This is the thirty 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 we discuss whether or not Google is judging you based on a template, whether LinkedIn is starting to be a significant traffic driver again, and whether or not Twitter’s outage affected you. And much more!
Topics discussed during the episode:
=== Topic 1:
What’s the difference between being in Google’s core algorithm, and in its occasional updates?
Andrey Lipattsev, a search quality senior strategist at Google said that because Panda is now in Google’s core algorithm, it’s here for the foreseeable future – this means that prior to this, it might have been a bit more of an experiment. Now that we’ve had over a week to review the impact of Panda’s core algorithm inclusion, are there any significant ranking changes that you can put down to this?
=== Topic 2:
Would you be happy to use Bing as your default search engine on your iPhone?
Apparently Google are paying Apple 1 billion dollars a year to be their default search provider. And 43% of iPhone users say they don’t care about their default search provider. So is it important for Google to be the default search provider on iPhones?
What if Bing was the default search provider? Would that damage Google or Apple?
Do you optimize for Bing at the moment?
How do you optimize for Bing?
=== Topic 3:
Is Google Judging You Based on a Template?
Aaron Friedman recently published an article on Moz called “Is Google Judging You Based on a Template?”
So what happens if Google have categorized your business wrongly?
Should you be structuring your site and your content differently based upon your industry?
=== Topic 4:
If I wanted to build a general English language blog, and have UK & USA English language sites, have you come across many sites that have done that? What is the best practice SEO for that?
Can you have a general English language site and appeal to both the UK and the USA?
=== Topic 5:
LinkedIn is starting to be a traffic driver again
According to an article on DigiDay, LinkedIn is starting to be a serious traffic driver. So what are some of the more effective ways to drive traffic from LinkedIn?
=== Topic 6:
How did Twitter’s outage affect you?
Did the world stop for you during Twitter’s outage on Tuesday morning?
What’s the alternative to Twitter?
Transcript of the show:
DAVID BAIN: Is Google judging you based on a template? LinkedIn is starting to be a traffic driver again and how did Twitter’s outage affect you? All that and more on This Week in Organic Episode Number 32.
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. Click on the tweet and the post buttons to share your thoughts with other people as well and it would be great actually hear your own thoughts in the comments section towards the right hand side and I’ll read out as many of those as I can. But let’s find out a little bit more about today’s guests, where they’re from and what’s caught their attention this week. So starting off with Emily.
EMILY HILL: Hi David. I’m Emily Hill, I’ve spent the last ten years running a copywriting agency called Write my Site here in London and I’m happy to be joining today to give my thoughts on what’s happening this week from a content perspective.
DAVID BAIN: Great, okay. Well thanks for joining us Emily. Also with us today is Stephen.
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: Hi, Stephen Kenwright, Director of Search at Branded3. I’ve just realised that my old boss at my previous agency is with us, so I’m hoping not to let him down!
DAVID BAIN: I’m sure you won’t at all. Lots of value to be shared all over the place. And finally also with us today is James.
JAMES BAVINGTON: Good afternoon everyone. I’m James, a Director at StrategiQ based in Ipswich. We’re a marketing agency. A lot of things in the news this week, for the industry. Hard to avoid the Panda core algorithm update, as I’m sure we’ll discuss shortly.
DAVID BAIN: Absolutely, yes. We talked about that a little bit last week, but it’s always good to actually let it happen and then look at the figures, the rankings over the next week or so actually to see what kind of impact it has had. So it will be interesting to actually find out if you thought that it has had a significant impact in maybe certain industry sectors. But that’s the very first topic, which is what is the difference between Google’s core algorithm and actually occasional updates? Because Panda was occasional updates before and now it’s actually integrated within the core algorithm. Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google said that because Panda is now in Google’s core algorithm, it’s here for the foreseeable future. That means that prior to this of course it might be more of an experiment. So starting off with Stephen, have you seen any significant ranking changes maybe because of this?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: Because of Panda generally, or since it integrated in the algorithm? I think actually since it has been part of the core algorithm it does less, significantly less, than it used to. It used to be you could very clearly see a Panda hit or you could very clearly see a Panda equivalent before and actually if our data is correct, we’ve probably had it in the algorithm for a good six months with very little in the way of problems across the board, which is really frustrating and actually when you’re talking particularly around Penguin being integrated into the core algorithm moving forward as well, I think one of the key differences between Panda and Penguin is what they really do. So Panda is very much about changing search results and levelling the playing field for people are people who are profiting from poor content, whereas Penguin is much more about changing behaviour. It really does make a difference what you’re doing in that and actually Google is rolling out Penguin quite rarely which is quite frustrating. Are they really expecting people to do things differently, on the Penguin algorithm at least? Can you hear me okay?
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, we can hear you fairly well, not the best really. I muted Emily a little bit because of the partying going on above you, I think! But don’t worry, I’ll unmute you when you’re speaking there. So were you saying there Stephen that Penguin, in terms of description, is more than just an anti-spam algorithm?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: Well, no, I think Penguin is very much an anti-spam algorithm, whereas Panda isn’t. So Panda is very much a case of having to clear up results, give you better results than you’ve had previously, whereas Penguin is much more designed to punish people and change what they’re doing from a link building perspective. I mean no one really, for a very long time at least, has tried to profit from doorway pages and that sort of thing. It’s not really even worked for a long time. So it’s not really about changing behaviour in that sense, whereas Penguin is.
DAVID BAIN: I remember stories about BMW about ten years ago or so now and different doorway pages and you certainly used to be able to get your site, or at least forwards into you site, ranked at the whole first page of Google. Have you actually seen that recently at all for any industry sector?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: Not so much doorway pages, no. Actually you will find something quite interesting – there are some tools going round at the minute which I’ve never seen anything like them before, that have suddenly become really popular. Things like Site Champion that SLI have released and there is something that Bluereach is doing as well, which basically do the exact same thing as generating doorway pages, but the search tracking available for products that you might have in stock, it will generate a landing page for that and index it. So I’m not saying it’s worth it, which I think it is the big difference, how it used to be probably ten years ago, like you were referring to, David. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen anymore either.
DAVID BAIN: So you’re talking about landing pages that the viewers can actually interact on, you’re not talking about something that only search engines can see and not actually people through the site?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: Well what I would say is that people probably won’t see them, so they are really only accessible from search engines. So I mean like you’ve a fair few, I probably shouldn’t name any websites that do this, but websites where it will literally generate a page that’s exactly the same as a category page you’ve already got that’s maybe got a different colour in the URL or something like that, catches search traffic in that sense. But it’s only ever going to get a few visits, because it’s just not a very good user experience and Google doesn’t really want to rank it. So it only works for very, very long-tail search queries and as a result you’ve got to do it on a massive scale if it’s actually going to deliver anything for you. But it’s definitely happening still and there are various tools on the market that are profiting from this.
DAVID BAIN: It’s intriguing that those kind of tactics might even work at little bit nowadays. Because you would have thought, or you would have hoped, that Google’s algorithm and marketing in general had moved on from tactics like that. But perhaps not. James, have you seen any impact that you can actually put down to Panda being integrated into Google’s core algorithm at all?
JAMES BAVINGTON: No, I don’t think so. We’ve not overly stressed or looked at anything here at StrategiQ. A little bit like everyone else, we’ve just kind of taken a step back and let it play out and see how people write up about it and just see what they observe in general. I think because Panda has been with us for such a while and Stephen was saying it’s looking for things still that we just know and take for granted as being perhaps deceitful and I think the reason why Google are playing it down and saying it’s part of the core algorithm is just because it’s here to stay, they’re not as worried about, it’s not as experimental that it needs to be isolated and tracked and monitored, that they’ve just kind of blended it in. So we’re really not too worried about here at all at our agency and people in the industry who I’m speaking to, everyone is almost looking just to see how the outside world may be affected. The really big players. So it’s almost in a way just another kind of another couple of weeks at the office for us. So a lot of buzz on social, a lot of people talking about it and very interested by it, but ultimately it is business as usual for us here.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Emily have you actually ever tried to or changed the way that you produce content for your clients based upon what you think is happening with the Panda algorithm or is that not something that you generally actually have first train of thought in your mind?
EMILY HILL: Well when Panda happened we were about five years into our agency and we’d spent those five years repeatedly banging the content quality drum and repeatedly being laughed at for it, being told, ‘That’s daft, you just need thousands of articles that are slightly different and spam them all over the web. That’s how you get to the top’. So when Panda happened it really validated what we’d stood for all the time. So actually from our point of view for what we do it hasn’t changed anything, but what it has done has really supported that premise and helped us to get the kinds of clients on board that understand the need for quality and are excited by the idea of publishing something that’s actually good.
DAVID BAIN: And by good, do you mean long? Or do you just mean that it’s relevant, whatever it is?
EMILY HILL: Not necessarily just because it’s long, there is plenty of bad content that’s long. But just in terms that it actually serves a purpose for the user – it’s not just a mechanism to push out keywords all over the web.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. And Stephen, last week, on the show last week, I was made aware of the phrase, ‘moments that matter’ that Google are actually pushing. So Google are actually trying to encourage you to create a user experience where it’s exceptionally relevant for anyone that is experiencing it. So it’s not necessarily about giving them tons of content, but just an experience that is very relevant to what they’re looking for at that moment in time. Do you see that Google’s algorithm or perhaps even moving away from wanting lots of content to devour, and it’s more about the experience on sites themselves?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: You know, my favourite example of some really good content that’s really succinct, you go and Google the phase, ‘When do the clocks go back?’ You’ve got the ranks number one, yes it’s on gov.uk so it’s probably got a lot of authority, but actually in massive letters it just says this date in October is when the clocks go back. That’s it. You know? Exactly what you’re looking for. It doesn’t need to have an essay. You look at the result that’s second, I think one by The Mirror, it’ll have words on when the clocks might go back in different countries and all sorts of stuff that’s not going to help you, because you’ve got to dig through masses of content to actually get to the answer that you’re looking for. So if you look at the gov.uk site and just say, okay, this is when the clocks go back, you can add that to your calendar, it says why the clocks go back in maybe a sentence or two sentences and then it will give you list of when the clocks are going back or forwards again next. So it’s like if you crawled that site with something like you’d crawl Screaming Frog it’s going to show that that has got a really low word and it will probably label it as a thin page, or something like that. But actually it answers the question really, really well and the ultimate goal for SEO really is not we need to build a load of links to the page or we need to have more content on these pages, how do we stop people going back, how do we stop people, when they land on this page, going back to Google because that is the most negative signal right now.
DAVID BAIN: So are you happy then for Google to take content from any of your clients’ sites and use that as a direct answer within their search results and not necessarily funnel traffic back to your clients’ sites?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: Absolutely. And when you’re looking at your very specific answer boxes for example, I mean there have been some studies about the natural response really, it’s clearly this is going to mean less traffic for us, but what actually seems to be the case is we’re getting answers and we’re getting our clients featured in answer boxes way, way above where they’re actually organically ranking in some instances. There are some really competitive keywords as well, so if you look at it really actually we have a link to our client’s site higher up the page than it would otherwise be, ahead of some really big competitors. A nice example, if you look at something like, ‘What is CFD trading?’ It’s financial, it’s spread betting, related keywords, massive, massive CPC, you’ve got massive companies who are ranking organically for those. We have a client who is probably fourth or fifth organically ranking above them for all intents and purposes with an answer box and actually I think you get more traffic from that.
DAVID BAIN: Intriguing. Well moving on to topic number two, which is would you be happy for use Bing as your default search engine on your iPhone? Apparently Google are paying Apple US$1 billion a year to be their default search provider and 43% of iPhone users say that they don’t care about their default search provider. So is it important for Google to be the default search provider on iPhones? Emily, what are your thoughts on this one?
EMILY HILL: I thought you’d come to be first because I probably know the least about this and I use Google on Android, so I don’t have much of use to contribute. But it smacks a little bit of desperation I have to say if they have to hand out massive…
DAVID BAIN: Desperation from Google?
EMILY HILL: Well from Bing to hand over US$1 billion to force people to go to Bing before they go to Google, because I think they’ve kind of lost that battle, sorry if anyone from Bing is tuned in, by the way. But I’ll probably had over to one of the other guys for a…
DAVID BAIN: Well, Emily, when was the last time you used Bing as a search engine?
EMILY HILL: I think the last time, it’s years rather than months, put it that way. I think probably when it came out and I thought, ‘Oh, what is this Bing thing, can it be better than Google? Oh, no, it’s not. I’ll go back to Google’ I think was the last time I used Bing.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, maybe a quick straw poll of the other chaps. James, when was the last time you used Bing as a search engine?
JAMES BAVINGTON: Similar to Emily, really. I honestly don’t know, which would suggest to me it’s been years. It’s a difficult question to answer though, because I think all four of us I’m assuming are perhaps power users, we’ve defaulted to using Google. You might say we were conditioned, but I think there is a lot more to it perhaps than just simply paying Google to have that kind of prioritisation because if you think of Google’s wider goal, yes they might be paying Apple US$1 billion to get that default search to serve their ads, serve the results, but let’s not forget that if you open up Safari on your iPhone, the first thing you’ll also see is you’re being given an advert to download Chrome. And it doesn’t matter what device I were to pick up and use, I would install Chrome by default because that’s just what I believe is the best option for me personally. I will always go to Google to search for something. The fact that 45% or 47% of users suggest that they don’t care. I understand that, my wife, she example, she will use whichever search engine first comes to hand. So if Bing were to pay Apple to have that default listing, she would use it. However, if she didn’t get the results she was looking for, I know she would default to then going, ‘Oh, I’ll Google it, they will know’ so it just kind of removes and extra step I think or it gives other search engines perhaps that aren’t the default like Google a chance to convince new users that they should be the default location for them moving forward. Difficult task to do, because ultimately I still think the search engine that will continue to win the battle is the one that gives the results, irrespective of how much they’re paying to be part of a default Apple installation.
DAVID BAIN: I mean I guess it depends on if Bing does become the default search provider of iPhones or of some major mobile phone at some point in the future and significantly increases the percentage of people actually using that search engine, is it going to give the user experience that people are used to using Google, because if it’s a completely different user experience or different quality of results, then obviously the popularity of that is going to go down very, very quickly. Stephen, do you think there is any chance in the future of another search engine gaining significant ground on Google, or are we just embedded into Google for the foreseeable future?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: No, I don’t think so. Like what James is saying, as someone who is conditioned to using search engines and someone who uses search engines every day, I use Bing a fair bit because it has some really nice search operators, so my favourite one actually is Linkfromdomain: and then do a search for your domain. You can see everyone that that domain links to, so if you think you’ve found a blog that’s selling some links, Linkfromdomain and you can see everyone they’re linked to. And that’s interesting, I find that interesting. Having said that, if I actually want results, if I’m a user who is actually looking for something in particular, I wouldn’t be particularly happy using Bing to be honest. I find that the results aren’t as good, exactly like James said. But then when you’re looking at default search providers in big mobile operating systems etc., you’d only have to look at Apple’s spotlight search, which is terrible. It’s absolutely awful. With Google, for example, if you’re searching for something on your mobile phone, Google is very good at guessing what you probably meant. If you’re on your mobile, you’re on the street, you probably want a location, you’re probably looking for a mobile result, basically. If you’re using Safari and you’re searching for something, it doesn’t matter where you are, Apple thinks that you probably mean the app on iTunes. So you could be on the street, you could be looking for the opening times of the Pizza Express that you’re coming towards and it will direct you to the Pizza Express app, which is not what you want. So it doesn’t really matter, I think, where the search engine is embedded into and another really interesting example, you remember when Firefox changed so that Yahoo would be the default search engine in the US instead of Google a few months ago, that lasted two weeks before everyone just switched it back. So I think people would probably be more interested, exactly like James said, in downloading Chrome if Safari is going to make them use Bing.
DAVID BAIN: Chris Green asking the question, ‘What’s the search volume for Google within Bing?’ Are people actually searching for Google within Bing? We think it would be fairly high. I think he’s just next to James by the look of it.
JAMES BAVINGTON: He’s on the other side of the glass yes. I think he’s waving. Stephen do you actually try to optimise any websites for any other search engine apart from Google, or is it just not worthwhile doing that?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: I think so. I mean Bing is a good example, because my favourite crawler, and we’ve got loads of crawlers that do awesome stuff, my favourite crawler is IIS Toolkit. It gives you some really nice insights in how are websites set up, but it’s made by Microsoft. So naturally you would expect that it’s not necessarily how does Google see a website, but rather how do all search engines see a website? So I think from a technical point of view, technical is technical and all search engines have to be set up in way that they understand how a site is supposed to be set up. So when it comes to actual on-page optimisation, it is the same. It really is. There is very little difference between them and when it comes to innovation generally about what new things are coming up, Bing is the same as Google but six months’ later.
DAVID BAIN: So essentially, Google has set the precedent for the way that optimisation is done, and search engines have to follow that because of the way that web pages are actually structured? And if it didn’t actually follow a similar way that Google did it, then it would probably be delivering fewer quality results?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: Basically, yes. I mean Google is realistically, you’ve got to ask what came first, web pages or search engines and web pages came first, Google just developed a way to index and understand those web pages, so it’s just doing it the same way as everyone has done it.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, well moving on to topic number three, which is, is Google judging you based on a template? Aaron Friedman recently published an article in Moz called ‘Is Google Judging You Based on a Template?’ So let’s go to Emily again on this one, because Emily you found this article, so what’s this about? What are your thoughts behind what he’s saying in this article?
EMILY HILL: Yes, it’s a pretty interesting piece. It’s on the Moz Blog if anyone wants to look it up. It was published in the last day or two. And it’s basically about how, we’ve heard a lot about how Google is looking to understand intent and match results to intent and therefore content should answer intent, all of which is true. But a lot of searches only comprise a single word, so you can’t really understand context if somebody just puts in, I think the example in the piece, was ‘Jaguar’ – well is that the animal, is that the car, is that the, there’s a sports team called the Jacksonville Jaguars for example? So Google will rely a bit more on its templates to serve up results for that kind of query and you can do a little bit of research into your competitive landscape, into your industry and start running some, maybe some single word queries and start to understand what kind of results are being served up. So something to choose for example get more media based results, more news based, more corporate, homes pages, Wikipedia entries that kind of thing and that can give you some clues as to what sort of content you need to create in order to be returned in the SEPs, that’s my understanding.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, so essentially Google are looking to understand the context behind your website, categorise your website a bit within an industry and then deliver content around that based upon what they understand your website to be about.
EMILY HILL: Yes. But often they’re quite limited, the amount of information they have with regard to the context is limited. So they have to fall back on other structures to serve up the right kind of content, or what they believe to be the right kind of content for the user.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Good. Next question for James. How do you actually help Google understand the context of your website?
JAMES BAVINGTON: I think there is obviously lots of little clues you can give, things like structured data, I know that they’re teamed up with all the other search engines to allow webmasters to really be clear exactly what a website is about. I think with the bigger picture of topics, I didn’t fully read all of Aaron’s blog post from yesterday, I understand he also did a talk on this at SearchLove in London towards the end of last year. And I think for me, like you say, it does make sense that Google would be templating and trying to almost profile your website or your business or your blog or whatever it is that the website stands to hold and I think that perhaps our expectation is that it has, you wouldn’t expect to see a supermarket listed on TripAdvisor for example and I think it does tend to look for these things and serve things around that are relevant. If there is perhaps a website that revolves around trust or quality of service or product, it would perhaps look for and serve alongside in the results things like reviews. So I think doing the research around you, your competitors, people who are doing something similar, is a good way to try and try and decipher what the profile is, what the template is for your website to perhaps see how you can leverage that. It’s an interesting topic, an interesting theory, by Aaron and I think there is obviously some clear observations that do reinforce it.
DAVID BAIN: Stephen, do you want to add anything to that about just adding more context to your website and helping Google understand precisely what industry category your website should fit into?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: I think so. I mean one of the interesting things about this templating theory is, it’s definitely something that you do see generally in search results and it’s also very positive for a lot of businesses that are specialist at what they do. It used to be ten blue links and it’s the ten blue links that have the most content and the most links and that’s all there is to it. What’s different now really is that it’s ten blue links and they are templated based on certain aspects to that website. So, yes, if a query probably needs fresh results, you’ll see more news results and that sort of thing. If a query is very much a buy related query, so your commercial stuff that we tend to deal with most of the time, it means you’re probably not going to get ten price comparison sites all of the time. You have a realistic chance that you’re going to get three or four price comparison websites and instead of having the fifth best price comparison website in fifth, it’ll be on the second page and you’ll have some specialist websites who are insurance providers who do that all the time or who are demonstrating that expertise, authority trust as Google puts it, rather than just being the biggest website who has the most brand search volume. So you can definitely see that in the templates and you can definitely see that you’re competing for a very limited number of spaces, it’s not ten. It’s probably three or four websites that do what you do that you have that potential to replace if you move on to the first page.
DAVID BAIN: So Emily, has this actually meant that you’re going to be more likely to actually do things like suggesting content to write to your clients based upon search results and what you see as being more likely to be the kind of content that will be adding context to these websites in the future? Or is the content that you write still going to be largely driven by requests directly from the client?
EMILY HILL: It’s certainly food for thought in terms of where content should go, because I think if a client has briefed you to create certain kinds of content for their own website there is probably a good reason they want that. But it’s something that is going to help us to have a little bit of look outside and say, ‘Well, actually, all of your competitors’ Wikipedia pages are being written and you don’t have one, you probably should have one’ or, ‘There’s a lot of Google News results coming up for competitors’ searches, you aren’t in Google News, let’s try and sort that out’. That kind of thing. So there’s a whole map of content outside of the client’s own website that I think is going to become increasingly important.
DAVID BAIN: So Stephen saying in the chat there’s 36 million impressions for searching for Google within Bing by the sound of it. And I think Chris Green saying, ‘Is it 1.2 million impressions of Bing in Google last month. So strange search habits going on there. Coming up we’re going to be talking about whether an English language site can really appeal to both the UK and the USA. We’re going to discuss some of the more effective ways to actually drive traffic from LinkedIn and we’re also going to be asking the question, ‘Did Twitter’s outage affect you?’ But first of all, thanks a lot for all these comments here. It’s great to see the people who are actually participating live in terms of being a guest but are also participating in the chat. That’s quite cool as well. So any more thoughts in the chat, I’ll try and read them out there. So that would be great. But let’s move on to the next topic which is I’m busy putting the finishing touches to a brand new top secret website I’m going to be announcing on next week’s TWIO, but I wanted to do a general English language blog and also have a UK and English language site as well. James, have you encountered a website wanting to do that in the past, target their website at the UK and the US, but just have a generic English language blog?
JAMES BAVINGTON: More so a blog. I mean I’ve worked with a few clients who have done internationalisation with regard to currency and in doing so it obviously presents the opportunity to do subtleties in the way that you show the content. So rather than just changing the currency, you do have the option to adjust a few things like basket versus cart and so forth. Now with regard to a blog, I do think almost English being the international language of the web, the subtleties between American English and British English are so small, I don’t think it would discourage anybody from engaging in a content provided that content was really good. Is that how you mean, David, with regard to having one English language that would serve everyone from Australians to Canadians to Americans or whether that would be an issue?
DAVID BAIN: Yes, I mean there are lots of sites that have a blog, big sites like Google, have a blog and they publish the same blogpost on Google.com and also Google.co.uk and they hreflang it but things like comments at the bottom of the posts are separate comments, so that you don’t see the same social interaction as part of it. So generally you would think if it’s the same blogpost then surely you’re actually better off just publishing it on just the one place, getting more interaction to that one URL, getting a bit more social proof with regard to the conversation going on there as well, but then if you do that and if you have a site where you’ve got separate USA and UK sites, how do you handle that user experience that goes to the blog and then back to the website in terms of menus, as well, if you want to retain the same menu structure along the top. It’s a bit more challenging than you initially think.
JAMES BAVINGTON: Yes, exactly. I think so. I think if you’ve got the size and scale as the Webmaster Central blog for example, I do enjoy going to the British site. It will give me links to the British versions of the Google sites that I need to then go on and click to, but also I will tend to perhaps more see other fellow English search professionals commenting rather than people from all around the world. I’m more likely to engage with them and like what they say, perhaps. But if you’re talking on a much smaller scale, you’re exactly right. You have the problem then of breaking up that social proof, those comments. You’ve then got the challenge of canonicalising perhaps a central point for that and like you say things like all the social shares and links, it has all got to try and funnel back into one. So I think it’s got to be a case per case judgment in a way, because obviously the technical o page exists to allow you to do it correctly, it’s just what’s right for the users that are going to be engaging with it. If it’s a fairly new site, then I think it would be good to amalgamate all blog comments, interaction for example to have that credibility, to have that dialogue and perhaps only then break it up over time if it became perhaps best for the user to do so.
DAVID BAIN: I see a lot of US based sites that have an English speaking side. They just have a general English site, with no additional web pages targeted at the UK at all. Stephen, do you think in general if you have a service, a product, that targets both the UK and US, then generally you should have different sites catering to the nuances of different language and perhaps different offers? Or do you think in general that’s just a little bit too much fuss?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: It really depends on a few factors. So firstly how much time and resource you have to invest in each site, as a starting point. And secondly, what it is you are trying to do with those sites? With your example before of a blog, it really depends on what you want that blog to do. So if it’s there to support search, if it’s there to support your SEO performance, I would definitely have a different blog on each country’s website and hreflang across the two websites, simply because any links that you get into your blog, the key priority from an SEO perspective is to transfer that link authority into the rest of the website, that means you’ve probably got to have the same consistent menu at the top, top navigation, linking through to all of your key pages and comments, unless you have a really, really hot product, you don’t get a lot, to be honest, not many people get loads of comments. And some people that get a lot of comments don’t necessarily get good comments. So it’s not something that I would consider to be a commercial imperative in that particular instance. So I would definitely go for it if you’re wanting to appeal to the UK and the US, having different websites with hreflang tags and having different blogs with hreflang tags as well. When it comes to the actual nuances of the copy, I mean if you’ve got the same copywriter writing both pieces of content, as in they are originally the same piece of content, it’s literally just a case of talking to that individual and making sure that either they don’t use words that are only going to be specific to one language or having two very, very similar versions with a slight translation. I think actually the words in the US and UK aren’t that different most of the time.
DAVID BAIN: I thought you were going to say there, ‘It’s just a case of changing an s to a z’ or the other way, but maybe it’s a little bit more than that as well. So just to summarise what you’re saying there is, if a business decides to actually have a UK and a US website, then basically it’s better off to actually have a UK and an US blog if it’s the same content then just hreflang it and then obviously Google will know that it’s the same content targeted at different countries.
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: I think so, yes. I mean it does depend on what it is that you’re trying to do with that particular content. So if it’s there from an SEO perspective, if you’ve got a blog because you want to acquire traffic from organic searches then definitely. If it’s there for a different reason and actually you’re not really using it for that and you’re sharing company news, that’s possibly different and you’re probably not going to get a lot of comments on that anyway, so maybe you could have a single blog across two sites.
DAVID BAIN: I see a few websites also appear to be using a canonical tag and a hreflang tag. To me that seems the wrong thing to do, because then you’re actually initially telling Google, ‘This content is for the USA, this content is for the UK, but – by the way – only rank this piece of content’. Is that something you’d concur with, Stephen? That it seems to be the wrong thing to do to use canonical as well as a hreflang.
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: There are reasons to do it, but I don’t think it’s the right thing to do anyway. You generally get that kind of situation when you are dynamically generating canonical tags because you’ve got problems with duplication, but you also know you need hreflang tags. So I’m not aware of issues where that will cause huge problems, but like you say a hreflang tag is basically a canonical tag. It’s there to deal with duplication, so it shouldn’t be required unless you’ve messed up somewhere along the line and got a load of duplicate content that you shouldn’t have.
DAVID BAIN: Okay and that tends to happen because of automated things built into CMSs.
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: Yes, absolutely. Magento is terrible for it actually. If you’ve got an e-commerce website and you are using something like Magento, that happens a lot and that tends to be where we see it happening. You can get around it, of course, on any platform you can get around it, but that seems to be the kind of key.
JAMES BAVINGTON: Yes, I see that as well. And I think if anybody is, like in your instance, David, we were talking about this kind of blog just going out with UK/US English. If you look at the webmaster guidelines for hreflang, they do actually use the English for UK, English for GB as an example and they recommend if there are differences in the regional variations then they encourage doing it. So it is worthwhile noting that that is a good thing to do. I think personally as well with canonicalisation, it is unnecessary, it can be overkill, it’s more of a cure rather than prevention, because if the hreflang is serving Google with the clues to which content is meant for which country, it’s better for me perhaps as a British English speaker to go and be served the English site in the search results, whereas if it’s canonicalised for the US version, it is likely that it would force that one to me and I wouldn’t get to come in and see and digest the English content first. So I think that is quite a key thing with having the two canonical and hreflangs together.
DAVID BAIN: We’ve got Stephanie who is happy to smile saying in the chat, ‘We get enough UK English from BBC America to understand’ and then saying, ‘Jokes’ – don’t worry we knew it was a joke! It’s a common language divided by not a lot, and obviously the more international the world the gets I guess the more we just accept different languages and accents and I think in the future it’s not going to be so much of an issue really. A few silent nods. But moving on to the next topic, which is LinkedIn is starting to be a traffic driver again. According to an article on Digiday, LinkedIn is starting to be a serious traffic driver. So what are some of the most effective ways to drive traffic from LinkedIn? Emily, are you are LinkedIn-er?
EMILY HILL: I am yes, and I suppose the most obvious answer to your question is publish lots of stuff on Pulse, but I’m not actually a fan of that. I concur with Joe Polizzi when he said, ‘Don’t build your content house on rented land’ and I think it’s actually really important to focus your content production on your own properties, your own website, your own blog. And if you’re going to use LinkedIn, use it as a distribution channel, don’t give them all your good content and be at their mercy as to whether or not they deem to send you any traffic or not. Because, yes they’re being favourable to publishers at the moment, they are sending quite a bit of traffic, I think I read that last year, though, publisher traffic tanked by about 44% so you really are at their mercy if you hand them all of your good original content. So I would be quite cynical in my use of LinkedIn, I would publish, maybe, little snippets on it or I’d republish stuff that’s been on my blog for months and was quite good at generating traffic and clicks and that kind of thing. But I would always focus my efforts on home grown content.
DAVID BAIN: One thing I don’t really like getting in my LinkedIn notifications is actually someone just giving me just two lines and then a link back to their site. I prefer a little bit more value within there if I happen to be in there at the time. The Head of Organic for USwitch, Lukasz Zelezny, he’s a massive fan of LinkedIn, he regularly publishes blog posts and does very well with them certainly. James, are you a regular user of LinkedIn as well?
JAMES BAVINGTON: I guess on a personal note I am. I’m not really sure why, because whenever I open the app or look at the website and have a look at things, it does feel a little bit more bombarded with things I don’t really want to see – recruiters, politics – if I need a little bit of light relief with a coffee, I’ll use Facebook or Twitter because I feel like I’ve got them vetted a little bit more. I think what’s interesting and can be effective with LinkedIn, even though it does look as though it’s catching up, I think the recent changes with Pulse, how they’ve made that more accessible and simplified is great. LinkedIn can also be quite a good boost for getting content out there in the organic rankings for clients we’ve worked with who perhaps have a lower authority domain, so we’ve had share content perhaps that will rank better organically in terms of getting scope in Google search results than they would have if they’d published in on their own domain. So I’ve seen it effective in that instance. I’ve done some experimentation with myself. I’ve only done one LinkedIn Pulse post of my own and it seemed to be fairly popular, but I think the key thing is just try to cut through the usual stuff you see in the LinkedIn feed when you go on to there, because if people are catching up and looking at their notifications, someone has given them a skill or they’ve got a message on there, they will tend to hang around LinkedIn for a while, see their feed and if something can stand out, something different, something that will get a click, it’s that quality of the content, as we all keep saying, that I think is probably the best way to use it from what we’ve seen.
DAVID BAIN: Stephen is it okay to be publishing the same content on LinkedIn as you might do on your own blog?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: No, I wouldn’t do that. I mean it all comes down to where the conversation that you want to be part of is actually located. I am not really interested, necessarily, in getting a load of LinkedIn connections. I would rather chat to people on Twitter, which is why I would use Medium instead of LinkedIn if I was going to publish on someone else’s platform. What the big use for LinkedIn for me certainly from a personal perspective, I find that people are generally okay with connecting with people that they don’t necessarily know or may you’ve met them once in passing at a conference or something like that. The reason that I would publish on LinkedIn is I have something industry specific I want that particular person to see. So if I happen to run into the SEO manager for somewhere, that I’m interested in having a conversation with, then maybe I will share some industry insight for that particular industry on LinkedIn. What Digiday are talking about really is publisher pages as much as individual pages and exactly what Emily said, I wouldn’t rely on a source of traffic that you don’t know whether it’s a big source of traffic or not. And if it is a big source of traffic now, we’ve already seen it as the potential to not be one for large periods of time. So I wouldn’t rely on that personally.
DAVID BAIN: One of the services that LinkedIn own is SlideShare and I mentioned in last week’s show that I was quite surprised that a presentation gave towards the beginning of last year, I just put the slides on SlideShare and forgot about them and then looked last week and there were several thousand views of it. So I’m thinking, ‘Wow. Okay’. But how do I actually measure that and is that actually going to be valuable in any way. Is SlideShare something you looked at, you’ve looked at, Stephen, from a traffic perspective?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: Yes, we’ve used SlideShare a fair bit in the past. We’re actually working on something at the minute that, there’s a really cool product on a few weeks ago probably the end of last week called Shower, I think it’s pronounced ‘show er’ – it’s spelt like shower. So I’d suggest looking at it. Basically it turns your presentations into HTML files and you can put them on to a sub-folder of your website and actually have a really nice slick looking presentation that you can flick through on the actual website itself. And for us that is much more interesting, because exactly like Emily was saying before, it’s not rented land. I don’t want to drive traffic to SlideShare, I want to drive traffic to my website. So if I can present that in a cool way, like how SlideShare do it, for myself and with no effort, I would do that. I think SlideShare, we will always as far as the platform has the biggest audience at the minute, we will always just publish our slides to SlideShare, but I don’t think necessarily we pay that much attention to it. In the past we’ve done social advertising and all sorts on it, but I think I’d rather have that traffic myself.
DAVID BAIN: What about yourself, Emily, is SlideShare something that you’ve considered much in the past?
EMILY HILL: Yes, I mean SlideShare has a lot of good uses, as does LinkedIn. I’m not bashing LinkedIn as a platform, I think it’s a really good way to connect with individual people and keep in touch with them and I send a six to twelve monthly update to my contacts and sometimes stick a couple of blog links in that, and that yields much better results in terms of actual conversions than pushing a load of Pulse stuff. But to answer your question about SlideShare, it’s good because I speak a lot at conferences and that kind of thing and most times people get in touch with me and say, ‘Would you be interested in speaking? Do you have a SlideShare you can send me?’ So it’s good from that point of view. In terms of pushing traffic, maybe not so much. You can embed your presentations into your blog pieces, so if you want to write a follow-up piece when you’ve done a speech at an exhibition, then that can be useful. But, no, I wouldn’t say it’s a major source of lots of traffic. I does get a lot of views and quite a few downloads, so it’s good for general exposure in that sense.
DAVID BAIN: So for anyone watching the replay, or listing to the audio, Stephen has just shared the link ‘producthunt.com/tech/shower’ so that’s what we’re talking about there.
EMILY HILL: I’m going to take a look at that, that sounds interesting.
DAVID BAIN: And James, have you considered, or have you been able to in the past, measure the impact of downloads on SlideShare or sharing slides? Is there any way that you can actually get a decent traffic amount back to your site from that?
JAMES BAVINGTON: Not necessarily from anything I’ve seen, no. I’ve done a few talks. Personally I’ve always shared the slides, but I tend to find typically the kind of numbers that I’ve created on my slide, the hit counts that they display on there, is usually through it being embedded on the website. The fact that LinkedIn make the SlideShare tool really embeddable and mobile-friendly and things, it does mean that it gets shared really easily and that’s what can give exposure, so I’ve only got a few on there. I don’t work with any clients who I help market their slides, so it’s only really from that personal experience that I’ve seen it. But like you were saying, David, I did a talk with my former colleague, Nick at BrightonSEO two or three years ago and I went back on there recently to see that it had had thousands of views. It’s almost quite satisfying to see that it has been engaged and received well, albeit dead random, people are still seeing it and enjoying it a few years later, which is great.
DAVID BAIN: Well our final topic is how did Twitter’s outage affect you? So did the world stop for you during Twitter’s outage on Tuesday morning? Emily, you’re smiling there. You lived through it, did you?
EMILY HILL: I only heard about it afterwards! I think that answers your question.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Stephen, because Stephen you said that Twitter is more important to you than LinkedIn. Where else did you go when you realised that Twitter wasn’t actually working?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: It’s funny you should say that. It’s very rare, but I actually wasn’t on Twitter that morning at all. So I didn’t even know. Literally, when you sent the questions through earlier, I was like, ‘Did it go down?’ I had no idea.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Phrasing the question a different way then, if Twitter was down, where else would you go to look for instant news like Twitter can provide?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: You know what? I don’t think I would use another social network. I think I would probably just go somewhere like TechCrunch or The Verge or something like that. What I like about Twitter is you can very easily ignore things if you think they’re not interesting. So something like, I mean the closest social networks to Twitter are probably reddit, or maybe Hacker News or ycombinator. They are probably the most closely related ones where I would actually go.
DAVID BAIN: That’s incredible that it has actually carved out its niche so much that it has actually got rid of all other micro blogging type networks. Because we used to hear that phrase, micro-blogging social network and there were a few other competitors out there, maybe five or seven years ago. I see you nodding away there James. What service would you consider to be most similar to Twitter?
JAMES BAVINGTON: Like you say, I still think they’ve got the market cornered quite well. Their sort of post-it note style thumbnails of content they give you is great. I think it’s why we enjoy it and the fact that you can curate who you follow, what you see, is the best part about it. I mean I still aggregate a few RSS feeds from my favourite blogs so that I’ve got a kind of offline record of key information that I think I might want to read. Sometimes if I’m out all day with a client or something and I miss a whole day’s worth of tweets and things, it can be quite a tough task to go back through and see if there is anything I’ve missed. So I think if Twitter disappeared overnight and I wanted to get my fix of knowledge and information and seeing what was going on, I’d probably use my RSS feed aggregator more and ensure that the people I like to follow and see what they’re talking about blogs are coming through to me in that format. I don’t use Facebook for things within the industry. So it really is Twitter and LinkedIn and Twitter obviously trumps LinkedIn for me, for exactly the same reasons that Stephen explained.
DAVID BAIN: We’ve got Everon UK saying in the chat, ‘What are the speakers’ thoughts on the rumours that Twitter are going to be looking at increasing the character limit to 10,000? Will this make Twitter feeds too long?’ My thought is I can’t even see it happening and if it did happen I could imagine Twitter just turning into something like Tumblr. I would personally rather to increase the character limit on responses to tweets rather than initial tweets to encourage more conversation as part of the tweet. But what are everyone else’s thoughts on this? Stephen, what are your thoughts on that question?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: I don’t see it happening either, to be honest. I get the point that actually Twitter is mainly used to link to longer form content so it’s not that dissimilar in a lot of senses, I suppose. The only way it would possibly work is with Read More buttons or something like that, where you can just expand it and see all of it. I get why they would potentially do it, because I mean you’ve only got to look at Facebook’s KPIs of keep people in the newsfeed for as long as possible to show them more adverts, fair enough. But I don’t see it being easy to actually navigate in any way, I can’t imagine it happening to be honest.
DAVID BAIN: Emily, is this something that you can imagine happening?
EMILY HILL: I can imagine it happening, but I think it would be a bad idea, because I think the USP of Twitter is the character limit, so if you take that away it’s just a second-rate Facebook, isn’t it? So I hope they don’t do it, but I think they might.
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: I think they’ll probably try it. In my Twitter feed I’ve got the Mac app, I’ve disabled images, I don’t like to see images in my Twitter feed, because it gives unnecessary precedents to those that add an image for the sake of it. I can’t remember exactly when they released it, but you can see animated GIFs a little bit more easily, so we’ll see. I’m sure they’ll beta-test it thoroughly because it could be the downfall, as Emily said, I completely agree, the character limit is the primary USP, in my opinion.
DAVID BAIN: You can do an animated GIF on Twitter by sharing this by Blab actually, clicking on the tweet button and you can generate animated GIFs, that’s quite cool. But that just about takes us to the end of this week’s show. So I reckon we’ve just time for a single take away and some sharing of find out more details from our guests. So, starting off with Stephen.
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: I don’t really have any take aways, actually. I think the main things, from me, if you are interested in doing anything at all the first thing to do is think about why you’re doing it. So when it comes to an international site, what is it there for? Is it there for traffic, in which case maybe hreflang and localisation is the way to go. If you are interested in publishing on LinkedIn, why? Is it there because you want traffic, in which case don’t do it. Do it on your site instead.
DAVID BAIN: Great, and were can people get find you, Stephen?
STEPHEN KENWRIGHT: Twitter is probably the best place to find more from me to be honest. And helpfully because we sign into Blab with Twitter, my handle is the handle that you see before you.
DAVID BAIN: Stephen again shared a great link on SlideShare in the chat. Everon UK shared another link on further reading about Twitter character limits. So it’s another great reason to participate live if you’re watching this as a replay, listening to the podcast as a reply come and watch us live next time. So James, what are your final thoughts and a bit of a take away?
JAMES BAVINGTON: I think final thoughts for me and take aways, similar to what I said last time that I was on the TWIO panel, is don’t over think, over worry or feel nervous by things like impending change. The Panda updates, if you’re doing things right, putting the user first and doing quality over quantity, you haven’t got anything to worry about. Someone will always distil down exactly what the outcome is within the character limit of a tweet, for example. So hopefully that won’t change and if you’re following the right people, give things enough time and the overall conclusion of something like a lot of things we’ve discussed today you will learn it eventually.
DAVID BAIN: And where can people find you, James?
JAMES BAVINGTON: The best place to find me is also on Twitter. My Twitter handle is just @jamesbavington.
DAVID BAIN: Lovely. And also with us today was Emily.
EMILY HILL: Yes, the best place to find me is also Twitter, despite what I said earlier, I do use it. I suppose my key take away would be when it comes to your content to think laterally. Think across your whole strategy, think about not just your website, your blog, your white papers, but also Wikipedia, topical news media, all kinds of things like that and be precious about your content, keep your best content on your site, put what you need to on other sites and always have the goal as building on your own land not someone else’s.
DAVID BAIN: Great, okay. Well thanks for that and I’ll put links to everyone’s sites and Twitter handles in the replay pages published on the Analytics SEO blog. I’m David Bain, Head of Growth here 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 marketing gurus over at www.digitalmarketingradio.com. If you’re watching this show as a recording, remember to watch the next show live, so head over to thisweekinorganic.com and be part of the next live audience. But for those of you watching live, we also have an audio podcast of previous shows. So again, sign up to email updates at thisweekinorganic.com and you’ll receive podcast links from there too. Until we see you again, have a fantabulous weekend and thank you all for joining us. Adios, cheers everyone.
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.