It seemed that Google+ is slowly catching up with Facebook when it comes to improving the visual experience when it comes to sharing great content on Google+. Below is the current and old style post that you see when you share content on Google+ with a small thumbnail image, the page title and a URL. This is really not a great experience if you are trying to capture your fans/followers attention.
But good news, below is two screenshots of the new and improved Google+ posts that include a massive 505×306 pixel image with a larger font for the title along with Google+ page link and short description if available. You can see the difference between the two is quite substantially and likely to vastly improve engagement and click-thru-rates for content with great feature images!
So what do you think about the new style large impact posts, they don’t seem to be retroactive at this point but if you are not sharing posts with great enticing images you will likely now be missing out on making a great impact to your followers.
Having just seen Marcus Tandler present at Friends of Search Amsterdam 2014 a few weeks ago with SMX Munich at the end of this month I reached out to Marcus for a quick email interview. Marcus is the MD and partner at Tandler.Doerje.Partner with his main focus on SEO. He is a well known industry figure and known for supporting great campaigns such as #SEOsforCharity which started back in 2008 over some mulled wine with Bob Rains . #SEOsforCharity is a great idea and has raised more than 100,000 euros in donations for charity since it started and is something worth getting involved in as it’s a bit of fun. Marcus has been frantically working on some new features to his companies SEO platform OnPage.org and obviously getting ready for his next presentation at SMX Muenchen so here is the interview.
Your SMX Munich session is on the future of Google Search (Hummingbird, Google Now, Knowledge Graph) is there still hope for SEO? As long as there are some sort of organic results within search results, there´s going to be SEO!
Should marketers be focusing on Google Now or Knowledge graph more? I don´t know if it makes much sense to focus on either one of these Google services. I wouldn´t try to compete with Google when it comes to informational search queries.
Like Bill Gates once said – “the future of search is verbs” – so people looking for action, wether they´re looking to book a flight, cure a hangover or book a table at a restaurant – these are the kind of queries you want your company to show up in the SERPs for.
Are there any companies/brands you think that are leading the way and riding the Google Now/Knowledge graph wave all the way?
I would say Wikipedia, but Google is rather scraping their stuff then sending more traffic to them via the Knowledge Graph. So the answer is a definite no > Google Now and Knowledge Graph really only help one single company, and that´s Google!
You recently spoke at Friends of Search Amsterdam was there any insights or tips you picked up from other speakers that you thought need to explore that idea?
Bastian Grimm shared some great tips on how to secure your WordPress installation. With automatic WP hacking still on a rise, it´s more important then ever before to make WordPress blogs more secure. You can view his presentation on Hardening WordPress below on Slideshare.
Thinking about wearable tech I don’t see you as a Google Glass user? Am I wrong?
I´m not owning a pair of Google Glasses yet. Being a huge geek I will definitely buy me a pair as soon as they are officially released, but I don´t necessarily need to be a paying beta-tester. Although I would have loved to wear them during my wedding.
Do you think marketers need to be using wearable tech to understand the benefits and implications that it might have on the future of search?
It´s definitely an eye opener, since you´re searching a lot differently when you´re searching via a wearable device. Conversational search is the key here, cause people aren´t searching just with keywords anymore, but rather use natural spoken queries, which Google needs to be able to understand and interpret correctly. This is why Google is trying to move from strings to things.
Were you surprised about the attention your TEDxMünchen video generated? When is the next one happening?
Absolutely! I received to much great feedback from all around the world, I´m really humbled that people enjoyed my over 200 slides so much! I don´t know when I will get another chance to wow a TEDx audience, but I would definitely love to!
What is the main ideas/points that you hope people to get from attending your session?
I want to tell my audience the whole story on hummingbird and Googles quest to move from strings to things, so people can understand where Google is coming from and their strategy moving forward. Being a SEO you should never change algorithms and search updates, but rather think a bit further to really provide sustainable SEO.
What are some of the other sessions/speakers at SMX Munich 2014 that you are looking to see?
There´s quite a couple sessions that I´m really looking forward to. Rand Fishkin always does fun and entertaining keynotes, so that´s a no-brainer. But I´m really excited about the Big Data session with Microsoft OSS Evangelist Frank Fuchs and Anirudh Koul, who´s THE Big Data guy at Microsoft and probably one of the smartest guys around. I think this session will definitely be one of the highlights at SMX munich. SMX munich is really one of a few conferences I´m actually sitting in most of the sessions, unlike other conferences where I will just hangout and chat after I´m done with my talk. There´s always something you can learn!
So where can people found you if people want to follow/engage with you online?
If you want to learn more from Marcus you can find him on Twitter @Mediadonis and on Google +MarcusTandler and also find some great posts on his personal blog that cover all sorts of business and personal topics.
Thank you Marcus for your time in answering these questions and congrats again on the progress of OnPage.org into Zoom and I hope everyone enjoys your SMX presentation which is on Day 1 from 3:30pm in Panel 2.
So if you want to catch Marcus Tandler speak and save €€€ on tickets for SMX Munich 2014 you can use our discount code LOSTPRESSSMX and you can register and find out more here.
Just in time heading into AM Days San Francisco that is happening on the 19th-20th March 2014, I was able to get some of Geno Prussakov‘s time for a interview about his views on affiliate management but also the upcoming AM Days San Francisco event but also AM Days London happening in May 2014. Geno is a successful and well known affiliate marketer, a well published author and blogger but also founder of outsourced affiliate program agency AM Navigator. If that’s not enough he is also the organiser behind Affiliate Management Days a successful global conference series focused on affiliate management. AM Days is run annually in San Francisco, and London and is designed specifically for helping affiliate managers responsible for their companies affiliate marketing operations and strategies become more successful.
1. What is the biggest change you saw in affiliate management in 2013? While I could (and should) mention the pleasant tendency for advertisers to invest more time and money into the education of their affiliate program managers, it wasn’t “the biggest change” of the year, in my opinion. The biggest one was the fact that some of the top brands in the market started shifting their focus from network-based affiliate programs to in-house platforms, migrating their program support and management respectively.
First, after Google’s announcement about “retiring Google Affiliate Network effective July 31, 2013″ [source] we noticed how a number of top brands migrated not to Commission Junction (CJ) or Rakuten LinkShare, but to solutions that bring program the management in-house. In such a manner, Threadless, ForMeToFlowers, Quidsi, OTC, AbeBooks all migrated over to ImpactRadius and are now exclusive to this platform, as far as I understand.
Then in August of 2013 in addition to their CJ-based affiliate program, Groupon announced the launch of Groupon Partner Network, which similarly to eBay “Partner Network” really meant an in-house-based affiliate program for Groupon. Finally, literally a day later, a similar news came from Apple. They chose to part ways with LinkShare and TradeDoubler migrating their affiliate program to Performance Horizon Group. The tendency to shift from networks either to proprietary or to SaaS solutions is clearly there.
We are, actually, going to discuss this tendency with the key affiliate networks and tracking solution providers during the “The Future Affiliate Network” panel at Affiliate Management Days San Francisco in a week.
2. What do you think the biggest challenge is for the affiliate industry in 2014? Just as in 2013 it isn’t going to be connected with leveraging any of the emerging trends. I believe that the industry’s biggest channel will be in justifying that the affiliate marketing guy does have a place at the table. Auditing affiliate programs on a regular basis I see advertisers falling in and out of love with affiliate marketing, and the primary reason for this is that we aren’t giving enough attention to proving the value of performance-based marketing. We aren’t focusing on showing advertisers how affiliate programs can indeed create incremental value for their businesses. Multiple affiliate programs are currently dependent on bottom-of-the-funnel affiliates, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Affiliates can be powerful introducers of new customers, and influencers of purchaser’s decisions as well. Affiliate programs can complement advertiser’s other online marketing efforts without cannibalizing any of them.
3. What affiliate network that you think is doing great things for their merchants/advertisers? It is hard to single out just one, as networks tend to be geographically focused (and often niche-specific too). In the U.S., for example, I would highlight ShareASale and Avantlink who aren’t only talking attribution, but also providing advertisers with practical ways/tools to analyze the clickstream and set payout rules that work for them. In the United Kingdom Affiliate Window is doing impressive things too — in tracking and research/reporting particularly.
4. What is the biggest mistake badly run affiliate programs continue to make? The biggest, and the costliest of all, is not giving the affiliate program the attention is deserves. From vague (or inexistent) policies to lack of compliance policing, and from minimal (or no) affiliate recruitment to lack of activation initiatives… the list could go on an on. In a nutshell, as mentioned in the video below earlier this year, “similarly to any serious marketing campaign your affiliate program must be managed.” Otherwise, it can get you into all sorts of trouble (from channel cannibalization to serious brand damage).
5. What is one piece of advice you wished all affiliate managers would take on board? Never assume you can stop learning. In an industry as dynamic as affiliate marketing you cannot afford to rely solely on yesterday’s knowledge, and must keep self-educating continuously. New challenges, as well as new opportunities, come up nearly weekly. Invest your time and effort in ongoing self-education!
6. What should affiliate managers be focusing on recruitment or retention of affiliates?
When managing clients’ affiliate programs I expect AM Navigator account managers to spend no less than 80% of their time on two areas: affiliate recruitment and affiliate activation; some 50% on the former, and 30% on the latter. It is also important to emphasize that “retaining” an affiliate is, actually, fairly easy, but their retention in the program doesn’t help you a bit unless the affiliate is active with the program. We see how in unmanaged and under-managed programs the affiliate activation index (or the percentage of affiliates active in the program) ranges from 5% to 10%, while in programs where the affiliate manager is devoting time to affiliate activation the index rises up to 20% or higher. Hence, the importance of focusing on both: recruitment first, but then also activation.
7. Affiliate Management Days have taken you around the world, what’s your favourite city for attendees? It so happened that after some “trial and error” (with locations) we’ve arrived at what I believe to be the optimal solution: running the U.S. conference in San Francisco (this year’s show is just around the corner – March 19-20), while the European one in London (we are set to be back on May 13-14, 2014). San Francisco is, arguably, the American capital of e-commerce, while London is the place where nearly eighty percent of all things affiliate marketing are headquartered. Therefore, I cannot pick my favourite city between these two. Based on my objectives (to bring AM Days both to the U.S. and to Europe) both of these work equally great.
8. What is the main ideas/points that you hope people get from attending AM Days? Every AM Days conference is extremely rich in high-level content as well as laser-focused networking. When opening up the very first AM Days in 2012 I said that every attendee could expect three things from the show:
1. Practical knowledge 2. Professional networking 3. Motivation
While the affiliate marketing landscape has changed since that very first show of ours, the above three remain. Everyone who attends AM Days walks away with all of these covered.
9. What AM Days speakers or sessions are you most looking forward to attending? Just as the question about the “favourite city” this one puts me in a difficult position. Just as with those cities, I spent a lot of thought on every one of the speakers and sessions that one will find on the agendas of the upcoming conferences. But let me highlight 3 sessions for each of the 2014 Affiliate Management Days shows:
10. Are you attending any SMX London sessions? I wish! However, since I’ll be running AM Days London on exactly the same dates and hours as SMX London will be held (we are fully co-located: same venue, same expo hall, even shared lunches and reception), I am afraid, I will not be able to sneak out. Leaving my ship helmsman-less is just not my style.
Thank you Geno for your time in answering these questions. If you want to catch Geno Prussakov speak and save ££££ on tickets for AM Days London you can use our discount code LOSTAGENCY14 and you can register and find out more here.
AdAge covered some details about the Twitter and NFL Agreement on promoted twitter video pages in September last year but this is the first time that I have seen them until this point. It certainly pushes Twitter into the space of being able to better commercialise brands content marketing activities and potentially steal advertising revenue away from YouTube. It could also create a whole new medium for Twitter that Facebook & Google+ can then look to borrow “steal” for their own promoted videos.
If Twitter can make this work there are likely plenty of other sport based content marketing channels such as Australia’s AFL, English Premier League, PGA Tour and ATP World Tour that will be chomping at the bits to get in on the ability to drive more revenue from short video segments. I think the strategy of focusing on sports is a perfect fit for Twitter and could potentially drive a lot of revenue to them and their content partners.
It’s interesting to see that they don’t have the standard Twitter Promoted message seen in the examples shown last year shown below for Verizon. I’m wondering if this is temporary message as I think the un-styled disclosure message shown above “This video is promoted by McDonald’s” looks horrible and fairly amateurish compared against the original and standard promoted tweets.
If you click to play the video about the Twitter fan getting a prom date with a NFL Cheerleader you are run through a 8 second McDonald’s breakfast pre-roll ad. So this certainly confirms you are consuming content that paid for by McDonald’s, the sad part is that current ads don’t appear to be using different pre-rolls based on time of day.
This means that if I’m viewing the video it could be matched to my local time zone which is Europe and since it’s 9pm run a pre-roll ad about late night menu options at McDonald’s. I checked and it’s currently 2:34pm in Houston, Texas so it’s not even breakfast time in the US which I think would have made for a far more effective pre-roll ad. I know McDonald’s is pushing it’s breakfast menu but some tailoring of pre-roll can go a long way.
Compared to Instagram’s very public stumbles when it came to launching their new promoted ad programs, I was also surprised that I couldn’t see any negative Tweets back to the @NFL account about the very obvious McDonald’s promotion appearing in their news feeds. So what do you think you pre-roll ads coming to your Tweet feed?
After doing large link removal projects it’s always interesting when you read about link removal requests that go off the rails and result in both a PR disaster but the link is not removed in the first place. This time it was Gordon Sands from Bankruptcyaction.com that managed to piss off blogger The Tim when he sent him the somewhat aggressive link removal email below.
I find it’s actually interesting that Boing Boing readers have taken an interest in this and well pool old Gordon is being torn apart on social media by just average users. This is not the usual SEO types throwing a webmaster or link builder under a bus this time around, instead it seems to be large number of smaller Twitter accounts rallying against Bankruptcyaction.com and obviously Gordon. There are somewhat angry Twitter threads attacking Gordon like @Furiouslan but it will be interesting if they continue and grow or burn out? Will this continue to go viral as per the Streisand Effect?
So where did it all go wrong?
The biggest point I would make is if you are trying to get someone to do something for you don’t use all caps, bold a threatening line item or mark the block of text in red. These are just like waving a red flag in front of an angry bull and screaming “Screw you hippie I want you to submit to me and do what ever I demand you do and I want it done yesterday!”.
So yes as you can guess the obviously the outcome was not the response that Gordon Sands wanted it liked to hear, even if it was apparently the third email Gordon sent Tim, it’s important to always remember that any link removal request is always at the discretion of the blog owner. So if you are trying to get a link removed ALWAYS best be as polite and accommodating as possible and most importantly be patient as most webmasters are happy to remove links if the request is reasonable but again it’s their choice.
I have copied a large chunk of the email thread Timothy Ellis posted on his blog along with some of his comments between each email, but if you click the image you can visit his blog and read the whole post in detail. But you can see that the first reply from Tim wasn’t actually that bad and his response was reasonable enough it was a comment he felt was not in fact left by a spammer but a real user that he knew. From Tim’s first response things just kinda go downhill from here as you can see…
So made this interesting was this initially seemed a typical penguin “link algorithm” clean up based on over optimisation, link drops and sidebar links. But as I started to look somewhat more into their links to this part in particular most of the ones I found mostly seemed natural and organic and it did not appear to me that the request may not be as much focused on cleaning up link spam but instead something else.
You can see the offending comment that Gordon Sands is trying to get removed below, what makes it interesting is that it’s not the typically type of comment spam that you would be doing a link removal request on. The comment again is a relevant to the article and the link is appropriate to the comment so it’s not the type of link I would push for removal unless Google specifically listed it as a link they want removed due to a manual penalty.
Looking at some of their other backlinks yes the website below with the sidebar link seems to have some more commercial anchor text but seems to be relevant to the other sitelinks. So far nothing concerning stands out for me at this point that it is penguin algorithm penalty at work, but does feel like there might have been some paid links that have been built at some point over the past several years so again it might be a manual penalty Gordon is trying to resolve.
Looking around more I found this article in the screenshot below with a link to the same URL that Gordon was trying to get removed from Tim’s site. But again it doesn’t look like something penguin would typically go after because it was as natural as possible with the full URL and no money terms in the anchor text. Again the link is contextually relevant to the article so not something I would flag as a link I would push for removal.
Using more MajesticSEO backlink data I picked another link this type it was a forum and it was actually posted by a “super moderator” and again with no anchor text just the URL. So unless it’s being manually flagged by Google search quality teams as paid link it seems to be natural enough and not something that should be causing them problems.
According to MajesticSEO it seems that they have started to remove some sitewide links within the last month or so which could imply they got something of a manual penalty or did they think they got hit by penguin and panicking? I’m not sure how many of these links Gordon might be trying to get removed but it seems to be something of a slash and burn which could be an over-reaction if it’s not penguin or a manual penalty they are trying to fix.
I took a look at SearchMetrics data for their domain and the date (12th Feb 2012) where they appear to get a large loss of visibility in Google seems to happen just before Panda 3.3 hit and basically the site has pretty much been panda bait since then. So it seems most of their traffic left almost 2 years ago but many they are trying to bring the site back from the dead?
Too highlight the point that it seems to be Panda bait and their issues don’t seem to be link based I’ve included a screenshot of the page Gordon is concern with below. You can see there is almost no content to this particular page and this lack of content is common to several key pages within their site.
I would say that Gordon Sands should stop picking on Tim and fighting with everyone on Twitter that has a view about what he did wrong and focus on improving his website content. Also I would consider upgrading his website from static HTML to a more user friendly CMS like WordPress which will fix some of the technical issues that may have increased the impact of Panda on their site.
It seems some folks have found a way to spoof Twitter cards for their own personal benefits. The spam Tweet shown below that I was sent tonight looked like a standard Twitter App card for Pinterest mobile app but it’s certainly not!
The link is obviously not a for Pinterest or the App store but what makes this attempt scary is that if they picked a domain that was similar enough to Pinterest then it would potentially be very successful and far harder for users to notice.
One other reason that it failed is that this is a random account but if this tactic was done from a compromised account then it’s possible more than a few people may click the link expecting to download the Pinterest app. It should be easy enough for Twitter to shut these type of exploit down as this time the data-user-id#106837463 was identified as invalid and the data-screen-name was https://twitter.com when it maybe should have been something like https://twitter.com/Pinterest?
The First Link link goes from the Twitter shortner to a random and unique long URL. It seems every tweet got their own unique URL so there is automation and tracking in place so you should be careful not to click these types of links for any reasons!
The Second Link shows a 302 redirect to some type of php script, typically check.php is a tool that can be used to diagnose code issues such as CAPCTHA verification images not showing so you should be concerned if something a bit more advanced is running.
What to do if you receive these types of Tweets?
You should report these types of links directly to Twitter and NEVER EVER click on the link in the Tweet as your computer can easily be infected with malware! You can report spam tweets directly to tweet here using the form in the screenshot below.
If you know for certain that there is something suspicious about the tweet you can also flag the media by using the link shown in the screenshot below in the hope it may reduce the chance other users see and click the tweet link. I’ve got no idea if Twitter actually makes use of this feature for identifying spam.
As part of Google’s expansion of knowledge graph and building out interactive modules to keep users within their SERPs we now have knowledge graph built around USDA data on food. Matthew Barby first noticed it earlier today and in tests I did it was consistently showing so I thought I’d explore what other search queries it would show up for and was surprised to see how many search queries it was showing up on.
It seems to work on slang terms as “Booze low in Sugar” activates the interactive knowledge graph seen below. You can select type of food, quantity and all the nutritional facts on the right hand side will change and you don’t have to refresh the page or click through to any website to get the data you want and it seems About.com misses out on that traffic and revenue from onsite adsense banners.
Also if you search for “alcohol low in sugar” and once again About.com seems to miss out on that potential traffic and again misses out on a heap of revenue they previously received.
The USDA data also works for “vegetables low in iron” and this time SFGate.com misses out on that potential traffic and the user stays in Google. These types of results are painful for sites like SFGate.com that have created interesting ever-green pieces of content and have long benefited from a large share of organic traffic until now.
If you search for “vegetables low in carbs” and once again About.com seems to miss out on that potential traffic and adsense impressions and clicks.
If you search for “milk low in iron” and once again KidsHealth.org a health focused non-profit website run by Nemours seems to miss out on that potential traffic which is possibly not ideal long term.
If you search for “fruit low in sugar” and once again About.com seems to miss out on that potential traffic and a huge amount of valuable adsense clicks.
So What does this mean for website owners?
You can see from the sample heat-map test with Feng-GUI.com that a majority of the users focus is just on the Google knowledge widget and not on the organic search results. This means many industry, government and media sites like About.com will now miss out a huge amount of organic traffic. I wonder when Google might try and start to monetise these results and without more context and details around these types of results are users really getting the complete picture and best advice?