This is the sixteenth episode of, ‘This Week In Organic’, the weekly show that debates the ramifications of the latest SEO and content marketing news.
In this episode, among other things we talk about – How to you ‘SEO for voice search’? – Is it possible to compete in ultra-competitive industries as an SEO, without buying links? – Are your app banners negatively impacting your SEO? – How will the launch of Blab impact video marketing? – What should web developers be doing to take advantage of the new iPad Pro screen-size?
DAVID BAIN: How do you SEO for voice search? Is it possible to compete in ultra-competitive industries as an SEO without buying links? Are your app banners negatively impacting your SEO? How will the launch of Blab impact video marketing? And what should web developers be doing to take advantage of the new iPad Pro screen signs? Welcome to This Week in Organic, Episode Sixteen.
You’re watching This Week in Organic, the weekly show that debates the ramifications of the latest SEO and content marketing news. Sign up to watch the next show live at http://www.thisweekinorganic.com.
Hello, and welcome. I’m David Bain, and each week I’ll be joined by some knowledgeable opinionated folks to discuss the latest happenings in anything that impacts organic traffic. And as for you, dear viewer, get involved. We’d love to hear your opinion too. So just use the hash tag TWIO on Twitter, and if you’re watching live your thoughts will magically appear in the chat box to your right-hand side.
So let’s find out more about today’s guests, where they’re from, and what’s caught their attention this week. So starting off with Pam.
PAM AUNGST: Hi, thanks for having me back. I am Pam Aungst from Pam Ann Marketing, your web traffic controllers. We help businesses get more traffic to their websites and get more leads out of them, primarily through SEO and pay per click. And we’re live from New Jersey in the United States.
DAVID BAIN: Wonderful, thanks Pam. And moving on to Jonny.
JONNY ROSS: Hi, I’m Jonny from Leeds in the UK. I must tell you that I’ve got a tonne of feedback, so I actually can’t hear anything at all. I’m going to introduce myself, and then I’m going to logout and come back in. So I’ve got an SEO agency in Leeds. I’ve been on This Week in Organic a few times – really enjoy it, and can’t wait to chat. I will be back straight away.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, see you in a bit, Jonny. Hope you do come back. And moving on to Chris.
CHRIS GREEN: Hi, thanks. I’m Chris Green. I’m an SEO and content manager at Strategiq Marketing based out in sunny Suffolk. We’re a full service marketing agency. First time on the show, thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, wonderful. Well thank you so much for coming along. Well we’ll dive straight into topic number one, and that’s Siri has come to Apple TV. So is search behaviour while viewing TV likely to be different to search behaviour on other devices, and if so will this alter SEO? So Pam, let’s have your opinion on this one first of all. Do you think the art of SEO is going to change quite significantly in the future because of perhaps an increased use in voice search, as opposed to actually typing in things in a desktop?
PAM AUNGST: Absolutely. I think there’s two different things to touch upon here. One is search within other applications, like television, smart TVs, and within apps and other ecospheres. And then there’s the voice search as it applies to searching for websites. So most people who know me know how anti-Apple I am. I am all Android PC, so I am not familiar with Apple TV, and what I know about Siri is just from overhearing my daughter talking to her. So from what I understand, I don’t think that websites are going to be searched for on Apple TV, so this whole Siri coming to Apple TV thing, it might impact how the video content, TV content is searched within that little ecosphere. But as far as what we deal with day in and day out with helping businesses, a lot of small businesses, get found on the web we’re mostly looking at search via websites. But that absolutely – so separately of course – that has been impacted by voice search, particularly on mobile phones.
So the big change there has been really on the part of Google, I think, to catch up in understanding full sentence searches, question searches, and the semantics of that. Traditionally they would ignore the stop words, the little words, like where, is, the, near, me. They would just hone in on the keyword, and some of the stuff that I’ve read from Bill Slawski about keeping up with the patents that they’re filing. And they’re trying to understand more full sentences for that reason because people are searching that way now. When they were in front of a computer, I think they were accustomed to the fact they had to skip all the other words in a sentence, and not type in a full sentence, just type in the key words. But that’s definitely no longer the case with the mobile phones.
So I’ve noticed that full sentence searches are being understood better by Google, and so we are then encouraging our clients to use them in their content, particularly when it comes to local and mobile type searches.
DAVID BAIN: Right, yeah. That’s intriguing because as you say, until recently it used to be just about optimising for certain words or phrases that were directly associated with your product or service. So if there’s context behind that then it could open a whole new ballgame in terms of SEO. I remember years ago asking the Ask Jeeves search engine, and of course they tried to say that they were about phrases, but I’m not sure if they did that too well. But that was a long time ago; that was probably ten, fifteen years ago or so. So contextual search I’m sure has come a long way since then. So Chris, do you see SEO being changed over the next few years with the use of voice search?
CHRIS GREEN: I think the changes in voice search kind of fundamentally changes the way we think about search. You know, keyword search is quite disruptive, or started off very much being that way because we were searching in a very sort of different way to how we kind of think and actually look for things. Whereas voice search is kind of more fluid, more natural in a general sense. In the TV context, I think it’s interesting because the very act of searching when you’re watching TV, and you’re viewing some medium like that can be just as disruptive. And I think it kind of changes the dynamic you have with the search, and with what it is you’re looking for.
How dissimilar that would be to if you’re on a tablet or a phone searching, you know, that is your second scream as opposed to you’ve got the one screen, and you’re kind of interacting with that. But I think the optimisation, and how you kind of gear it up I think is being more aware of the actual context of the searcher. And I think that tallies up probably much more maybe to the entertainment, and what the searchers are kind of engaged with at that moment because I think the context is still going to be the key to optimising for that. But whether we find ourselves creating pages optimised entirely for voice search for this purpose, I think we’d probably be spending too much time doing the wrong kind of thing.
DAVID BAIN: So I mean Jonny, do you think that SEOs in the future will actually look to optimise their pages directly for specific longer phrases? Or do you think it’s simply Google and other search engines getting a little bit more intelligent about the context behind the content on a page? So as long as the context is there in terms of the rest of the content on a page, and perhaps the link profile of that page, that it doesn’t really matter how well optimised your page title, for instance, is?
JONNY ROSS: Yeah, I think – can you hear me by the way, just to double check?
DAVID BAIN: Yes, very well.
JONNY ROSS: I’m sorry for earlier. I’m back in, I can hear, everything’s fine. So I think there are two things here. I think the first thing is how Apple TV’s going to be using it, and with it only coming out yesterday, the day before, whatever it was, I don’t know the full story. From what Pam has just said, it sounds like when you’re using voice search you’re not seeing webpages, so you’re just seeing apps, and it’s just using portals. And I think that is disruptive. I think that then brings the need for creating apps for being more involved with things like Apple than Google, for example.
But then on the second side of it, with regard to is it really going to change SEO, which is a whole other question really, I actually don’t think it is. And I keep reading Siri’s going to change SEO, voice is going to change SEO. I think for a long time all of us have been banging on about how we should be using longer tail phrases, how we should be using questions in keywords and content. And ultimately, that’s what voice is – people asking questions, or using longer phrases.
So I actually don’t think really there’s any difference, and I’m not sure we will see voice optimised pages. And I think it’s just a natural progression that people are using longer phrases in Google anyway.
DAVID BAIN: I mean, one thing you alluded to there as well was that if Apple focus on their ecosystem, then obviously they’re perhaps going to be looking to actually drive traffic toward content perhaps within their own apps as well.
JONNY ROSS: Yeah. That’s a bigger problem.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, and Pam was saying that she’s not too big a fan of Apple. Did you think that would stop you from advising your clients to produce apps within the Apple ecosystem, and to generate content within those apps? Or is it something you would actually still advise a client to do even though you personally perhaps don’t like that system?
PAM AUNGST: Of course whatever’s best for the client. My personal preferences, I don’t let that get in the way for that. As to whether I would actually recommend that in the real world, well it depends on the client and the audience, of course, that they’re trying to appeal to, and what it is that they’re trying to promote. We do work with a lot of smaller businesses, so it’s doubtful that that would be one of the strategies we would use with them. But of course, if the situation arose where it was the right type of content, and the right type of audience, yes of course I would recommend they go ahead despite my personal beliefs.
DAVID BAIN: So you’ve never owned an iPhone?
PAM AUNGST: Actually, not an iPhone, no. I do actually own two iPads only because, and I did not pay for them, only because I won them in contests.
DAVID BAIN: That’s alright then, yes. It would be terrible if you had to pay for it, yes.
PAM AUNGST: Yeah, I refuse to pay – except for my daughter has convinced me to pay for Apple products for her.
DAVID BAIN: Jonny, can you admit to paying any money to Apple at all?
JONNY ROSS: Unfortunately far too much money to Apple, and I’m one of those people—well, it’s funny because I can’t move away from Windows for my laptop and desktop, but certainly couldn’t leave Apple for my phone and iPad. So it’s a strange world that I’m sort of half and half. I’m stuck in both; it’s really strange.
DAVID BAIN: Well, one thing that Apple have launched as well, or is in the process of releasing within the iOS 9, is search for within apps, and getting better at finding content within your own devices. So is that something that you’re actively considering as an agency advising clients on who may have apps, or perhaps may have apps in the future?
JONNY ROSS: Yeah. I think you’ve absolutely got to, unfortunately, see the value of apps. And there’s more and more steer towards it. I don’t think websites are going anywhere, but I think depending on audience, depending on budget, I think apps have to be part of that. And to be fair, the cost of apps is really coming down significantly. And I think yes, you’re using your phone to do a search, if you’re not going to be in that search then potentially there’s an issue.
DAVID BAIN: I think the challenge with apps from a cost perspective is not, maybe, even the initial design; it’s ensuring that everything’s updated, and compliant to the latest operating system. That can be another ballgame. So Chris, Jonny said that websites aren’t going anywhere. Is that something that you would take issue with at all? Do you think websites as an ecosystem are still going to be more important than apps in the future?
CHRIS GREEN: I think, you know, we’re seeing more and more of this kind of dichotomy between the web and the app sort of changing, I think. As the requirements, and the devices, and what everything’s able to do, I mean there are still plain cases where a website kind of suit exactly the need. I think where an app works is where the experience that provides the engagement the way that the app can kind of work with where the user is – the user’s device, what the user’s doing. I think in those circumstances there are specific areas where apps will always win out there just by nature.
But I think the problem with apps is always the adoption of that. Whereas everyone’s got a browser, it’s just kind of getting your website to be the one found in that browser, whereas apps, the app ecosystem and the web ecosystem, they are converging. I think when they’ve converged further, I think that’s when we start kind of thinking well, are apps really going to start surpassing, or maybe taking back something from web? But no, I agree. I’m not going to give up on websites just yet.
DAVID BAIN: Interesting that a conversation on voice search can morph into the app world there, and perhaps that’s where context is going about very personalised content delivered based upon your own preferences. It’s more about personalised searches, I suppose, rather than voice search.
JONNY ROSS: But do we believe the stats on voice search? I think the latest stat I saw was 40% of people use voice search at least once a day. Do we think that’s true?
CHRIS GREEN: If use is pressing is by accident, then yeah. All the time.
DAVID BAIN: Pam has just posted a picture of the video that we’re doing here on Twitter using the hashtag TWIO. Well, that’s not a very complimentary picture of me in the front there, Pam.
PAM AUNGST: I think it auto selected a thumbnail. I did not pick that.
DAVID BAIN: Absolutely.
PAM AUNGST: That’s YouTube’s terrible thumbnail selection tendency.
DAVID BAIN: Well let’s move on to the next topic, which is Yandex have announced a penalty targeting link sellers, but won’t buying and selling links always exist in competitive, aggressive industries? Or will this practice eventually die out? So is it possible to compete in ultra-competitive industries as an SEO without buying links? So let’s go to Chris on this one first. What are your thoughts on this one?
CHRIS GREEN: Buying links. The only day it will ever stop is if you can ever police it 100%, and I don’t know how that could ever happen. I think there’s a naivety that bought links can’t work, won’t work, whether they’re appropriate, and whether they should be used is kind of another side of it. I mean ultra-competitive industries, I think if the people leading are the ones that either have got so far ahead, or are the ones buying the links, then competing with them without doing so is more difficult.
But I think you’re buying for links one way or another when you’re kind of building content, whether you’re sort of earning it, whether you’re making relationships, it’s just that transaction changes, and it’s different. I think the issue, or I guess if there’s a moral slant to this is kind of does a link add value, the link being there? And I think necessarily the means of it getting there perhaps kind of become irrelevant, or they certainly are from the user perspective to a degree, I think. If it offers value then it should be there.
But I think will it ever die out? Well, I don’t know. Will Google ever be able to stop it? Which is probably a bigger question.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, and it certainly appears to be highly unlikely that links won’t be a significant part of Google’s algorithm in the future as well. So I guess it is going to continue to be a significant part of the algorithm then people will try and get their website positioned based on what they think is part of the algorithm. So it’s probably always going to be a challenge there.
We’ve got Andrew Halliday tweeting saying that he’ll be one of those buying an iPhone 6S Plus, but he agrees that SEO won’t change because of voice.
JONNY ROSS: Me too, I’m buying one.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Andrew Halliday will also actually be a guest on This Week in Organic next week when we’re doing it live from Brighton, but I’ll tell you a little bit more about that later on. Stephen Kenwright is also going to be a future guest, says that it will when behaviour changes, but that’s way off. Siri isn’t close. So he and Andrew are having a conversation about that while we’re discussing things ourselves.
But moving on to the current topic again, and back to Jonny. So Jonny, there are obviously very aggressive competitive industries online like maybe insurance, like maybe gambling. And perhaps there are other sectors like that that have historically perhaps been a little bit more shady because a lot of players have been very aggressive in terms of the quantity of links out there. Can you see a stage where Google will make it almost impossible not to buy links, or is that not going to be a possibility really?
JONNY ROSS: I think the thing here is what’s the different between advertising and buying a link? And I think it’s very acceptable and natural for high authoritative websites that have extremely high traffic to sell advertising space on their website. And I think that can help their users, but also it’s a market for brands. And so I can’t see that stopping. You know, are we talking about advertising is going to stop? And ultimately that’s a paid link, whether it be a banner ad, or whether it be a link, it potentially is a paid link.
Now the question is why is it there? Is it there for SEO purposes, or is it there for an advertisement? And I think until that can be worked out, then I don’t think paid links are going anywhere. I think it’s more about the quality and the trustworthiness of where the link is. So the authoritative site, if it’s a trusted site then I think paid links are fine. I think if the site is seen as spammy, and is in the radar of Google, then a paid link on there isn’t a good idea.
DAVID BAIN: So Pam, is there a grey link between paid links and advertising? Or is there a simple case of black and white, it’s not appropriate to do page links, and advertising should be links with no follow, and links that don’t pass any SEO juice?
PAM AUNGST: It’s not black and white. Of course Google’s preferences are for you not to pay for a link, but what does that mean? That’s completely open to interpretation, and I think the points that were already made here were how do you define paying for a link, and actually maybe paying for a public relations activity that’s going to lead to you obtaining links? I mean is that paying for a link? Not really, I don’t think. I think when Google says pay for a link, they mean I am going to give you money to place this link here to point to me very literally.
But then again, okay, so when it comes to advertising, if it’s an ad or a directory listing, does that count as paying you to place that link there? One of the delineating factors I think is does the link placement, and all the content that comes with that have a real world business purpose being in that place other than just the link? I think that’s my interpretation of what would be okay with Google, and what would not be okay with Google would be if I go to www.weselllinks.com, and I buy a single URL, and I exchange money for that, that’s buying a link. But if I pay to be included in a directory listing, or have an ad on a site that has a real world purpose, that helps people find products and services that they need, and human beings will use this for this other purpose, then I think that’s where the safer area can be.
But yeah, I mean to answer the question about whether or not you can compete in highly competitive industries in SEO without buying links, the link continue to be important. Like you said, year after year those ranking study factors come in with links being one of the highest things that matter. So while it matters, yes, people are going to continue to try to cut corners, and you’re going to need to get the links in order to compete. But how you get them is where you can decide where in that grey area you want to be. Do you want to be towards the darker area that’s very straight up exchange money for this URL, or maybe put some money behind doing some personal branding on social media, so that you become a little bit of a social media star, and you naturally get links from that? I think you’re going to have to invest in getting links, but not necessarily directly pay for a URL if that makes any sense.
DAVID BAIN: Yes. No, absolutely. It is a really tough situation, especially if you’re working in those kinds of industries where you see that your competitors have thousands of decent backlinks, and it looks as if they’ve probably purchased them, yet they’re still ranking very high at the top of Google. And you’ve got to make a decision yourself if you want to compete them regarding organic traffic, then how are you going to do that? Are you going to perhaps pay for some links that are less likely to be flagged by Google as bought links? Obviously it’s not a good idea to buy links from one provider, or a website that will give you links that look paid. But if it looks again like a decent reference within a blog piece, it’s very hard to distinguish as a paid link then. And if there’s not too many of them, and focused on high page rank type websites, then it’s in a lighter shade of grey, isn’t it? But it’s still that shade of grey. Any more thoughts? It’s a tough subject.
CHRIS GREEN: So jumping on the back of that last one, I think the whole problem with that is if you’re building your strategy on those bought links, that’s your method, then that’s when you’ve got a real problem. I think, as you said, if you can’t spot a paid link from an unpaid one, then as you’re saying about the value of it, the value is there. I think when you establish the footprint when in their rush to scale, or get bigger quicker, cutting those corners too sharply is when it really becomes a problem. And there are still some niches where large portions of people are doing it. So I think you’re backed into a corner, and the whole thing’s grey, really grey.
DAVID BAIN: Absolutely. And Jonny on Twitter asking the question is paying for links okay? So any listeners to the live show, answer that tweet. That’d be cool. Stephen Kenwright is saying, ‘free links from crap websites are bad too,’ which is a very fair point actually because you may think that you’re doing a good service to your business, but you’re probably doing a disservice to your business by just getting lots of links from irrelevant or low quality sites.
But let’s wander into the topic number three, which is are your app banner negatively impacting your SEO? Google published a blog post last week saying that they’re going to be updating their mobile friendly test, to take into account whether or not app download banners cover the whole screen. So Pam, this is a topic you suggested. Is this something that many businesses should be concerned about, do you think?
PAM AUNGST: Well, first yeah, I suggested it because I wanted to address the kind of misunderstandings that are flying out around about it. I’ve seen a lot of articles recapping this move by Google as a penalty – you know, you’re now going to get penalised for putting these app intertitles, these big banner ads that cover the whole mobile content urging you to download or install the app before seeing the content. I think it’s important to clarify what’s a penalty, and what’s not. A penalty is when Google is directly penalising you for something, taking manual action against you, saying we don’t like what you’re doing, we’re going to nix you from Google, or push you down deliberately. This is not that. This is going to be something that they now consider no longer mobile friendly. So they say they’re adding it to their mobile friendly testing tool, so as a factor that will determine your site to be not mobile friendly.
And so if your site is not mobile friendly, it’s not necessarily a penalty. There was a lot of hype about that before Mobilegeddon, but what turned out to happen, from what I’ve seen, afterwards there wasn’t massive changes, there wasn’t massive setbacks for a lot of websites that didn’t become mobile friendly in mobile search. A lot of non-mobile friendly websites are still coming up in mobile search. If they’re authoritative enough, if they’re the right website for the search, Google seems to still be serving that up. But it is important to try to satisfy the mobile friendly criteria so that it’s more of a guarantee that you will come up in mobile searches.
So this is going to be one of those criteria. So just the same as making your website responsive, and making sure it passes the test with the size of the tap targets and all of that, this is just another one of those factors. And so if it’s something a brand has been using as part of their strategy – I think I’ve seen it on WebMD. You know, when I think I’m dying, and I go Google my symptoms the first thing that comes up, no matter what result I click on, if it’s WebMD the first thing that comes up is that big banner, install the app now. And it is annoying. It’s a bad user experience. So it’s something to consider just overall, regardless of Google’s mobile friendly thing is the user experience that you’re providing. I’m not sure I answered the question directly, but I wanted to ramble about that, which is why I suggested the topic today.
DAVID BAIN: Oh, that’s good. And what you said there about user experience, bad user experience, absolutely spot on because that sends the signals back to Google anyway. So if people land on your site, mobile or desktop, and they see a big flashing up banner, chances are they’re going to hit the back button, or at least they’re more likely to hit that than if there’s engaging, decent content on there, or something that’s relevant to what they’re searching for.
And of course, if I want to install an app by someone, I’ll find out about the app, and I’ll install it. But if I’m constantly given this splash app banner about an app, it’s probably making me less likely to want to install it as well. So it doesn’t give me a good user experience. Jonny, I’d assume you’d embrace this as being a good user experience suggestion by Google?
JONNY ROSS: Well, does this mean that Google are going to get rid of the splash app when you go to Google Gmail? Because it’s frustrating, so are Google even going to listen to their own advice here?
DAVID BAIN: They sometimes don’t.
JONNY ROSS: You know, LinkedIn is exactly the same. LinkedIn’s app is just appalling. Their mobile site is appalling. But they force you so that you can’t use the desktop site, which has got all the functionality, and the user experience is terrible. So I think this is a really good move. I don’t have any issue with apps being advertised, and I think in a lot of cases they can be more helpful. But I think it has to be user’s choice, and it has to be very simple for the user to decide whether they want the desktop version, the mobile version, or the app. And I think that is the key. It can have a splash screen as long as it’s got simple options that allow you, and clicking the option actually allows you to do what you want to do.
DAVID BAIN: Chris, are businesses missing out by trying to drive traffic too aggressively at apps?
CHRIS GREEN: I think it comes back nicely to where we got to when we were talking about the whole Siri on Apple TV, and then moved on to the website versus app side of thing. The reason you push users to an app over a website is where the app offers the better experience. And I agree with what’s been said. So many people drive you to apps that just aren’t as good, and that just is all kinds of wrong. It’s a round peg in a square hole. It’s more frustrating, and I think it’s alienating the user base, especially if you are going to that website, you’ve made that active decision to ignore the app, usually if it’s bad. Just let users make their own mind up. Stop bugging them about it.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, absolutely. I mean if a user wants to buy something from you, they’ll buy the thing that you’re selling them, rather than trying to drive them to it, and it’ll create a negative impression. I’m sure we all agree with that. Nodding your heads away there.
But there’s some conversation going on Twitter still. You’ve got Stephen Kenwright again saying that you’d be more competitive in search results with links you don’t pay for. One out of ten is mainly required so you can afford to spend the time. If you create great content then people will link to you as long as you make it a little bit likely and easy for people to do that, I suppose. And also, [J.J. Gryce – 0:31:06.4] saying, ‘Coming back to the age old question, if a human can tell it’s a paid link, then there’s no doubt Google will understand this somewhere down the line.’ So you’ve got to trust your instincts and your heart about what is the right thing to do. And if you’re following a formula too much without any common sense then you’re going to come unfurled at some point in the future.
So coming up we’re going to be talking about how the launch of Blab might impact video marketing, and whether developers need to rethink web design for the iPad Pro. But first of all, quick reminder, next week we’re actually going to be live at Brighton SEO. So that’s Friday the 18th of September at 2:30 pm. So if you’re going to be around the Brighton area then come along, and watch the show live. It’d be great to meet you, and have a bit of interaction from you there.
But let’s move on to the next topic, which is have you Blabbed? With the launch of Blab.im, and the mass take up of Periscope and Meerkat, we’re seeing video becoming a near essential part of the communications mix. But is it good to build a following on a third party platform?
We’ve seen a lot of websites or businesses perhaps make a little bit of a mistake by putting a lot of effort into driving traffic, and building up a community in places like Facebook pages, or other third party sites. So could sites like Blab be this kind of issue as well where you’re building up a following in a community, and you’re not driving enough authority and traffic back to your site? Jonny first this time – do you think Blab is all good?
JONNY ROSS: Totally, and I absolutely wouldn’t see a concern about not driving traffic to a website. I think it’s absolutely the way forward. I think that you have been doing video for a long time now, and you are one of the people that see video as an absolute must for the future. And I absolutely think that Blab, Periscope, and Meerkat, I think there’s a lot to be said for them. I think that it’s very different watching a video on YouTube, unless you’re watching this that’s live, compared to something that is live, knowing that someone is speaking right now, here and now live, has a very different emotion with regard to wanting to watch it compared to something that’s been pre-recorded, and is on YouTube, for example. I could actually talk a lot about Blab, and Meerkat, and Periscope. And I think it’s a very exciting time. I think that potentially we should be Blabbing instead of using a Google Hangout. One of the biggest reasons is that that gives the audience the ability to really get involved, compared to here they’re using Twitter, which is fine, but I think it could be more interactive.
DAVID BAIN: I agree, I agree. I’ve looked into it a bit, and it is something that I intend to actually test over the next week, and as long as it I find it to be reliable enough, and a platform that is right for everything that we’re trying to do, then I think it’s possibly going to be the way we move forward. I didn’t want to make too reactive a decision. I was on holiday for a couple of weeks actually, and came back, and doing the show after that. And also I think it’s good to think about things, and how it impacts your long term vision as well because it’s very easy to ride on a bright shiny thing as well, and think, ‘Wow, this is the right thing to do. Let’s put all our energy and focus towards this.’
JONNY ROSS: Yeah, no I think you’ve got a very good format here, and I think long term strategy is really important. And I think YouTube, you know, it’s the number one platform. Google’s the number one. You know, so I just think it should be part of the mix for stuff like this. So I’m not saying we should jump, and whatever else. But I think, just lastly, just to say I think the opportunity of speaking to a whole different audience that never will have come across you, and you will have never come across, I think that’s the biggest thing.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah. No, it appears to be a great opportunity. I don’t think Periscope was quite right for this type of broadcast to be doing the whole broadcast just on that because obviously it’s mobile based. So people are probably less likely, certainly live, to watch longer shows just on a mobile device. Perhaps in a podcast on a train or something like that. And this particular show is put together using a few different bits of software. You’ve got YouTube. We’re using Google Hangouts to drive it, but also webinar software, and using Twitter chat here as well. And certainly Blab seems very appealing because it’s got the comments at the right hand side as well, the live comments. So everything’s pulled together, and there’s no issue with people just jumping on there straight away as well. So it seems easier for people to just grab hold of, and use, and jump on without any issues at all. And that’s one issue that I think I’ve had with Google in the past, and that they’re a very intelligent technology driven company, but I think their focus tends to be on technology rather than on the friendliness of what they offer to consumers. And perhaps they’ve missed a little bit of an opportunity with Google Hangouts, and another tool like Blab coming along. So Chris, have you embraced live broadcasting at all?
CHRIS GREEN: Not the live stuff, not myself. I mean, I’ve watched a lot of other people take it up, and I’ve had colleagues, and even last year one of them was Periscoping Brighton, or certain sessions. And I think I can clearly see the appeal to it. In some respects it’s almost like a guerrilla marketer type. You know, you could be much more reactive, you could be quicker to it. The barriers in entry is so much lower. And I think there is always a place for that because it makes a place for itself because there has really not been anything that’s occupied that space. And it kind of democratises the media production side, which is great.
I struggle to see how it will replace this kind of setup where it is much more kind of thought through, it’s much more regular, much more established. I can’t see how this would ever sort of fade away from it.
And the other thing is with the media that is probably more impetuous, or more ad hoc I guess, it doesn’t tend to last as long. I don’t really want to be the one that goes on record saying Blab will never last because I don’t know. You know, people have said that about, I don’t know, the iPhone, and Twitter, and other networks. So I’m not going to be the one that says that. But there’s a lot coming out. I think there’s a bit of a land grab on this, the idea of video becoming more accessible, and more interactive. And some will land, some won’t, and we’ll see. I think the infrastructure probably needs to solidify a bit more.
DAVID BAIN: And just in the last six months or so things have changed so much because even six months ago the vast majority of digital marketers probably wouldn’t have even heard of Periscope and Meerkat, and Blab didn’t exist then I don’t think, or certainly not to the general public. So it’s a vastly changing arena, and I’m sure it will change a lot more, as you alluded to, over the next six months or so. So Pam, are you a Persicoper?
PAM AUNGST: No, no. This came up last time I was on the show, and I still haven’t tried since.
DAVID BAIN: No, hasn’t changed.
PAM AUNGST: But again, what I personally choose not to do I wouldn’t let get in the way of strategies for clients or anything, so I’ve been following it, and thinking it through, you know, the usefulness of it. I think because you can’t directly drive traffic to websites from these tools, other than from your profile, I think that when it comes to SEO strategies, these more cross over into branding. You know, branding yourself as an expert, as a thought leader, and everything is important for your SEO, will trickle down to your SEO, will produce branded searches if you make yourself Periscope famous, or Meerkat famous, or Blab famous, or whatever. You know, you’re going to build more brand awareness, and then more people are going to search for your brand, so it ties into SEO that way.
Again, it’s all about the audience. So whether or not I’d recommend it as part of a particular client’s SEO strategy, there’s a certain type of audience that chooses to consume content that way, and there’s certain audiences that don’t. If the clientele of the customer is an older demographic it’s not likely we’re going to put a lot of effort into producing content on these platforms for branding purposes, and hoping that trickles down into SEO because that’s not the right audience. It’s just like with Snapchat and Instagram there’s a certain type of audience there that will consume certain types of content, and it’s a fit sometimes, and it’s not a fit other times. So I just look at these as more powerful tools in those branding toolboxes, but definitely more of a branding tool as opposed to an SEO tool directly.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. So as you said, it all depends on what’s relevant for the audience as well, and that way you select your platform that you want to focus on. And of course there are so many different platforms out there, an easy mistake to make is to try and syndicate everything you do everywhere, but then you won’t have quality interaction on those different platforms, you’re unlikely to drive a significant quality audience everywhere. So I guess generally the best way to do it is to focus on just one or two, and then try to do a great job at that. Would everyone generally agree with that, or is it sometimes better to syndicate as many places as possible?
JONNY ROSS: I think it depends what content you’re doing, and I think for example on Periscope, I think a couple of examples of how businesses could use it is behind the scenes. So that insight, that allowing to show personality maybe behind the scenes on a photoshoot, maybe a retailer doing a photoshoot or some kind of catwalk. And then you’ve got radio stations using it to show interviews. And I don’t think you need consistency there. Compared to the typical marketing that we talk about where you do need to be consistent, you do need to grow the audience, you do need to be constantly engaging. I think there are certain things where it doesn’t really matter if you haven’t Periscoped for six weeks, and suddenly something comes up that’s a behind the scenes, or something of interest, then that’s what’s going to drive the traffic. So I think it’s content driven, depending on what the content is. That’s what drives is.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, no, that’s a great point. I mean, I listen to a few podcasts, and some of these podcasts don’t publish an episode for two months or so, but I’m still subscribed to it. And you don’t even remember that you’re still subscribed to it until they publish another episode.
JONNY ROSS: Totally.
DAVID BAIN: Yep. Good, and Jonny, you also appear to be the chief Blabber here, so have you used Blab yourself?
JONNY ROSS: I haven’t actually gone live on Blab, I must admit. But I’ve been on Blab a lot. What’s the guy who runs Social Media Examiner, what’s his name, sorry?
DAVID BAIN: It’s Mike Stelzner.
JONNY ROSS: Yeah, and I was amazed that he’s – I don’t know if any of you have seen him – but he’s Blabbing all the time. And I just think that the ability to be able to chat to people like that so easily, and he’s doing behind the scenes stuff as well. I think there’s a lot of rubbish on there, but I think there’s also some really good—you know, I think having something like this maybe that sort of really good debate about certain topics, and having other people involved, I think is really valuable.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah. No, I think it could be great. I also had a look on it, and I like the fact that you can actually put something as an event to happen in the future as well.
JONNY ROSS: Yes, scheduled.
DAVID BAIN: Scheduled. Scheduled is the word I was looking for.
JONNY ROSS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I agree. I definitely agree, yeah.
DAVID BAIN: And obviously if you’re doing it on Periscope or Meerkat, I presume it’s very instantaneous. You don’t really schedule.
JONNY ROSS: You can schedule on Meerkat, but not on Periscope.
DAVID BAIN: Right, okay. Okay, well yeah lots of things happening with video as well. But let’s move along to the final topic, which is the new iPad Pro has been announced, and it’s 12.9 inches in size. Sorry to be talking about Apple here, Pam. It’s about 78% bigger than the existing iPad. So might this impact the way that some websites are built, and what should developers be looking at doing to actually take the full advantage of the screen size. So Jonny, when you’re advising clients maybe on updating their website, will you actually tell them to bear in mind people using big high quality screens like this?
JONNY ROSS: I’m not sure I will because there’s still enough of a market using desktops with large screens, and so I think it would be taken into account. And I don’t think it necessarily needs a separate, you know, as long as it’s responsive, as long as we’re aware of screen sizes, I don’t think it necessarily needs any more thought into the process. And it just reminds me of how mobile phones used to be absolute bricks, then were the smallest thing in the world, and now they’re just getting bigger and bigger again. So I think it’s just a trend more than anything of how things just change size because that’s what drives people to buy things – that things change. That’s my opinion.
DAVID BAIN: The thing that I think about it is that with these retina screens, they often make things double the size, obviously, or four times the amount of pixels for the same space. And that can impact the quality of images that are displayed as well. And I’m not sure about the answer to this. Perhaps there’s an option moving forward with responsive design to actually have different versions of images depending on whether or not it’s a retina device. Jonny, do you know if that’s something that’s considered?
JONNY ROSS: Yeah, no I’m sure you can do that, and I think that’s a fair point. And this is only my opinion, and I’m happy to hear a very different viewpoint on how you could optimise to a new size iPad. And I think the example you’ve just given, I’m confident you could include in a responsive website.
DAVID BAIN: So Pam, is the larger screens on these – I’m not sure what type of devices – are they fablets? That’s not a word. Tablet tops? I can’t think of a name off the cuff here. Obviously it’s cemented between the tablets and laptop type genre. So are we seeing a completely new device here being born? Or you obviously have the Microsoft surface as well. Is this something that people are going to be consuming the internet on moving forward, do you think?
PAM AUNGST: Yes. To turn the discussion away from Apple again.
DAVID BAIN: I tried to help you there.
PAM AUNGST: There are a lot of different devices, size screens, types of screens, merging of different types of devices like tablets, and laptops, and phones becoming practically tablets. Like everything is just mishmash, and there’s just bazillions of different screen sizes, and retina type ways of displaying the resolution. And it’s just going to, I think, continue to complicate the challenge of responsive design, and make it even more important to focus on, and make sure that your content is consumable across all these different types of devices. And we don’t do website development ourselves, so thankfully we don’t have to worry about that, except for we do of course encourage clients, we partner with web development agencies, and web designers to make sure that our clients’ websites are as friendly as possible on mobile devices.
And it’s challenging, you know. We’ve got one right now that their new design is having trouble on the retina display, and we’ve got to get the web developer working on the images used there. And it’s just going to continue to get more complicated, and I don’t think that paying attention to particular sizes of particular popular devices is the thing to do. It’s just testing it on as many different wide arrays of screen sizes, and screen types, and device types as possible is the thing to do.
DAVID BAIN: Jonny asking the question on Twitter, ‘Will you be jumping to get the extra large iPad?’ Will you be jumping, Jonny?
JONNY ROSS: No.
DAVID BAIN: There we go. One word answer there. Chris, can you see the iPad Pro impacting marketing in any significant way?
CHRIS GREEN: It’s a difficult one. I think it depends on the adoption. It’s so big, and I guess the main thing is what portion of your users, your audience, are adopting that. If you happen to have your main target group or demographic of people that are likely to go out and jump on it, then I think it’s going to impact you a lot quicker because the expectation will be that they’ve got this massive device pushing so many pixels, it looks lovely, but you’ve got to build something that sits on it.
I think for me, the way that I see it, kind of the biggest way impacting marketing from the technical side is websites are already very heavy, very bulky as they are at the moment, and that’s without worrying about more kind of images at that high resolution, and factoring in the size that it’s going to take on that. And I know obviously you can go mobile first, and you can serve images based on device type. But you’re adding another sort of cross section of device types in, or sizes into this that you’re just going to kind of overcomplicate. The big part is what’s the adoption going to be like on a thirteen inch tablet like this? Have Apple done enough to bring people on board with it? And that will be seen. But I think from the marketing perspective, it’s media at a different resolution, and do we need to run to that or not?
DAVID BAIN: Got a tweet from Laurence Caton saying that HTML5 are working on the picture element that allows you to load an image based on screen size. Not fully supported as of yet, though, and so that’s good information. Thanks for that, Lawrence. So yeah, we’ve had a great discussion there. Lots of different things there. I reckon that just about takes us up towards the end of the show. Just about time for all of you to think about perhaps one takeaway for our audience to think about, and perhaps implement in their businesses. And also just share your own information there as well. So shall we start with Pam?
PAM AUNGST: Sure, so I think the main takeaway here is audience kept coming up across all these conversations. So whether it was the mobile app banners hitting you in the face, or the live video options that are out there now, and whether or not your audience is going to go to that platform to consume content, and the screen sizes, and devices being used. I think a running theme here to think about is your audience. And before you get all hyped up and worried about oh my gosh, there’s this new screen size, there’s this new platform, and this video thing, and should I be doing this? Should I be doing that? Just stay really focused on—and if you haven’t done it already, you just start with defining your audience, your target audience segments, and down to the nitty gritty. How old are they? What do they care about? What do they do for hobbies? And getting real clear on that, and then staying focused on that with all these new options. They’re just going to continue to come out, and things are going to continue to get more complicated. So it’s just all the more important to focus on your audience, and stay focused on it.
And where to find me, the easiest way would be http://www.pamannmarketing.com, or on the social web, twitter.com/pamannmarketing, Facebook, et cetera. And thank you again for having me again.
DAVID BAIN: Wonderful. Well thanks, Pam. It was great to have you on, and your pristine webcam there as well.
PAM AUNGST: Thanks to your shopping recommendation.
DAVID BAIN: Very good, fair enough. I’m looking a bit worse for wear here with the sun streaming in on me here, so I have to do something about that here. I think you won the quality image awards today. Let’s move on to Chris. Chris, what are your thoughts for what we’ve discussed today, and obviously takeaway details for listeners as well?
CHRIS GREEN: I think the biggest part I’ve always found with issues like this, and certainly raised today, is the changing importance of context. The context of consumption of media, and by effect the consumption of how people market to those consuming it. I think that’s kind of massive. Google are charging in that direction, Apple are also doing the same, as are Facebook, as are everybody else that still wants to be relevant in the future. And I think for us it’s being aware of the shifting context, and actually we need to be smarter when we’re optimising for that. It’s often not just a case of do we need to throw up a page that targets this type of user slightly differently? And I think it’s more sophisticated, therefore it’s harder. And I find that massively interesting in equal measure with how slightly scary it can be. But that’s cool; we like that.
In terms of finding me, find me on Twitter: @ChrisGreen87. And then obviously the company website, http://www.strategiqmarketing.co.uk. If you have any questions give me a shout, and thanks for having me on. It’s been great.
DAVID BAIN: Thank you, Chris. And moving on to the man with the sunlight streaming in from the south, his right hand side.
JONNY ROSS: The biggest takeaway I would say today, for me, would be integrating video into your business. I think we’ve all been saying video for a long time. I think ultimately audiences engage far better with video than they do with images, which is far more than written content. Which is odd to say from an SEO point of view because it’s all about keywords, and content, and whatever else. But I think video’s really important. I think whether that’s live, whether it’s on YouTube, Google, it doesn’t really matter. I think it’s just more the fact that video needs to be part of the armoury. And my advice would be to, like any new platform, just to go and watch and listen for two or three weeks, and see what people are doing on these platforms, and then decide for yourself if it’s something that you think that’s a platform for you or not.
Where to find me – my business is Jonny Ross Consultancy. My Twitter is @JRConsultancy. And the website is simply http://www.jonnyross.com. Would love to chat to anyone on Twitter. Thank you so much for having me again. I really enjoy debating on all of this stuff, and thank you.
DAVID BAIN: Alright, thank you Jonny. It was great to have you on there. What you’re saying there about getting to video, it reminds me of a few years ago people were always saying next year’s going to be the year of mobile, and it was no, it was the year after, it was the year after. And people were saying that about video as well, but this is the year of video I’m sure. Lovely.
Well, I’m David Bain, head of growth here authoritas.com, and you can also catch me interviewing online marketing gurus over at digitalmarketingradio.com. Now, if you’re watching the show as a recording, remember to watch the next show in real time. So head over to thisweekinorganic.com, and sign up to watch the next show in real time. It may be Blab by then, but we’ll see. But for those of you watching live, we’re also a podcast on iTunes. So go directly to the show there at http://www.thisweekinorganic.com/itunes. Catch up with all the previous episodes there. And remember to continue sharing your thoughts using the hashtag #TWIO on Twitter. So until next time, have a fantabulous weekend, and thank you all for joining us. Adios. Cheers everyone again, thanks for being a part.
PAM AUNGST: Thank you.
CHRIS GREEN: Thank you.
JONNY ROSS: Thanks a lot.
Working as Content Marketing Director for Authoritas since March 2015, David also hosts our own weekly show – “This Week In Organic”, commonly referred to as #TWiO.