17/05/13 - Future-Proofing Against Google’s Summer Panda and Penguin Updates
As discussed in a recent Punch blog post about the upcoming SEO updates to Google, Matt Cutts has announced a number of projects that the search engine is expected to roll out by the end of the summer. Most notable among these were Panda and Penguin algorithm changes.
The latest edition of Panda will focus on websites that sit in the grey area of the algorithm's evaluation. It will consider new and current quality signals within the algorithm's guidelines, softening the impact on sites that may have been part of the update's ‘collateral damage’.
To prepare for this update, it is strongly recommended that you revisit your on-site SEO, especially if you consider your site to be one of those hit unfairly as a result of previous Panda updates. Cutts stated that the change will focus on website quality. Therefore, over-optimisation of keywords or stale, unoriginal content could prevent Google from softening previous blows Panda dealt against your website. With this in mind, check your landing pages against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to encourage a positive evaluation by Google.
The update to Penguin is expected to roll out very soon and will have a deeper impact than previous versions of the algorithm. This will focus on over-optimisation and spam tactics within link building.
If you feel your site is at risk from penalisation from the next Penguin update, it would be advisable to proactively analyse your website's backlink profile before the update hits. When investigating your site's link profile, be aware of over-optimisation of anchor texts and the quality of websites linking to yours.
A well-optimised and natural backlink profile should contain a range of exact, broad, brand and URL anchor texts. Additionally, getting links removed from very low quality, irrelevant websites is also important to ensure that your site will not be penalised. During the process, approach websites for removal of links. If your efforts are unsuccessful, whole domains can be discounted with the Google disavow tool, but this should only be done once other actions have been attempted first!
Following the above advice should help future-proof your site against the upcoming Google algorithm updates.
16/05/13 - Google+ Enjoys A Spring Clean With A Fresh New Look
Stepping out with a redesigned multi-column layout this morning, Google+ has recognised that users are increasingly moving between devices to access the social network and the new layout should make that transition even easier as the new, cleaner interface is much more akin to the mobile apps. With the addition of full-width images and new animations, automatic hashtags, and ranking conversations, Google+ is further cementing its place among the social network giants.
Also unveiled today were useful tools for optimising, highlighting, enhancing and backing up photos:
- Auto Backup does what it says on the tin, with all G+ account holders enjoying free 15GB of storage. Once activated, the network will automatically save images as they are captured on a mobile device.
- Auto Enhance offers the opportunity to enhance photos without the need for additional software.
- Auto Highlight aims to help find favourite images faster by “de-emphasizing duplicates” and low quality snaps.
- Auto Awesome will automatically create a new image from photos you select – this could be a panorama, film strip or even stitching together faces. (I can’t wait to have some fun with this feature…)
Google Hangouts wasn’t left out of the makeover either; with a brand new stand-alone version (available on Android, iOS and desktop) Google claims that messaging will now be “richer and more responsive” and promises to remove “annoying notifications” once they have been viewed on one of your devices. Pushing the new app as a free video calling service, Google is happy to announce that users can keep in touch on any device and “fuhgeddaboudit (the technology, that is)”.
The new look is set to roll out to all users over the coming week.
15/05/13 - Punch Welcomes Matt Sibson (also the man behind the Derek fan site!)
Matt Sibson joined the Punch team this month as an account manager, bringing with him a wealth of writing, marketing and social media experience. We’ve heard he’s a celebrity interviewer in his spare time, so we’ve decided to put him in the spotlight for a change.
What did you do before you joined Punch?
Well, after gaining a first class honours degree in geology, I put it to great use by starting my working life at a regional newspaper. Ok, at age 21 I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I thought a newspaper would at least help me explore a number of disciplines. From business development and promotions to marketing design and feature writing, I worked my way through the industry and gained a huge amount of knowledge and experience. From this I learned that I loved to write and to use social media, not just for personal use, but for campaign building as well. My job only gave me limited opportunity to do these things so I began blogging in my spare time, writing about the things that interested me, while using Twitter and Facebook to promote myself.
What do you blog about?
I first stepped into the blogosphere by writing about the history of Leicestershire. The site, thiswasleicestershire.co.uk, was well received and I enjoyed it, but after running out of what I consider to be interesting content, I turned my attention to another passion – comedy – specifically, Ricky Gervais comedy. The success of what is now a collection of comedy blogs is way beyond what I could ever have hoped for.
Success? Tell us more.
I started blogging about Derek, a comedy-drama on Channel 4 which started in February this year. From the humble beginnings of episode reviews and previews, I worked hard and in less than five weeks I managed to interview the entire cast, including comedy legends Karl Pilkington and Ricky Gervais. I even teamed up with Ricky to run exclusive competitions. The blog, tadpolehitler.com (as bizarre as that sounds) has had nearly a quarter of a million page views in three months and the associated Twitter account has more than 13,000 followers. Facebook was launched much later but I’m already close to 900 likes in only a few weeks.
From tadpolehitler.com sprouted frogfuehrer.com, where I blog about general comedy. Recent interviews include Warwick Davis, Keith Chegwin, Les Dennis and Shaun Williamson, who all starred in the Life’s Too Short BBC special at Easter.
My latest project is equalitystreet.info, a blog dedicated to the music of David Brent from The Office. Ricky Gervais wrote and performed a Brent song for Comic Relief and more video content is coming soon to his new YouTube channel in the coming weeks. I’ve once again teamed up with Ricky for a competition, and my blog stats and Twitter followers are already in the thousands.
It was all about timing with my blogs. I launched them at the right time and then worked hard to create unrivalled content about my chosen subjects.
So what brought you to Punch?
It took nine years since leaving university to find out what it is I wanted to do with my professional life and it wasn’t an education programme or professional experience that showed the way, but my personal blogging and social media exploits. I guess everything leads to something, and my path has led me to Punch. Like I’ve said, I have a passion for writing and for social media, and because I own websites I have a vested interest in SEO too. I enjoy building campaigns and my mind is switched on with the new digital world we live in. Punch offered me the chance to merge my passions and my skills, which is the key to a successful career in my opinion.
Thanks, Matt! We’re a bit star-struck just listening to your adventures. Welcome to the team.
14/05/13 - Upcoming SEO updates to Google
The SEO world sat up and listened yesterday as Matt Cutts took to Google Webmasters YouTube channel to talk about the current SEO trends Google is working on and how they might affect businesses when rolled out.
Cutts mainly focussed on the impending next generation Penguin update. Although this is the fourth update to Google’s onsite algorithm, the overhaul is so extensive that it is known internally at Google headquarters as Penguin 2.0. The update will force a stronger hand on offsite black hat practices and web spam targeting and is expected to roll out in the coming weeks, taking effect by the end of summer. Although the geographic location of the rollout has not been specified, typically Google rolls out updates initially to a US audience, before becoming globally available.
From Penguin to Panda, Cutts also touched upon the impact of the recent onsite updates, felt particularly by borderline websites that are in the ‘grey area’ when it comes to quality. Cutts said that Google is working to refine and soften the blow felt by Panda updates to these sites in order to move them into a place where they are less likely to be affected.
Google continues its fight against spam and black hat SEO tactics, taking a stronger stance on advertorials and spammy queries which violate quality guidelines. Cutts explained that whilst paying for content would not be penalised, it would be evident that the source of such coverage was not organic and this would therefore not impact PageRank. Tackling requests from outside of Google, queries lending themselves to spam, such as pay-day loans, will have a higher level of importance with more focuss placed by Google’s search spam team. This, Cutts explained, is something that Google is looking to implement in the coming weeks.
In addition, Cutts touched upon Google’s intentions to offer a better service for hacked sites, prioritise authorities within specific sectors and communities in its searches and deter link spammers as it continues to work towards more sophisticated link analysis.
Apprehensive about what these changes will mean? We look deeper into how the impending updates may affect businesses in our upcoming blog post. For more information about SEO services, take a look at our SEO agency page.
14/05/13 - Search And Social News Galore – Your Weekly Update
If, like us, you love keeping up to date with all things search and social, you can find the latest industry news every week here on the Punch blog. Or, if you prefer, you can read these stories in our Search Engine Intelligence and Social Media Intelligence reports every Friday – sign up to receive these over at http://bit.ly/SMI-Report and http://bit.ly/SEI-Report.
On the social front, LinkedIn has announced that profiles will now support multimedia portfolios including videos, photos and presentations to showcase professional stories. LinkedIn has also launched a new mobile app – CheckIn. Designed mainly for recruiters, students and recent graduates, the app makes it easier to collect and manage candidate information at events.
YouTube has introduced a paid subscription charge for a select number of its channels to help support quality content. Available on mobile and desktop, prices start from $0.99 (£0.64) and enable users to access full length programmes. Facebook is reportedly integrating video ads within newsfeeds starting from this July. Ads will automatically begin playing when users log in, although Facebook has said each ad will be limited to 15 seconds.
In search-related news, Bing has offered webmasters some advice on enhancing their keyword research techniques. In a recent blog post, the search engine has revealed a new “query v. session” approach, where users link two similar queries to get a broader picture of what searchers are trying to accomplish. The post concludes with Bing asking its users if they would like to see a tool created to manage this.
Also hot off the press, Yahoo is planning to up its game and close the gap with competitors by unveiling new tools for internet search. And, the SEO community has been questioning the possibility of a Google algorithm update following tell-tale signs such as changes in organic search rankings. Google denies any official updates, but also added it could be explained due to the fact it makes over 500 changes, both big and small, a year. The search giant has also quietly dropped its “More results near…” feature within local search to improve user experience with “the goal of more seamless exploration of places.”
09/05/13 - How Facebook Graph Search Affects Local Search Rankings
Facebook Graph Search is a new type of search which is unlike those offered by Google or Bing. Rather than searching for a web page, Facebook Graph Search searches for an entity - a real-world person, place or business and its online representation. Rather than counting links from other web pages, the new social media search ranks online material primarily on the basis of Facebook 'Likes', engagement and similar type of interaction.
This adds a new dimension to Facebook’s searches. As well as factoring in the searcher's location and browsing history, as Google now does, results are also ranked according to 'Likes' and other associations with online friends. Facebook Graph Search puts the search into a personalised social context, as well as a geographical one. In theory, it allows users to seek friends' recommendations without actually having to ask them. Which films have most of my school friends enjoyed recently? Which local electrician is the most popular within my local area? The extent to which the results are weighted by friends' input can be varied by the user, but even a general search will factor it in.
In effect, of course, the results are influenced by factors other than the quality and real-world popularity of the entity in question. Are the user's relevant contacts all active on Facebook? -too the same degree? Do they all 'Like' with the same enthusiasm? Does that electrician have a web presence?
Facebook's hope is that once users realise how powerful this type of search can potentially be, they will be keener to offer up this information to the internet for the benefit of their friends. Businesses should be the first to embrace this new reality. A professional presence on Facebook with clear, up-to-date location information is vital to ensure you show up in any local searches.
SEO for Facebook Graph Search is very much about engagement. Regularly share content relevant to the nature of your business, particularly images and videos. Share in a way that encourages 'Likes' 'Comments' and 'Shares'. Invite users to tag photos, for example. Post quizzes or competitions. Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm uses the volume of responses to determine when your material shows up in other users' news feeds. If you make it your priority to encourage the right, relevant people to positively connect with your brand, the benefits of Facebook Graph Search results will follow.
07/05/13 - Using Press Releases As a Means of Building Links
Commenting on his blog about six months ago, Matt Cutts from Google said “a legit press release can get you written up by reporters, or editors/sites may subsequently choose to link to your site. But the actual content of the press release itself doesn’t directly affect a site.” This subsequently sparked debate and moved SEO professionals to prove that Cutts’ statement wasn’t true; now further proof has been brought to light by an SEO professional named Daniel Tan.
Daniel used a small online newswire (Marketers Media) to publish a piece of content that included the anchor text ‘leasreepressmm’, and this was linked to Matt Cutts’ blog. When Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Land reported this story yesterday, Cutts’ blog was ranking seventh in Google.com for this unusual term which is an anagram of mm press release. Today, I find it at position 20, but Daniel’s experiment certainly contests Google’s view on press release links.
I could also cite a number of keywords across various sectors and their ranking positions that would back up Daniel’s findings because embedding links within newsworthy press releases is one of the many methods we use here at Punch. However - and here’s the important bit - this is a carefully considered tactic and one that is applied sympathetically and appropriately to each of our clients’ specific needs alongside other devices. Successful results are based on the individual website’s backlink profile, the competitiveness of keywords, how and where they are used in the content, the newswires used and the distribution packages purchased and the subject matter of the press release… as you may be gathering, it’s not just a case of embedding a keyword and before you know it you’re at number one in Google. Furthermore, you need to be sure you’re optimising for the right keywords, even if a term is attainable it doesn’t mean it will be beneficial for your business.
Undertaking this or any type of linkbuilding activity must always be considered in a much broader context and as Google’s algorithms change, so too must the optimisation methods. Thankfully for our clients it’s our job to be ahead of the game and SEO is not a game that can be won overnight. If you’re looking for an SEO agency that uses a PR skill set and can also offer insight on up and coming approaches such as the impact of social media on search, contact us for an informal discussion.
03/05/13 - You remember the good old days right?
For a lot of people, bank holiday weekends offer a much-needed opportunity to get away on a short holiday or to let their hair down. Being a music blogger and, of course, really passionate about music, I look forward to spending most of my spare time either listening to music or playing it at clubs and bars.
I am lucky enough to be able to showcase my musical taste to the unwitting Great British public on occasion; if you’ve been there and heard it, I’m sorry if it was bad. You have to remember that us bloggers are just geeks at heart.
During the last few days I have been reminiscing about my early days as a music blogger and thinking about the differences between my experiences way back then (15 years ago, how time flies!) and those that ‘the kids’ of today face. As I got further down the thought process, I was trying to work out the differences of starting out in 2013 compared to how it was back in the day.
Access to music is considerably better as several high profile online record stores give you a huge choice of the world’s music at your fingertips. Couple this with a host of amazing independent music blogs from around the globe and music sharing social networks such as SoundCloud and Mixcloud – DJs never had it so good!
My preference out of the two is SoundCloud, which is basically a social network for DJs and music bloggers. I use it to discover the latest tracks from my favourite labels and DJs, scour the web for cool mixes and interact with my peers and heroes!
The art of promoting yourself in 2013 is remarkably different to the early 2000s. To get a gig back then, you had to make a mixtape, hand it to a tastemaker, fellow DJ, promoter or venue owner and then pester them to give you a set until eventually they caved in (or told you to do one!).
SoundCloud has changed all this for the new breed of DJ, having filled a void left by MySpace; it provides a no-thrills media sharing service for music creators, but the difference with SoundCloud you are given a distinctive URL for each upload. All I have to do is simply upload and send a link out to my mix and it’s accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
SoundCloud also allows sound files to be easily embedded anywhere, and is regularly combined with Twitter and Facebook to let DJs and musicians reach their fans better. This in turn helps new bloggers build up a following and a community, which is alerted every time new content is added to the SoundCloud page, helping fans keep in touch with their favourite DJs or bloggers.
For me the best part of SoundCloud is being able to interact with fellow ‘heads’ through its commenting system, which allows you to pinpoint moments in a track and add your thoughts (my usual comments include BOOM, WOB & BIG!). Most artists interact with you in the comments section and this allows you to strike up relationships with DJs and music producers from all over the world.
Further to this, SoundCloud distributes music using widgets and apps, allowing users to place the widget on their own website or blogs. Doing this allows Twitter to automatically tweet every track or mix that is uploaded. Social sharing on your other networks will help to broaden the reach of the mix, meaning there is more chance of a promoter willing to book you if they like your music (and mixing!).
Finally the SoundCloud app allows you to listen, upload or download music files on the go, meaning that you're only a touch of a button away from the latest tunes and mixes. Texting may not be the most personable way of telling someone about a new tune, but you have to say it’s pretty cool.
Music is a fast-paced and exciting industry at the best of times, and with the development of sites like SoundCloud, DJs and musicians today are able to be heard the world over through the power and connections of social media. I for one think this is amazing; the thought of musicians connecting from Market Harborough to Marrakesh is one to behold… I just wish I had my time all over again!
02/05/13 - Sharing that Summer Feeling
As the summer creeps closer, we can expect lots more sunshine, long trips to the beach, ice cold beers and, with it all, an influx of holiday pictures appearing on our social media feeds.
Most of us only need to log in to Facebook to have a nose at what our friends have been up to on holiday, as it is now more popular than ever to share snaps online. Some of us at Punch even post, tweet, or Instagram live from location – just to rub it in a little!
To celebrate the start of the summer holiday season, here are a handful of Punch’s socially-shared summer snaps:
Last September, Maya posted a picture on Instagram from Barcelona’s iconic cathedral, La Sagrada Familia: “They had the most amazing light show during the La Merce festival,” she said, “this is just a snapshot.”
Erin posted an album on Facebook after her trip to Egypt. Here’s one of her riding a camel: “I wasn’t nervous at all, but then someone in front of us fell off! I just held on a little tighter, and I loved it!”.
California-born Erica posted a picture on Facebook whilst at ‘The Restormel Castle’ in Cornwall, as well as tagging the location through Foursquare. She said: “I love photography, but even more so, I love to post my pictures through social. It means I can share memories and moments with my family, even when they are 6,000 miles away.”
In the summer of 2011, Laura went travelling for three months, visiting Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Laura posted a snap from New Zealand of her first ever attempt at snowboarding. “I couldn’t even stand!” said Laura, “But it was so much fun, I would love to do it again.”
30/04/13 - A Very Social Arrival – Introducing King Willem-Alexander
After a recent visit to the Netherlands to meet a new client, I learned that the country would soon be welcoming a new monarch to the throne following the abdication of Queen Beatrix.
Imagine my excitement then as I logged onto the Guardian this morning to find today marks the official generational change of monarch in the Royal House of Orange-Nassau in Amsterdam. After reigning for 33 years, Queen Beatrix steps down to be replaced by her son, Prince Willem-Alexander.
Most fascinating from an outsider’s perspective is the to-the-minute coverage of the event and the many social ways it is being reported. Videos, audio and images are being shared via a plethora of channels including YouTube, Audioboo and Twitter, so it's easy to become embroiled in the excitement shared in Amsterdam simply from your desktop or smartphone. The hashtags #koning, #abdication, #Beatrix and #Willem are the most popular being used on Twitter and in the past 24 hours the terms have been tweeted 400 to 1,000 times each, weirdly peaking at around 3am!
As millions of people take to the streets adorning bright orange, the debate on Twitter raises many questions around the reign of our own Queen, but most notably there are lots of celebratory images and soundbites being shared.
Check out the rolling coverage as it unveils here…there’s lots of weird and wonderful content along with a picture of King’s soup – an orange veg pack with a recipe to make a very patriotic bright orange broth!