TWiO-31: Panda is Now Part of Google’s Core Algorithm

This is the thirty first 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 the fact that Panda is now part of Google’s core algorithm, it’s no longer possible for users to select a preferred location for their Google search results, plus Twitter have removed their share counts, and are allegedly considering 10,000 character tweets. And much more!

Our host, @DavidBain is joined by @dawnieando from Move It Marketing, @JJ_Grice from Branded3 and @JoyanneHawkins from Imprezzio Marketing.

Sign up to watch the next show live over at and share your thoughts on what’s discussed using the hashtag #TWiO on Twitter.

During the discussion, Dawn mentioned a couple of resources:

Topics discussed during the episode:

=== Topic #1

Panda is now part of Google’s core algorithm: Over the past few days, Gary Illes has confirmed that Panda, has now been baked into Google’s main algorithm. What do you make of this?)

What impact does this have on content publishing strategy?

What type of content should publishers consider removing from or fixing on their websites?

How do you define quality content?

What is “thin content”?

=== Topic 2:

In addition to Panda, both Gary Illyes and John Muller have confirmed that Google have also updated their core algorithm.

Is this different from Google just adding Panda to the core algorithm?

Have you seen many ranking changes?

How significant is Google’s most recent core algorithm update?

What’s changed and how should agencies react?

What does this mean for SEO strategy?

=== Topic 3:

Google have removed the facility to manually select location for search results – but is this aimed at users – or users of their search results?

Why do you think Google have done this?

What does this mean for agencies serving local businesses?

Is Google’s AdPreview tool an effective way of previewing location-specific organic results?

=== Topic 4:

How will native advertising impact content marketing? Native advertising of course means that the host of a show – or the writer of a blog – advertises a product as part of the core content discussion. 

Is native advertising a fad, or perhaps something here to stay to challenge traditional ad networks?

Might the general public have less trust for organic content in the future?

What is the future of native advertising?

=== Topic 5:

Twitter have recently removed their share counts. They’ve also indicated that they may consider 10,000 character tweets – and they’ve integrated Periscope live streaming directly into timelines. So how will Twitter usage evolve in 2016 and what does this mean for social media managers?

Is Twitter your most important social network and if so, is this likely to continue?

Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO has said that the character limit of a tweet is up for debate. But does this not mean that Twitter is turning into Tumblr?

Twitter have also recently removed share counts from their API recently. What might be the intention behind this?

Something else that launched over the past week was live streaming directly in your Twitter timeline via Periscope. What do you make of this?


DAVID BAIN: Okay, well Panda is now part of Google’s core algorithm. It’s no longer possible for users to select a preferred location for their Google search results and Twitter have removed their share counts and are allegedly considering 10,000 character tweets. All that and more on This Week in Organic, Episode Number 31.

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 tell a little bird button or tweet button, whatever it’s called now and share everything with your friends if you can and of course interactive comments section, it would be good to hear from you and we’ll try to interact as much as possible with you and read any comments out. But let’s find out more about today’s guests, where they’re from and what’s caught their attention this week. So starting off with Dawn.

DAWN ANDERSON: I’m Dawn Anderson. I work as a consultant in SEO, I specialise in SEO for Move It Marketing and the thing that has caught my attention this week is obviously lots of lots of fluctuations last weekend and obviously confirmed as not Penguin on Monday and all the crazy style chatter in SEO this week and obviously with Panda being part of core, that was a really exciting write up that Jennifer Slegg did. So we’re not going to be short of conversation, let’s put it that way.

DAVID BAIN: Absolutely. There are some weeks, well to be to honest with you I haven’t struggled with conversation anyway, because there is always so much happening, but this week seems to be where Google have done a lot of things. So that will be very interesting to expand on. And also joining us today is Joy Hawkings, Joy thanks for joining us.

JOY HAWKINGS: Thanks, David. My name is Joy and I’m from Toronto in Canada and I guess the things that particularly caught my interest, the algorithm update last weekend actually definitely impacted a lot of our clients in a good way. I work as a consultant and mainly focus on local SEO, so the small businesses that we work with in the United States and Canada and I think I’d probably also say that Google removing the location centre for search results has also impacted us a bit, obviously given that we’re huge with the local SEO aspect.

DAVID BAIN: Right, okay. Yeah, that’s an incredible thing that’s happened certainly, or potentially having a big impact for all those agencies that have a lot of local clients, so it will be very interesting to hear your perspective on that and how perhaps it may impact how you go about being able to service clients and perhaps predict or have a look at where rankings are in different locations. And also joining us today is JJ Grice. Hi, JJ.

JJ GRICE: Hi. Yeah, I’m JJ. I’m an SEO strategist at Branded3 based up in Leeds. Something that has caught my particular attention this week has got to be the algorithm update this weekend, this past weekend, as well as all the confusion around Panda, whether or not it’s real time, whether or not it’s part of core ranking algorithm, all the different speculation that came with that. So I’ve got a bit of clarification about it over the past couple of days, but quite an interesting conversation this week.

DAVID BAIN: Absolutely. You mentioned Panda there. That’s our topic number one. Panda is now part of Google’s core algorithm. Over the past few days Gary Iles has confirmed that Panda has now been baked into Google’s main algorithm. I’m not sure what Google’s been doing baking Pandas, but what are your immediate thoughts on that JJ?

JJ GRICE: Yeah, my thoughts are that in essence it doesn’t really change much from my point of view. It still very much remains the same in terms of what Panda actually sets out to do. Obviously the real time factor, whether or not it is real time, they’ve said it isn’t real time, but if it does turn into real time it’s much more important to make sure that your site has quality content on it. But in terms of the strategy, in terms of making sure that your site has content that is useful to users, it still remains the same in terms of your goals and your objectives in SEO.

DAVID BAIN: It’s funny that Google have seemed to announce these ones, in the past few months they haven’t announced that much, but also they’ve said in the past that they tend to do little algorithm updates just about every day anyway. So it’s funny that they seem to be focused on this one. Dawn, have you noticed any significant jumpings or declines in rankings for any clients or anything like that?

DAWN ANDERSON: No, simply because my main focus and I would say the focus of anybody that I want to associate with, is just to try and always work towards producing stuff that really is useful to, well meets needs if you like. I’m a big fan of the whole moments that matter, I think with Google there is a lot of talk around the whole moments that matter and I think if you can work your organic strategy in with trying to be there when people need you, so matching, if you like, transactional queries with transactional pages and informational queries with informational pages etc. I think you’re going to go in the right direction regardless of the role out of things. So I haven’t seen anything particularly negative happen. I’ve seen some fluctuation in positive directions, but I’ve always taken a very cushioned approach anyway, so we don’t tend to just hang our whole strategy on two keywords, if that makes sense.

DAVID BAIN: Absolutely.

DAWN ANDERSON: But I’ve read a couple of the more in-depth data supported analysis, Stephen’s just had one hasn’t he? From Branded3, that I’ve just been having a look at and Bartos from Elevate, he did a really deep analysis. Those are the sorts of things really that I’m interested in reading about that are data supported, if that makes sense.

DAVID BAIN: Yes. I like your phase ‘moments that matter’ as well, because that obvsiously means that it’s a relevant page to users, but it doesn’t necessarily say that it has to be a lot of content. Does that mean that to appeal to the Panda you don’t have to think of publishing a certain quantity of content if it’s more about getting that user experience…

DAWN ANDERSON: Absolutely. If somebody wants to buy a pair of red shoes, they probably don’t want to know the history of red shoes or how red shoes were created, they want to see a selection of red shoes with some information, prices, discounts available etc. So it’s kind of meeting, buying, I’m not saying just have a thin page with one picture and a buy now button, but I’m saying that people are not necessarily interested in seeing on that page the wrong type of content that meets the query that they had the intent to search with, if that makes sense.

DAVID BAIN: Absolutely. Joy, what are your thoughts on this one in terms of Panda? Are there any specific ways that it specially impacts local businesses compared with businesses that are trying to target a global audience?

JOY HAWKINGS: In my experience I actually don’t find Panda really impacts local businesses the same way that it does other sites. I find it more impacts bigger sites like forums or ecommerce sites and things like that. We haven’t actually run across a business that we audited that’s had a Panda penalty at all. So I’d same the impact is fairly little from what I’ve seen. Most of the businesses we work with don’t actually have a ton of content when we first start working with them, so we are usually the ones to build content for them and usually it’s all very clean and very white hat, so I’d say I just haven’t seen Panda impact a lot of local businesses up to this point.

DAVID BAIN: Okay. Unfortunately you’re cutting out just a slight bit there. You’re decent audio quality when we can hear you, but occasionally you’re just cutting out. We’ll keep you in there and hopefully that’s not going to be an issue moving forward. I’d like to come to this moments that matter phrase that Dawn brought up. How does a business actually practically create a moment that matters on their website?

DAWN ANDERSON: Okay, so the business doesn’t create the moments that matter, it meets a moment that matters in somebody’s search. There’s some really interesting stats about it that talk about, for instance, people are searching on their iPad and they’re searching to answer a query when they’re in the middle of a task. So, for instance, I’ll give you an actual practical example. My husband is really bad at wrapping Christmas presents and I needed some help this Christmas because I was working, I’m doing a Masters and one thing and another and working as well, and I said, ‘You could do with doing the Christmas presents.’ But he’s so appalling at it that I said, ‘Just go on YouTube’ and he literally went on YouTube and wrapped the most amazing Christmas presents after watching a video. So there is huge amounts of evidence to support the fact that people actually are, they need something right now and there is also evidence that says you can even beat your competitors by actually producing something that is the most relevant content at the right time to meet that person’s need. So effectively, for me people should be structuring their content in such a way so that it’s really easy to find the information that you need. I always think if you structure your site like a library – it’s well-organised, easy to find things. Google can find things, organise things and it’s useful content and not just spam filled, that’s what I mean, so it’s moments that matter, being there with the right answer at the right time to meet an actual moment in somebody’s life, if that makes sense.

DAVID BAIN: Absolutely.

DAWN ANDERSON: There’s a huge amount of stuff. There’s a whole section called ‘Thinking with Google’. There is loads of research that they’ve done around moments in e-commerce, moments in travel, moments in… It’s well worth anybody looking at and if you could share that section ‘Thinking with Google’ that would really help people.

DAVID BAIN: Absolutely. Okay, well we’ll certainly include that within the show notes on the weekly page. JJ, with regard to Panda, is there any specific advice that you can give businesses if they’re concerned that maybe they have too much content on their site, in terms of determining what content is relevant and appropriate and what to do with content that that business thinks perhaps is maybe being targeted by Panda?

JJ GRICE: Yes, what I would encourage is the fact that I know a lot of people when it comes to Panda they see it as an algorithm that targets think content, like you said there, content that just simply isn’t useful to the users. Before you remove any content from your site you’ve got to work out whether or not that content has previously ranked for keywords, whether or not there is an opportunity to repurpose the content, rather than just killing it completely off your site. Because nine times out of ten, you’ll see it and you’ll hear a lot of opinions whereby people are just suggesting that you remove pages from your site, when actually a lot of the time you can just repurpose that content, bring a bit of freshness to the content and that way you can turn it round in terms of its quality. Again, going back to the moments that matter and intent in general, you’ll find with the big keywords, take for example ‘car breakdown’ as a keyword. That keyword can have multiple intents and usually you’ll find that the sites that are ranking well for that highly searched for term, certainly multiple intents and they are trying to satisfy as many intents around that keyword as possible. It’s not simply a case of drawing up a contact form and applying for breakdown cover, there are many different topics that you can cover around that subject and that will aid your SEO performance.

DAVID BAIN: Yes, intent is a massive word as well and it’s intriguing. Because obviously Google are trying to segment people by intent as well. And if someone types in ‘car breakdown’ compared to someone else who types in ‘car breakdown’ there is the potential that they are going to get different search results, based upon their search history and what Google thinks they’re looking for as well.

DAWN ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely.

DAVID BAIN: So in addition to Panda, both Gary Iles and John Miller have confirmed that Google have also updated their core algorithm, so based over the last few days, is this something to just the addition of Panda? JJ or Dawn you were just about to say something there…

DAWN ANDERSON: No, it’s alright. I now that JJ’s, I don’t know whether you’ve got Stephen’s findings with you that you can share with us. I know that he’s done quite a big analysis of it today, I saw something on LinkedIn a bit earlier.

JJ GRICE: I don’t think I’ve read it yet. He posted something last night that basically gave a summary…

DAWN ANDERSON: It’s only today I think. I just saw it fly past, but it’s been a bit of a crazy day. But it was something to do with freshness and for me Google, I mean I literally, because I was working on my assignment for my Masters that had to be on Monday night absolute deadline, I literally never moved off my chair from Saturday morning to Monday evening, and I spotted it was happening on Saturday morning. So obviously I was just in the right moment at the right time to kind of see everything that was happening all over the place. What seemed to be happening was when you look on SERP Watch versus the other aggregators or the collators of search flux, so you’ve got like the likes of MOScast and Alguru and Accurank etc. that kind of gather everything globally into one pot and you see an average temperature. I was looking on SERP Watch that actually you are able to filter it by desktop or mobile device and also by vertical so obviously a vertical in finance is not going to be measurable with a vertical in, say, shopping because they have different levels of tolerance, different types of content etc. so it’s almost like they need to compare apples with apples. And you can almost see like vertical as being impacted in countries and on devices in a Star Wars type effect. I gathered a load of screen shots that were on my Twitter etc. It was really quite compelling to be honest, but I did notice that there seemed to have been some kind of break-up of clustering on some of the, you know you see some big brands that almost hog positions one, two, three, four, five on some of the terms. I saw a bit of break-up on that. I wondered whether that was being impacted. Definitely for me something on mobile also. I know that Bartos felt it was something to do with brands. I think really we’ve all got our theories and it’s a little bit too early to say anything too concrete and that’s just my view really, so it’s not confirmed.

DAVID BAIN: You said big brands freshness is quite interesting. I remember back in…

DAWN ANDERSON: Freshness is really important.

DAVID BAIN: Yeah, yeah, but I remember back in about 2010 when Google brought of Caffeine and prior to that you had a big, lots of people going through Twitter for the latest news because Google were just not delivering the latest content at all and they were really, really bad at doing that and obviously they recognised they had to get better at that. But they’re not perfect and maybe they’re having another go at doing that.

DAWN ANDERSON: Well they’re like any organisation. They are always constantly looking to improve the way that they do things and for me, ultimately they want to produce the best results that they possibly can do and if you’ve got a site that’s constantly changing you’re going to get a lot of the zits from Googlebot as far as I’m concerned.

DAVID BAIN: Joy have you got any thoughts on the core algorithm updates over the last few days?

JOY HAWKINGS: Yes, we saw a lot of businesses move up in ranking. It was only a couple of positions though for most businesses, so it wasn’t like a massive increase. But we did see a lot of positive change and I think it’s a confirmation that if you’re using a variety of different signals and trying to increase ranking by doing a bunch of different strategies instead of just getting more links for example, that seems to be really paying off, long-term. The client that we saw the biggest increase on was a client that was in the recruitment industry and he had previously had a penalty, had a lot of bad backlinks and back in the Fall we had gone through and done a big clean-up for him and disavowed a lot of links and he saw a really big lift, which made me think that maybe links had a lot to do with this update, but others are saying the opposite. So I think it’s a combination of a lot of things.

DAVID BAIN: Okay. So if it was to do with freshness and you’d, a few of the clients who you were working for, JJ what are some of the things that a business could do to try and ensure that they do continue to be ranked if Google are encouraging content that is fresher to be ranked.

JJ GRICE: I think it mainly applies to publishers. I mean this update that rolled out at the weekend, you will probably have seen the search metrics winners and losers list. A lot of the losers came from publisher sites, so there was The Atlantic, The New Yorker, American based publisher sites and some of the drops that they saw were for brand terms, so things like Netflix and YouTube and previously prior to the update they were ranking, some of their articles were ranking for Netflix but they were older articles that probably weren’t applicable to somebody actually searching for Netflix, didn’t really give a lot of detail about the brand itself, it wasn’t sort of recent news story, it was an old news story. So what has replaced that are publishers’ articles that are more relevant, more tied in with the actual brand and what’s going on with the brand’s activity. Something I will say as well is the fact that I don’t think that this latest update was as significant as people are trying to suggest. There was an update at the back end of November that wasn’t actually confirmed, but certainly from my point of view that update was much more significant. I mean some big retail brands saw drops over the course of the last week of November and then conversely some saw big increases in visibility. I don’t really like naming out brands, but I think Howdens, the kitchen provider and there was also quite a big drop from Victorian Plumbing as well, they saw quite a big drop there during that latter week of November. So to me that was a more significant update, it didn’t just focus on terms that were ranking second per page, it really shifted rankings on that first page between position one and position five where, as we know, a lot of the traffic goes to. But yes, it was interesting to me that there is a lot of talk about how this core ranking update out this weekend, but I think that one fell by the wayside to the one in November, but it was a significant update in my opinion.

DAVID BAIN: Too close to Christmas, maybe?

JJ GRICE: Yeah, potentially.

DAWN ANDERSON: JJ, sorry, do you think that that may possibly, I mean from my estimations the UK didn’t get hit anywhere near as much as some of the US sites. We seem to get away with it, really, overall. There was an awful lot of chatter that a lot of UK sites didn’t really get anything huge from it, so maybe we’re just underestimating the impact that it had here, because we haven’t seen the impact in Australia or Canada etc. and so on.

DAVID BAIN: Did you think the algorithm is any different? Because some people think that it’s simply a case that there is less competition in the UK compared to the US and less competition in Australia compared with the UK, so if you do SEO in Australia then generally you are more likely to still be successful by using older tactics, but that is not necessarily anything to do with Google’s algorithm, but maybe just fewer competitors and Google is less able to penalise websites if they have certain tactics that they don’t like so much. What are your thoughts on that one, JJ?

JJ GRICE: I think you’re right in that they struggle with markets that aren’t as competitive, so you pointed out Australia there. It’s difficult to say, really. I mean I don’t really personally work with any clients, most of my clients are UK-based, companies in the UK search results, so I don’t really, from that perspective I’m quite ignorant in terms of other markets really. I don’t really check on the Australian market, US market as much as I do the UK, but like I said from my point of view it was the November update, like I said it wasn’t confirmed, but there was some definite movement at the back end of November. I think Glenn Gabe covered it, I think Search Engine Land also reported on it, but there was no official confirmation.

DAVID BAIN: It’s a chicken and egg situation. It is Google or is it the market? Which one came first?

DAWN ANDERSON: I mean SEO is different primarily. SEO is fundamentally different in some countries compared with others. Some countries are spammier than others. So obviously they are going to have to fight different fires with different equipment.

DAVID BAIN: You’re not just talking about the fact that obviously Jan Dixon, I do…

DAWN ANDERSON: No, I’m talking about just different countries. SEO is at different stages if you like of development in different countries and you’ve got to compare apples with apples, so for me they have to build algorithms that are suited to that environment, if you like. And for me they’ll also be algorithmic filters for different verticals. You can’t compare a charity vertical with home insurance, for instance, because one is like massively competitive and well thought from an SEO perspective and the other one is not necessarily so, less competitive as JJ said. So for me, yes, they’ll definitely have filters that depend on the vertical, the country, the device etc. Different knobs if you like that they switch up and down.

DAVID BAIN: Well we’ve got quite a few people watching live, so you’re not saying too much in the chat, so maybe you’re enthralled by the quality of the conversation going on, but if you’ve got any thoughts that you’d like me to read out in relation to what’s been said, it would be great to hear from you. But let’s move on to topic number three, which is Google have removed the facilities to manually select location for search results. But is this aimed at users or users of their search results? Joy, what are your thoughts on this one?

JOY HAWKINGS: I think Google removed it because it’s a feature that probably only us as SEOs use. I mean I don’t know too many friends that use that feature and I’ve been finding a lot of the changes Google makes they don’t really care about what’s convenient for SEO companies, especially those of us in local, they are trying to always make things more difficult for us. Being in Canada, most of our clients are actually in US. This feature doesn’t even work for us anyway, because you are restricted to selecting a city in your own country. So we could never use it to view search results for people that we are looking at in the United States. So I’ve always defaulted to the ad preview tool, which works fine. It didn’t used to be accurate; about a year ago it would actually show you different results to what you would normally get, but lately I’ve found it’s very accurate and you can toggle between mobile and desktop which is really nice. And that’s also accurate, because you’ll see very different results depending on which one you’re looking at and you can narrow it down to the zip code too which is kind of neat, so you can either select a city or a zip code or a state or whatnot. So that is kind of my default, but the only disadvantage I would say is that you can’t click anywhere, because it’s like a view only screen. It’s kind of annoying if you want to see, for example, who’s listed fourth in the three pack and if you try to click more results you can’t do that. So the work around there is to, there’s a setting in Chrome that you can use. There is an article in Search Engine Land that came out I think either this week or last week that explains how to use it and that’s kind of a second longer way to get the same thing if you want to be able to actually click on the results.

DAVID BAIN: So you mentioned the ad preview tool there, Joy. Does the ad preview tool accurately reflect organic results as well as the ads themselves?

JOY HAWKINGS: Yes, it does.

DAVID BAIN: Okay, that’s great. Definitive answers are great, that’s good. So JJ have you had any impact from Google taking this functionality away from their search results? Does that impact you as an agency or your clients at all?

JJ GRICE: I think what it has done, it has actually sparked the conversation in terms of localised results. Previously before this feature was removed, when we’re rank checking on what search metrics bring back in SEMrush, they’ll bring back a set of ranking results from a UK search result, so it’s not actually specific to any location as far as I’m aware and now that that feature has been removed it has sparked a lot of conversation with our clients in terms of them wanting to see more ranking movements for localised results specifically. So if they’re operating in a specific city, they want to see where they’re ranked for search terms in that particular city. So I think it’s good that it sparked the conversation, I think as SEOs we do need to be looking at it from a local level in terms of when we are reporting on rankings rather than a UK search result, because ironically not one user actually sees the generic UK result. Google use geolocation now so they know where you are, they’ll serve you results based on your location. So those rankings that you see in search metrics, some of them they are quite accurate. Some of them do mirror what you see locally, but ironically not one user actually sees the generic UK search result. It’s all location-based now.

DAVID BAIN: Those rankings that you see in search metrics at Analytics SEO and other good SEO platforms! Absolutely, yes. And Dawn do you think the average user is actually aware that there are so many different search results that their friends may actually be seeing for the same query, or is this just something that the average user just isn’t aware of?

DAWN ANDERSON: Yeah, I don’t think the average user is aware of it. I think SEOs are aware of it more than anybody else, because obviously it just makes things a little bit harder for us and I don’t even think clients are aware of it. There is this obsession with ranking for X, Y, Z for X query, but they don’t always realise that if somebody has been on their site before, they are likely to rank higher for that because somebody has browsed onto that site etc. and it’s the same with local. So no, I don’t think the average user is aware of it and I don’t think a lot of clients necessarily are aware. It’s just us and everybody in digital, we’re aware.

DAVID BAIN: Just us. We think, or we assume that everybody else probably knows more.

DAWN ANDERSON: We think everybody else knows the same things as us.

DAVID BAIN: Absolutely. Well coming up we’re going to be talking about how native advertising is blurring paid and organic lines and discuss what Twitter are up to and how that impacts social media management. But first of all it’s good to see a few thoughts going on in the chat there. We’ve got Tony saying, ‘Good to hear Dawn’s thoughts’ he has no mike or camera at the moment so can’t take part. Tony you’ll have to email me your details and I’m sure we can arrange for you to participate on a future This Week in Organic, and that goes for anyone else listening as well. If you have a reasonable SEO or content marketing opinion or background then you are more than welcome to take part in future shows if you’d like to. So thanks all for interacting. But moving on to the next topic, which is topic number four and that is of course in relation to how will native advertising impact content marketing. Native advertising of course means that the host of a show or the writer of a blog advertisers a product as part of the corporate content discussion. Here on TWIO we like my brand coffee – something like that. Is native advertising something that we actually encounter as people that are involved with content marketing though? Dawn is that something that you’re much aware of?

DAWN ANDERSON: It’s not something… I tend to focus a lot on SEO and digital really versus native advertising as such, so it’s not an area I profess to be an expert in, if you like. Are you talking about when something just pops up in the middle of…

DAVID BAIN: More as part of the conversation. Podcasting is becoming more popular. These kind of events, Blab events are becoming more popular now as well and quite often on a few different shows you’ve got adverts that are read by the host and integrated into the content and the same can happen with blog posts as well. You’ve got products or services that are actually talked about with the content and it’s quite hard sometimes to decipher what’s paid and what’s not.

DAWN ANDERSON: Absolutely and I think even from a digital perspective, I think I saw something recently that showed how they were actually using I think it was augmented reality to change the actual native products that were in a fridge I think it was, something like that. So things were being adapted according to who the target audience was. Does anybody remember seeing that?

DAVID BAIN: I’ve seen movies or programmes that have been altered to have things like buses go past with an advert in the background.

DAWN ANDERSON: No, I think this was more talking about in the future and things that they’re developing right now that actually have, for instance, a fridge – somebody opens the fridge in a podcast or whatever and the fridge is filled with X brands and the brands can be changed digitally, dependent on the brand that is actually doing the sponsoring of the podcast. So I think that there is going to be an awful lot of, if you like, jiggery pokery that’s…

DAVID BAIN: Real personalised advertising.

DAWN ANDERSON: A phrase that my grandma likes. I think there is going to be an awful lot of stuff like that and it’ll just get more and more creative so that it actually begins to be woven increasingly into the background. I mean obviously there are legal compliances that advertisers need to adhere to, disclosure, but sometimes they’re a little bit on the edge.

DAVID BAIN: Yes, again, this is something that the average user probably won’t really be aware of.

DAWN ANDERSON: Absolutely, yes, and I think we’re starting to see that sometimes on blogs that have really small sponsored content or that kind of thing.

DAVID BAIN: JJ, do you have much involvement with working together with paid at the same time? Or from your focus is it just SEO or organic that matters?

JJ GRICE: Yes, I mean that’s essentially what my background is in. Like Dawn I don’t profess to be an expert when it comes to paid and native advertising. I think when you weigh the two up, native advertising versus content marketing, I know the two have become quite blurred and people often see them as the same thing. What I would say it comes back to your KPIs say, if you’re looking for engagement and if you’re looking for just general awareness, then native advertising might be the sort of channel for you. With that, it is obviously expensive. I know BuzzFeed for example there was an article no so long ago that spoke about how costly native advertising can actually be for a company. I know BuzzFeed it’s about $100,000 you need as a minimum spend if you are going to take up native advertising with BuzzFeed, so it can be really costly when it comes to promoting content. I mean PR is obviously something that we involve ourselves in as SEOs and I think it’s an effective way to promote content. It’s not as costly or it doesn’t have to be as costly and yes it comes back to that old cliché about telling a good story and getting people to talk about what you’ve got to say or the content you’ve written.

DAVID BAIN: Joy, do you integrate paid advertising as part of your services as well?

JOY HAWKINGS: Yeah. Almost all of our clients have both SEO and some PPC efforts. It does really well for small businesses, especially those that are looking to get leads right away and aren’t patient enough to deal with the slow progress of SEO. I know when it comes to native advertising, I’d say for smaller local businesses Facebook comes to mind. They seem to have really dominated that aspect and they are getting really good at showing the right ads on the newsfeed to the right people. So we’ve seen some success there and another one that comes to mind would be Yahoo. I know last year they were really excited about Gemini, Yahoo Gemini, which is a local advertising platform that serves ads in the newsfeed on Yahoo’s home page. I don’t know how I feel about it, because when you go to Yahoo it’s not really obvious that what you’re looking at is paid, it almost seems like it’s not, but I’ve seen some good results from businesses that have used it as a marketing tool, so I think it is working, I just don’t know how long it would last once users catch on to the fact that those are ads and not actually articles.

DAVID BAIN: I think JJ’s friend just joined in giving him lots of props live here on Blab.

DAWN ANDERSON: I was going to say, David, I don’t know whether I’m a huge fan of this whole integration with native advertising and email because it almost feels you open your emails and they’re all really, really highly targeted at you. It almost feels, from a user perspective, a little bit intrusive. I know that that’s not necessarily to do with SEO, but that’s just me putting my two pennyworth in about native advertising crossing the line almost.

DAVID BAIN: I think the level of personalisation that a user is willing to accept changes as time goes by and they probably get more comfortable with it. It can’t all happen suddenly, but I mean you talked about email there and that’s a vastly changing area. Two or three years ago it was all about sending the same message to everyone and now with different marketing automation tools it’s just possible to be…

DAWN ANDERSON: I’m talking more about ads that appear above your emails.


DAWN ANDERSON: It almost feels like that email has been read before you actually read it.

DAVID BAIN: Well that’s what you agree to by having Google!


DAVID BAIN: Being machine read. So just picking up, Joy, what you’re saying in relation to the fact that you tend to provide both paid and organic services to your clients. Do you reckon in the future your clients will be more likely to want consultancy services and actually manage things themselves or do you think there is always going to be a place for agencies who are going to be just providing the services on behalf of the clients and the clients actually don’t themselves want to know how things work like that?

JOY HAWKINGS: I’d say there was definitely still a lot of opportunity for people to hire agencies. I think if Google was to stop releasing updates then people could figure out how to do it themselves, but adwords alone last year, I was blown away with how many new features and new things they came out with and for a regular business owner to keep on top of that and then know how to actually implement all that stuff, would use a lot of time. And time is money, so I think these people are way better off doing what they’re good at. If they’re a plumber or electrician or realtor, that’s their expertise, you do your expertise and I’ll do mine and I think that’s going to be the future. I don’t see it becoming easier for them.

DAVID BAIN: Yes, that’s a great point. There is so much happening in every platform, it’s impossible for business owners to actually do things optimally as well because perhaps they could run a campaign, but they could run a much more efficient campaign if they had a specialist doing it, I suppose.

JOY HAWKINGS: And I’ll give you an example. A good example of one, we had a client that was a party rental place and we had to take a look at his adwords account and they were targeting the keyword ‘Mario Party’ because they were thinking they had people dress up at Mario and come out to the party and you could hire them. But he had no idea that there is a video game called ‘Mario Party’ and spent thousands of Dollars on that keyword and got no conversions as a result, so it’s always good to get a second pair of eyes.

DAVID BAIN: So not only are you participating by talking Joy, you’re also actually leaving great comments here. You’re saying that SERP Watch is a really awesome tool, thanks for mentioning that. So it’s good to share those links within the chat section as well. People who are listening to the replay, the audio replay of this, are maybe missing out on that, so you’ll have to join us live for the next show. But I reckon we should move on to the last topic, which is Twitter have recently removed their share counts. They’ve also indicated that they may consider 10,000 character tweets and have integrated Periscope live streaming directly into timelines. So how will Twitter usage evolve in 2016 and what does this mean for social media managers. Dawn, what are your thoughts on this one here?

DAWN ANDERSON: I think if they integrate, I don’t know whether the 10,000 character change is a good idea. For me Twitter is very much about being on the fly, coming out with quick comments etc. it’s very engaging, very interactive. I think something that big is just going to really slow everything down and turn it into almost like a, just not be very social if that makes sense, because people won’t be able to engage very quickly.

DAVID BAIN: Yeah, the immediate thing that came to my mind was of they did that, Twitter would just be turning into Tumblr or an online blogging platform really. Jack Dorsey, the CEO, he didn’t exactly say 10,000 characters, but lots of articles online used that figure and he said that he still wants to actually retain that fast feeling of what Twitter is. And I was thinking well maybe an option could be for them to actually retain their 140 characters for the initial tweet, but perhaps for them to be expanding the amount of characters available for comments on that tweet to encourage more interaction on that. So I thought that maybe that was the way to do it.

DAWN ANDERSON: I don’t know. I’m just not convinced at all that this is a smart move.

DAVID BAIN: There’s so much happening on Twitter certainly and it will be very intriguing to see how it evolves in 2016. I think that’s going to be a pivotal year for them, certainly.

DAWN ANDERSON: I don’t think that Periscope has had the pick-up that they were hoping for. And obviously they’ve now also got the moments, as well, that have just popped up. That’s really good, actually. I don’t know whether everybody has used that.

DAVID BAIN: I’ve seen it. I probably don’t…

DAWN ANDERSON: Have you used it, JJ? Yeah?

JJ GRICE: I used it this morning.

DAWN ANDERSON: Yeah, it’s good, isn’t it? It’s quite a pleasant experience that doesn’t seem to be, it seems almost like they’re just dumping everything at you. So it needs a little bit more personalisation for me. I don’t know.

JJ GRICE: I’m a big fan. I mean I use Twitter quite a lot, probably use Twitter more than I use any other social media channel. I’m on Twitter more than I’m on Facebook, Instagram, so it looks quite bleak, I think, for Twitter. I know I read the other day that their share price has fallen again. Usage is stagnating, they’re not picking up as many new users any more. So it would be a shame to see it go off in the wrong direction, but they’re trying, bless them, they’re trying to differentiate themselves.

DAWN ANDERSON: Absolutely. I’ll tell you what really is unbelievably useful, when you use it for paid social, the amount of targeting features that are available in that suite is just incredible. You can literally drill down to target conversation very closely. Again, it’s pretty creepy to be fair, but they’ve just got a really, really suite of tools there that are starting to come through and as JJ said, they are trying and I just hope that they get there in the end.

JJ GRICE: It’s also good as well, I mean, it’s still there as a reputation management channel. I know customer complaints are often channelled through Twitter, so as a company you still need a profile in place. I think it’s good to reach out to your customers and engage with them on Twitter. It’s still an integral channel for them, so it’s not going to go away any time soon. I can’t see it anyway, but it would just be nice to see it kick on into 2016…

DAWN ANDERSON: Yeah and really start to come to fruition. Absolutely.

DAVID BAIN: It’s probably concerning that they haven’t been profitable so far. Facebook have certainly managed that, but then they’ve got to be profitable at some point soon.

DAWN ANDERSON: Yeah, bills to pay. There’s always that in the end. That’s what it comes down to.

DAVID BAIN: Joy, is the regular business owner likely to be a Twitter user or are other social networks probably more relevant for local businesses?

JOY HAWKINGS: Not too many I deal with are on Twitter, but one thing I’ve been noticing is Twitter has been showing up a lot more in Google searches and I’ve seen it on local searches actually showing above the three pack, which have definitely caught a lot of interest in the local SEO community. So for example State Farm, when I was searching on my computer I saw tweets from State Farm’s Twitter account above any of the local State Farm agents. It kind of puzzled me why Google would give it a higher ranking, but it’s something I’ve been keeping my eye on, I’m not really sure what to make of it yet.

DAVID BAIN: Maybe something to do with a recent deal between Twitter and Google?

JOY HAWKINGS: It might have something to do with that, yeah.

DAVID BAIN: There’s so much happening with their, Dawn you mentioned Periscope as maybe not having as much of an uptake as hoped for. I mean they are certainly still banking on that because over the last few days they’ve integrated the live immediate stream as part of the tweet timeline as well. So people will see that immediately. But I guess they’ll be issues with the quantity of people seeing that. Because even if you’ve got a few thousand Twitter followers, you’re only probably going to get single figures in terms of people that see one tweet and that’s obviously where that live stream is going to be. Do you have concerns about that being… ?

DAWN ANDERSON: I mean you’ve got to, when you’re building up your Periscope followers it doesn’t necessarily follow that everybody that follows you on Twitter is necessarily going to follow you on Periscope or be there in that moment etc. So I don’t know whether it’s that joined-up as yet. I tried it around Christmas time. We won’t ever go there! Because it freaked me out a little bit, I thought I’m going to have a go with this and it just, for me, I’m not convinced it’s actually going to take off quite as well as they hoped. It just doesn’t seem to be that integrated with Twitter.

DAVID BAIN: I mean to me Periscope is personal broadcasting and not really a conversation. So it depends what you’re trying to have. And I like the medium of Blab, maybe that’s me personally rather than actually something that is right for everyone. But I think the big Goliath will be when Facebook start integrating live broadcasting and hopefully live conversations as well and when brands can move into that, that could be very interesting.

DAWN ANDERSON: Absolutely, yes.

JJ GRICE: Going back to Joy’s point as well, around the fact that Twitter is nowadays taking up much more real estate than Google due to the deal that they struck this year, well last year actually. Something that we did recently with a client was, for their brand term they had a bad result showing on the first page, it was a bad review from a big site and we ran a PR campaign recently and because we integrated that with Twitter and we had people share content through Twitter and using a hashtag with the brand name, the tweets were showing the search results and it pushed down that bad result, so it can be useful for that too. It boosts any sort of results like that you can do a blog around each campaign or just a general PR campaign making sure that you’re tying that in with Twitter and engagement on that channel.

DAVID BAIN: It reminds me what Kelvin Newman left us with when he was on our Christmas Special and he said that businesses should think of in terms of focus in 2016 in terms of a bit of a production was ‘Be agile’ and there is so much that is going to change in terms of technology and what works now is not necessarily going to work in twelve months’ time.

DAWN ANDERSON: No, absolutely. And again, as JJ said, I think tools like Periscope, tools like Blab integrating with things like Trello, Slack etc. it all does tie together.

DAVID BAIN: Well I reckon that just about takes us to the end of this week’s show. So probably just time for a single takeaway. If you just have a think about what has been discussed and what our listeners should go away with in terms of a thought and perhaps something that they should implement in their businesses and then just finish off with your own contact details. So if you’d like to leave people with that. So let’s start off with JJ.

JJ GRICE: Put me on the spot there, David. The takeaway for me is coming back to that work intent. I think this core ranking algorithm update and the quality updates that we saw last year was very much around and focusing on intent, making sure that your site and the content that you’re producing is aiming to satisfy your customers’ intent, answering their questions. I think that to me is essentially what quality content is. If you’re being useful and if you’re satisfying intent and if you’re doing that to a good standard then you won’t go far wrong. My contact details, if you want to catch me on Twitter, it’s JJ­_Grice, that’s where you can find me. That’s where I am most days.

DAVID BAIN: Lovely, thanks JJ. And Joy, thank you for joining us today. What’s your takeaway and contact details as well?

JOY HAWKINGS: Yeah, thanks Dawn for mentioning that tool that breaks down the search results by industry. There is another one that Tony here in the comments mentioned as well that mentions different industries, so just comparing the two tools I think it’s really key that this algorithm seems to have made more of an impact in certain industries than others. Like the law industry. We have a lot of lawyers as clients so it explains why I’m seeing so much of an increase. They have a lot of reds and yellows in these graphs in comparison to some of the other industries. So it looks like this most recent algorithm update really was specific to certain industries too, which is good to know.

DAVID BAIN: And where can people find you, Joy?


DAVID BAIN: Okay, lovely. Hopefully we’ll get you on Blab again at some point in the future and people will be able to see your video and we’ll maybe have a better cable installed between Toronto and here so we’ll get a good internet connection. But thanks for joining us again and also with us today was Dawn.

DAWN ANDERSON: Right, so what I would say is if you do get a chance, read the search quality, search raters guide that Google published the other week. It’s 160 pages…

DAVID BAIN: Have you read it all?
DAWN ANDERSON: Yes, I have actually. Seriously that just says, ‘Look there are two types of content on a page, primarily, one is the main content, that must be first and centre of what that page is about’. This guide is given to humans and humans sit there and look at a screen and say, ‘Yes, that matches this guide.’ They score it and then obviously algorithms are built so that machines can build that into their learnings if you like. So for me read that, understand that there is main content and then there is supplementary content which is helpful, additional content that will be useful and can help somebody on their next part of the journey. So primary content and then something else that’s also going to be useful to them. So read it and talks about mobile as well. So it would really be a good use of peoples’ time to be fair.

DAVID BAIN: Yeah, great tip and where can people find you as well, Dawn?

DAWN ANDERSON: Yeah, they can find me at dawnieando.

DAVID BAIN: Lovely. I’ll include links to everyone’s sites in the show notes there as well. So thank you all and I’m David Bain, head of growth here at Analytics SEO, the agency and SEO platform with big insights. Sign up for a free demo of our platform at and you can also find me interviewing online marketing gurus over at Now if you’re watching this show as a recording, remember to watch the next show live. So head over to and sign up there to be part of the audience for the next live show. For those of you watching live, we also have an audio podcast of previous shows and again you’ll get the link to that if you sign up to updates at But until we see you again, have a fantabulous weekend and thank you all for joining us. Adios. Thanks, Dawn. Thanks, JJ and thanks Joy.

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