Good Night, and Good Luck, G+

A mirage in the middle of the desert. Okay, maybe there was a small pond and a few palm trees. Even with it’s great intentions and strong potential to serve purpose for online users in the social sphere of the internet, it was all in all, a social desert. As that’s how it’s solely been since the beginning. Despite its huge spike of traffic in its baby years, Google+ didn’t have what it took to keep us coming back. As if the mass migration from Myspace to Facebook wasn’t good enough, G+ tried to follow an act that just couldn’t be matched.     When the worlds most powerful influencer launched what was supposed to the the next biggest platform, it was welcomed with much excitement and celebration, however, its time of arrival wasn’t perfect. Arriving in 2011, Google+ was well behind the social game, especially when FB was growing at a rapid pace. As FB is known for its advertising, its collection of user data was also growing at a rapid pace. Google needed to compete. However, isn’t collecting insight, turning it around and developing world beloved products Google’s strong suit?Google gained massive amounts of press behind their launch, guaranteeing that Google+ would soon be the preferred platform over its competitors. Surprisingly, in no time G+ went from a shining light to a dull glow.    In the short run, Google was seeking a quick fix to pick up on a few gains. It made sense. While logged into your account, Google would track the time you spent browsing, sharing, liking and commenting on the web. Between your user and personal data, the deep integration system stretched all the way to it’s other products (Calendar, search, Youtube, etc.)     This sounds perfect in theory: a product that would soon have everyone leaving Facebook, and making the move to G+…but wait a second, why? While Google’s efforts might have been all there, the concept, timing and authenticity wasn’t. Although people were curious about the new product, it lacked enticing factors to keep people at the party. One of the main reasons people flocked to G+, but didn’t actually stay there is the fact that it didn’t offer anything better than the competition. Sure you could post your photos to G+ and all of your 3 friends spread out over your 10 “circles” would see it, or you could post to FB and have all your friends see it. Simply, there was no motivation to stay. Managing one social account in your life is already hard enough, so setting up a social identity on a new platform would take a lot of energy, time, and most of all, proven confusion.     Photo Courtesy of Wall Street Journal For obvious reasons, G+ is facing some significant changes. Sundar Pichai– the Senior Vice President of Products at Google– sees it  not disappearing entirely, just shedding it’s skin. While the social component seems to be leaving, Photos and Streams– previously components of Google+– are sticking around for round two. Secondly, Google is taking components of the fallen product and integrating them into Contacts which will be a big thumbs up for Google among it’s dedicated following. As Bradley Horowitz– longtime Product VP at Google– puts it, ”It’s important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users.” Cool! While David Besbris’, Head of Social Networking at Google, role is unclear, Horowitz has recently been placed in charge of running Google’s Photos and Streams.   Google+ marked the company’s most concentrated effort to rival social media giants, but ultimately has yet to gain true value. What we can establish from this long and simply, convenient relationship with Google + is that it was good while it lasted. Although it did not last long, what did happen was an avenue for another product to be created (Photo and Streams) that could potentially be what we wanted in the first place. Or maybe Tinder just stole Google’s “Plus”, but that’s another story…    

The 9 Most Shared SEO Articles of 2014

Another year is in the books, and what a year it’s been! It has been a roller coaster ride for the industry with search algorithm updates, content marketing kicking link building to the curb, and Matt Cutts taking a leave of absence but not before taking down multiple link rings. Here at SEOhaus, our company has grown significantly as we have added more talent to the team and evolved into BrightHaus. As internet marketers gear up for 2015 and eagerly await the newest trends and predictions for the New Year, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the most shared industry articles of 2014. Search Engine Land It’s Over: The Rise & Fall Of Google Authorship For Search Results With over 15,000 shares on social networks, this was by far Search Engine Land’s hottest article in 2014. A long-time lovechild of many SEOs and bloggers, the Authorship death sentence sent many marketers into mourning. In late summer, it was finally time to let go. Thank you, Search Engine Land, for being the friend willing to tell us it was over, and Authorship was not going to come back. Google Releases Penguin 3.0 — First Penguin Update In Over A Year Oh, Penguin. The ice-cold algorithm filter isn’t nearly as welcome as Happy Feet. The bane of many webmasters, Penguin 3.0 was received with mixed feelings. This article was shared over 10,200 times as news of a new Penguin in town spread. Many webmasters eagerly awaited improvements as a result of link removal efforts, while others hoped they would escape the wrath of our flightless friend. Google Begins Rolling Out Panda 4.0 Now Knowing how the industry reacts to algorithm changes, it’s no surprise to see the Panda announcement from May come in third place with nearly 9,200 shares. This was certainly one of the most talked about headlines of the year as it has been over year since the previous Panda update. Similar to Penguin, changes with Panda are always polarizing. Moz 10 Smart Tips to Leverage Google+ for Increased Web Traffic Cyrus Shepard takes home the top prize in 2014 with his Google+ tips garnering over 7,200 social shares. Posted in April, many of his tips are still relevant and helpful today. The core Google+ has not changed in recent months, and this is still a great article to reference when building your presence on the social network. Your Google Algorithm Cheat Sheet: Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird Search Engine Land gives us the breaking news on changes in search, and Moz contributors promptly fill us in on how to navigate those changes. Although there have been some algorithm changes in recent months, this is still a great resource to refer to and keep in your back pocket. Marie did a great job of bringing problems into light and offering solutions. The Most Entertaining Guide to Landing Page Optimization You’ll Ever Read We all love a good read, so why not have a chuckle while improving your craft? As far as measuring success goes, keyword rankings are a thing of the past. Even improved traffic metrics can make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but just about every campaign comes down to one thing – conversions. This is a great post, and if you haven’t made your way from top to bottom without skimming, I recommend giving it a go. SEOhaus The Importance Of Social Media In Marketing Not to be pigeon-holed as an SEO company, we began offering social media packages this year. Two of our Specialists – Dylan Taylor and Taylor Mak – fittingly burst onto the blog scene this month and received the most social shares. They’re the social pros, of course, so I remain suspect of them garnering so many shares. Regardless, it’s a great discussion of why social media is so crucial to your campaign’s success. Weekly roundup: Top 5 SEO trends and more I always love a good roundup, whether weekly or annual. Andy highlights some of the top articles of the week, all of which are still very solid resources several months later. Don’t have the time to stay on top of the top headlines every day? Just check in with us when you can to get your recap. Tracking Time: Eye-Opening Insights Into Productivity The third most shared blog post for us this year comes compliments of Richie. As our company continues to grow, we recognize that our team members and their strategies need to be at the forefront of the industry. To better hone our craft, we ran a little experiment here in the haus to identify pain points, time bottlenecks, and ultimately how to up our game. This is a really insightful piece about how we operate.   So there we have it: 2014 in a social nutshell. The top three articles from Search Engine Land all focused on changes made by Google, so it’s interesting to see the difference between a news source like SEL and industry favorite Moz, which has more editorial, evergreen content. Our own blog showed similar trends to Moz with a post about social media taking the top spot for both. If you are a webmaster, which of your posts garnered the most social attention or page views, and what were some of your favorite articles of 2014?

Tracking Trends to Transform Your Content: Three Great Free Tools to To Capitalize on Trends in Content!

Whenever an interesting headline takes the Web by storm, a new breakthrough product, service, or event breaks through to the media, or when viral-bait posts start to loom large on social profiles around the Web, we see them everywhere. From an onslaught of social posts within active members of a particular vertical, to pages of results streaming out of the Google News spotlight, there is no running from something that’s truly useful and timely. The ability to create and share content has transformed the way businesses look to promote their expertise; from traditional PR to social media and niche-specific conversations, everyone is eager to get in on the conversation for the latest hot topic or trend. So how do we monitor these events, and have something ready to strike while the iron is hot? Below, I’ve listed three simple, free tools that can help take the guesswork out of tracking trends and topics–but that also provide ways to look at data to create compelling pieces of content for even older topics that may be receiving less attention than they ever had in the past.

Google Trends

By far the most obvious way to track trends using big data is the biggest corpus of the English language in existence: The Google Index. Google’s affinity for big data has never strayed far from any of its products, and trends provides a free lens to the global conversation at large–no matter what the topic. When brainstorming some pieces for a client recently, I took a look at Google Trends and found some pretty compelling data that showed topics that were ebbing and flowing in popularity. However, the trending topic wasn’t necessarily the most salient point of interest; instead, by focusing on peaks, troughs, and news stories, it can become very obvious as to why certain topics increase in popularity. Take a look at the graph above for the fitness craze that’s recently swept the nation: CrossFit. By looking at the way in which CrossFit’s popularity has recently skyrocketed, it’s easy to deduce that there are a host of searchers who might be looking for content on this topic. What does that mean for us as marketers, and for businesses who might be looking to take advantage of this? First of all, it is clear that a topic like this is getting a host of media coverage. Having something unique and interesting to say on the topic could potentially open your business to great publicity opportunities, and could help you capitalize on a search trend that seems perpetually on the rise. However, competition may be fierce; since so many people are writing on this topic, it will be increasingly more difficult to get coverage in this field that’s visible on Google’s first page of search results. Similarly, a Google Trends graph for a more volatile global trend might be something like typing in a political figure or subject matter. In this case, let’s take a look at searches related to Mel Gibson: As we can see, there is a huge spike in traffic right around July 2010, and interest moves away accordingly in either direction. By looking at alarming rises or drops in traffic, we can also track why these spikes may have occurred. Understandably, this was around the same time that Mel Gibson was outed by an explosive rant that leaked to the media; the massive media coverage at the time surrounding his personal life caused a spike of interest and global coverage, which led to this massive plateau. By unpackaging these trends in data, this can lead to incredible new insight to explore a particular vertical, topic, or keyword phrase. Leveraging big data like this can have a powerful effect on the purpose and impact of your content by showing a greater impact on the global consciousness and facets that are influencing the global conversation at large. This is a critical way to view topics and discuss why things might be losing or gaining popularity. Google Trends has an added level of credibility, as each Google Trends graph that has news-related criteria is coupled by relevant news sources covering the issue, topic, keyword, or trend as it happened. Similarly, these trends can provide a pivotal lens into how language is changing. See the graph below comparing the use of the word “cell phone” to the use of the word “mobile phone”. Use of the word “mobile phone” is beginning to overtake the more archaic, limited definition of “cell phone”, yet even this is comparatively dwarfed by the rise of “smartphone” in the lexicon: Lastly, Google Trends also offers us the ability to parse out these differences by location; it may come as a shock that some of the biggest searchers of the “English Premier League” are not in the UK, or even in America, but spread all throughout the continent of Africa. Using this data can be an incredibly flexible, powerful portal to frame a keyword, topic, or niche-specific industry term in a greater contextual position. Supported by this data, you can create some really killer content.

Twitter Trends and Facebook Fads

Now built into the Twitter and Facebook infrastructure is a similar trend-monitor, which keeps track on lexical instances of popular links, phrases, and more. However, since these are in the social sphere, a huge emphasis should be laid on connectivity. Zooming in from Google’s massive amount of search data, Twitter offers the same sort of clarity for real-time tracking and recent events. Twitter’s “Trending” and “Discover” functions are excellent ways to find out what people are discussing, either with or without the use of a hashtag. By searching for particular keywords, you can find influencers within your vertical who might be covering your topic, track replies, responses, favorites and retweets in order to see how the narratives are being treated. As people respond, you can also see different angles that might be used to cover the story and find holes that your brand, business, or blog can help answer for consumers who might be asking questions. Similarly, the trends in Twitter can also be adjusted based on location, giving you a better sense of what might be ranking in your particular area, which is a great opportunity for businesses with a strong, localized market. Furthermore, tools like Topsy help take this to a new plateau. Ever write a piece of content that you’re eager to share with the rest of the world? Try searching for the same types of terms you might be using in Twitter to see how they have populated on Twitter and on blogs and news sources throughout the world. Topsy tracks the past few hours, the past few days, as far back as the past month, with filters available to help further qualify your search by language, popularity, and more. Topsy is a great resource to find both influencers, blogs, and sentiment. Facebook’s look at trending topics is a bit newer, and certainly far less granular than the aforementioned options: However, this nonetheless prepares you with some of the tools you need to discover important topics in your social sphere and the ability to discover if any of them could potentially relate to your vertical or persona.

An Even Closer Look at Data: Mine Your Traffic From Google Analytics

Another interesting way to use data like this that represents a collective activity is to look at your own data. From overall visitors, to visits to a certain blog post or landing page, your data can have a tremendous impact on the way in which users are communicating with your site as a whole. Comparing year-on-year data to account for seasonal variations can be especially critical, but irregularities in your data, landing pages that are specifically successful, or hugely important blog posts can transform the way your site is perceived. Intelligence in Analytics takes a lot of the guesswork out for you; by comparing your site’s performance against its average, Intelligence Alerts in Analytics are able to generate huge clues into irregular behavior on your site, and may give you a clue into some unusual trends with your own site’s performance. Perhaps a spell of unusually bad weather brings more and more traffic to a blog that focuses on recipes, cooking, or ways to rearrange or fix your home. Perhaps a blog topic you wrote covering an unpopular actor is scoring some major visits after news coverage on their new role. Whatever the case may be, turning these spikes or drops into case studies of your own can be a powerful way to help tell a story about how everything connects.