So, you’re hearing the ginormous buzz about Google’s biggest algorithm overhaul since 2001, with terms like “writing for user intent” being thrown around. But what on earth does this Hummingbird thing mean for your business, anyway?
What is Hummingbird?
The Hummingbird algorithm offers a more natural way to use search engines. It’s a more human way to interact with users and provide a more direct answer. The algorithm can make use of more complex search requests and has a better understanding of the concept of human language, rather than a few scattered words. This new algorithm is a big step forward in for the Internet as searches will be more “human friendly” than ever. The algorithm is designed for conversational or semantic search. Google uses its knowledge graph to answer questions that users type as a query.
When did this all start?
Google didn’t officially announce the Hummingbird upgrade until September 26, 2013—which also happened to mark Google’s 15th birthday. They announced simultaneously that the update had actually been live since the fourth of week of August. The collective “a-ha!” that followed was from millions of confused marketers still scratching their heads as to why August site visits had plummeted.
What did the algorithm change?
Hummingbird’s purpose is to make “results even more useful and relevant, especially when you ask Google long, complex questions.” If site visits from Google plummeted following the release of the Hummingbird update, then it stands to reason that your site was punished because it couldn’t fulfill these long, complex questions.
Consider: Most people are searching Google from a mobile device, using their voices instead of their thumbs. User queries have evolved from simple keywords, like “Eiffel Tower,” to advanced, nuanced requests like “is the Eiffel Tower open for visitation on Christmas?” The content of pages must therefore evolve with Google. Search engine optimization (SEO) can no longer rely on keywords alone in online content. It must include the same level of complexity and nuance a human would.
Is anyone benefitting from this algorithm change? Anyone??
Yes. Blogs, especially company blogs, have a habit of asking a question (and then answering that question) on every post. Blogs also have a habit of updating their pages frequently. The combination of those two facts has meant blogs are among the biggest reaper of Hummingbird’s rewards. If your site doesn’t have a blog, consider a Frequently Asked Questions page. Or better yet—look at each page of your website and consider thoughtfully, what question(s) does this page answer?
What can I do to please Hummingbird?
Increase your site speed.
Google is about getting results to its users fast. Any monkey wrenches in your site’s gears have the potential to remove it from organic results.Optimize your site for mobility. Search for your site on an Android or iOS device. If it isn’t mobile friendly, then you’re already behind the curve.
Not just images, but high-quality images, with optimized alt text and file names.
Look at suggestions in the Google Search bar.
This sounds so simple, and yet it gets ignored so frequently. As you type out a long, complex question into the search bar, how does Google finish that sentence? If Google’s suggestions to an unfinished question differ sharply from how you would have finished the sentence, then you and Google need to get on the same page.
This won’t apply to everyone, but if your business is customer-driven and it needs traffic through the door, then claim your local page on Google+ and post from it frequently. Google loves it when you play its shiny new toys, and Google+ local pages are the shiniest new toys on the block. Think Buzz Lightyear, only hotter.
Institute site search.
If your website has hundreds of pages, or is user-unfriendly, or unnavigable—or all of the above—then please get yourself a site search bar. Not only will it help users find the specific pieces of content they want, but it will help you identify what all those visitors to your site are really after. Specificity and correctness are like catnip to Hummingbird. Apply it liberally.
What else can I do to please Hummingbird?
You can speak Google language, which Google refers to as rich snippets. I’m sure your asking yourself, “Google-rich snippets? What the heck are those?” They’re awesome things that can help you improve your SEO. Bet I got your attention now, right?
Google-rich snippets extract information from your website to display on your site’s listing in the search results, in addition to the typical page title, page URL, and meta description. This extra information can include photos, ratings, author information, and more.
Rich snippets are often overlooked in businesses’ SEO strategies because they are more difficult to implement than traditional on-page SEO strategies. But it would be well worth your while to spend a little time learning how to do this. Adding this content-rich information to your Google search listings draws the eye and can increase your listings’ click-through rates by 30%, even when you’re not in the No. 1 position.
What types of rich snippets are there?
- Author Snippets
- Business and Organization Snippets
- Event Snippets
- Music Album Snippets
- People Snippets
- Product Snippets
- Recipe Snippets
- Review Snippets
- Video Snippets
What about [not provided]? I keep seeing that in Google Analytics?
Two years ago Google announced that when a user is signed into Google, any keyword they query will no longer be provided as data to the website the keyword led them to. Instead, these visits would be displayed in Google Analytics under the keyword “(not provided)”.
Why did Google make these changes?
Well Google is a business, and pays close attention to its bottom line. It cannot continue to give away its most prized data for free. By anonymizing organic keyword traffic, Google is hoping to push SEO toward PPC instead, because paid keyword traffic doesn’t have the same privacy protections as organic traffic.
How does this effect PPC?
Millions of businesses base their paid advertising on keywords. In other words, they pay Google to display their site in search results for certain search terms. For example, if you search for “garden gnomes” and my company sells garden gnomes, then I might want to set up an ad for my garden gnome website that will display on your computer screen or mobile device whenever you search for that phrase. Since I only pay Google when you click on my ad, it behooves me to know which keywords are leading to sales of garden gnomes and which ones aren’t. The moral of the story is that sites using Google AdWords will continue to receive full keyword data.
How can I tell if my search is secure?
Secure search pages are those with an S hidden in the URL. The S stands for Secure, and guarantees you that data sent between the website and your computer is encrypted.
- Normal (http://) Google search result:
- Secure (https://) Google search result:
Tell-tale signs your webpage might be Secure:
- You’re signed into a Google account –Gmail, YouTube, Google Reader, Google Drive, Analytics, AdWords or Google+ account.
- You’ve just signed out of a Google account (you will remain on a secure page).
- You’re using Firefox 14 or above, which turns all Google searches secure.
What can we do about (not provided)?
There are some helpful guides to attempt to make sense of (not provided) and obtain some actionable data from your site visits:
Is there anything else I should know?
Don’t Panic! SEO is a journey, not a destination. Months or years from now, Google’s algorithm will change again, and Splash Media will be here to help you understand it and make it work for you.
Vegas! The name alone conjures up images of flash and glitz, with everything over the top and nightlife that never quits. If you’re lucky enough to be heading to the Search Marketing Expo Conference in Las Vegas, you owe it to yourself to indulge in some of the local color. While you’re there, be sure to check out at least one of these amazing shows.
1. Mystère™ by Cirque du Soleil®: Nearing its 20th anniversary in Vegas, Mystère features all the athleticism, imaginative imagery, and boundary-pushing circus acts that you’d expect from the wonderful Cirque du Soleil. Mystère was the first Cirque du Soleil production in Vegas, and it remains a crowd-pleaser, with thrills, comedy, and a music that mixes elements of styles as diverse as rock, Celtic, African, and soul.
2. Criss Angel® Believe™ from Cirque du Soleil: Just when you thought Cirque du Soleil couldn’t push boundaries any further, here is collaboration with a magician well known for his showmanship and artistry. The atmosphere is dark with gothic overtones that are reminiscent of old-fashioned circuses and carnivals, and Angel’s running commentary keeps things interesting. If you’re looking to be amused and amazed by a show that’s larger than life, this is the show for you.
3. Michael Jackson ONE: Missing the King of Pop? This show takes his No. 1 hits, adds original recording studio master tapes from his estate, and mixes it all together with a healthy dose of Cirque du Soleil. The result is a heartfelt tribute to a legendary artist, showcasing his innovative spirit and honoring his legacy.
4. Blue Man Group: A Vegas crowd-pleaser for years, Blue Man Group is now at the Monte Carlo. Featuring robots and surprise audience participation, this show about social networking and the life of the brain is not just about rollicking good fun, it’s the most intelligent Blue Man show you’ve ever seen.
5. Penn and Teller: For a magic show that breaks all the rules, there’s not much better than Penn and Teller. An edgy show unlike any other, Penn and Teller’s performance relies heavily on audience interaction. Offering tricks that range from the fascinating to the macabre, this show will leave you intrigued and entertained.
6. Jabbawockeez: Fans of “America’s Best Dance Crew” won’t want to miss this amazing show by America’s favorite faceless dance crew. Wearing white masks and gloves, the Jabbawockeez divert attention away from individual dancers, creating a visual representation of the music that emphasizes unity. “PRiSM,” the group’s new show at the Luxor, is entertainment that will make you want to get up and dance.
7. Jersey Boys: If you want A-list entertainment, but you’re on a budget, Jersey Boys may fit the bill. Right now, tickets for this show are slightly lower than others you might come across, but it’s one of the best shows you’ll see! Telling the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, it’s more than just a nostalgic look at a bygone era of American pop culture; it’s an endearing story of blue-collar kids reaching for their dreams, told through the band’s hit songs and an amazing cast.
8. Evil Dead – The Musical: If you like your musicals with a little less nostalgia, and a little more campy cult-horror action, you can’t miss this one. A 4D theatrical experience, complete with a “splatter zone,” Evil Dead – The Musical combines elements of three classic cult-horror films (Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness) and serves up some bloody, zany, zombie fun. An interactive show, Evil Dead is full of laughs and surprises.
9. ABSINTHE: If you’re ready to get a little crazy, you might want to head over to Caesars Palace for ABSINTHE, one of the wildest shows on the Strip! Transporting audiences to the Moulin Rouge with its colorful, kitschy set, ABSINTHE features an adults-only, circus-style spectacular that features old world burlesque and outrageous comedy. This show is not for the timid, but if you’re looking for something daring, racy, and over the top, this may be the one.
10. Mac King Comedy Magic Show: If you like your shows a little more clean-cut than wild, you’ll have a great time at the Mac King show. Located at Harrah’s, ad playing at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, this show is funny, clever, and clean, with good magic!
Of course, the biggest show in town might just be the Search Marketing Expo Conference itself! This two-day conference is rich with tactics, inspirational experts, and opportunities to learn more about how to use social marketing successfully. Learn the secrets of more than 40 seasoned brand marketers and social media experts; get inspired by keynote speaker Peter Stringer, the Boston Celtics’ Senior Director of Interactive Media; and spend some time networking, engaging with and learning from others in your industry.
Make the most of your time by engaging online as well, even before you get there! Join the Facebook SMX Fan Page, connect with the SMX group on LinkedIn, join the Google+ page to network with other attendees and keep up with announcements, use Foursquare to find all the exciting SMX venues, events, parties, and more, and pin down all the info you need by following SMX on Pinterest. Make sure to tell the world you’re attending SMX by using #smx on Twitter, and keep up before during and after the conference by following the SMX Twitter feed. No matter how you choose to entertain yourself and engage, the Search Marketing Expo Conference is sure to be an event to remember!
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People in the Philippines continue to struggle mightily in the devastating aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (known as “Yolanda” in that country), which resulted in the catastrophic loss of shelter, basic necessities and life. With a preliminary death toll of thousands in Tacloban alone and areas of Central Philippines close to completely leveled, Filipinos have used social media in an effort to keep the global community informed of their dire needs.
Social Media and Crisis Intervention
From missing persons to depleting medical supplies, the devastation in the island nation became immediately evident. But in the age of smartphones and social media help is always just a click away. From Google’s crisis tools to Facebook status updates, Filipinos who have found ways to get online have been able to reach out, and the global response has been overwhelming. Here are some ways in which the social community has been instrumental in communicating needs and aiding rescue and relief efforts following Typhoon Haiyan.
- Google crisis tools. Google has proved helpful in the efforts to find missing family members and locating relief efforts during significant natural disasters in recent years, and Haiyan is no exception. Google’s crisis page for this disaster includes a map indicating where families can find hospitals, relief drop-off stations, areas of calamity and command posts with vital information, as well as a list of organizations that are accepting donations for the Philippines relief efforts. They are also giving relief grants to non-government organizations working in the affected areas.
- Google Person Finder online. Perhaps the most critical tool of all has been the Google Person Finder database. Anyone can use Google Person Finder from anywhere in the world to search for missing loved ones, or they can enter information about people found in the Philippines. The Person Finder tool hosts more than 40,000 records of missing people, making it a vital tool for search-and-rescue efforts.
- Facebook and Twitter. In the Philippines, people who were able to get a signal and had access to working phones took to their devices and immediately began to reach out to the international community via Facebook and Twitter. One woman, tagging a local journalist and the rest of the world media, brought the little-known village of Estancia to the world’s attention, alerting them of the dire situation there.
- Power of geotagging. Communities shared photos, status updates and tweets, geotagging posts and thanking the global community for their prompt response, sharing news about people lost and people found—sometimes good news, other times sad—and telling the world specifically what their immediate and long-term needs are.
What Can You Do to Help?
Social media has made it simple to make even the smallest donation. Facebook, for instance, has added a “Donate $10” button to the top of the news feed that users see upon logging in, in an effort to collect funds for the Red Cross—but there’s much more you can do.
- Join relief efforts in your community. Chances are nonprofits, community organizations or church groups are conducting donation drives for those affected in the Philippines. Don’t just donate to those groups—be an active part of them.
- Donate while online shopping. Find out which stores are donating portions of their sales to the Haiyan relief efforts and do your holiday shopping there. You can also donate to organizations online, such as the World Food Programme, the Red Cross and UNICEF.
- Take relief into your own hands. Are there no groups in your area putting together relief packages? Start one in your community. Organize a local drive or go to your neighbors, families and friends and gather supplies to donate. If you’re not sure that will work, there is an organization called ShelterBox USA, which creates emergency survival kits to give to people in disaster-stricken areas. The kits include, among other things, water and tents. Visit ShelterBoxUSA.org for more information.
- Join online relief efforts. If you’re a programmer, go on Geeklist and find out how your skills can be used to help clear the lines of communication in the Philippines. If you have many followers on social media, be sure to share posts coming across your feeds that could be essential for relief efforts. Be sure they are geotagged so those keeping track of social media in the Philippines can pass on critical information quickly.
This is merely a small sampling of the many relief efforts designed to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and how social media is helping those in need. How can you use social media to help those in need? Look no further than your fingertips. We are in a marvelous time where with just your cellphone you can make an impact.
There’s a new debate in social media, and you’ve probably seen it taking over your office and news feeds: Movember vs. No-Shave November. The beard or the ’stache? Both campaigns are monthlong. Both advocate the growing of facial hair. Both raise awareness of men’s health issues. But which campaign is the real man in town? Let’s break it down.
No shocker here, Movember is a portmanteau word from moustache and November. Started in 2003 in Melbourne, Australia, Movember is an official global charity working to raise funds and awareness to combat prostate and testicular cancer as well as mental health challenges. How to raise awareness? With the most dominate mustache your manhood can produce! Everyone wants to talk to the man bold enough to sport the coveted ‘stache. It might be one of nature’s greatest conversation starters. So men around the world are encouraged to grow moustaches during the month of November. By growing new moustaches, our mustached brethren, aka “MoBros,” bring much needed awareness to men’s health issues by prompting conversations wherever they go.
It’s never too late to join the cause and show your upper lip’s masculinity to the world! Join in on social media, participate in the Moscars, or just support the some official Movember partners. All the details are below.
- #Movember, #MoBro & #MoSistas
- Movember Twitter
- Movember Facebook
- Movember YouTube
- Movember Instagram
- Movember Pinterest
The Moscars – the annual video awards extravaganza where MoBros and MoSistas can submit video entries on three different themes and win awards.
Partnerships – Movember has partnered with Toms the past four years to create special edition shoes. Google Chrome has also partnered with Movember to create a video that features actual participants, and how they utilized the web and Movember.com to raise awareness and funds for their chosen cause.
No-Shave November is newer than Movember, but it’s also connected to the American Cancer Society. Started in 2009, No-Shave November is another ultra-manly way to raise cancer awareness. So what can draw more attention than a refined mustache? Some might argue a burley mountain man’s beard. So grow awareness by letting your hair grow wild and free! And don’t forget, No-Shave November goes beyond the manly beard; ladies can participate too (and men won’t be excited about it). Women can let their legs get hairy or skip waxing. If you’re not into getting hairy for a whole month, you can find No-Shave merchandise such as T-shirts, wristbands and stainless steel water bottles on the website. You can also set up No-Shave teams through the American Cancer Society website to raise funds as part of a group or as an individual. Check out our Splash Media team here: Splash No-Shave November team
So are you ready to let your beard speak for itself? Let it grow and let it show with the social information posted below.
- Hashtags – #LetItGrow, #No_Shave * #NoShaveNovember
- No-Shave November Twitter
- No-Shave November Facebook
These campaigns have gained momentum on a global scale, and companies have joined in the fun. It seems like every company makes donations during the holiday season, but there is no reason that your company can’t be a part of the craze while giving back to a good cause. It’s a fun break for your office, an interesting conversation starter with your clients, and can be great PR pieces for your company. You can even theme your company’s marketing efforts around these macho causes. Growing awareness for a cause can always be leveraged as a great way to grow awareness for your company. If you need ideas on how your company could leverage a cause like cancer awareness for your business, just follow our lead. Our Facebook page has been filled with fun content this month, and so has our blog.
So it doesn’t really matter whether you choose to participate in Movember or No-Shave November, so long as you do something to help raise cancer awareness. November used to be known for Thanksgiving, pumpkins, leaves falling and cold weather … and now it’s about facial hair and cancer awareness as well. So toss that razor aside, get your friends and coworkers involved, and stand out from the crowd while keeping your face warm.
Are you participating in No Shave November or Movember this month to help raise awareness and funding for men’s prostate cancer research? Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and join in the conversation by using #NoShaveNovember and #SplashMedia! You can also help us donate to the American Cancer Society HERE.
Veterans Day is an official federal holiday celebrated on November 11 every year to honor men and women who have served in the armed services. It also commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I and was originally celebrated, and still is in some countries, as Armistice Day. In Canada, today is known as Remembrance Day, also to commemorate the end of the World Wars and other wars.
Today is a great opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifice of veterans. And if you want to do that online through social media, then here are some links, hashtags and Twitter handles you’ll want to know:
How to honor military veterans in social media:
- #HonoringVets & #VeteransDay – hashtags to use across all social media sites
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website
- @DeptVetAffairs – the Department of Veterans Affairs Twitter Handle.
- 5 Ways to Highlight Veterans Day on Social Media – an Army SlideShare presentation showcasing ways to give thanks to veterans through social media.
- U.S. Military on Facebook – a Facebook page to connect veterans and families with community and career resources.
- A Nation Gives Thanks – a Facebook page to give thanks to military personnel in your life.
- Thank You for My Freedom – the National WWII Museum site that offers several ways to say thank you, with words, photos or video, which you can then share to Twitter and Facebook directly.
Big brands are also using social media to honor veterans. Now that social media has become integrated into the marketing structure, how can you not make holidays like Veterans Day part of your conversation? Here are a few brands that are off to an early start this Veterans Day:
Starbucks is offering a free, tall coffee to all veterans and active military.
Coke offers up a simple Facebook thank you with the appropriate hashtag and a nice, bold image. Respectful and tasteful (pun intended).
Whataburger displays a more branded message of thanks with their spicy ketchup in the arms of a member of the military.
LinkedIn unveils a new website dedicated to veteran job seekers to make it easy for veterans to develop their professional identities, networks, and career opportunities.
Do you feel warmer toward brands that acknowledge Veterans Day? Will you use Facebook, Twitter or other social media networks to send thanks to our veterans?
Image from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
8 Animals Celebrating No-Shave November
The animal kingdom has decided to join in on No-Shave November!
- This Baboon dares you to comment on his goatee.
- This Miniature Schnauzer has embraced his facial hair to the max but has employed a human to regularly comb out any food crumbs.
- Le Goat maintains that this is NOT a goatee … it’s a chin puff or a barbiche.
- A Walrus mustache is nothing to bellow about.
- The Lemur has decided to sport a balbo or chin curtain to show his support.
- The Markhor shows us his best side for his goatee shot.
- Emperor Tamarin doesn’t see how anyone can top his multi-tiered handlebar.
- The Bison is baffled by all these pretenders; he knows what truly hairy is.
What is No-Shave November? It is a unique way to raise awareness for cancer. Cancer patients lose hair, so the goal of this month is to raise awareness by having everyone embrace hair, to let it grow wild and free. Donate the money you usually spend on shaving and grooming for a month to educate others about cancer prevention, save lives, and aid those fighting the battle. Join the Splash No-Shave November team as we collect donations for the American Cancer Society.
Are you participating in No Shave November or Movember this month to help raise awareness and funding for men’s prostate cancer research? Create your own milk mustache picture to upload to your Instagram account and share it with us by using #NoShaveNovember and #SplashMedia! You can also help us donate to the American Cancer Society HERE.
SeaWorld is receiving a backlash of public commentary after the documentary film Blackfish aired on CNN. Below are tweets from some celebrities who have spoken out after seeing the documentary.
You can go to http://www.backblackfish.com/ to see what other celebrities are saying. Seeing how this has played out—and the way SeaWorld has handled this social crisis, going as far as disabling commenting on its Facebook page, according to U-T San Diego—has prompted everyone here at Splash Media Group to revisit how situations like this should be handled. In the fast-paced, real-time world of social media, it can sometimes be difficult to manage the amount of data moving across all platforms in a timely manner. So what are our suggestions for handling a social crisis of this magnitude that arbitrarily takes over all your social networks?
First, we highly discourage the practice of disabling commenting. Users should be invited into your social ecosystem and be allowed to voice their concerns freely—and know that they are being heard. If you prevent users from doing so, they will just end up on another platform where you are unable to control the flow of the conversation and quickly respond to concerns.
Second, blocking users should only be done if they are making illegal threats, and such activity should be reported to the appropriate law enforcement officials. This should, however, be handled delicately and only as a last resort.
Third, in a crisis situation that causes a tidal wave of comments being directed at you on any social media platform, you should very delicately address the issue once and then move on. Continually trying to respond to every single comment can only add fuel to the fires and proliferate the negative commentary.
Social media conversations can escalate out of control rather quickly; however, they can also be addressed and managed effectively if handled appropriately and with tact.
These are the recommendations we here at Splash give our clients every day. If you are interested in having a conversation with us about the services we provide, give us a call at 877.768.8317; we’d love to hear from you.
Also in the news today, the team at Michael Kors has a slight social crisis on their hands, as the negative response to their debut as Instagram’s very first ad hits the social media sphere. And the feedback does not look good from the comments we’ve seen so far. Instagram users who found this ad in their feed aren’t too happy about it. If you were Michael Kors, how would you handle this backlash?
Israel Varela is a Digital Marketing Strategist and Account Manager at Splash Media. His expertise extends into all aspects of digital marketing, including search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, social media marketing, mobile marketing, and more.
The goal of most social media marketing is to connect with an audience and spur engagement. Sounds simple, right? Not so much.
There are a lot of moving pieces in this equation. First and foremost, there needs to be good content. Wait, scratch that … there needs to be GREAT, original content; a title that grabs attention and information that others will feel inspired to share. Other aspects to consider are timing and audience; when are the best times to post material on each platform? Which social media platforms do our audience prefer? Oh, and also, is the content optimized to achieve optimal search results?
Software Advice is a company that has partnered with Adobe to uncover the best tactics for optimizing social media content. They came up with the Social Media Content Optimization Survey to gather data and discover which tactics work and which don’t. The brief survey takes no more than 10 minutes to complete. (Click here to take the survey now) The data will consolidate answers to the following questions:
- What tactics are the most popular?
- Are companies successfully reaching their social media marketing goals?
- How often do companies post content to their social media networks?
- How far in advance do you schedule posts?
- How do you determine the optimal times to post?
- What percent of companies use software to manage their social media content?
“There are a lot of conflicting opinions regarding what tactics are best for optimizing content for each social media network. Our hope was to put these arguments to rest by providing data on what really works. You can combat opinions, but no one can argue with facts.” – Ashley Verrill,CRM Analyst, Software Advice
Intriguing, right? It will be interesting to see the results, and Splash Media will share them on this blog. Ideally, this research from Software Advice and Adobe should benefit everyone in the social media sphere. So be sure to make your voice heard—take the Social Media Content Optimization Survey today!