The Digital Agency is Dead – Long Live the Agile Digital Agency

In the last six months I have personally met with and interacted with not less than five different people and teams who are running what I’m calling the Agile Digital Agency.

It is a model of delivering enterprise quality digital marketing services that is going to have major ramifications to the current industry players.

What is the Agile Digital Agency?

The Agile Digital Agency has the following characteristics.

  1.  It is typically run by one or two founders who have digital marketing experience at the agency level serving a range of clients in various industries.  They are intimately familiar with the challenges of serving large demanding clients and implementing complex digital marketing campaigns.
  2. It is typically founded on  dissatisfaction with “the ways things are currently done” where they currently work.
  3. The Agile Digital Agency leverages cloud based technologies and mobile technologies to the max to allow them to conduct sales and marketing, operations, service delivery and manage overhead activities at the lowest fixed cost possible.  Not because  they are tight arses, but simply because it does not make sense to invest in infrastructure that minimises their business options.
  4. The Agile Digital Agency uses it’s strategic knowledge, technical skills, industry understanding, problem solving abilities and project management prowess to pull together flexible teams of digital marketing specialists to actually “do the work” without having to wear the cost of a full time team.

What is driving the Growth in the Agile Digital Agency?

There are a range of factors that are contributing to the growth in the Agile Digital Agency.

The disappearance of the distinction between traditional marketing and digital marketing.

Businesses no longer make a distinction between traditional marketing and digital.  There are only marketing channels to access  customers.

This has resulted in the massive increase in demand from small to medium sized enterprises for service providers with skills in the digital space which in turn provides the reason for being of Agile Digital Agencies.

The Talent Shortage

It’s becoming harder and harder to recruit technicians with the right online marketing skills who are willing to work full time in your organisation; to be paid less than they are (what they think they are ) worth  just to deal with office politics, the morning traffic jam , and the frustrations of broken internal processes that limit their ability to get the job done.

People with the right technical skills and experience in areas such as SEO, Content Marketing and Paid Search are tough to find.

Don’t believe me?  Try recruiting an SEO manager worth their salt in any capital city in Australia.

The Challenge of Recruiting and Managing Full Time Staff

The challenges of managing a full time work force are amplified with the current seismic shifts in values, technologies and career expectations of the current working generation.

Just listen to us poor old Gen X Managers talk about recruiting and keeping Gen Y staff.

There are some great discussions online about the challenges and frustration of trying to build an agency and a team of people who give a shit about the business you are building. Will Reynolds of Seer Interactive is one of the most transparent agency owners who talks about the challenges of recruiting  and motivating and keeping staff.

It’s becoming less and less attractive to build a team of full timers for many entrepreneurs, especially when there are alternative approaches available.

 Epic Technological Developments

In a world of crypto currencies, electric cars, distributed and mobile technologies, it’s no surprise that the cost structures of business have massively been turned on their heads.

Not only that, cloud computing, which encompasses the tools of the trade such as analytics, project management, social media monitoring and management, accounting and content marketing platforms have given agencies the ability to “do the work” better and faster and collaborate in ways that could never have been imagined just 10 years ago.

Don’t believe me?  37 Signals, a company renowned as the developer of cloud based project management software Basecamp has been operating with a virtual team of talented people since 1999.

 The Growth in Personal Options

The narrative of how you should live your life and what you should do to support yourself has changed along with the rest of the world.

Whatever cause you ascribe, globalisation, technology, the boom in the desire to live a fulfilling life of consequence, the fact is that people don’t  feel they need to follow the traditional path of getting educated, working a traditional job and living a normal life.

Tim Ferris and his book The Four Hour Work Week is an example of the kinds of thinking that has led to the growth in location independent entrepreneurship, and the Freelancing Economy which has changed how people want to work and work together.

 

What does this all mean for the Status Quo? 

I believe that the growth in the Agile Digital Agency will result in the following  changes in the Digital Marketing Space.

The Death of the Traditional Mid Sized Digital agency

The mid sized digital agency is being challenged on all sides as the larger traditional advertising agencies either buy or set up their own digital shops looking to take their share of the digital marketing pie.

Turf creep is inevitable as these behemoths look to offering  integrated offerings to their clients including services that traditionally were the forte of “Digital Marketing Agencies”

At the same time that digital agencies are being squeezed from the top end, the Agile Digital Agency is stealing their traditional bread an butter business by providing essentially the same services at at either a lower price point or at the same price point but with a much lower cost base than an agency that has full time premises, a full time staff and other traditional on-costs.

The Growth in “Premium Small” – The Agile Digital Agency

The expectation  that a small agency with a distributed team of part timers cannot deliver premium quality service and outcomes is patently false.

The quality of the service and the outcomes is driven by the knowledge and skills of the enterprising agency entrepreneur who can pull together best of breed technicians and manage the process in a manner that meets all parties expectations.

Smart entrepreneurs will leverage blogging and social media to position themselves as a premium offering that will be attractive to businesses wanting quality outcomes without paying the overheads that traditional mid sized agencies typically have to pass on.

Remember “Premium Small” is not to be confused with the backyard cowboy marketing person selling spammy seo services.

These are my observations based on my meetings and discussions with people working in the digital marketing space in Australia.

I’d love to hear your perspective in the comments below.


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So Long and Thanks for all The Fish – I’m Moving On

Traffika ImagesFour years ago I joined a  team of digital marketers on the Sunshine Coast working out of a small office in the Sunshine Coast Innovation Centre.

At the time I had just founded an outsourced seo business designed to provide seo services to other agencies.   I wasn’t  up for the challenges of running a client facing service business after having exited my previous business, and I thought that being an outsourced provider would give me more flexibility with my family of four and the challenges that come along with that.

Traffika was my first decent client and before too long we got to a point where Matt Forman, the founder of Traffika proposed that we joined forces to build the SEO arm of the burgeoning digital agency that was Traffika.

I must admit that I was initially quite hesitant as I had recently extricated myself  from a business with a previous business partner on less than amicable  terms.

However once we made the merge the business grew quite rapidly owing to Matt’s ability to sell the vision of what Traffika represented while I focused on developing an in house SEO team and internalising seo knowledge into the organisation and delivering results for our clients.

The last four years have been some of the most challenging and rewarding years of my life.

The personal and professional growth that comes from stepping up and working for  the clients that we came to serve is immense.  You expect more from yourself and you seek to expand your  knowledge and skills so you can deliver the best possible outcome for your clients.

At the same time my wife and I founded an online retail business that continues to this day and so I was truly immersed in all facets of this business, day and night.

However all good things must come to an end.

I remember having a discussion with a young(er) digital marketer just starting out in their career.  I told him then that that I did not expect that they would stay with the team forever.  I’ve always felt that personal and professional growth comes with change, taking risks and putting yourself out of your comfort zone.  And often this only comes from moving to new opportunities where you will be challenged.

Moving on  frees you from the restrictions that the people you started your career with have of you.  “You started with us as an intern – that’s forever how you will be viewed”

So when I myself felt that tingle in my tummy and the desire to do something new I recognised the internal buzzer going off to tell me that it was time to get out of my comfort zone and to challenge myself once again.

Over the last six months I have slowly wound back my involvement in the business at Traffika while they recruited my replacement.  The announcement was made recently on the Traffika Blog.  My replacement, Ulrich Gilot is a fantastically talented and experience digital marketer who will bring amazing insights to the clients at Traffika.

At this point I have sold out of the business and am no longer a shareholder.

To the exec team,  Matt, thanks for an amazing journey and an opportunity to participate at the highest level.  To Glenn the CFO and in house fitness coach, thanks for taking the time to train and mould digital marketers into hard core (fitter) digital marketers.

And to the awesome team of Traffika people I have worked with, past and present,  I can’t call you all out as this post would be like the credits at a a movie, thanks  for everything.  I have learned something valuable from each and every one of you.

I’d also like to give a shout out to the great clients and digital marketers I have had the opportunity to work with.  You know who you are and I will be sending you my thanks directly in due course.

What Now

Apart from my initial career steps as a chartered accountant,  I’ve always worked for myself.  So over the last few months I’ve been looking inside myself and asking the question “What next?”

Of course I am determined to continue to grow the ecommerce business I started with my wife but I continue to be passionate about digital and online marketing and want to continue to work in this space.  Not in an agency capacity but in some capacity.

I will be blogging at my online marketing blog OnlineKickstart.com and I have also started a premium content outsourcing service called ContentKickstart.com.

Content Kickstart grew out of my own need for quality content for my own businesses that was optimised for search and social sharing.  I’d already started building the team to do that for me and I feel why not offer the same to others who have been asking me for the very same thing.

If you want to stay in touch and see what I do next please connect with me on Twitter @edmundpelgen or on Google Plus.

So long and thanks for all the fish!  (for those of you who have no idea what that means go and buy this book.)


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A Framework for Sustainable SEO in 2013 and Beyond

seo-into-the-future

 

2012 was a devastating year for many businesses that relied on Google to send visitors to their websites.

Major changes in the way that Google ranked websites saw businesses lose their high rankings in the search engines; and their high levels of free traffic disappear as well.

Google is now so adept at identifying behaviors that are designed to manipulate rankings now that the old way of doing search engine optimisation is not a sustainable strategy.

Below I provide some context and a framework to allow businesses to develop a sustainable seo strategy for 2013 and beyond

 

The SEO Arms Race

Prior to 2012 SEO, or search engine optimisation was akin to an arms race.

I remember reading Time magazine as a kid and poring over the info graphics that showed how many missiles Russia had and how many the Americans had and how many times over they could destroy each other.

What I learned from Time magazine was that the more money you invested in things, missiles, tanks, ships, (SEO?), the more likely it was that you would beat your opponent.

SEO used to be like that.

Anyone who had been in SEO for any period of time knew that to get high rankings all you had to do was get a ton of links from different websites.  In addition you tried to get the keyword that you wanted to rank for in the link pointing to your website.

So instead of “click here” you chased a link that said “Car Insurance”…which in reality is not how people link to each other.

So if I was selling “Car Insurance” for example, I wanted as many links with “Car Insurance” in the link pointing to my site.

The keyword in the link told Google what the page was about.

The number and strength of links told Google that the site was popular and so rankings would increase.

Because this was the way that Google worked, seo became a race to see who could get as many links using the right keywords as possible.

In SEO, typically it was a game of who had the most budget and got the most links won.

 

The $36,000 Keyword

Oh and how they did win.

A coveted #1 ranking typically sees anywhere from 15 to 40% of the available traffic for a specific keyword search.  A #10 ranking would be lucky to see 2% of the search activity.

So if your website did not rank on page 1 your saw very little of the free or organic traffic from Google.  You had to pay to get traffic to your website.

You can place a value on a #1 ranking position in organic traffic by looking at how much that traffic would cost you if you had to pay for it.

Google already has a mechanism for valuing traffic in its Google Adwords system which allows you to pay to get visitors to your website.

These are the advertisements that you see on the top and right hand side of Google where you search for something.

Every time someone clicks on an ad, the advertiser gets charged for that click based on how much they bid for that click based on the keyword that the searcher used.

So, depending on how valuable the sales those keywords bring to a business, the more they would be willing to pay per click.

As long as the cost of acquiring a customer stays below the net profit, the logical thing is to keep increasing the price you would be willing to pay per click until the profit stops.

To give you an idea what some keywords are worth check out this blog post that lists the most expensive keywords in 2012.  http://www.fetch123.com/SEM/the-most-expensive-keywords-in-google.

“Mesothelioma Settlement” cost $142 per click to buy.  Google shows that keyword as having approximately 1300 monthly searches.  Lets say that you owned a website in position #1 and you received 20% of that search volume as clicks which is 260 clicks.
Then the value of that #1 ranking is 260 x $142 = $36,920 a month.

 The Beast Google Created

With this kind of value on the line it was never a moral or ethical decision to play hard in SEO.  It was a monetary one.

By placing a value on high organic rankings, Google effectively created an industry of participants skilled in manipulating the system to their own benefit.

The ability of seo’s to manipulate the rankings by scaling activities that pulling the levers of things that Google used in its ranking algorithm lead to the industrial scale creation of a cottage industry of tools, outsourcers and low quality content all designed to improve organic rankings.

 Why was it so?

You might be asking yourself why did Google let this go on so long.

Well they were certainly trying to clean things up as can be evidenced by the steady rollout of algorithmic updates that were designed to close loopholes.

http://www.seomoz.org/google-algorithm-change

Some seo practitioners saw the light early, knowing full well that Google was getting better and better at countering these manipulative activities and advocated quality content creation and social promotion of content, with the goal of attracting links.

But while the cost and effectiveness of doing things the easy, cheap and scalable way was low, these white hat advocates were always going to lose in the race to the top of the organic search results.

 The Beginning of the End

The beginning of the end came in June of 2010 with the rollout of the Google Caffeine Update.  This was primarily an update in Googles infrastructure, which allowed its computers to crawl websites much faster and update the organic results faster.

It demonstrated Google’s increased ability to analyse and process large volumes of data and gave them the ability to run and implement the algorithmic updates that were rolled out in 2011/2012 with such devastating effect.

The most high profile of these updates acquired the names Panda, and Penguin.

However they were neither fluffy or cute.

Hostorically, spammy activities typically did not penalise the site unless a manual review was done.  Spam either helped your site or was ignored by Google and had no impact.

However with Panda, Penguin and any of the 500 updates Google rolls out annually, we now have negative ranking factors where your site stands to get penalised automatically by the algorithm if it feels you have crossed some threshold.

And for the first time these updates looked not only at the way you link to your website but what also what you do on your site.

Penguin, for example looks at the way that you write your content, the way that you link internally to other pages, and the keywords you use in those links.

If you do anything on your website that is designed to manipulate organic search rankings, Google now has the mechanism to take you down.

 A New Beginning

Google tried for years to get people and businesses to do what they felt was the right thing.

In 2013 they finally have the ability to effect a change in people’s behaviour because they have given them an economic incentive to do so.

That incentive is “Do the right thing because doing the wrong thing will get you penalised and cost you money”

  • Doing things that are not done for humans will get you penalised
  • Doing spammy things that are cheap and easy and that used to work will get you nowhere.
  • Doing the things that do not attract real human interaction and social sharing of your content will not help you one bit.
  • In fact doing anything designed to manipulate the rankings is a risk.

 

Google has finally made the cost of doing the wrong things (according to Google) now more expensive than doing the right things.

A Sustainable SEO Strategy for 2013 and Beyond

You are probably thinking, “Thanks for the history lesson Edmund, now give us something actionable that we can use”

So here it is.

As a member of a digital agency to many large brands my mandate is to internalise these changes to the landscape and come up with an approach that will provide a long-term sustainable organic traffic strategy.

The challenge has always been to balance the risks of an aggressive strategy with the monetary gain that the strategy delivered.

With the state of Google in 2013 it is much easier to “preach from the bible” because trying to game the system may lead to short term gains but you will eventually get caught out when Google catches up with you.  And they will.

Large Brands already have an advantage.  Not simply because they are brands but because if optimised correctly the net result of their normal day to day operational and marketing activities can generate the things Google wants to see.

Real human sharing, visiting, linking to your website and its content.

 

The Framework

I’ve developed the following  framework to help you plan the activities that need to be done in order to ensure long-term sustainable organic search performance.

These include:

#1 Protect your website from Negative Ranking factors

#2 Focus on Improving the Technical Health of your website

#3 Get Competent with Social Media and Start building an audience

#4 Start thinking like a publisher

#5 Develop link attraction strategies unique to your business

In detail.

 

#1 Protect your website from Negative Ranking factors

The goal here is to asses the risk of past, current and future activities,  that might cause your website to get penalised.

And yes, like “smoking pot at college”, your past seo activities can comeback and bite you.

You need to make a risk assessment and if required implement some remedial action that might include:

  • Removing spammy back links
  • Stop buying links (very easy to spot)
  • Stop chasing keywords in your links
  • Rewriting content that could be considered keyword stuffed
  • Remove all of those footer links to internal pages with multiple keyword variations
  • Stop allowing your website content to be syndicated and published on hundreds of crappy blogs
  • Implement Google Authorship tags on your unique content to make sure Google knows that you are the original source and owner of your content, not the scraper blog that is using your content to build its site.

 

#2 Focus on Improving the Technical Health of your website

All of the money spent on getting people to your site is wasted if the site is down or runs slowly.

Invest time in improving your hosting, your security and your software with the goal being to improve the visitor’s experience.

Google has the ability to find external signals that allow them to measure user experience.

They have stated that site speed is one of the over 200 factors that are used to generate organic rankings.
Think about how you can ensure that the sites infrastructure can help influence these factors.

 

#3 Get Competent with Social Media and Start building an audience

Within five years people will look at a business that is not engaging with an audience via social media in the same way they would at a company that doesn’t use email.

Even me writing this section will be like me saying “Get a telephone installed so customers can call you”. Well duh!

Besides all of the customer service benefits and market insight a social media following gives you, having a large audience and especially an audience has its own benefits.

An active and passionate audience gives you the ability to directly promote your business and content in a way that generates a whole range of social sharing and linking that feed directly into Googles ranking mechanism.

So by “doing social” you are “doing seo”.  How Cool!

This whole social thing also means you should start participating in “Google Social”, which means Google Plus.

Yes I know Google + isn’t as huge as Facebook, but Google Plus isn’t about seeing what your friends did on the weekend.

Google Plus gives Google the ability to validate the linking activity around your website and content by overlaying it with the social sharing activity around it.

This means that not only do you have lots of links to your great blog, you have people talking about it in social media, clicking your “+1” buttons and sharing links in Google Plus.

#4 Start thinking like a publisher

Think about what a traditional publisher does.  They create content that appeals to a specific market that has similar problems, likes, needs and wants and then promote that content to the audience with the sole purpose of monetising the content.

We can all learn a lot from this model.

Business today needs to think about creating content (blogs, tweets, resources, whitepapers, videos, podcasts’) that appeal to a specific market (their prospective customers) that has similar problems, likes, needs and wants,  and promote the content to the audience (via social media, paid media, PR, Email etc) with the sole purpose of monetising it (by getting shares, links, improved organic rankings, visits and sales)

And if you are going to do this in the age of Google then make sure your content creators are on Google Plus and have their Google authorship in place.

 My opinion is that Google authorship is a dark horse that everyone is underestimating.

Google Authorship allows Google to attribute a measure of trust and authority to content creators.

The market is calling this Author Rank.

Here is how Google refers to the concept in one of their patents.

“The name of the writer can be used to influence the ranking of web search results by indicating the writer responsible for a particular content piece … Assuming that a given writer has a high reputational score, representing an established reputation for authoring valuable content, then additional content authored and signed by that writer will be promoted relative to unsigned content or content from less reputable writers in search results.”

This changes the content strategy for many businesses that are used to authoring the content on their websites.

Imagine leveraging the Author Rank of highly trusted, influential and authoritative authors who are invited to guest blog on your website.

The content, whilst authored by the guest author will get visibility in the organic search results, because of their trust and authority and traffic will flow to your website.  Most people don’t yet seem to get this concept.

Just imagine.

 

#5 Develop link attraction strategies unique to your business

Each of our businesses is unique, has different needs, restrictions and assets.  Not to mention the specific attributes of the markets within which they operate.

For your business you need to develop link attraction strategies that are repeatable, scalable (as much as is possible) and not against Google’s terms of service so as to ensure the longevity of the links.

Link attraction in 2013 is going to be inexorably entwined with content creation, traditional PR and social media activity as they all work together to get visibility, attract social sharing and ultimately links.

Maybe the term SEO is too restrictive in 2013 as the core competencies I’ve described above are quite broad.

There will always be a core part of the SEO skillset that requires a strong technical competency.

However the skill of link attraction is now more encompassing and includes PR and traditional marketing activities done with the endgame of attracting links in mind.

 

If you agree or don’t agree or just have another opinion please feel free to post them below.

Image Credit


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How to Prepare Your Business for the Google Social Revolution

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

The last 18 months have seen a torrent of new features and updates from Google as they battle to keep their search offerings relevant in the face of the social onslaught from Facebook.

Since the return of Larry page as CEO of Google in April 2011, his obsession of Google with Facebook and social has remade the organisation, including shutting down many of the companies less popular services and tying a percentage of everyone’s bonuses to the success of Google Plus, Google’s own social network.

Below I am going to go through four key changes to the Google ecosystem and explain why they are important and what you need to  do to prepare your business for them.

It’s important to note that the points below are an educated guess of how things work.  Google will never confirm what it is implementing specific features with a broader perspective and an eye toward the history of the evolution of search we can make some educated guesses about where Google is moving and what you need to do to prepare your business for these developments.

 

Google+

Google Plus is Google’s own social network.  It was released in June 2011.

Why did Google launch Google+?

  1. To Build it’s own Social Graph – That is data on the social connections, interactions and engagement between persons and organisations on the web.  They previously had to access this data from Twitter and to a more limited extent Facebook.  Having your own social graph allows you to see how content is shared and linked to and who is sharing it and linking to it.
  2. It reduces their reliance on the Link Graph to rank websites – Back links are currently the primary ranking factor online but as Google knows back links can be easily manipulated.  If they have social data they have better insight into whether the growth in links matches social activity, whether the people who share links and content are “real” and whether those who share are more or less influential or trust worthy than others.
  3. To protect its’ revenue streams – With over 900 million people spending a large percentage of their time online in Facebook, there is a threat to Google’s Adwords system  via Facebook Ads.
Google is less concerned about creating a social network that will compete on a toe to toe basis with Facebook but more concerned about keeping their organic search offerings more relevant and accurate so that people will continue to use their search products and advertisers will continue to advertise on their ad platform.

The Google+1 Button

The Google+1 button is the equivalent of  Facebook’s like button.  It was released in March 2011.

Why did Google release the Google+1 Button?

  1. To capture data on social recommendations – The Google+1 Button is attached to a webpage or ad and allows you to +1 or recommend that page or ad.  If you are logged in to a Google account these +1’s appear in organic search results.  If you are connected to people through the Google+ social network, +1’s from your connections will appear next to your search results showing you who of your friends thought a specific page was cool.  The +1 button is a way of telegraphing
  2. To validate the link graph – The Google+1 button is another way that allows Google to see what pages are popular from a social perspective and if social popularity matches the link popularity ie # of back links then this is a good indicator that this content is real, relevant and worth of the rankings allocated it.
  3. To feed social recommendations into Google+.  It allows you to telegraph your recommendations to your social network in Google+ in the same way that Facebook likes are into Facebook.
Don’t think that more +1’s are going to directly influence organic search rankings by themselves.  Google is too smart for that trick to work. Rather think about + 1’s as another supporting data point which when combined with all of the data that Google has about a page, allows them to validate or modify their current rankings.

Google Authorship

Authorship markup is a way that content creators can “tag” content that they have created and published on the web so that Google knows who is the original creator of a piece of content.  It is implemented by linking your content to your Google+ Profile (aha..) using Authorship markup.
The visible manifestation of this in the search results is that authors’ profile images may appear in the organic search results next to their content, improving their personal visibility and possibly the click through to their content.
Google says its all about helping users find quality content on the web and they do this by forcing you to joining their social network, letting them access your likes and recommendations, your social circles and interactions with others and they reward you with more visibility in the search results.

Why did Google implement Authorship?

  1. It allows them to maintain quality search results – With Authorship,  Google knows who was the original creator of a piece of content and can rank the original source in the search results instead of the many scraped search results created by spammers stealing authors content.  This gives them another tools to maintain the quality of their search results to keep searchers using Google.
  2. It allows Google to weight social recommendations - If Google knows who I am, how influential I am and how many people engage with me (via Google+) then they will be able to weight my social recommendations (via +1 buttons) which means that depending on my “AuthorRank” I may be able to influence organic search results by recommending content.  The best analysis of this idea is from AJ Kohn in his blog post Author Rank.  This gives Google another spam fighting and ranking data point as content with a strong link profile as reflected by Page Rank can be validated as it is shared by people who are influential and trustworthy and have a higher AuthorRank.

Search Plus Your World

Search Plus Your World is the culmination of the remaining updates.  It has only been rolled out on Google.com and will most likely be rolled out internationally in a staged rollout in the near future.  It is essentially Social Search.
Search Plus Your World is Google search transformed by the connections, interactions and activity you have on Google+.  It is google search blended with social results. ie more personal.
Note:  Google is giving your business an opportunity here to appear and stay  in the organic search results of those who connect, interact and engage with your business on Google+.  The businesses who grasp this opportunity first will have a head start on those who dont.

We’re transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships. We began this transformation with Social Search, and today we’re taking another big step in this direction by introducing three new features:

  1. Personal Results, which enable you to find information just for you, such as Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page;
  2. Profiles in Search, both in autocomplete and results, which enable you to immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following; and,
  3. People and Pages, which help you find people profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest, and enable you to follow them with just a few clicks. Because behind most every query is a community.

Together, these features combine to create Search plus Your World. Search is simply better with your world in it, and we’re just getting started.

For a good overview of what it looks like read Danny Sullivans’ blog post  Google’s Results Get More Personal With “Search Plus Your World

Why did Google implement Search Plus Your World

  1. Less reliance on the link graph – By incorporating the range of social data from +1 buttons, Google+ and authorship, Google has more data to validate the links to pages and in turn the organic search results, keeping the quality high visitors coming back and advertising $ rolling in.
  2. Google provides more personalised “quality” search results – By incorporating social proof elements into organic search results, Google starts to “own” social recommendations; something that Facebook had and Google did not until now.  Their organic search results are thus full of friends’ recommendations and this hopefully will keep people using and Google search products and keep advertisers happy to stay using Google’s paid services to drive traffic.
  3. Future Revenue opportunities – In the end there is always a monetisation strategy at Google.  No doubt there are aspects to Google+ and Search Plus Your World that  translate to increased advertising opportunities including possible demographic search targeting which is something that Facebook has that Google does not have..yet.

What You Should do to prepare Your Business for the Google Social Revolution

  1. Sign up for Google+ and set up a Google+ page for your business.  Start working out how to use it to build an audience, share and promote content (not just your own though) and to engage with your audience.
  2. Actively learn how to participate in social media.  Remember every interaction is not just an opportunity to sell.  Its now an opportunity to remain relevant in the organic search results as well as to extend your brands influence.
  3. Make sure all of your content has the +1 button on it to allow people to endorse and recommend it into the social graph
  4. If you are a content producer (and you should be) make sure that you implement the Authorship tags to make sure Google knows that you are the original source of the content.
  5. Create great content that has attribution so you can start to build your own personal authority or “AuthorRank”.  Build an audience, share and engage.
  6. As a business it is incumbent that you start thinking like a publisher and invest in producing awesome content because at the core of all of these changes that Google is rolling out is content.  Content gets +1’s, it gets shared into Twitter, Facebook and now Google+.  Content allows you to demonstrate your industry knowledge, your understanding of your clients problems and demonstrate your ability to solve their problems. Quality content that gets shared attracts links which are still the #1 ranking factor for web pages.
  7. Content is the lubricant of social interactions and will allow your business to start building an audience with whom to engage.

What are your thoughts?  Do you agree or disagree?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Resources:

The above blog post was built in the insights and analysis of many insightful thinkers some of which I have referenced below which should be considered a part of your additional reading.
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Feed Your Mind with a Podcast

podcasts

We’re all suffering from Information Overwhelm!  You absolutely know it.  As I get older I’m valuing more and more simplicity, lack of clutter and improved focus, both personally and in work.

And this translates to the educational content I am consuming.

I’ve found myself turning to podcasts as my primary source of learning.  Why?  We’ll most of my free time occurs when I’m driving so its the ideal medium to consume and I do love the closeness one feels to the subject when they are in your ear educating all the time.

Some Podcasts that I’m enjoying at the moment that I’d recommend include:

Think Act Get – with James Schramko and Ezra Firestone

A quality podcast from two experienced business people talking primarily mindset related topics.

Seth Godins Startup School

The audio’s from a live event that Seth Godin ran with a group of entrepreneurs.  If you are not familiar with Seth Godin’s philosophies you will be by the end of this series.

Mixergy by Andrew Warner

Andrew Warner interviews proven entrepreneurs with a wonderful interview style, getting them to open up about their successes and failures.  Great insight and inspiration.

The Lifestyle Business Podcast by Dan Andrews and Ian Schoen

Ever wanted to meet two guys who have turned location independence into a reality?  Then listen to this podcast.  Great ideas, insight and banter between these two hosts.

I’ve got a few more on my list and maybe I’ll do a more detailed review in future.  Check these ones out though, I guarantee you will walk away having learnt something new each time.


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