Twitter getting more complicated or just getting more social? You be the judge

Twitter has added a couple of features recently, that while adding more social elements may risk ‘jumping the shark’ a little. The new features are the ability to see what tweets your followers are making as well as those made by people they follow. They also added a “stumble through” button allows you to shuffle through your followers tweet streams.

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Now how many people are scratching their heads wondering what all that was about and if it is something users really need?

The beauty of Twitter was its simplicity. Being forced to communicate in 140 characters at first seemed ridiculous but quickly took hold because it was simple. The company played with a few features over the few years of its existence but dropped most as they did not foster that simplicity. Now it seems Twitter wants more interaction between its users and are launching these new features to foster this. But should they?

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“You can see above that you will be able to click on a person that youíre following and see Tweets from their followers. This means that you are effectively looking at their Twitter stream,” the Next Web noted. The feature had been available a couple of years ago but was pulled, they added.

The ‘stumble” feature has not rolled out globally but the pic below shows there will be a button to click to go through and see others tweet streams. This could come in handy, but is it essential? Social media sites have a tendency to get lucky with their initial service offer and then make changes to what they belive their users want and in many cases they are wrong. Hey, even Google has launched bad products and pulled them quickly.

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Why do I want to randomly see a twitter stream of one of the people I follow? Is this a feature to just get more interaction? Twitter does not run ads so the extra pageviews will not add to their income – or are they ready to monetize and want to have some increased pageview generators in place?

One has to wonder if the people at Twitter are making moves that may become too intrusive and change the perception of this simple yet popular communication tool. Twitpics was a hugely successful feature – whether these two new ones become popular has yet to be seen. Personally, I don’t think this feature will become very popular… but I have been wrong before.

What It Takes To Become an Effective Link Builder

Good link builders are a special hybrid of SEOs. There are a lot of good SEOs in the industry, but effectively building links is very different from just keyword research, copywriting, or technical analysis. I’ve been thinking alot about what makes a good and effective link builder.

Whether you’re an SEO expert looking to improve your own skills or a marketing manager looking to hire a new link builder, here are the characteristics of a good and effective link builder.

Internet Culture

SEO is one of the few industries where my history as an awesome video game player, an epic geared raiding Wizard, forum admin and hacker supreme became a marketable skill.

I’m an awesome marketer online, not because I have  marketing training, but because I understand online communities properly.

A link builder should read Reddit daily, keep on top of memes, , use StumbleUpon,read Hacker News , and engage on Twitter. They should follow analysis on these communities.

Internet Culture

Real creativity is one of the things that is difficult, maybe impossible, to teach. It can be encouraged through culture, because everyone has a level of creative genius, but creativity is something I would hire for.

Sea, especially link building, is moving closer to being inbound marketing, which is starting to become difficult to distinguish from pure traditional marketing. Creativity is a driver of holistic marketing strategies.

The Search engine optimisation creative process can also be inspired.

At Digital Online Strategy, we have a structures in place which help inspire creativity. It’s important to establish boundaries and kinds of thinking that help creativity. Having the ability the stop,  drink a beer, and invest full mental power allows your brain to free itself up creativity.

Analytical Skills

But creativity isn’t enough for an effective link-builder. Technical skills are also a requirement. Digital online strategy carries resident math, computer science, and computer engineering majors. Before leaving college to pursue a career in SEO, I was studying computer engineering and worked at Vanderbilt where I did pharmacology research and development.

A good link builder should have an understanding of data analysis to conduct competitive link analysis, to dig deep into a website’s information, to perform research, and to bring insights out of large sets of crazy information.

This also includes good skills on using the right tools, such as Excel, and Google Analytics.

Good analytical skills allow a link builder to do 2 things really well:

  1. Readily scale processes by evaluating data effectively.
  2. Recognise changes & trends, which can be reapplied to your digital marketing efforts.

Technical Skills

Although a not so technical link builder can build links through the process of content creation, business development, PR and outreach; they don’t have the ability to develop products or agile tools without leaning on another team.

Technical Skills a Link Builder need to Have

  • Knowledge of (X)HTML/CSS
  • Understanding of at least one modern programming language (no need to code, but hack at least)
  • Knowing how to build agile tools in Google Docs
  • Knowing how to upload files via FTP
  • Knowing how to execute 301 redirects using .htaccess and how to develop robots.txt files
  • Knowledge of sufficient coding skills to “get” tools like Firebug

Sociable Geek

A link builder is not the same as a technical SEO, and must be a social geek. The SEO who loves crawl analysis may absolutely hate talking to people. A link builder must be happy talking and engaging with complete strangers about links.

I do believe being sociable is a skill you can learn. By nature, I’m very introverted, so I find people describing me as a “ personable search marketer” a bit odd. I have improved my skills as a link builder by constantly presenting, facing clients all the time, going to networking events, and talking to strangers on the tram.

Sales Experience

Very few job experiences taught me more about link-building than the 3 months I worked in-house as an internet marketing intern and was placed into the sales department. I worked on a 15 person cold calling sales team and was exposed to their culture during my time working with them.

Recommended Sales Reading for Link Builders

Ingenuity

By ingenuity, I mean something totally different from just creativity.

Ingenuity is intellectual hustle.

Ingenuity allows link builder to develop well thought out, systematic & clever solutions. Ingenuity is seen in careers like developers, scientists, artists, engineers and musicians.

Ingenuity also leads to agile toolsscrapers, and custom search engines. Link building ingenuity leads to building great indexes of the internet & also scalable link building tools. Effective link builders are willing to intellectually hustle to get a solution.

Hustle

A link builder isn’t just putting links on websites, they are building businesses. They’re creating the difference between a good business and its competition. As a link-builder, you should always be bringing hustle to your work all the time. A link builder with hustle can dominate big brands and companies with huge budgets by simply outworking them all.

Extra “Panda” Update Information Starting to Appear..

 

Last Friday, Google posted an update on its Webmaster Central blog titled “Providing More Guidance on Building High-Quality websites“. The blog post expands on much of what Google has said about the infamous Panda update since its first release on February 24th.

In statements about the Panda update, Google has used a number of questions that they’re attempting to answer with an algorithm. “Do you feel comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?” & “Would you take medical advice from this site?” are 2 that have been around since the very beginning. Last Friday’s Webmaster Central post offered up a better list with some of the highlights below:

  • Does the website have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Does the article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine/real interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by trying to guess what might rank well in the search engines?
  • Does the article provide original/real content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its particular topic?
  • Is the content being mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of content creators, or spread across a large network of websites, so that individual pages or websites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Is this the sort of page you would want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of advertising that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Will users complain when they see pages from this site?
  • Will you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?

Answering the “touchy” Questions

We can conclude how Google can algorithmically answer quite a number of the questions, but what about those “touchy” questions, like the credit card issue question? It’s hard to say, but actually having alot of the questions answered about your website might provide some valuable feedback. If you’re an in-house SEO for a website that has been banned, perhaps one of the following services can be used to help a claim for a re-design or some other change in website philosophy.

UserTesting

User Testing LogoUserTesting is a high-end feedback solution. For $39 you will get a video of a user interacting with your website. UserTesting lets you to ask the user up-to 4 questions after they’ve completed the feedback video, which would be a execellent place to ask some of our Panda questions. 

Other Panda Odds and Ends

NPR did a  long story on Panda’s effect on one company’s struggle since it got Panda-fied: Google’s search new tweaks puts a company at risk

Matt Cutts quote from that  particular story:

“Think about something like an Apple product, when you buy an Apple product you open it up, the box is beautiful, the packaging is beautiful, the entire experience is really wonderful”.

It sounds to me that this particular statement is really just another way of saying “huge amounts of duplicated or bad content on your site can impact the whole domain”.

Reversing the Effects of  the Panda update

Tom Critchlow had this exchange of words with Matt Cutts on Twitter:

@mattcutts assuming a site completely reworks their site/content after panda, how long before they will regain traffic?less than a minute ago via web  Favorite  Retweet  Reply

@tomcritchlow short version is that it’s not data that’s updated daily right now. More like when we re-run the algorithms to regen the data.less than a minute ago via web  Favorite  Retweet  Reply

Moral of this story: Do not expect rankings to come right back after making changes. This is a quite frustrating because webmasters cannot make a change, wait to see if the change actually “worked”, then try something else. It also might explain why there has been so few reports of websites regaining their traffic.

A 3rd Panda Spotted?

Some rumors picked up in early May that a 3rd Panda update may have gone live. Users were reporting wild fluctuations in their rankings and other weird things in the Google cache and site search commands. Considering what Matt Cutts said above, it  actually makes more sense for Panda updates to hit suddenly and all at once, rather than over a longer period of time. Some sources are reporting that their exact match domains took a hit.

So our current Panda timeline now reads:

  1. Feb 24th, 2011: New Panda rollout on Google.com searches
  2. April 11th, 2011: New Panda rollout to all English speaking Google sites. Additional tweaks made to original algorithm
  3. May 3-6th, 2011: Mabe a Third Panda update?

Have you seen any drastic traffic changes during this time frame? Have any of your websites recovered from initially being Panda-fied?

 

It Now Pays To Watch Ads On Facebook


Facebook has introduced a program on Thursday that offers consumers a credit incentive to watch ads on the site.

Facebook will now reward fans who watch certain ads with Facebook Credits, which in turn can be redeemed to purchase other goods on Facebook Deals, the company’s new Groupon-like daily deals venture. The incentive, however, is not very huge. Initially, the average ad will only yield 1 credit, which is equivalent to only 10 cents.

The ads will be mostly in games. Zynga, Digital Chocolate & CrowdStar are among the participating game publishers. Facebook is working with SupersonicAds, SocialVibe, Sharethrough & Epic Media  to serve ads on the program as well as TrialPay, which will provide cool analytics.

The CEO of Sharethrough, says Facebook’s move represents “a step away from disruptive advertising.” Sharethrough’s clients include Nestle and Microsoft, who say their network won’t deliver traditional advertising but rather very branded entertainment, which consumers will want to share & watch with their friends.

Giving incentives to consumers to watch ads is one solution for Facebook’s very low banner click-through rates. This move comes after Facebook expanded its Credits program last week to allow consumers use their Credits to buy real-world things advertised in the Deals. Last time, the credits, which were awarded for fans who signed up for various programs  or bought outright could only buy virtual goods.