News you can use September

Breaking Stories and Top Articles for September, 2014

Considering the year’s record of news and best practices would leave you behind in the race. That is why we are checking the news daily, compiling it weekly, and getting you this monthly report on what’s happening in the disciplines that affect Internet Marketing.

1. Google Backs Off on Google+ Requirements

Big news this month for Google-watchers: Those who sign up for Gmail are no longer required to simultaneously create a Google+ account. Moreover, you can participate in a Google Hangouts On Air (HOA) without being a Google+ member.

Is it a sign Google+ will soon follow iGoogle, Google Reader, Google Insights for Search and a host of other applications on into the Google graveyard? Or, is it only another phase in the extended launch for Google’s much-discussed social network? Read all about it on Quartz.

Key Points:

  • Google+ features are opening up to non-Google+ users
  • Google-watchers are undecided on what the move could mean
  • Never, ever put all your eggs in one basket

Action Steps: If you’ve yet to participate in a Google HOA, check it out. Consider the ways the tool could be helpful to Internet Marketing.


2. Facebook Says “No More Incentives”


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Speaking of changes, Facebook has pulled the plug on Like-Gating, giving publishers until November 5, 2014 to comply. Once condoned by Facebook, Like-Gating requires a visitor to Like your page before being able to view or interact with special content. That’s not all, though, the new mandate goes on to say this:

You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page.

At over a billion users, Facebook is the largest social media site EVER. Given it is possible to buy a few thousand Likes for a few dollars (see below), how much does a Like really mean, anyway? Check that article on the Facebook Developers page.

Key Points:

  • Be wary of focusing on signals that are easily faked
  • If you’re going to pump money and time into developing an app, weigh the cost against the potential risk of how a policy change could affect the work
  • Don’t judge a company, based solely on how many Likes it has versus its competitors

Action Steps: Why do you think Facebook changed the policy? How important are Likes?


3. Bing Gets Tougher on URL Keyword Stuffing


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Not many years ago, exact match domain names (EMD’s) were all the rage. If your website sold condos in Florida, for instance, you coveted the domain.  Announcing an algorithm update, earlier this month, Bing Blogs said:

The underlying idea unique to URL KWS relies on two assumptions about ranking algorithms: a) keyword matching is used and b) matching against the URL is especially valuable. While this is somewhat simplistic considering search engines employ thousands of signals to determine page ranking, these signals do indeed play a role (albeit significantly less than even a few years ago.)

This article provides examples of sites that were affected by the update and listed the types of signals that may indicate keyword stuffing. (Bravo to Bing for being more than a little transparent.) You can see the announcement on Bing Blogs.

Key Points:

  • SEO tactics that worked then may not work now – and some that work now won’t always be effective
  • The smart SEO pro looks for balance and watches developments in best practices carefully
  • Keywords are important, but too much emphasis on them can work against you

Action Steps: Read the article and consider the signals Bing lists. How can they help you think more clearly about SEO?


4. AdWords Introduces Callout Extensions

Add more information and get more sales with callouts – that’s the idea behind these new (25-character maximum) lines for search ads. Manage them from the Ad extensions tab. You can use up to four callouts: Examples are “20% Off” or “We Pay Shipping.” Here’s the scoop: Inside AdWords

Key Points:

  • Callouts could be an excellent tool for increasing CTR (click-through rate) and guiding conversions
  • Check your Ad extensions tab to get started

Action Steps: Log into your AdWords account and investigate Callouts. How would your ads differ at account, campaign, and ad group levels?


5. How to Rocket-launch Your Email Marketing Campaign

These guys are achieving open rates averaging about 28% and click-throughs averaging 9%. Wouldn’t you like to know how? Check this article: 8 Ingredients

Key Points:

  • Don’t skip the basics
  • Know your audience

Action Steps: Read the article and check your own practices against it. Leaving out just one of these steps can make a big difference in your results.


6. Pinterest Introduces New Analytics Features

Business customers can now see much deeper into the actions arising from their boards – even those pins not coming from your own website. “Business” is a designation that your account is primarily for selling or promoting something. It’s still free, but the TOS (terms of service) are different. Find out more here: New Pinterest Analytics

Key Points:

  • If you have dismissed the value of Pinterest, take another look
  • It is a good idea to repin your most active pins to new boards
  • Pinterest Analyics can help you discover hot topics and get content ideas

Action Steps: Go check out the new analytics platform. You can either convert your personal account to business (if that fits) or open a new account. How can you use this data outside of Pinterest? Could it help you come up with new blog topics?


7. Facebook Like Farms – How Do They Work?

facebook-like-farmEverybody wants to be liked – on Facebook, though, those Likes can turn into dollars. Consequently, whether you want a few thousand more likes for vanity or for profit, it’s easy to get them … courtesy of Facebook Like farms – surreptitious providers of Likes for cash. In this recently-released study, a group of researchers took a deep-dive into Like fraud. Here’s what they found out: Facebook Like Farms


Key Points:

  • Buying Likes could be a dangerous practice. Don’t fall for “Everyone does it”
  • This could be an open door for blackhat competitors to skew advertising results

Action Steps: Bring up the topic of Like Farms with a group of your peers. Discuss the implications. What could happen to a business built on fraudulent Likes? How could this topic inform a business considering Facebook advertising?


8. Google Panda Update #27

Google has a set of algorithm updates that they categorize as Panda updates. Panda updates target an improvement in search results usually by finding and penalizing sites that have thin (useless) content. Search Engine Land has covered each new release. Catch up on the history of Panda here.

Key Points:

  • Effects 3-5% of all Google search queries depending on geographic
  • Finds and penalizes low-quality content (all Panda updates do this)
  • Looks to improve rankings for small and medium-sized sites with high-quality content

Action Steps: Read through the history of each Panda update.  Do a Google search for “spun articles,” a black hat SEO practice.

That’s all folks!

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Be a StuKent field observer: When you find a news tip, send it in. Let’s help one another stay current. The internet won’t slow down for us … we have to keep up!


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