This is the twenty second 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 the fact that Yahoo have said that its mobile search is powered by its own algorithm, Twitter Polls launch to acclaim and Facebook want to display your public posts in its search results. Plus much more!
Sign up to watch the next show live over at www.thisweekinorganic.com and share your thoughts on what’s discussed using the hashtag #TWIO on Twitter.
DAVID BAIN: Yahoo mobile search is powered by its own algorithm, Twitter Polls launched to acclaim, and Facebook wants to display your public posts in its search results. Welcome to This Week in Organic episode number 22. This Week in Organic live from London on thisweekinorganic.com. Broadcasting live on Blab, 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 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. So click on the tell a little bird button if you’re on Blab live, that’d be great because then you’ll be able to share what’s going on with your friends, and tell us what you think about what’s being discussed in the comments section as well. And I’ll try to read out as many comments as I can.
But 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 Michael.
MICHAEL BONFILS: Hi everybody. Thanks for having me, David. Thanks for joining. My name is Michael Bonfils. I run a company called SEM International. We do global multilingual visual marketing in over 50 countries. And one thing that actually interests me the most today is I’m a big lover and fan of attribution marketing, and I look at attributions in everything that I do. And a lot of the topics that we’re looking at today start moving into that world of attributions. You know, talking about some of the things that Twitter’s doing, some of the things that Instagram is doing. Some of these things, these new technologies and new ways of communicating are very interesting, and I’d love to see how that’s going to impact things. Can’t say I’ve researched the heck out of them yet, but I’m excited to know about them, and talk about it.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, multi touch attribution is certainly something that very much interests me as well, and it’s such a developing area, and no one’s got it quite right yet. But I’m sure we’re on the right path to be able to do a better job with it in the future. So out of interest, Michael, do you prefer Bonfils or Bonfils, or do you just not mine.
MICHAEL BONFILS: I usually say Bonfils, and there’s a funny reason why, and that’s because a lot of people who think that they know French come to me and say Bonfille. And if you say Bonfille instead of Bonfils, like it’s supposed to be pronounced…
DAVID BAIN: Nice girl, or good girl.
MICHAEL BONFILS: Then they call me a good little girl instead of my last name, which is good son.
DAVID BAIN: You get fed up with that after the hundredth time.
MICHAEL BONFILS: Yeah.
DAVID BAIN: And also joining us today is Alex.
ALEX TUCKER: Hi. I’m Alex Tucker. I’m the head of marketing at Practice Web. We’re an agency which helps professional service firms with all things digital, and the thing that’s grabbed my attention this week is Facebook launching the search for public posts.
DAVID BAIN: Okay great, thank you. Take a moment if you need it, Michael. Also joining us today is Tomas.
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: Hey guys, I’m Tomas Vaitulevicius. I’ve spent years looking after SEO and a few other digital marketing channels at Rightmove. And at the moment I am setting things up at a sharing economy start up called JustPark. And of the topics today, I am quite keen to have a bit of a ponder about Google’s Rich Answers, and how that affects business models, and also the bit of a hypothetical discussion over paying for reviews, and in general using black hat techniques to build businesses.
DAVID BAIN: Right okay, yes. I mean it can be quite challenging as a business wanting to do white hat techniques, but having to compete in a marketplace that there are often black hat techniques going on, and it’s tough.
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: Indeed.
MICHAEL BONFILS: Yeah, absolutely. I mean 100% absolutely. I mean, a CMS system is the backbone of the coding of your entire site. So if the site cannot be crawled, if it cannot be indexed, what’s the point, right? So Wix, I mean the moment that I saw Wix for the first time, the first thing I did was look at how is this going to be crawled, how is this going to be indexed? How does it sit on a C block, right? On a server drive. How are all of the things that Google’s built this algorithm about going to really look at this, and index it?
If you think about it, if I’m a spammer I could create a Wix like company, and create multiple pages. So Google’s already built technologies to prevent that years ago – a decade ago, or more than a decade ago. So you know, this is just writing on the wall for Wix. I’m not sure how they’re going to fix it. I’m sure there are probably some things that they can do. On the other hand, I don’t know. I don’t know if technology could be that great to be able to index that kind of code that they’ve built in there.
In terms of your question though, yeah, a good CMS system, especially something that’s SEO friendly – WordPress is obviously going to be mentioned by probably everybody. Yeah, that’s definitely a no brainer. It’s the backbone of your site.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, I mean I was absolutely amazed that Google were actually looking into what the issue might be and helping them because surely, as an independent company, it’s your job to actually ensure that the coding you produced makes you viewable, discoverable on Google. Tomas, what are your thoughts on this one?
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: Well, I’ve been lucky enough to primarily deal with larger websites, large enterprise setups where by in large all of what you’d call CMS was always custom built, which carries its own problems, and when it gets too big, those problems become quite big. You have to deal with a problem that only developers are able to make changes to it. But at least you have no constraints over what you want it to do.
Otherwise, from CMSes, just out of accidental contact and need to work with it, I’ve seen that WordPress has been able to provide all of the features that are asked of it SEO wise, and I guess that would be my suggestion for anybody looking to set something up if it’s quite small, using WordPress. If it’s a bit bigger, potentially looking into something that does not constrain you too much with bespoke code of a company that builds it. But obviously different people with different experiences will have different opinions.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, I don’t like, personally, CMSes that force me to use their URL structure that I can’t necessarily replicate if I have to move to another CMS in the future.
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: Yeah.
DAVID BAIN: Even if you have 301 redirect or whatever you could perhaps do to that, it’s not necessarily going to be easy to make that move in the future. And I suppose at least WordPress can let you set up permalinks in a manner that would make it easier to move in the future as well. It’s interesting that you would recommend WordPress for many businesses to start off with, Tomas, considering the fact that your experience, certainly background before your current role, was very much enterprise driven. But you’re quite confident that WordPress is right for a business, even if it’s a business that’s growing quickly?
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: I think up to a certain side. If it is a business that has got ambitions of getting to that level where they’d be using enterprise solutions, then I’d start getting a little bit worried about not necessarily the flexibility constraints, but the technical, the speed cost that comes with WordPress. But again, it’s kind of finding that balance for how complex you want a setup versus how flexible. And in WordPress, I think, for a small website with a limited amount of traffic, I’ve kind of seen it work just about. Whereas for a growing website, my experience was almost a clean slate, starting from scratch, and building what one wants.
DAVID BAIN: So Alex, is WordPress something that you use, or are you on another CMS?
ALEX TUCKER: Well, our platform is built on Drupal. But first of all you have to really feel for the people who are affected by this issue with Wix, who are largely small businesses who have gone for a kind of low cost, easy setup solution because they don’t have necessarily the skills or budget to do anything bigger. So my heart goes out to the businesses who are affected by this. But the kind of things that we would recommend you look for is whether it’s WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, that there’s a community around your CMS, that there are plugins available, that there’s a development community. You know, the world of search moves very quickly, and by using open source you’re able to kind of change with the times, if you like. So when Google changes something, you might need a plugin, you might need to change something about your website fairly quickly, and open source enables us to do that.
DAVID BAIN: So Alex, would you say in general the benefits of going with something like Drupal is that it’s maybe a little bit more customisable than something like WordPress?
ALEX TUCKER: Absolutely, and WordPress is more customisable than something like Wix as well, so you’re very wedded to a set of features with a website builder like Wix or My Website, with very little change over being able to change any functionality at all. And if something impacts one site, as we’ve seen here, it’s affecting all of the sites that are using Wix, or a huge number of them at any rate.
DAVID BAIN: And do you have to do much with Drupal to make it very SEO friendly, or is it quite good at that out of the box, as it were?
ALEX TUCKER: Well, I’m not an engineer; I’m a content marketer, so I won’t be able to answer that.
DAVID BAIN: You’re happy enough with what you have at the moment in terms of the way it structures things?
ALEX TUCKER: Absolutely, yeah.
DAVID BAIN: Okay.
MICHAEL BONFILS: Drupal is a tough one. So Drupal, Joomla, DotNetNuke, you know it goes back to what you were saying. When we have URL parameters that you can’t customise, there are a lot of things that make it very difficult to customise on an SEO perspective. So I just want to throw my two cents in there. One thing that Alex brought up that’s really important about Wix – Wix does cater to the small businesses, it does go after that group. A lot of that group, they don’t care about SEO. Right now they want paid search, they want to show up in some local listings. You know, a lot of them are like look, I just want a website, put it on my business card, SEO’s not that big of a deal to me. So that’s, I mean, a lot of them are really small businesses, the local dry cleaners, or whatever the case may be, and as long as they have the ability to have their address in there, and they’re indexed in Google Maps, a lot of them are fine with that based on the experience I’ve had with small businesses that would go with a platform like Wix.
DAVID BAIN: It’s just a shame that they’re not even aware of these things, and perhaps how much more traffic they could generate if they’re publishing regular content on Wix if it were optimised to be found in organic search of course. But we’ll certainly watch this one with interest to see if the sites to recover in Google. Hopefully we’ll be able to report next week that they do.
But let’s move on to our second topic, which is Facebook have launched the ability to search public posts. Now has this the potential to significantly impact social listening abilities, and maybe even market research? How might businesses use this information? Alex, content marketer, can you envisage this being an excellent listening opportunity, or is it not going to be that important in terms of what’s going on?
ALEX TUCKER: It’s really interesting to me, the level of effort that Facebook seems to sort of periodically put into developing search, because I’m not convinced that people search Facebook in that way. I think that often people are using it as kind of an extension of their phonebook, or looking for a particular person or brand, rather than, well we mentioned Google Rich Answers, which we’re coming to later. And I just don’t think you’re looking to solve a problem on Facebook.
But what they seem to be doing really, really well at the moment is working for events. So I’m seeing in my own Facebook feed a lot more information about events that I haven’t seen in the past, and what other people in my network are attending and signed up to, and that’s really interesting. So any kind of brands who are running events of any kind would benefit from at least kind of having a strategy for Facebook.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, so you think in the future Facebook will do better from predictive content, as opposed to actually direct search results then basically.
ALEX TUCKER: Yeah, I think so.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah. Tomas, do you think that Facebook is doing the right thing by pushing a lot of effort into Facebook search, and what could they want by moving into this?
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: Well, I guess for Facebook, I’ve personally gone through the cycle of getting excited about it, doing all the Facebook things, and by now I’m bored; I don’t really go there. So I guess they’ve got the challenge of trying to find new use cases which would keep all of their user base hooked in, rather than the small part which can never have enough of what their friends are doing.
But with the search for public posts, I think they might be building up for a bit of an outcry that might happen at some point like happened a few times before over the privacy settings. Where if people don’t think about what they’re doing, I think at the moment they would just kind of assume that most of what you do on Facebook is private to your circle. So what might happen is that there’ll be a bit of a backlash, and then most of the people who used to use Facebook in a bit of a me to my friends fashion will just disable all of the public access, and we’ll end up with a very small pot of users who kind of didn’t figure it out, and are keeping their private thoughts available to the public.
DAVID BAIN: In the chat, we’ve got SM Online Class saying, ‘Graph search used to be detailed, but it’s down to almost nothing now.’ And Andy saying that, ‘Facebook’s just trying to keep more people on Facebook to sell more ads.’ Michael, what do you think the intent is behind Facebook wanting to introduce more search functionality? Is it added user interaction facilities, or is it simply just to drive more information for marketers in the future?
MICHAEL BONFILS: That’s a great question. We’ll break it down to some of the pluses. One thing of course is the ability for better research, like you alluded to earlier. So as a marketer, I could get better listening by having more public knowledge of what people are saying. So I don’t know if you follow me on Facebook, but yesterday I had a big rant about Airbnb. Actually, I would love for Airbnb to jump in there because now I’ve got a bunch of SEOs all like okay, you know, this is a big problem with Airbnb. You know, let’s try it. I would love to see Airbnb jump in there, and get beat up by us SEOs. I’d love it.
But that’s a good point too, because Tomas alluded to that. If I’m a brand, a brand marketer, and I’m doing social media, and I’m doing listening, and I jump in to somebody’s conversation, especially a heated conversation, this is going to be a funny story. This is going to make some major news probably; somebody’s going to screw something up, and say something so offensive that ruins the brand. So I mean I’m looking forward to that part of it.
The other thing is I also agree with Tomas – it’s way too intrusive. I’m not too worried about brands jumping in. I’m more worried about a bunch of fivers jumping in on behalf of the brand to annoy the heck out of everybody having a conversation. And that’s what I’m worried about with this. And if that happens, like Tomas said, I’m going private on the Facebook, and blocking off the public ability. So there is that risk. I’m a little annoyed with it, and I think that’s what’s going to ultimately happen. But we’ll see, you know. Market research though, definitely.
DAVID BAIN: So Tomas, do you think that it’s ever a good idea for brands to jump into conversations that happen as Facebook posts, or is that always going to just disintegrate into problems perhaps for the brand in the future?
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: I’d say, as Michael was talking about, it depends on the tone. If you can see that a user is making a public statement, and Twitter is a great example, definitely not all, but most people should understand that everything on Twitter is public, and a decent portion of users that contribute to Twitter do treat it that way, do treat it as streaming out into the wild, and everybody’s happy to receive feedback, or comments, or get into discussions with unknowns, or the entities that you’re referring to.
On Twitter, the things that I would say, if I would reference a brand, I would probably reference it with the intention of the brand seeing it, whether they respond or not. On Facebook, well now that I know that they might be reading it, fair enough, I might adjust to that. But prior to this, and what most people will be in the place of not knowing that this is going on, I would be talking about brands kind of behind closed doors with my friends, and I wouldn’t really appreciate them stepping in.
DAVID BAIN: Well we’ve got lots going on in terms of SEO and content marketing news this week. So just moving on to the next topic, which is according to a new study published by Stone Temple, Rich Answers are on the rise. They found that Rich Answers accounted for about 22% of search results back in December 2014, and went up to 31% in July this year, so 2015. So is Google turning into an answer engine like lots of apps, and perhaps Facebook is trying to do as well? And how indeed will this impact SEO as well? Michael, have you got concerns about the future of SEO because of Google just providing the answer to everything, rather than actually delivering search results?
MICHAEL BONFILS: You know, this is something that is bound to happen, and it’s bound to happen because of mobile in my opinion. So you’ve got Siri, right. This is where I think it stems from, the quick answers. You’ve got Siri of course on Apple, you’ve got Android’s version of asking a question, and then responding with an answer. So there’s this opportunity that Google has by developing an answer – a verbal answer to a text command. Everything is going mobile, and one thing that’s probably the biggest growth that people don’t really talk about, and I definitely think it impacts SEO, is the response that mobile gives really without any advertiser, or without any URL, or without any kind of data that we can learn from it.
So if I ask Google the question, your first question on CMS systems, what’s the best CMS system for SEO into my phone, and I get a response from Google saying okay, WordPress is probably number one, and number two is X, X, X, X. You know, I wonder how do we, as marketers, how do we involve ourselves in that, or can we? Because I find Apple, I don’t want any of my users to be bothered by advertising messages when they talk to Siri. So in the future I think that there’s probably going to be some impact here when it comes to knowledge based response systems that are going to respond via mobile. And this right here is just the start of it.
DAVID BAIN: So we’ve got Alex and Tomas that both work in-house. So I mean, Alex, have you done any work to try and actually appear as a direct answer for a query, or is that not something on your radar at the moment?
ALEX TUCKER: I’d say it’s on our radar. Have we cracked it, or do we know how to? Not especially. I would absolutely agree that this is kind of very much by voice, and that Google’s so user focused. And when I see the way my kids search, it’s almost 100% mobile, and 100% voice. So it’s something we need to do, we need to have an eye on. And I think for me it’s about knowing your client persona, knowing what problems your clients and customers are trying to solve, having the right content in the right places that answers that. But as an organisation, we’re not there yet. We wouldn’t quite know exactly what it is that we need to do to appear as a direct answer in Google.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, Andy Halliday in the chat, he jumped on last week, last minute actually when a guest wasn’t available, and he was also in the panel at Brighton SEO live TWIO there. And he’s saying, ‘I wouldn’t say we’ve cracked it, but we do appear in quite a few of our targeted keywords.’ So showing off there in the chat!
So Tomas, would you agree that it’s moving towards voice search, and that’s becoming very, very important for the future? And if so, how do you optimise towards that?
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: Well, I wouldn’t say it’s moving towards voice search. I would say voice search as an option hasn’t been available previously because decoding the query used to be complicated, and then having the right answer, and speaking it out in an understandable voice was problematic. Now those technical challenges are kind of becoming smaller, and all of the big companies have got the option of answering a concrete question that can be answered with a factual answer. And from my side, and luckily enough neither of the companies that I worked for, nor at JustPark, we weren’t providing factual answers to concrete questions. I think that situation, if somebody is asking, and the example of Michael about what is the best CRM system, I think that’s kind of bordering a non-concrete question with a non-factual answer. But anything simpler than that, from my side, as a user, I would like Google to tell me the right answer, and off I go.
But when I’m asking, let’s say the question what is the best CRM, or anything more complicated, I don’t think Google will be in a place to answer it because a lot of it is just not a straightforward answer that can be spoken out by Siri. So my take, and this is what we’re thinking about when we’re building our products here is what are we adding to the internet that cannot just be optimised by Google? Because as a user, I want the immediate answer from Google for anything that’s a fact. I think, as a company, what we can add is long form or in depth answers to questions that cannot be answered in a sentence. And both Rightmove and JustPark, the primary product was functionality, search, search listings that are not available anywhere else on the web. I think that is what we do. As far as trying to get that into Rich Answers, well it’s not really an option. And I guess that’s for me the gage as to how stable is our business model, how robust is our business model. At the moment we can’t really get into the Rich Answers because what we offer is not something that you can just simplify into a sentence, hence I’m not that worried about Google providing a great experience with factual answers.
DAVID BAIN: I think the challenge is there appears to be a grey line between what is a factual answer, and what Google sometimes determines a factual answer to be. You just have to search Google for what happened to the dinosaurs to have a rather interesting Rich Answer there. That’s all I’ll say to that one there.
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: I’ll just do that quickly.
DAVID BAIN: See if you get the same result as I do, yeah. Because that was in the news a couple of months ago. But actually while you do that, I’ll just move on to a slightly different topic, which is still on Google. A few tools are actually reporting a bit of a flux in the search results at the moment. So it could be Panda, it could be something else. Is anyone of our panel here experiencing a bit of a flux in keyword rankings at the moment, and if so is there anything that they put that down to? Alex, is that something that you’ve had a look into over the last couple of days at all?
ALEX TUCKER: It’s not something that we’ve noticed. I’ll be honest, for our own site we don’t monitor keyword rankings all that closely. But we do for our clients, and we’ve not noticed a particular change this week.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. We’ve got Search Talk Live in the chat saying, ‘I think it’s a refresh.’ Certainly there are talks saying that it could be an extended Panda update. Michael, have you got any thoughts on that at all?
MICHAEL BONFILS: You know, Google did announce they’re slowly rolling out their algorithm updates, so it’s not one day of massacre. It’s kind of every other day, or something like that, a little bit. That’s what I’ve seen. In terms of problems with clients that have dropped, what I’ve seen lately where the issue is around thin content. So content being an issue, so I think that’s more of a Penguin thing. But you know, it’s both Penguin and Panda, and the new version of Panda. All of these new algorithm updates are the ones that are affecting everything.
So thin content is still having an impact. I’m seeing that with larger multinationals who have massive pages, massive SKU issues, and of course duplicate content on the translation front is something I’ve seen as well. So Google’s getting a little bit better at taking an English page, and somebody who translates that, or a machine translation with ability to retranslate that back in English and compare to see if it’s duplicate content without the right canonicals, without the HREFLANG tags built into the page, if that makes any sense.
DAVID BAIN: Yes, absolutely. And in relation to what you’re saying there, you see a lot of issues with thin content. Where would you say the line is between the thin content, and content that’s okay? Are we talking about a lot of code being within a page, or is it down to more just the quantity of words that are fairly unique, or unique content on a page?
MICHAEL BONFILS: Yeah, it’s really the content on the page. It’s the quality and quantity of the page, and of course the relevance. So these are affecting companies like, say, eBay, right. eBay pages, eBay sells pages are typically thin content already on one hand. On the other hand they’re duplicate content because eBay provides its resellers with the exact same piece of content for those who don’t know how to put anything more than thin content in it. So it’s a double whammy for something like eBay.
But this was rolled out across a multitude of different companies that do similar things, but not externally. They do it internally because you’ve got one department copying the other department, and it’s all thin content, and nobody’s really doing much about increasing that. And I mean, I think it’s a good thing on Google’s behalf because a search user, I really don’t want to click on a page that has hardly anything on it. It’s a useless thing for me. It’s a useless result. So for a user, it’s good. As a search marketer, or as somebody who has massive sites, it’s probably frustrating.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, certainly if they change the way they rank things too abruptly, and don’t give you an opportunity as a business to change the way you do things, then that’s very frustrating. Tomas, did you decide what happened to the dinosaurs?
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: Yes, I saw it. I guess a great example of a process of getting towards a place where Google figures out the line of what’s a fact and what isn’t. But all the same, I think as a user in that example, I would probably like to know that this is not a factual answer. But in many other cases, it just simplifies the world for everyone.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah. It also reminds me of a Hollywood movie – making a movie of something, and not necessarily including a completely factually correct movie if it’s based on history. But a lot of people, perhaps if they don’t read up on the subject matter beforehand, believing that everything in the movie is true.
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: Yeah.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Shall we just move on to the next subject? Actually, we’ll talk a little bit about mobile rankings because Yahoo made a bit of an announcement really, in saying that they have their own mobile algorithm. A lot of people are just thinking that Yahoo’s just powered by Bing, and they don’t really do any algorithm nowadays. But they’re saying quite openly no, we have our own algorithm. We’re focusing on mobile, and moving towards really actually providing different results in mobile for our users. That’s something that we’re looking at here at Analytics SEO. We’re providing different mobile tracking solutions. So maybe as a business in general, Michael, do you think it’s important to actually keep a track on how you’re performing on mobile and desktop for keyword phrases at the same time, or is that something that’s only going to be relevant for certain types of businesses?
MICHAEL BONFILS: Of course. I mean everybody knows this because we’ve been talking about it this year, but mobile traffic has really surpassed desktop traffic. So we as a business, we have a whole different plan for mobile. Right, you’ve got responsive sites, you’ve got different analytics, you’ve got different ways of driving people through mobile apps. The whole agenda for a company via mobile is different than desktop. So what we do is we separate the whole entire campaigns between desktop and mobile when it comes to clients. That’s the first part of my answer to your question.
So with that said, when it comes to on Yahoo, or even when it comes to Google specifically when we monitor Google search results, we’re dealing with them completely separately. We have probably a thinner base of keywords. We also look at analytics, we look at drive, we look at the value of paid because as you probably know, if you look at a high term, or long brand terms within Google and mobile, the pages is almost dominated by paid search on mobile. So after that, of course, there’s the organic piece, which is getting further and further down the line.
So for us, we’re looking at mobile very differently. Yahoo making this move is probably a signal saying that hey, not only are we making this move on mobile, but eventually we’re either going to have our own search engine, or search technology, and no longer partner with these guys, or they’re going to partner with somebody somehow, and have a different engine. This is a bit of the same thing as how it’s been for Japan for years, Yahoo Japan. So Yahoo Japan is powered by Google, I believe. So the organic results are powered by Google, but they have their own type of algorithm when it comes to so many other ways.
So I think it’s best in Yahoo’s interests to build their own search engine, or if they go back to the old days of saying hey, we’re separate, we have our own engine, we have our own way of looking at things, we have a little bit more control of our destiny than partnering with somebody to allow for that.
DAVID BAIN: So Alex, is looking at mobile results compared with desktop something that’s absolutely imperative to a business like Practice Web, or is it not quite so important for what you’re doing?
ALEX TUCKER: We tend to think more about someone’s experience on mobile. And mobile is important to us, but we kind of think about where our prospects and clients are going to be in the consideration cycle when they arrive on a mobile. So in the case of our clients, often that’s somebody just looking for contact details, so we make sure that that content’s working really well, and that users are able to achieve what they’re there to do when they arrive on site using mobile. So mobile is incredibly important for us, but we’re, again, not quite so focused on keyword rankings for mobile so much as making sure that we’re achieving an objective there.
But in terms of what Yahoo’s doing, I read today that Yahoo’s also expressed an interest in bidding for powering Siri search when that comes up for tender. So having its own algorithm there for Yahoo as a business, probably makes a lot of sense in those terms when the day comes.
DAVID BAIN: And what about you, Tomas? For JustPark’s business, is mobile rankings, and looking at that as something distinct something that’s integral to what you do as well?
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: Yeah. Well, even though the current business model is primarily pushing pre-booked parking, which oftentimes is arranged on a desktop for an airport, for a commuting trip, when people order their tickets and everything else, but we definitely want to get it for the users that are out there in the car, hopefully not browsing while driving. But they’re away from a big screen, and they want to figure out where to place their car, and we have all of the same tracking that we have set up for desktop going on separately for mobile. And the slightly disappointing thing is that everything, at least in our industry, everything seems to be very, very similar on mobile SEO. So if anything, well I’m waiting for Google to actually make a bit more of a stand, and actually start differentiating their results, because I do think some websites are more optimised, be it in an SEO way, or as Alex and Michael were saying, as far as user experience is concerned, some websites are just better on mobile, and those websites should rise to the top. I’m not seeing that happening at the moment.
DAVID BAIN: Talking about Google making a stand, Search Talk Live saying in the comments, ‘It was interesting. John Mueller told me they use an iPhone mobile crawler,’ or I suppose they just have to use something that represents a significant chunk of the market. But it’s nice to see that they’re not just using Android because it’s not really representative of market there. So good to see chat going on there. Keep on offering chat, and telling a little bird is always appreciated for those watching live.
But talking about Twitter, a couple of days ago Twitter announced that it’s going to be releasing its new polls to everyone. I haven’t seen it in my Twitter, but hopefully it’s going to come soon. Surely this has the potential to increase interaction, and could be a wonderful market research opportunity. But how would you use Twitter Polls, Michael?
MICHAEL BONFILS: Actually, I love the idea. I haven’t seen it, like you. I haven’t seen any Twitter Polls come in yet, but I love the idea for contests, right. To come in as a brand, and say hey, for the next 30 minutes, what do you think of our X product? And if you respond, one of you guys are going to win new shoes, or whatever. You know what I mean. So there’s a lot that brands can do with this, and it’s instantaneous. It’s great for market research; it’s very fast. You don’t have to do a full disclosure. Here Survey Monkey is one of our clients, and I love Survey Monkey, but it does take time to grab results. Doing results on a live stream on Twitter, where I can do a poll, and get an answer within fifteen minutes if I wanted to, that’s really awesome. I love it. Still doesn’t address how Twitter’s going to make any money, but I love the idea. I think it’s going to be great.
DAVID BAIN: I can see there being two different levels of this service in the future. You’ve got an option that doesn’t give you who participated, and just actually the results of the survey, and you’ve got another version that actually tells you who participated, where they’re from, and perhaps more data about them there as well. And I can see businesses wanting to pay for that really. Tomas, is that the intent behind Twitter rolling this out, or is it just getting more people to use the service?
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: Probably both. I guess as a business, they need to find stronger ways of monetising all of the activity that they have going. And from our side, as a business potentially using the polls, it’s good. It’ll be interesting to see how easy it is to encourage users to share the polls, and whether just contributing to one you might get some visibility within their follower base. But it depends on how that side is implemented, and how easily people share on the polls that they contribute to. It’s just great for building engagement, for the crowd sourcing of research. I think if we will not know who is responding to it, or if the handling of the respondee list is kind of not there, then I think we will probably keep on using the more flexible, or the more configurable ways of getting answers to important business questions. But it might be useful to have some light hearted crowd sourcing of questions that are being made into blog posts, or just some action on the wall.
DAVID BAIN: So Tomas, do you think you might be willing to pay for additional information, like of users, and what their background is, and what likely segment they actually sit in in terms of audience?
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: Yeah, that would start making it into a bit more of a reliable way of crowd sourcing those answers.
DAVID BAIN: And Alex, is this something that would be useful to your business as well?
ALEX TUCKER: Yeah, I think potentially it’d be a really good source of quick, snappy insights. It could help us with testing content in various ways. It could help us with just being more fun and engaging as well. I think it’s got the potential to be quite entertaining running quick polls. Again, how easy it is to encourage people to take part, I guess we’ll see when we get access to it, but I’ve not seen anything in Twitter yet.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, I’ve seen something. I saw Danny Sullivan make a tweet. It was about Back to the Future, and if you remember watching it at the original cinemas. But I haven’t seen the functionality of being able to do one myself. But perhaps the fact that I’m fairly keen to actually be able to do this is an indicator that it’s maybe something that a lot of people on there that use Twitter regularly will find useful, but we will see.
So the second last topic is Instagram. They’ve introduced Boomerang, which is a standalone app for publishing one second looping videos. We thought Vine Videos were short, but one second looking videos. We also heard last week that Twitter have launched the ability to publish a 30 second video direct from your desktop. So with that, and Vine, and YouTube, what is it that marketers can do effectively from using short form videos? I mean, speaking with Alex, is short form videos something that the majority of businesses should be looking at doing for starting to share on Facebook posts, and Twitter, and other places, or is that not necessarily the right thing for most businesses to be concerned about?
ALEX TUCKER: You know, our clients tend to be B2B. There’s probably about a quarter of our clients that do anything at all with video actually, although we do encourage the use of video. I think the shorter form probably, at least for our clients, gives them the opportunity to entertain a little bit, which is kind of rare in our business. So I think it’ll be fun to see our clients getting involved. Quite what we can do with a one second rolling video, I always thought that was just a GIF.
DAVID BAIN: I think it behaves like a GIF. I think it’s essentially four images that are just stitched together. So I don’t know if you can hardly call that a video. Michael, is that something that you’re excited to get up and use, or you don’t really see many people using it?
MICHAEL BONFILS: I can’t say I’m excited, only because, as you can tell, I’m not twenty.
DAVID BAIN: 21?
MICHAEL BONFILS: Remember we’re talking Instagram. So Instagram is a mostly millennial loved social media platform. The attention span of most millennials aren’t as long as a pre-roll video, so 30 seconds is already ridiculously long. That’s about as long as they watch a movie anyways. But one second for a millennial probably is a really good way to capture their attention, but my feeling is it’s going to be super annoying to most people unless they figure out how to make it funny. So it really is a millennial marketing product at this point, and if they could make it funny, and make it capture the one second attention of these millennials with it, then yeah, I think it probably is something that’s going to be interesting.
DAVID BAIN: Stephanie saying in chat, ‘Six second filter.’ So six seconds, is that your willingness to actually—not attention span she’s saying, but critical filter for generation Y, Z, and exponentially less for alphas.
MICHAEL BONFILS: That’s already too long for a millennial.
DAVID BAIN: So Tomas, is this a product you agree that is targeted at millennials? Can you see any business using it that its product service isn’t targeted at that market?
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: I’m struggling. I think overall, Instagram, videos on Instagram, Vines, and kind of other channels like that within our industry, where we are trying to get in front of drivers in urban locations who have a parking problem, to some extent we are probably more similar in that marketing sense to a B2B business. Because what we do, at least the product, is not particularly emotive to the consumer, similarly to a B2B consumer buying something for the company. And I guess on the side, it’s great to have this fun aspect of a company, and entertain some of our users who are too tied back.
DAVID BAIN: We’ve got a little bit of a struggle with your audio, I’m afraid, Tomas.
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: Oh, sorry.
DAVID BAIN: That’s okay. You were sounding as if you were in Mars a little bit there. Maybe if you actually refresh your screen, and re-join us, that might fix it there. But we certainly got the gist of what you’re saying there, that it’s not something that the majority of businesses should be focusing on at the moment. Perhaps if it’s your target market, but it’s probably a good example of a marketing opportunity that is a sit and wait one. See what businesses actually do with it. Whether or not it is something that can be useful to integrate into your mix, but isn’t in that 20% of things that’s going to impact 80% of what you do.
But let’s just move on to our last topic here, which is Amazon is suing over 1,000 Fiverr users for offering to write fake product reviews. But is it easy to spot a fake review from a real review? Why doesn’t Amazon just make it possible for people who just bought their product to make a review, and not actually anyone else apart from that? Or maybe that’s going to impact the quantity of people making reviews. So fake product reviews, Michael, is that something that should be a concern for Amazon? Should they be suing people? Should they just be trying to deal with it within their algorithm in terms of the number of people, the type of people that are actually able to write reviews?
MICHAEL BONFILS: Yeah. I mean, absolutely they should be dealing with it. For one, me as a digital guy, I look at reviews with a grain of salt anyways. Every review I look at, I try to decipher what percentage of that review is likely to be some brand guy, or Fiverr. And that’s just me. But I’m not the majority. The majority of people actually believe that stuff, and they follow it, and that’s really bad, and really a problem.
In terms of Amazon suing these people, I mean come on. A lot of these people that do reviews, they live in India. They make about $5 a month, so you’re going to sue them for what? And are you going to send a lawyer over there? Good luck. You know, it’s a publicity stunt that’s kind of stupid in my opinion. If anything, I think that Amazon and a lot of these companies, Yelp, a lot of these guys could really use a good piece of knowledge from a company in China called Taobao. Because Taobao entire system—Taobao just for reference is one of China’s largest e-commerce sites. Most people go there to buy things, and it’s kind of a mix between eBay stores and Amazon. But the ranking engine within Taobao is built around user reviews, but they’re qualified user reviews. So the users themselves could be scrutinised. So there’s I between the user who’s making the review, the product that is proven that they purchased it, and they’re providing a real review. And that’s what they put, and that’s their ranking engine.
So if you had something like that on Amazon, you had some technology in there, they don’t need 500,000 reviews for every product because no one’s going to look at that. They just are going to look at the top maybe five reviews, if that. So those top five reviews, if they are built on a smart engine like Taobao has, that’s what they should be thinking about, not going around and suing a bunch of people who they’re never going to make a dollar off of.
DAVID BAIN: Absolutely. I mean when you said people are just looking for top reviews, I completely agree with that. You don’t read every review; you’re just looking for the most authoritative ones. So perhaps it suited Amazon to begin with to demonstrate that they were successful by getting hundreds if not thousands of reviews for individual products, but perhaps now is the right time to actually focus on quality rather than quantity. Tomas, hopefully you can hear me well, and we’ll be able to hear you well now as well. Do you think paying for reviews has worked for businesses as a marketing tactic, however unfortunate that is? And if so, is now the time to actually stop doing that kind of thing?
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: I can hear you, that’s a good start. Yes, well paying for reviews, I don’t think I’ve had enough visibility on companies that have built themselves up with paid reviews to get that boost at the beginning, and ended up actually contributing to the internet or to the economy. But it feels like a similar mental process like black-hat SEO were. Some companies have actually used it in a very sensible and kind of conscious way as a booster for the very beginning of their business, but with an eye on building something better than their competitors. So that in the end, this is almost like a kind of launching marketing tactic. I think anybody who is buying reviews to flog a product that is not great, well Amazon has got, I don’t know, 30,000 employees. Half of them should probably be trying to spot these reviewers because their products really depend on it in my eyes. And any products which are receiving very good reviews on one hand, and very poor reviews from other users, Amazon should be able to filter that out, as Michael said, using authorised or verified reviewers.
For a company of their size, and with the revenue that they’re making from a product that is essentially a recommendation engine, I think they need to be investing in that. And I’m hopeful that similar to Google, with the problems that they used to have with keyword stuffing, then link spamming, I think eventually big companies get to a place where they just chuck enough effort at a problem like that, and they’ll be able to get it under control.
DAVID BAIN: So I mean, Alex, when you look to purchase something online, are you always concerned about the legitimacy of different reviews? And if so, how do you actually decipher between what might be a decent review, and what’s likely not to be real review?
ALEX TUCKER: Well first of all, I guess it depends on how much we’re spending. So if something is really low value, and I don’t care that much, then I don’t need to see a review for it. So the more important and the more expensive something is, the more likely it is that we’re going to research, and look at different places to buy that product or service. And in that case, having some social proof becomes more important.
You know, somewhere like Amazon, I don’t think it is easy to spot fake reviews, and I think that that’s a problem if you are buying something that’s a kind of high ticket item. You know, if a DVD’s got good reviews and I don’t like it, that’s no big deal. Even in the case of our clients where they’re marketing business relationships that are worth thousands, and sometimes tens of thousands of pounds a year, there’s still an element of social proof. And certainly talking to our clients, we would always say that you absolutely have to be genuine about social proof, because the more the buyer is going to analyse that information. So the more they’re going to look into reviews or other social proof that’s available.
So it’s difficult to answer how easy it is to spot them. I would always say that it is just so important to be genuine. And if you’re a business thinking about buying reviews, just don’t do it.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, absolutely. And certainly don’t go for tens and hundreds of them, because it’s all about that perceived quality of the review, as opposed to all these reviews out there that you see that are perhaps just one or two lines, and perhaps don’t even talk about the characteristics of the product. And those are just daft to get. But I reckon it’s a subject that we could talk about for an hour like every subject that we’re talking about probably today. But that just about takes us to the end of this week’s show. So just time for a single takeaway, and some sharing of find out more details from our guests. So starting off with Michael.
MICHAEL BONFILS: A single takeaway, okay. Yeah, pay attention, like I mentioned earlier, on thin content. That’s a big impact. People aren’t really looking at their content, and the size of the content, and the value of content. So one thing that was discussed a lot about at the time a couple weeks ago was Google not giving as much relevancy to links and content out there that are linking to their site, but they’re looking at content within your site, and valuing that as a very important factor. So this is nothing new when it comes to old school, but it does kind of reframe your mind a little bit to really think that content does matter on my site, and how I put it, and how I develop it on my site for every page, not just a blog post, is going to matter, and it’s going to make an impact.
DAVID BAIN: So you have to look at a combination between quantity of unique content, but also user experience, what a user actually does on that page as well.
MICHAEL BONFILS: Right.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, great. And in terms of reaching out to you, Michael Bonfils obviously, where’s the best place that people can get a hold of you?
MICHAEL BONFILS: Yeah, on Twitter @MichaelBonfils, or you could email me [email protected]. So if you have any questions around international, feel free to ping me. And thank you again for having me. I really appreciate it. Just a couple hours ago, I don’t know if you can see this picture, but that’s me with 50 tubes and wires in my face. That was one hour before this show, so I’m glad I got in to make it, but I apologise for looking not as nice as Alex and Tomas and you. So thank you again for having me on.
DAVID BAIN: Oh, you look fine. I’m just glad you didn’t keel over as part of this. Thank you so much for coming.
MICHAEL BONFILS: Yeah, that would have been a bad thing, right?
DAVID BAIN: And for our audio only listeners, that’s why you actually have to watch the live show. You have to see pictures of Michael with 50 tubes in his head. Thank again for joining us. And also joining us today was Tomas.
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: Yep. I guess my takeaway is if you’re getting worried about Google’s Rich Answers, have a look at what percentage of your search traffic is being delivered. And at the same time, your whole company’s traffic is delivered through keywords that could be eligible for Google’s Rich Answer, that kind of knowledge box. And if it’s a large percentage, instead of worrying how to get into that box, worry about what’s going to happen when Google is just not going to be quoting anybody, and will be just answering those questions flat out, and have a think about what else you can add to the internet so that Google’s not in a place to intermediate you.
DAVID BAIN: Right. Okay, so don’t just track how your keywords are performing in terms of number in the SERP, actually have a look at the search engine results as well, see what’s happening, and learn from that.
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: Yeah, especially thinking about the keywords that are potentially answerable with Google’s answer box.
DAVID BAIN: Got you. And where can people get a hold of you?
TOMAS VAITULEVICIUS: @EndMarketing on Twitter, and I’ve got quite a unique name and surname mix. So you can pick me up on LinkedIn, I check it every now and then, if you’ve got any questions.
DAVID BAIN: Lovely. And also Alex.
ALEX TUCKER: Okay, well as I’ve seen we’re already talking quite a bit about how we might use Twitter Polls, so kind of really excited to see that come along. Kind of trying to get a plan together for that. And I think I really should go away, and see what we can squeeze into a one second video as well.
DAVID BAIN: You’ve got four frames.
ALEX TUCKER: Yeah. And it’s @TuckerA on Twitter, or [email protected]
DAVID BAIN: And I’m David Bain, head of growth at Analytics SEO, the agency and enterprise SEO platform with big insight. Sign up for a free demo of our platform at authoritas.com. And you can also find me interviewing online marketing gurus over at digitalmarketingradio.com.
Now, if you’re watching this show as a recording, remember to watch the next show live. I can’t promise you we’ll have Michael on again, but you might see pictures of someone else. So head over to thisweekinorganic.com to be part of the next live audience. But for those of you watching live, you can catch up with previous episodes at thisweekinorganic.com/iTunes if you’ve got an iPhone. But until we see you again, have a fantabulous weekend, and thank you all for joining us. Thank you Michael, thank you Alex, thank you Tomas.
MICHAEL BONFILS: Thank you.
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.