Facebook declares war on clickbait

Facebook declares war on clickbait and you won’t believe what happens next

Facebook’s latest algorithm tweak will see less priority given to low quality, “clickbait” headlines on users’ News Feeds.

The social network said that they were making changes to the Facebook News Feed to further reduce the amount of spammy posts that have proved unpopular with users.

Facebook said it is measuring how long users spend reading articles they click on, and stories that caused users to go straight back to their News Feed will not reach as many readers.

Clickbait headlines are designed to pique your interest and encourage you to click, but the content delivered is not what was promised.

“When we asked people in an initial survey what type of content they preferred to see in their News Feeds, 80% of the time people preferred headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article before they had to click through,” said the Facebook Newsroom Blog.


Facebook’s preferred content

This is only the latest iteration of the social network’s ongoing saga against spam and low quality content. Much in the same way that Google’s algorithm is constantly changing to provide the best user experience, Facebook has made several updates to weed out spam.

Facebook’s News Feed algorithm was updated in December 2013 to target the barrage of memes that have been circulating on the platform for some time. The update saw memes being deprioritised and relevant news articles given a boost in news feeds.


Who will be affected?

The debate over clickbait has been raging for some time, with some websites – such as The Onion’s Clickhole – choosing to mock the online trend. Twitter account @SavedYouAClick promises to help you avoid being a victim of clickbait and save you a click by telling what the link is about.

Although Buzzfeed and Upworthy have been deemed serial clickbait offenders, the point of this Facebook update is not so much in the content of the headline, but in the user’s engagement with it.

Websites utilising baiting headlines to generate traffic and social sharing will not necessarily see their content reaching less Facebook users – as long as they deliver on what they promise. If users are not bouncing straight back to Facebook after clicking on a misleading headline, there will be no reason for these posts to be penalised in the News Feed.


Next steps

If you have concerns about Facebook’s latest News Feed tweak, take a look at the type of content you are promoting on your company Page. Clickbait isn’t necessarily the problem, but if your headlines are misleading users, Facebook is likely to catch on to this sooner, rather than later.

Google plus black image

Google Authorship downgrade: Is this the end of Google+?

Google’s John Mueller recently announced on Google+ that the company is removing authors’ profile picture and Google+ circle count from search results


All that visibly remains in the search results is the clickable author name in the byline.


From this:

To this: 

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 10.44.33 am



Images c/o Searchengineland.com



An improvement to user experience?


Google said the changes will improve the user experience by returning a less cluttered search result across all devices – especially mobile search.


One of the main advantages of authorship is the positive impact that profile pictures in search results have on click-through rates. However, Mueller said the new picture-less results exhibited a ‘similar click-through behavior’ to the previous results shown with a profile picture.


Google updated the visual appearance of it’s search results earlier this year with a change of font and the removal of the title underline, so this recent visual update to authorship doesn’t seem completely out of place. However, there is speculation around the real motives behind Google’s recent changes to authorship.



Was authorship impacting on Adwords Click-Through Rate?


This eye-tracking research and the Moz.com authorship study supports the claim that authorship pictures in search results improve click-through rates. Even Google themselves have spoken about the positive impact of social annotations in the search results and include ads with images in Google’s paid shopping ad program to attract clicks.


Mueller’s statement that click-through rates remain similar contradicts many of these previous studies, raising questions around whether authorship photos were negatively impacting on Adwords click-through rates.


Moz .com founder Rand Fishkin put forward his opinion about the changes shortly after the announcement from Google.


Image c/o www.twitter.com



Is this the end of Google+ as we know it?


Removing a significant feature and one of the biggest incentives of Google+ suggests potential changes are afoot. Google authorship images were a huge incentive for marketers to join up to Google+, in fact the potential to get your profile picture in the search results was probably one of the main reasons many people signed up and became active.


Removing one of the most notable features associated with Google+ coupled with the departure of Google+’s chief evangelist Vic Gundotra in April, could suggest that Google may be evolving Google+ as a product, having finally come to terms with the fact that Google+ cannot compete with Facebook in the social space.


Is there any value left in authorship?


Yes. It’s probable that some of the motive behind this change to authorship is related to improving the experience for people searching on mobile devices, however, it’s unlikely to be the whole story.


Google’s contradictory statement over the non-impact on click-through rates suggests that something bigger is happening in the background. However, I still believe it to be worth verifying your content using the “rel=author” tag as a method of claiming your content contributions across the Internet. Plus, authors still get their name in the byline of the search results.


While Google may see an impact on the number of people signing up for Google+ and implementing authorship, Google have said that they are still committed to promoting authors with authority. How you establish yourself as a trusted authority to Google may be evolving, but it isn’t going to disappear completely.


Therefore, if you are already participating in authorship you should continue, and mark up you content using the appropriate tag. If you aren’t actively using the authorship mark up, then it should be a consideration for any future content you create.


Authorship is only one consideration for anyone looking to improve their visibility in search engine results. Search Academy’s Glass Hat technology can identify the other factors and what tasks you should focus on to bring you the best return. For more information contact Search Academy today.


YOUR SAY:  How do you feel about the Authorship change? Is this a good move or bad move by Google? Do you think your search results will suffer? Leave your comments below.


Don’t feed the trolls: responding to negative feedback

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It’s almost a little too easy for a few unhappy customers to send a business’ marketing department into a tailspin these days, and all it takes is a couple of well-placed negative reviews or Facebook comments. But while this sort of response can be extremely frustrating – and you may think unjustified – there’s nothing you can do to take back the negative feedback once it has been preserved in the never-ending story that is the Internet. So, how to respond?


What you should definitely not do is to react with anger and vitriol towards the negative reviewers – this will only fuel the fire. If you want any more proof of this, then check out the hilarious unfortunate meltdown of the owners of Arizona restaurant Amy’s Baking Company Boutique & Bistro. They took to Facebook to (loudly) air their discontent after featuring on an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and receiving a slew of negative feedback on Yelp and Reddit.


Their reaction – predictably – only made things much worse. Of course, any small business that isn’t quite up to speed on the dynamics of the Internet is ill equipped to respond to a thousand faceless trolls, but there are a few things you can do to recover more quickly. And guess what? It all comes down to just using your words. If your problem is only a few negative reviews or comments, then don’t ignore them, respond! If a consumer has a genuine concern with your products or services, just addressing and resolving them can turn a simmering, negative experience into a positive one for your brand, and maybe even a return customer.


Of course, if your online problem is a little more widespread than just a few unhappy shoppers, a more synergised strategy is going to be necessary. The mistake that Amy’s Baking Company made was that they left themselves open to ridicule, by both cyber-shouting at their critics, and in doing so, coming across as a couple of luddites. The lesson here is simple; whatever the catalyst happens to be, a widespread negative response to your brand represents widespread dissatisfaction – and that is not a badge you can afford to wear for long.


This means that you will have to own up to what has gone wrong with your business – whether you are at fault or not – and commit to changing it. How you go about achieving this depends on both what has caused this spike in negativity, as well as what kind of business you are running. A couple of brands that managed to recover from these types of dreaded disasters include Dominos and Nestlé. Dominos made a fast recovery after two employees posted a video of themselves, erm…violating certain health and safety regulations while preparing customers’ food. The video soon went viral, but Dominos managed to nip the negativity in the bud by quickly releasing an apology video, and taking legal action against the employees in question.


Nestlé’s problem was a Greenpeace video that criticised them for using palm oil sourced from deforested areas. But this problem only became worse when the food and beverage giant attempted to have the video taken down, and deleted any negative Facebook comments. Unsurprisingly, the comments just kept on coming with renewed fervour, and the video in question was uploaded multiple times by other YouTube users. Being such a major brand, they eventually managed to recover, but it took them almost 50% longer than the likes of Dominos. This can most likely be accounted for by their attempted strategy of censoring, denying and censoring some more. In the age of the Internet, it has become impossible to truly eradicate anything that has been said about your company, ever. Once upon a time, complaints happened in the form of letters and phone calls that no one else was privy too, but those days are long gone.


So if your business runs into some unexpected online negativity – whether on a large scale or small – the best thing to do is to respond with the same level of professionalism and transparency you would bring to any other business venture. The Internet and social media have made business owners more accountable than ever to their customers, and whether this is a blessing or a curse for your brand is entirely up to you.

The battle between SEO and SMO: The outsiders perspective.

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This is my first blog post for Search Academy, so go easy on me! I am by no means an expert in digital marketing; I am the Business Development Manager here, with just over 3 years experience in the digital marketing space and a real passion for learning about the digital marketing and advertising industry.


In order for me to continue my learning’s, I am constantly asking questions to our team of experts and researching/reading articles and opinions on the web.


The Internet in short, fascinates me!


The one topic that I constantly come across online is: Social Media .Vs. SEO. There are so many opinions from ‘team SEO’ and ‘team Social’ that I thought it would be interesting to give an opinion from someone who is neither an SEO Specialist or SMO expert, here what I found out along the way.


SEO is complicated common sense


The basics are easy, but it’s hard to do well! Quality content and web design are now as, if not more, important than link building. The issue is around the  ’Quality’ of the content. It is successful if it is engaging and relevant, but fails if it is over optimized. Web Design has a science behind it, the colors, the style, the UI/IA/UX but we constantly change as users, so must your page.


We buy products and services online in 2 stages.


Research and Specific; The research phase is where social and SEO work together for finding opinions/reviews, but it is then generally after we have researched, that SEO comes in, because we will then specifically search Google/Bing/Yahoo for a product/service or brand in a more specific way i.e. ‘iPhone 5’ because we have already looked for ‘ Best phone 2013′


SEO is less risky than SMO


Social media, from a reputation perspective is far riskier and damaging than SEO if done wrong (we’ve all heard about angry employee twitter storms). SEO, being less ‘sexy’ than social is always going to be better for selling ‘boring’ products i.e. Harvey Norman’s Facebook page is not where I would go to look at vacuum cleaners.


Consumers buy on trust


Social Media does build more trust that influences buying power than SEO. SEO is the best source for driving conversions.


Google + will become more important than ever


Google+ is the buck to the trend, trying to close the relationship between SEO and Social further (of course Google has it’s own reasons to do this) as search rankings will be determined not only on the content of the author but their reputation.


My final thoughts:


I understand as a consumer and a part of this industry, that both SEO and SMO are important in different ways and they  can work together as a team. I also understand that every industry behaves differently i.e. The consumer electronics industry is highly social media driven as we love to talk about our new phones, TVs and other gadgets, but in the health care industry, as a whole we don’t really talk about what’s going on down there (Embarrassing Illnesses TV show aside). Social, especially for ‘sexy’ visual products is highly important. SEO is important because we currently ‘buy’ from websites, not social channels.


The way we search and how we search for information is constantly changing and evolving, however I do not see search engines going anywhere soon, so the importance of SEO will continue to be important and relevant for brands to connect with their audience and sell more ‘product’.