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Making The World (Wide Web) A Safer Place

Google Goes https CrazyGoogle announced this week that they are now counting whether your site uses a https secure connection as a ranking factor, and they say that it’s because security on the web is their top priority.

Personally I think this is a great move, because it will make more websites more secure, providing better peace of mind for customers, and broadly giving better protection to website owners.

At the moment Google say that having a https connection is only a ‘lightweight ranking factor’ which is effecting ~1% of global queries, but considering that they’ve publicly announced that this is definitely going to improve your ranking, I’m taking a wild guess that this ranking factor will be given more weight over time.

Of course, there are still hundreds of other ranking signals that Google take into account, and one of the biggest is original & quality content, but if adding a secure connection to your site moves you above your competitors on page one of the search results then it just might be worthwhile.

The problems most people will find is that adding security certificates is costly and quite technical and that for a while was true but nowadays most hosts will do this for you quite cheaply. A PositiveSSL certificate only costs ten bucks and your host should not charge you too much to install it.

I guess the proof we’ll need on exactly how ‘lightweight’ this signal is will be when we start reviewing the top 10 positions for all our keywords over the next few months and seeing how many of our competitors start to appear above us with https connections.

Google have said that they’ll be publishing some detailed best practices on implementing soon, and you can read more about their announcement here: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/https-as-ranking-signal.html

Dan.

Facebook Rolls Out Multi-Product Ads & Enhances Custom Audiences

As part of the ongoing expansion and development of their ad platform, Facebook has rolled out another great new ad format, and they’ve also enhanced their awesome custom audiences feature.

The new ad type is called Multi Product Ads, and as the name suggests, it allows you to advertise multiple products in the same ad unit. The products appear on a carousel, and each product has it’s own image, description and URL target.

Facebook Multi Product Ads

Image Credit: Facebook

This is a great new offering, and Facebook say that during their initial testing with the new ad unit and custom audiences the ecommerce company Nomorerack increased their click thru rate by 42% and decreased their cost per acquisition by between 42% and 45%

The Custom Audience feature is also getting enhanced over the next few weeks to give you a whole lot more control, like people who have visited specific pages, visited specific pages but not other pages, or who haven’t visited in a while:

FB Custom Audiences

Image Credit: Facebook

You will also be able to create custom combinations to tightly segment your custom audience by allowing you to specify criteria to include people if they’ve taken specific actions:

FB Custom Audiences Combos

Image Credit: Facebook

Custom audiences are a killer feature for remarketing and getting your ads put in front of people who you’ve already got a relationship with, and it’ll be really interesting to see if these changes help with increasing returns on Facebook ad spend.

Jon.

Pinterest Rolls Out New Interactive Follow Button

Pinterest have just announced a brand new version of their ‘Follow’ button which is a great improvement.

The new style button, which is aimed at Pinterest users with a verified business account, is animated and when it’s clicked an overlay pops up with a selection of your most recent pins, and the user can click to follow you straight away without leaving your website.

Pinterest-Follow-Button

Image Credit: Pinterest Business

This is a good move from Pinterest as it allows you to keep people on your website, and also provides the user with a good idea of the types of content you share on Pinterest in order to get the new follower.

If you’ve already got the Pinterest follow button on your website then there’s nothing you need to do, the new version will just work straight off the bat.

If you’ve not got the Follow button on your site you can create one over at Pinterest’s Widget Builder.

It’ll be interesting to see if followers increase using this new style of interactive button, and if you’ve seen an uptick in your Pinterest followers we’d love to hear about it in the comments below :)

Jon

The Art & Science Of Content Marketing

I stumbled across this great infographic the other day from Kapost & Salesforce.com which outlines how a successful content marketer needs to tap into both their artistic side in order to convey the emotions and inspire people to take action, and the analytical side in order to ensure that they can fully track and monitor the online viewers behaviour.

The Art & Science Of Content Marketing

Twitter Rolls Out App Install & Engagement Ads For Everyone

Twitter has been running app install ads in beta with some key partners for a few months, and now they’re going live to the world and rolling it out to all advertisers.

As the name implies, the ads aren’t just about getting an app install, you can also target engagement ads with deep linking that when people click get taken directly into your app and to the content you want to display to them.

This is especially good for say people who have Newsstand applications and want to promote specific pieces of content.

When you set your ads up Twitter will automatically pull in your app details from the app store, but you can customize these, and user’s will also get a notification displayed showing when the app has completed the installation.

Twitter App Ads

Image Credit: Twitter

The ads have got great reviews from the key partners who were part of the beta trial (including EA, Lyft and Playdots) who have reported higher app installs with lower acquisition costs, and you can take a watch of the official video from Twitter to get an overview.

We’ve put together a report on how to get setup with Twitter ads (which seriously takes less than 5 minutes) and you can grab that in our private members area. If you’re not a member you can get a 7 day trial access to all the reports (and our private members forum) for just $1Click Here To Grab All The Reports

Twitter Install & Engagement Ads
Find out how this brand new ad format will allow you to target ads to specific devices to get more app installs & also add deep links to send users directly to content within your app.
Twitter Remarketing
Find out how to build custom audiences in Twitter from actual visitors to your websites which will allow you to laser-target your ads to people you know are interested.

As well as all of the kick-ass reports you’ll also get access to our labs tests where we show you the results of what’s working right now to help boost your sales and opt-ins, grab our exclusive plugins, and get access to a whole section packed with a bunch of extras including graphics packs, video squeeze templates, and mini site templates. There’s also a private members forum where you can network to build your business, and you can get access to it all for just $1Click Here To Get Access Right Now.

Jon.

New Facebook Ad Units – Price Hike Imminent

Facebook have announced that they’re rolling out the new ad units on the right hand side this week, and with it we can expect a price hike as there will be less ad spots but more competition for the space.

New Facebook Right Side Ad Unit

Image Credit: Facebook

Facebook have said that in initial testing these newer ad units have been getting significantly better click thru rates, and that the new format is more engaging and will result in better value for money. This is all due to the increased size of the ad and image, with fewer ads now being displayed (so less choice for users, potential increase in clicks on the fewer ads).

Here’s what Facebook had to say on the price hike:

With fewer ads available in the right-hand column, we expect that overall competition for ad space on Facebook will increase. This means that some advertisers may see increased prices at auction. We recognize that this may be an unwelcome development for some businesses, particularly those that count raw impressions as an overall indicator of success for their campaigns. However, it is our belief that the overall value delivered through this more engaging ad format will offset any potential decreases in impressions.

At first glance the move to increasing prices isn’t great news for us as online business owners, but if the result is that we’re getting better click thru’s and are able to convert at the other end then we may end up with a better ROI overall.

I guess only time and testing will tell.

The new ad units are rolling out right now, and if you’re running and FB ads I’d love to hear what effect it’s had on your campaigns, so let us know in the comments.

Jon.

Canada Goes Anti-Spam Crazy

Canada Leaf FlagIf you’ve got an email list and are sending out ANY emails to it, then you really need to read this right now…

Canada is enacting a law which goes live on 1st July 2014 called the Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL for short), and the basic headline is that if you’re sending any emails to a Canadian citizen then you need to get a double opt-in from them otherwise you could be sued up to $10 million per violation.

Unlike the United States CAN-SPAM act which allows implied consent (where if a user signs up to receive a free download, or purchases a product from you), the new Canadian law requires explicit consent in order for you to send them an email. Also, under the CAN-SPAM act implied consent only lasts for two years anyway, so you should be getting the double opt-in to make sure you’ve got permission.

I’ve seen some sites use a pre-checked box to get consent, but under the terms of the CASL you’d need to not have a pre-checked box (as this implies consent), but you could have a blank box for the user to check to indicate permission.

Personally I’d go for the double opt-in, and not just for the new CASL law or the existing CAN-SPAM act, but rather because having someone confirm their email address with you means that they really do want to be on your list and they will be more receptive to the messages you put out.

In fact, I use InfusionSoft as my CRM and I have rules in place that move people off my lists if they’ve not taken any action, that way I keep my deliverability rates and my reputation scoring higher.

Now the law is clearly intended to go after the full-on spam attacks that plague many a user’s inbox, but it’s seriously not worth the risk, and as it’s not that easy to single out the Canadian people on your list (after all they could have gmail.com addresses, so you won’t know where they’re from) the best thing to do to ensure compliance is to email your list and get the double opt-in.

If it were me doing a clean run at this then I’d send out a message with a free report to download, then when they get to the download page I’d get them to opt-in again and get the double opt-in, that way you’re giving an incentive, and you’re also building a new list of people you know are active.

Reading through the website it looks like if you’ve already got someone on your list with implied consent then you’ve got a grace period of 36 months to get them to double opt-in and give explicit consent, but I wouldn’t hang on, I’d be getting the double opt-in sooner rather than later (if not just to get a cleaner and more responsive list).

I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, so you should seek legal advice on this if you’re involved in email marketing, and you can get more information about the CASL at their official website here: http://fightspam.gc.ca/ and there is also a good FAQ section on that site as well which has some good information and the link to that is here: CASL Commercial FAQ

Dan.

Google Ditches Author Photos, But Don’t Ditch Authorship Just Yet

There’s an interesting piece of news that’s hit the internets over the last 24 hours – Google announced that they are going to be removing the ‘Author’ image from search results, as well as the circle count of the author.

I’ve just done a quick Google search and for me the authorship images are still active, and this is one of the results which I’ve just screengrabbed for a verified author:

author-before

After the change the search result will look something like this:

author-after

Image Credit: Google

As you can see there’s a big change, but in the future the authors name will still lead the main link, and there is also a byline under the link with the author’s name and date.

At the moment people are questioning whether click thru’s from the SERPs will fall off the cliff, but as the change hasn’t happened across the board yet it’s going to be hard to tell what impact it’s having right now.

Personally I don’t think it’s going to have a huge change, but only by tracking and measuring will we know. So the important thing is to check your stats right now in Google Analytics for the websites you control, and then monitor them over time to see what change it has.

webmaster-tools-authorThe other place you should looking at is the dedicated Author tracking in Google Webmaster Tools, where they will give you all your clicks across all websites where you are a verified author, and to do this just click on the Author Stats link under the Labs menu on the left hand side.

I wouldn’t go throwing the baby out with the bathwater tho, because Google Authorship can help you in more ways than simply having your headshot appear in the search results.

Sure, it’s nice to have an image there, but the reality is that Google are moving more and more towards trying to link content to real people, so if you’re enabling Authorship and linking your real Google account to your web properties, then over time your content is going to get treated as more reliable and maybe have an effect on rankings.

Of course, there are well over 200 different ranking factors that effect rankings, and each one of them may only have a marginal positive effect (like page speed and how many +1′s you have), but when it comes down to it you want to be ticking as many of these boxes as possible, so having authorship is still worthwhile in the overall scheme of things.

Have you seen any effects on your click thru’s from this change? Let us know in the comments.

Dan.

Facebook Newsfeed Video Ranking Changes

Facebook Thumbs UpThere’s a change which is about to hit Facebook that is quite important – they’re modifying the way they rank video, which means that if you’re putting out videos on your FB page you might start to see a decline in traffic and views.

Video is a growth area for Facebook, with FB saying that twice as many people are watching videos on their FB feeds than they were six months ago. So that’s a doubling of video views in half a year – that’s quite impressive.

In the new changes Facebook are now going to take into account not only if a person has watched a video, but crucially how long they watched the video for.

Facebook already takes into account how many likes, shares and comments a video has, and with the new metrics of ‘video watched’ they’re obviously hoping to be able to identify which content is worthy of appearing in a persons newsfeed.

The changes only effect videos uploaded to the Facebook platform, not links to videos hosted elsewhere, and in Facebook’s early tests they’ve said that ranking videos in this way has increased views for content that is relevant to the user, whilst also increasing the number of videos in a user’s newsfeed if they regularly watch videos, and decreasing the number of videos for people who regularly skip over them.

I think this is actually great news for page admins, as it will mean that only compelling videos that people want to watch will get surfaced, and it will hopefully cut out the dross and make people work harder at producing quality content.

As we mentioned in this recent blog post, the new video metrics coming to page insights will become an even more important factor in discovering which pieces of your content are resonating best with your audience.

You can read more about the video ranking changes on Facebook’s Official Blog and if you’re using video as a part of your Facebook page content plan I’d love to hear your experience of how this change has effected you, so please leave a comment and tell us your views.

Jon.

Facebook Videos Now Get Captions, Locations And Tagging

This is an interesting change that went quietly under the radar – you can now add caption files to your Facebook Page Videos, tag people who are in the video, and also add a location.

Facebook Video Edit Options

Adding captions is a good step, and starts to bring them more in line with YouTube giving extra support to videos, but I find that the location tagging is more of an interesting addition, and doing a quick smart search on Facebook for ‘Videos near Manchester’ is already pulling in some location based results.

Facebook Video Location Results

It’s interesting to see Facebook expand on their video feature set, and I’m wondering how long it will be before they start to test pre-roll advertising for their videos along the same lines as YouTube – seems like a logical step to me.

Facebook Video Search Results

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Jon.

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