It’s a New Year and the Rules Have Changed




There are several old sayings that come to my mind when we roll over a new year. Here are some of my
favorites:

“The only thing that is constant is change.”
“The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain.”  The last is, "The only thing that is certain is death and taxes.”

In this article of Working the Web to Win, we’ll explore the many changes that last year brought forth.  We’ll also prognosticate as to what this year will give birth to.  By the end of this article, the reader will be aware that change is inevitable, certainty does not exit, all things die and, yes, we all have to pay taxes (even if they are hidden). So if you don’t want to be caught asleep at the switch, here is your online wakeup call.

If you have been working the web for any length of time, then it should come as no surprise that the only thing certain about the Internet is change.  Last year saw a number of fundamental changes that will forever more alter the way we all do business online.  Google launched its latest major update called Pigeon.  Facebook and Twitter enacted a number of rule changes that make promoting any business on these social nets more costly. Even YouTube flirted with the idea of paid subscriptions. 

The 800-pound Gorilla in the Room Loses Some Weight


Courtesy of StatCounter.com
Unlike the past few years when Google pretty much had it all its own way, making and changing the
numberof hoops that all online marketers were made to jump through, late last year saw the world’s most popular search engine actually lose market share.

According to a recent Forbes’ blog, Google has lost shares recently, at least according to the Web analytics firm StatCounter.  Its piece of the U.S. search market, not including searches from mobile devices, declined to 75.2% in December, from 79.3% a year ago. Meantime, Yahoo’s share leaped from 7.4% to 10.4%.

Before you start dancing in the street, you should know that this sudden defection was not due to anything on  It didn’t suddenly radically change the way they conduct searches or offer any incentives to encourage the public to make a switch.  The defections were brought about because Firefox decided to jump ship by making Yahoo its default search engine. (For the past ten years, Firefox’s default search engine had been Google, which in itself is odd considering that Google Chrome is its chief competitor.)  Still, the switch did have an impact which helps level the playing field a bit, if even temporarily. 
Yahoo’s part.
StatCounter, August 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not long ago we wrote an article entitled, “Battle of the Browsers, Internet Dominance and Why Your Choice Matters!” which talked about how the shift away from Netscape to Microsoft Internet Explorer ushered in a new era of dominance for Microsoft on the web. A second article, “Browser Wars – Then and Now,” further explored how Google’s Chrome rapidly moved to prominence, ending Microsoft’s rule of some 14 years. Expect new browser wars to erupt in the coming years.

Google has been showing the most common trait that most large company’s exhibit when it reaches monopoly status, which is, it thinks it can do whatever it wants. In the years before social media, you could get away with this laissez-faire attitude.  Today, change is much more rapid because people can speak out loudly about what they like and dislike.  Companies that don’t listen or are too slow to react suffer the consequences of the masses.

Of course, Google’s latest algorithm change, called Pigeon, did nothing to heal the wounds that it inflicted upon local companies when it made their page rankings go away!  Purportedly commissioned to improve local search, what Pigeon has, in essence, done is skewed local businesses listings in favor of other “local directories” such as Yelp, Yellowpages.com, Zillow.com, and local.com, just to name a few. Come to think of it, every major Google algorithm change made in the last three years has angered thousands, if not millions, of businesses that are trying to figure out how to market their website in search. 

At our agency, we believe in only employing “White Hat” marketing tactics. We believe that providing lots of  So in order to fend off these large interloper directories, not to mention deal with Google’s frequent mood swings, we’ve come up with a few tactics that can help. high-quality information, rich in multimedia content, delivered to multiple social networks and cross-linking them, provides for a strong, organic ranking position.


  • Content is king. Make sure your content is tops in quality, is useful in the eyes of your audience, and
    Courtesy of Slideshare.com
    that it gets wide spread distribution via as many social nets as possible.  Make certain you take the time to foster alliances with social network influencers, and make sure you thank followers for reading commenting and sharing your posts.
  • There’s more than one way to skin a search engine.  Don’t exclusively rely on search engine traffic to empower your business. There are a number of other ways to generate traffic that not only can lead to sales, but employing them proactively can also enhance your search engine rankings at the same time.  Blogging, for one, can provide an audience that will look upon you as an authority figure.  Provided you’re prepared to post at least one worthwhile blog per week, this marketing medium can actually provide even better traffic than a search engine, since readers are inclined to spend more time perusing your blog than the free-for-all that occurs with virtually every web search.
  • How social are your social nets? This is another way to generate an audience that knows, likes and trusts you.  Make sure you feed your social networks daily.  Many social networks also offer forums/groups that you can join, where you can strut your stuff.  Just make sure that you initially use your status to tell and not blatantly sell to everyone who comes into contact with your posts, or you might quickly be shown to the door and get unfriended.
  • Get Mobilized. Even though every Internet pundit states emphatically that the Internet is growing more mobile-friendly each and every day, there are still millions of businesses in the US that have no mobile website or app.  Make sure your website is mobile-friendly by either using HTML 5, which provides dynamic page sizing, or create a separate, dedicated mobile page to make it easier to read and navigate. 


Speaking of Social Networks


Facebook and Twitter have made some major changes that will directly affect your ability to use them for promotional purposes.

FACEBOOK FEES


courtesy of www.socialfresh.com
At the end of 2014, FB announced that it would limit the reach of posts they deem as being “too  According to Facebook, “promoted posts” are:
promotional.”

  • Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app.
  • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  • Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

That doesn’t mean you can’t elect to pay FB to promote your apps, promotions or sweepstakes.  The solution: Use your other social nets, blogs and landing pages to push traffic over to your Facebook promos and sweepstakes.

TWEET THIS!

Couttesy of FastCompany.com

Not wanting to be outdone, Twitter is also changing the way its users are going to see their feeds updated.  In 2015, Twitter is going to influence which tweets receive high exposure and which do not.  From a blog by komarketingassociates.com:

“As of this month, changes in Twitter have already begun, with the roll out of a ‘While you were away’ feature.  This new addition provides users a list of selected tweets that received a high level of engagement. While not a mandatory feature, expect this list to have a big impact in the future.

Social Networking is the Main Battle Field


Free twitter badge
Free twitter badge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Nowhere is change more apparent than in the social networks. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ all had algorithm, look and feel, and marketing addition changes in 2014.  This is nothing new as we have written about this many times in the past.  See our articles, “Social Media and Keeping Up with the Joneses (The Competition!)” and “The Ever-Changing Faces of Facebook.” We suggest that all businesses adopt a strategy based on social networking principles that will not readily change with the passage of time. These principles allow your company to build a loyal following that is eager to comment on your post, spread your message, and testify on your behalf by singing your praises online.  Read our articles that teach these “White Hat” social networking principles by searching our blog archive. We highly recommend “The Twelve Secrets of Social Media Success” and “Seven Habits of Highly Successful Internet Marketers” as a start.

In this article, I laid out what I feel are some of the latest major changes that have affected how we use the Internet today.  These changes to Google’s organic search, Firefox’s browser, and Facebook’s and Twitter’s news feed algorithms will have a major impact on how businesses will devise marketing strategies and tactics for the coming year.  Taking these changes into account will prove exceptionally helpful when engaging in full-on campaigns.  Ignoring these changes will detrimentally effect your business’ success. As always, paying attention to change has its benefits.  As for death and taxes, they’re the only constants in our lives.
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If you found this article useful, please share it with friends, family, co-workers and associates. If you would like to learn more about this subject, read,   "The Evolution of Internet Advertising" and "2012, the End of Conventional Advertising as we Knew it to Be," or type "Internet marketing" in the search box at the top of this blog.  If you have something to add or a difference of opinion, place it in the Comment section.  It has been my pleasure sharing this information with you.


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Carl Weiss is CEO of Working the Web to Win, an award-winning digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can listen to Carl live every Tuesday at 4 p.m. 

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