After Penguin and Panda, yet another black-and-white furry beast to come out of Google is reportedly on its way. The name of the next search ranking algorithm update is unknown, but Zebra should easily see off competition from skunks and killer whales. So apart from a quirky name, what else can we expect from this upcoming update?
One possible area for Google to act on is social media, with its volume of signals that can improve quality of ranking. Social media is victim of spam just as any other online media and Google may act to discount signals from overly-optimised, unnatural accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.
Another area that may be targeted is online retail, since Matt Cutts recently pointed out that Google “don’t want low quality experience merchants to be ranking in the search results.” How they would judge the quality of a merchant is anybody’s guess, but reviews seem to be the obvious choice. Additionally, Google might also check whether their recently published Search Quality Guidelines are being followed. Section 4.1.2 “Recognizing True Merchants” in particular lists a series of checks, such as availability of a returns policy, working shopping cart, physical address, delivery options, etc.
The update is expected to roll out towards the second half of 2013.
Rarely does a subject line delight as much as this one from payment portal Dwolla. They are right that I do get easily distracted, so I fell straight for this one and opened to have a look. Top marks to them for best practice – not only do they prompt users who abandon the signup process, but they also make it fun; squirrels must rank up there with chimps when it comes to raising a smile.
I feel they’ve missed a little trick here though. They might want to find out why I hadn’t finished singing up and a link to a survey or feedback form might’ve been a handy source of feedback. Yes, they will get a lot of “It was a squirrel!!”, but for me it was that they don’t cater for international customers. Something that they might want to take into account.
Bitcoin is an exciting new virtual currency – about as exciting as a currency can get. It has been making news for a while, but exchange rates have soared just recently, from $15 in January 2013 to $70 in March. So I thought I dip my toes into the world of cyber forex and throw in my 2 cents.
What are Bitcoins
It is a digital currency based purely on an open-source, peer-to-peer Internet protocol and is now the most widely used alternative currency in the world with a market cap of over $700m. Bitcoin has grown up now – several financial funds are investing, governments have recently introduced regulations, and even a Bitcoin cash machine has been unveiled in Cyprus.
But where do they come from
Bitcoins are produced by “miners” who utilise computer hardware to run tasks which then result in a set number of Bitcoins produced every 10 minutes. Anyone can mine Bitcoins, but it is fairly intensive work for a computer – you need good hardware and cheap electricity to make it viable. Luckily, Bitcoins can also be bought from a trading desk, so us non-techies can have some too.
What’s the future like for Bitcoins
I have no idea, but I love to speculate!
Let’s start with the threats to the currency. Currently adoption is low and Bitcoins are just not practical; you can’t really buy much with them. (Having said that, you can buy a house.) But even if adoption improves over time, governments and central banks might try to intervene, especially if their own currencies come under threat. The FBI is already trying to understand how they can be used to launder money, a very viable option for those that have something to hide. Bitcoin theft is another crime, with several big cases reported, which can affect the value of the currency. But the most obvious threat comes from within – the current bubble is partly speculative hype and can burst, damaging trust and expectations.
Still, it may go the other way too. For starters, Bitcoins are not held within a particular bank, so they are safe from the authorities (note how this week a 20% “haircut” tax on deposits over €100,000 was imposed in Cyprus.) Being independent also helps to control inflation. In fact, Bitcoin supply is set in stone, with production rate decreasing over pre-determined periods, until 2140 when it will cease. Last, but not least, Bitcoins are clear of any political sentiment; it is a currency of “the people” and as such has a potential future as the neutral currency of the world. It is entirely possible that they will become moderately popular with savers and those that like their privacy.
I think it can really go either way – like a flip of a bitcoin :)
The truth is that with so many marketing shows around London, I’ve lost track of which one was when. This is a shame as some events are really worth going to – for the speakers, the networking, or the free stress ball. So for 2013 I’ve made myself a handy list of all the events I visited or considered before and I’m sharing it in case you find it useful too. Feel free to point out in the comments anything I’ve missed. See you around and don’t be shy to say “Hi”!
DCM Europe: Digital Content Monetisation
February, 18 – 21
SES London: Search Marketing
TFM&A: Technology for Marketing & Advertising
Distilled Link Love: Search Marketing
#SMWF Europe: Social Media
International Confex: Events Industry
Brighton SEO: Search Marketing
(not in London! but just down the road)
Digital Retail Masterclass
May, 15 – 16
SMX London: Search Marketing
Marketing Week live
IAB Engage 2013
October, 28 – 29
Distilled Search Love: Search Marketing
Content Marketing Show
The Metro recently ran an article on the most annoying words today with prizes going to the much overused “whatever”, “like”, “you know” and “just saying”; you can check out the article here Metro: “Seriously, there are literally millions of words that are basically annoying. Just sayin’”
Working in online marketing, I have also developed hatred for many industry-specific words. Here are 5 that always get me:
- Incremental – often impossible to prove so!
- Boutique agency – we can’t get many clients.
- Strategist – surely most are actually tacticians?
- A viral – seldom lives up to its name.
- Insights – stating the obvious.
To add to that, there are also lots of cryptic phrases that suggest one thing but actually mean the exact opposite:
- “We have been optimising your campaign” – they worked on other things.
- “To implement, simply drop one line of code on your site” – you know what follows!
- “CTR has been quite strong” – hides a financial catastrophe.
I am sure there are loads of more and better examples out there. What are your favourites?
PS: All this reminds me of the blurb used by social media people, neatly turned into a handy tool on this website http://whatthefuckismysocialmediastrategy.com/
PPS: No insult intended towards those that use these expressions. Just a warning :)
For those that work in PPC and have to change ad copy frequently, you know it can be a pain in the bottom. If you have multiple parties involved with the business / brand owner on one side, the agency on the other and you in the middle, it can be hard to create an ad everyone is happy with. The former doesn’t appreciate the copy limitations of PPC, while the latter may not fully grasp the brand’s desired language. The solution? Let everyone share the same screen. I’ve set up a spreadsheet which can be accessed and edited by all parties and it seems to be working like a dream.
You can check out the Ad Template by clicking on this link – feel free to make a copy and use.
T.M.Lewin have refreshed their website this week, updating the colour scheme, navigation, homepage elements, adding new filter options and a host of other little upgrades. Come and have a browse!
And here’s how it used to be. What do you think, have we done a good job updating the design?
Today there’s a new player in the tag management scene alongside Tagman, DC Storm and SiteTagger – it’s Google. The search giant has introduced its latest tool called Tag Manager that ”lets you add and update your website tags without bugging the IT folks.” It is a complete solution that works with Google tags, as well as third-party tags. Tag Manager makes use of asynchronous loading, reusable variables and smart caching to ensure speedy web experience, while it still allows sophisticated rules and custom code to be written. A/B testing and tagging reporting are to be released at a later date though. Still, it sounds like an interesting product that I will try out soon and compare to the high standards that Tagman has set.
Here’s Google’s video about the product:
2012 is a special year for American clothing and outdoor goods retailer L.L.Bean as they are celebrating their 100th birthday. To mark the occasion they’ve taken some of their iconic catalog(ue) covers from the past and have redone them fresh – creating yet another set of iconic covers.
The great story telling of the originals alongside the beautiful photography of today make this set of images a real gem, certainly a fitting celebration of what L.L.Bean has been about for the last 100 years.
There are four shots planned for this year and you can see Spring, Summer and Fall here – I’ll add Winter as it lands.