Keeping up with Online Media Developments

It is a real challenge to keep up with today's technological developments. It can be an overwhelming information overload even for experienced web technicians. 

This article sums up my observations of the most recent online marketing updates and my recommendations to small business owners who would like to invest in online marketing.

1. Flight of the Penguins - A lot of small business owners who have invested in black hat online marketing have suffered steep drops in their rankings. The attack of the Penguin has left them revamping websites and losing daily revenue due to the drop in website traffic. Google launched "Penguin Updates

Though this update only affected a tiny percentage of websites, the most significant effect would be on websites which used a shady link building strategy. 

Google has hundreds of algorithms which are given different weights. The weighting changes depending on the trending user behavior, focusing on the relevance metric. For example, if users spend a lot of time on social media sites like Facebook, Google would give much more weight to social media in search engine ranking versus the number of link partnerships. 

View Google's Quality Guidelines here

The reality is Google will continue to change so it will maintain its relevance to the market and keep its market share. It's important to keep your content fresh and helpful to your customers.

2.  A picture is worth a thousand words - The success of PINTEREST is impressive! The basic platform of uploading photos online on boards SIMPLY works. 

Why? Having looked at the creative photos on Pinterest, my personal impression is that it's an IDEA website. Unlike Facebook which has users uploading details about the 'user', Pinterest promotes creative ideas which awe me.

Interesting photos, emotion evoking videos are the most viral types of digital content out there. People freely share these content and their friends often reshare them.

Photo suggestions for accommodation providers:
a. Scenic attractions in the area
b. Customers enjoying facilities
c. Events around the area
d. Food, Culture scenes 

3. Google + is favored by Google search engines. This means, all shares and links posted on Google + will have more weight than those shared in Facebook. 

4. Advertising using Google Adwords overwhelm natural search - part of Google's push to promote Google Adwords.

5. Directories and link networks are devalued in terms of search engine rankings on search engine results.

As much as what's happening in the online space is overwhelming, it is exciting and inspiring! I have listed my recommendations on how to stay relevant online:

1. Customer Focus 
a. Revisit the reasons why customers chose your brand, business, website over competitors. Ask them directly or ask via online surveys what captured their attention and what they think you can do to improve your performance. Ask them if they would recommend you to their friends. Use their insights to develop content on your website.

2. Develop a Holistic Marketing Strategy

Print, Radio, Online Media marketing strategies need to be integrated. It is important to integrate all campaigns and use online channels to distribute information, more cost-effectively.

Any promotions, discounts and coupons, product/feature updates, company announcements used to entice traffic or produce interest need to be distributed in all possible online channels.

The key is INTEGRATION - the effective use of social media, properly setting up metatags and content of your website and online paid advertising are important ingredients to survive in the online space.

Google Semantic Search

Google Semantic Search is not new technology. For years now, Google has tried to 'suggest' to customers the correct spellings or possible words they could also be interested in while searching for information.

"Semantic search uses artificial intelligence in order to understand the searcher’s intent and the meaning of the query rather than parsing through keywords like a dictionary. When you search now, Google gives you results based solely on the text and the keywords that you put in that search. Essentially, Google gives you its best guess." *source Mashable Google-semantic-search

The big difference this time is that Google will provide its OWN answers, hence its own content in providing the information.

What are the implications for SEO?

1. Businesses not only have to compete with other businesses advertising on keyword-based search results and links. They would soon be competing with Google's own set of content.

2. It will definitely be harder to compete based on content. A matrix of search criteria - like keywords, 'usefulness', 'likes', links, metatags, fresh content, etc will be involved - pushing small business owners to choose Google Adwords advertising instead of competing on the 'search results' category to be noticed faster by their target market.

Why is Google doing this? Here are my best answers:
1. The only area where Google falters greatly is the social media arena, which is dominated by Facebook. With Facebook, lurking around, Google's biggest threat is the amount of time users spend on Google's search page. Finally Google realized that since they do not provide their own content, users move on from their search page to another link - hence Google is just a channel giving clues to where real information is found. Facebook users on the other hand, spend hours upon hours on the Facebook interface. If Google can let their users spend more time on their interfaces, they can present them with more ads. This makes more advertisers interested. This means more advertising income for Google.

2. The growth of mobile use - Mobile is a cheaper way to connect online. More and more mobile phones have 'virtual assistant' or 'voice operated' controls. With different accents and pronunciations, a good search software should be able 'predict' what the user wants.

The good news is that this will not happen right away. Google will roll this out gradually.

What can small businesses do?

1. Integrate marketing efforts!

2. Good old promos

3. Marketing by word of mouth - Online!

4. Provide useful, helpful and original content.

** How exactly? Coming up on our next newsletter!

Marketing in General...

This is an old infographic but still very much so real up to this day. This happens in big and small organizations. This is why customer service is very important. The effort to resolve situations when internal processes fail is something customers value to a certain extent.

The source for this image is found here.

Facebook Latest Feature Updates

1. Improvements to Insights: You'll now see a new public metric called People Talking About This underneath your fan count to show the number of people on Facebook who have engaged with your page in the last 7 days.  This is a better metric compared to the number of fans actually because it shows the number of social mentions a page has. This also guides people in determining whether their fans are real fans whom they can potentially sell products and services to or those who really care about the page's information.

2. Discussions app removed by October 31st. Facebook wants to encourage people to use the WALL to discuss relevant issues and keep the page alive.

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