Tag Archive | "State"

Google ordered to submit search index to state sponsorship in Russia

Google has a 45 percent search market share in Russia, second only to Yandex.



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The State of Local SEO: Industry Insights for a Successful 2019

Posted by MiriamEllis

A thousand thanks to the 1,411 respondents who gave of their time and knowledge in contributing to this major survey! You’ve created a vivid image of what real-life, everyday local search marketers and local business owners are observing on a day-to-day basis, what strategies are working for them right now, and where some frankly stunning opportunities for improvement reside. Now, we’re ready to share your insights into:

  • Google Updates
  • Citations
  • Reviews
  • Company infrastructure
  • Tool usage
  • And a great deal more…

This survey pooled the observations of everyone from people working to market a single small business, to agency marketers with large local business clients:

Respondents who self-selected as not marketing a local business were filtered from further survey results.

Thanks to you, this free report is a window into the industry. Bring these statistics to teammates and clients to earn the buy-in you need to effectively reach local consumers in 2019.

Get the full report

There are so many stories here worthy of your time

Let’s pick just one, to give a sense of the industry intelligence you’ll access in this report. Likely you’ve now seen the Local Search Ranking Factors 2018 Survey, undertaken by Whitespark in conjunction with Moz. In that poll of experts, we saw Google My Business signals being cited as the most influential local ranking component. But what was #2? Link building.

You might come away from that excellent survey believing that, since link building is so important, all local businesses must be doing it. But not so. The State of the Local SEO Industry Report reveals that:

When asked what’s working best for them as a method for earning links, 35% of local businesses and their marketers admitted to having no link building strategy in place at all:

And that, Moz friends, is what opportunity looks like. Get your meaningful local link building strategy in place in the new year, and prepare to leave ⅓ of your competitors behind, wondering how you surpassed them in the local and organic results.

The full report contains 30+ findings like this one. Rivet the attention of decision-makers at your agency, quote persuasive statistics to hesitant clients, and share this report with teammates who need to be brought up to industry speed. When read in tandem with the Local Search Ranking Factors survey, this report will help your business or agency understand both what experts are saying and what practitioners are experiencing.

Sometimes, local search marketing can be a lonely road to travel. You may find yourself wondering, “Does anyone understand what I do? Is anyone else struggling with this task? How do I benchmark myself?” You’ll find both confirmation and affirmation today, and Moz’s best hope is that you’ll come away a better, bolder, more effective local marketer. Let’s begin!

Download the report

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SearchCap: Google launches video cameos, state of local marketing report & more

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.



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Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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Backlink Blindspots: The State of Robots.txt

Posted by rjonesx.

Here at Moz we have committed to making Link Explorer as similar to Google as possible, specifically in the way we crawl the web. I have discussed in previous articles some metrics we use to ascertain that performance, but today I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about the impact of robots.txt and crawling the web.

Most of you are familiar with robots.txt as the method by which webmasters can direct Google and other bots to visit only certain pages on the site. Webmasters can be selective, allowing certain bots to visit some pages while denying other bots access to the same. This presents a problem for companies like Moz, Majestic, and Ahrefs: we try to crawl the web like Google, but certain websites deny access to our bots while allowing that access to Googlebot. So, why exactly does this matter?

Why does it matter?

Graph showing how crawlers hop from one link to another

As we crawl the web, if a bot encounters a robots.txt file, they’re blocked from crawling specific content. We can see the links that point to the site, but we’re blind regarding the content of the site itself. We can’t see the outbound links from that site. This leads to an immediate deficiency in the link graph, at least in terms of being similar to Google (if Googlebot is not similarly blocked).

But that isn’t the only issue. There is a cascading failure caused by bots being blocked by robots.txt in the form of crawl prioritization. As a bot crawls the web, it discovers links and has to prioritize which links to crawl next. Let’s say Google finds 100 links and prioritizes the top 50 to crawl. However, a different bot finds those same 100 links, but is blocked by robots.txt from crawling 10 of the top 50 pages. Instead, they’re forced to crawl around those, making them choose a different 50 pages to crawl. This different set of crawled pages will return, of course, a different set of links. In this next round of crawling, Google will not only have a different set they’re allowed to crawl, the set itself will differ because they crawled different pages in the first place.

Long story short, much like the proverbial butterfly that flaps its wings eventually leading to a hurricane, small changes in robots.txt which prevent some bots and allow others ultimately leads to very different results compared to what Google actually sees.

So, how are we doing?

You know I wasn’t going to leave you hanging. Let’s do some research. Let’s analyze the top 1,000,000 websites on the Internet according to Quantcast and determine which bots are blocked, how frequently, and what impact that might have.

Methodology

The methodology is fairly straightforward.

  1. Download the Quantcast Top Million
  2. Download the robots.txt if available from all top million sites
  3. Parse the robots.txt to determine whether the home page and other pages are available
  4. Collect link data related to blocked sites
  5. Collect total pages on-site related to blocked sites.
  6. Report the differences among crawlers.

Total sites blocked

The first and easiest metric to report is the number of sites which block individual crawlers (Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs) while allowing Google. Most site that block one of the major SEO crawlers block them all. They simply formulate robots.txt to allow major search engines while blocking other bot traffic. Lower is better.

Bar graph showing number of sites blocking each SEO tool in robots.txt

Of the sites analyzed, 27,123 blocked MJ12Bot (Majestic), 32,982 blocked Ahrefs, and 25,427 blocked Moz. This means that among the major industry crawlers, Moz is the least likely to be turned away from a site that allows Googlebot. But what does this really mean?

Total RLDs blocked

As discussed previously, one big issue with disparate robots.txt entries is that it stops the flow of PageRank. If Google can see a site, they can pass link equity from referring domains through the site’s outbound domains on to other sites. If a site is blocked by robots.txt, it’s as though the outbound lanes of traffic on all the roads going into the site are blocked. By counting all the inbound lanes of traffic, we can get an idea of the total impact on the link graph. Lower is better.

According to our research, Majestic ran into dead ends on 17,787,118 referring domains, Ahrefs on 20,072,690 and Moz on 16,598,365. Once again, Moz’s robots.txt profile was most similar to that of Google’s. But referring domains isn’t the only issue with which we should be concerned.

Total pages blocked

Most pages on the web only have internal links. Google isn’t interested in creating a link graph — they’re interested in creating a search engine. Thus, a bot designed to act like Google needs to be just as concerned about pages that only receive internal links as they are those that receive external links. Another metric we can measure is the total number of pages that are blocked by using Google’s site: query to estimate the number of pages Google has access to that a different crawler does not. So, how do the competing industry crawlers perform? Lower is better.

Once again, Moz shines on this metric. It’s not just that Moz is blocked by fewer sites— Moz is blocked by less important and smaller sites. Majestic misses the opportunity to crawl 675,381,982 pages, Ahrefs misses 732,871,714 and Moz misses 658,015,885. There’s almost an 80 million-page difference between Ahrefs and Moz just in the top million sites on the web.

Unique sites blocked

Most of the robots.txt disallows facing Moz, Majestic, and Ahrefs are simply blanket blocks of all bots that don’t represent major search engines. However, we can isolate the times when specific bots are named deliberately for exclusion while competitors remain. For example, how many times is Moz blocked while Ahrefs and Majestic are allowed? Which bot is singled out the most? Lower is better.

Ahrefs is singled out by 1201 sites, Majestic by 7152 and Moz by 904. It is understandable that Majestic has been singled out, given that they have been operating a very large link index for many years, a decade or more. It took Moz 10 years to accumulate 904 individual robots.txt blocks, and took Ahrefs 7 years to accumulate 1204. But let me give some examples of why this is important.

If you care about links from name.com, hypermart.net, or eclipse.org, you can’t rely solely on Majestic.

If you care about links from popsugar.com, dict.cc, or bookcrossing.com, you can’t rely solely on Moz.

If you care about links from dailymail.co.uk, patch.com, or getty.edu, you can’t rely solely on Ahrefs.

And regardless of what you do or which provider you use, you can’t links from yelp.com, who.int, or findarticles.com.

Conclusions

While Moz’s crawler DotBot clearly enjoys the closest robots.txt profile to Google among the three major link indexes, there’s still a lot of work to be done. We work very hard on crawler politeness to ensure that we’re not a burden to webmasters, which allows us to crawl the web in a manner more like Google. We will continue to work more to improve our performance across the web and bring to you the best backlink index possible.

Thanks to Dejan SEO for the beautiful link graph used in the header image and Mapt for the initial image used in the diagrams.

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State of Enterprise SEO 2017: Overworked SEOs Need Direction

Posted by NorthStarInbound

This survey and its analysis was co-authored with North Star Inbound’s senior creative strategist, Andrea Pretorian.

In the spring of 2017, North Star Inbound partnered up with seoClarity and BuzzStream to survey the state of enterprise SEO. We had a fair share of anecdotal evidence from our clients, but we wanted a more objective measurement of how SEO teams are assembled, what resources are allocated to them, what methods they use, and how they perform.

We hadn’t seen such data collected, particularly for enterprise SEO. We found this surprising given its significance, evident even in the number of “enterprise SEO tools” and solutions being marketed.

What is enterprise SEO?

There is no single fixed-industry definition of “enterprise” beyond “large business.” For the purposes of this survey, we defined enterprise businesses as being comprised of 500 or more employees. “Small enterprise” means 500–1000 employees, while “large enterprise” means over 1000 employees.

Industry discussion often points to the number of pages as being a potential defining factor for enterprise SEO, but even that is not necessarily a reliable measure.

What was our survey methodology?

We developed the widest enterprise SEO survey to date, made up of 29 questions that delved into every aspect of the enterprise SEO practice. From tools and tactics to content development, keyword strategy, and more, we left no stone unturned. We then picked the brains of 240 SEO specialists across the country. You can check out our complete survey, methodology, and results here.

Team size matters — or does it?

Let’s start by looking at enterprise team size and the resources allocated to them. We focused on companies with an in-house SEO team, and broke them down in terms of small (500–1000 employees) and large enterprise (>1000 employees).

We found that 76% of small enterprise companies have in-house SEO teams of 5 people or less, but were surprised that 68% of large enterprise companies also had teams of this size. We expected a more pronounced shift into larger team sizes paralleling the larger size of their parent company; we did not expect to see roughly the same team size across small and large enterprise companies.

Chart_Q4_170522.png

Interestingly, in larger companies we also see less confidence in the team’s experience in SEO. Of the companies with in-house SEO, only 31.67% of large enterprise teams called themselves “leaders” in the SEO space, which was defined in this survey as part of a team engaged broadly and critically within the business. 40% of small enterprise teams called themselves “leaders.” In terms of viewing themselves more positively (leaders, visionaries) or less (SEO pioneers in their company or else new SEO teams), we did not notice a big difference between small or large enterprise in-house SEO teams.

Large enterprise companies should have more resources at their disposal — HR teams to hire the best talent, reliable onboarding practices in place, access to more sophisticated project management tools, and more experience managing teams — which makes these results surprising. Why are large enterprise companies not more confident about their SEO skills and experience?

Before going too far in making assumptions about their increased resources, we made sure to ask our survey-takers about this. Specifically, we asked for how much budget is allocated to SEO activity per month — not including the cost of employees’ salaries, or the overhead costs of keeping the lights on — since this would result in a figure easier to report consistently across all survey takers.

It turns out that 57% of large enterprise companies had over $ 10K dedicated strictly to SEO activity each month, in contrast to just 24% of small enterprise companies allocating this much budget. 40% of large enterprise had over $ 20K dedicated to SEO activity each month, suggesting that SEO is a huge priority for them. And yet, as we saw earlier, they are not sold on their team having reached leader status.

Enterprise SEO managers in large companies value being scalable and repeatable

We asked survey takers to rate the success of their current SEO strategy, per the scale mapped below, and here are the results:

Chart_Q8_170522.png

A smaller percentage of large enterprise SEOs had a clearly positive rating of the current success of their SEO strategy than did small enterprise SEOs. We even see more large enterprise SEOs “on the fence” about their strategy’s performance as opposed to small. This suggests that, from the enterprise SEOs we surveyed, the ones who work for smaller companies tend to be slightly more optimistic about their campaigns’ performance than the larger ones.

What’s notable about the responses to this question is that 18.33% of managers at large enterprise companies would rate themselves as successful — calling themselves “scalable and repeatable.” No one at a small enterprise selected this to describe their strategy. We clearly tapped into an important value for these teams, who use it enough to measure their performance that it’s a value they can report on to others as a benchmark of their success.

Anyone seeking to work with large enterprise clients needs to make sure their processes are scalable and repeatable. This also suggests that one way for a growing company to step up its SEO team’s game as it grows is by achieving these results. This would be a good topic for us to address in greater detail in articles, webinars, and other industry communication.

Agencies know best? (Agencies think they know best.)

Regardless of the resources available to them, across the board we see that in-house SEOs do not show as much confidence as agencies. Agencies are far more likely to rate their SEO strategy as successful: 43% of survey takers who worked for agencies rated their strategy as outright successful, as opposed to only 13% of in-house SEOs. That’s huge!

While nobody said their strategy was a total disaster — we clearly keep awesome company — 7% of in-house SEOs expressed frustration with their strategy, as opposed to only 1% of agencies.

Putting our bias as a link building agency aside, we would expect in-house SEO enterprise teams to work like in-house agencies. With the ability to hire top talent and purchase enterprise software solutions to automate and track campaigns, we expect them to have the appropriate tools and resources at their disposal to generate the same results and confidence as any agency.

So why the discrepancy? It’s hard to say for sure. One theory might be that those scalable, repeatable results we found earlier that serve as benchmarks for enterprise are difficult to attain, but the way agencies evolve might serve them better. Agencies tend to develop somewhat organically — expanding their processes over time and focusing on SEO from day one — as opposed to an in-house team in a company, which rarely was there from day one and, more often than not, sprouted up when the company’s growth made it such that marketing became a priority.

One clue for answering this question might come from examining the differences between how agencies and in-house SEO teams responded to the question asking them what they find to be the top two most difficult SEO obstacles they are currently facing.

Agencies have direction, need budget; in-house teams have budget, need direction

If we look at the top three obstacles faced by agencies and in-house teams, both of them place finding SEO talent up there. Both groups also say that demonstrating ROI is an issue, although it’s more of an obstacle for agencies rather than in-house SEO teams.

When we look at the third obstacles, we find the biggest reveal. While agencies find themselves hindered by trying to secure enough budget, in-house SEO teams struggle to develop the right content; this seems in line with the point we made in the previous section comparing agency versus in-house success. Agencies have the processes down, but need to work hard to fit their clients’ budgets. In-house teams have the budget they need, but have trouble lining them up to the exact processes their company needs to grow as desired. The fact that almost half of the in-house SEOs would rank developing the right content as their biggest obstacle — as opposed to just over a quarter of agencies — further supports this, particularly given how important content is to any marketing campaign.

Now, let’s take a step back and dig deeper into that second obstacle we noted: demonstrating ROI.

Everyone seems to be measuring success differently

One question that we asked of survey takers was about the top two technical SEO issues they monitor:

The spread across the different factors were roughly the same across the two different groups. The most notable difference between the two groups was that even more in-house SEO teams looked at page speed, although this was the top factor for both groups. Indexation was the second biggest factor for both groups, followed by duplicate content. There seems to be some general consensus about monitoring technical SEO issues.

But when we asked everyone what their top two factors are when reviewing their rankings, we got these results:

For both agencies and in-house SEO teams, national-level keywords were the top factor, although this was true for almost-three quarters of in-house SEOs and about half of agencies. Interestingly, agencies focused a bit more on geo/local keywords as well as mobile. From when we first opened this data we found this striking, because it suggests a narrative where in-house SEO teams focus on more conservative, “seasoned” methods, while agencies are more likely to stay on the cutting-edge.

Looking at the “Other” responses (free response), we had several write-ins from both subgroups who answered that traffic and leads were important to them. One agency survey-taker brought up a good point: that what they monitor “differs by client.” We would be remiss if we did not mention the importance of vertical-specific and client-specific approaches — even if you are working in-house, and your only client is your company. From this angle, it makes sense that everyone is measuring rankings and SEO differently.

However, we would like to see a bit more clarity within the community on setting these parameters, and we hope that these results will foster that sort of discussion. Please do feel free to reply in the comments:

  • How do you measure ROI on your SEO efforts?
  • How do you show your campaigns’ value?
  • What would you change about how you’re currently measuring the success of your efforts?

So what’s next?

We’d love to hear about your experiences, in-house or agency, and how you’ve been able to demonstrate ROI on your campaigns.

We’re going to repeat this survey again next year, so stay tuned. We hope to survey a larger audience so that we can break down the groups we examine further and analyze response trends among the resulting subgroups. We wanted to do this here in this round of analysis, but were hesitant because of how small the resulting sample size would be.

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2016 State of Link Building Survey coverage

What does modern-day link building look like? Columnist Andrew Dennis explores the results of a 2016 survey on link building conducted by Moz, Credo and Page One Power.

The post 2016 State of Link Building Survey coverage appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Sunshine State lagging behind in solar energy




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The Sunshine State residents realize that the exploitation of the abundant solar energy in Florida is not an easy task. Industry experts rank third in Florida in the nation in the potential of solar energy roof, but 13 in the amount of solar energy produced.

Experts in renewable energy and solar industry say Florida is being delayed because the state is one of four that require solar energy to be sold exclusively by utilities. This limits the options to go Solar financial commitment and increases in advance for consumers.

The Sierra Club sees the lack of consumer choice as harmful to the environment. Tea sees an attack on personal freedom.

These unlikely allies working on a ballot measure in 2016 that would change the Florida Constitution to loosen the laws of solar energy in the state.

Latest solar news

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The State of Pinterest: What Content Marketers Need to Know Now

Image of Pinterest Logo

The buzz about Pinterest seems to have calmed down a bit in the last few months, but it’s still a very powerful tool for content marketers.

According to a study by the social media analytics firm Simply Measured, 69 of the world’s top 100 brands now have Pinterest accounts, and Pinterest is still driving more traffic to websites and blogs than Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or YouTube.

For right now, Pinterest doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and the stats for marketers are still very encouraging. One in five Pinterest users have purchased something they’ve seen on the site, and when they do buy, they spend around $ 80 per purchase — twice that of Facebook buyers.

And now, Pinterest is shaking things up — there have been some very interesting changes to the service in the last few months.

Let’s take a look at some of these recent additions and modifications, and what they mean for content marketers.

Pinterest launches new tools for businesses

Pinterest has added new business accounts for brands who want to use pinning to market their companies. You can convert your current personal account to a business one, or you can start a brand new account as a business.

It’s easy to convert your account – just go to Pinterest’s new business center and click on “Convert My Account.” Or to create a new business account, click on “New to Pinterest? Join as a business.”

As a business account, your profile won’t look different than a regular Pinterest profile, and your boards and pins will still look the same.

Pinterest gives business account owners some new buttons, badges and widgets for their websites and blogs, as well as giving them access to some visual marketing best practices and case studies.

If you’re thinking about starting a business account, make sure to read over the new business Terms of Service before you commit — they are different than the regular Pinterest TOS.

What this means for content marketers …

While there isn’t a huge motivation to switch to a business account right now — it doesn’t really get you anything particularly earth-shattering — I do anticipate Pinterest releasing more tools for brands and business owners in the near future. I’m encouraging bloggers and business owners to go ahead and get (or switch to) a Pinterest business account.

Pinterest gets a new look

Pinterest is in the process of rolling out a brand new interface for users, and you can switch to the new look whenever you’re ready to dive in. But a word of warning — once you switch to the new look, it’s a permanent change — you can’t switch back to the old one.

Rumor has it the new interface is a little buggy (I’ve heard reports of problems pinning to boards after users make the switch), so consider this carefully before committing.

If you want to change to the new look, just hover your cursor over your name (or business name) in the upper left corner on any Pinterest window. Then scroll down to “Switch to the New Look.”

Pinterest will ask you to confirm your choice – click on “Get It Now” to confirm.



The new look gets you several new things:

  1. Larger pins.Once you make the switch, you’ll see that all of your pins are visibly larger. The bigger images are featured on your Pinterest home page, and when you click on a pin to enlarge it. Each enlarged pin is now 735 pixels wide (up from 600 in the previous version). Pinterest made this change to give you a cleaner, easier-to-view interface, but I’ve see some users complaining that the images are now TOO large — especially if you’re viewing Pinterest on a small laptop screen.
  2. Better discovery. When you click on the pin to enlarge it, you’ll see lots of new things, including related content in the area to the right of the original pin. You’ll see things like:
    • Pins from the same board — images grouped on the same board, by this user
    • Pins from the same source — stuff pinned from the same website)
    • Also pinned — images pinned by the same users who pinned this image)

    With these new discovery features, Pinterest is helping you find content that’s similar to the pin you’re currently viewing. Some users love this feature, and say it helps them discover new content on Pinterest they wouldn’t have found otherwise — other users say it clutters up their user experience.

  3. No more “repin” button. In the old Pinterest interface, a “repin” button appeared in the upper left corner of each pin when you hovered over it. Pinterest has now replaced the “Repin” button with one that just says “Pin It.”
  4. Settings are separated. Now you need to edit your Pinterest settings in two different places — account settings (like email notifications) are still in the upper right corner dropdown menu, and profile settings like your website and photo are in a separate place. To edit your profile settings, just click on the pencil icon in the lower left corner of your profile.



What this means for content marketers …

The new look is getting mixed reviews. I’ve seen reports of some minor and major bugs (everything from interface weirdness to not being able to pin to all of your boards) and unfortunately, the Pinterest help desk isn’t super responsive — so may not be able to get immediate answers if you have problems.

Pinterest’s new look makes discovery easier for users — this means the images you pin need to be compelling and interesting, so they’ll stand out and entice people to click on them.

Make sure to embed interesting and compelling photos and badges in your blog posts, so your readers will pin them to Pinterest (and you’ll get more traffic back to your site).

It’s also really important for you to pin original content to Pinterest (not just repin other people’s pins). Statistics say that up to 80% of content on Pinterest is just repinned from other Pinterest users — which means that when you pin interesting content from outside sources, it will really stand out and help you get followers.

Website verification and Pinterest analytics

You can now verify ownership of your website within your Pinterest account. When your website is verified, other Pinterest users see a checkmark next to your domain in your Pinterest profile.

Yes, verifying your website is a good thing to do — but it’s not absolutely critical (unless you are Oprah or Matt Damon). But verifying your website allows you access to other important Pinterest features, so it’s a good idea to do it.

If you have an HTML website, follow these directions from Pinterest to verify your site. If you have a WordPress website, use this plugin to add metadata to your site and verify it.

Don’t get tripped up with this plugin — you only need to enter a small part of the tag Pinterest gives you (the alphanumeric string in the content attribute).



Once you’ve verified your site and switched to the new look, you get access to a really great new Pinterest feature — their new Analytics module. Just scroll over your business name on the top right corner of any Pinterest screen, and select “Analytics” in the drop down menu.

This will take you to the analytics data page. From this screen, you’ll be able to view (and download) these stats:

  • The number of pins and pinners from your website
  • The number of repins and repinners from within Pinterest
  • The number of website visitors that were sent from Pinterest
  • Recent images that have been pinned from your site
  • The most repinned and the most-clicked pins
  • The total number of times your pins have appeared on the site and the number of times they were seen (impressions)

For a great video tutorial that teaches you more about using the new Analytics tool, check out the Pinterest Web Analytics page.

What this means for content marketers …

With the new Pinterest analytics tool, we can quickly and easily see data on our Pinterest activity, and we can tell if what we’re pinning is making a difference in traffic to our websites.

You’ll can tell what pins are doing well on Pinterest (and what’s not doing well). You’ll be able to tell what type of content gets the most repins, and be able to figure out the best time of day for you to pin.

It’s easier than ever to test different things on Pinterest and then measure whether or not they’re successful — so this Analytics module is definitely worth getting!

Pinterest is still a great tool for marketers

Last year, we published a post featuring a long list of ways to use Pinterest to market your business. You can still use all of those methods, and now with the newest changes to the Pinterest platform, you have improved ways of tracking your progress and charting your strategy.

Content curation is still the name of the game with Pinterest. People who do well on Pinterest (and develop a huge following) are good curators, which means they select the best content in their field, and share it on well-organized, attractive boards.

Pinterest can be an amazing source of traffic and engagement for bloggers and content creators. So take this visual marketing tool out for a spin, and track your progress to see how it works for you.

Want to know how to use Pinterest to drive more traffic to your site? Join me for my upcoming webinar, 10 Ways to Drive Massive Traffic to Your Website by Leveraging the Power of Pinterest on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 at 1 PM Eastern time.

About the Author: Beth Hayden is a Senior Staff Writer for Copyblogger Media. Get more from Beth on Twitter and Pinterest.

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The State of Facebook: What’s Working Now

Image of Facebook Logo

You may have noticed some of your fellow business owners are getting just a little bit fed up with Facebook.

If you’re trying to use it to grow your business online, you may have joined them. You might be tired of the moving target that Facebook marketing presents. You might be annoyed at new “features” that seem to make the experience worse, not better.

And of course, lots of people are talking about the latest aggravation — the question of whether or not your Page’s updates, images, and links are reaching enough of your fans.

But there are things that are still working — and working well — on Facebook. So if you’re going to stick with it, let’s get into what does work.

Before we get into the details, let’s step back and cover a very important concept that will help you understand how the Facebook News Feed works: EdgeRank.

What is Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm?

You may have heard of EdgeRank. Maybe you’ve read that it’s an evil force to keep your posts out of the hands of your fans. And, in a way, that’s true. EdgeRank is Facebook’s proprietary algorithm that determines what goes into the News Feed of every person on Facebook.

The average Facebook user has 245 friends — according to a recent Pew Research study. Because a Facebook user is connected to a lot of Pages and Groups, the News Feed would be more like a Twitter feed if they saw every story that was posted from every friend, Page, and Group they were connected to.

(Stay with me, I know some people would like to see every single post, and I’ll get to that.)

Facebook is similar to Google in that it wants to show the most interesting things in the Feed just like Google wants to show you the most relevant items for a search. So Facebook keeps track of how you behave on Facebook.

Let’s take a look at the actual EdgeRank formula:

Before we get all freaked out about this mathematical equation, I’ll boil it down to one simple concept — fresh, interesting content wins. But there’s a little twist: you have to continue to be interesting. Let’s dive deeper and describe the three factors that go into this formula.

Affinity is a measure of how often a person has interacted with another person’s or Page’s content in the past. So I might Like, Share, or comment on every post that my friend Beth posts, and so Facebook realizes that I find Beth’s content interesting. Facebook makes sure that Beth’s posts go into my News Feed every time.

But Beth might find my posts boring and dull. She never Likes or comments on my posts. (Damn that Beth.) Facebook then does not put my posts into Beth’s News Feed. This works the same with Pages that you Like, but it’s more of a one-way street.

So Page owners need to make sure their content is interesting and they are encouraging Likes, comments and Shares so that their posts continue to show up in their Fans’ News Feeds.

Weight is a measure of how many comments, Likes, and Shares a post is getting — sort of a post “popularity contest.” The more popular the post is, the more likely that Facebook will show it in your News Feed, even if you haven’t had an “affinity” with that person or Page in the past.

Let’s say I’ve never interacted with the posts from the Denny’s Fan Page, even though I’m a Fan. One day, all my friends are commenting on one of their posts about Moons over My Hammy. Facebook decides that I may want to see that post too, and puts it into my News Feed.

Decay is basically how old the post is. Facebook usually shows recent content in your News Feed, but an older post that has a higher weight or affinity can beat a less interesting newer post.

Now that we have EdgeRank defined, I want to make sure that you know that it is a proprietary algorithm and no one besides Facebook can “measure” your EdgeRank. The best gauge you have for how much interaction you are getting on your Page is your People Talking About This Number.

The People Talking About This (or PTAT) number includes all the following activities that happen on your page over a one-week rolling period:

  • Liking a page
  • Posting to a page’s wall
  • Liking, commenting on, or sharing a page post (or other content on a page, like photos, videos or albums)
  • Answering a question posted to an event
  • Mentioning a page in a post
  • Phototagging a page
  • Liking or sharing a check-in deal
  • Checking in at a place (if your page has a place merged with it)

All of these activities equal engagement with a Page. They will all increase the Affinity between a Fan and your Page.

If you take your PTAT divided by your total number of Fans, then you get a number you can compare to other Pages to see how their engagement compares to yours. The People Talking About This number is public information.

A healthy Page typically has a PTAT percentage of 2% or more.

OK, now that we’re all on the same page (so to speak), let’s get into what’s working right now and address some of the Facebook conspiracy theories that are circulating.

Images get more engagement, text has more reach

Images are kicking butt by getting more comments, Likes, and Shares in general. One study by Hubspot found that photos were getting

53% more Likes than the average post.

And a little mind-blowing factoid is that Facebook users are uploading 300 Million images per day. That is a lot of cat pictures.

So does that mean you should only post pictures? Not necessarily.

A recent phenomenon has surfaced and been confirmed by many Page owners and number crunchers that Text posts have been getting much higher Reach. Meaning those posts are going into more of their Fans’ News Feeds.

If you look at your own Facebook Insights and sort by the Reach column, you can see if this is true for your Page. The green quote symbol next to the post indicates that it is a Text post.

So should you be posting only Text posts? Not necessarily. Now take those same Insights and sort by your Talking About This number to see which posts are getting the most engagement. You can also sort by the “Engaged Users” column, which measures the posts that people have clicked on the most. You will probably see a similar set of posts but maybe more Link posts.

So what should you be posting? Here’s the answer — variety. Since text posts are getting to more of your Fans right now, make sure you post some text posts. Since photos are getting more engagement, post some of those.

And since you want to link back to your blog or website to drive traffic, post links!

Just make sure you are watching your own statistics and not relying on what others are telling you to post. See what works for you.

The truth about Promoted Posts

Many people have been speculating that Facebook is deliberately not showing Facebook Page posts in the News Feed in order to increase advertising revenue.

The fact is, Facebook is a public company and does need to make money. I don’t think they’ll allow a mass exodus of brands and businesses away from the platform — I believe there will always be a balance between paid and free reach for businesses.

What we do know is that Facebook made changes to their algorithm in September that have resulted in a decrease in the Reach numbers of many Pages. Facebook continually tweaks their algorithm — another reason not to rely on them as the sole site for your marketing.

Facebook posts have never reached 100% of your audience. The important thing to remember is that if you have good engagement on your Facebook Page, you are going to reach more of your audience for free compared to Pages that have poor engagement. So be interesting!

But if you do want some of your posts to get pushed into more of your Fans’ News Feeds, the Promoted Post can be a good way to do that. The Promoted Post only goes into the News Feed of your current Fans.

By the way, I highly recommend you do not opt for the Friends of Fans option that is offered. There are just too many reports of posts going to untargeted people that make no sense for your Page to advertise to.

When should you use a Promoted Post and how do you get the most out of your investment? I suggest using them if your engagement has dropped off significantly, and for occasional marketing messages.

Make sure the posts you promote are fun, interesting, and valuable to your audience. Promoting content your readers don’t want just won’t do you any good. They can be a good tool to re-engage your audience, but you can only get a good response of Likes, Shares, and comments with audience-friendly content. Again, I would use them sparingly for marketing messages.

What about Interest Lists?

Maybe you’ve seen the posts from Pages telling their Fans to add them to an Interest List.

But does it help? Yes — sort of. But the reader does have to remember to click on the Interest List to see the posts from time to time, which many people don’t think to do. Once someone has created an Interest List, it shows up in the lower left corner of their Home page.

Once the user clicks on the Interest List, they see the posts from the Pages or people that they have put on that list. Even that isn’t perfect. If the list gets large, Facebook still does not show every single update. But you might as well educate your Fans on the use of Interest Lists, since it can’t hurt.

Facebook Pages Feed

Facebook recently introduced the Pages Feed on the Home page of personal profiles. This is similar to Facebook Interest Lists, but Facebook has automatically added all the Pages users currently Like onto this List. All you have to do is to click the Pages Feed to see a dedicated News Feed of Page updates.

This is not perfect either. (Starting to sound familiar?) I have found many updates missing, and they are often not in chronological order. But again, this can only help your Page be more visible to your audience, so let your people know about this option.

Facebook Page Notifications

Yet another fancy tool that Facebook has released is the option for your Fans to request a Facebook notification (the little world icon that appears in the top menu bar of Facebook) whenever a Page posts a new update. All you need to do is go to the Page itself, hover over the Liked button, and then click Get Notifications.

Once again, not perfect. People have to watch their notifications closely, and if they are getting too many notifications, they will miss your update. But I do get the notifications of the Pages I have requested. One more tactic for the “this can’t hurt” folder.

The magic formula for Facebook success

Here’s the magic formula — there is no magic formula!

Facebook constantly changes. Not all of those changes work the way they’re supposed to. And the user experience may not be the same from page to page.

Everyone’s audience is different, and responds to different types of content. So watch your own statistics, try different things, and track your results. The magic formula is creating the good content and engaging updates that your audience craves.

At the risk of repeating ourselves, the moral of the story is don’t rely too heavily on Facebook for your marketing. Make sure you are spending time and effort converting those Fans into email subscribers by offering them freebies, webinars, or other goodies.

And of course, make sure your posts are fun and interesting. It’s called social networking for a reason.

What about you? What’s working right now for your Facebook Page? What’s driving you crazy? Are you frustrated with all the changes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

About the Author: Are you ready to drink the Facebook Kool-aid? If so, Andrea Vahl has lots of handy tutorials on how to get started and how to effectively use Facebook, with the help of her alter ego, Grandma Mary. Get more from Andrea and Grandma here: AndreaVahl.com.

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Sneak Peek: The State of SEO & Internet Marketing in 2012 [New Data]

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Are you hip to the current state of search engine optimization, internet marketing, and the marketing profession? In partnership with HubSpot, SEOmoz will soon release the results of its 2012 SEO & Internet Marketing Survey, in which more than 6,400 online marketers answered 54 questions about the state of the industry, their companies, and their work.

But even as the broader economy seems to falter, many companies leveraging internet marketing are growing and thriving, and the survey gives marketers a deeper look into the current state of a fast-moving industry. In fact, HubSpot Founder Dharmesh Shah and SEOmoz CEO Rand Fishkin will join forces for a live webinar this Monday, August 20 at 1 PM EST to discuss the full survey results (will you be joining them?). But before they do, we wanted to give you a sneak peek at some of the survey data to wet your appetite. In this post, we’ll share some of the survey’s key findings.

Social Media Is Going Strong

Not surprisingly, social media is a hot topic for online marketers in 2012. When asked about the services in most demand over the past year, social media led the way, with 72% of respondents reporting increased demand.

service growth resized 600Social media actions topped the list of tactics, too. The most popular inbound marketing action for 2012 was setting up a Facebook business page (76% of respondents). And setting up a Google+ business page was close behind (64%).

Google+ Is Holding its Own

While Facebook leads the way among the top social media sites used by marketers (88% of respondents) and Twitter isn’t far behind, Google+ also makes a strong showing, pushing itself into the #3 spot.

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Another newcomer, Pinterest, also worked its way up, making it into the #7 spot (21% of respondents). And video is clearly still alive and well in 2012, with YouTube coming in as the 4th most popular social network with our audience.

Content Classics Still Rule

Of course, not everything changes. Despite the hype over infographics and other new content categories, traditional forms of inbound marketing content still ruled the top 5.

content types resized 600

In fact, infographics came in at #8 (26% of respondents), trailing behind video and traditional, image-based content (such as photographs). Old standbys like guides and press releases are still popular in 2012.

Did any of this data surprise you? To learn about the full survey results, be sure to join Rand and Dharmesh for their live webinar, “The State of SEO and Internet Marketing in 2012,” this Monday, August 20 at 1 PM EST. Register here!

This is a guest post written by Dr. Peter Meyers (“Dr. Pete”), a cognitive psychologist, online marketer, and occasional rogue scientist at SEOmoz. You can find him on Twitter @dr_pete, because he still doesn’t understand how Pinterest works.




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