Fast Five in Search – Week 8, 2014

fast-five

 

Howdy search fans! I’ve been busy researching lots of new juicy links for your viewing pleasure this week. The theme for the week is social, social and yet more social.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Social Media Stats Update 2013 by PewResearch. If you’re like me, you’re always chasing the latest Internet usage stats for an article, post or presentation. While looking for stats on social media last week, I found PewResearch had the most up to date data I could find, plus a free detailed downloadable report. For example, did you know that 73 percent of online adults now use a social networking site of some kind?

2) Free Social Media Analytics Reports by Simply Measured. Speaking of free data, if you like number crunching and deep social data analysis, check out Simply Measured’s free Social Media Analytics reports for Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Their Twitter Follower Report will download data on up to 10,000 followers of any public Twitter account. You can then import the data into Excel and do a deep dive into the current extent of your social reach and engagement – and better still – the untapped potential you have to grow it.

3) Social Media / Digital Stats by Digital Marketing Ramblings. Keeping with our theme of social stats, I stumbled upon this little gem of a blog while yak shaving. Editor Craig Smith pulls together original and curated news, tips and stats in the social media and digital space. If you’re looking for some offbeat stories in social, this is a great starting point.

4) Twitter Search by Topsy. We all died a little inside when Twitter and Google announced the end of their search relationship in 2011, signalling the end of Google’s Real Time search and the ability to search the full historical Twitter archive.  But did you realize that Topsy has always had this privilege? Apart from giving you the ability to search all public tweets since 2006, Topsy indexes and ranks search results from various social networks, based upon the most influential conversations about specific terms, topics, pages or domains queried. If that’s not enough to convince you, think about this: Apple acquired Topsy for over $200 million late last year.

and finally…

5) Beginner’s Guide to Social Media by Moz. Whether you’re a social media newbie or just looking to brush up on your social skills, this Moz Guide will teach you a thing or two. You can download it as a PDF or view it all online.

See you next week!

Happy reading!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Everything You Wanted to Know About Google Hummingbird But Were Afraid to Ask

Google-HummingbirdBased on a few emails I’ve had this week and some comments left on Sarah’s last Fast Five in Search post, it’s apparent that some of you are still confused about Google Hummingbird and what it means for your site’s performance in Google.

I’ve gathered together some of the key points and added some of my own insights below to try and shed some light on the issue.

Google Hummingbird: A Summary

  • Hummingbird is an entirely new search algorithm, representing the most major change to the Google search engine since 2001.
  • Google has been using Hummingbird since late August, but only announced it in late September.
  • The new algorithm helps Google sort through “conversational search” faster and better understand the context of the conversation. Conversational search has natural language processing and semantic search built into it. For example you can now *speak your search* on Chrome and it will repeat it back to you before displaying contextual search results related to your query. You can then extend your search “conversation” by asking further questions in a way you can’t do with regular search, e.g. using shortcuts that reference your previous query. Often, information cards will be shown alongside search results.
  • Hummingbird focuses better on the meaning behind the words based on the context of the search query and the searcher. In particular, Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. Hummingbird is designed to apply the meaning technology to billions of pages from across the web, in addition to Knowledge Graph facts which should provide better, richer results.
  • Hummingbird now allows Google to be better at relationally linking search queries and Web documents which means that its Knowledge Graph has been considerably enriched.
  • Hummingbird focuses on user intent versus individual search terms.
  • Google will likely use Hummingbird to better process social signals and this could turn out to be a major SEO ranking factor in the near future.

Key Examples of Hummingbird at Work

  • A search for “acid reflux prescription” used to list a lot of drugs, which might not be necessarily be the best way to treat the disease. With Hummingbird, Google says results have information about treatment in general, including whether you even need drugs, such as a “treatment for acid reflux” article posted by the Mayo Clinic.
  • Another example: Today I searched for “What can I take to help me sleep?” on Google.com. I noticed that nearly half of the top 10 results were Q & A or *How To* style articles. I also noticed that suggested medicines treatments featured more prominently than they used to (see screen shot below):

hummingbird-search-screenshot2
Google Hummingbird: Key Takeaways

  • SEO is now less about keyword data and more about customer engagement.
  • As a result of Hummingbird, SEO strategy has become more about creating quality, engaging, shareable, linkable content within a logical context (i.e. using semantic markup and natural language). The aim is to become an information hub and trusted source. This can be achieved by answering searcher questions and creating content that emulates those information cards that Google supplies in response to conversational search.
  • Hummingbird and the increase of *Not Provided* (hidden keyword) data means you now have to measure the success of your web site via the entry pages and the number of pages receiving organic referrals i.e. It is now critically important that your website answers questions for end users. Content that answers specific questions will be critical for Hummingbird success. Websites can’t grow their entrance pages without introducing new content regularly.
  • It’s now less about the keyword and more about the intention behind it. Not having keywords provided in analytics makes it harder to discover customer intent, but we can get clues about that by monitoring visitor pathways on our sites and actively engaging with customers on social media and other channels.
  • Google’s saying there’s nothing new or different that SEOs or publishers need to worry about. Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and better ways.
  • If you haven’t lost traffic in the past two months, you probably came through Hummingbird unscathed as it went live about 2 months ago.
  • There’s been no major outcry among webmasters that they’ve lost rankings. This seems to support Google saying this is very much a query-by-query effect, one that may improve particular searches — particularly complex ones — rather than something that can cause major traffic shifts.

BUT:

David Amerland, search engine expert and author of *Google Semantic Search* says Google’s move toward semantic search will benefit SEO practices:

“Google has increased its ability to deal with complex search queries which means that it also has got better at indexing entities in Web documents. From a strategy point of view this opens the horizon for companies and webmasters considerably. From a practical perspective, the need to identify the USP of each business and become authoritative within it is now a key criteria for continued SEO success. The comparison element that has been integrated suggests that semantic mark-up may begin to confer an advantage now when it comes to helping index information in products and services.”

He emphasizes the importance of content not being left in isolation, but instead shared across social networks via identified influencers:

“This is not something that can or will happen at the drop of a hat,” said Amerland, “It requires time and commitment to building a relationship with influencers and sharing with them content that is of real value to their network.” Quick SEO, according to Amerland, “Is now firmly in the past.”

Google Hummingbird: Changes You Should Make Immediately as a Result

So exciting improvements for searchers, but where does that leave you? Here are some recommended changes you can and should be making to your web sites as a result of Hummingbird:

1) Add Question Answer Pattern Content (e.g. like you find on a Q & A page or a Facebook comment thread )

2) Set up a Google+ page for your business if you haven’t already done so.

3) Implement Google Authorship on your site/blog and link it to your Google+ page.

4) Use Schema Mark Up for any rich technical data on your site, such as product specifications, dosage instructions and garment sizing.

5) Ramp up your social marketing activity to take advantage of Google’s new conversational search skills and make sure you cross-promote your social channels with your main web site content.

6) Implement Mobile SEO Tactics (e.g. increase load speed, reduce file sizes, increase mobile content)

7) Increase the Domain Authority of Your Site  (via more incoming links)

8) Add new content to your site REGULARLY. The addition of new content is now absolutely vital to online marketing efforts in a post-Hummingbird environment. If you can’t add fresh data to your web site on a regular basis, get ready to wave to your competitors as they go sailing past you towards the top of the SERPs.

Speed is of the essence. This information is only just filtering out into the SEO world. The sooner you can respond with Hummingbird-friendly content, the more traffic you’ll get before your competitors will even know what’s hit them.

Questions? Comments? Please add to this thread.

Key Sources for This Post:

http://searchengineland.com/google-hummingbird-172816

http://searchengineland.com/hummingbird-has-the-industry-flapping-its-wings-in-excitement-reactions-from-seo-experts-on-googles-new-algorithm-173030

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2298881/What-Not-Provided-Google-Hummingbird-Mean-for-Small-Business-SEO

http://www.sitepronews.com/2013/10/18/googles-hummingbird-update-5-changes-need-implement/

http://searchengineland.com/what-everybody-missed-about-hummingbird1-176031

 

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Factbrowser: the research discovery engine

Blog imageYou might remember a couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece about How to Find Compelling Internet Statistics?

Well after that post I heard from Keith Anderson who wanted to introduce me to a site he founded called Factbrowser.com.

Keith created Factbrowser about a year ago to help people discover the most compelling new research about technology, business, consumers, specific regions and the Internet.

The site is totally free, and it’s updated daily with new reports from hundreds of credible sources like Nielsen, NPD, IDC, Pew, gathered from press releases, social media posts and newsfeeds.

The entire database is searchable and filterable by topic, source and region, so you can narrow down the most relevant research quite quickly. It also uses quite a detailed topic tagging system if you like that sort of thing.

Each snippet of data also has social sharing buttons in case you want to share it with your online community with one click. But what I find best of all about the site is that the source of the data is clearly highlighted in red, together with a link to their web site and Twitter account if available.

Great job Keith and thanks for sharing.

 

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Facebook *Likes* Bing and the Feeling’s Mutual

facebook like in bing serp

Following on from their recent partnership with Facebook, Bing have introduced some new social search enhancements to their search results this week.

Now if you conduct a search on Bing and your search results include a specific link that has also been “liked” by your Facebook friend Jane Doe, a “Jane Doe Liked This” message will be highlighted within the Bing search results page.

You can see the *liked* feature highlighted in the attached SERP screengrab (click to zoom).

From Bing’s official blog post:

“Over the last several weeks, we introduced the new *Liked* results feature that uses the basis of your query to surmise your intent and surface relevant stories or websites that your friends on Facebook have liked with a nice answer, called out somewhere on the page. Based on the positive customer feedback, we are taking this feature a step further expanding the results to include even more sites.”

The feature is part of Bing’s new approach to integrate social signals into their algorithm to enhance the searcher’s overall experience.

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First Tweets After the Christchurch Earthquake

earthquake tweetsAs I mentioned in my blog post yesterday about the Christchurch earthquake, I used Twitter as my sole source of information during the disaster.

I jumped on Twitter about 20 minutes after it happened, as did many people throughout Christchurch and the rest of New Zealand. But what amazed me was that some Christchurch tweeps managed to jump onto their Twitter account DURING the quake itself and tweet from under their tables and doorways.

The fact that people were putting their Twitter addiction above their personal safety is a bit alarming, but it’s also an incredible endorsement of Twitter and brings home the impact of social media as a whole on our psyche.

I think back to the last earthquake I witnessed first-hand, the 1989 Newcastle, Australia earthquake (which was only a Richter magnitude 5.6 by the way, making this week’s earthquake 15 times stronger!) and the only connection I had to other people affected by the quake was over the neighbor’s fence until the power came back on a few hours later and the TV reports started dribbling in. Phones were jammed, information was scarce and nobody seemed to really know what happened for hours and hours.

The ability for us to receive news and summon emergency resources instantly is one of Twitter’s best, albeit accidental, advantages. It goes beyond the boundaries of social media and becomes a vital communications tool. Even with all the clever applications that have been developed using the Twitter API, the impact of Twitter’s original functionality in emergency situations like the Christchurch earthquake cannot be underestimated.

I’ve been collecting the first 3 tweets from people after (and even during!) the quake. Emotions were running high, so the f-bomb features in some. If you’re a prude, you might want to look away now. I have linked to the actual tweets as well so you can see their time stamps.

First Tweets After Earthquake at 4.35am, Saturday 4 September 2010:

From: @kalena

  • QUAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (http://bit.ly/davzRM)
  • Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck 7.2 earthquake 30 km from here. We are camping in car right now (http://bit.ly/aEtwO4)
  • Quite a bit of damage to our house I fear. Glass breaking, lots of things falling as we ran out. What a horrible way to wake up #earthquake (http://bit.ly/bvkdCO)

From: @polarbearfarm

From: @swiftynz

From: @kylierichardson

From: @zurtle

From: @lilGin

  • And the one day I don’t charge my phone we lose all power. Fuck you Murphy and your laws! #earthquake (http://bit.ly/cTYp4u)
  • My living area/kitchen smells like a mixture of peaches, pickles, some sort of vinegar type substance. #earthquake (http://bit.ly/d7H5H2)
  • Bet people are wishing they had thought about how to “get thru”. I am. We don’t even have batteries! #earthquake (http://bit.ly/cISpTa)

From: @serenity22

  • just got power back in Riccarton/Ilam #nzeq (http://bit.ly/aoH1ge)
  • @MsPraxis  – all ok, no damage to the house apart from some hairline cracks in ceiling. bit of breakage, nothing major. shocks still coming (http://bit.ly/bf7oG0)
  • had to go find the old fixed line phone to save the cell (http://bit.ly/cpg84W)

From: @crashhelmet

From: @benkepes

From: @kevinnz

From: @Aupajo

From: @kiwiscotsman

From: @bronmarshall

From: @Craig_Forster

From: @rachel_a

From: @mrsgooding

From: @kiwichrish

From: @NatashaUtting

From: @matt_dempsey

From: @Motmunter

From: @kcolbin

  • @rachel_a Thanks, girl! You ok after this morning’s adventures? (http://bit.ly/b6kFLq)
  • Power back on now. Holy moley, that was scary :(  (http://bit.ly/bWFghd)
  • @rachel_a Dang, I should go to Fava! Good idea! We’ve got power back now, had been cooking up a storm in our campervan :-)  (http://bit.ly/csQL5q)

More will be added as they come in.

What were your first 3 tweets after the quake? If you want to contribute, please @reply me links to them at @kalena with #firstthreetweets as your hashtag or simply add links to them in the comments below.

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