Tag Archives: content marketing

The Future of SEO: Good Digital Strategy is the best SEO

Intrigue Summit 2018

Intrigue Summit 2018

On the last Wednesday I participated in interesting panel in Intrigue Summit 2018 about SEO and content marketing. Here are three main topics I was speaking about:

  1. Era of black magic quick fix SEO has been over for a long time

Google has for a while been blocking sites that do keyword stuffing or content with many (but weak) backlinks. I already wrote five years ago about how SEO is dead, when Google Hummingbird algorithm was launched. Then security search and semantic search were some of the key drivers then to change SEO landscape. Now the content quality (in the context of fake news) and mobile-friendliness are key drivers determining your search ranking.

Although SEO landscape has changed dramatically, I see surprisingly many SEO practioners in the marketplace talking like it would still be 2005. SEO tweaking is not a silver bullet.

  1. Search is not just the Google search bar

YouTube is the second most popular search engine. Amazon is the most popular search platform for product searches. Voice searches will contribute to 50% of all searches by the 2020.

How much of your search strategy is focusing on video, eCommerce and are you already optimizing for voice? You need to approach your search holistically and it might even be that for your brand Google is not the most important search engine.

  1. Relevant content and great user experience is the best SEO

Even nowadays I encounter clients who think that SEO is a quick fix for their problems. Unfortunately, quite often we found out that actual SEO is ok, but the site sucks. Brands should first focus on delivering the best possible user experience and relevant content. After that you should take care of SEO. Your SEO tricks do not really help if your site is loading too slowly or is not mobile-optimized. 53% of the people will abandon your site if it takes over 3s to load. Google will roll out mobile-first indexing this year, which means that Google will use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking the site on their search engine. If you cannot serve your customers in mobile, game is over.

If you create content that it is interesting to the humans it is easier to tweak it to match search engines than other way around. If you create content solely for search engines, you end up with boring content. The bad thing with boring content is that no matter how much traffic you drive to it, it does not convert.

Capturing people while they are searching is still essential part of the of your digital strategy. Search just is not separate line item in your strategy but closely connected to the whole digital experience you are providing. If you are able to provide great user experience and relevant content to your audience, making your SEO work is relatively easy.

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , ,

#sometrendit2016: The Only 2016 Social Media Trends You Should Read

tweet

As the year approaches the end, it has become an annual tradition for me take a look at crystal ball and share my views with Kurio Social Media Agency on the next year´s social media trends.

For those adapt at Finnish, I recommend reading the whole report. If you are not interested in the predictions of 28 other Finnish digital marketers, you can also jump straight to the most important ones (mine) below.

Before I go into my answers, I have to quote myself from the last year:

I have to say that I have not been interested in social media as such for a long time. Do not get me wrong. Social plays crucial role in digital business. But I seldom think digital as a separate entity either: digital is air. Digital, mobile and social should be a part of every business. Sometimes at the core, sometimes playing supporting role and sometimes playing no role at all. Strategy is about deciding what to do, but even more importantly what not to do. If you are thinking social media as a separate unit you are missing the bigger picture. 

The dominance of digital universe goes well beyond our traditional silos.

And here are the bold/boring predictions of 2016:

  1. 1. Biggest Social Media Trend in 2016?

Internet will be build more and more upon instant messaging. We have moved to the latest phase of Internet: the Age of Messaging. What is most interesting, who will be the master of that era? If previous phase was the Age of Social and Facebook was the undisputed king, is it able to keep its lead? Currently it seems with the dual-strategy of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger that Facebook will continue to dominate.

2. Social media platforms to look out for 2015?
Last year I was speculating about anonymous messaging and those services were not able to live up the hype. On the same speculative tip, I would keep an eye on live-streaming platforms like Periscope. It is easy to recognize the opportunities Periscope can bring to the brands. Bigger question is will they be truly interesting to actual users?

It is worthwhile to keep an eye on WeChat, because what it does today in China, Facebook will do in western world tomorrow with its Facebook messenger.

3. Biggest challenges in doing social media marketing in 2015?

The huge portion (probably somewhere around 3/4) of sharing in social media is so-called “dark social”. This means that social media listening gives one-sided and even totally faulty picture about what people are really talking about. People share where the brands play no role.

This is great for consumers, because brands are not ruining your conversation or begging you to like them. It makes our work way more difficult. Established channels like FB and YouTube are 100% paid media. To some IM services you cannot get even when you are paying. There is no such thing as earned media anymore.

4. Social Media Buzzword, which hopefully disappears in 2015?

Content marketing.

Despite all the hoopla about native advertising and new content agencies, the division of labor is simple. In Internet there is only good (or bad) content or good (mostly bad) ads. Ad agencies have shown that they cannot truly create content and content marketers have not been good at creating ads (which essentially move products of the shelves). There is role for both counterparts, but it is utter stupidity to think that you could replace one with another. Or that one agency could be great at creating both of them.

To see what I have been predicting in previous years, see the following links:

Social Media trends 2013

Social Media trends 2014

Social Media trends 2015

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Vertical Videos Are Here To Stay

“It’s not necessarily that vertical is better, it’s just that it’s how cellphones are commonly viewed.”
– Shaun McBride, Snapchat celebrity

Human behavior is interesting. You would assume turning your phone to watch a video on optimal size would not be too hard task, but it is. Based on my anthropologic research on trains in Singapore practically everyone is looking videos having the phone on vertical position. Mobile phones are designed to be used vertically and we spend already 30% of our screen time in vertically oriented devices. It is just natural that majority of videos are watched on vertical position as well.

How brands should address the rise of the vertical video?

1. Start native vertical video production
We will see a rise of vertical-first video production. Snapchat has already been advocating the brands to start create video content vertically. In Snapchat vertical videos are more effective, portrait videos have up to 9x more completed views than landscape ones. Will this create some kind of new way of video storytelling? That remains to be seen, because we have not yet realized all the possibilities of vertical video. Could the story be different from horizontal and vertical point-of-view?

Portrait is definitely not the best format for longer-form content as our eyes are aligned horizontally, but majority of the content consumed on smartphones is already short-form. There are certain apps like Vervid, which are designed to bridge the gap or more traditional horizontal video production and the snapchat generation. When YouTube and Facebook will introduce vertical video ad units, it really starts to make sense to start creating vertical-first content.

2. Enhance your horizontal videos to fit the vertical ad formats
More interim solution would be to create horizontal content, but utilize the blank spaces to showcase display ads or maybe offer promotions. This works especially when you have horizontal asset, no money for vertical-first production but still want to engage audience in Snapchat. Here is a demo of that approach:

94% of website visits in smartphones starts in portrait mode, so it only makes sense that brands take advantage of vertical video. Changing behavior is hard, tapping into existing behavior is easier and usually much more lucrative as well. Popularity of portrait video is another example on how you cannot separate the technologic shifts and media behavior from your creative thinking.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Google Reader and the Missed Opportunity of RSS Feeds

Google Reader is now officially announced dead. Slowly it has been dying for quite a while.

I am one of the apparently very few relics, who have been using Google Reader actively for years and years. Personally it has been the most useful Google tool for me right after search and Gmail. Without using Google Reader (and other digital fossil Del.icio.us, which is still alive but struggling), writing of my first book would have been much more tedious process.

Looking from the business perspective and reflecting the overall downward trend of success of RSS feeds, the decision to kill Google Reader is a no-brainer. Everyone gets their news and blog posts either from search or from social networks, who needs separate place to go for their internet content?

Well us professionals and hobbyist, for instance.

I am passionate about few things. Other half is a work related and others are hobbies (basketball, hip-hop music, literature and movies). Google reader was my starting point for getting my daily fix on those high-interest subjects. Additionally I also use social networks and Google search to find stuff, but for me those are not the primary sources of information. When sharing is the only currency, it will be eventually lead to dumbed down content. Just watch any of the titles of your average web publication.

So farewell RSS feeds, the social media sharing is the way to drive traffic these days.

The demise of RSS Feeds, can be summarized to one word: complicated.
Starting with the name: RSS sounds like some kind of disease. Then there was the ease of use, or lack thereof. Although you did not have to be rocket scientist to get yourself RSS feed reader, it required still more commitment than the normal internet user wants to have with their platforms. The adding of the RSS feeds was not intuitive enough and the logo did not really reach adequate awareness. If following and subscribing would have had button something akin to Facebook like, the situation might be totally different.

Personal blogs have been largely replaced by tweets and Facebook status updates. The promise of RSS Feed Reader is still valid. You get the news you are actively interested to one place. People have not stopped consuming content in the Internet, more the other way around. The way to consume it has shifted more towards social, but there are some users who want to have also more curated experience for their content. Those users are not necessarily lucrative target audience.

Like Rob Fishman points out in his excellent article in Buzzfeed, Google Reader was the closest to functioning social network Google has ever been (excluding maybe for YouTube). I am deliberately excluding Gmail, as the nature of it is more 1-to-1 connections. As the “success” of Google+has shown, building it over Gmail was not necessarily the wisest decision. The mass using Gmail does not necessarily convert to more public sharing of social network, although it might make business sense on the paper. If Google would have invested to Google Reader and pushed it organically towards more social experience, they might have really successful social platform in their hands.

I was actually really active in Google Reader back in the day and sharing content like there was no tomorrow. That lasted until it was connected to Google+, which made it too overbearing. I was not the only one. Google Reader really never got a chance to truly try to strive in the marketplace on its own. Like former Google product manager explains in Quora, the Reader developer team was stretched thin and utilized mostly in other failed projects. Google Reader –based social network would have been the social platform, which is still truly lacking in the marketplace. The social network that is built around your user interests and passions. Maybe the new MySpace is trying to fill that gap, at least with music.

I will not shed tears for Google Reader. The decision makes definite short-term business sense. On the long run however, we will never know. Disappearance of Google Reader might have surprising effects on the digital content ecosystem. Although it has not been major traffic driver for the sites, it might alter and shift the readership radically of certain content providers.

Killing Google Reader and betting with Google+ are probably smart decisions. The real question is, are they wise decisions? Meanwhile Google Reader remains as an artifact of the potential social media success Google is still desperately trying to achieve. Until 1st of July, that is. As I am writing this, I am moving my Google Reader subscriptions to Feedly.

Old habits are hard to kill.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Do You Still Want to Hear About Social Media Trends 2013?

Although everyone and their mother has already given their point of view about current social media trends, here are couple of more predictions.

Good folks at Kurio (Finnish Digital Marketing Think Tank) asked me and 17 other Finnish “social media experts”(stated by the report, I prefer to just be “the planner guy with funny glasses”) about social media trends in 2013 and conducted interesting study about the results. They identified nine emerging trends in social media for the year 2013. The report is in Finnish, but the main trends can be read below. All the finnish-speakers should definitely download the report below.

Big Social Media Themes for 2013  (my comments in italics):

1. 2013 is the year of Mobile (this has been my favourite prediction for at least five years. The main difference is that this year I am actually believing it)
2. Multichannel story-telling is the way to create modern phenomena (Or put it this way: If your marketing activity is not multi-channel/channel-agnostic/holistic/360/add your favourite buzzword by nature, it will be doomed to fail)
3. Lack of human resources is the main constraint in social media (The problem is two-folded, there is definitely lack of people actually working with social media. But there is actually even bigger talent problem: there are lots of “social media experts”, “community managers” but not enough actual strategic thinking about what we should do with and in social media. Social media without strategic thinking behind it is irrelevant at best and purely dangerous at worst.)
4. Big Data (Like the report also points out: we have lots of data & information, but do we have talent, resources and capabilities to turn that information to action?)
5. Content: Interesting, current and value-adding (Which starts the discussion about what is the good content? I still believe that good content is either 1)useful 2)funny 3)on some rare instances both)
6. Picture tells more than 2013 words (Despite the revolt against Instagram, people will rather share more pictures online than less in 2013)
7. Social cannot be just a digital or marketing function, but should be thought holistically (Definitely true, but also the most difficult to achieve. On some instances to make the change requires totally new management, who understands the possibilities of digital and social media. On other instances it requires adequate mix of sticks and carrots to ensure the competitive advantage in digital age)
8. Social media channels are starting to resemble more bought media (The pressure to monetize is already showing with different social networks, especially with Facebook)
9. Users are more and more critical towards marketing activities in social media (You might fool a customer once, but not twice. The opportunity to fool once has already passed)

Download the report (in Finnish).

Tagged , , , , , , , ,
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: