John Maher: Hi I’m John Maher and this is Digital Marketing Madness. This podcast is brought to you by McDougall Interactive, and we’re a digital marketing agency in Danvers, Massachusetts. Today, I’m here with the President of McDougall Interactive, John McDougall. Hi John.
John McDougall: Hey, John.
John: I’m also here with the Vice President of Digital Marketing, Pavel Khaykin. Hi, Pavel.
Pavel Khaykin: Hi, John.
John: Today, we’re going to talk about our digital marketing news bulletin. It will be a little bit of a round table discussion of some of the things that we’re working on. The latest tools, the latest updates on what’s happening in the digital marketing and search engine optimization world. John, why don’t we start off with you. What are some of the hot things that you’re seeing in digital marketing lately?
Real Time Google Penguin Update and Possum Updates
McDougall: One of the big ones is Google Penguin going real time. We’ve been waiting a couple of years for Google to finally release the real time algorithm. When you upload a Google disavow, that shows the links that you tell Google you don’t want to be associated with the bad ones that maybe an SEO company got for you, that you didn’t realize or you did some paid links or directory or article submission sites, all that bad stuff you can send up to Google via the Google disavow. But unfortunately, the last couple of years it hasn’t been working because they haven’t updated the algorithm.
Thankfully now, they really do have a real time way to look at those disavows. We’ve been seeing a number of clients not sky rocketing, not every one of them is sky rocketing in terms of their ranks. Some of them you see a nice, upward trending arrow on the amount of keywords driving traffic. It might not be doubling, tripling, quadrupling traffic, but [there are] significant gains, so that’s one.
John: Right and like you said, it had been a couple of years since Google had made that update. If you had submitted a disavow a year and a half ago, it’s just been sitting there for a year and a half and not doing any good at all, so that’s a big update.
McDougall: Yes, so now it really, “instantly” will help you, but the reality is Google still has to crawl the websites that you disavowed, which are often low lying crappy websites.
John: They don’t crawl those very often.
McDougall: They don’t crawl them often, so you can use some software like Link Detox. That’s one where you can get them to go to those sites. In general, we’re excited to see Penguin starting to work, we do feel that you need to replace not only disavow links but you need to replace the bad links with other good ones. Keep doing stuff like blogging and adding content. You want to send not only a message to Google that you’ve cleaned up your links, but [also that] you’re getting new ones and adding content and all that. Good news on the link building front being able to finally get out of some of the penalties. Then just to rattle off a little bit of a bullet list for the bulletin here, Possum is one interesting algorithm update. I am not fully versed in it yet but in September, Google unveiled yet another map listing update. Like Pigeon was in 2014 an update that tied the map listing algorithm to the main core algorithm, where things like being in authority and having good links and good content and doing good SEO stuff became essential to map listing optimization.
John: To appearing in the Google search results in that local map. We have a pin on the map.
McDougall: Exactly, the local optimization used to be really standard stuff, [like] get citations, get reviews, optimize your Google business page and/or other search engine business pages. But those things to Google were too standard. Everybody was doing them and it became a system that you could game, so they wanted to make it more esoteric, harder to game, and they tied it to the core algorithm in 2014 with Pigeon.
In 2016 now in September, they just came out with Possum where it has to do with a variety of things. But they’re trying to enhance the map listing algorithm and some people are being filtered. It looks like your listing is playing Possum like it’s disappeared, but in fact it may just be filtered out and that depends on various factors. I won’t go into all the details, but look up Google Possum. That’s a whole other algorithm update.
John: Yes. We’ll probably talk more about that.
McDougall: Yes. Exactly. We can do a whole episode on that, but just it’s worth noting there’s yet another local optimization thing to think about.
Search and Social
McDougall: Then search and social is colliding more than ever. There’s a bit of competition going on now. Google gets three billion searches, where Facebook gets two billion. Facebook and various; Twitter, LinkedIn, different social media sites are getting a lot of searches to actually potentially compete with Google. There’s a lot going on in the world of social media and Facebook just keeps getting bigger and bigger in a way. It’s not skyrocketing like it once was, but Facebook really is the dominant social channel. We love LinkedIn for professional services and we still heavily believe in that. We like Twitter for sharing content and being an authority and for a lot of content promotion a lot of things. But it’s really something to be said for the size and scope of not only Facebook as a social entity, but now to a degree the searches on it.
On the searches in the Google search results pages used to be 10 blue links. Now it’s on average 8.5, depending on mobile and desktop, I think 8.5 to 8.9 average amount of links on the page, because they’re featuring all these different things on the page and it doesn’t look like the old search engine results pages of the old days. It’s more confusing now and really the reality is there’s less real estate for SEO’s to get the organic listings. You can get in on those other things. If there’s local listings, the map listing, those images videos, whatever else is there, you want to be there.
John: There’s a paid search ads of course.
McDougall: Of course, and various types of paid things now from shopping ads two different types of paid opportunities to be there. You really have to think beyond the 10 blue links and think about anything that’s popping up there. Even other sites that are popping up. I was just looking for one of our clients that has a wedding location. I was searching for gluten-free weddings or something like that, wedding locations on the North shore. Over and over and over again, the first page or two was all big sites, [like] The Knot, Wedding-Wire, these directory sites that are pretty hardcore directories; not like cheese or flaky SEO directories, but real sites that have lived through the days of Google crushing little small directories. Like sizable sites.
John: They can really dominate the results.
McDougall: They can dominate a lot of results because they have sophisticated SEO’s on staff, multiple teams of content experts, [and] writers. Then you have the local wedding [place that] may be hiring an SEO company [on a] small to medium budget and not really being as sophisticated. You look at The Knot and Wedding-Wire for example, and they’re pounding out hundreds of thousands of pages of content and videos and all kinds of stuff. The other stuff to think about with the results pages and then seeing featured snippets popping up are small questions being answered right at the top of the search results.
John: Right. You’re seeing that more and more now.
Q&A at the Top of Search Results
McDougall: Yes, there’s a whole another thing where maybe back in the day again there were 10 blue links and if you were there, you got clicked. Now if your question is answered right there in the search results, the websites don’t even get a click necessarily. But at the same time, like if you search for “authority marketing”, we’re often number one with authoritymarketing.com, but sometimes you’ll see Huffington Post and there’s a little description of authority marketing that pops up, and it’s from a Huffington Post article. You can click and you can go to the Huffington Post. But you’ll also see this little snippet there. If you create little FAQ pages, either both long and short answers, meaning you could create a page of 10 FAQs all on one page. 10 questions [and] 10 answers all on one page, even with a nice little table of contents, like a little nav menu [where] if you click any of those 10 items, it . . .
John: Jumps down to that question.
McDougall: Jumps down to the named anchor. However, they do it now and code down to that question on that one page. Or you can do that and make a whole page of these are things that require a whole page to answer the question, as opposed to [what] you can probably answer in two or three sentences or paragraphs or something. If it requires maybe 500, 1000 or so words, you should make a whole page for it. If you want to get featured in the snippets, you should have more content like FAQs on your site. Podcasts are good for that. FAQs and article pages or answering customers’ questions are something to keep an eye out for and think about doing strategically.
McDougall: Then mobile, a third of people using smartphones now as their primary way to access the internet, and more people, if you combine mobile and tablets using those combined devices to search and go online, than desktop. There’s no doubt that mobile is just continuing to be a completely hot hub-spot. I had a stat that I read today, 88% of search engine experts agree that mobile will be the biggest thing to impact search engine rankings, SEO rankings, in the coming 12 months. That’s a pretty big statement. Mobile is just that big.
Those things actually, the FAQs, the featured snippets, things like that, are good for mobile too, and people are using voice to search, so they might say, “What’s the best gluten-free pizza in Boston?” or “How do you make hard-boiled eggs?” They’re searching their mobile phone, especially location stuff, and if your site has those FAQ pages, you’re more likely to come up. Again, podcasting is one way to get that content. You can make an FAQ page of 10 questions and maybe short order. You’d have to just do a podcast where you know you’re going to answer those 10 questions succinctly.
I might not be a good example of that. All of that stuff ties together — people [are] not only using mobile to search, they’re searching with voice. FAQs and featured snippets are a way that you can capitalize on that. Also tied to mobile is video. Some people, some of our clients would even say, “Our customers don’t read. They just want to watch a video.” Written content is awesome and Google relies on a lot of written content. I wouldn’t stop doing written content. But it is true that a lot of people are watching video on mobile. If you’re on a little device, you may not want to be reading a ton of stuff — whereas you can just click the video and instantly get the update. That would make an argument for not only podcasting but video content that answers short and long questions and brings you up for a whole variety of items right in search.
Facebook Marketing and Promoted Posts
John: Okay, great. Pavel, what kind of digital marketing tactics are you working on lately?
Pavel: I think Facebook has been really a big platform for me over the past month, specifically, as you guys know, organic which is pretty much non-existent. You may have a Facebook profile with 20,000 fans and you go ahead and start sharing something there on your wall and maybe 100 people will . . ..
John: A really small percentage of the people are actually going to see that.
Pavel: Really small, and clients will wonder, “Why aren’t we getting more attraction here?”
John: “We spent all this time getting all these likes; tens of thousands of likes and why is it only reaching a few hundred people,” or something?
Pavel: I think a way to counter that is really to utilize Facebook promoted posts. I have seen that work very well. What I love about Facebook is you don’t need a lot of money for it. You can allocate $10 to $20, or even a little more to really get more bang for the buck and really get nice results. The one thing that’s great about Facebook is that the targeting is just so precise. You really can go drill down to not only the age group demographics, but you can target homeowners, or you can target people who are fans of pest control companies, or people who like certain types of jewelry. You can really drill down to very specific metrics to make sure the money you’re spending is being spent efficiently so that you’re not wasting it away.
John: A real targeted way.
McDougall: Do you find the more you optimize, the more the results [you get], or the more you slice and niche down the demographic targeting?
Pavel: Yes, exactly. We’re getting better ROI based on that. The great thing about Facebook also is we can customize call-to-actions. If you have a coupon, we can create a call-to-action called an offer and then someone can click on [that] offer and then they’ll land on a coupon page. They can print [it] and that automatically gets emailed to that Facebook user. So maybe they won’t necessarily convert that same day, but maybe a month from now they will. It’s a great way to create different calls to actions and rotate blogging content or maybe a social media branding campaign or an inspirational quote. There are a lot of things you can do and even $10 a month, I mean $10 a week or more can really go a long way.
McDougall: Per individual post.
Pavel: Per individual post.
McDougall: Do you find that if you increase that it’s even better? Instead of $10 [can you do] $15, $20, $25, or $100?
Pavel: Yes, absolutely. We just did a test and we’re about to do another one for client of mine. We’ve tested $400 to $500. We’ve seen pretty significant results out of that. A lot of people claim the offer we were advertising. We received hundreds of likes, multiple shares, comments, things that otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish if we did not engage in promoted posts, so promoted posts really work.
McDougall: Great, instead of just organic social or just long-tail keywords, driving your content to the top, using some pay to play.
Pavel: The great thing about that is your Facebook page looks alive. If somebody lands on your Facebook page they see, “Oh you have 100 likes.”
John: You’re not just posting things every day and getting no comments and no shares and no likes, that just makes it look like you’re get out there speaking to nobody. But like you said, it looks alive. A page like that where you come to it and there’s people commenting, there’s engagement, that makes a big difference.
Pavel: Exactly, even just once a week. It’s still fresh on the newsfeed, you’ll get some activity and you look alive and it ties everything together with SEO and everything else that you are doing.
John: The cost of that is just way less than doing Google AdWords or something.
Pavel: It’s incredible, yes. It’s incredible and especially with the targeting because with AdWords, ours is amazing. It’s awesome. It works really well. Ours does not give you that targeting that you can accomplish with Facebook.
McDougall: For content promotion.
Pavel: For content promotion. A lot of people are doing it, whether it’s small businesses like with some of our clients where, as you said, they have a small blog. Every blog post they do is just getting limited views. It’s just such a nice boost to the ego that I’m hearing about it and talking to other top-level experts doing the same thing. It doesn’t matter if you’re one of the top bloggers in the world, they’re doing it and local small tiny blogs are doing it, so it’s pretty well used across the spectrum I think, right?
Podcasting and Social Media
John: On my site, I’m doing a lot with podcasting and videos, which you mentioned John. One of the things that I’m working on specifically is more podcast promotion. That’s really important, because again it’s like the Facebook promoted posts. It’s not enough to just get it out there, you have to get in front of people. It’s not enough to just have the content living out there if people aren’t seeing it. It’s not doing any good for you, so you want to really promote your podcast. One of the ways that you can do that is to really utilize your existing social media networks that you [already] have and that you’ve built up over time to really maximize your reach.
Share your podcasts on your social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and things like that. It can really help to get those podcasts in front of more eyes. One of the ways that you can do that is — it depends a little bit on on where your podcast is hosted — if you’re hosting your podcast on say, SoundCloud, you can just go right to the share button that’s on that SoundCloud episode and select your platform. There’s little buttons there to share on Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and other ones as well. Then that will just automatically embed the player directly into Twitter or Facebook. Users who come across that, say on Facebook, don’t even have to click and then go to SoundCloud to listen to that podcast, but they can listen directly right there in their Facebook feed.
If you’re using Libsyn for your hosting — it stands for Liberated Syndication, it’s another very popular hosting platform for podcasts — you use the link embed button and you can either paste the direct download URL or the Libsyn in directory URL, not the permalink or the iFrame code. You can paste that into your Twitter or Facebook, and again it will show up as an actual audio player right there in Facebook or Twitter. You can also do something pretty cool, which is to use Twitter publish or Facebook publish. You find those in Libsyn in “destinations,” and then you click on “add new.” You can actually add in or connect to your Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn or other social media account right in your Libsyn profile. You add that as a destination so that when you post a new episode on Libsyn, not only does it send it out on the RSS feed which you have connected to iTunes and Stitcher and places like that that have podcasts, but it automatically just sends it right out to all your social media platforms that you have set up in there.
All you have to do is just post your podcast to Libsyn. If you have all of that set up already, it’s automatically going right to your Facebook, right to your LinkedIn, right to your Twitter. Then all those users that you have and all of that network of people that you’ve built up on your social media platforms they get that podcast again in front of them and then you’re more likely to have them listen to it. Then hopefully [they’ll] subscribe and rate and review your podcast on iTunes and Stitcher, etc. That’s a great thing to do is just to utilize the social media that you already have for promoting your podcasts.
McDougall: What about getting on other people’s social networks? If you interview other experts, how do you find that enhances podcasts?
John: Yes, absolutely. That’s another great way to get your podcast in front of other audiences. Interview people that are in your in your industry. Specifically, you know,try to find people who have their own large audience.
As soon as you do that podcast with them and you get it live up on your site, just let that person know, “Hey, the podcast that you were on, the episode is live on my site, here it is, here’s some share links. All you have to do is just click on it and it will automatically share that to your social media platforms.” Make it as easy as possible for them to share it to their own social media and they’ll be more likely to do that. Then you’re getting your podcast in front of not just your audience but their audience as well.
McDougall: A far cry from the 1990’s SEO.
John: In conclusion, we want to end the podcast with a free tool, an industry survey or a download or something like that. John, what’s your cool tool of the month?
McDougall: Well, I just found these today — a tip to the Internet Marketing Ninjas e-mail newsletter, they shared some information about those FAQ’s I was talking about. We’ve been doing that for a while but they had some awesome stuff on it. They featured snippets. I heard of these tools Serpstat and Answer the Public. Use Serpstat and Answer the Public to find related questions that people type into the Google search box and you can generate articles on FAQ’s about those. Check those out.
John: It goes back to what you were talking about with how people do searches now with questions.
McDougall: Yes. It’s not the old days of golf clubs and hearing aids. What are the problems that keep people up at night? How do I solve this problem? From chronic pain management issues to–you name it, gluten-free stuff, niche stuff but again it’s not just two or three keywords anymore. At times, of course you’re not going to miss trying to optimize for the big head terms.
John: People do still search like that.
McDougall: You’re going to shoot for that too. If you only did that and you didn’t rank top 10, you really wouldn’t be getting much traffic. You have to get a lot of long tail keywords going and you have to do that around the buyer’s journey. People are asking questions first and they are trying to solve their problems and then later they might type in “chronic pain management solution” or “companies in Boston Massachusetts” as opposed to their early stage of the process they’re thinking, “What are my options for chronic back pain? What are the side effects of long term taking aspirin every day?” Really in-depth questions that they’re asking, but you need to be the thought leader on that.
John: When you find those questions, you do what you talked about before which is you include those questions and answers on a page of FAQs or if it warrants, a whole post about that one question.
John: All right well that’s really great.
John: Great to talk to you guys. Thanks, John McDougall for speaking with us today.
McDougall: Yes, absolutely.
John: Thank you, Pavel.
Pavel: Thanks, John.
John: For more information about Digital Marketing, visit mcdougallinteractive.com. Please subscribe, rate and review this podcast on iTunes. Thanks for listening. I’m John Maher. See you next time on Digital Marketing Madness.