This is the twenty eight episode of, ‘This Week In Organic’, the weekly show that debates the ramifications of the latest SEO and content marketing news.
In this episode we discuss whether negative reputation is sufficient reason to give a page a low-quality rating by Google’s raters, what HTTP2 means for website performance and how long should you be willing to blog for without attracting many readers? 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.
Here’s what we discussed:
=== Topic #1: Phantom 3
“Phantom 3” has arrived – it’s the latest Google SERP flux that has no name – but it’s rumoured to be a “quality update”. If that’s what it is, we last saw one back in the month of May. So what really is quality? What does quality mean to you?
How do you provide a high quality site experience?
Is it possible to accurately quantify what quality is?
=== Topic 2: Negative reputation is sufficient reason to give a page a low-quality rating
In relation to Google’s search quality ratings, one sentence jumped out at me, which is “Negative reputation is sufficient reason to give a page a low-quality rating”. And that scared me a bit.
What is an appropriate way of encouraging your customers to give you a positive online rating?
Is there any way that businesses can challenge of have unfair low-quality ratings removed?
=== Topic 3: Apparently everyone should be moving to HTTP2
Apparently everyone should be moving to HTTP2 as Googlebot will soon be supporting it. But what will HTTP2 actually mean for website performance?…
Most browsers are connecting to servers using HTTP 1.1 at the moment. At that was implemented back in 1999 – before the mobile web and before video streaming. HTTP2 means that multiple connections can be made between a browser and a server, and that the server can now initiate the loading of content, bringing with it a slew of marketing automation possibilities…
But to support HTTP2 it looks like your site has to be secure – plus if your site was very well optimized for HTTP 1.1 – it’s likely not to be optimised well for HTTP2
=== Topic 4: User behaviour will soon affect your rank
How should you measure your user behaviour?
What user behaviour metrics are the most important ones to keep an eye on?
=== Topic 5: How long should you keep blogging for without any feedback?
Yesterday John Lincoln published an article on Marketing Land called “The Six Biggest Mistakes In Corporate Blogging”. The sixth mistake that he pointed to was “Giving Up Too Soon”, saying that many of the top blogs online today took five to 10 years to get there.
How long should you keep going for if you don’t get any feedback?
=== Topic 6: How should you integrate live video streaming as part of your content marketing strategy?
Facebook is apparently testing live video streaming. So is live video streaming a fad, or an essential part of a progressive marketing strategy for most businesses?
How should you integrate live video streaming as part of your content marketing strategy and might this impact SEO?
How do you encourage users to interact and share the broadcast?
DAVID BAIN: Negative reputation is sufficient reason to give a page a low quality rating by Google’s raters? What does HTTP2 mean for website performance and how long should you be willing to blog for without attracting many readers?
So we’re broadcasting live on Blab and 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 www.thisweekinorganic.com.
Hello and welcome, I’m David Bain, and each week I’ll be joined by some knowledgeable, opinionated folks to discuss the latest happenings in anything that impacts organic traffic. And as for you in the live audience, get involved too. So click on the tell a little bird button and tell your friends on the Facebook button here as well, that’d be cool to actually see your tweets and also if you’d like to ask any questions we’ll try and actually read out whatever you’re saying on the show, if you can interact with us that way, that would be really good. Well 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 Mr Jonny Ross.
JONNY ROSS: Hello, Jonny Ross from www.jonnyross.com based in Leeds in Yorkshire and very much looking forward to talk about what’s going on in the digital world today.
DAVID BAIN: Great, okay, thank you Jonny and also joining us today is Mr Mark Asquith.
MARK ASQUITH: Hello there, sir. Yeah, that’s right I’m Mark Asquith from Hacksaw, I’m the host of the UK’s number one small business podcast, Excellence Expected. The things that have got me going this week are the live streaming on Facebook, which is something I know we’re going to be looking at and that is very exciting news, I’m keen to get into that.
DAVID BAIN: You’re the live streaming man at the moment. Every day I’m seeing you pop up. Even more than once a day, so that’s exceptionally impressive, I’m just wondering if you’re actually going to keep it up, so I’ll be really interested to hear what your long-term strategy is to do with that and how that impacts content marketing in general. So also attempting to join us today is Rebecca, I know Rebecca you’ve had challenges with your audio, how’s it going at the moment?
DAVID BAIN: Miming works okay perhaps on a video, but for the audio version, that’s not so good actually, so I’m not sure if Rebecca is going to be able to actually do anything today. No, she’s shaking her head. She’s had internet challenges today, she’s had audio challenges. We really appreciate you actually trying to join us, you know, but perhaps we’ll have more luck with you at another point in the future. It would be wonderful to see you again. Have a great day there, I know you’re based in the United States. That was the briefest appearance on This Week in Organic yet, so you’ve got the record for that. We’ll talk to you again at some point in the future Rebecca. Bye bye. But let’s start off with topic number one, which is Phantom 3 has arrived, it’s the latest Google SERP flux that has no name, but it’s rumoured to be a quality update. If that’s what it is, we last saw that back actually in the month of May. So what really is quality? What does quality mean to you, Jonny, when it comes to actually delivering decent content online?
JONNY ROSS: Something that people are interested in, really.
DAVID BAIN: How do you decide that? Do you decide that yourself?
JONNY ROSS: No. Well I think deciding it yourself is certainly firstly a good starting point, if you think people are interested in it then that’s certainly a good start. If you don’t think people are interested in it and you think you’re just purely writing something to get higher in Google, then that would be the big red flag, ‘Stop it’. So I guess you know it’s all about looking at metrics, understanding how people engage with your content and identifying stuff that really works and when you find stuff that works, creating more content around that subject. So, yes, quality, it makes sense, quality is really key. And ultimately the more engaging the better. I don’t think there has been an update though?
DAVID BAIN: In some people’s eyes, okay in some peoples’ eyes there is and in some peoples’ eyes there isn’t. Have you not seen any flux, any client of yours had any issues?
JONNY ROSS: I’ve not seen any changes across our clients, no. There have been big changes in the last month on domain authority on Moz and a number of links on Moz, but I’ve not seen any ranks or organic issues with Google.
DAVID BAIN: Mark is quality expected?
MARK ASQUITH: Oh, man. That was nice! You should be the co-host on my show. Yes, I think it’s an interesting, it’s kind of an interesting juxtaposition for many publishers I often think.
DAVID BAIN: That’s a good word, that is!
MARK ASQUITH: It’s a good one isn’t it that one? I saw that earlier in a cracker! But I think it’s an interesting problem that people generally have and that is the question that you asked, ‘What defines quality?’ And I think there is a bit of a challenge for people, because often, like the way that I tend to write or create content is, especially for Excellence Expected, it’s very much things that I would be interested in, that is my first barometer of content and then I get really deep into that and publish the content out. And it kind of worries me. Like I didn’t know anything about this Phantom 3 until I got your email. That just echoes Jonny’s thought around, ‘Is it actually an update?’
DAVID BAIN: Well it’s not maybe to people who haven’t actually been delivering quality in the past, so perhaps you have, so it’s not impacted you?
MARK ASQUITH: That’s a great point, that is a great point, and it kind of makes me question the way that I create content for myself and for my clients, because you are constantly on the back-foot with this kind of thing, but being honest I’m not, I don’t really take much notice of the Moz side of things and I’m not big into the actual SEO measurement these days for my clients, that’s done elsewhere, but I think when it comes to the content creation that is something that I really, really struggle with personally and my barometer is always, ‘Would I read this?’ that is it.
DAVID BAIN: And do you alter the way that you actually put your content together based upon feedback that you receive from people who actually are your readers, are your subscribers?
MARK ASQUITH: Do you know, that’s a really good question and the way that I, well the sort answer is yes, I do. And what tends to come out is that I got it the other day actually, I always thought that I wrote like I talked, which you knowing me like you do, David, is probably not a great thing, and it was quite startling because one of my friends and someone that reads the content that I send out regularly, said, ‘Do you know, you don’t sound anything like you when you’re writing the emails’ and I know that’s not a qualitative statement, but that to me was quite a startling point and it does make me wonder, do I change the tonality of it, is that going to impact the so-called quality of things? And I’m all about the personality and getting the person behind the content out and actually into the content and I’m kind of scared to do that, just in case it does impact things negatively, so I’ll be honest, sometimes I don’t know where to turn when that.
DAVID BAIN: Yes, it’s a tough one. Johnny so if you say to a client, ‘Okay, you’ve got to have a great website, you’ve got to actually produce quality content’ and the client says to you, ‘Okay, how do you define quality?’ what would you say back to them?
JONNY ROSS: I think it’s about, I mean someone said here, A. Halliday, something about getting your staff to have a read and if they’d share it then that’s a good little mark and it is doing things like that, it’s about understanding, when we first try and put a content plan together, one of the first things we do is talk to, well depending on the size of the business, talk to customer services or talk to whoever is answering the phones and say, ‘What do people ask you? What do clients’ ask?’ And a lot of content is based around what people are asking. So you can then produce content that people are actually actively looking for. So that’s probably one of the first things and it’s about identifying trends, but it’s also, I’ll put my hands up, we don’t this ourselves, we should be, we do it for our clients, we talk to our clients about it, but we don’t do it enough, but it’s about sending surveys out, it’s about asking readers what they think, it’s about understanding what content gets comments for example. But before you’ve got that data, it is very much going back to understanding what your, well first of all you’ve got to define your audience, but secondly it’s about understanding what your audience wants and it could be even a case where you actually go to clients and ask them what type of content would be helpful, what type of things could we be giving you? Whether it be in video format, in written format, images, whatever it might be, infographics, research – what would be helpful to your business? And that would be a great thing to do.
DAVID BAIN: Great advice there. Well in relation to that, actually the second topic, and that’s Google’s search quality ratings, one sentence within that document jumped out at me and that’s, ‘Negative reputation is sufficient reason to give a page a low quality rating’ and that kind of scared me a bit. Now what is an appropriate way of encouraging your customers actually to give you a positive online rating maybe, because what Google are looking for here is to deliver results that have existing positive comments about them there as well, so that looks as if Google are actually actively looking for websites to actually have those comments, those positive comments about them, but also not have negative comments about them there as well and it seems to be an absolutely integral part of whether or not they are going to rank a website highly or not. So you guys actually have agencies, so you must actually have listings within Google Local and then you must hopefully have the facility there to get people to actually write comments about you there as well? Do you actually do anything actively to encourage people to write reviews if they’ve been satisfied with your service? Jonny, you’re nodding away there, have you done anything in that?
JONNY ROSS: Absolutely, we as an agency have done a lot of that and we get clients to as well. Ultimately, all of this, right, going back to them I can’t believe for one minute that Google isn’t using things like number of social shares and review data to rank websites, I can’t believe that it’s not using it. It makes sense, it makes common sense, doesn’t it? And although it’s easy to manipulate there are ways of testing it, so I’m confident that Google is using the reviews it’s getting itself, I’m confident it’s using things like reviews from things like Trustpilot and TripAdvisor etc. etc. and lots of other review sites and whether things have been shared etc. etc. Ultimately, in all of this, if your service isn’t great, then all of this is just going to amplify it, so if someone thinks you’re crap then they are just going to shout lounder on social media or on reviews. There is nothing you can do about that, except offer good service of course. And if you’re not offering good service, then you’re not going to win anyway.
So the first thing is you’ve got to offer good service. It might sound daft, but a lot of companies don’t do it, do they? And then the second thing is, I think you’ve got to have in your whatever you call it, workflow, pipeline whatever it might of that customer journey has to be actively asking for reviews and potentially choosing the right time to ask for a review. Typically not asking for a review when you’ve posted something out and it hasn’t actually got there yet – that’s not ideal is it? But asking for reviews at the right time, but always asking for reviews, I think reviews are a very key part to the customer journey. So how can you negate it against negative reviews? Well first of all good customer service, but second of all constantly asking for reviews, because even if you are, you might get a couple of negative reviews, there is not a lot you can do about that necessarily, but the more reviews you ask for and the more positive they are, the more it will get rid of the negative ones.
DAVID BAIN: You say at the right time – when is the right time? Is the right time as soon as they become a customer or a few months after?
JONNY ROSS: It depends, well I guess it depends on the business, doesn’t it? You know, if you’re an ecommerce site then asking for a review, it depends exactly what it’s for. I mean in lot of cases, you see on ecommerce which is slightly frustrating, you see someone give a review for something that’s a present in a month’s time and so actually they’ve not even used the produce. So timing is difficult to work out, I guess, is what I was trying to say there. And it very much depends on whether you’re offering a service or a product as to when you ask for that review, but I guess you’re waiting for that really happy moment, so for example if we’re producing a website and you get to the point where the client is really happy, you go live, well if they’re happy, that’s the day to ask for the review, isn’t it? So it’s just using some common sense about working out when the right time is, but ensuring that you constantly are asking for reviews.
DAVID BAIN: So using some common sense, that means not actually automating it into your process? But actually doing it personally.
JONNY ROSS: In an ideal world of course. But the common sense side of it would be understanding, you know, every product and every service is different, so you could put automation in as long as you understand how your products and service would work and how that journey works.
DAVID BAIN: One other question, Jonny, in relation to your personal experience, if you suddenly got four or five reviews that were one star and really negative, and you didn’t recognise who they’re from, so it looked a bit fishy, could you deal with that? Is there a process that you could actually undertake to try and get these reviews removed?
JONNY ROSS: Well you can certainly report them but as to whether anything is going to happen, it’s a difficult one. And negative reviews, I’m sure there is a whole industry on producing negative reviews for your competitors. It’s a very difficult one, but I think there are a lot of processes in place, for example, I think Facebook, Twitter, not that Twitter has got reviews, but if you look at the big channels, they are all working to get rid of fake accounts, they are all working to understand if the same IP has been used and all of that sort of stuff, and I think you just have to put some trust in them, you can’t change the system, but you can play the system and ultimately if you haven’t got hundreds of positive reviews, then when you get those four negative reviews, you’re screwed, aren’t you? Whereas if you have a hundred positive reviews and you get four or five negative ones, it doesn’t really matter.
DAVID BAIN: Yes, that’s a good point. Yes, it scared me certainly when you were mentioning negative SEO, negative actually approaching competitors and adding the negative reviews to their listings, then the fact that Google actually saying within their document what it will do is actually encourage people to vote down the quality of a website based on reviews, that seemed a bit scary and flaming the possibility of actually having negative reviews and hopefully that won’t become more of an issue moving forward, because it looks like reviews are going to become more of an integral part of whether or not a site is going to be popular or not.
JONNY ROSS: I think the processes are becoming a bit more robust and I think as I was saying, I think that the thing of understanding whether it’s the same IP, whether that account is doing other things as well or if it’s just leaving negative reviews across the internet. There is always going to be ways round it, but I do believe the process is getting better.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, that’s good. Mark, do you actually actively encourage your customers and perhaps even prospects to actually leave reviews on your services?
MARK ASQUITH: We do, yes, but we tend not to work with that many clients, especially as Hacksaw, we are much more focused on the long-term relationship side of the client base and we don’t work with that many clients. We very consciously only work with a handful of very good people. Which is all well and good, but then you end up with five reviews. Brilliant, nice one! So the thing that I always, well the thing that I often think with this kind of thing, and just picking up from what Jonny mentioned is that I don’t know what the future is like for this kind of system, a review system, like yes I can see in the short to mid-term it being a very specific ranking factor, but then I often wonder to myself, well is this just something else that means that actually it’s not about the quality content, it’s not about the quality of a service, it’s actually about who is the better salesman and who is the better at PR. I know companies that are absolutely terrible at what they do, in whatever industry, but you absolutely love them because the person that you speak to is fantastic and that guy or that girl is going to get a review out of you, because they make you feel like you’re the only thing that matters on that day in their world so you give them the review. That’s it, that’s what they want.
So it just makes me wonder, you know, is this just another thing to be manipulated, is this just another link farm? It’s quite an interesting problem, I think, because it is an extremely good metric if it’s genuine, but it is open to the chatterboxes, the sales people, the people that are fantastic at PR just getting the reviews. And of course being genuine reviews, but actually maybe inflating things a little bit more to counter the other genuine negative reviews that may come as a result of actual service reflections. So I don’t know, I always find reviews a bit of an odd thing and I often find that trying to get people to take action on things as well, you know, asking people for a review and getting them to convert to doing that review, it’s not the easiest thing in the world, because we’re all a little bit lazy, aren’t we? I mean when was the last time we all reviewed something?
JONNY ROSS: But you look at hotels on TripAdvisor for example, the biggest factor for someone booking a hotel on TripAdvisor is the review. And whilst I completely get, I totally agree with you, Mark, it completely can be manipulated, there is no question about it, however, if you don’t bring reviews into the equation then what you’ve got is you’re not triangulating to understand if something is good or not and I think I see reviews as a way of triangulating to work out if the other data that they’ve got on the website stacks up and matches what people are saying about the website. Yes, it can be manipulated, but all parts of it can be manipulated and you’re going to talk about user behaviour and that can totally be manipulated as well, so it will be interesting talk about that.
MARK ASQUITH: Yes, it’s an interesting one, because again I completely agree with that, I think that is completely valid and the, I just wonder about the, like the TripAdvisor example is a really great example and I just think that is a critical mass, that has become the way that we choose the hotel. For me that’s the critical mass that’s occurring it has tipped over the crest of the wave and it has become the norm. If you think about a plumbing company or an electrician’s company, you’ve got someone with 30 years’ experience, fantastic, three men in a van doing an amazing job and satisfying everyone that they go to and then you’ve got a younger set of people that are just chasing the cash, but they’re better at Google. That’s the kind of thing that I often wonder about reviews. It is just who is better at getting the reviews? But you’re absolutely right, it’s very valid.
JONNY ROSS: It is, no it is that as well, you’re right.
MARK ASQUITH: There’s no way around it though is there? What else is there? What is better than a review? There is nothing.
JONNY ROSS: And is it just the case that businesses have to realise that you know, for example if they are not on Twitter they’re missing out, if they’re not here then they’re not getting reviews, they’re missing out.
MARK ASQUITH: Exactly and that, I think that is the challenge for a lot of the businesses that don’t especially the bricks and mortar or the more traditional businesses, that have always shied away from digital marketing, ‘We don’t need it, we’re referral based.’ And I think that is the biggest challenge for people, especially around social media, and reviews coming in to this, if we see positive sentiment on social media as a factor as well. It’s just vital that people do start to make that shift and as marketers how the heck do you educate people on this? But more so how do you get people to take that action and actually do it after we leave. That’s the challenge.
DAVID BAIN: I think it emphasises the importance of actually building your personal brand authority as well and if you do that and people get to know you as who you are, then they are not going to be as likely to pay attention to third party reviews.
MARK ASQUITH: You’re absolutely right, yes.
JONNY ROSS: I get your point Mark about you’ve only got a few clients, I mean there is nothing wrong with that business model in the slightest. I guess because of that business model, you’re not in a position where you’re as much relying on a Google ranking anyway, to an extent. And what I was going to say was just on the other side of the coin for a model where you’ve got consumers or a large volume of people, one of the easiest ways to get reviews quickly, that are meaningful and by that I mean Google+ reviews which Google is going to look at first, I guess, is looking through your email list and only selecting people that have got Gmail addresses, because they are already signed up to Google and very, very quickly and easily can they leave a review, whereas people that have got Yahoo, haven’t necessarily got a Google account, get to the review page, don’t want to necessarily sign up and so you can also look at some quick wins from an ecommerce point of view and targeting people with Gmail accounts. Anyway, by the by.
DAVID BAIN: Everon UK saying on the chat, ‘We like to think we’re good at Google, but being an IT support company that deals with other businesses and older clients a lot of our customers don’t have a Google account to leave a review, or perhaps even wouldn’t be comfortable doing that even if they did or weren’t aware they had a Google account.’ So it depends on the type of business you’re in but I guess if you are in that industry, your competitors have the same restrictions as you, so hopefully it won’t be so much of an issue.
JONNY ROSS: Absolutely, but it’s about when you’re asking for a review, it’s about giving options. I mean we’ve got an email template that makes it so easy and it sort of says if you struggle with Google, but you’re on Facebook, click here or you can leave LinkedIn reviews or recommendations, sorry, so it’s about making it, it’s right, it’s about understanding the audience and understanding where they might be and, as David has just said, probably competitors are in the same position anyway.
DAVID BAIN: That’s great advice and you said your first point was ask at the right time, but also make it easy for people to leave a review as well. And those are two great pieces of advice and if you do that then the likelihood is, even if you get a couple of negative reviews that aren’t maybe…
JONNY ROSS: They’re lost, yeah, they get lost.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, well let’s move on to our third topic, which is apparently everyone should be moving to HTTP2 as Googlebot will soon be supporting it. But what will HTTP2 actually mean for website performance? Well most browsers are connecting to servers using HTTP1.1 at the moment. That was implemented back in 1999 before the mobile web, before video streaming. HTTP2 means that multiple connections can be made between a browser and a server and that server now can initiate the loading of content, bringing with it a slew of marketing automation possibilities. But to support HTTP2 it looks like your site has to be secure, plus if you site was very well optimised for HTTP1.1 it’s likely not to be optimised well for HTTP2.
So a lot of technical stuff there, but there are some things that, Mark, you will be doing as a design agency that will help with page load speed for HTTP1.1 that may actually be detrimental to be HTTP2. For instance, actually, you will know about image sprites. Image sprites where you are actually putting all the images of a web page on one particular file and you are just actually having one file to be downloaded as part of that web page and that helps with the speed. But it’s not the optimum way for HTTP2. Is this something that you’ve looked into at all? Is it something that you’ve actually considered to actually alter your web design process for instance over the next few months or so?
MARK ASQUITH: It’s a right pain in the backside isn’t it? When you think about it? It’s fantastic first of all that that’s happening, you’re absolutely right what you’re saying, HTTP1.1 – 1999 – no one knew what was going to happen with the web. No one expected it to become this. So it’s fantastic that that is happening, it’s what needs to happen, but there are few things that it raises. The first one is yes, of course, Google supports it, but then of course it supports a lot of things and it has supported things for a long time that have not become mainstream or didn’t become mainstream for a while. Things like the mobile side of things. So that’s the first question – how quickly will it start to affect ranking factors? That’s quite an interesting one.
But then from a more practical perspective, as an agency what do you do with that? At the end of the day it is going to take you time to change this. What do you do? Do you approach clients and say, ‘Well listen guys here’s what is happening, do you want to buy this upgrade and we’ll change everything out that we did before?’ Does it become an SEO company’s job? How do you do that? Will the clients pay for that? Will they see the benefit of that? I mean we still get challenged, not a lot, but we do still get challenged on, ‘Do I actually need a mobile site?’ So if you try selling to someone we can make you HTTP2 compliant they are just going to be like, ‘Well actually what time is it, I think I’ve got to leave.’ So there are a few things with that. Yes the panacea is to get to HTTP2 and as an agency we’ll be supporting that out of the box, yes, that’s fantastic. In reality, how the heck do you implement that and how do you do it quickly and effectively and make it affordable?
DAVID BAIN: Yes, I mean I guess it depends on whether or not your competitors are embracing it and whether your competitors are suddenly half the speed of your site in terms of loading time, that’s probably what the main measurement is going to be. Is that something that you’ve put any thought into, Jonny?
JONNY ROSS: No. I’ll put my hands up it’s not my expert area.
DAVID BAIN: But you must occasionally obviously look at site speed for your clients?
JONNY ROSS: Absolutely, yeah, totally. I mean…
DAVID BAIN: So this is something that could significantly impact that. You could have site speed suddenly halving because of this and if that’s the case then obviously your focus will be right on there.
JONNY ROSS: I was reading something, yesterday, you lose 5% of visitors every second it takes your website to load, I think.
DAVID BAIN: There are different stats, certainly, but goes up very quickly, yes.
JONNY ROSS: But it’s not too difficult to get websites to load sub four seconds, and I get where it’s, I sort of think that the browsers need to just find better ways of caching stuff, so that stuff is pre-cached if that makes sense.
DAVID BAIN: You’ve got Confluent Forms I think about a decent point, I was just saying not about load or just about, it’s about load and render in the browser because you can connect with the server, but unless you are actually for the visitor delivering them a website that’s useful, then there is no point in actually calling that a load.
JONNY ROSS: Yeah. I guess yes. I can understand speed, I mean can we believe the days that we used to wait for the modem to dial up?
DAVID BAIN: But the thing is web pages used to be much smaller then. I mean ten years ago, the recommendation was for a webpage to be 100K, no bigger than that, and now you’re seeing loads of websites ten times that size. And a lot of web designers now don’t even care about the fact that they’re delivering a bloated PNG image that by itself is 1,000K.
JONNY ROSS: And at the same time they are developing what is it LiFi? Wifi through LED, which is 100 times faster or something. You’ve got to be able to see the light which makes it a bit nonsense, but anyway. I don’t know, it’s not my go to area. Yes. I think we need to look at ways of speeding things up, but I guess it’s just going to be over a long slow process, I guess and at some point people will start changing how we’re developing over time. I don’t think it’s something we need to jump on.
So there is a lot to think about, it’s just something I think to be aware of at the moment, because it could significantly change the way that web pages and files within those web pages are designed and delivered. So I thought it was an important topic to bring up. But we’re going to be talking about a few other things, so coming up we’re going to be talking about which user behaviour metrics you should be tracking? How long you should be prepared to blog for without having many readers? And also, Facebook are launching their live video streaming product, or at least actually testing that just now. But we’re getting loads of great connections. We’ve got Andy Halliday saying in the chat, ‘HTTP2 get on.’ We were going to hear that at one point. Absolutely. So keep the chat going and we’ll try and read as much as possible and interact with you as much as we can. But moving on to the next topic, which is Aleh Barysevich published an article on search engine people this week, talking about seven new SEO opportunities in 2016. One of his points was that user behaviour will soon affect your rank. So user behaviour on a site affecting your rank. Is onsite user behaviour something that you’ve looked at Jonny?
JONNY ROSS: Yes.
DAVID BAIN: Phew, okay.
JONNY ROSS: Yes, because for example if we’re doing a social media campaign or a search engine optimisation campaign or a pay per click campaign we’re looking at metrics like, for example, time onsite, bounce rate, average page views to try and understand which campaigns are more engaging, looking at what triggers goals, what people, whether people are making purchases or filling out forms etc. So I think that data is important when you’re running campaigns to look at and then if you look at pay per click campaigns, Google is certainly using that data when it gives you a quality score on campaigns, understanding click through rates etc. The problem I have with it, though, is that it’s really easy to manipulate so if I was using it as an agency to try and understand what’s working and what’s not, and I’m not manipulating it, then that’s brilliant. The fact is you can easily manipulate bounce rate, so I am not convinced that Google has got a good enough algorithm to be able to, for example, use the bounce rate as a factor. You could easily just put a tiny bit of code on the website that creates a page view and it’s too easy to manipulate.
DAVID BAIN: Google say that they don’t incorporate Google Analytics stats into their algorithm obviously because that is a tracking mechanism, so it’s unfair of them to include that within the scoring. They will obvsiously be aware of when someone visits a page and when someone clicks the back button and they may have additional data through the search functionality within a browser, certainly, as well. But you’re right in saying that there is not a lot of information that they can rely on to really measure quality user experience. Mark how do you actually try and make a site designed well with users in mind?
MARK ASQUITH: Well I think everyone should be doing that anyway. I think that’s what sets the good agencies apart from the ones that know how to build stuff, that’s the big difference is they know how to get the results and I think we talk about usability, we talk about user experience, user-centric design, we say all the right words, every agency does. But you’ve got to really go deep into that and you’ve got to think about the business side of things and I think, well we saw Trajan didn’t we down at New Media Europe and he did a fantastic talk on conversion optimisation and actually creating websites that track the right type of journey and I think that is where some people tend to fall down and what we tend to certainly do, and the big focus of mine in particular with the podcast site and the testing that I do on that, is just making sure using the tracking software, you know I love hotjar, so things like hotjar, making sure that people do what I think they are going to do and if they don’t what do they do? So I think you’ve got to get into that from day one. I think public sector websites really struggle with this, so the Council websites, if you look at the .gov.uk sites and some of the local authority sites, they are really starting to get on top of this and work from a complete user basis and take out all the visual noise that is associated with a website and make it really transaction-led, really process orientated, so it’s function over form. So I think if a business or an organisation wants to start tracking that or get better at that, you’ve just to stop thinking like the business or the agencies. For me it’s pretty simply really.
DAVID BAIN: We’ve got Confluent Forms again sharing a decent link with within the chat there, it’s called ‘The Impact of Queries, Long and Short Clicks and Click Through Rates on Google’s Rankings – Whiteboard Friday’ there’s a Moz post there as well, but I’m sure people can search for it if you’re listening to the audio replay or the video replay of this.
JONNY ROSS: I agree with what he says though, click through rates or organic search and confidence is a ranking factor, just like it is on a quality score factor on pay per click.
DAVID BAIN: Yes, I remember years ago, just clicking on organic results and being absolutely sure that my actions actually impacted that, but obviously, I’m talking about ten years ago there, so Google’s algorithms have got a little bit cleverer to actually determine that it’s one person who is clicking on search results, but I’m sure as you say that it does certainly. Mark, what would you say, what user behaviour metrics are the most important ones to be keeping an eye on?
MARK ASQUITH: For me, this is where I get a bit soap boxy, but for me it is whatever you want it to be as a business. This is why I believe it’s different for everyone. The user metrics, let’s take the rankings out of the equation, you’ve got to be really focused on what you want the people to do. I’m a big fan of just creating your own metrics, push them to the right place, sent them to the right information, give them the right value at the right time and see what happens and measure that and make the changes. So, for example, you need to be, back to the Council example, for a website that’s got millions and millions of page views and you’re creating a website that has got to serve hundreds of thousands of people, you’ve got to be sure that you’re measuring the right actions in the right departments. And the only way you can do that is to just dig deep into the business and assign your own metrics. The industry metrics are fine and the ones that affect ranking factors, whatever, but for me the ones that we measure and the ones that I’m personally really keen on are the ones that affect the bottom line business.
DAVID BAIN: It is the ROI, isn’t it?
MARK ASQUITH: Not even just the ROI, but for example again, back to the Council websites, the things like the channel shift, can you move someone from making a phone call to getting what they need within a click or two. And shifting people to transact online and not necessarily monetary transactions, but getting information that they are normally ringing a switchboard for. That’s a really high scale example of something like a Council site, but I think that people kind of expect these metrics to be some silver bullet or something magic that someone else will know. And I think if you really take them apart from the beginning of a project, you can get much more success much quicker with them.
DAVID BAIN: I think it’s good advice to actually say that it completely depends on your business as well, and also I like your point about trying to minimise the number of clicks as well, that’s good user experience. You are not necessarily trying to encourage people to visit as many pages as possible in your site, you’re trying to encourage people to actually get what they want as soon as possible on your website.
MARK ASQUITH: Well that’s a big thing, that’s a massive thing, because you’ve got to understand whether your website is a website that anyone is ever going to care about. So, again, a prime example a Council website, no one comes to a Council website to browse the thing, who wants to browse the Council website? Unless you want to check out the colours of the bins, no one is going to do that. So when we’re faced with projects like that, where it’s a largescale high number of visits kind of website, the metrics that they initially start looking at are all wrong, because they’re looking at bounce rates, they’re looking at the number of pages viewed per journey and actually they’re seeing these things in the wrong light, they are saying that, ‘If I’m viewing a high number, that’s a good thing.’ Is it really? That’s probably a pretty bad thing for a Council website. So I do think it’s about understanding what type of website you want to create as well, because then you understand the behaviour and you can turn the numbers, and the numbers can reflect the true behaviour, the true intent.
DAVID BAIN: That’s a wonderful point, as with every topic discussed we could keep on going, but let’s move on to the next one, which is yesterday John Lincoln published an article in Marketing Land called ‘The Six Biggest Mistakes in Corporate Blogging’. The sixth mistake that he pointed out was giving up too soon, saying that many of the top blogs online today took five or ten years to get there. So, Mark, how long should you keep on going if you’re not getting any feedback when you’re actually writing blog posts?
MARK ASQUITH: As long as you can without hating it. That’s the honest answer. Blogging, let’s think about it, blogging is writing and it’s not for everyone. But you do have to persist, I completely agree with that and I think so many people see a blog as, again, the silver bullet, it’s the thing that’ll, 4th January I’m going to come back from Christmas, I’m all fired up, what am I going to do, two things, start sending email newsletters and start a blog. Magic. And then people get to February and realise it’s bloody hard work, so you’ve got to really enjoy what you’re doing and if it’s a corporate blog, people don’t enjoy it, no one wants to talk about, especially if they’re an employee of the business who write, ‘Do I spend an hour like this, doing this for the corporate side of things, or do I spend an hour talking about Lost and actually write a blog post about that?’ ‘Which do I love the most?’ So I think you’ve got to just keep doing it as long as you are naturally, back to what we said earlier about the quality of the content, as long as you can naturally produce decent content, keep doing it as long as you can, because just like anything, it’s going to take a heck of a long time to get any traction. Readers aren’t going to flock to you, you need to prove your worth. You’ve got to earn that trust before people start actually sharing what you’re doing and that’s how things grow. So a long-winded way to say it, but blog for as long as you can keep it up, whilst enjoying it. That’s my answer.
DAVID BAIN: And you’re also a podcaster as well, and you’ve got quite a few people who are podcasters who are clients of yours. I’m bringing that up because is podcasting just the same? Can you often have to podcast for four or five years before actually getting that significant traction, that mass audience?
MARK ASQUITH: Well I think that’s a fantastic question, but I think the point there to draw from that is like what is the ideal number? What do we class as traction? Colin Gray made a fantastic point, when he turns up, when he spoke at Podcast Movement around, ‘Listen if I’ve got 30 listeners to my podcast people are going to compare me to these guys, compare me to the best in the biz.’ What I mean is people with the biggest numbers, and they’re going to get really distracted by that, they are going to believe that they are not doing a great job because they don’t have the tens of thousands of downloads per episode, but actually turn it around, what if you were talking to 30 or 40 or 100 or 200 people in a room every week and they turned up to see you every single week? You would be absolutely over the moon with it. So I think the word traction is quite a, it’s what you want that traction to be, how do you define traction? And I think that’s the question. Like for me, if you’ve got a podcast that’s got ten listeners, you’ve got ten people that listen to what you say, that you didn’t have before you had a podcast.
DAVID BAIN: Absolutely and it also depends on the quality of your listeners as well and if they’re relevant to what you are saying as well and if you can influence ten people who are very relevant in your industry, then that could be a fantastic thing to be doing on a weekly basis. Jonny, if you’re talking to a client and if you said to them, ‘Look, you need to be blogging and by the way, it may be five years before you get any significant traction from this’ what kind of response do you think you’d get?
JONNY ROSS: [laughing] What kind of response would I get? Well okay so to answer that question, what you could say is that, ‘Look blogging is the answer, it’s going to take five years, however, we need to run a pay per click campaign at the same time to increase some traction and get some money in to pay for it, so you could use social advertising pay per click to, in effect, finance the project.’
DAVID BAIN: And re-target as well.
JONNY ROSS: Yes, yes, totally. So I mean, yes, I once heard an expert, we’re going back a few years, and he said it takes three to five years to build a community. And I agree with that, I don’t think that sounds wrong, and I see blogging or podcasting or this type of thing, I see this as a core of any campaign really and I’m a massive advocate of blogging. I hear what Mark’s saying, you’ve got to be passionate about it, you’ve got to stay passionate about it and if you’re not then that’s not good either. But my advice is that yes, it’s true, but you don’t to have necessarily be the person if we’re talking about blogging and writing, you don’t have to be the person writing the content and at the same time you don’t want some cheap content either, but if you’ve got someone, a very trusted person, that understands you, understands your business, you can have regular conversations with them, you can work on editorial calendars and marketing calendars so you are planning well in advance and well ahead, then it’s actually very easy and very cost effective to put something into the business, to do it. So, yes, it takes a long time, but it’s completely worth it, it’s probably, I think, one of the most robust methods and it’s a long-term method, it’s a long-term solution as well.
DAVID BAIN: So is it still a good idea to be blogging as a business, even though it’s the leaders within that business who are blogging?
JONNY ROSS: Absolutely and I think at the same time, I think the leaders do need to be blogging, but it doesn’t actually have to be them that write it and that’s the point. So it’s about them buying into the idea that their name should be there, and that they should be out there, and I’m not saying that it’s not their opinion, obviously it’s got to be authentic, it’s got to be real but they don’t have to write it. We’ve done loads of guest blogs where we have interviewed the person and we’ve written the content, because people don’t want to write, people don’t want to go in front of a camera, people don’t want to talk, but they’ve got good things to say and so it’s about investing in resource to write the content or to put the content out there.
DAVID BAIN: I like that suggestion of interviewing them, because if you interview someone for half an hour, then that could be a month’s worth of blog posts.
JONNY ROSS: Absolutely. Absolutely. And the core of our business is all about blogging, so that’s all I ever talk about and I think it helps you have an integrated campaign so whatever you’re doing on your blog is replicated by what you are then doing on Twitter that week, what you’re doing on Facebook that week, what you might be doing on Periscope that week etc. etc. And at the same time it’s boosting your SEO because you’re putting content on the website, you’re also coming up with content for regular email campaigns, so instead of suddenly getting to the time and thinking, ‘I need to do an email campaign’ if you’re blogging regularly then you get snippets of text to put into email campaigns, so I do see it as a core, I see it and I think it’s really important. And, sorry, it’s also a way to generate links because if you’ve got a really good blog content, you’ve got good hooks. So it takes time, that’s just the way it is.
DAVID BAIN: And interesting comments within the chat here: ‘A challenging but thought provoking post I read recently – 50% of content gets eight shares or less. Why content fails and how to fix it.’ So that’s a post on BuzzSumo, so if you’re live here you can click on that and if you’re listening to the replay, maybe you can join us live next time. We regularly broadcast at 4pm GMT / 11am East Coast Time, USA on Blab. But let’s move on to the final topic, which is Facebook is apparently testing live video streaming, so is live video streaming a fad or is it an essential part of a progressive marketing strategy for most businesses. So Mark, how do you integrate live video streaming as part of your content strategy and is this a great thing for everyone to be doing?
MARK ASQUITH: I love live streaming, I’m a narcissistic SOB with my beard and my bad hair, so…
DAVID BAIN: But I remember six months ago or so seeing you on Periscope for the first time and you were going, ‘Oh, yeah, I don’t know what to be saying here’ so you were uncomfortable with it to begin with.
MARK ASQUITH: It’s brilliant isn’t it? You get one heart in your and it’s, ‘Boom – Tom Cruise, eat that!’ I’ll be in the next Mission Impossible I’m convinced. So, it’s an interesting one, we’ve actually got a client, Brad Burton, he’s a verified guy on Facebook, is what I’m trying to say and he’s got the Facebook live streaming facility now and it’s awesome, it’s really cool. I do Periscope and I do Blab regularly and it’s really, really good in terms of getting out there, but the biggest problem that I find is that you’re having to build a new audience on Blab or Periscope. What I like about Facebook in particular is that you’re just building on what you’ve already got, like people have been their Facebook pages for a long time and I think people have kind of stopped, certainly I’ve seen people stop caring so much about Facebook pages, so for me it’s two-fold really with Facebook, it’s fantastic to rejuvenate a page, and (ii) it’s a great way of just building on the audience that you’ve already got.
DAVID BAIN: It’s interesting you’re talking about actually building a new audience. Have you tried to actually bring your existing audience over to Periscope and find that actually my existing audience prefer this platform so there is no point in doing that?
MARK ASQUITH: Well, I’ve tried it both ways, pulling people across from Periscope and pulling people from the podcast or the blog or from real life onto Periscope and so on. And the bottom line is it all works and the reason that I say that is it’s way, way too early to actually say what works and what doesn’t with something like that, because if I talk to you, David, at somewhere like New Media Europe and say, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m on Periscope, check me out. You’re an early adopter, you love the gadgets like me, and that’s it, you’re going to do it, because it’s a cool thing and you’re an early adopter.’ And the people that aren’t going to do it are just not going to do it, they just won’t be on Periscope yet, whereas if you try and shift someone over to a podcast, who already listens to a podcast, that’s much more likely, because they are already engrained into to the technology, they already know how that works, it’s a comfortable thing. But I’ve seen some success with it, I’ve seen people that follow me around, there’s a guy called Mukesh, Craft Digital, I think actually he was on the last time I was on This Week in Organic and he follows me on Periscope, he follows me all over the place. So it goes work, and the way that I integrate into everything that I do is I just use it as part of a content mix, so the Periscope I do a small business lunch on a Friday which is a fifteen minute me talking, very impersonal wearing a Green Lantern T shirt and some bloody antlers for Christmas and just showing the personality and I think that is where it is very, very useful to allow your personality to shine through and give you the credibility that a blog post can’t give you, e.g. the blog post and the podcast will get across how good you are at what you do, being like this with a phone and showing yourselves as you really are, that is what builds a relationship. So I think it’s here to stay and I think you can use it if you plan it.
DAVID BAIN: So it adds personality onto what you’re doing, but it doesn’t actually weave a thread throughout other pieces that you publish elsewhere, it’s not part of that, it’s simply actually another layer on top of what you’re doing?
MARK ASQUITH: Well, no, actually that’s a really good point, I actually use it both ways, so what I do is the small business lunch on a Friday will either be one of two things, it will be something brand new and fresh or it will be something that has been picked up on one of the podcasts or in a blog post or one of the emails that I’ve sent out and that ties the thread, it pulls that thread a little bit further. What I also do on Blab is I schedule, I put content out every day, every weekday, so at the end of the month what I do is I pick out the most successful piece of content, get a co-host on and actually talk a bit more in depth about that particular piece of content or the topic that we covered. And everything I do I close with my tagline which is, ‘From the Podcast’ and make sure people fly to the podcast and the numbers have increased, no doubt, the numbers have very steadily increased since I started live streaming and the great thing is I get more responses to my emails, people actually reply to me much more than they used to do, because they feel like they know me. I mean I’m still testing it, but I love it, I think it’s fantastic.
DAVID BAIN: Jonny how is live streaming going for you?
JONNY ROSS: Well, yeah, I get it but I don’t do it. I should be doing it. Ultimately I’ve just got one big point on this really, that people engage far more with video content than they do with images or text and so it’s absolute common sense that really it should be part of the strategy. I want to do it, my biggest issue is probably time and that’s my excuse for now, but it’s genuinely is time though.
DAVID BAIN: Mark, what do you say to someone who uses time as an excuse not to live stream?
MARK ASQUITH: You’re baiting me! You’re baiting me! I always say the time thing, if you’ve not got time for it then it doesn’t matter enough to you. That’s the only thing that I always say to people, but I understand what’s going on. The thing that I like about Periscope though in particular is that, you know the dog that was barking a second ago, the crazy giant dog, people know that dog. Because I live stream from my dog walks, I live stream, I did a pre-Blab live stream to promote this, and I showed the dog chilling out, he looked a bit grumpy because I was coming upstairs and locking myself away. And it’s really, really interesting because people really start to mesh together the two worlds and as someone that wants to build a personal brand, if that is what you are trying to achieve, live streaming is fantastic, but Jonny, the comment about the time is quite a flippant one, but I get that you need to plan this thing out. If you’re going to do it properly, you do need to plan it, so time is a big factor, you can’t just press record and hope for it to work, so I do get that.
DAVID BAIN: So in terms of using Periscope and Blab together, Mark, would you never broadcast a discussion with someone else or attempt to do that live on Periscope? You’d actually do the pre-discussion on Periscope and then drive people to Blab after that?
MARK ASQUITH: Do you know, it’s a tough one that, and again for the small business lunch I tried to, well I didn’t try it actually, I was going to do it and I went off it, I was going to do both, so I was going to have the phone on the old tripod next to, I’ve got it there, next to the screen and I was going to do a Blab and a Periscope, but what I found the difficulty is with that is that Blabs are terrible if you’re just talking, people don’t respond to them. I mean the tagline of Blab is, ‘Watch live conversations’ and a conversation with yourself is pretty dull. And I think that’s the big difference so to answer the question I’ve tried doing both together and it just didn’t work, I didn’t give any attention to either. So what I do do, is I do use Periscope to promote content, I use Periscope to promote the Blabs and I use it to give people a heads up on really what’s going on and what I also do is I make sure that everything that I want to be kept I upload to YouTube, so I always, if I’m Periscoping I do it landscape so that they can be put on YouTube without looking terrible and then I stick them on the website as well.
DAVID BAIN: The tips keep on coming. I’ll tell you what, this conversation could keep on going all night, I’m sure, but…
MARK ASQUITH: And I ramble, I do apologise, I ramble.
DAVID BAIN: Just share value bombs all the time, that’s what you do. Well I reckon passing that remark that just about takes us to the end of this week’s show, so I reckon time for a single take away from each of the guests and just some sharing of find out more details. So, Jonny’s thinking away there, I’ll come to you second Jonny, okay. Mark what is your single take away from today’s discussion?
MARK ASQUITH: I think I’m going to adopt one take away that I use every time I come on your show David, and that is just do things properly. Just do things properly, don’t try and rush things, and this is pertinent when it comes to the blogging, specifically this week, do things properly, put out good content and keep doing it and things will happen.
DAVID BAIN: Lovely and where can people find you online?
MARK ASQUITH: Thank you sir, always a pleasure. So my main hub as a person is www.excellence-expected.com, just Google Excellence Expected and it will come up and for everything else there is Hacksaw Studio or @MrAsquith on all of the social networks.
DAVID BAIN: Superb and also with us today was Jonny Ross.
JONNY ROSS: Hello, my key take away would be be strategic, so decide what you are trying to achieve, who your audience is and if you believe, for example, blogging is part of it, then also be consistent, so whatever you decide, whether it be daily, weekly, monthly whatever that might be, be consistent and just bear in mind it is going to take time.
DAVID BAIN: And is live streaming going to be part of that strategy in 2016, Jonny?
JONNY ROSS: For me personally? It needs to be. Am I prepared to commit right now?
DAVID BAIN: New Year’s resolution? I’ll ask you in two weeks, maybe.
JONNY ROSS: It needs to be and I’m actively trying to. I’m still trying to create time in my business, genuinely, so…
DAVID BAIN: And talking about your business, where can people find you online?
JONNY ROSS: jonnyross.com, no h, jonnyross.com or jrconsultancy on Twitter and thank you very much for having me.
DAVID BAIN: Thanks for joining us Jonny, great stuff. And I’m David Bain, head of growth at Analytics SEO, the agency and enterprise SEO platform with big insights. Sign up for a free demo of our platform at authoritas.com and you can also find me interviewing online marketing gurus over at www.digitalmarketingradio.com. Now, if you’re watching the show as a recording, remember to watch the next show live, so head over to thisweekinorganic.com and be part of the live audience for the next show. But for those of you watching live we also have an audio podcast of previous shows, so again sign up to email updates at www.thisweekinorganic.com and you will receive the podcast links form there too. But until we see you again, have a fantabulous weekend and thank you all for joining us. Adios and thank you Mark, thank you Jonny. Superb show.
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.