Despite what the name may suggest, this has nothing to do with the infamous ride-hailing service, but it could help drive up your SEO.

Certainly, when it comes to finding the perfect keywords and pushing you up the SERPs, it never hurts to have an extra helping hand, especially when your Google juice inspiration is running a little low.

That’s exactly what Neil Patel is hoping to provide with Ubersuggest (if you haven’t heard of him, by the way, it could be worth looking him up ‒ it seems he’s a pretty big deal in the US entrepreneurial and marketing world). We’re sure that you will all be aware of the likes of Moz for your SEO needs but Ubersuggest hopes to take this one step further.

What content are people actually reading and sharing? Or, if you’re struggling for ideas, what other keywords could you be using? Ubersuggest looks to answers all of these questions, outlining the top-performing content for certain keywords and generating keyword suggestions based on what people are actually typing into Google.

Furthermore, it also offers insights into your competitors, so you can see what’s working (and what isn’t) for the rest of your industry.  Not just so you can do the same but so you can do it better.

Best of all ‒ its free!

So, we suggest you give it a go. And if you’d still like some additional advice, we’ve written a whole guide and eBook on SEO.

Politics aside, the 2016 US election was fascinating to watch as it unravelled like a fast-paced Netflix series. The two most vilified public figures in recent US history – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – had to employ new campaigning strategies to win over an increasingly connected, internet-enabled population.

So, why should we pay attention to the campaign strategies of the presidential elections? Essentially, the candidates needed to sway a large demographic of people – which is every eligible voter in the US – very quickly over a variety of issues in a short period of time. The candidates needed to build credibility, rebuke negative opinions in and out of the press and quickly run crisis comms at any given moment. In other words, we’re looking at your typical PR or marketing campaign on overdrive!

And historically, these campaigns are a first look of how new tactics or technologies can be or will be employed at a grand scale. Franklin D. Roosevelt was one of the first to utilise radio to influence potential voters nationwide; John F. Kennedy was the first to pioneer TV; and more recently Obama was the first to use of social media to directly engage with potential voters.

The first social election
What is particularly interesting in this year’s election is the increasing dominance of social media. Recent research found that 6 out of 10 Americans use social media as their primary source of news. And in January of this year 44% of Americans reported that they learned about the US elections from social media.

With a majority of people consuming their news through social, it’s a no-brainer that the primary stomping ground for the elections took place online. And while Obama was the first presidential candidate to effectively use social media to directly connect with potential voters, this is the first election where the candidates used social media as their primary platform to not only reach the public, but to also debate and spar with one another – from public Twitter fights to paid advertising on social sites such as Snapchat. Never before have there been so many streams of direct access to the presidential candidates.
Early campaigning on social media has never seen such intensity, and both candidates churned out content across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using hashtags such as #ImWithHer and #CrookedHillary.

The benefit of using digital media as the primary means of communicating with voters means that the campaigners could reach their target audience without relying on the press – and more importantly control the messages they want to highlight or avoid.

Meme warfare
What also shined in the US elections was the prevalence of memes. Memes certainly aren’t new here, but what has emerged is the rate at which they are created and distributed. Throughout the elections memes were created and shared in real-time, in line with live debates, breaking news and televised interviews.

Both the Clinton and Trump camps embraced certain memes as a quick way to share inside jokes with supporters, spread campaign messages and deliver attacks to their opponents, whilst also distancing themselves from the most hateful critics. Memes make people feel, rather than think. And there are multiple studies that have pointed out that people make purchasing decisions based on their feelings over facts – and this increases the power of memes in reinforcing and strengthening ideologies pumped out by each campaign camp.

Search and social will rule measurement
The biggest surprise from this election was how wrong the polls were at predicting the election results, with a number tipping Clinton for a majority win. Public opinion now changes faster than ever before and traditional ways of capturing this information isn’t up to speed. Polling companies rely on surveys and calling homes to collect information. People don’t always share accurate information in surveys and an increasing number of people are forgoing landlines for mobile devices – people aren’t even answering their phones these days!

So how can we measure public opinion and progress? Well, if you look at the Google search trends throughout the primaries it accurately predicted that Trump would win the Republican nomination and that Bernie Sanders would beat Clinton in states like Vermont but fail to edge her out in hard-to-poll states like Nevada.

In this election, volume of Google searches predicted that Clinton and Trump would come head to head – which in the end was very much the case. Twitter is also important to look at when measuring public opinion – on election day Twitter was the go-to for updates and breaking news about voting activity, machine malfunctions and results.

While it’s still premature to count on the accuracy of search trends and Twitter activity, they will be increasingly important resources for monitoring opinion in real-time.

What does this mean for your brand comms?
As marketing and comms professionals, there are a few things we can start doing now:

1. If you aren’t already doing so, start creating and distributing owned content across a broad range of social media and owned distribution avenues such as blogs, which are key in directly connecting with your target audience. It’s also important to invest in paid social campaigns, whether you are reaching to CIOs on LinkedIn or university-aged consumers on Snapchat.

2. Use emotive and visual content such as memes to inspire and motivate your audience. Influencing you audience’s emotions can be more effective at driving them to take action.

3. Re-evaluate how you measure your campaign progress. It is becoming more obvious that polls and surveys are decreasing in accuracy and relevance, especially in today’s fast-paced, internet-enabled world. Social media and search will become the most important tools for understanding what your target audience thinks of your brand at any given moment.

pandaAll brands want to score highly in search rankings and Google’s latest move changes the goalposts again –but in our view, this time it’s for the better. According to the latest update to Google’s search algorithm Panda, web pages will now be judged by content quality, as well as links, mobile-friendliness and a host of other metrics.

And why is this important for us PR folk? Well, not only will most PR agencies have written web copy, blogs and white papers at some point, but press coverage itself can also (sometimes) contain links back to a website which can drive your brand further up the search rankings. Furthermore, publishers themselves will almost certainly start to scrutinise which articles contributed by brands and PR agencies are performing best and this in turn will have an impact on which articles and news are accepted in future.

This is no pie-in-the-sky: for a while, Forbes paid its freelancers a lump sum for stories, but then a certain amount per hit on the story, encouraging the creation of stories with a long lifespan. Perversely, this frequently encouraged clickbait-style headlines to drive traffic and keep the money flowing to the freelancers.

The good news is that old content isn’t necessarily going to rank lower – which shows PR folk that Google’s search is getting far closer to a ‘human’ way of thinking. It’s analogous to how we think about classic books – the fact that Pride and Prejudice is over 200 years old doesn’t detract from its biting social commentary, pacey plotting and tight characterisation.

But in Google’s mind, what is quality? And what constitutes ‘old’? Well, whilst Google’s AI might be able to beat a European board game champion, it’s not Skynet yet. At the moment, the ranking is determined by ‘satisfying user queries’. So if a page is getting a lot of traffic for goldfish feeding techniques, you’d better make sure you’re providing information on exactly this because higher bounce rates will mean low relevance and consequently, a low score. As for what ‘old’ means, there’s no hard and fast answer. Content over a year old will certainly be judged more harshly than week-old content, but we’ve seen posts from Google execs admitting that age is generally less important than quality.

There are a few other interesting developments from the Panda update, both along the same vein. For example, comments and user-generated content on-site will now also be judged by the same criteria. Whilst comments give a benchmark of content quality – like a book review, reverting to my Pride and Prejudice metaphor – spammy comments will also detract from page quality, so keep moderating or using CAPTCHA codes.

So without further ado, here are some of our recommendations for dealing with Google’s Panda:

Know what you stand for:

Having a pragmatic understanding of what you sell, stand for and why people buy from you or visit your website is an absolute must to informing your content strategy

Make sure everyone is ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’:

If your website talks in a different way to your Twitter feed, and that’s different to how your chief exec speaks in public, then you’ve got problems. Consistency helps Google – and by extension, you

No clickbait:

It’s rarely relevant, people are getting sick of it and now, tenuously linking your brand to Cara Delevingne or Khloe Kardashian will get you penalised in the long-run

Focus on unique, quality content:

This will help your general online influence; developing content which appeals to your audience, can’t be found anywhere else and has lasting power may be more intensive, but it’ll pay dividends in the long run

Don’t worry about age … but keep it fresh:

Fresh content will always score more highly in Google, so you can’t just create a raft of content, post it and expect high search rankings. Old, good quality posts are your allies, but you will constantly need to create new content to stay high up in search rankings

Overall, Google’s Panda update is great news for communications practitioners – and terrifying news for others. Poor-quality, ‘spammy’ content which shuffles around your website like a sci-fi zombie frequently gives the industry a bad name. But unlike Pride and Prejudice, adding zombies is never a good thing – and with Google’s update, perhaps we’ll start to see this ‘undead’ content gradually put to rest.

amyvalentine

With the amount of online content and social media in our everyday lifestyle, it’s no surprise that digital PR campaigns are now an important staple in modern PR and advertising.

Give as you Live wanted a stronger social presence and to reach a younger audience that likes to shop, and Firefly advised collaborating with a fashion YouTube vlogger. While traditional media is still valuable, YouTuber popularity is growing fast, and would provide access to a younger audience as well as an authentic assessment of Give as you Live and how they see it in their everyday lives. youtubecomments

Firefly created a campaign plan, including researching the right talent, reaching out and securing a YouTuber within the allocated budget, and working with the vlogger to create a video that maintained their style while weaving in Give as you Live in a way that would resonate with their viewers.

Following the structure of her classic videos, Amy Valentine produced a haul video about products she purchased through Give as you Live. Viewed more than 5,600 times in one week, Amy’s video helped Give as you Live reach self proclaimed shop-a-holics, drove traffic and sign-ups on its website, and increased its social profile thanks to Amy’s mentions.

All of the major search engines are now very much social: Bing is happily in bed with Facebook, while Google, after a lot of flirting with Twitter, is risking leading its own social initiative with Google+. We at The Search Agency know the search engines want to buy into the social space; but where does the integration opportunity lie for brands?

What is clear already from the existing venture between Facebook and Bing is that the ‘search’ results within Facebook are now very much spilt between actual Facebook results and Bing results. And users are aware of this. People are ‘checking in’ all over Facebook and as they do this, not only are ads thrown into the mix, but search results are becoming increasingly targeted. It’s not terribly sophisticated, but users are interacting so we, like most, are beginning to conclude that Facebook and Bing are stepping in the right direction.

And now there is Google+ and the huge expectation that it will substantially boost Google’s ability to aggregate social activity and relevant search results. Google does search very well. Heck, Google does video, maps, mail and news all pretty well. To date, Google has not done the social thing terribly well – with the exception of YouTube, of course. And this is where the lines become a little blurred as YouTube is the second largest global search engine. Will Google+ prove Google has learnt a lesson from Buzz, Wave and other forays into social? Only time will tell if users will engage, but maybe Google should be swotting-up on more of what it does well and building this into their ‘social engine’.

Social campaigns will still lean towards Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in the latter half of 2011, but surely Google has learnt a thing or two by now. Can the number one search engine become a real social engine? We will just have to see!

Spotted via Twitter, I found this article in the Washington Post particularly interesting. It discusses the evolving newsroom in the US which also brings challenges that resonate on this side of the pond. He makes two very good points:

Point 1 – Back in the day, a traditional newsroom had three types of jobs: reporter, editor and photographer. With the rise of all things digital, new titles have appeared: multiplatform idea triage specialist and deputy director of word-flow management and video branding strategy, to name a few. Is there really a need for fancy new titles that mean nothing to no one? What does a multiplatform idea triage specialist actually do?

Point 2 – Online headlines are no longer designed to catch the reader’s eye. What they are designed for is SEO, and they’re often changed to something utilitarian – as I have demonstrated in the title of this post. Can you imagine The Sun without their brand-defining (and often funny) pun headlines? So we don’t forget what we could be missing, here are a couple of great ones taken from Friday’s paper:
– We’ve saved her ass (the story about rescuing the parasailing donkey)
– Fish Fingaaghs (the story about a man accidentally filleting UK’s rarest fish)
– Stumphenge (the story about the timber ring found near Stonehenge)

It is interesting to see how the internet has affected the business of journalism, but let’s hope that the things that make “traditional media” special don’t get pushed aside in the digital wave. I firmly believe there’s room for both.

This post was written by Charlotte.

Of course we don’t condone cheating but this isn’t really cheating! The CMO’s guide to: the Social landscape, is an easily digestible summary of major social media, created by Drew McLellan

Good for collecting top line thoughts to jump start your thinking, this sheet serves as a comparison between various sites and the positive effects that the incorporation of these tactics could have on your overall strategy.

It comprises a dissection of ‘Customer comms’, ‘Brand exposure’, Traffic to site’, and ‘SEO’ and which of these sites are ‘good’, ‘ok’, or ‘bad’ for each of these disciplines.

Click here to view the Social media cheat sheet

The Social Media Landscape

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