Knowledge Graph to Feature Brands’ Social Profiles. What Does this Mean for Search?

Earlier this year, Google started including brands’ social profiles within its Knowledge Graph panel. In the past, this feature only applied to famous people, such as actors, musicians and politicians. What does this mean for brands that Google will now pick up their social handles?

It comes down to two things:
• If your brand is already active in the social space and has a great presence, it will have even a better visibility in search results.
• If you haven’t had the time to build out your brands’ social profiles, this is yet another reason why you absolutely should. ASAP.

More importantly, Google now allows companies to add markup language to their sites to specify their official social profiles for search engine crawlers. Let’s take a look at why this update matters for search and how your plan of attack should look like to leverage it to your best advantage.

Here is a screen shot of the Best Buy Knowledge Graph:

Best Buy Knowledge Graph

 

Just as in the past, you see a snapshot from the brand’s Wikipedia page (as many of us know, this is how most Knowledge Graphs are generated). Right below it, Best Buy’s social handles are displayed. By the way, Google currently picks up profiles from the top social networks (interestingly, MySpace is on the list):

• Facebook
• Twitter
• Google+
• Instagram
• YouTube
• LinkedIn
• Myspace

I do anticipate this list expanding. So, if Pinterest and Tumblr are an integral part of your marketing campaign, this is not by any means the reason to drop them and bring your brand back to the antique MySpace.  Just like anything, take this update with a grain of salt and really think what the best strategy is for your brand.

However, even if you’re a small B2B business, this is a no-brainer to build out your profiles on top networks (at the very least, on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn), just so you can own that Web real estate for the branded queries.

Now, Google+ is just as important as ever to your search campaigns. Below the social profiles’ links, Google Knowledge Graph displays your latest Google+ posts, followed by your competitors’ information. If you maintain solid presence in social channels and regularly update your brand’s Google+ page, you’d be able to push competitors’ mentions down the bottom of the Knowledge Graph panel and really dominate that digital real estate.

For example, in the following search results below, two competitive beauty brands, Kiehl’s and L’Occitane, both have solid Knowledge Graphs. However, due to the fact that more L’Occitane’s social profiles are picked up, in addition to the company’s Google+ updates, you have to scroll down the search engine result page to see competitive logos. In the Kiehl’s example, competitors’ presence is way more prominent:

L'Occitane Knowledge Graph

Kiehls Knowledge Graph

So, if you are serious about your brand’s digital marketing, I highly recommend that you add the following to your to do list:

• Invest effort in building out your brand’s presence in top social networks.
• Maintain active Google+ page.
• Implement Google-recommended structured data markup on your site to distinguish your brand’s official social profiles. Conveniently, Google outlines a detailed guide on how to implement this markup in its Developer’s Guide here: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/customize/social-profiles

I hope I convinced you to think about social marketing. Stay tuned on more updates on how to integrate search and social to really benefit your overall marketing efforts!

Make Google Alerts Work for You

What is Google Alerts?

Google Alerts is a content change detection and notification service, offered by the search engine company Google. The service sends emails to the user when it finds new results—such as web pages, newspaper articles, blogs, or scientific research—that match the user’s search term(s). It’s a really powerful tool to keep track of trends, interesting topics, or anything really new that appears on the web.

What Triggers a Google Alert?

A google alert is triggered when something is indexed by Google on a given subject or topic. Here are a few ways that happens:

  • New blog posts are published.
  • Significant content changes are made on a website and are detected and re-indexed in Google.
  • A notable outside website publishes a blog post, writes a review or mentions the topic in an article.
  • Press Release issued.

How can Google Alerts Help Your Business?

  • Find Out Who’s Talking About Your Company. One of the best uses for Google Alerts is to keep track of how often people are talking about your Company on the web and what they’re saying.
  • Track your products. Set Google Alerts to gather information on your products to stay informed on how your product is perceive in the marketplace. See who is reading and sharing your information.
  • Stay ahead of your competition. Set alerts for businesses that have similar offerings. It’s good to know what is happening in the industry so you can stay fresh and current.
  • Timely Client Research. Track activity for your top ten or twenty existing clients. This can give you valuable insight into what they’re up to, and also provide you with reasons to contact them.
  • Follow a Trending Story, or Get a Snapshot of Events On Your Own Time Google Alerts lets you take control of the news stream and get up to speed on a specific topic when you’re ready. Tweak the search terms for the issue you’re following, and change the “How Often” to once a day for a simple digest.

More information on how to set up Google Alerts can be found here: https://support.google.com/alerts

Hopefully you find these tips useful so you can begin to fully leverage this amazing resource as another tool in your company’s marketing toolbox.

Want more information? Get more details on Charles River Interactive’s SEO and PPC service offerings or contact us today.

The 2nd Phase of Google’s “Mobilegeddon” Has Been Officially Released

A recent study by Opinion Lab, highlights the following impact of consumers using their mobile devices to search for businesses and make purchases:

  • Mobile impacted $1 trillion in retail sales in 2015.
  • In the US, more than 30% of sales will have a mobile cross-channel component.
  • 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a brick-and-mortar location within a day
  • 82% of shoppers say they consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make when in a brick-and-mortar location

Google’s response

In the quest to make the web more mobile-friendly, Google rolled out their second algorithm update on May 2, 2016. This update is designed to benefit mobile-friendly websites in Google search results. The results increase the effect of the ranking signal to help users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly.

According to Google, a website is mobile-friendly if it meets the following conditions:

  • Does not use software that is unusual for smartphones, such as Flash.
  • Text is readable without zooming.
  • Content fits on the screen completely, without the need for the visitor to scroll horizontally.
  • Buttons and links are far enough apart, so that a finger can easily click the correct one.

Testing a Website for Mobile Friendliness

If you are unsure if your website is mobile-friendly or not, then you should use an official Mobile-Friendly testing tool such as the following:

The testing tools also have suggestions for next steps based on the results of the mobile friendliness test.

Questions Regarding Google’s “Mobile Friendly” Algorithm Changes

If you are like every other business owner or website administrator, then you have questions. On April 21, 2016, previous to Google’s 2nd algorithm rollout, Google published a post, FAQs about April 21st mobile friendly updateThis article answers the top 13 questions site administrators, SEO’s and business owners have about the latest mobile-friendly algorithm update.

We selected a few of the questions and answers from the April 21st post:

Will desktop and/or tablet ranking also be affected by this change?  No, this update has no effect on searches from tablets or desktops. It affects searches from mobile devices across all languages and locations.

Is it a page-level or site-level mobile ranking boost? It’s a page-level change. For instance, if ten of your site’s pages are mobile-friendly, but the rest of your pages aren’t, only the ten mobile-friendly pages can be positively impacted.

Will my site / page disappear on mobile search results if it’s not mobile-friendly? While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal — so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query.

If your website is not mobile-friendly, the number of visitors coming in from Google will only keep decreasing. This was the case after the first phase of Mobilegeddon, and will only become more evident following their latest algorithm update.

Interested in learning more about mobile trends? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:
Mobile Search Updates: Why You Need a Mobile Website
5 Tips for Writing for Mobile

Want more information? Get more details on Charles River Interactive’s SEO and PPC service offerings or contact us today.

10 Tips for Effective Content Marketing on Twitter

Co-authored by Nancy Stewart

We reported last month on big developments with Twitter (#RIPTwitter: The Future of Twitter and Your Brand) and how they could change the content marketing landscape.

Our conclusion? There’s a lot of opportunity here for smart marketers – despite the critics who fear any change to the Twitter algorithm. The rules are still the same: Really compelling, targeted, organic content is your best bet for attracting followers, building engagement and achieving conversions.

Where do you start? We’ve compiled our top 10 Twitter tips (with a bonus tip) to help you develop a smart strategy.

How to Use Twitter for Your Brand

If you want Twitter to be a successful tool for your business, you need to have a plan before you start tweeting away.

Even the most eloquently-crafted 140-character posts will not attract followers and achieve real results on their own. Creating and implementing a smart content strategy will go a long way to keep your Twitter account focused on your business objectives and directed at your target audience.

  1. Lay out your goals: You’ll have more success creating effective tweets if you know why you are tweeting. Your posts should support your business goals for using Twitter. Start by answering a basic question: What are you trying to do? The answer may be build brand awareness, promote thought leadership or generate leads. Make sure your content supports those goals.
  2. Target your audience: Before posting any tweet, ask yourself: “What information does my target audience want and do they care about this message?” It’s a good idea to tweet about topics you’ve seen resonate with your followers in the past. These easy tricks can help you acquire a more targeted following.
  3. Find your voice: Central to building a brand presence on any social media platform is having a personality. How do you want followers to perceive your brand? Are you fun, creative, humorous? You convey that personality by picking the best voice and tone and staying consistent.
  4. Get creative with #hashtags: You’ve seen them, but do you know to use them? Hashtags are keywords or phrases that help your posts reach the right people. Research the most popular hashtags related to your industry. Once you’re established on Twitter, you can even create your own hashtags.
  5. Use visuals: Stop thinking about Twitter as a space that only allows text. Uploading images, GIFs and videos help your posts stand out and increase engagement significantly.
  6. Develop an editorial calendar: Feeling overwhelmed with the need to post to Twitter, Facebook, your blog and so on? Editorial calendars help you get organized and post regularly on a schedule, so you don’t fall behind.
  7. Be interactive: By nature, social media isn’t supposed to be a one-way conversation. Make sure you are giving back to your followers by responding to them, re-tweeting them, etc. If you tweet content from other sources (besides your own blog), be sure to mention and tag authors and publications.
  8. Engage with influencers: Identify a list of reputable individuals or businesses with a particular expertise that’s relevant to your brand. When an opportunity arises to reply or retweet, take it! You can also keep an eye on what the industry experts are tweeting and mention them in tweets you feel they’d be interested in.
  9. Include a clear call to action: The best way to achieve a direct response is to be explicit. If you have only 140 characters, don’t be coy or shy. “Read more at our blog” or “Visit our online store” are effective approaches when you pair them with a compelling reason why: “Get ready for summer. We’re offering 20 percent off all sandals today. Visit our online store.”
  10. Be brief: This one goes without saying, since the hallmark of Twitter since its launch was the 140-character-limit. You may feel the squeeze to stay within those boundaries, but know this: Shorter Tweets – 140 characters or less – get more conversions. That’s according to Twitter’s own best practices guide.

And a bonus 11th tip:

Pay to promote your Tweets: Even a small investment in paid social can help drive traffic. Promote tweets with high engagement rates to extend your reach and continue providing your target audience with particularly engaging content.

Interested in learning more about social media and paid search trends? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:

How To Use Snapchat For Your Brand

Google SERP News: Right Rail Ads Are Gone

Facebook & Twitter Unleash New, Exciting Features

Written by Bethany Critchley and Kathryn Falco 

Over the past couple of weeks, Facebook and Twitter have been hard at work rolling out new features for both their individual users and their advertisers. Below is an overview of some great new tools the platforms have unveiled to individual users and advertisers alike.

Facebook begins testing new Topic-Based Feeds feature

Until recently, users’ feeds have been primarily composed of statuses, pictures, re-posts, promoted posts, etc. all of which were, for the most part, out of their control. Though Facebook did its best to show and suggest posts similar to ones that users “liked” or promoted themselves, it was easy to get lost in all of the information (and irrelevant relationship statuses) that were constantly being displayed. That is, until now.

Last week, Facebook started testing out a new feature – Topic-Based Feeds. Users within the test were given the ability to choose specific topics to be displayed in their newsfeeds by clicking on their particular interests within the Topics toolbar (found on the left side of the menu). The Topics, Animals & Pets, Food, Health & Fitness, and Sports, were then further refined based on users’ preferences after answering questions on the topics they chose.

Facebook Topics Sports

 

Because this feature is still a test, the platform also gave users the ability to “flag” posts that they deemed irrelevant to the chosen topic (a smart move on Facebooks part considering users often feel they do not have much say in what appears in their feeds).

The feature has not been completely rolled out and is only open to random users for now, but it is definitely a step in a new direction for the social giant. Facebook is still the dominant social network, but other platforms are starting to creep up on them.

People predominantly use Facebook to stay tuned-in to what their friends and families are doing on a daily basis, but they are often overwhelmed by the unnecessary information that other people are posting. From a strategic standpoint, it seems this is a positive move on Facebooks part. Users will feel like they have more of a hand in what they see in their feeds instead of feeling lost in a sea of information and emotion. But for those users who prefer to stay up to date on who is newly engaged, who recently broke up, and who is having babies, they can choose to stick with the normal news feed.

For more information on the Facebook Topic-Based Feed check out this article on MarketingLand.

Facebook introduces new “Slideshow” ad unit for emerging markets

What is it?
Slideshow is a new video substitute. Advertisers are able to create video ads from still images. Upload 3 to 7 still images and choose the length of the slideshow which ranges from 5-15 seconds. You are able to use video like motion with no sound to provide a new way to tell brand stories.

Why was it created?
It was designed to play in markets where mobile connections are slow or unreliable. Due to the smaller file size, it allows eye catching ads to people with poor connection.

How does it work?
Advertisers create two campaigns, one being a traditional video and the other a slideshow. Facebook detects the user’s connection speed and then shows the appropriate ad. This feature is at no additional cost.

Useful to You?
Although a very cool feature it may not be completely relevant to our Facebook ad campaigns in North America, since we generally have good connection to service. Facebook released that more than half of its revenue comes from non-North American markets, where the dominant form of internet access is mobile but on a slow connection. So this could be something interesting to test for clients that we are running Facebook campaigns internationally.

On a bigger scale, Coca-Cola ran these types of campaigns in markets such as Kenya and Nigeria and had great results.  You can find out more information on this case study on FaceBook and VentureBeat.

Twitter rolls out Native Polling feature

Nowadays, everyone has an opinion on everything and Twitter just made it that much easier to voice yours.  Regular users of the network are all too aware of the “Retweet for Yes, Favorite for No” Tweets that float around within their feeds. From big Brands to individuals, users understand that these Tweets are a fun way to get followers to engage and interact with a Tweet.

As of last week, Twitter started rolling out a new feature that allows users to quickly share their opinions on social media – Native Polling.  Let’s be honest, it’s pretty cool and don’t even deny that you can’t wait to start using it. Though the feature has been in test mode over the past month, it will now be available to all users.

In the past, these polls were only available to advertisers using custom Twitter Cards who were asking questions and tracking responses. The new poll feature is a simple “query” with two possible answers with results being displayed in real-time. Each poll is active for 24-hours and users can also see how much time is left to “vote.” Once the 24-hour limit has been reached, the results are displayed as a percentage. Not only that, but Twitter sends a notification to all poll participants, prompting them to “check out” the final results.

Nissan Fan Poll

 

The new feature will be rolling out over the next few days on iOS, Android, and Twitter.com.

In our opinion, this is one of the most useful Twitter features we’ve seen in a while. Not only is it fun for the average person, but this is huge for Brands seeking to engage their followers and attract more. Though there is no information yet on whether this will be available within the ads platform, it’s probably safe to assume that that won’t be far behind.

Social Media is an ever-growing, ever-changing way to be noticed by the public. That is even more true when it comes to advertisers. There is no better way to reach a target audience than to market them with products and services in places and outlets that are relevant to their daily lives. Users are on social media because they are looking for better ways to fulfill their lives and they look to other users to influence their choices (whether consciences of it or not). In a society that has grown up and into the social media world, it is essential for advertisers to take advantage of an audience that is, for lack of a better word, begging to be marketed to.

You can find out more information on this new Twitter feature at MarketingLand.