Tag: Google

Get Hit with Some Knowledge (Graph)

A couple years ago, Google launched a little-known feature called knowledge graph, and recently rolled out a few changes to it (again, on the down-low). While most of us never heard anything about it, but we have all certainly seen the impact in our search results.

Just take these search results for “jfk”. In it, we not only see search engine result page (SERP) for “jfk”, but an excerpt pulled from Wikipedia, some additional biographical facts (also pulled from Wikipedia), some additional searches (in this case, other political figures) that other users also search for, and some recommended alternate search (such as for the airport and the film).

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Click to Enlarge

Another area where you’ve probably seen Google’s Knowledge Graph in action is with Answer Boxes, such as this one for “when is miley cyrus birthday”. Here, we not only get the answer to our question as the first result, but a bunch of “related people” birthday results, as well as some biographical info about Miley as pulled from Wikipedia.

It's your birthday and you'll Twerk if you want to...
It’s your birthday and you’ll Twerk if you want to…

So what’s my point?

So you’re probably wondering what JFK and Miley Cyrus have to do with marketing your website, right? I mean, isn’t that why you’re reading this? ‘Cause you want to market your site and it’s products/services?

cool_story_bro_superWell, I can think of at least 3 good reasons why you should care about Google’s Knowledge Graph:

  1. Increased Visibility – basically, it gives a chance for your brand (or products) to show up in related searches (such as those for your competitors).
  2. Reputation Management – the Knowledge Graph gives you an opportunity to pimp out and capture/control more the SERP real estate on brandname searches, making you look a lot more credible.
  3. Added Discoverablility – users will discover more about your brand and its products/services on searches related to your brand or product/service keywords.

Now that I’m making a bit more sense, you’re probably wondering what you can do to reap some of the benefits of this whole Knowledge Graph thing. Well, as with all things SEO there’s (probably) no end to the things you can do to continually squeeze the most out of it. But there are 3 places you should be starting, so I guess I should give you a heads-up on each of them.

Get on Wikipedia

So you might’ve noticed that Wikipedia is kinda a big thing with the Knowledge Graph. From providing excerpts that Google pulls to helping to fueling the related searches under “See related searches”, having a Wikipedia entry really enhances your brand’s ability to become a bigger part of the Knowledge Graph.

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Of course, it’s not like you just go sign up for a Wikipedia account today and just throw up an entry about itself. Rather, Wikipedia has rules about that kind of thing, and if you get caught spamming, that entry (and the user profile that submitted it) are gonna get pulled.

The best course of action, then, is know-a-guy-who-knows-a-guy. Basically, you wanna find a Wikipedia editor who’s edits/entries relate to you entry, and that’s probably going to require a PR approach. After all, Wikipedia editors have worked hard to attain their status, and they’re not gonna put it on the line just to spam the community with a copy/paste of your boilerplate.

Optimize for Google+

socialmediaexplained_donut
I’m so meta…

Now, you might be thinking “Really? Google+? Who really uses that other than Google employees who eat doughnuts?” But aside from the social network actually showing some signs (albeit slow ones) of users actually starting to use it, Google is kinda forcing it down our throats by incentivizing marketers to use it.

For starters, when content gets +1’d, it carries a bit (or a lot) more weight than it should in terms of impacting the SERP performance of that content. More importantly, having a pimped out Google+ profile offers marketers a chance to both show up in Knowledge Graph SERPs, as well as include their Follower count on PPC ads.

The point is that you’re gonna have claim/set-up your brand’s Google+ profile (if you haven’t already), and then optimize it. You can get a whole bunch of granular, useful tips on how to optimize your business’s Google+ profile from the gShift guide, but suffice it to say that it’s going to require things like:

  • completing all the fields in its About section
  • using and updating it regularly
  • and actually building Followers who actually +1 your content

I know, another social media profile to manage and maintain, right? But it’s really not that hard, and your social media intern or community manager probably isn’t busy enough, anyway, so you mind as well get a little bit more for the salary you’re paying them.

Structure Your Data (with Rich Snippets)

If you wanna reap the SEO benefits of the Knowledge Graph, you’re gonna have to turn an eye to your actual site, too. Basically, you’re gonna have to make sure that all the content on your site has been sorted, categorized, and tagged in a way that Google know where into the Knowledge Graph it fits. And you do that by structuring your data.

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You’ve most certainly seen search results affected by structured data. Such results are commonly referred to as having rich snippets, and rich snippets are pretty much anything that features extra data on the search result’s landing page. The example for “lasagna recipe” above, for instance, includes users ratings for that recipe, the number of reviews it’s received, the cooking/prep time, and even the how many calories per serving this recipe has.

Rich Snippets are available for just about any kind of content you can think of, from product pages and videos results to movie and real estate listings. Regardless of what product or service your brand offers, you can probably find a mark-up scheme on Schema.org. The site provides guidelines on how to integrate structured data mark-up on just about every kind of content, and while properly implementing it can be a headache for your web integrator, that’s their problem, not yours 😉

Do it Right, Do it Yourself

Google’s Knowledge Graph is pretty much about helping users find all kinds of content that’s (possibly) related to their searches. To do that, Google has figure out what’s related to what, and as much data as the search giant has, that’s a pretty big effing job with a lot of room for errors.

So if you’re interested in leveraging the Knowledge Graph and pimping your brand’s SERP performance, don’t wait for Google to figure out (and maybe misunderstand) what kind of content you have. Instead, get off you ass, and take matters into your own hand.

Some Inconvenient Truths About SEO

46792074So you think you know something about SEO? Let me guess: you read a few blog posts, and maybe even The Beginner’s Guide to SEO? Well, if Malcolm Gladwell is to be believed (and he probably should be because he’s wicked smart), you probably don’t know sh*t about SEO because it takes about 10,000 hours to master anything.

I myself, on the other hand, have been working at the SEO game for almost 9 years, which puts me at almost a twice-over expert. I’ve been watching the Google algorithm evolve for almost a decade, and have had to adapt my strategies and tactics every step along the way. So let me share a few pointers with you so that you’re in a better position to make a sound decision next time you have to decide whether to invest in SEO or evaluate whether the SEO you’re thinking of hiring is full of sh*t or not.

Intentional Targeting: How SEO Offers the Most Targeted Traffic Online

Before I get to the inconvenient truths about SEO, let me remind you why you those inconveniences are worth it: SEO offers the most targeted source of traffic online. Why? Because, well, search users are (1) already looking for your products/services, and (2) really feel that the organic search results represent the best possible options available to them (if only because they don’t realize that there are SEOs like me out there manipulating those results).

terminator-vision

Take social users, for instance. You might be able to target them by interest or social graph, but you can’t target them by intent. In other words, you can’t control for what mindset they happen to be in. Users use Facebook or Twitter to socialize or share, and when you’re hanging out and having fun, you’re not necessarily in the mood to buy anything.

With search, however, users are actively looking for products/services similar to yours. And that means that they’re already one step down the conversion funnel.

1. SEO is NOT a Quick Fix

patience-yodaThe first inconvenient truth about SEO is that it’s not a short-term strategy. Depending on your industry and target market, it’s much more of a medium- to long-term one.

Simply put, it takes time to obtain (i.e. “earn”) organic rankings. It’s just not possible to own any Google (or Bing or Yahoo!) rankings overnight. Rather, if you’re truly committed to SEO (and reaching those targeted users), you’re probably not going to start seeing an uptick for 3-6 months, and it might be 12 months before you get that return on your investment. You will, however, see that return. After all, these are the most targeted and (pre-)qualified online, and they are already one step down the conversion funnel.

2. SEO Offers Economies of Scale

Once you’ve obtained some decent rankings (and I’m talking Top 5 rankings, here, because the vast majority of users don’t click on anything after position #5), your cost-per-click (or cost-per-acquisition) actually diminishes with every click. In other words, SEO offers you economies of scale.

Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

You see, with PPC or social media ads, there’s a fixed cost associated with every acquisition — i.e. you pay about the same for every click. With SEO, however, every referral you get from the search engine results pages (SERPs) costs you less and less with every click.

The problem with obtaining these economies of scale (or any, for that matter), however, is that you have to invest up to a certain point before you can reach them. So not only does it take time (see point #1 above), it also takes resources.

3. SEO Offers Economies of Scope

In addition to offering economies of scale, SEO also offers economies of scope. Basically, once you obtain ranking on one keyword, it becomes a lot easier to rank on other keywords.

economies of scope

The reason is that every trusted or authority page on your site contributes to the over trust and authority of the entire site. So when you create a new page, that new page gets to sorta piggyback off of the credibility of the other pages that are already ranking.

This doesn’t, of course, mean that new pages (or products, or services) will automatically rank alongside (or even nearly as well as) those that you’ve already invested in SEO for. But it does mean that you (probably) won’t have to invest (proportionally) as much in those new rankings as you did in the ones you’ve already earned.

The inconvenience of these economies of scope, however, is that you’ll have to be investing in new products/services (and their respective pages) before you can realize those efficiencies.

4. SEO is Equity

GroundskeeperWillieJust like SEO is a medium- to long-term strategy, and just like it offers economies of scale and economies of scope, it’s also something that offers equity. Basically, the rankings you have are a kind of earned real estate, and like all real estate, it needs to be tended to if it’s going to maintain its value.

In other words, you have protect your investment. So while it’ll cost you so much to rank on certain range of terms, you can’t just set it and forget it. Once you own (or achieve) certain rankings, you’ll have to invest in maintaining those rankings. This means allotting a certain amount of budget in defending or protecting your investment.

Just like a reigning champ, you can’t just rest on your laurels. You either have to go into retirement or be that defending champ that keeps getting in the ring — staying sharp and nimble, and continuously winning/earning your top rankings.

5. SEO Requires Killer Content

You know that whole thing about content being king? Well, part of the reason is that you’re probably not gonna be able to rank well without some good content behind you.

And I’m talking more about that viral mill kinda content that’s just overhyped linkbait. I mean, sure, producing that kind of content won’t hurt your rankings — and the tons of backlinks and social signals it generates will certainly help your site’s overall trust and authority with search engines. But it’s not gonna help you rank on targeted terms.

Rather, what you’re gonna need is the kind of content that your target market is actually gonna be interested in. This means that it has to be related to your products/services (think how-to’s, support forums, and lifehacks) so that it actually is relevant to the terms that your target market is searching for (and that you’re trying to rank on). And since what counts as killer content for one brand isn’t the same for one brand as it is for another, this also might mean getting customer feedback on what it is users like about different content and why, and then using that insight to refine and focus your content efforts on an ongoing basis.

6. SEO is Technical

da-vinci-helicopterLast but not least, SEO is both a science and an art, and that means that there’s a technical side to it. Simply put, all the great marketing and content in the world isn’t going to help you outrank the competition if your site isn’t up to par. In other words, it doesn’t matter who the driver is if the engine is sh*t.

This often means developing and maintaining a site that’s (1) fully indexable, and (2) doesn’t create duplicate content issues. So while it’s tempting (and fallacious) to think dev resources are better allocated elsewhere, you have to make sure that both your front- and back-end are meeting SEO best practices, and that those best practices are applied to every future site build.

Targeting Options Across Different Online Channels

So maybe you have an online budget and it’s time to build a strategy. Or maybe you have to build a strategy so that you can lobby the purse-holder for a budget to work with. How do you determine what channels are best suited for your goals?

Well, each online channel offers a distinct form of user targeting, and how you target someone is going to affect how they react, respond, and/or convert. So it’s helpful to first understand each of these major targeting methods, and from there decide which online marketing channels are most compatible with your goals.

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Tech Media Predictions for 2012

For those of you that aren’t aware, I co-host a show called HipMojo that’s all about digital media and technology. This is show #22 (released last week) in which Ash and I make some predictions for 2012. I throw out a couple whimsical predictions about Amazon, Google and Facebook — but even I have trouble taking these completely seriously.

After that, Ash runs through a list of “anti-predictions”. What he’s doing with these “anti-predictions” poking fun at some very common digital media predictions that we hear year after year after year. Some of them include:

  • this/next year being “the year of mobile”
  • television finally declining
  • and whole bunch more…

If anything, our combined cynicism is food for thought in the sense of a reminder that it’s a little too easy to drink the kool-aid, pee out some snake-oil, and get carried away with just how much short-term promise some medium or technology has. Which isn’t to say that these media and technologies don’t have promise, but just that change, no matter how quick and disruptive as a force it can be, rarely happens over night. In any case, I hope you enjoy this episode…

Mobile Ad Opportunities in 2012

So every year since 1990-something, people have been predicting that the following year was going to be the year of mobile. Whether 2012 will turn out to be the year of mobile or not is anyone’s guess, but two things that are certain are (1) mobile has definitely gone mainstream and, as a result, (2) it’s therefore an ad medium that any serious marketer has to take, well, seriously.

This couldn’t be more truer than in the US. Indeed, if you consider some of the numbers release by Nielsen in their State of the Media: Mobile Media Report Q3 2011, there is a clear and present opportunity for advertisers to target mobile user through both mobile search and mobile app ad networks.

So it’s not a question of whether you should be investing in mobiles advertising. It’s a question of how much you should be investing in mobile (and maybe even whether you should be diverting budgets from other channels).

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