Social media continues to work its way through the business world and it’s now estimated that around 90% of small businesses are actively engaging in some kind of social media activity. But how many of them are going about it in the right manner? And how many of them know the best way to get the most out of their social media usage?
There are certain things that are perfectly at home when posted on your company’s social media networks. Such things as the latest news regarding your brand, interesting articles about subjects in your industry and any job opportunities you might have in your business would fit comfortably into this category. However, there are many more things that have no place here. Here are just a few examples.
Criticism Of A Client Or Customer –
The rise of social media now means that this avenue is a lot of customers’ preferred choice when it comes to making a complaint to a company. However, there is a need to react to these criticisms professionally and not respond in a similar manner to which the complaint is made and make it worse. These online criticisms can be the perfect opportunity for you to show how much your company values its customers and how good you are at customer service; not a chance to let out all of your frustrations.
Personal Anecdotes –
There are two worlds that make up social media; the personal world and the business world. These two should be kept well away from each other and should never be left to intertwine. Your personal friends may enjoy reading about what you get up to in your life away from the office but this will look out of place and inappropriate on your business accounts.
Degrading The Competition –
You may want to do everything you can to get ahead of the competition in your industry, but posting derogatory statements on social media is not the way to go about this. Not only is it completely unprofessional and unbecoming of a successful business, it often back-fires to make you look like the bad guy. For example, the tweet below was posted by South African bank ‘Standard’ about their competitor, FNB, and their recent advertising campaign. However, it was met with backlash from hundreds of FNB customers defending their bank and dismissing Standard as an alternative.
Controversial Opinions –
There is nothing wrong with having an opinion but it is not advisable to make allusions to controversial ones via your business’s social media account. An instance such as this could create irreparable damage to your company’s reputation and could end up going viral for the whole world to see. Incidentally, you should also be very careful about posting provocative opinions on your personal accounts too as it could still harm the business that you are clearly associated with.
Bragging Posts –
It’s one thing to subtly promote some of your products and services via your social channels, but it is totally another to repeatedly brag about any new contracts you have won, any compliments you may have received in the press or just generally how fantastic you are as a business. You may think this is a way to generate more consumer interested but on the whole it generally has the opposite effect. Similarly, it’s just as much of a turn off to other social media users if you are constantly pleading with them to ‘follow’ or ‘like’ your page.
These days Google are rolling out algorithm updates faster than you can say ‘I promise to use Google plus’ and by now they have created quite a zoo of animals that we are all supposed to strive to appease. There is no doubting that Google’s overall goal of making the search process much easier and user friendly is a good thing but it doesn’t half make carrying out SEO a lot tougher for us all.
If this is the first you are hearing of these updates then you are probably suffering heavily in the search engine results because of it and will have also seen drastic decreases in traffic in the last year and a half too. However, those that are aware of these updates may not be entirely sure what they are all about either or how to change their strategy as a result.
So here’s a rundown of four of the biggest updates in the past couple of years and what they targeted.
The initial Panda update was first rolled out in the early months of 2011 and was arguably the first significant step that Google took to make the search world a better place for users. This animal was far from the cute and cuddly, black and white creature that we are used though as it hit a vast number of websites hard and somewhat unexpectedly.
What Did It Target? –
Panda’s main aim was to tackle low quality onsite content that doesn’t provide a very good experience for the user. This includes poorly written content that is obviously produced to trick the search engines, pages with little or no text on them, content that has been copy and pasted from elsewhere on the web and even sites with vast amounts of third party adverts.
How Should I React? –
To avoid being penalised by the on-going Panda updates you need to ensure that the written content on your site is of a good quality. This means that it is both helpful to the user and well-written. You should also ensure that all of your pages have a substantial amount of text on them that is unique to your website only.
Penguin is effectively Panda’s little brother and was initially implemented in April last year. Again it was a big move for Google and caught a lot of webmasters and SEOs off guard; affecting huge numbers of sites around the world.
What Did It Target? –
Whilst Panda concerned itself with onsite quality; Penguin focussed on low quality links coming from external sources. Before this update it was relatively easy to rank highly through buying large amount of links from online link farms. However Penguin soon put pay to that as it targeted sites with large numbers of low quality links and those that were seen to be building links in an unnatural manner.
How Should I React –
To avoid getting hit by Penguin’s sharp beak you should ensure that any link built to your site is from a trusted source with a high authority and not from a spam website. You should also build your links in natural way which includes making sure they are creating using diverse anchor text and that large numbers are not created all at once.
This update is far less well-known in the world of SEO but just as important as the others. Woolly Mammoth was never its official name but it was given to it because of the fact that it focused on stale content. Or, in other words, content that was old and hadn’t moved much.
What Did It Target? –
This hairy update was rolled out to target websites which rarely refreshed their onsite content. Google wants to present sites that offer a valuable user experience and so if one isn’t being regularly updated with fresh and exciting content then it is unlikely to be of use to a wide range of users.
How Should I React? –
The best way to get around the Woolly Mammoth update is to host a blog on your website that is regularly updated with interesting and engaging posts. Therefore whenever the Google spiders crawl your pages they will find new content that they will deem very valuable. Another thing to think about doing is refreshing the rest of your website content every now and again by adding new pages and readdressing the current ones.
This recent update is so called because of the way that it was supposedly rolled out under the radar. However, there has been a lot said about it since its release a couple of weeks ago and, although very few people seem to have seen any change in their statistics, it is definitely worth knowing about.
What Did It Target? –
This was a different kind of update that focussed more the search queries that people are using than the actual websites. It is aimed at changing the way Google understands the meaning of the words that someone is typing and is big step towards semantic search. That is to say that the search engine will start to understand the context of which you are typing in and not just take the words on face value. This is all brought on by the fact that we are now using voice search more and more on our mobile devices.
How Should I React? –
The best way to take advantage of Hummingbird is to craft your content in a way that it can be easily found for different types of requests. Ultimately, you need to ensure that you are writing blog posts which cover a wide range of the different searches that people make. For example, you should include posts with questions in the title which will caterer for people looking for specific pieces of information; as well as posts that use the name of your location to furnish the people searching for phrases such as ‘the best Chinese restaurant in Bristol’.
The updates are coming thick and fast these days but it’s important to keep up to date with what Google has in store next. And remember – don’t feed the animals; they may bite.
Anchor text is a hot topic of discussion in SEO, especially since the rise of content marketing and link building. As the search engines get smarter and smarter to the ways in which we build links to our websites; it is becoming increasingly important to create a diverse backlink profile which uses all kinds of anchor texts. But the debate rages as to just how much of each it is advised to use.
But first, let’s take a step back. Anchor text, for those who are new to link building, is the wording that is used to create a link. For example, when you see writing in a different colour on a page that obviously is acting as a link to another page on the web, the words used to create the link are known as the anchor text.
Anchored In The Past
Back in the day when the practice of SEO was still in its infancy (a rather contaminated time for SEO, some might say) there really weren’t any rules related to anchor text. Sites could go around creating links willy nilly using whatever they wanted in the link text and, on the whole, getting decent results from doing it. If you wanted to rank highly for the search term ‘ingenious cow slippers’ then all you had to do was create hundreds of links using the anchor text ‘ingenious cow slippers’ and hey presto; you found yourself sitting atop the Google-tree like a proud angel during the month of December.
The Need For Diversity
Times change though and boy do they change fast in the world of SEO. Anchor text requires a much more diversified approach these days and those still stuck in the habit of creating multiple ‘keyword rich’ anchor text will have been hit hard by Google’s Penguin update. But what qualifies as diversified anchor text following the recent black and white zoo animal algorithm updates? Well, before we determine that we need to establish the different types of anchor text. These are:
Keyword Anchor Text
Text that uses the keywords you wish to be found for by people looking for your services and products. For example, a book shop that only sells novels around the subject of horses would have ‘horse books’, ‘books on horses’ and ‘horse stories’ in amongst their listed keywords. This type of anchor text is typically overused and Google are continuing to clamp down on this when done in excess.
Branded Anchor Text
This is when you use the name of your company as the text when you create the link. For example, if our book shop mentioned above was called ‘Stable Fables’ then that’s what would be used in branded anchor text.
URL Anchor Text
These are pretty self-explanatory and refer to the use of your website’s URL in any anchor text. ‘www.stablefables.co.uk’ would be a great example, if indeed this was the web address of our fictional horsey book store. The link doesn’t have to lead to this exact page as it could also be used to send people to a specific page within your website that has a slightly extended URL.
Non-descriptive Anchor Text
This is something that used to be seen a lot before SEO became popular and almost became extinct when people decided that keyword anchor text was the way forward. It refers to the use of phrases such as ‘click here’ and ‘more information’ and should still have its place in your back-linking profile.
As mentioned above, the debate rages on about what the mix should be between these four types of anchor text. Whilst almost everybody is sure that all four have their place, there are so many different opinions as to what sort of percentages should be attributed to each type.
The common consensus, and one that I agree with, is that the majority of your links should still use keyword rich anchor text but with one or two provisos. These being that you should avoid overusing any one specific keyword and that you should steer clear of making your anchor text exactly the same as your keywords. Instead, try including a few other words that precede or follow the exact phrase you wish to be found for.
Next should be your branded anchor text. In theory you can afford to use this more often because the search engines are less likely to penalise you for using your company name in your anchor text. That doesn’t mean that you can go to town with it though as it still needs to be used in balance with the other kinds listed above.
If the first two types add up to about 65% of your overall anchor text then the next two should make up the remaining 35%. URL text and non-descriptive phrases will then help to complete a healthy balance of diverse anchor text links, thus making your back-linking profile look much more natural.
I’m sure that this debate is going to continue and there is also likely to be additional algorithm changes that we need to react to. But if you aim to create a range of anchor text that is as divergent as possible then your likelihood of success will drastically increase. Feel free to comment with your own opinions on this hot topic but for now it’s anchors aweigh (sorry).
Link building through content marketing is obviously a big part of SEO and should make up at least some part of your search engine optimisation strategy but it shouldn’t be the be all and end all. Google is placing a lot more emphasis on the onsite optimisation of every website and so this is something that should be looked at closely when deciding on your approach. Any website owner should know that onsite SEO is largely about laying excellent foundations to then go off and start the external optimisation process, but as far as on-going onsite optimisation goes; a company blog is an important element.
Onsite blogs allow Google to see that you are regularly updating your content, which ultimately means you are building a more relevant site in their eyes. Some businesses will already have a blog that they use to its full potential, but many others will have neglected to add this to their strategy or won’t be using it as best they can.
Here are some very common mistakes you could be making with your company’s blog and how to put them straight.
Irrelevant Content –
As well as being the best way to show the search engines that your site is regularly being updated with new content; a well written onsite blog is also a great way of telling Google exactly what your site is about. Therefore if you are not writing your posts on relevant subjects then the search engines will not be able to make a firm connection to what your company does and therefore will not rank you highly in response to a relevant query.
People go to a company’s blog to learn more about their products and services or to maybe get some hints and tips, and so writing about your personal life is not going to go down well.
Inconsistent Updates –
An onsite blog is a great way to engage with your readers and start to form relationships with them, but it is very difficult to do this if you are only updating your posts sporadically. If you do this on a more regular basis then they will begin to get used to when your latest blog is out and go searching for it on that particular day. There is no definite rule for how often you should update but once a week is about right and this will provide a bit of consistency.
Not Including Social Sharing Icons –
Since the rise of social media it has because almost a permanent part of our everyday lives and this has impacted on SEO too. Social activity is now a key indicator of the relevance and popularity of a website and so the more shares you receive on these platforms the better you will be regarded by the search engines. Therefore if you don’t give the readers of your blog the option to share your articles on their social media platforms you are missing out on plenty of opportunities to gain some powerful links.
A lot of companies will have sharing buttons for the big two networks (Facebook and Twitter) but with Google having own social platform, Google +, it would be wise to include this too.
Poor Structuring –
When writing your company blog posts it’s important that they are structured in a way that makes them easy to read and entertaining at the same time. There is no point posting your article in one big chunk of writing because even the most bored person will not take the time to wade their way through it.
It’s a much better idea to structure it in smaller paragraphs and use subheadings to direct people to specific parts of the article. It’s also a good idea to populate your blog posts with other types of media to vary the content a bit and make them more entertaining. This could be through the use of infographics or videos; either on their own or alongside your written content.
There is a lot of speculation about whether bounce rate (the amount of people that leave your site straight away after landing on it) has an impact on SEO rankings, but either way you will want your readers to stay on your site for as long as possible and so you’ll need to keep them interested.
Not Taking Advantage Of Internal And External Linking –
Receiving a link from another powerful and authoritative site on the web is a great way to increase your own site’s popularity with the search engines but you can also use linking to your advantage with your onsite blog. By linking relevant anchor text (the words that make up the link) to different pages on your site you will create simple pathways for your readers to follow as well as building up the internal link profile of your site.
You can also link your article to other websites that are talking about similar topics in order to give your post more weight and make your own internal links look more conspicuous. It’s important to note that excessive linking is not a good idea and so it’s best to keep it to about 2-3 links per 500 word article.
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