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SEO Effects of Social Search

Yesterday we covered the hot topic of Google’s social search from a very ‘news’ perspective. If you haven’t watched the tour video take a minute and hit play on the video below.

The truth is that Google is rolling this new search functionality piecemeal just in the same way as most of the recent features. So if I try to explore the option from my work account I get no offers and I’d have to cheat to go play with it right now.

However, on my personal account the option comes right up and my personal account has a smaller social circle than my work account so it seems to me that it’s just a work-in-progress at the moment.

A visit to the Google Inside Search site gives us a bit more confirmation:

If you aren’t seeing the features of Search plus Your World, don’t worry, we’re rolling them out over the next few days.

.. so if you’re not getting the option to try it out, it should come along soon!

Here’s a ‘hands on’ example of ‘Search plus Your World’ for a phrase I personally talk about a lot, ‘minecraft’:

Demonstration of Search plus Your World using the phrase 'minecraft'.

The first thing that occurs to me is that Danny talks about Minecraft WAY more than anyone else, but the second thing that gets my interest is that there’s nothing in the results that I wouldn’t have read or couldn’t get from poking my head into Google+.

Going back to that video from Google that we linked earlier, I have to admit this looks like a very over-hyped feature where 90% of the interesting parts of the video aren’t things we can do with the new search feature. This almost feels like a Microsoft product that was invented by marketers as something to market with zero user interest?

Well that’s my opinion dealt with, but what about SEO factors of this new feature?

A ton of questions come to mind that need to be answered, here’s a few :

  • Who stands to gain from these types of searches?
  • What sites will be negatively impacted?
  • What should websites be doing to take advantage of this new feature?

The first one’s easy, Google, and particularly, Google+ will gain the most from this new search behaviour. Google has always wanted you to find what you want within their domain/services, and limiting your search to a Google owned property, selling it as a great feature, works so well for Google’s overall goals. If you don’t believe that Google wants to keep you inside their services, as you use Google products challenge yourself to consider ‘What more could Google do to keep me inside their networks?’ and I think you’ll start seeing all the efforts they are making to give you what you want instantly vs. leaving Google to visit an external site.

Social media sites that were getting a lot of commercial traffic/advertising will be the hardest hit by this move. If a client came to me and said “We’re on all the big sites, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Squidoo, etc.. but we haven’t bothered with Google+.” I would be forced to assume they were Australian with such an opposite approach. The same thing would follow with campaign strategies where a company looking at time spent vs. returns would be silly to start a social media campaign anywhere but on Google+ first.

If you have a website that isn’t already following the guidelines for linking between Google+ and your site, you need to start there and then work on building up followers. Ideally you want people talking about your products/services more than your competition so I’d strongly urge someone within your company to engage in Google+ social media efforts on a weekly basis if not more. While it’s pointless to have infinite reach and zero relevance, you also want to be very ‘friendly’ doing whatever it takes to get people to take enough interest in your company pages to follow, +1, add to circles, etc..

In fact the last bit of advice will be a recurring theme for early 2012 where we will be looking at super organic ways to get your product/services out to relevant sections of the internet.

A good example would be a product that is easy to find on-line, but very technical/tricky to work with. Selling the product puts you in the same group as everyone else selling that product, but offering expertise on that product will raise your profile quickly while generating interest/informing potential clients. If you can get links from grateful recipients the effort will pay for itself, and the people you come in contact with are very likely to draw in more clients due to the way that social media is sharing business leads via friend connections.

Typical of Spring, the sooner you plant this ‘social seed’ the sooner it will grow into something that can support your on-line efforts.

Speaking of growing, Chia Bart is getting a little leafy already!

Chia Bart is sprouting nicely.Bart’s beans are sprouting!

SEO news blog post by @ 3:17 pm on January 11, 2012


 

Which Social Sites Should I Use? Part 2: Breakdown of the “Big 5″

Continued from Part 1 of “Which Social Sites Should I Use?“:

Once you have established a strong following across these main five sites, you can consider participating in a few niche social sites based upon your industry, services or geographical location. The social properties you employ define your overall social persona. Subsidiary aspects of social media can be realized in terms of company branding, building company legitimacy and trust, and online reputation management.

Breakdown of "The Big 5"

Facebook

the thinker

Traditionally, Facebook was typically best for personal relationships and getting reacquainted with friends and acquaintances. You can also use it for work colleagues with whom you have personal relationships.

With the advent of Facebook Pages, businesses can now separate their personal and business faces into different "pages" You can think of this as a Yellow Pages advert promoting your business. It gives your viewers a chance to see some of your products and get to know a little about your company and their online social presence.

You can build Groups and add Events to further engage your followers. The success of a Page is based upon the number of "Likes" from visitors it receives. It is important to have a strong and reputable personal profile that will be connected to the Business Page to act as an administrator.

Facebook is best for "private networks" but is useful to generate an online business presence

LinkedIn

This is the most popular site for maintaining your professional business networks. You can search and connect with former work colleagues, business partners and network with people that you may not know but may be in a related industry.

Different sections of the site allow for employee recruitment in order to facilitate the hiring of your next employee. This is a particularly great feature as people in your business network may be able to personally recommend an individual in your industry. You can list current promotions and have colleagues or clients recommend you which helps to build a more credible profile.

LinkedIn is your "professional network"

Twitter

Twitter is a micro-blogging platform as it only allows for posts (or tweets”) limited to 140 characters. Although Twitter is not a website in the sense that Facebook or LinkedIn is, it is starting to adopt similar functionality. Recent additions of pictures, follower suggestions and groups seem to indicate that Twitter may be moving toward more of a destination site, rather than only a platform.

Twitter allows you to connect with a much broader group of people. Because you can follow someone that does not necessarily follow you back, connections can be one-way or two-way and allow you to broadcast status updates, links, etc without needing to have an involved conversation. However, those businesses that do pro-actively engage their followers find that Twitter is an effective medium for connecting with a large number of people and organizations without the formality of a "friend request".

Twitter is for your "public network"

Google+

Google+ is considered the company’s fourth foray into social networking. The New York Times have declared it as Google’s biggest attempt to rival the social network of Facebook, which had over 800 million users in 2011.

Google+ integrates social platforms such as Google Profiles and Google Buzz and introduces new services called Circles, Hangouts and Sparks. Google+ is currently available as a web site and is reported to be available soon as a desktop application. It is already available as a mobile application.

Google+ is best for advertising your business, as well as for public and private interactions

YouTube

Created by three former members of PayPal and launched in 2005, YouTube offers a site for users to upload, view and share videos. Traditionally, YouTube did not seem to be advantageous to online business promotion and was considered a personal social site. Increasingly the video platform has become a standard medium for the promotion a business. By creating a YouTube account, users are able to create a public "channel" where owners can upload video files showcasing products and offer promotional information.

Remember that the larger your social network, the more time that will be involved to maintain it. Stick with the main 5 (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+) and choose only a few from the specialty niche oriented social groups. It is always best not to spread yourself too thin. It is better to have a closely formed network with a good number of quality followers than it is to have a larger network spread over many social sites that you are not engaged with.

You need to link accounts together to increase their effectiveness. Linking can become a bit complicated if you are dealing with many social sites. You may want to create a text document that shows where your feeds are being syndicated to (see example).

YouTube is akin to a "television audience"

In Part 3, we will discuss Linking Your Social Accounts

SEO news blog post by @ 10:56 am on January 9, 2012


 

Which Social Sites Should I Use? Part 1: An Introduction to Social Media

Initiates to the world of social media all inevitably ask the same question: “How do I know which social media sites to use?” Choosing the right set of social sites to promote your business can seem a daunting task if you are unfamiliar to social media. As ever-increasing numbers of social networks add themselves to the mix, it becomes increasingly overwhelming determining which sites to use and to know which will be best for promoting your company.

the thinker

There are very few businesses that would not benefit from an online social presence. Any business that is not actively engaged in the promotion of their business, products or services online today is truly missing out on opportunities for their company. Often the reluctance to embrace social media is from an emotional reaction based on an inadequate understanding of social media and what it can do to transform their business.

Social media can be thought of as an online equivalent to more traditional promotions and advertising. In the past, the most common mediums used to promote your business were magazine and newspaper advertisements, television commercials, radio adverts and billboards. To engage is specific niche markets you might have placed an ad in a technical journal directly related to your industry.
The modern equivalents of traditional marketing would be in the form of (but not limited to) tweets, articles, blog posts, press releases, viral marketing and video marketing.

In many ways social media has allowed marketers to streamline the advertising process. Niche social sites that are geared specifically towards your industry make it much easier to connect with others in a specific industry.

Although a plethora of social sites abound on the Internet, the main players in the social media world today are considered to be Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube. These are currently the most widely used social sites today and should be considered a staple of any fledgling social marketing campaign.

In Part 2 of "Which Social Sites Should I Use?" we take a look at the top 5 players in the world of social media that you be should be paying attention to and using in 2012.

SEO news blog post by @ 9:54 am on January 4, 2012


 

Facebook Exploits Reveals Zuckerberg Private Images

A recent exploit in Facebook was discovered that allows anyone to view another to see images that are marked as private. On Monday a user of a popular bodybuilding forum placed a post entitled "I teach you how to view private Facebook photos" which involved the exploitation of security systems meant to stop users from posting explicit material on the site.

Zuckerberg with chicken

The hack involved flagging a public profile picture as "inappropriate" (typically due to nudity or pornography). The intruders were then offered the chance to report more photographs posted by the same offending user. The Facebook system would then present the would be hacker with a thumbnail gallery of other private images, which could then be enlarged by making a simple change in the browser address bar and downloaded to the hacker’s computer.

It seems that even Facebook’s privacy controls are not as safe as touted by the popular online social giant despite many ongoing attempts to revamp them. A Facebook spokesman said: "We discovered a bug in one of our reporting flows that allows people to report multiple instances of inappropriate content simultaneously". Facebook appears to have corrected the exploit very quickly but not fast enough to stop the forum poster uploading private pictures of Mark Zuckerberg as evidence that the hack was successful.

zuckerberg chicken dinner
Priscilla Chan & Beast

The 14 pictures were posted anonymously on an image sharing website under the heading "It’s time to fix those security flaws Facebook."

Included in the leaked photos were a series of candid shots involving Zuckerberg’s girlfriend, Priscilla Chan and his Hungarian sheepdog puppy, “Beast.” The private photographs also include a picture of Zuckerberg holding presumably dead chicken by its legs and another of him holding a plate of breaded chicken and chips; Zuckerberg has stated previously that he only eats meat from the animals that he kills himself.

This exploit comes at a sensitive time for the social giant. Last week Facebook admitted "a bunch of mistakes" after American regulators accused it of "unfair and deceptive" privacy practices. The Federal Trade Commission investigated a series of controversies over sharing user data with advertisers, access to user data by third party apps and changes to privacy settings that made more user data public without warning.

SEO news blog post by @ 10:44 am on December 7, 2011

Categories:Facebook

 

Facebook’s New Privacy Settings Are Misleading

With all the changes going on with Facebook right now one might get lost in some of the finer points, like … oh … that their Privacy page is incredibly misleading and that your posts aren’t going out the way you may mean for them to. Ordinarily I prescribe to the user being responsible for understanding how social media is distributed but this latest change is either purposely misleading (most likely) or at the very least, just plain stupid (and since Mark & Co over at Facebook are fairly bright … I’ll assume that isn’t it).

So what’s the issue?  Let’s take a look at how the information is being presented.  here’s their current privacy setting page (fo those of you who don’t know how to access it, click the arrow to the top right of the Facebook page and select “Privacy Settings”).  You’ll see …

Facebook's privacy page.

Notice that the Default Privacy is set for “Friends”.  Not, what happens when I go to submit a post?  I get the following …

Facebook's posting with public as the default.

Notice that right below the status update and to the left of the “Post” button is who is should be visible to and that by default it’s set to “Public” in a nice light color.  If you read the “Privacy Settings” page carefully you’ll notice that it reads, “This setting will apply to status updates and photos you post to your profile from a Facebook app that doesn’t have the inline audience selector, like Facebook for Blackberry.” and doesn’t apply to your PC-based activities but the way they’ve done it keeps the user looking to the big buttons with the defaults.

To be sure, they have noted it but user and eyetracker testing will tell you, we’re all a bit lazy and when we read “Default” with big easy buttons to click – we’re going to do that.  If they had labeled it “Mobile and App Default Settings” then there would be less confusion and we’d all be more clear on what we’re selecting the defaults for.

SEO news blog post by @ 6:55 pm on September 22, 2011

Categories:Facebook

 

1st SEO Impressions of Windows 8

I started my computer life on an Apple II PC, my first gaming/entertainment electronics experience was the Lesiure Vision, and it wasn’t until high-school that I met my first IBM, an XT with an attitude. So in my years you can bet I’ve seen a few operating system ‘revolutions’, heck the first computer I paid for with my own money was the Mac Classic back when it was the first PC to have a mouse and ‘Windows’ (plus it could talk!). :)

Things have changed a bit since that 8mhz Macintosh with it’s single color 10″ non-upgradable screen. The 4mb maximum limit of RAM that was a selling point of my Mac isn’t even enough for a modern CPU cache, let alone an OS + applications, and ‘booting from disk’ has a totally different meaning.

Along comes Windows 8 and I really felt that I needed a new operating system like I needed a new hair in my nose, so I was in no rush at all to review it. The situation reminded me of a quote from Tron 2.0:

“..what sort of improvements have been made in Flynn… I mean, um, Windows 8?” .. “This year we put an 8 on the box!”
Encom OS-12

Well it’s not really that bad, in fact the more I poke at Windows8 the more I see it’s potential and I can see how it could be a game changer for a web based business. Here’s why:

  • The start menu is now a web page with tiled animated content including feeding from websites like XKCD.com:
    Embedded websites in Windows 8 Start Menu
    – Do you have your website setup properly to feed the new start menu when people add your site there?

  • IE10 is the browser the OS uses, you can install another, but it won’t get loaded until you specifically load it
    – Does your site look the way you’d expect in IE10? I know our aging site layout looks different in IE10.

  • There is no prompt to chose a search engine, you’ve got Bing and what more could anyone want?
    – This could divide the consumer base among power users who have fiddled and those who just use things ‘as is’. Depending on your market this could change the way you look at Bing.

  • Clicking the “Make Google my homepage.” link on the google.com/.ca homepage currently causes IE10 to load a blank white page instead of the default home screen.
    – Does your site use similar javascript? Will you have the same issues with IE10 users?

  • Built in applications for reaching social networks aren’t broad enough. “Socialite” program for FB only works with FB, and drops support for Twitter, Reddit, Google Reader, Flicker, Digg, etc..
    – Speaking of which, how cozy are you with giving MS access to everything?

    Windows 8 Socialite Preview for FaceBook

Mind you, with all the stink that’s getting raised over the UEFI secure boot protocol, the rate of adoption for Windows8 could be pitiful. If Microsoft’s hardware partners went ahead with the new feature it would lock out other OSes and force people to deal with one source for new OS installs/upgrades.

SEO news blog post by @ 11:05 am on


 

“The New FaceBook”…or, “We Fear Change”

Most of us engage in social media everyday and a huge percentage of us are devout FaceBook users. You have probably noticed several particularly large sweeping changes over the last few weeks since the launch of Google+. Now that Google has completed beta testing and opened their new social platform to the public, many more drastic changes are anticipated from FaceBook in the coming weeks as the two giants continue to battle for market supremacy.

New FaceBook Changes

Mashable has reported that FaceBook plans to implement a major user profile redesign at its F8 Developer Conference tomorrow. While the specifics are vague, reports from two anonymous sources have stated that the redesign is "major" and will initially be focused on increasing time on site for users and to make FaceBook profiles a “nexus” for consuming content.

Other reports state that this roll out is just one component of a much larger roll out that will be followed with a music and media platform. FaceBook appears to have made several agreements with a number of companies to feed content from what users are watching or listening from around the web and feed this information into their FaceBook profiles in real-time to share this media with others. Spotify, Rhapsody, Vevo and Rdio are believed to be the first of FaceBook’s new media partners.

This appears to be only the first tier of major revisions coming to FaceBook. There are rumors of a FaceBook app store and that the redesigned profiles are part of a larger push into social ecommerce. Some sources believe that FaceBook intends to give FaceBook Credits more prominence as well.

The social media giant is reported to be working on something called "Project Spartan", which is a HTML5 version of its platform that would become a distribution mechanism for Web applications through Apple’s mobile Safari browser. At this point however, FaceBook has been very tight-lipped and has not confirmed any of these rumors.

Some of the more recent changes from FaceBook include:

  • View Shares button allows users to see how their content is distributed.
  • Updated lists and Smart Lists, which can auto-generate lists based on location or how people know each other.
  • Custom URLs for new Pages. Previously, 25 fans were needed before a Page could set their custom URL. Not anymore.
  • Poke Button has gone into hiding into a dropdown menu at the top right of a users profile.
  • Page Messages, users will no longer be able to send messages to fans as of September 30.

Many of us will be waiting the new changes with baited breath this Thursday to see what changes will be announced and to find out when they might be implemented. I know that many of my contacts cringe when they find out that FaceBook is about to, or has made changes to the platform, so I try to remind them that change in the social networking world normally brings about positive change…and that no, they will not revert back to the previous version no matter how many people sign a petition to change it back. :-)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:02 pm on September 21, 2011


 

Google Plus Reaches 20 Million Users in 3 Weeks

Like most, you are probably already feeling inundated with the amount of blog posts and media "buzz" (pun intended) regarding the release of Google social networking platform Google+.

comscore data

expanding circles diagram

ComScore Inc. has reported that fledgling social network has acquired over 20 million unique visitors over the last three weeks. This is especially impressive due to the fact that access to Google+ is by invitation only by current members in much the same fashion that Google launched Gmail by invitation years ago.

With the amazing adoption rate being shown, Google has not yet begun to market the new platform to the 1 billion monthly users of the Google search engine, Gmail and various services.

Google+ stands to rival the other major players in the social networking world, but Google still has a long way to go to reach the scale of giants like Facebook, which has more than 750 million users, and Twitter, which has more than 200 million registered accounts to date.

The data Google obtains about people’s interests could also help it change the way its Web-search engine works. Sites in its search results could potentially be ranked based on what users and their friends like or find useful,” Google engineers have said. Google is also hoping to have a service that will be a home for brands and celebrities alike.

Google states that they will eventually allow developers to create "social" games and other applications that would run on top of Google+, similar to Facebook’s successful platform for applications.

SEO news blog post by @ 3:55 pm on July 25, 2011


 

Google+, Orkut and a Facebook Fate Worse than Death

I had my first taste of Google Plus on the weekend and I have to say that I quite enjoyed it. The interface was clean and light while still giving me quick access to components that I want wanted. I have only used it for a few days so the quality of the streamlined interface will only be fully realized when it is in full use and populated by several hundred or so friends and associates.

orkutfight

I liked the ability to post separately to specific social circles like Work, Family, or Friends or to post to Your Circle, Extended Circles or Public. For Facebook users, there is enough similarity in the layout to facilitate moving over to the Google+ interface easily.

Google’s other social networking site, Orkut, will continue to operate alongside Google+ but it is uncertain whether or not the two mediums will be fused. Orkut has been around for about four years and has tens of millions of users in South America and India and currently ranks at 102 on Alexa’s list of most popular websites in the world.

Regardless, Google seems to be playing a cautious "wait and see" attitude in terms of integrating the two. While Facebook has certainly been the dominant force in the social networking world for many years many users have strong concerns over their privacy controls. Google feels they will take a substantial portion of the market away from Facebook on that basis alone with a social networking site whose privacy features are tighter and easier to configure.

In a possibly related story, Facebook may on the brink of a crisis and trapped in a MySQL “Fate Worse than Death.” The entire social platform is operating a huge, complex MySQL implementation that stands to cripple the social giant. According to Micahel Stonebraker the only possibility is to rewrite everything from scratch.

In Stonebraker’s opinion, "old SQL (as he calls it) is good for nothing" and needs to be "sent to the home for retired software." After all, he explained, SQL was created decades ago before the web, mobile devices and sensors forever changed how and how often databases are accessed.

The widely accepted issue with MySQL is that by virtue of its design, it was never intended to process the colossal amounts of transactions required for huge webscale applications and the huge amounts of calls that are required. The biggest problem with MySQL and other SQL databases is that they consume too many resources for overhead tasks.

Facebook has split its SQL database into 4000 shards in order to handle the massive amount of data and is currently running 9000 instances of memcache in order to keep up to the massive number of calls that the database must serve. In 2008, they were employing over 1800 server dedicated to MySQL and over 800 dedicated to memcache.

SEO news blog post by @ 6:32 pm on July 11, 2011


 

Jobs gives the skinny on iCloud

A slender Steve jobs came out of medical leave to deliver the keynote address at the 2011 Developers Conference hosted by Apple.

South Park version of Steve Jobs

Looking more like the South Park rendition of the man behind Apple, Steve was notably tired and unhealthy looking (much like the Canucks last night) as he delivered all the details on the new iCloud service:

- Works with iPhones, iPads, iPods, iMacs, and iBooks
- Synchronizes contacts, calendars, and files among devices
- Basic service is free (replacing the $99/yr MobileMe)

While the offerings are similar to free services from Google, Amazon, Dropbox, etc.., they are some firsts for Apple and will assist Apple users who have legacy audio on CDs.

For a fee of $25 (US) each year, Apple will scan the hard disk of a customer to seek out all non-iTunes music on the assumption they were converted from a CD the user owns. Music that is not already on iTunes will be uploaded to iCloud. If the music is already on iCloud then the song will be added to the user’s iCloud locker without the need to re-purchase music.

Apple mentioned that they are in talks with major recording companies to make this possible, which is a far cry from having those companies on board with such a consumer-friendly design.

Also announced was the Lion OS update for Macintosh. Consumers next month will be able to purchase Lion for $32 and can expect enhanced touch control features, like task switching with gestures, to be included.

iOS5 was also mentioned, as it will come with a new showcase for content that used to be the domain of printed materials, such as newspapers and magazines. Consumers are supposed to think of this as a digital newsstand, however there was no mention of how this presentation would make the content more accessible or interesting. Tweeting from photo apps and more social media connectivity with Facebook seems to be one of the biggest highlights, but we can expect more details closer to the release date.

PS: Don’t forget, tomorrow is IPv6 day, don’t miss your chance to be part of the test.

SEO news blog post by @ 6:16 pm on June 7, 2011


 

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