With stories linking the CEO Jack Dorsey to an early exit of his prospectively short ‘permanent’ role at Twitter, what does it take for a social media platform to really perform? Despite posting a rise in revenue for three months to September, “pace of growth in active users was the slowest since it joined the stock market in 2013.” Which is why the company’s shares fell 11% after the results announcement. When you combine this information with the fact that Facebook shares are busting at the market cap, and the average monthly users are an astounding 1.49 billion to Twitter’s 316 million. It seems like the problem Twitter faces (pardon the pun) is simple, generate as many monthly users as Facebook or face the reality that your marketing revenue will always be a fraction of that of Facebook.
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All that seems simple enough, but here’s why we think Twitter isn’t completely lost at sea yet. The strength of social media has adapted the face of marketing so much in the last 5 to 10 years that the market still does not know how to effectively value their potential. Facebook makes it’s money offering marketers an incredible amount of specific information to target their ads at exactly the right potential customers, providing a great return on investment, which is so far unavailable in any traditional form of marketing. Money that can be wasted on printed marketing, can now be much more intelligently spent through digital marketing. Printed circulations might reach 50,000 readers but how many of them are in your target area or matching your other demographics? So as long as Facebook’s value is measured in its marketing potential through targeted ads, then the measurement of Monthly Active Users is a vital statistic. With the lower monthly users that Twitter has, they also don’t request all the detailed information that anyone’s Facebook page stores about them, giving them less information to sell on to advertisers.
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If Twitter continues to play Facebook’s game and try to match their performance on the same stage then I’m sure it will continue to struggle. Twitter’s principle strength is also what is known as their greatest weakness, the ‘firehose’ of content that it generates. Since Twitter began in 2006, it has almost reinvented the news industry. The print giants of yesteryear have been forced to adapt to digital versions of themselves and they also now have to compete with sites like mashable or reddit, that thrive on trending content from across the web, or more specifically Twitter. The type of stories that breed social shares and attract attention. Twitter’s strength is far from Facebook’s, the sale of information. The potential of Twitter is to control the conversation that the World is having. There is seldom an advertisement that doesn’t include a ‘#’, and it is not confined to marketing. Political movements have hinged on Twitter, such as #BlackLivesMatter, presidential candidates rely on Twitter for their campaigns, sometimes to their misfortune, #Trump2016. When Twitter realises how to monetize the topic of conversation for the World, then their stock shares will undoubtedly begin to climb.
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Google has been ordered by the Information Commissioner’s office to remove links to news stories about the “Right to be forgotten” rulings that took place, that include the details Google was ordered to remove in the first place. Bad reviews or negative content can be a scar on search results for your business. So no wonder the ‘Right to be forgotten’ is such an important ruling for the European Union. If you’d like to know exactly what the ruling means and how it was reached you can read the fact sheet from the European Commission here.
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Can you imagine a World where nothing was forgotten? Where every regrettable interaction anyone had could be found and seen by everyone anytime. It wouldn’t make for a great introduction.
“Hi I’m Stan, I used to steal Mars bars from my local paper shop. But now I’m a great Financial advisor.”

A search for Robert Downey Jnr would end up a long way from Iron Man, we assure you. There wouldn’t be any rumours about Chris Evans presenting Top Gear. Before being a blog writer and online reputation manager I once entered a school talent show, my act was lip syncing and dancing to East 17’s ‘smash hit’ Steam. Although I am glad that this wouldn’t show up in Search results for my name, those year 5 girls didn’t know what hit them!

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So what kind of a first impression are you making on your potential customers or clients? It only takes one unhappy customer to take to the internet and leave that negative feedback that can lead to a huge drop in your site traffic. Who trusts a financial advisor that stole Mars bars?! Businesses from around the World are at the mercy of the search results, but there is another way. Online reputations can be improved and negative content can be forgotten about. Search Results are all about staying current, once a result is no longer relevant it will be forgotten. So that grumbling customer from 2012 will disappear if you are working hard on an online presence. Creating new engaging content and spreading the word through social media, that you are in fact a reliable Twix eating Financial Advisor can mean that your Mars eating dark days are well behind you.


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Confused by Google’s ongoing change from Destination to Final URL? It’s not surprising. True to form, Google implement a major change requiring agencies to devote a huge number of man hours and barely even a communication other than the normal vague announcements.

Just to clarify, this is what you can expect:

  1. Destination URLs will be automatically moved to the new “Final URL” field for adgroups that don’t have cross-domain redirect URLs.
  2. Google will send you an alert in your AdWords account to let you know if any of your adgroups weren’t upgraded.
  3. Destination URLs can no longer be used. Adwords Editor will prevent you from posting changes to ads still using destination URLs. If you use tracking you’ll need to work with Google who will facilitate the required upgrade.
  4. Ads with destination URLs that have not been updated will stop serving “in a few months”, whatever that means. What we do know is that Google will be reluctant to cost themselves. So I wouldn’t be too worried about your timescales. It’s like Bing’s efforts to change the logins for Bing Ads accounts which has been happening for several years now! What Google have said though is that they will let you know one month before your ads stop serving by email and with an alert in your account.

Good luck.

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SEO in plain English

31 Jul

If you’re a business owner and don’t know what SEO is, you’ve come to the right place. SEO or Search Engine Optimisation, much like Ronseal “does exactly what it says on the tin”.

SEO is the practice of making sure a business ticks all of the right boxes to make the Search Engine gods at Google, Bing, Yahoo or wherever, judge you kindly. If you have all your information in the right places, have the right people talking about you, and know where to place certain key words to let the Search Engines know exactly where and what you are, and when you’re open for business. If you have a full SEO plan that effectively comes together you could be one step (or search result) ahead of your competitors.

If you’ve looked into online marketing before, you may have heard of a ‘citation’. Don’t worry it’s not a punishment (we’ll get onto that later), actually citations are a positive influence for your online presence. A citation is what we call it whenever your business is mentioned somewhere on the internet.

The most important part of a citation is that it includes at least the name of your business, preferably with an accurate address and phone number. That’s why you may have heard of the importance of NAP (Name-Address-Phone) consistency. If your business is listed with lots of varying information, then Search Engines can’t trust the information as correct and so won’t display it. Citations are perhaps the most important feature that really grounds your business in a certain location in the Search Engine’s mind. So to feature on locally relevant searches this is really important.

seo for local businessesSo now we understand that search engines measure reliability of your business through how other people on other sites are talking about it. This is where online reputation can come in. Something more that you require from other sites that will improve how search engines view your business is ‘back links’. The World of back links can be a very tricky one to traverse. Some websites offer backlinks in return for money, but be warned that Google polices for these tricksters and if you’re found buying links you can face penalties (Dropping back down the Search Results). Worthy backlinks have to be earned, someone referencing your blog in their article or a press release about how your company is making innovations in their industry.

Once you realise the importance on back links, its hard to ignore the power of social media to amplify and spread those back links. Now businesses need to be on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus as a minimum. You can’t expect people to be giving you back links unless your creating valuable content on site, that once you promote it through your social channels, people will begin to share that content and so as well as generate authority for your domain, it will also drive traffic to your site independently of search.

So Google doesn’t like it when you pay people for them to feature a link to your site, unless its Google of course! So through highly targeted PPC campaigns (Pay Per Click), where Google will display your page above the Search Results you can advertise directly to people who are making relevant searches. SEO experts will provide a complete analysis of keywords and which keywords convert better for you business. That way your budget is more intelligently spent and you achieve a much better ROI (Return on your investment).

When trusted with marketing you are responsible for the final touch to a great deal of work. If all the other facets of the business are taken care of, then the first thing to get the blame for poor sales, is marketing. Knowing that you’re the last one in, and first one out when a company considers its budget, it’s high time to get smart and face up to these truths, that can make you worth more than your penny.


Not everyone will be your customer.

The internet is not the place for fishing. There’s too much information to just aimlessly cast out a net and hope to catch something. Marketers must be specific. You need to know exactly who your customers are before you begin marketing. Once you know who they are, you know how and where to find them.


Marketing without Data is like Driving

via Forbes

Once you dip your toe in the data that’s available your marketing approaches will really see the benefits. Targeting key words in search that simply don’t convert will waste your time, but intelligent distribution of your budget will lead to a much better return on your investments. Also you must pay attention to social activity, if your targets aren’t tweeting when you are, you could be missing a beat. Custom design your marketing campaigns to target who and what you want, when and how you want.


Constant Exchange

Having 100,000 followers and likes is great. You’re consistently reaching an interested audience, and happy that you’re building the brand you’ve dreamed of.  But I’m afraid to break it to you, all it takes is one comment or unhappy customer to shatter those dreams. Some well timed comments featuring a few biting truths can destroy you’re online reputation much quicker than it took you to build it!


Failure is simply the opportunity to

So you invested a large amount of your budget in a campaign that fell flat on it’s nose. Its time to take stock of what you were sharing, was it interesting enough? Who were you targeting? Why did it fail? The truth is you never lose, only win or learn.



via quickbase.intuit.com

Unfortunately you are not the only spokesperson for your brand. The whole World has Twitter and Facebook and you’ve heard the problem about opinions and assholes, everybody’s got one. Branding is no longer what you tell the World about your company, its what the World says about your company. An interesting example, sadly for McDonalds, not everybody is ‘loving it’.


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Living in Southern California has its perks and its down falls. However facing a limited water supply because of the historic drought is not the main concern of this ‘Soccer’ fan. This Sunday as I couldn’t see the Manchester derby live, I spent the morning ignoring my smartphone and computer, like a modern day version of the Likely Lads in an attempt to avoid finding out the score. When I finally sat down at my computer the window I had open for watching a replay of the game, of course was not working. So naively I searched for “manchester city vs manchester united replay online” and little to my surprise the most used search engine on the planet ruined my day!
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I didn’t even have to click through a search result to have the one thing I didn’t want to find out, thrust into my eyesight, like an inappropriate eye chart. After Google ruined my Sunday, I also began thinking about how many other people’s Sundays would be ruined. When did we give power over our emotions like this to a search engine? With Google facing anti-trust charges in Europe over their search engine monopoly it becomes striking the power over the World they are actually holding. Over the last decade the evolution of Google has been enormous. Their role in modern society has developed away from returning the searcher’s most satisfying webpage for their query to now, looking to answer their query directly. Without having to divert any traffic away from Google itself. Unless the website in question is duly paying Google for the privilege, not to be mistaken for pizzo. Which if you do not pay, the doors to the online marketplace are suddenly closed to you, capisci? 
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The question I’d like to ask, is how long before Google really starts to manipulate people with their control of search? What if a search for “suicide helpline” returns a list of the tallest buildings in your area? Or if you search how to put a fire out, you’re answered with Billy Joel singing that he didn’t start it! We’re not saying Google is becoming Skynet and will be looking to become our robot overlords in the future, but when you begin to allow AI (or deep learning and machine learning) to develop your algorithms and nobody really understands why certain searches bring back certain results anymore, then we just hope Will Smith is around to keep a cap on it.
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The internet, during its relatively short life, was born a republic and and has been transformed into a sovereignty. Tim Berners-Lee kindly gifted the World Wide Web to us all, free of charge and from then on a power battle has been waged by the great powers.

At the beginning of 2015 it’s clear that Google sits on the throne courtesy of the fact that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine query. Using their search engine dominance Google generated almost $60 Billion in revenue for 2013, and they are constantly searching to increase that amount. And some of the techniques that they deploy are, shall we say, somewhat dubious as we have demonstrated in an earlier blog post on this site. But what does this mean for small or medium sized business owners trying to increase their reach online?

Will 2015 be the year of the internet revolt? What will happen when Google take their internet dominance to the next level and take a bigger slice of the pie from everyone else? The same thing that happens when any country taxes their population too much, revolution. Anyone making a search with Google can see the changes they have been making recently. What happens when Google makes it possible to shop for iPads without the customer even having to visit Apple, Ebay or Amazon? The traffic (and Revenue) to their site will fall and they won’t be happy.

Image1As you can see here Google make the shopping experience very simple by featuring the traditional paid search links, but also now the Shopping (also paid) links to the right of the screen. Meaning that if you don’t want to pay Google for an ad, people probably won’t be visiting your site when shopping for something specific. With the development and progression of mobile, the other internet giants will surely look to cut out Google. If Google will divert the internet flow away from Apple, Apple will look to perfect their own mobile search with an alternative IOS app. And given that Apple can sell over 10 million new iPhones in a weekend, their search engine punching weight becomes formidable.

So how can small or medium sized businesses keep up? The answer is that you need to keep doing the right things and Google will reward you. Google’s algorithm changes are usually copied by the other search engines, so if you’re complying with Google’s best practice guidelines the chances are that you will for Bing, Yahoo and whoever else too. Searches are becoming intuitive, and the strategy for your Paid Search campaign and for your SEO is becoming more complex with key decisions to be taken depending on your key target rank phrases.

Recent developments at Google are policing Backlinks, and if you have them in the wrong places you will be punished. So it has become more and more important to develop your own authoritative backlinks through other means, such as having a great social media branding campaign, and generating shareable content. So let the battle commence at the Royal table, and make sure your business optimises its internet presence with SearchVista.

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A customer calls up to ask for help and is told that you’re too busy. He asks you a question and you ask if he’s deaf. He pulls out his phone, searches “your business” and writes exactly what he thinks of you and your business in brilliantly brutal and concise words for the entire World to stumble upon. This is definitely more effective than picketing. Firstly because it’s sadly no longer the 1980’s and I’m no longer a member of the National Graphical Association trade union. But perhaps more importantly, because this statement is directed at people that can hurt your business most, that’s potential new customers and existing customers. 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and that isn’t the only reason you should be working on your customer service!

 2014 was a year of change for Google.  We’ve seen ‘Penguin’, ‘Pirate’, ‘Panda’, and ‘Pay Day Loan’ algorithm updates all come in to effect. So what does this mean for search ranking and what can we expect in 2015? Google is beginning to interpret our search rather than just trawl through keywords. It’s no longer enough to have a website packed full of the right keywords.  Searches are being ranked on ‘relevance’ instead of “exact matching”. So if your rivals are outnumbering you on reviews, even if they’re not necessarily better reviews, then they could be outnumbering you in the search results. 

 If your site is static, no testimonials being posted, no new images, no blog, well then you’re becoming less relevant and unless you change that you could soon be forgotten. Don’t misunderstand me, without SEO most businesses couldn’t dream of growing their organic visitor sessions. And of course there are still lots of the old techniques that are valid. But if you really want to take the star prize your business has to become a meaningful brand. That involves engaging with your customers. Your business needs to interact and be accessible.  

 If you’re wondering how the website monkey should best dance to please Google’s animal police then the best guidelines we have found are here – http://themoralconcept.net/pandalist.html – which as you can see places a really high emphasis on the classic SEO practices of; 

1.    Having a high quality ranking or trust factor for your business url.

2.    Long-standing and regularly updated domain name.

3.    Having a site that satisfies the user.

4.    Strongly consistent with business information.

5.    Optimised site design.

But the article also outlines the recently developing guidelines that involve a business’s duty to maintain their internet presence and consistently interact with the web. So the best plan of attack for you and your business is to consider a mixture of these, or contact us to do it for you.

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The internet is bubbling with energy as it always does when there is news from Mark Zuckerberg, and its not fashion tips. It is not often that the internet giants will miss out on a potential market, the land of social media marketing for businesses is no exception. It’s becoming increasingly important for companies to get found through the most popular channels the internet has to offer. Facebook is about to put their billion monthly users to use and go directly up against LinkedIn, with ‘Facebook for Work.

Coinciding with this attack from the juggernaut of Facebook is the ominous signs of $19m in sales of stocks by the LinkedIn CEO in November. Is it a time to abandon the LinkedIn ship?

“We are in the process of asking ourselves what it would take…to create economic opportunity for the 3 billion people in the global workforce,” The LinkedIn Chief Executive Jeff Weiner.

LinkedIn is actually one of the fastest growing social media platforms. More than two users sign up to LinkedIn every second. As of February 2014 Dan Roth the executive director of LinkedIn announced that any member can create and publish extended content, meaning LinkedIn became the place to showcase in depth analysis across many subjects. This drove up both engagement and time users spend on the site. Meaning bloggers and publishers can share on LinkedIn for free, gaining the power of content accessible to over 300 million users. LinkedIn is the business social media, it doesn’t show the World you doing a beer bong at the office Christmas party, but it might show you shaking hands with the CEO at the recent training excercise. There are now over a billion LinkedIn endorsements, providing pre verified resumes for employees looking for work.

‘If You’re Not on LinkedIn – You Don’t Exist’, Gal Borenstein.

With ‘Facebook for work’ however, it might be LinkedIn that won’t exist. The Facebook service too will look to provide a business alternative to the normal personal Facebook service. So far Facebook’s business interaction has remained basic, mostly for publicity purposes. ‘Facebook for Work’ could potentially become another workforce map, like LinkedIn, encouraging businesses to keep a profile and post job vacancies and so help in the search for employees with the right verified skills. Undoubtedly Facebook faces great challenges, apart from some companies having a Facebook ban, to convince the large companies to have trust in the privacy settings when some businesses need protected content. Obviously no one knows how successful the service will be when it rolls out but it will certainly be one to watch for any companies concerned with their internet presence.

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I can’t actually believe that I’m writing this, because even being well aware of Google’s ability to maximise share price directly by reducing adwords campaign efficiency for it’s users, this one really takes the biscuit.

We all know that the best return on investment from Adwords is when a campaign is highly optimised with ads showing only on the Search network. So what is this Display Select all about? It’s about reducing the value that you currently enjoy by showing your ads in an allegedly intelligent way on sites where the user had no intention to search for your product.

So next time those nice support people and account executives at Google tell you to try it, tell them where to go. Even tech support staff are coming back with the Display Select “recommendation”. Two things really top this shocking episode off:

1. When adding Display Select, you haven’t been warned that you are allowing Google to set automated bids – NIGHTMARE!

2. Some campaigns will be switched to Display Select automatically!

Incredible. A new low in my honest opinion.

I’m sure that Sergey Brin would disapprove wholeheartedly, if that is his shares that he still holds hadn’t recently passed the $30bn mark.

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