Hashtags: The what, how and why of success

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Even some years ago, I did not really detect the value of hashtags – however it was the days when only Twitter used hashtags. Nowadays, there are still not many people able to detect the secrets and the power of hashtags in the social web world. And probably the majority of marketers still wonders if they cannot leave out the hashtags in order to make the posts more readable.

Hashtags offer a lot of benefits if you use it properly – to be searchable, to be findable, to be categorizable, to follow, to monitor as a brand, a service or a person. Hashtags are not a Twitter thing any longer: Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Google search, and various other platforms also make use of the „computer-cross“ as one of our clients called it the other day in a workshop we did with them.

As (social) marketing campaigns are measured on engagements, it is fair to say that hashtags in campaigns are boosting engagement by up to 50%. Working with two hashtags seems to be the golden secret as more hashtags will kill the „boost-engine“. Still… Maybe not always though. Instagram posts with 11+ hashtags even showed the highest number of engagements. And on facebook you might also not use hashtags at all as those were most successful.

PS: If you do not know how to use hashtags, maybe check out this latest advice from Terri Seymour.

Please find the latest insights put together in an infographic by Surepayroll.

effect-hashtag-infographic-2015

Study Search Ranking: What makes your brand look good on Google

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It is one of these questions that many brand marketers are asking themselves: What makes us reach the top search results on Google? A recent report based on Searchmetric data for 10,000 top Google search keywords sheds some light here. It was based on correlations and website characteristics of 300,000 URLs appearing in the top search result position in the US between March 2013 and June 2013.

The report shows that those websites tend to perform best that have a high social impact in terms of likes, shares, tweets and Google „+1″‚s. It also makes clear that there is a realationship between ranking high on Google and collecting Google+ links to achieve better ranking impact which the graphic below indicates.

Searchmetrics-Rank-Correlation-Facts-Social-2013

Despite common believe that fast website performance through intelligent on-page coding might create some benefit for the search ranking, the study shows that just not having it will let websites achieve lower rankings. This means that SEO basics like having H1 and H2 tags or providing brief descriptions now are seen as standards but won’t support any boost effect.

Searchmetrics-Rank-Correlation-Facts-2013

Still, content is king for Google. Good rankings were correlated always positively with good and unique content and had a bigger effect in 2013 than the year ago. As main ingredients of positive content can be named a clever internal link structure, a URL with a clear message and longer text plus a sensible number of integrated (audio)-visual files. This could be as of the fact that Google wants to boost their own pictures search sites and obviously Youtube.

Keywords keep up their impact on the rankings. On the page, they still need to placed in the title as close to the front as possible and in the text they need to be placed wisely as well. As of some algorithm changes compared to 2012, the importance of keywords in the domain name or the URL has lost its significance.

According to the report, websites of brands and other domains seem to play on different levels for Google. Obviously, brand websites seem to be superior to normal sites. The report states that it looks as if the search engine finds it normal for brands to generate more backlinks with the brand name appearing in referring content pieces alone.

The infographic provides some more information – and if this version is too small, just click here and download it
Search-Ranking-Factors-2013

Google: Demystifying Duplicate Content

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In many meetings, and I had one of those calls today, I understand again and again that managers have limited knowledge of what „Duplicate Content“ means when working with multiple sites and/or using similar content on those. Now, what does Google really say about duplicate content? Can your business place similar text blocks or complete texts on different blogs and websites? And how about same content but in different languages?

In a video clip Greg Grothaus, a Google engineer for search quality, explains what „Duplicate Content“ stands for and what it means to businesses.

General answer: Is there a Duplicate Content Penalty from Google? No, it’s a myth! Google wants diversity in the results that Google displays on search results. That’s the reason why pages might be omitted from Google which makes sense.

Deep answer: There are typical downsides of „Dupicate Content“.
– Dilution of link popularity: Better have 20 links go to one page, then twice 10 to two pages.
– User-unfriendly URLs in search results: Useless URLs effect branding & decrease usability – so better leave it.
– Inefficient crawling: The less Google has to crawl, the better for the new content to be seen.

Best answer: Google does not like Spam. Spam will find penalty, if it is done with a systematic approach, or when there is the absolute same content on different pages with no changes at all.

Our Advice: Create fresh content! Or do you want to buy the same stuff or gadgets you already have received as a present for Christmas? See…?

Trust the Right People

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These days it is easier than ever to position yourself as an expert in your field…even if you are not actually an expert. It is something that more and more people are doing and this can make it really difficult to figure out who the most trustworthy sources of information (and opinions) are. Nowhere is this truer than on the Internet. So how do you know which sources are worth trusting and which aren’t?
The first thing that you should do, when figuring out whether or not a source is trustworthy, is to check out their background. Do a Google search on the person and see what you can find. If all you can find are blog posts but no actual biographical information or records, you should probably move on to someone else. A trustworthy source will have done the work to build up that expertise. He or she will have verifiable degrees or practical experience backing them up. This doesn’t mean you can’t agree with a person’s opinion. It simply means that you shouldn’t use it as the reason to make a decision about important life matters.
For example, let’s look at Charles E Phillips former co-President, Oracle Corp.. When you put his name into Google a plethora of articles and records come up. This information goes beyond the boundaries of a simple Wikipedia entry (though Wikipedia can be a worthwhile source once in a while). There are articles in trusted publications about him and his background. The first page of the Google search brings up sources like The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, etc. This is what you want to see. If all you find are links to Ezine articles pieces, self published Yahoo News Network articles and a blog? You might want to treat carefully.
If you aren’t sure whether or not to trust a publication, check out its history. How long has the publication been in business? Who sits on its board? Who owns the publication? What are the backgrounds of these people? Do you trust that their opinions aren’t influencing the reporting done by the publication you want to cite?
Basically, when you want to know whether or not a source is trustworthy, you need to do a little “leg” work. You can’t assume that someone is automatically trustworthy because he has been published. Gone are the days of “well he has a book so he must know what he’s talking about.”

Google Study: How mobile-friendly sites help sales

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While Facebook turns more and more to search and ad exchange budgets, Google is still riding the mobile wave. In many moderations over the last two years, I could listen to their attitude towards building mobile websites, and why these are important to the business of the future. However, companies often resist to face the mobile evolution and still stick to their conventional desktop websites. Not to mention what this does to their brands when the user experience is driving into a nightmare of usability and readability.

To get more attraction for their mission, Google has now published some research data on their blog that will help them to evangelize in the mobile business world approach. The benefit for Google is obvious. The more people use mobile sites, the better the experience in mobile usage, the more people tend to approach the Google search which means more marketing budgets into their hands.

In their research of about 1,100 U.S. adult smartphone users conducted by  market research firms Sterling Research and SmithGeiger, Google gives some handsome advertising tips to make marketers better understand and evaluate the power of mobile.

The key findings can be summarized as follows…
– 67% of smartphone users state a mobile-friendly site makes them more likely to buy a company’s product or service
– 74% are more likely to return to the site with a good experience later.
– 61% made clear that when they don’t find what they’re looking for (in roughly five seconds), they’ll click away to another site.
– 50% of respondents said even if they like a business, they’ll use its site less often if it doesn’t work well on their smartphone.
– 72% see a mobile-friendly site important to them, however 96% have visited sites that aren’t.

Spot On!
The Google study advices marketers to create a fast mobile site with big buttons and text, and simplify the mobile experience in terms of keeping steps to complete tasks to a minimum. For sure, Google did not forget to promote the site with Google mobile ads with some good results: two-thirds of people who use search find a site. Their conclusion is that „having a great mobile site is no longer just about making a few more sales. It’s become a critical component of building strong brands, nurturing lasting customer relationships, and making mobile work for you“. There is not much more to add.
Still, we would be happy to hear from your mobile experience – with or without Google. Did you change your site lately and what did it do to your sales?

The Social Google: Google Search and Google+ unite

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Google revolutionized the internet, the way we interact, we use our brains and thus, somehow it changed the world. And now they will do it for the second time… with „Search, plus Your World“. This new search engine technology does not only bring us information from across the web. It proclaims to make search even better better by including photos, posts, and „more from you and your friends“.

With an all new algorithm for their search they have changed their search strategy. Today, people are searching not only for content. Today people also want to find personal and private information and touchpoints. The normal result is one which we have all expected for a long time since Google+ launched: Google+ will be integrated in Google search which will definitely affect the power of Google against their hardest social competitor Facebook.

Google’s new „Search, plus Your World“ integrates also personal data like personal content, pictures or videos from Google+. Here is their new promotion video…

On the official Google blog Amit Singhal explains how the new Google search works with an experience of his past.

„As a child, my favorite fruit was Chikoo, which is exceptionally sweet and tasty. A few years back when getting a family dog, we decided to name our sweet little puppy after my favorite fruit. Over the years we have privately shared many pictures of Chikoo (our dog) with our family. To me, the query [chikoo] means two very sweet and different things, and today’s improvements give me the magical experience of finding both the Chikoos I love, right in the results page.“

Google’s first step to integrate Social Search results gets now followed by the integration of Google+ which becomes a massive hub to „socially unite“ all of their own products and services. The new search offers three main benefits…

1. Personal Results, which enable you to find information just for you, such as Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page;
2. Profiles in Search, both in autocomplete and results, which enable you to immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following; and,
3. People and Pages, which help you find people profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest, and enable you to follow them with just a few clicks. Because behind most every query is a community.

Spot On!
However, this might sound as if Google makes us more transparent, users have the opportunity to select whether they want the new Google search algorith, or not. This gives users the ability to see either the good old search results or the brand new private search results. People just need to use the little buttons…

…or they will simply change it in the account settings. And Google extends the Google+ circles idea to their search: Every single result in the private search mode gets marked whether it is private, public or limited entry. Somehow a clever filter, don’t you think…?