting people to share things is ‘Awe’. If you create something awesome, people will be more willing to share it. Some people would incite ‘awe’ by cataloguing every sighting of Jesus’ face in everyday objects… but The Mail doesn’t care about awe. They’re targeting a different emotion (and one which I personally think would be more useful to target…) Anger.

Anger causes arousal and arousal causes activity. If you spend an hour on Facebook, you’ll see roughly 66,753 posts from your friends, outraged about some story or another.

Take this example:

breast is best

The article is about a woman who had post-natal depression and committed suicide after seeking help for her mental illness. The article (written in the words of the woman’s husband) suggests that she was failed by the system because the hospital staff focussed on the breastfeeding issue and ignored the mental health issue.

Firstly, women aren’t admitted to hospital just because they can’t breastfeed. Maybe she had Mastitis and needed antibiotics, maybe the baby was losing weight and needed to be monitored. In any case, this probably wasn’t the focus of the hospital staff when treating her.

Secondly, breast feeding wasn’t the direct cause of her suicide. She still killed herself after she’d fed her baby with a bottle so although the breast feeding problem probably wasn’t helpful, it wasn’t the only cause.

Thirdly, hospital staff aren’t trained to treat mental health issues (it’s still a fairly new discipline). Even then, people aren’t admitted on mental health grounds unless they’ve attempted suicide before or have a solid plan to do so.

So this article is unscientific, inaccurate, insensitive, sensationalist, anti-NHS and misleading. But it was still a viral success.

People could have shared it for 4 reasons:

1)      They applied basic critical thinking and were outraged that this type of ‘journalism’ exists.

2)      They were angry that a woman was driven to suicide by a breast-feeding obsessed society.

3)      They were angry at the mail for suggesting the breast feeding obsession is a bad thing.

4)      They were depressed by the story (sadness is still an emotion, though not as arousing and therefore not as useful for sharing).

It doesn’t matter what made them emotional. They still got worked up and shared it, causing more people to read it and get worked up and share it.

And with every angry share, The Mail grows in strength.

(If you’re creating content for your business, a bit of controversy is ok but it’s probably better to stick to ‘awesome’ stuff)

Practical Value

Content that teaches people how to do something in a simple way is a success story in the making. Life Hacker has made its entire business model out of it, and there are thousands of similar tips and tricks doing the rounds all the time on social media.

The Daily Mail doesn’t really target this aspect too much (unless you find paparazzi shots useful), but occasionally they’ll offer something vaguely practical:

slimming

The article doesn’t answer the question, the ‘expert’ is a dietician who says ‘there is no quick-fix for weight loss’ and the rest of the article reads like a series of press releases from dieting products.

But you can see they were trying to be useful, and for their trouble the article got 226 shares.

If you were thinking about content for your company, you could keep it interesting and useful and summarise some kind of industry secret. That would be pretty valuable. The more useful, the more people will share it and promote it.

Public

Making your content easily sharable is the key to getting it shared. If you can prompt people to talk about your company on Facebook or Twitter then you’re on the path to viral success.

Just think about The Daily Mail. If you’ve ever taken to Twitter or Facebook to complain about the latest ball of hate spouting out of the Daily Mail, then consider yourself a sucker.

Last year, Samantha Brick wrote an article claiming other women hate her for being beautiful.

She claimed that although she is heaped with gifts from men, she is admonished by jealous women. The article included lots of pictures of Brick. I don’t want to republish them here (I’d have to credit The Mail) so instead, I’ve done an artist’s impression of Samantha, complete with Rotten-Seafood Grimace.

sammy

Bearing in mind The Mail’s readership is 52% female, the formula of ‘piss off the most people’ seems to be in full swing. People took to Social Media in their thousands to complain. In the blink of a heavily mascaraed eye, ‘Samantha Brick’ was trending on Twitter and the firestorm of comments drove an untold amount of traffic to the Daily Mail site.

Digital success is fickle. While it’s likely 100% of the Tweets were chiding Brick, they turned out to be a tool of success. By complaining about her en masse, the Twitterers strengthened her platform – lifting her onto a pedestal and turning an unknown woman into a ‘celebrity’ overnight. Now we have to put up with her trending on Twitter every time she meets her controversial opinion deadline.

Stories

We enjoy stories.

I mean ‘we’ as a species. It’s possible other species also like stories. Of course, there’s the famous case of the bonobo which learned a rudimentary sign language. He was able to tell the zookeeper that the missing toucans could be found in the lion’s belly. Amazing.

I made that up, but I reckon you liked it. People like stories. See?

I’m afraid The Daily Mail’s stories aren’t quite as heartwarming as mine.

They’re ‘human interest’ I suppose. The breastfeeding example above is a beacon of story-telling. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. A hero (the woman who died). A villain (the NHS). And a moral (don’t obsess over breastfeeding?).

Other stories the Daily Mail has introduced to the literary cannon include these heart-warmers:

‘RAF veteran has clocked up a million miles over 73 years (and hasn’t had a single accident or prang)’

 ‘Baby-faced gang leader is banned from town centre unless he is with his mother after terrorising shoppers’

‘You’re the best dad ever’: Mairead Philpott’s sick letter to a vile father of 17 who killed six of their children in a house fire’

‘Kim Jong-Un killed his ‘scum’ uncle: Dictator had him stripped naked, thrown into a cage and eaten alive by a pack of dogs’

These stories are so reductionist they can fit into one grammatically-questionable sentence, but that’s part of their beauty. You’re intrigued by them and you click on them to read more.

Then you get angry and share it.

Hopefully this article has helped you understand why The Daily Mail is so consistently horrible.

In the words of Pope Benedict: ‘I DID IT ALL FOR THE RETWEETS, BABY!’

If you want to emulate this kind of viral success, give us a ring and we’ll sort you out with a bespoke content marketing strategy.

P.s. If you don’t like anything I said, you should probably share this with everyone in your social circles and possibly write a blog post about me (but be sure to link back).

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.

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!

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…

 

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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.
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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:

 

9

 

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:

 

12

 

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:

 

14

 

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:

 

54

 

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:

 

55

 

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.

 

56

 

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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fb-featured-img

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

daily-mailbullshit

Matt

April 3rd, 2013.

How the Daily Mail Became The Worlds Most Read Newspaper

Love it or hate it, the Daily Mail has always had the power to shock. With its daily obsessions over immigration and ‘human rights insanity’ to a determination to cover every tiny detail about the Royal family and celebrity stars, the paper has an almost equal share of critics and fans. Yet although this British national newspaper is not the biggest selling daily in the UK, never mind globally, it has been named as the biggest online news source in the world overtaking the New York Times (comScore, Feb 2012).

All the British national papers began their internet websites on a more or less equal footing in 2008. While the Times (in June 2010) decided to go down the route of paid subscription content, the Daily Mail and most of the other papers decided to monetise their websites through the use of paid advertising. The announced in June 2012 that they had become profitable for the first time.

However, the success of the newspaper’s online operations is set to continue growing. Guy Zitter, managing director of Mail Newspapers, told an industry conference in June that the advertising potential of the Mail Online was still “not even touching the sides”. Whilst advertising revenues are predicted to top £30m this year, two thirds of this still comes from the UK, whereas two third of the Mail Online’s audience lies elsewhere. – Four Media

For this strategy to work, they would have to be able to drive traffic to their websites in high volumes. Most of the newspapers translated their daily issues of the paper into online editions, using traditional journalism and headlines to create their websites. While this ensured that they kept their loyal readership, the websites were not able to maximize the attention of the search engines.

article-2142161-13051A43000005DC-148_634x334

Setting up a Dedicated Web Operation to Write up News

The Daily Mail from the start set up a separate web operation. Their homepage is made up of hundreds of stories, each clamouring to be read. The headlines read as summaries of the story, but they are also anchor text, a link that when clicked will lead the reader to the story. The story pages themselves are chock full of pictures, diagrams, commentary, YouTube clips, in fact anything that is vaguely relevant to the story. The links are designed to keep you reading and following other stories of interest on the Mail Online website, in the process maximizing their advertising revenue.

One section of the site that is deliberately written for the online version and doesn’t feature anywhere near as heavily in the print version is the celebrity news section. This is a deliberate ploy to target keyword with high search volumes as well as developing a loyal online readership around these topics. The popularity of the celebrity content is shown when looking at the directories on the site with the highest search visibility, with TV and showbiz capturing a larger share of visibility than news.

download
There is a column of abbreviated stories, small pictures and anchor-linked headlines down the right hand side of every page. This public hunger for celebrity stories has driven trending articles upwards for the Mail Online and they are regularly updated. They will rewrite and republish stories in real-time if the interest is there.

The content is refreshed at a fast rate. The web team receive the articles from the journalistic team and tweak them to suit the online readership. Articles are also gathered from other news websites and rewritten. This enables the team to put together a large amount of news stories quickly, cheaply, and optimise them for the website and publish them. A frequent criticism of this tactic is that journalistic integrity is often compromised, facts aren’t checked as there isn’t time, and often articles are closely plagiarised from other sources.

Picture21

 

Source: FourNewsletter

Developing News for the US Audience

A large part of the Mail’s success is based on their growing US readership. Dedicated journalistic web teams were set up in Los Angeles and New York. The website has a link to its US edition across the top tabs of the homepage. The Mail’s strategy drives a high volume of web traffic to the website by offering popular stories. Most news websites advertising revenue is driven by page views and the Mail’s success in encouraging visitors to click more links is instrumental in becoming the most widely read news website online. The Mail Online aims at the English speaking world and there is no shortage of potential readers.

Successful SEO Strategy

SEO strategy has played a large part in the website’s popularity. The mini-article type headlines are long tail keywords, researched and utilised for their popularity in the search engines.
In-depth articles help to maximise long-tail search visits, and the incorporation of images, diagrams and rich media help to encourage other sites to cite them as a source to develop their link profile.

Backlink History   Majestic SEO

But the website’s most successful manipulation of the web involves social media. The Mail Online wants to be the news website that everyone is talking about and often the tactics involved could be considered as linkbait, that art of creating something controversial that provokes debate by manipulating emotion.

Samantha Brick – Successful Linkbait?

Samantha Brick, one of the Mail’s regular journalists wrote an article entitled ‘Why Do Women Hate Me because I’m Beautiful’ in April 2012. During the following 24 hours, the article trended on Twitter, over 200k Facebook likes and received 1.5 million comments, most of them uncomplimentary.
At the time she was one of the most talked about women in the world. The Mail Online received backlinks from trusted and relevant sources including other national newspapers, Twitter, and many different blogs which included the Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Gawker and Buzzfeed amongst others. Overall the article helped to generate more than 4,000 links to the site. There was also a follow-up article with Samantha Brick in The Independent and TV and magazine interviews which followed.

In SEO terms, this kind of exposure is pure gold and the Mail Online gained a lot of attention. However many of the commentators were concerned at how deliberately the furore was created and maintained.

The Rush to Publish – The Mail Online’s Public Mistake

This need to be constantly at the forefront of trending articles can turn sour as the Mail Online found out when it tried to publish the results of the Amanda Knox trial appeal in October 2011. Two versions of the appeal story had been written up. The wrong story was published which stated that the appeal had been turned down when it had in fact succeeded. The story was only published as fact for 90 seconds, but it had been noticed and the Press Complaints Commission upheld a complaint about it, citing concerns about the accuracy of the reporting.

Several large blogs picked-up on the mistake and the rest of the national press picked it up as a story. However even when they get it wrong, people are still talking about the Mail Online, discussing it on Twitter and posting the links.

Success At The Expense Of Journalistic Integrity?

The Mail Online’s success has been due in no small part to its ability to understand that it was important to differentiate between the newspaper and online news markets and to ensure that each was correctly targeted.

It tempts visitors to stay and click on two or three pieces with its anchor-linked teaser headlines and most articles are commented on. A quick check of the website today and the lead story has already collected 1099 comments; another story further down has 50 comments, yet another 531 comments. The Daily Mirror on the same day has its highest number of comments as 18 on one article; the Sun has a story with 50 comments.

The Mail has a knack of getting its readers to participate and that is one of the secrets of its success.

The Mail Online is the most successful of the British newspapers to translate to online readership, but it has adapted its techniques to achieve its goal. Coincidentally, the Times website makes more revenue from its subscription service, but it serves only a fraction of the readership of Mail Online.

master bait

Joe Joe

February 14th, 2013.

An Essential Tool for Seeding Your Linkbait – The D.O.G.C.A.T.

master bait

 

Linkbait. The One True Love of the Content Makers.

That essential tool in the arsenal of online marketer, Linkbait is content designed to attract the attention of other web users by baiting them to link to it (see?).

Linkbait isn’t just ordinary content. Blog posts are easy; but making something that your industry will want to share and celebrate is a different ballgame entirely.

Linkbait can come from a stroke of genius or hours of planning, or both. As long as people look at it as either a resource for their industry or something novel and entertaining, there’s no reason it shouldn’t attract links from the right people.

 

More links means more traffic and better SEO!

So we know you’ve already made a killer piece of content. You’re just here to find out how to spread it around properly, right? Well fret no more, Ladies and Gentlemen. We present:

 

The Datadial Original ‘Guide to Content Appreciation’ Triangle.

Or

D.O.G.C.A.T.

 

Seeding Linkbait copy

 

Ok, Calm down. We know it looks overwhelmingly complicated, but let me explain exactly how it works:

 

LEVEL 0 – Creation:

The whole thing works on the basis that you already have a piece of original content that you think will attract attention from your peers in industry. Whether it’s a video explaining how Les Miserables is a great model for growing your start-up, or an infographic explaining the best way to seed Linkbait, as long as you think people will be able to use it; you’re on track.

 

Level 1 – Social Media:

This is the most basic type of seeding. It’s an essential step, but exposure will be limited to the size of your following. If you’re lucky, your content might be Shared, Retweeted or +1’d to a wider audience. It’s possible that you have 6 million followers on Twitter, but if you don’t it might be worth taking measures to grow your following. Social sharing is a self-fulfilling process – the more people share it, the more people see it. The more people see it, the better the chance of them sharing it.

 

Level 2 – Social News Sites:

This is a stage that requires a bit more work and skill. Sites like Newsvine, Digg and Reddit allow users to submit links and articles to be read and reviewed by their peers. These sites are community-powered and collaborative.

– Newsvine is more news-based and content is reviewed by site-users who can indicate good content by clicking the ‘Seed Newsvine’ option. The more people who seed it, the more it spreads.

– Digg is a little serious but reflects a community interested in alternative news and modern trends. Content is promoted by clicking the ‘Digg’ button and the more Diggs an article gets, the higher it climbs on the front page.

– Reddit has the potential to be the strongest tool in your Content Sharing arsenal. Reddit is, in essence a news/link/media sharing site which is comprised of niche special-interest Subreddits. There are Subreddits for pretty much anything you can think of, from /r/pokemon to /r/indiegaming. Finding the right Subreddits to seed your content is key, and if the community like it; you’ll reap the rewards.

 

My Top Tips for Submitting to Social News sites:

1)  Think of a catchy title to draw people in and make it seem newsworthy. (‘New Study Shows Horses are Just Really Big Dogs’ is a lot catchier than ‘I read an article earlier about how horses are really big dogs and I thought I’d share it with you on here’).

2)  Don’t offend the community. There’s a certain tribalism associated with community-based social sites and it would be a faux-pas to insult the people you are trying to impress. (‘Redditors Might Benefit from this Spell-Checking Plug-in’ works better than ‘Redditors Can’t Spell!’)

3)  Don’t be too self-serving; for some reason people think it’s less authentic to promote your own work than to find something organically. (‘Cool Infographic about Seeding Linkbait’ works better than ‘I made this amazing article about Seeding Linkbait).

 

Level 3 – The Newsiest Blogs in Town:

These are the former Search Engine Contenders that for the most part have bowed out of the Search Wars to focus on other parts of user experience. They’ve become pinnacles of the online news world, and although they’re still somewhat community-focussed, they are edited.  They now support a news format with a kind of blog/online magazine layout. Emailing the editors of relevant sections with your ideas could earn a link to your content and massively improve your exposure.

 

Level 4 – Industry Specialists:

If you’ve written a post on ‘Implementing Google Authorship to aid SEO’, you might consider contacting SEOMoz or other industry leaders to see if they’re interest in the resource you’ve created. One tweet from a well-followed industry leader is worth more than an email to everyone in your address book. If your specialism is music you might contact a blog such as Pitchfork or AllMusic; and if books are your forte, Waterstone’s are industry leaders. Specialism can extend into things as niche as genre, so don’t hesitate to hunt for the best blogs in your industry.

 

Level 5 – Actual News Sites:

If your content is really a revolutionary resource you might consider contacting the editors of international media and news sites. The Guardian, The Times or The Huffington Post could (if targeted properly) gain you worldwide exposure. If your content isn’t up to scratch, you’ll just be wasting your time, but a carefully strategized approach could land you on the pages of the centres of global news reporting.

 

Level 6 – The BBC:

Only one step up from The Huffington Post, but perhaps a world apart. The BBC departs from the idea of community-based news reporting and presents itself as the leading resource for news. You can submit news stories to the BBC and its various subsections, but since they are keen to avoid any undue consideration in news reporting, the only way to get an acknowledgement from this avenue would probably be to create something that actively changes how people think about your industry.

 

Some Final Notes on the D.O.G.C.A.T.

Three factors that seem to change as you move up the ladder are cost, difficulty and exposure.

Cost

Cost is actually higher on level 1 than level 6. Using paid methods of promoting your material on Social Networks can be very useful. In fact, the clever clogs in charge of these outlets have been sure to make sure spending money is easy and will benefit you. However, as you move up the D.O.G.C.A.T., cost is no problem. You can’t buy your way onto the pages of reputable news sites, but truly strong content dressed up properly can be submitted for consideration for free.

Difficulty

If you’ve already got social media plug-ins installed, spreading your content on Level 1 is a cakewalk. You literally have to do nothing. Isn’t the internet amazing? That said, by relying on the automated service alone you probably won’t see the benefit. Pumping your content back into the mixer will ensure more people will have a chance to see it and click through. Level 2 requires only an idea of what that particular online community are looking for; but from Levels 3 to 6 it becomes much harder. The content must be of an incredibly high standard and it will help to have a point of contact in the business rather than emailing ‘editor@x.com’.

Exposure

Level 1 could go one way or the other in terms of exposure. On the one hand, if you run the social media for a multi-national corporation; you’ll probably have a big following and high exposure. If you’re a local fruit shop, you might find significantly less exposure. Level 2 can offer a high level of exposure if your submission proves possible; but as we’ve said, this requires a certain level of skill. It goes without saying that a lot of people read news websites, so Levels 3-6 will be guaranteed high-exposure.

We hope you find the D.O.G.C.A.T. as useful as it definitely is.

 

It will probably change the industry.

 

…BBC here we come.

googled

Joe Joe

November 27th, 2012.

Google Authorship: Your Agent, Promoter, and New Best Friend!


 

 

‘Google Authorship’. You’ve probably heard it being bandied around and if you haven’t taken the time to look into it, now’s your chance. Google Authorship will arguably prove to be the most significant tool for building rankings that Google has ever introduced; and if you’re smart about it, you can start benefiting immediately. This post will explain what it is, its implications and how to use it, so it’s a great place to start. Before we begin, it’s important to say that Authorship and AuthorRank are separate, but inescapably linked. Just like nobody ever talked about Tom without mentioning Jerry, it’s hard to talk about Authorship without thinking about AuthorRank.

 

What is Google Authorship?

Nutshell time!

Google Authorship is Google’s strategy of linking web authors to their online content. So anything you write online can be linked to your online profile (no prizes for guessing it’s your Google+ profile). Google haven’t officially said that this will lead to a writing-quality based ranking system; but they’ve implied it pretty heavily. In 2007, Google patented something called ‘Agent Rank’. You can take a look at the patent here , but if you’re not versed in patent law, Bill Slawski gives a pretty good run down over in February 2007.

Obviously we’re now spoiled by blogs explaining where they were going with this patent, but with the advent of Google+ and Authorship the theories are starting to become an impending reality.

Be Careful

It’s important to remember that Google Authorship and AuthorRank are separate entities.
You can read all about Authorship at the horse’s mouth; but broadly, it’s the link between authors and their content. AuthorRank is the rating system associated with this link. Authorship is in operation now. AuthorRank isn’t.

In a lot of press stuff the G-team has been saying the main focus of Authorship is to link authors to their content. Google Software Engineer, Othar Hansson appears to be obsessed with the fact that it puts your picture next to your post on SERPs and the psychological benefits of this in terms of connectivity. In his words, it’s Google’s way of ‘making the internet more human’. It’s a lovely sentiment, but cynical-old-me still thinks this is all part of the much bigger AuthorRank picture. And that’s not a bad thing. AuthorRank will be a great way of promoting online content based on the merit of its production and weeding out spammers. It punishes anonymity, but celebrates connectivity, and that’s surely a step in the right direction.
AuthorRank isn’t officially in use yet, but the buzz around it has become almost deafening and smart money is on it being run as an operational algorithm very soon.
But, back to Authorship…

Why should Authorship bother me?

Why shouldn’t it? This is the first chance we’ve been given to associate all of our online work in one centralised beacon. If, like me, you originally avoided the Google+ hype, change your mind now, or you might just get left behind.

There’s never been a better reason to join up. It will ensure you get the praise you deserve for the stuff you’ve written in your field of expertise by linking to similar articles you’ve written. In fact, that plan is already in action. Matt McGee has found that as soon as you’re finished reading an article by an author signed up to Authorship, you press ‘back’ on your browser and Hey, Presto! You’re presented with more articles on the same subject from the same author. This is the perfect type of promotion and will benefit your traffic in no time.

Pros and Cons of Authorship (and, inevitably, AuthorRank)

Let’s take a look at the effects Authorship could have on your business:

Pros
– Association with good writers and good content is bound to have a positive influence on your site’s PageRank. AuthorRank will undoubtedly go hand-in-hand with PageRank!
– People will be able to interactively see the merits of your site by clicking the author links on each post.
– Verified quality writers will encourage more people to link to your site. It’ll work wonders for Domain Authority.
– What if that writer who’s earned you all those Click-Throughs leaves? Well, they’ll always be tied to the domain that published their content. So even if they stop writing for you, as long as you both stay on top of your game, you’ll both benefit.
– You’ll get more Clicks because people will trust that smiling Rich Snippet of yours more than they trust a farmed-in link.
– People will be more willing to contact you with their thoughts. That means you’ll be able to engage more with your audience.
– Spammers will be much more easily identified. No Authorship will mean no verified author. Quality content will be rewarded.

Cons
– If you rely on one writer for a high ranking/readership and they leave, you’ll have to work extra hard to keep on top and stay fresh. But there’s nothing new there!
– Authorship can’t be attributed to your company, only to your writers.
– Authorship can’t be attributed to a team, only to ONE writer.
– It acknowledges the achievements of individual writers rather than a whole business.
(But the kudos is shared by association, so everyone’s a winner.)

One point which is a mix of a Pro and a Con: a lot of people have been reporting that their Rich Snippets have taken weeks or even months to show up. Generally, Google seems to giving it on a priority basis to people they think have earned it. That is, people who are getting a lot of traffic for a lot of posts. It seems a little harsh to begin with, but at least this way you know Authorship has truly been earned.

At face value, the pros seem to outweigh the cons; and the cons concerning companies benefiting from the writing of their employees seem to be part of an on-going morality battle. Is it OK for an employer to take credit for their employees work? That’s a question for another time on another blog. But in any case it would seem that Authorship unequivocally promotes and celebrates individualism and, to bang the Marxist drum, denies the power of anonymous corporatism.

How Can I Get On Board?

2 Things you’ll need for Authorship before you start out:

– Online Content (you already have that though, right?)
– A Google+ Profile!

I don’t have Google+!

Let’s start from the start. I’ll show you how to set up a Google+ profile from Scratch; using the perfect blank slate: me!

Step 1: We’ll pretend like none of us has a Google account and start from the front door. Head over to Google+

Step 2: Fill in the Details form

Step 3: After a verification process, you’ll be presented with this box:

Step 4: Get your photo up! This will be the photo used in your Author Rich Snippet.

Step 5… and Get Involved!

There are plenty of posts around the web that can give you a complete overview of what Google+ has to offer, but since this post is about Google Authorship I’ll leave you with one piece of advice:

Use Google+ as much as possible. The more you engage with your profile and the circles you build, the more you’ll gain from the service and the more strength you’ll have around the web.

So how do I link between my profile and my posts?

Well, there’s a lot of ways this can be done. The process can be quite confusing, but Rick DeJarnette gives a decent overview.

NB. It’s still a little jargony in places.
I’ll break it down as best I can in a second, but if the HTML stuff gets too much, feel free to watch this video of Matt Cutts and Bond-Villain-in-Waiting, Othar Hansson looking uncomfortable and explaining the HTML coding in very accessible terms.

For Sites with One Author:

If you have an email address on the same domain as your published work:

Step 1: Head over to the Authorship sign-up page and fill in the form.

Step 2: Click ‘Verify’ in the Verification Email.

Step 3: In the ‘Edit Profile’ section of your Google+ profile, you’ll now find you’re a ‘Contributor to’ the domain of the email.

Step 4: Start writing as much as possible at that domain. The more Google sees people are looking at your content, the more important Google thinks you are and the sooner you get your picture on the Search Page.

If you don’t have an email address on the same domain as your published work:

This may also be useful for posts in blogs where you’re a guest poster.

The best way in this case is to include a hyperlink with an HTML “rel=author” tag at the bottom of each page you write.

Basically, rel=”Author” is a way of telling Google that the author of this page is at the other end of this link.

The complete HTML link will look something like this:

<a href=”https://plus.google.com/101369752982717498462#101369752982717498462?rel=author”>Joe Shervell</a>

And behave something like this:

Joe Shervell

Now go back to ‘Edit Profile’ on your Google+ page and edit the ‘Contributor to’ section to include the site you posted to. It may be more beneficial to give the exact URL of the page, like this:

But reportedly listing the domain’s homepage will still work fine.

My site has multiple authors.

That’s ok, so does ours!

Step 1: Make sure you have a Bio Page set up for each writer. Something like this.

Step 2: Set up a Hyperlink from the Content Page to the Bio Page, but make sure you include our old friend, the rel=”author” tag.

Step 3: Set up a Hyperlink from the Bio Page to your Google+ profile, but this time include a rel=”me” tag. Simply put, Google will read this as you saying ‘this is me’.

Step 4: Head back to “Edit Profile” on your Google+ profile and enter the URL of the bio page in the “Contributor to” section.
That’s about the size of it!

But I use WordPress. What about me?

If you’re WordPress savvy then it’s really straight forward:

Step 1: Grab yourself a copy of a plugin like this one.

Step 2: Install it (It’s all explained in better detail right here)

Step 3: Fill in the information on your WordPress User Area.

Step 4: Keep posting and sharing and Google will notice you and give you your well-earned Rich Snippet.

So I’ve Set Up Authorship. Now What?

By setting up Authorship you’ve put yourself on Google’s radar as a writer, and that’s a huge step in the right direction. When AuthorRank does arrive, (and it’s not a matter of if, but when?) the more prestige you’ve earned as a writer, the better.

Use your Google+ profile to interact with your community of readers. Write about what you know, and write about it well. Google will see you as someone worthwhile in the field and give you a better rating in the rankings battle. This ‘writing about what you know’ is an important point. If you’re Noam Chomsky, then Google will recognise all the stuff you’ve written on Language Acquisition and if you decide to blog about it, you’ll be rewarded with high rankings based on your previous work. If you’re Noam Chomsky and you decide to write a blog post about Animal Husbandry in the Serengeti; you might not get the same level of respect.

That seems like an important point; one that I’m loathe to gloss over. Google Authorship can reward expertise. If you build a following and recognition as a writer in a certain field, then it will be reasonably safe for Google to assume that anything you write on that subject will be of a similar calibre. That’s not to discourage you from branching out into other fields; but if you do, make sure you have a community willing to accept that change or you might be punished by negative response.

To sum up neatly; Authorship is essential to let Google know you are a legitimate and quality writer who isn’t out to scam or spam. In the future, AuthorRank will come into the equation, and when it does, make sure you’re ready by building a big following and professional group now on Google+.

And even if we’re all wrong about AuthorRank… what’s the harm in having Google’s Seal-of-Approval on your work?

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