Or

Headlines You Won’t Believe Till You Read Them. And Then You Will Cry

I made a comment on Facebook yesterday describing my disbelief about the current format of headline writing

Am I weird (don’t answer that yet) in that I find the current trend of internet headlines eg: “You won’t believe what happened….This will make you cry etc yada yada yada” completely counter productive.

My first thought is manipulation and spammy. In fact making a headline I am LESS likely to click on, not more as they would hope???

Am I alone in ignoring these manipulative headlines?

So I wondered about what supports these ideas.

Headline writing is marketing and marketing is psychology.

Upworthy is one of the stars of the headline writing business and it isn’t a fluke that they have become so successful. They spend plenty of time and effort testing and measuring their headlines and content for the best results. (See this post from KISSmetrics) Right now, it seems that this current style of headline works the best.

I am certain that over time, people will become less interested and more immune to this style of writing and sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy will need to change also.

This blog post over at The Moz Blog : 5 Data Insights into the Headlines Readers Click has some great research and information such as

  • Explosion in content competing for readers’ attention: A Day in the Internet  shows that 2 million blog posts, 294 billion emails, and 864 thousand hours of video are created daily. Each day also brings 400 million tweets .
  • 80% of readers never make it past the headline: According to some sources, on average, eight out of 10 people will read headline copy , but only two out of 10 will read the rest.
  • Traffic can vary by as much as 500% based on the headline: According to Koechley, tests show that traffic to content at Upworthy can vary by as much as 500%  simply because of the headline. “The headline is our one chance to reach people who have a million other things that they’re thinking about, and who didn’t wake up in the morning wanting to care about feminism or climate change, or the policy details of the election,” he said.

Each of these bits of information show why so many article sites, some directly copying the style of writing (and headlines) of Upworthy and co, are being launched. Attach some ads to these articles and if you can generate some virality around them, money can me made.

We see similar changes over time with other styles of advertising, whether it be on TV, Radio, Print or the Internet. These mediums and their advertisers need to compel those who see their ads to take action. Whether that is by using the emotions of shock, laughter, happiness and sadness or other methods such as visual/audio styles, questioning techniques and props/actors.

So for today, this style of headline is the way, but who knows what we will be presented with in a year or two. Whatever it is, you can be certain that is has been well researched and measured to make sure they get the best bang for their buck.

SEO Workshop 29th of April in Kerikeri

I am presenting a SEO workshop on the 29th of April at Woodlands in Kerikeri.

With plenty of things changing in the world of Search Engines, it is a great time to get up to speed with the do’s and don’ts of making your website as findable as possible.

Here are some of the things we will cover:

  • How to change the key items of content on your website
  • What are good links and what the bad ones look like
  • How to identify those SEO scams that appear in your inbox
  • What is Adwords

If you can make changes to your website yourself, then you will find practical ways to work on your site. If you have someone to do it for you, then you will have the knowledge to ask for the right things to be done. 

There will be plenty of time for questions, lots of the things learnt in these sessions is from the discussions we have with attendees about their website.

The cost is $65 incl gst and includes morning tea.
Numbers are limited to 20 so grab your space.

The session will run from 9 am till noon.

To book your place, either email me at webmaster@deepweb.co.nz or call on 09 4016656.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Google+ Pages – More Social Real Estate



Deepweb
on Google+

Google has released Pages for Google +

Google+’s Pages are similar to Facebook Pages and allow Brands such as companies, organisations, local businesses, celebrities and other entities to create a presence on Google+

Previously there had been a lot of criticism of Google for not allowing these from the start of Google+. To the point that the “Real Names” policy caused the deletion of some profiles that are now essentially what Google+ Pages is meant for.

Similarly to Facebook Pages, you can add your brief business information and start using Google+ to share information.

There are some key things to note with these Pages

  • Google+ Pages can’t add others to their circles (or follow / friend) until those people have added the brand page to their circles (to try and stop spamming)
  • As a follow on from the first point, it is more difficult to promote your page without having a personal Google+ account to promote the Page, the more people in your personal account circles the better.
  • The profile information is limited, if you want to get more information out there, use links to your website or use the post facility to add them into your stream
  • Your personal Google+ profile is your administrator account, you can switch between the two and post as the respective accounts.
  • It is important to do the Google+ Direct Connect (this puts you in the running to have the ability to be found on Google Search by adding “+” at the start of your name like a keyword)

It would have been nice to have a connection between your Google Places listing and your Page, I hope this is integrated as this would be a sensible way to combine these common things (maps, business details etc)

It is also a new kid on the block. There are no Apps like in Facebook to add other functionality like E-Commerce, but I expect this will be added later.

Hangouts (where you can host a video chat session) can be a really novel way of interacting with people following your page. I can see this being really good for video training, Q+A sessions and other mass interactions that are currently done via forums, wiki etc.

Dashes vs Underscores for SEO – Winner announced

We have a definitive answer from Google as to what is better for word separation in URLs.

Matt Cutts released one of his Webmaster videos discussing this and while there is not much in it (to the point he said not to change it if you already have underscores), that if you are starting a new site, dashes are the way to go.

Incubus’ Clever Use of the Internet

There are an increasing number of clever uses of the internet as a marketing tool for companies, products and brands.

Once that I think is really good is that of the band Incubus.

They are releasing a new album soon called If Not Now,When? and using (as far as I can tell) a novel method to promote the album, have been using a website called http://www.incubushqlive.com/ where they have been streaming live performances from the band plus interviews and clinics from band members.

But it also seems to be a great way to promote the band while practising for upcoming appearnaces and concert tour.

Each of the performances can be attended by emailing the site and getting an invite. The venue is small, only really big enough for a ring of people around the band as they play their set. The performances have been a mix of old songs and those off the new album.

The interaction of the band with the small audience is great too, they make mistakes, laugh about it and go again, till they get it right.

Most performances I have seen there have been over 4 thousand people watching the stream. Tweets with the bands hashtag get displayed live on the screen behind the band.

All in all a great use of social media and technology to promote an upcoming album.

Speaking of social media, how did I find out about this? Facebook. I’m a fan and so follow them on Facebook, where they have been advertising what has been happening at “HQ” leading up to the album release. This along with their website provide all of the information needed for fans to get prepared.

All we need now is for them to come to NZ   *hint, hint*

Twitter has New Follow Button

Under the Resources section on Twitter.com, you can find the new Follow Button.

Using the setup screen, it generates the code needed to put on your site to display the follow button. The good thing here, is that the button allows for the visitor to follow you on Twitter without leaving your site.

This is how it looks


Looks good and well implemented.

 

Your WordPress Theme might be Killing your SEO

After repeatedly fixing up themes for SEO reasons, it gets a bit depressing that theme makers are not switched on about the basics.

A common occurance is when the title of the site and the description of the site is formatted with H1 and H2 tags, these tags are important for search engine optimisation purposes.

Repeating the same text in the H1 tag on every page does not allow you to focus each page on it’s specific function.

Here is an example of a header.php file that will generally have the top part of your site (header image, menu etc)

<div id=”header”>
<div id=”blog-logo”>
<h1 id=”blog-title”> <a href=”<?php bloginfo(‘url’); ?>”> <? bloginfo(‘name’); ?></a></h1>
<h2 id=”blog-description”> <? bloginfo(‘description’); ?> </h2>
</div>

As you can see the Blog Title is using the H1 tag and the Blog Decription using the H2.

When you get to the content (especially Pages), you find that the title of the post or page content is formatted using a less powerful Header tag.

The title of your content is an important piece of real estate that you cannot let slip by.

A second issue is that the Title that you enter into WordPress when you are creating your content. It is often used as the menu item for that page. Because of this people create poor titles as they create them as a menu label rather than a keyword rich title.

To get around these problems, I do the following:

Remove any Header Tag Formatting

Remove H1 and H2 tags from the header of the site (see above) and reformat with other styles if the blog title and blog description are necessary.

Remove the Post Title

Remove the post title from the content code (either page.php or single.php)

Example

<?php if (have_posts()) : ?>

<?php while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?> <div id=”post-<?php the_ID(); ?>”  <?php if(function_exists(‘post_class’)) : post_class(); else : echo ‘class=”post”‘; endif; ?>>

<h3><?php the_title(); ?> </h3> <- remove this line

<?php the_content(); ?> <- this is the content of your post or page

Lastly, write Good SEO titles as H1 tags in the actual body of the post or page.

Example

It is important to check your theme to see if it has been managed in such a way that you can get the best out of your SEO. Some themes say they are SEO friendly but it is worth checking and making some simple changes if needed.

Getting to the Sharp end of the Wedge

Over the last few weeks there has been plenty of stories backwards and forwards about the quality of Google’s results, specifically that the quality is going down.

Google counter in an official blog post to counter that specifially by saying that search quality is better than ever (though conceding a short term increase recently)

Penned by Matt Cutts, it tries to convince people that Google are always trying to improve their results, that they take web spam seriously and they are implementing new changes to combat the new threats.

Google are in a different space these days than when they were fighting spam a decade ago.

Now they are the overwhelming search leaders and are beginning the attract the kind of attention that Microsoft has had to deal with due to their size.

Any small incident or problem will be leapt upon and made larger than life.

Reports generated by people with close links to opposition search engines will appear forcing Google and it’s fans to dispute the findings.

With webspam, the easy fight has been fought and mostly won. Computer generated content is easily found and algorithms created to weed them out. Each iteration from the spammers is met by an algorithm change at the Search Engines and the fight goes on.

But now we are talking about “low quality” content, often written by people (rather than scraped off other sites) for small amounts of money, on topics far and wide to capture and convert as much traffic as possible.

But here in lies the problem:

Most online business owners are in the game of creating content and hoping it drives traffic and revenue. Same as this new form of Web Spam.

What Google are complaining about is that this content does not add to the search experience of the end user. In their eyes, the end user clicks on a link that takes them somewhere that will not solve their question or provide the appropriate information.

So, does that mean that Google are now the arbiters of what is “low” or “high” quality content? These are much murkier waters than before and we trust that Google do this job properly, not to the detriment of everyday content writers that have something valid to say but may not be the most polished of journalists.

Plenty more ammunition for the anti-Google to fire up with.

Do you think this is a fight too far? Can you algorithmically determine high from low quality?

Search Trends for 2011

Here is an interetsing video from Matt Cutts of Google with Danny Sullivan from SearchEngineLand, talking about future trends for search in 2011.

They talk about the increased importance of social media in influencing ranking. While still small, it shows a shift towards social as a means of determining importance of content on the web.

Towards the end of the video, they talk about how Google is trying to avoid the poisoning of somones persona on the web by taking multiple sources of information, reviews etc to try to weed out any malicious or extraneous reviews or comments. Matt says that they take over 500 sources to try and determine this, I wonder what they are?

Another important note, is that even though these sites are classed as social networks, if Google can’t crawl them, (possibly because of high security settings) then that information remains hidden and cannot be used in building ranking.

So will SEO now become more about the persona of the individual or company, will the “quality” of the persona be just as important as the “quality” of the links or the “quality” of the content?

The next big industry….Persona Management 🙂

Online Reviews – Good, Bad or Fake

Online reviews are one of the many great things on the web that are abused by some to either positively or negatively influence things.

For as many fake negative reviews on the web, I am sure there are just as many fake positive reviews out there. However, the negative ones are the ones that get the attention.

TripAdvisor, Google and many others provide the ability to submit reviews on businesses and products.

While a list of positive reviews are great for business,  a few negative ones can really put people off.

When you do get a negative review what should you do? Here are some tips for you.

  1. Respond quickly – as soon as you find a negative review, get on to it quickly. The longer the response, the more damage it does
  2. Acknowledge the issue – most people with a legitimate gripe about the product or service they are reviewing are doing it from a place of honesty. It is important that you acknowledge this
  3. Avoid “He Said – She Said” – arguments that happen on feedback sites can only end badly for the business involved.
  4. Don’t let it get personal or emotional – stick to the facts, be reasonable
  5. Move forward – each negative feedback is the opportunity to learn something and do better. If, in your response, you can indicate what you can do to make customers experiences better in the future, it will show your willingness to listen and take feedback on board.

Use negative feedback as an ideal opportunity to get better.

Here is an interesting video about the problem with fake reviews