We recently published episode 12 of our This Week In Organic show, looking into:
- Will app content optimization become an essential part of SEO?
- What’s the future of YouTube now that it’s part of a smaller Google?
- Is Pinterest a social media platform or an e-commerce opportunity?
- Are these the 7 Social Media Platforms That Could Explode Before 2016?
Today we’re zeroing in on one of the topics discussed in the episode: Could one of these 7 Social Media Platforms Explode in 2016?
Jump straight this topic in the video below:
LAURENCE O’TOOLE: Forbes recently published an article called ‘7 Social Media Platforms that Could Explode Before 2016’ and they are Wanelo (which is a Pinterest rival), SlideShare (which is sharing Powerpoint slides), Shots (which is some sort of Instagram and Snapchat lovechild), Ello (the anti-advertising social network), Hyper (which is Instagram and Reddit combined with voting) and Bebo (which is Bebo reborn, a hashtag-powered avatar messenger), and then This (where you can just share one link a day, so it just cuts through all the rubbish and the noise out there and focuses on highly curated, very relevant content).
Are any of them going to explode? Have you got any advice for anyone who’s talking about these kind of things? What are your thoughts on them generally?
REBECCA LIEB: My thoughts are to look at the history of other platforms that have both risen and fallen. MySpace seemed like it was unconquerable several years back and now nobody talks about it. FourSquare is another social platform that’s declined into near obsolescence. Ello was very hot when they had a velvet rope around it and quite frankly I forgot all about it until you mentioned it again today. Slide Share is legacy – it’s been around forever – so this is almost like comparing apples and oranges. But I remember a lot of media queries when Facebook went public and they were saying, ‘Is Facebook going to be the next Google?’ Well Facebook isn’t Google to start out with, but the next question is, ‘Is it going to be the next AOL? Is it going to be the next Yahoo!?’ So the lifecycle of all of these digital platforms is very, very rapid and the flame-outs are very, very quick. So I disagree with Forbes’s promise that you can look at what’s going to be hot going forward into an indefinite future. This is going to ebb and flow. It’s very, very difficult to predict. It’s marketers’ job to stay on top of these trends, not necessarily to look into crystal balls, which are almost always very, very murky.
LAURENCE O’TOOLE: Okay, so you’ve just got to keep your eye on the ball and back the horse at the right time but don’t back all the horses straight away.
REBECCA LIEB: And look at where your customers are because jumping onto a platform without a strategy is tactical and usually very short-sighted.
LAURENCE O’TOOLE: Okay. And Bill, any thoughts on that, and that interesting list of names?
BILL HUNT: Yeah, I would agree. For me, the only one that really stands out really more from a B2B would be something like SlideShare. I think that people have known about it, I think it’s a way to tie in with other applications – you mentioned APIs. None of these really caught my attention or have caught my attention to where I might want to invest in. I think it’s exactly as Rebecca said. Have some of these verticals sort of jumped the shark, meaning it’s like a ‘me too’ but not a better ‘me too’ and I think that’s going to be some of the drivers. You know, Ello sounded really good or a few of these sounded good without advertising, but without advertising how are you going to grow? How are you going to make money? So I think some of those are problematic from the beginning and that’s going to restrain some of the marketers.
But I think find some of the pain points. I don’t think any of these solve any of the complaints and criticisms of anybody using the mainstream version of any of these applications now. So until we get that, until we get a better Google or we get a better Facebook they’re going to be there, and I think a lot of these are just going to burn through a lot of investors’ money and not necessarily be something that’s a game-changer.
LAURENCE O’TOOLE: Okay, so it might burn through investors’ money but don’t let them burn through your marketing money just yet. So it’s an interesting way to end the show. We always like to look forward and see what’s out there, just to give our customers and visitors and users out there perhaps a slight advantage.
I’m just getting towards the end of the show, the official topics, but you mentioned at the beginning of the show a couple of things that caught your eye. Bill, you mentioned the hreflang notices, the wonky ones that have been going out from Google search consult team. Did you want to just touch on that and perhaps can you give people some sensible advice on what they should be doing? I know we’ve had some and we’ve looked at them. What should people be doing?
BILL HUNT: I think from the beginning, if you have multiple languages or multiple versions on, say, .com with a /countrycode, absolutely look at href. Thi sis one of the areas where it is a problem. There are some quirky things like in your case most people, the number one error that I saw came back was people were using the country of UK and you have to use GB, so it’s actually a region code versus a country. And so that was probably the biggest error I saw.
And the second one is people are mapping them and I think Google hasn’t done a good job of explaining this where if you have five versions of an English language site, all five of those need to sort of reference the other. And that was probably the second biggest error that I saw. So if you have a UK and a US, you have to basically make each other the alternative of the other. And that’s something I don’t think people are doing and there’s a bunch of freeware attempts to do this, but they’re not necessarily working and a few of them have actually caused a lot of these problems.
But sit back, read it very carefully. Essentially the premise is that this is the alternative of the other and make sure that that’s exactly how your files or your references in your pages are being done. And those errors will go away as soon as you fix those two things. You have the right country code and the right language code as well as the right mapping.
LAURENCE O’TOOLE: And what should they be doing in…I keep wanting to all it Google Webmaster Tools and still haven’t got around to calling it Google Search Console. But what should they be doing in there? You know, if I’ve got five different English language versions – UK, US, Australian – should I be setting specific geographies for them?
BILL HUNT: Absolutely. Set the geography and actually that’s what href did, is it took it to the next level. If we took, say Switzerland for example, where you have multiple languages, previously we could really only set one version for Switzerland. Now with this we can set multiple. But yeah, in Search Console Webmaster Tools set each one. The UK is the UK part of the site, to the UK, Australia to Australia. That’s a great signal. And then on top of that, go ahead and use the href. Probably the biggest value is that someone in Australia, because your US site or your UK site may be dominant, that may be showing up in Australia, and even though you’ve set the geo-targeting for AU to be Australia, as soon as you evoke this href function, we’re seeing with as quickly as 48 hours to as much as two weeks, it swaps it out almost immediately. The UK page will be there…sorry, the Australia page will be where it’s supposed to be, the other English language market will sort of drop out of there. And so it’s a very, very powerful tool when you use it correctly.
LAURENCE O’TOOLE: And we always talk about Google. What about the other search engines? Should you be logging into their webmaster tools consoles as well?
BILL HUNT: You should. Yandex uses this and Bing does it to some point but really nobody else is adopting this. Obviously Baidu in China, they want things to be in China primarily. So it is one of these things that not everybody’s caught onto. But definitely in Bing you can go in and set your language functions for that. I think it is the under-cared-about search engine and the fact that it’s powering Yahoo! and there’s so much potential traffic that come in, I do think you need to go in and look at Bing as well.
LAURENCE O’TOOLE: Okay, perfect. Any thoughts on international SEO while we’re on the topic, Rebecca, from your perspective, and general advice you’d want to give people?
REBECCA LIEB: I think Bill is frankly a better expert on it, as is his lovely wife Motoko than I am. What I’ve been working on a lot lately is international content strategies, which feeds into that. What types of content do you want localized? What comes from the mother ship, from the parent office? Whose job is it to produce and improve country-level and regional-level and city-level? These are some of the very complex tasks I’ve been working on lately with multinational corporations that all are going to feed into both global and national search strategies.
LAURENCE O’TOOLE: Okay, well we’re getting right to the end of the show. Rebecca, you mentioned at the beginning of the show, we were talking about strategies and content strategies and SEO, what are your thoughts on bigger businesses where they’ve got a content team perhaps, an editorial team and an SEO team, as to how to get them to work together in the best way and how to secure the right level of budget to get the right content marketing strategy? Any tips and advice? Any pitfalls to avoid?
REBECCA LIEB: Yeah, I’m seeing the pitfalls right now happen at the most senior level of marketing. I conducted research interviewing about 70 or 75 very top level, Fortune 100, Fortune 500 CMOs, SVPs, Heads of Digital, and I asked them what their priorities were with content marketing. Only one of them mentioned SEO. Zero of them mentioned email, which is also content.
I think that currently it’s senior executives, senior marketers that have their eyes on bright, shiny objects, very much at the expense of the fundamental toolkits. And as a result I’m seeing content marketing copywriters who have absolutely no training or background in SEO, videos going up with none of the optimisation concerns that we discussed, transcripts, titles, keywords research in the tagging. And it’s time to marry the two practices back together again. Content is a relatively new discipline. It most frequently doesn’t live in its own department but is spread throughout the organisation, perhaps in social, perhaps in PR, perhaps in comms and I’m seeing that change very, very rapidly. Just in the past few weeks my phone’s ringing with headhunters who are looking for senior content executives. It’s important to make search and email and these now very standard parts of the marketing arsenal feed back into the bigger picture and feed back into the broader marketing purview. They’re fundamental, they’re foundational and they can’t be forgotten in this rush to the next new thing. They’re still integral.
LAURENCE O’TOOLE: Okay, well there are some great thoughts there and again, probably another show.