This is the seventeenth 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 – Is usability and customer experience the new SEO? – What are some of the most common mistakes made when changing a website to HTTPS? – How might a marketer take advantage of a Facebook ‘Dislike’ button?
Here’s what we discussed:
Topic #1: HTTP/HTTPS
In a video hangout on Monday, Gary Illyes confirmed that in the event of all other factors being equal, an HTTPS site will rank above a non-HTTPS site. So is it time for every commercial website to go HTTPS?
What are some of the common mistakes made when changing a website to HTTPS?
Letsencrypt.org are going to be launching a free, automated HTTPS service – is this the way forward?
Topic #2: Google+
The ‘Google My Business App’ has been updated, making it quicker and easier to update your business listing. And it also lets you see how your Google+ posts are performing.
How are your Google+ posts performing?
Is Google+ still the most effective social network for any industry sectors or is it on the way out?
Is there still significant SEO merit to syndicating your content to Google+?
Topic #3: New Search/Recommendations Trends
Apple have just released iOS9 and with it comes their proactive personal assistant, with recommendations based upon your habits. So how do you optimize to become part of someone’s habits? How do you improve your site’s usability and customer experience so that it becomes someone’s habit?
In the future, if a site is a great user experience, but poorly optimized from a conventional SEO perspective, might it still rank highly on Google?
Will it still be possible to be ‘an SEO’ in the future without having the ability to influence website usability?
Topic #4: The Facebook ‘Dislike’ Button
Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed than Facebook are working on a ‘Dislike’ button – but he doesn’t want it to be a ‘voting down’ system, more of a means to express empathy. So how might a marketer take advantage of a ‘Dislike’ button?
If you used a ‘dislike’ button to research whether or not to introduce a new product, what would the process look like?
Would there be any current activity that marketers would need to be more cautious about in the event of the ‘dislike’ button being introduced?
DAVID BAIN: Is usability and customer experience the new SEO? What are some of those common mistakes made when changing a website to HTTPS? And how might a marketer take advantage of a Facebook dislike button? Welcome to This Week in Organic, Episode Number Seventeen.
Not broadcasting from London, but broadcasting live from BrightonSEO. 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 live episode at 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. As for you, dear viewer, joining, too. I would love to hear opinions, too, so just use the hashtag #TWIO on Twitter, on the screen here live, and any opinion that you’ve got, we’ll gladly readout, as long as it’s something decent and relevant to the conversation.
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 Greg.
GREG GIFFORD: I’m Greg Gifford. I run the SEO department for an automotive software company in the states, and I’m really excited to talk about Google+ and the Facebook dislike button.
DAVID BAIN: Great stuff. Thanks, Greg. Moving on to Andrew.
ANDY HALLIDAY: Hi, I’m Andy Halliday. I’m from a company called www.ebuyer.com, and I’m the head of SEO and PPC. The thing that’s caught my interest this week is HTTPS, and whether a company should move there.
DAVID BAIN: Good stuff. Last but not least, we have Peter.
PETE CAMPBELL: Hi. I’m Pete Campbell. I run an agency called Kaizen. HTTPS, for me, is a constant debate that we have with our clients.
DAVID BAIN: That’s great, because that’s the first topic we’re going to talk about today. That’s right. So, Gary from Google this week actually confirmed that in the event of all other factors being equal, an HTTPS site will rank above a non-HTTPS site. So is it time for every commercial website to go to HTTPS? So it was Andrew and Pete that thought this topic was particularly interesting. Let’s start off with Pete. Pete, what’s your thoughts on this one?
PETE CAMPBELL: I still feel like taking SEO out of the equation, there are plenty of contexts where HTTPS isn’t necessarily required. I mean, say for example, my business – yes, we are an SEO business – but taking that aside, we don’t collect customers’ details, we don’t require credit card payments, so I can understand why many brands struggle to buy into the case of why you should have HTTPS.
I also have clients where their checkout will be secure, but the main site won’t. So there are a lot of other cases for HTTPS. I mean, Google obviously gave the hint last year when they first announced that HTTPS would be a ranking factor. Then, secondly for me, the HTTP2 protocol, which is all designed around making sites load like five to ten seconds faster, in order to have your site HTTP-compatible, you need to have an SSL certificate in place. So, I think over time, brands will gradually conform and get it, essentially. It’s just that it’s hard to win that case.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah. I mean, obviously you can understand ecommerce sites going for HTTPS.
PETE CAMPBELL: Oh, absolutely.
DAVID BAIN: But do you think for an agency site, it’s going to be absolutely necessary in the future?
PETE CAMPBELL: I mean, almost it’s quite… For me, as a business, yes, because I get criticised if someone types in ‘SEO’ and I don’t appear first. So as an SEO, I’d say of course, but say if it was a normal serviced-based business. So I have a client who’s like a loan broker; they don’t offer any kind of online facilities to actually buy or purchase loans. They’re providing a consultancy-based service, so why would he need an SSL certificate? Why does he need that expense? The only justification for it is just because it’ll make him rank slightly higher.
So quite often, when we do implement SSL for our clients, it’ll be because the they’re either about to change a whole bunch of URLs anyways, so if you’re going to change them, let’s get this in place also.
DAVID BAIN: So…
PETE CAMPBELL: Or… Sorry.
DAVID BAIN: No, I was just going to move on to Andy. Andy, I mean obviously you work for an ecommerce site, Ebuyer, is your site all HTTPS actually?
ANDY HALLIDAY: No. The checkout is obviously secure, but the main product page, the category page, the homepage, is not secure.
DAVID BAIN: Is that something you’re intending moving to?
ANDY HALLIDAY: Well, definitely after Christmas, because there’s no way we’re going to lose our organic rankings.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, I mean that’s a concern for a lot of businesses, obviously.
ANDY HALLIDAY: If it’s going to be done, it’ll be done after Christmas in our quiet times, but right now it’s a no go.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, so right now you haven’t made the decision about definitely not going for it?
ANDY HALLIDAY: No.
DAVID BAIN: So do you have a lot of organic traffic coming to the site?
ANDY HALLIDAY: Yeah, it’s roughly 40 percent of our traffic.
DAVID BAIN: Okay.
ANDY HALLIDAY: Our website’s organic.
DAVID BAIN: So it’s a significant concern, obviously, because there has been case studies in the past where HTTPS has impacted ranking significantly.
ANDY HALLIDAY: And we have a lot of third-party data pulled onto our product pages – manufacturers’ descriptions, reviews. So we’ve got to make sure they’re all able to support HTTPS before we can move to HTTPS.
DAVID BAIN: That’s a great point, because a lot of people make the mistake of HTTPS as having some unsecure files on there, and then that can throw up different warnings in browsers and really put users off, certainly. So even if you don’t lose your rankings, then you’re perhaps going to put off users by these warnings.
ANDY HALLIDAY: That’s correct, yes. That’s our biggest worry, is conversation rate of our site being affected.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Greg is DealerOn HTTPS completely?
GREG GIFFORD: No, not at all.
DAVID BAIN: And is that something that you’re keen on moving to?
GREG GIFFORD: We’re kind of talking about it for our own site, but for our dealer site, it’s a pretty big issue to tackle, because when you’ve got thousands of people all on the same website platform, and then you’re looking at, we want to make either everybody secure at once, okay. Well if we’ve got thousands of dealers that have to go secure all at once, we’ve got to go buy a boatload of certificates, and then get those installed. And then that’s going to have to be an additional yearly fee that we’re charging to these dealers, which they might get upset about.
Then, a lot of dealers are calling and freaking out about it saying, ‘Oh my gosh, Google said we have to do this to rank,’ and we said, ‘No. It says if everything else is considered equal, then this will help you rank, but you’ve got so many other problems that are easily fixable right now that don’t have all the additional issues that will come with this. Let’s fix those things first.’
DAVID BAIN: Okay. So it obviously has the smallest possible impact in terms of Google’s algorithm at the moment. Do you think it’s likely that it may increase in terms of impact?
GREG GIFFORD: I’m fairly sure it’s going to increase pretty significantly.
DAVID BAIN: Right, okay. So what are some of the kind of more mistakes that people actually make in the process? Because I’m sure you’ve seen a few client actually move from HTTP to HTTPS.
GREG GIFFORD: Well, the problem is, they just go and they set up their certificate, and they don’t look if they have any third-party feeds coming in – like he was talking about – that get completely hosed, because now it’s not going to work right. Or, now your URLs are different, or things happen, or you get the warning messages that pop up. There’s so many myriad things that can go wrong, that if you just run out and do it and don’t have somebody like us behind the scenes helping you with it, that understand it, you can really hose your traffic, and that’s unfortunate.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. So make sure you have a test server set up and test everything before July.
GREG GIFFORD: Well, and make sure that you’ve got somebody that understands that transition process helping you. Don’t try to do it yourself. I work with a lot of small businesses, car dealers, and then I do a lot of freelance stuff, too, and most of the time these guys are doing their own websites. Or, they’ve got someone that’s done a website and handed it over to them, and if they’re going to go try to do this themselves, it’s just a colossally bad idea.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, okay. So a big concern, lots of things that can go wrong. What about if you do have everything right in terms of all the scripts on your site? Should there be any concerns with regards to Google changing the ranking of your pages because the URLs have changed?
PETE CAMPBELL: I mean, yeah. I mean, I think there have been studies that show that 301’ing a URL and changing a URL for 301 will make you lose equity, and that’s why it’s been this debate of ‘does the benefit of SSL actually outweigh the downside of going through 301’s?’ Which is why I’ve made the conscious choice of only when I’m going to change all the URLs anyway, is it worth going through this process. Because I don’t think the net gain, right now, is enough. In the future, it will be.
DAVID BAIN: So if you set up a new site now, from the beginning you’d make it HTTPS?
PETE CAMPBELL: Absolutely, yeah.
DAVID BAIN: For any site at all?
PETE CAMPBELL: Yeah, I think so. Like I said earlier, the HTTP2 protocol, as well, requires it. So you’re future-proofing a lot of ways there, too.
DAVID BAIN: So, something else that’s launching actually fairly soon is www.letsencrypt.org. So that’s supposedly going to be a free automated HTTPS service. So that may reduce the cost of going HTTPS in the future. Greg, can you see many businesses actually choosing to go that route, or do you think they may be concerned about going for a service that was free and actually wanting to pay for HTTPS?
GREG GIFFORD: I think that a lot of businesses will be attracted to it because it’s free and easy, but I think that the majority of people will shy away from it because of that same reason. Why do you want to rely on this free service that anybody can use that’s just out there when you… I mean, most of the time the businesses I work with want to have a little bit more control over their presence.
DAVID BAIN: Right.
GREG GIFFORD: Do you really want to trust that out to some free service that maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t? If something happens with the service, then what happens with you?
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Andy, would you be willing to trust a free service?
ANDY HALLIDAY: No, not a free service, not for HTTPS. It’s too big a factor. Another issue is 301’s; people don’t always do their 301’s correctly, and internal linking. I’ve seen quite a few sites where they don’t change their internal linking, so they’re still sharing HTTP links on HTTPS site.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. And I bet you a lot of people actually retain their canonical links, as well, to the old, non-HTTPS version. Yeah, that would be a nightmare.
PETE CAMPBELL: Yeah. I mean, at the moment, for years, you’ve been able to get these self-signed certificates, so you kind of install a free SSL certificate yourself, but the reason why you pick a company, like Semantic, for example, is because it gives that extra credibility to your brand, being able to display ‘Oh, it’s been validated by this really reputable company, so here’s an extra point to know why you feel safe when you’re using your credit card details with us,’ or whatever it is.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. There was some great tips there. So, in summary, basically if you’re starting a new business at the moment, start with HTTPS and do everything well from there. But, if you’re not there at the moment, don’t feel that you absolutely have to move over the next few weeks. Do everything right, get someone in to advise you, and make sure you do as much as possible to hopefully not lose rank in the future.
Great. Okay. Well, moving on to topic number two, which is the Google MyBusiness app has been updated. Okay, so we’re going to turn our mic up slightly, if we can, online, so just bear with us for one second.
GREG GIFFORD: Yeah, because I talk loud. I’m actually toning it down right now.
DAVID BAIN: Is this louder here? One, two. Okay, I’ve turned everything up just a little bit there. Is it a little bit louder?
GREG GIFFORD: Yeah.
DAVID BAIN: Hopefully that’s louder. Great stuff. Okay. So, more feedback online, use the hashtag #TWIO. That would be great if you can use that. So moving on to topic number two. The Google MyBusiness app has been updated, making it quicker and easier to update your business listing, and it also lets you see how your Google+ posts are performing. So who cares how their Google+ posts are performing?
GREG GIFFORD: It’s funny that you laugh when you ask that question.
DAVID BAIN: Well, is it right to treat Google+ as a social network seriously now?
PETE CAMPBELL: No.
ANDY HALLIDAY: No.
GREG GIFFORD: Yes.
DAVID BAIN: Okay.
GREG GIFFORD: In some cases, it’s crazy. Harley riders, guys that ride Harley motorcycles in the States, for whatever reason, love Google+. Don’t know why, but when we had dealers – in my old company before the new one where it’s all new car stuff – we did a lot of stuff with motorcycle dealers, and we had Harley dealers. Between Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, Google+ far outperformed the other two when it came to motorcycle guys, for some reason. Don’t know why. RV people, like the big, old school, big bus, RV things…
DAVID BAIN: Recreational vehicles.
GREG GIFFORD: …they use a ton of Google+ as well, for some reason. So there are niche communities where you have a ton of usage for some reason, and it’s that really small community, but if you find that small community, you can dial into Google+. It’s really, really powerful.
DAVID BAIN: So, Pete and Andy, you immediately said no. Was there a time, two years ago, that you would advise people to get on Google+?
PETE CAMPBELL: Yeah.
ANDY HALLIDAY: Yes.
PETE CAMPBELL: So, primarily what always interested me at Google+ was the rel=author feature and the rel=publisher feature for that very unique hook, and being able to update your brand, and being able to have those status listings appear in Google search queries. That was interesting to me. And I think there are positives to Google+, which are amazing products. Google Hangouts, using this now – brilliant product. The same applies for Google+ MyBusiness, even though it was previously Google Places.
But, I couldn’t name a single brand out of the 15 or so clients I work with who actually use Google+ anymore, because of rel=publisher, you can achieve that logo through JSON-LD, and obviously rel=author is kind of gone. Didn’t have the kind of culture there.
I don’t know, some brands do perform well on Google+, but I question how much of that is actually the same community they’re getting on Facebook and Twitter anyway, and they’re just kind of cross-sharing that traffic between it.
DAVID BAIN: Right. It’s funny you mentioned, actually, that Google Hangouts is an excellent product, because I’m moving this show from Google Hangouts to Blab.IM next week. So I think the performance, I mean, everything works well in Google Hangouts, but technically it can be a bit challenging to setup. So the average person is unlikely to get on and use the service on a regular basis.
I think Google, historically, have been excellent technical people, but possibly a little bit lacking in terms of associating their products and making their products really relevant and right for people who haven’t got that technical background, in my humble opinion.
PETE CAMPBELL: It’s funny because the most time when I recur, as I do engage with Google+, is usually like a Google Webmaster Hangout. That’s the most time I use Google+, and that’s obviously because Google is using their own products, but…
DAVID BAIN: Okay. So, Andy, has Ebuyer never really been on Google+, or have you been on it in the past?
ANDY HALLIDAY: We’re on there, and we have something like 7,000 likes or whatever they are on there. Followers – I don’t know what they’re called on Google+. We used to just post content on there, because it was seen as getting indexed quicker, but in terms of actually using it, we don’t really have a good community on there.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Taking a quick poll of people watching live here. Who has used Google+ as a social network in the last week? Greg. Okay.
GREG GIFFORD: There’s a really awesome local SEO pro Google+ community that’s killer. So, everybody listening, if you’re into local search, check that out. Honestly, now that’s that the only reason I use it, personally, is because of that one community.
DAVID BAIN: And do you think you’ll still be using that in a year’s time?
GREG GIFFORD: Unless the community moves somewhere else, then definitely yes. Or unless Google just finally pulls the plug on it.
DAVID BAIN: And do you think they will?
GREG GIFFORD: I would not be surprised.
DAVID BAIN: Right, okay. It’s phenomenal, because obviously they’ve put so much effort into it as well, but obviously a lot of people are saying that they’re hardly using it all.
ANDY HALLIDAY: If I want to ask John Mueller a question, I’ll do that via Google.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, yeah.
ANDY HALLIDAY: That’s the only time.
DAVID BAIN: Have you done it?
ANDY HALLIDAY: Yeah, I’ve done it a few times, but that’s the only time it’s ever used.
GREG GIFFORD: Did you get an answer?
ANDY HALLIDAY: Once.
GREG GIFFORD: Really?
DAVID BAIN: So, when Google+ started, there was significant SEO merits to using that network. Initially, we have our photographs beside different blog profiles. Our blog posts then actually came up in Google Search results, probably encouraging people, making people more likely to click-through. Is there still SEO merits actually syndicating your content that leads to Google+?
PETE CAMPBELL: I mean, I use Hootsuite as my social media manager platform and, by default, we’ll put it on our LinkedIn group, Twitter, and Google+, but that’s only because I just need to tick the box. So I will take advantage of it.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Apparently there’s a couple of microphone loudness challenges online. So, people watching live at the moment, we’ll try and maybe talk a little bit closer to the microphones to make it a little bit of a nicer experience for you, hopefully. However, we will, of course, be releasing this as a video podcast, and also as an audio podcast as well. I’m recording it here in separate tracks. So that’s going to be great because I’ll be able to edit each track separately before it’s being published as a video podcast. So fear not – you will be able to actually re-watch this as a recorded edition as well.
But, we’re going to pump on here. We were talking, obviously, about Google+ social network. The question that I asked last was, is there still significant SEO merits to syndicating your content in Google+? So, Pete, you were saying that you used a social media management platform.
PETE CAMPBELL: Yes. We use Hootsuite to manage Kaizen social media channels and, as part of that, we will publish our updates to Google+ as well, but that’s essentially where this kind of… We’re putting it on Twitter anyway, and we’re just cross-posting it onto that.
DAVID BAIN: And you don’t get interaction through that?
PETE CAMPBELL: No, we do, but…
DAVID BAIN: Don’t feel bad about saying no.
PETE CAMPBELL: We do, we do, but it’s the same people that I engage with on other channels.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Let’s ask Andy a challenging question next. If you were Mr. Google, what would you do with Google+?
ANDY HALLIDAY: Kill it.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. That’s a two-word answer.
ANDY HALLIDAY: Some niches do use it, but most niches, nobody really uses it. Most people probably use Facebook or Twitter.
DAVID BAIN: Keep it? Kill it? Greg?
GREG GIFFORD: If I was Google, I’d kill it because it’s got to be way too much on the resource side for what value it provides to anybody. Why would you want to keep it going? They’re slowly pulling it out of everything. And, just today – I mean, I haven’t tested this yet because I didn’t charge my computer and now I’m dead – I was reading that they have now pulled the review stars and the link to the Google MyBusiness page, the Google+ page link off of brand searches.
So if you search for a brand with the city and that shows up as the number one result, you used to see the review stars and the link to the Google+ page – now that’s been pulled. It only shows the stars over in the knowledge pane over on the right. So if they’re doing all of these things to make it so hard to get to the Google MyBusiness Google+ page for a business, why would they keep the platform around?
DAVID BAIN: Okay. So unless you participate in the RV community or motorcycle community, don’t worry about interacting on Google+.
GREG GIFFORD: Pretty much.
DAVID BAIN: Right. Or SEO community, maybe.
GREG GIFFORD: Right.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. So that’s topic two there. We’re going to take a slight different break here, and that’s… Coming up, we’re going to be talking about whether usability and customer experience is the new SEO, and how a marketer might take advantage of a Facebook dislike button.
We’re getting a few good tweets in here, so keep on using #TWIO as a hashtag. But, first of all, we’ve had a joke competition. So you’ve possibly seen our flyer earlier on, and that asks the question, are you BrightonSEO’s funniest SEO? I’m asking you to finish the question, an SEO walked into the bar… So, has anyone here entered the competition, or have we just got people not in the room that’s entered the competition? You’re not admitting it anyway, are you?
GREG GIFFORD: I didn’t enter because I thought it would be unfair that I would obviously win, and I’m on the panel.
DAVID BAIN: Oh, I think that’s very nice of you. I think we all appreciate that. We’ve got 12 entries, actually, that we’ve got here. We’ve had a few more, but we’d whittled it down to 12 entries. We’ve got three entries each. So what we’re going to do is read the three entries that we’ve got each, and those of you live here can help us decide who the winner is. So let’s start off with Greg at the far side. So Greg’s going to read three entries.
GREG GIFFORD: An SEO walked into a bar and says, ‘Anyone else know why katieprice.com is still on page three?’ We need like drumrolls or something. These are all from Matthew O’Toole, by the way. Everybody laughed; do we know who that is? No? Okay.
Next one: An SEO walked into a bar and asked, ‘Where’s the security?’ The barman says, ‘We don’t have any. We couldn’t afford the bounce-r rates.’
PETE CAMPBELL: Wow.
GREG GIFFORD: Yeah, it’s bad. This next one’s… This one will win. This one’s going to win. This one’s a bit off colour, but funny. An SEO walked into a bar and says, ‘Did you know that research shows that porn sites have the stickiest content?’
DAVID BAIN: Andy?
ANDY HALLIDAY: An SEO walked into a bar and ordered a link. Sort of sounds like a drink. An SEO mouse walked into a bar, and the barman says, ‘Why the long tail?’ An SEO walks into a bar – finally. And that’s it.
DAVID BAIN: So actually, just before we proceed, shall we pick one from Greg and one from Andy to actually make it into the final? And then we’ve got four ones to vote on. So, which one, Greg? Actually, Greg, if you choose one of your ones to actually make it into the final.
GREG GIFFORD: Oh, the porn site one, obviously.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Andy, which one of your three do you want to…?
ANDY HALLIDAY: The mouse one.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, great. Okay, let’s hear what Pete has.
PETE CAMPBELL: Some of these are so bad I don’t know if I want to read them out. An SEO walked into a bar and it was empty. Little did he know, the address is marked ‘Page Two Street’. It’s like a depressing story. Gabrielle, well done.
DAVID BAIN: Well done, do you mean that?
PETE CAMPBELL: Yeah, sure. Next – An SEO walked into a bar, sees two friends, one a panda, the other a penguin, punches them in the face, then walks out. That is all. Adam Martin Brown.
DAVID BAIN: Well, it seems to have gotten a decent reaction there.
PETE CAMPBELL: The violent ones, I think. Okay, here’s a pun – An SEO walked into a bar, but every time he went to get a drink, a penguin moved the bar. Laura Kennedy.
DAVID BAIN: Pete, what’s your favourite, or your least worst?
PETE CAMPBELL: I’ll give it to Adam Martin, just because…
DAVID BAIN: It seemed to get a reaction.
PETE CAMPBELL: …he seemed to be in a bad mood and he just wanted to vent, and he got his way. So there you go.
DAVID BAIN: So – An SEO walked into the bar and asked, ‘Do you know the joke about duplicate content? No? Do you know the joke about duplicate content?’
An SEO walks into the bar and asks for a free link. An SEO walked into a bar, the barman asks, ‘Why the long tail?’ I think the duplicate content, duplicate content probably makes it through out of this one here as well. Okay, so shall we quickly say the winning joke again, and then we can go and do the vote in terms of who is the winner. So, Greg, remind us of your one.
GREG GIFFORD: An SEO walked into a bar and says, ‘Did you know that research shows porn sites have the stickiest content?’
DAVID BAIN: Andy.
ANDY HALLIDAY: An SEO mouse walked in the bar, and barman says, ‘Why the long tail?’
DAVID BAIN: Pete.
PETE CAMPBELL: An SEO walked into a bar, sees two friends – one a panda, the other a penguin – punches them in the face, then walks out. That’s all.
DAVID BAIN: An SEO walks into the bar and asks, ‘Do you know the joke about duplicate content? No? Do you know the joke about duplicate content?’
Okay. So I’m going to ask you to cheer for Greg, Andy, Pete, or me, David. So, Greg. [Applause] Andy. [Laughter]
PETE CAMPBELL: You need a cricket sound effect.
DAVID BAIN: Pete. [Light applause] And me. [Applause] I think Greg gets it.
GREG GIFFORD: Well, Matthew O’Toole gets it.
DAVID BAIN: Matthew O’Toole gets it.
PETE CAMPBELL: Is there a prize?
DAVID BAIN: So, just a comment in the audience here from Lawrence O’Toole, founder of Analytics SEO, admitting that Matt works for Analytics SEO. But, none of the voters knew that.
PETE CAMPBELL: Sorry.
DAVID BAIN: That was great, though. Thank you all for being good sports and taking part in that. So, let’s move on the next topic, which is, Apple have just released iOS 9. With it comes their Proactive personal assistant, with personal recommendations based upon your habits. So how do you optimise to become part of someone’s habits? How do you improve your site’s usability and customer experience so that it becomes someone’s habit? Pete, what are your thoughts on this one?
PETE CAMPBELL: So, my presentation this morning was on essentially mock-up and using APIs to better earn traffic, and I actually took a little look into iOS 9’s new API 4 Siri. So it’s actually possible for brands now to have contextual Siri so that, within an app, Siri will recognize a certain element of the app. So there are certain APIs that brands can hook into so that Siri can better understand your content and how to use it. So there is actually a technical answer in terms of actually being able to do this.
I mean, iOS 9’s been out like a week, so I think it’s very early days. But, in terms of any kind of personal assistant or voice-based search, I think the answer is in mock-up. You need to target your site, even with JSON-LD, HTML microdata so that tools like Siri, and even Google Search, better understand the context of the different pieces of your content so that, theoretically, in the future, those questions could be answered by Siri.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. So focusing on apps then, Andy, do you think it’s necessary for every serious business to have their own app, or is it only necessary to actually ensure that you are listed within relevant apps in your industry?
ANDY HALLIDAY: I don’t know. Good question. I don’t think everybody needs an app. There’s certain cases that yes, certain industries – I’d say most ecommerce websites, yes, you need an app to make it easier for customers to purchase. Small businesses, probably too much time and effort and cost would go into building an app for what they’d get out of it.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Great stuff. Is that something you’d agree with, Greg?
GREG GIFFORD: Well, yeah. I mean, we have this with car dealers all that time, that they keep asking us, ‘Should we get an app?’ But the problem is, why would anyone ever use an app for a car dealer? You go buy a car, you’re going to have an app from the manufacturer that lets you find your car, turn your car on, do all these things. Why do you need something that’s redundant from the dealership that you bought it from, and why would you use that app?
Once you bought the car, you’re not going to go back there for another four or five years until you buy another car, unless you’re going back for service. But, even if you did that, why would you need an app for that? So it’s kind of silly to try to go and force every business to have an app.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Staying with Greg, I mean, the question is focused around obviously peoples’ habits impacting whether or not a site is popular or not, and perhaps even impacting SEO in the future. Can you see a stage moving forward where even if a site is not properly optimised traditionally, with title tags, heading tags, all those kind of things, but it is a great user experience, that site ranking higher than a site which is optimised well?
DAVID BAIN: But I think that it’s moving in a direction that if a site has a great user experience, it will be optimised. I think the signals of optimisation are changing. What you did five years ago to optimise a site’s pretty different than what you’re doing now. I think it’s moving in a direction, where as long as you’re having that customer-facing focus where everything that you’re doing is making it the best possible user experience you can, that, in turn, is going to mean that you are optimised with how the algorithm has evolved.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. So you can’t imagine a situation where a site is going to be difficult for search engines to crawl, but a good user experience at the same time?
GREG GIFFORD: Yeah, I don’t think that that would be possible.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Andy?
ANDY HALLIDAY: I was going to say, yes, as long as you sort out the technical side, then, yeah, it’s all about user experience. As a tester at MozCon where Rand got someone to search for a certain phrase and click on result number four, that went up to number one by people interacting on the site, and the company that was in position one, click on it and bounce straight back off and that actually got down to position number four. So usability is, I’d say it’s about 48 hours in the positions.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. So click-through rate, usability very, very important. Pete, do you think it might be possible to SEO in the future without really being able to have an impact on website usability? Could an SEO effectively perform in the future just by changing tags and not having an influence on the website itself, really?
PETE CAMPBELL: No way. I mean, more and more now, to us, we have this kind of audit process, and it’s more kind of like doing an MOT in a car, where you go through a checklist of things and we resolve them. And then we spend the months and months after that looking at how we can redesign the user experience, answer the questions better. More and more and more, what happens with kind of like a user experience consultancy, doing mock-ups or designs of how the pages should look now, thinking about how to improve their conversion. I think the role of SEO – technical SEO and technical SEO only – unlike big ecommerce brands, that will certainly stay, but I think with that, you also need to be willing to learn a skillset about user experience and usability.
DAVID BAIN: Do you think it’s realistic for someone to be an expert at being a technical SEO and a usability tester?
PETE CAMPBELL: Yeah, because I try to do that every day. I’d like to think I’m doing okay at it. So, yeah, I think it is. But it’s hard, because I started off as a web developer, and through time. You know, web developer, then web designer, then I did SEO and I kind of forgot about design for years, and now I find myself using all those skills I used to have every single day, more and more.
DAVID BAIN: Greg, coming in and starting at DealerOn, I’d imagine you’d be focusing on a lot on usability testing. Are you focusing on that more than conventional SEO at the moment?
GREG GIFFORD: Not really because the vast majority of our SEO clients are on our website platform, which has, I mean, part of the reason that they’re as good as they are is because they’ve done extensive usability testing, and they’ve tweaked everything, and done tons of AB testing, and done everything they can to get these sites to convert really well and be an awesome user experience.
So, coming in and doing SEO on the people that are already on that platform is very easy because we don’t have to worry as much about usability. But then, I do also do some SEO for dealers that aren’t on our platform and, in those cases, there’s a lot of usability changes we have to make because some of the other platforms are pretty awful.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. I’d like to have a little think about usability mistakes that maybe businesses have made. The most commons ones, and perhaps top couple of usability issues that people could think about within their websites as well, as priorities. Greg, what would you say are the priorities in terms of usability?
GREG GIFFORD: So I mean, we’ve even seen dealers that have got the ability to edit their own sites, so they go in and they start messing with their menu, but they don’t pay attention to what it looks like on the site, and they add so many menu buttons that it wraps and makes a second row of menu buttons. And then you can’t get to the submenus of any of them, or simple things like their ‘contact us’ button is like the third of fourth one from the left.
So if you’re wanting to contact, you’re going to look to the far right and it’s not there. Those things don’t make sense. Or they’ll 500 or 600 links on the homepage because they’re trying to link to every other page on their site off of their homepage, and it’s so confusing. It’s this big mish-mash of crap that… What are you supposed to click on? You don’t even know, because there’s so much junk there.
Something else we really see with car dealers, they love these big, gorgeous pictures, and some of these providers are getting to the point now where the slider on the homepage will have 15 or 16 different images on it that take five minutes to watch. But, they’re also so big that even on my Mac with a giant resolution on my huge monitor, there’s no text on the screen because the entire thing is an image, but I don’t even see the whole image because the image is so big. It’s like, what’s the point of having an image that’s so big that nobody can see the whole thing? It just doesn’t make sense.
DAVID BAIN: So in general, are sliders a good thing?
GREG GIFFORD: No, never.
DAVID BAIN: No?
PETE CAMPBELL: Sliders is the exact tip I was going to give – to avoid.
DAVID BAIN: Oh, you have to find another one.
PETE CAMPBELL: I know, annoyingly. I think people now are a lot more accustomed to scrolling, and I don’t think a lot of websites recognise that. They stuff everything continually above the fold. To me, the other most common usability mistake, especially with smaller business owners, is that they design the website for them rather than caring about what’s actually the goal of this page.
Usability, a lot of it comes down to common sense. You look at the homepage and you think, ‘What is the goal of a homepage?’ Well, it’s to get them off the homepage, and you want to put them in one of four directions to go down a clear path and where to take it. But, more often than not, it just becomes this kind of catalogue of ‘everything’s here.’ It ends up looking like the Yahoo! homepage from 1998, where it’s just loads of boxes.
DAVID BAIN: It’s interesting you say the one of four directions – is four the optimum number?
PETE CAMPBELL: Whoa, whoa. Four is just the number that I just put out there, but you need to be on your homepage, you need to think, ‘These are the products/services I offer, what are the different goals people are going to take?’ In my business, we offer one of six products. We have six boxes and we lay them quite clear and identify themselves as to which one’s relevant for them, and then they’ll see a page all about that. And then from there, they have the option to get more information on that product or service.
DAVID BAIN: So, Andy, what are the kind of changes that you might have made on the Ebuyer website over the last few months that have had a big impact?
ANDY HALLIDAY: I look after the technical SEO, but we do have a team that’s dedicated to the AB testing.
DAVID BAIN: Okay.
ANDY HALLIDAY: So we have a proper AB testing software that measures everything from the colour of a button to where should a banner be. We do have a slider on our homepage. That’s never been tested, but, yes, everything’s tested before anything’s rolled.
DAVID BAIN: And do you advise the testing team as to what they should be looking at?
ANDY HALLIDAY: If I can spot something in GA, then I will give recommendations, but I usually… That’s them. I deal with technical stuff, they can deal with conversion. But the biggest issues I see is, people designing stuff on an lovely big Mac, but their customers are using a tablet or a laptop screen and, when it scales down, you can’t see half the messaging. Especially with site skins when you scroll down. So make sure if you’re going do something, look in GA and see what the average browser size is and make it work for that.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. I think it’ll be good to finish this section just with a software recommendation. So you’re going to have to think of a software recommendation, with regards to usability and improving user experience. Greg, what kind of tool do you think is a good tool to use?
GREG GIFFORD: We use Optimizely a lot.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. What do you in particular like about that?
GREG GIFFORD: It’s not super easy to use, but once you get in and you understand the platform, it’s really cool, the things that you can do with it. We’ve already got it tied in to everything we do. So, as far as our platform, we can turn things on and off very quickly and easily, and get data quickly. So it’s pretty awesome.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Andy, you obviously said you focus on SEO and analytics. Are there any split testing type tools you’d also use?
ANDY HALLIDAY: Yeah, we use HP Autonomy. It’s our software we use. I can’t really compare it to anything else, but it’s a really good platform to use.
DAVID BAIN: Great. Okay.
ANDY HALLIDAY: To test anything on the site from colour to a whole new menu system.
DAVID BAIN: Wow, okay. And do you have lots of multi variable tests going on at any one time?
ANDY HALLIDAY: Yeah, quite a lot. And it kind of messed up the stats in GA, so you have to bear that in mind when you’re looking in GA. That test can actually mess up your stats. They give us good outcomes.
DAVID BAIN: And, Pete, with your Web design background, I’m sure you’ve got quite a few tools you could recommend.
PETE CAMPBELL: Optimizely – the strongest one. Usability Hub a little bit as well. Crazy Egg for click tracking and heat tracking. I’d say they’re the right three to recommend to use in particular. Google Experiments, also, is free. A client of mine uses Google Experiments – does a good job.
GREG GIFFORD: I forgot what the URL is, but there’s a US site, you pay five bucks, and the guy gets drunk and uses your site drunk, so it’s like drunk user testing. I wish I remember the URL – I don’t remember it – but it’s brilliant. It’s so fun to do because it’s five bucks, who cares? The guy goes and gets hammered, and then records what he does on your site. It’s so cool.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, we’ll try and find that afterwards and see if we can link to it from the show or not. That’ll be fun. Well, let’s move on to topic number four, which is Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed that Facebook are working on a dislike button, but he doesn’t want it to be a voting system, apparently – more of a means to express empathy. So, how might a marketer take advantage of a dislike button? Should we start with Pete this time?
PETE CAMPBELL: I mean, I’m behind the idea of a dislike button. I think it is a good thing. There are plenty of situations where… Unfortunately, the past year I had a family member pass away and there’s been updates about that, and that is a situation for a dislike. At the moment, you kind of leave a compassionate comment for it.
I mean, how does a marketer take advantage of that? I mean, I guess… I don’t know. That’s almost kind of like immoral to think about that, really, in a lot of ways. I think the ways in which it will have a situation is, for example, my girlfriend works for the Alzheimer’s Society, and that’s obviously an incredibly sad, sad condition. Through the stories in how they do their marketing, they bring to life the stories of people who go through this, where you can emphasise with that. And I think for charities, environmental organisations, I can see the place in there being a dislike button.
For my business, I mean, I don’t know. Maybe I do a grumpy post how Google has released some stupid update – maybe that’s where I get my dislikes. But I think it has to be kind of a call to arms situation, or a place to express empathy.
DAVID BAIN: I think it needs to be obvious that people are disliking the actual situation that you’re talking about, and not the quality of your post.
PETE CAMPBELL: Yeah, yeah, true. That’s also… I mean, I have read that. I’ve seen the mock-up of Zuckerberg at Town Hall, and they did say that it isn’t going to be one of these situations where you can dislike something into oblivion. I’m sure they have to take that into account, though.
DAVID BAIN: So, Andy, if you’re launching any products or thinking of launching any products in the future, do you think that kind of tool might be kind of useful as a voting mechanism?
ANDY HALLIDAY: I actually think it’s more useful for our blog, for content writers. If they’re thinking about writing a new topic, they can get feedback – whatever our user base wants to read about that area before they actually go and do the research.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, that’s intriguing. So you have a blog, obviously, with quite a few visitors at the moment then?
ANDY HALLIDAY: Yeah. And if they want to write about the new iPhone, for example, and everyone dislikes it, then there’s no point in them going to spend time and money researching that.
DAVID BAIN: Intriguing. And, Greg, nodding away there. Is something that you’d think of using?
GREG GIFFORD: Yeah. The kind of product research side of it, kind of crowdsourcing ideas like, ‘Hey, what do you guys think about this?’ Before I’ve seen companies say, ‘Hey, let us know what you think. Click “like” or leave a comment and say why you don’t want us to do it.’ Well, now it can just be like or dislike, who cares? Plus it’s going to be super fun to troll my wife and dislike everything she posts.
DAVID BAIN: Are you going to be a dislike troll?
GREG GIFFORD: Oh, it’s going to be awesome.
ANDY HALLIDAY: It’s probably going to be more of a CS issue, customer service issue, than a marketing issue.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Because, I mean, Facebook’s obviously the primary social network for many industries at the moment. So it’s probably going to be very prominent in terms of communication, feedback as well.
PETE CAMPBELL: I mean, I struggle to see how I could convince a brand to put within their blog a dislike button for the same way that… Almost like a compliment with shares, you have your like button, you have your Google+ button, your LinkedIn button. I have a real challenge trying to convince customers to put a testimonial page on their site for star ratings because they’re worried about the negative review appearing.
I think that is one big challenge they have of it. Why would they want to encourage… Why would we want to encourage our customers to dislike our content? Even though, in the world of transparency, that’s obviously a good thing – you need that feedback, and I always have to push our clients to have it. But, I think that’ll be a big block for Facebook having success in this over a third-party platform, like they have with the like button.
DAVID BAIN: Do you think it might be better for Facebook to give the option of making the dislike button optional on a post?
PETE CAMPBELL: Yeah. I think that would be a good idea, yeah. Because I do think that the best place for a dislike button is, like you said, situation-based. I don’t think it is a good thing for that like or dislike kind of trolling, basically. You don’t want to encourage bullying, you don’t want to encourage negativity.
DAVID BAIN: Andy, if the dislike button was optional on a blog post, do you think that your content publishers would use it in the majority of situations?
ANDY HALLIDAY: I think in most. I think it could also just be a case of Mark saying they’re doing this, but honestly they get a load of feedback from everyone saying, ‘No, we don’t want this button.’ Then they can finally turn around and say, ‘We’ve listened to the people. They don’t want the button,’ and they never actually release it. Because there’s been a lot of calls over the years for them to introduce it. So, whether it actually gets released or not will be interesting to see.
DAVID BAIN: Do you think it’s a marketer’s dream, this button, Greg?
GREG GIFFORD: No. I just don’t see… I mean, like we said, there’s the situational-type stuff, and then potentially, maybe blog research ideas or limited crowdsourcing of ideas. But, other than that, I mean, sure, right now I’d love to dislike all the crappy political posts that people are posting over in the States because we’ve got the election coming up, but I mean, do you really need a button for that? I mean, just ignore and not interact, and then I won’t see those posts.
Because then what happens with the algorithm? Because, right now, the more you interact with somebody, the more you see their posts. What happens if it’s somebody I don’t really want to see their posts? And I don’t know that that’s the way the algorithm works, and I start disliking all of their stuff, does the algorithm take that into account and be less likely to show me their stuff in the future? Or does it work like it is now – because I’m clicking on it, I see more of their stuff?
DAVID BAIN: Oh, God.
GREG GIFFORD: So it could be like an endless loop of ‘I’m trying not to see their stuff and it keeps showing me more.’
DAVID BAIN: Stop following them.
GREG GIFFORD: It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with it.
DAVID BAIN: Are there any other buttons you would like to see, Pete?
PETE CAMPBELL: No. I’ll have to think about it. I’ll think about that question.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Andy, you’ve had another 10 seconds to think about, any other buttons you’d like to see?
ANDY HALLIDAY: Not that I can think off the top of my head – no.
DAVID BAIN: Greg will come up with an answer for this one.
GREG GIFFORD: I don’t really have one. Sorry.
DAVID BAIN: Well, that’s okay. I reckon that just about takes us towards the end of this week’s show. So, just time for a single takeaway from each of our guests. So what we’ve talked about here, hopefully they’ll focus it on one single takeaway that you guys can go away and implement within your own businesses. And after that, some sharing of find out more details. So starting off with Greg at the end there.
GREG GIFFORD: I think the big takeaway is mostly the kind of convergence of old school SEO and website usability and content, and that everything’s becoming the same thing. There’s not going to be that split anymore between ‘this website’s really usable, but it’s not really optimised.’ It’s going to all be the same moving forward.
DAVID BAIN: Lovely. And just confirm your contact details.
DAVID BAIN: Lovely. Thanks. And, Andy, your thoughts.
ANDY HALLIDAY: Yeah. My big takeaway is, if you are going to go to HTTPS, have a plan, have a thought-out plan, do it slowly, and don’t rush into it.
DAVID BAIN: Lovely. And where can people find you?
ANDY HALLIDAY: On Twitter, @AHalliday and Andrew Halliday.
DAVID BAIN: Lovely. And, finally, Pete.
PETE CAMPBELL: I think we already kind of touched upon the possibilities that iOS 9 brings now with personalisation of data. So brands could unlock traffic by Siri-based searches. So I think, if you have an app, you should be looking into the Siri APIs and how you can hook them into your application, basically. My name is Pete Campbell. I’m the director of Kaizen, and we’re at www.kaizensearch.co.uk. And I’m on Twitter, I’m @PeteCampbell, like the guy from Mad Men who has the same name as me.
DAVID BAIN: Wonderful. Thanks a lot, Pete. Great stuff. And I’m David Bain, Head of Growth at www.authoritas.com, the agency and SEO platform with big insight. So, sign up for a free demo of our platform at www.authoritas.com. If you’re watching this show as a recording, remember to watch the next episode live. Head over to www.thisweekinorganic.com and sign up to watch the next show in real-time. But, for those of you watching in here live and also on Google Hangouts live, thank you so much for joining in. Remember, you can go to the replay if you need to do that at www.thisweekinorganic.com/itunes. And remember to continue sharing your thoughts using the hashtag #TWIO on Twitter. Until next time, have a fantabulous rest of the day and weekend, and thank you, all, for joining us. Adios online, and cheers to everyone here live. Thanks for joining us.
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.