Category Archives: Content Marketing

5 Best Practices for a Visual Content Marketing Strategy

visual content marketing summit

Today’s consumer is engaging with primarily visual content across a variety of devices and social channels on a daily basis. Due to this shift from text-based to image-based communications, it is proven that multimedia content experiences a greater amount of exposure and longer shelf-life among audiences, making visual storytelling more imperative for brands than ever before. Business Development Institute and PR Newswire recently co-hosted the “Visual Content Marketing and Communications Summit” which offered valuable best practices for how organizations can harness images, videos, and platforms to provide content that allows them to build, engage, and leverage their audiences.

Find the balance between content your audience is interested in while mapping to your business objectives.

“Your content must grab your audience’s attention and offer them a clear path to your brand,” says PR Newswire’s Chief Executive Officer, Ninan Chacko, “there is always an opportunity to link to more in-depth content, so don’t worry about getting the ‘war and peace’ version into the first teaser.” A coordinated approach such as an editorial calendar can ensure that your organization is sending out a steady stream of fresh content that does not overwhelm the audience with information. For example, a video can be curated into an infographic, which can be shared in a blog post, and distributed via press release and social media. Using a mix of content and distribution channels will ensure that your message reaches the greatest potential audience that returns the leads to help you meet your business goals.

Surprise and delight your audience with images that represent your brand

General Electric’s Global Manager of Digital Marketing, Katrina Craigwell, notes that driving interest among the next generation of shareholders is a top priority within her company’s content strategy.  As an innovator in science and technology, GE targeted enthusiasts with similar interests by sharing a video of a short science experiment on Twitter’s Vine app using the hashtag #6secondscience. The response around this post was so powerful that the company was able to launch a full blown #6secondscience social media campaign that creates and curates user-generated Vines capturing the miracles of science. Its element of surprise is what drove visibility and engagement for the GE brand.

Curalate’s SVP of Brand Strategy, Deb Berman, advises content creators that even if your business isn’t selling a tangible product or service, think about your business goals, who you’re trying to reach, and what they would care about. From there, push yourself to derive images, even if they are abstract, that speak to your brand voice and also surprise and delight audiences.

Capitalize on SEO and business intelligence opportunities by observing social media interactions

Over 1 billion images are shared across all social media channels daily, presenting a major opportunity for brands to learn what their fans are interested in. Trending hashtags and content tagging on image driven platforms like Pinterest and Instagram is an important indicator of how consumers are searching for and categorizing similar products, which you can use to your advantage in marketing campaigns that drive SEO. Compare the images that are most popular against the ones that are not and make note of the slight nuances that audiences seem to appreciate. “You don’t necessarily need to know why, you just need to know what is performing better and make sure it is shared,” Berman states frankly. Additionally, leveraging user generated content is a cost effective approach to marketing that directly engages your brand ambassadors.

curalate

via Deb Berman, SVP Brand Strategy, Curalate

Establish a brand experience that is identifiable without your logo

“A logo shows ownership – but everyone has a logo. What are you doing to differentiate yourself beyond the logo?” says Jessica Lauria, director of brand communications at Chobani. Content that is branding heavy overpowers your message and makes it less shareable to a wide audience. Also, if you’re sharing content on owned social channels, then people already know it’s coming from you. Use that opportunity to elevate the conversation and show people what they don’t know about your product or service without overt branding.

Build a narrative around your images that will be memorable to your audience  

According to Matt Peters, founder and creative director at Pandemic Labs, “Visuals make an impact. Visuals with stories make memories.” Therefore, if the story comes first, not all of the visual content you create has to be of the highest production value in order for it to resonate. For example, the Ritz Carlton used Instagram to tell the story of a stuffed giraffe that got lost on a family vacation, which strayed from the usual hi-res images of luxury getaways that audiences might normally associate with their brand, but told a memorable story that others would want to share.

“By using multimedia, you’re creating the best content in context experience” states Mr. Chacko, “think about how you want to visualize as you are creating your message.” Employing visuals in your content marketing strategy feeds your audience with the content that they crave on a daily basis and cements your brand’s longevity in an increasingly competitive market.

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Coordinator. Follow her on Twitter @sramloch.

 

 

Content We Love: A New Twist on an Old Favorite

ContentWeLoveApril is a month known to bring showers, followed by a month of flowers (or so we hope). A quick search online informed me that it’s also a month to celebrate humor, raise awareness about Autism, encourage people to Keep America Beautiful and according to the press release “SUPERPRETZEL® Celebrates National Soft Pretzel Month,” a time to commemorate one of America’s most beloved snacks. SUPERPRETZEL utilizes a number of new school PR tactics in this release to make their message truly stand out among the competition.

Humans are visual learners

Given that fun facts are the core of the release, SUPERPRETZEL provides their content to readers in two visually appealing formats to increase visibility. One is a charming infographic that the company is promoting in honor of the delicious occasion. It is ideal for social sharing which allows consumers to engage with the content and further generate awareness of the brand. Personally, I tend to absorb more information in visual format and, therefore, I’m a big fan of infographics.

Share interesting content 

Listing key messages in the body of the release is another method for sharing information in a visually appealing way. Did you know that the phrase “tie the knot” came to be after a pretzel was used in a wedding ceremony? Or that the largest pretzel ever made weighed more than 800 pounds? I wonder how long that took to bake!  These snackable fun facts are another way the brand retains the audience’s interest and fuels social engagement with their content.

Get your company’s name out there

Besides the new knowledge I’ve acquired about pretzels (great conversation starter), SUPERPRETZEL reminded me that press releases don’t have to be announcing a new product or accomplishment. They are a malleable tool that can be utilized to share relatable, breezy, and interesting owned content that can help to bolster a brand image, too.

Author Alyse Lamparyk is a Customer Content Specialist for PR Newswire. Follow her on twitter @alyselamp.

Satellite Media Tours: Moving Beyond the TV

A sure-fire way to gain TV exposure for your organization’s story is with a satellite media tour (“SMT.”)  SMTs enable your spokesperson or expert to virtually visit a variety of television markets in rapid succession via a series of interviews that are pre-booked with participating  stations.

In reality, though, SMTs deliver more than TV exposure.  Most stations have robust web presences, enabling online audiences to see segments even if they missed the newscast on which a piece originally aired. Additionally, by incorporating audio and online interviews,  the SMT can rapidly morph from a television-only campaign into one that encompasses radio and online audiences, as well.   We’re even doing Blogger Media Tours, focusing on delivering interviews directly to targeted bloggers.

 SMT options:  solo or co-op

Most organizations work with a vendor (such as PR Newswire’ s MultiVu™ division) that coordinates pitching the story to TV stations and other outlets, coordinating  media bookings and managing all of the logistics, including the recording location (whether in a studio or elsewhere) and the communications with the media outlets and bloggers.

 

There are two different approaches to satellite media tours:  your brand can either go it alone, or you can join a couple other brands telling related stories on a cooperative effort, something we call a “co-op SMT.”    The magnitude of your organization’s story as well as your budget are two of the key factors in determining which approach to take for your story.

A co-op tour is a satellite media tour featuring two to four participants focusing on a particular topic or event, such as fitness, beauty, personal finance or sports. Each participant is given 20 seconds to convey their message.  Because resources are pooled the participants, co-ops provide a cost-effective option for reaching consumer audiences.

 What to expect:

Once you have decided to go ahead with your SMT, your MultiVu representative will work with you to coordinate all aspects of your media tour and will ensure that your SMT achieves optimum results. MultiVu will advise on tour date as well as coordinate all onsite logistics, whether at a studio or at a remote location.  We will also discuss key messages, create a one page media alert for use in pitching and determine the most effective overall strategy.   Pitching ideally gets underway a minimum of four weeks prior to tour date.  Strong, up-to-date media contacts mean everything when it comes to booking a media tour.  MultiVu maintains excellent relationships with individual producers at TV, Radio and internet shows who we know will be interested in your story.

On the day of the media tour, plan to have talent arrive approximately an hour before the first interview, this usually means around 5:00 or 5:30 AM ET.  “Business casual” attire is generally most appropriate, and  spokespeople should not wear white or heavily-patterned shirts.  Once at the studio, the spokesperson will go into makeup and your onsite SMT producer will review the morning’s activities and ensure that all technical facets of the tour are set. If possible, sit the spokesperson down for a quick dry run interview before the tour gets underway.  TV interviews will typically be between 2 and 3 minutes long, radio and web interviews will typically be longer (up to 10 minutes.)  The spokesperson will be alerted beforehand as to whether the interviews are live or taped and where the interviews are originating.

The day following the media tour, MultiVu will provide a preliminary report listing airings, audience reached and equivalent advertising values, and if available, streaming video links to the TV segments.  MultiVu will also produce a DVD copy of the entire satellite media tour for your records, which can later be used to assemble a highlights reel.

An evolving resource for media:

Media tours have evolved significantly over the last several years in step with the changing media environment.  For example, in years past, a “traditional” SMT took place between the hours of about 6:00-10:00 AM ET and included interviews solely on morning TV newscasts. Now, SMTS are often extended to 11:00 AM ET or even later to allow for increased booking opportunities, as some stations prefer to tape segments for later use.  Additionally, we’re also incorporating radio and online interviews into the tour, as these additional bookings mean significant added audience and return on your investment.

With the proper guidance, media tours can be a highly effective tool to convey your messages to the media as well as to the public at large, via both broadcast and online outlets.  If you have questions or want to learn more, contact the MultiVu team.

Learn how to empower your communications with visuals — join next week’s free webinar – details below. 

Click to register for our upcoming webinar on utilizing visuals to boost the effectiveness of B2B content.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

 

Does Your Story Belong on TV? Look to Your Audience for the Answer

 

“How do I get my story on to TV?”

When we hear this question (and we hear it a lot) we know that the person asking it is really trying to meet a few different challenges. In reality, they’re asking “How do I reach a broad audience?” “How do I generate a high-impact message?” and “How do I tell my story visually?”

As you might guess, these few questions have a lot of answers. We’re going to tackle them over the next few days in a series of blog posts about using visual content to reach core groups.

multimedia comms webinar

Learn more about incorporating visuals into your B2B mix – click to register for our free webinar!

The best way to begin building a visual strategy is to start with your audience.

First, ask yourself who the brand really needs to reach with the message. That’s the key question you need to ask when setting the course for your visual story, and determining whether or not TV really is the best channel for your message. Morning talk and network news shows do reach a broad swath of consumers. If your story truly has broad public appeal, pursuing television coverage may in fact make a lot of sense.

It’s worth spending a few minutes thinking specifically about your story in the context of the audience, too. TV and radio producers are looking for “news you can use” content with easy-to-understand consumer messages. Stories need to be useful, interesting and relevant to the media outlet’s audiences if they’re to win consideration by the production staff.

Pro tip: Frame your story in the context of what the potential audience will find most relevant. That will give you the best shot at creating messages that will win media attention and resonate with target audiences.

However, if an honest assessment of your audience reveals that it’s more niche than national, TV probably isn’t the best route to take – but that doesn’t mean leaving video by the wayside. An array of online videos – including expert commentary, a real-life demo, and customer stories – can draw audience and be re-purposed for use in email campaigns, on social networks, in newsletters and on blog posts (to name just a few.)

Coming tomorrow: Getting your story onto TV (and other channels) with a satellite media tour.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Content We Love: Amplifying Owned Content

ContentWeLove

Click here to download to free ebook "Read It, Watch It, or Tweet It – How Americans Read and Share News"

Click here to download to free ebook “Read It, Watch It, or Tweet It – How Americans Read and Share News”

Today’s buying journey is heavily dependent on discoverability, peer or influencer recommendations, and trust. Attempting to promote the content you’ve worked hard to create by relying solely on owned channels such as your company website or social media accounts can prevent those messages from being discovered beyond the audiences you’ve already acquired.

Think about the people who need your help but are unaware that you are the solution to their problem — how will they find you? Having your message resurface on other trusted industry websites via search engines or mentioned by the media (either in an article, or a tweet) can make all the difference between a gain and loss of audience, prospects and ultimately ROI. Therefore, if your brand has invested resources into creating content, putting some muscle behind the promotion of those messages is imperative.

Today’s featured content from Inkhouse is near and dear to our hearts, in terms of both subject and format.  The firm used a press release titled, “In TV We (Still) Trust: 73 Percent of Americans Cite Television as Their Preferred and Most Trusted News Source – Topping Online, Print and Social Media” to share the findings of a survey they conducted with GMI Research on Americans’ news consumption habits.

This subject remains a hot button issue as the digital age continues to evolve traditional news formats and redefine what is newsworthy, and Inkhouse capitalised fully on the opportunity to make this information discoverable to the journalists, bloggers and other influentials interested in the topic, using creative content distribution  to amplify owned content.

INKHOUSE INFOGRAPHICAccording to the survey, Americans are consuming news in a variety of different ways but rely on certain channels more than others. Press releases are cited as the most trusted source of company generated news, more than blog posts or articles by the CEO and advertisements.

Audiences are particularly wary of being fed corporate propaganda, but press releases – which are on-record statements and disclosures –  are viewed as credible sources of news and information by public audiences.

Obviously, we’re interested in the subject matter and love the fact that press releases were found to be viewed so favorably by the public.  Content aside, however, the message shines for a number of other reasons:

  • An intriguing headline that includes a stat commands the reader’s attention and is almost perfectly tweet-able;
  • An infographic is included as a visual asset to fuel engagement and social sharing.  It beautifully illustrates the main findings of the survey in a concise format to help the reader process this information quickly;
  • A quote from Beth Monaghan, co-founder and principal of InkHouse promotes the company’s thought leadership and brings a human element to the brand message;
  • Tight bullet points neatly summarize other key findings from the survey for the readers who are quickly scanning the page for information most pertinent to them
  • Finally, a call-to-action that drives traffic back to the company website,  generating ROI.

This press release is a brilliant example of utilizing distribution in a creative way that reflects the convergence of marketing and PR. Kudos to Inkhouse on an A+ press release!

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Coordinator. Follow her on Twitter @sramloch.

 

Trust at Scale: Harnessing Authentic #Advocacy for Your Brand #SXSW

influencers v advocatesMedia fragmentation and information overload stymies ad effectiveness. Consumers are ignoring digital ads, and overall, trust in brands is declining, a trend which according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, is accelerating.

Influecers vs. Advocates

How can brands convey communications in a trustworthy matter that resonates with their audiences?  The key, according to Jim Larrison (@jlarrison) of Dynamic Signal, is advocacy, and this doesn’t simply mean paying an industry bigwig to tweet on your brand’s behalf.

Jim’s presentation centered on importance of finding passionate advocates amongst employees and the “mid-tail” of the influence spectrum – connected people who have enough social media pull to move the needle in a particular sector, and who really care about the industry or segment.

These trusted peers who are talking about relevant topics have the real ability to drive individual behavior.   And those ‘trusted peers’ include employees, who have significantly more credibility than the C-suite, according to the aforementioned Edelman Trust Barometer.

Why advocacy works is simple: it’s centered on trust, and done well, it’s trust at scale [tweet this].  But brands and marketers need to realize they’re not renting trust – it’s not a transactional relationship.  Herein lies the challenge, because most marketers today stop marketing at the buy.  They are optimizing for the purchase event, not building advocacy.

Rewards for advocacy can be surprisingly simple

The rewards advocates value are simple.  Employees are motivated by simple recognition, as are brand fans and followers.  Access to unique content and authentic relationships are also rewards they value.  And tangible rewards – membership in a group, swag and prizes, are also important — but not as much as the recognition and access.

Marketers who develop advocacy programs dramatically increase marketing effectiveness.   In addition to being authentic and credibility, empowering and cultivating advocates also covers more surface area within the marketplace.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

A Twist on Crisis Planning: When Allies Attack

You’ve heard the adage “Familiarity breeds contempt,” and arguably, there’s no place it’s more true than in the realm of online opinion.  Today at SXSW, a session titled “Breaking the Mold: What to Do When Allies Turn” tackled the subject of frangible online alliances, and what to do when things go south.  The discussion was lead by:

  • Jehmu Greene, TV Commentator & Media Trainer at Fox News (@jehmu)
  • Joanne Bamberger, Editor/Publisher, Broad Side Strategies (@jlcbamberger)
  • Sally Kohn, Writer & TV Commentator, Movement Vision (@sallykohn)
Mmes Kohn, Bamberger and Greene.

Mmes Kohn, Bamberger and Greene. (Sally, thanks for making sure I knew who you were, but I recognized you from Crossfire. Just saying.)

Dealing with blowback is never fun, but when people or organizations that were you thought were in your corner turn the tables and attack, working through the situation can be demoralizing.

Kohn advised getting in front of potential problems by building credibility and goodwill within your community.  While goodwill won’t insulate you from online attackers,  building a credible and engaged network is a way to develop virtual comrades-in-arms.

When haters go “all sharknado” on you, it’s important to remember their motives, advised Bamberger.

“Haters are all about control,” Bamberger advised. “It’s not about you, it’s about them trying to stake out their territory.”

Kohn referenced the “Disapproval Matrix” created by Ann Friedman as a guide for discerning the difference between critics and haters.

Sussing out the difference between critics and haters is an important tactic in managing online attacks.  Critics care about the issue, and on some level are offering constructive feedback.  Haters, on the other hand, care more about themselves.  Embrace critics, and try to tune out the haters.

Planning for controversy is also crucial, all three agreed.  Anticipate reactions and have your facts locked down.

When dealing with rampant haters – the avalanches of nasty tweets and relentless evil e-mails – all three offered tips while also acknowledging the fact that meanness stings.

“Laughing at them takes their power away,” said Kohn.

” If you step in it, remember that $#*^ can be wiped off a shoe.” Greene agreed.

Ultimately, if everyone is agreeing with you, you’re not making an impact Greene reminded us.  Challenging conventional wisdom is leadership, and Kohn noted that sometimes, being liked isn’t part of that equation.

“You can’t worry about being liked,” summarized Kohn. “Negative blowback is one of the costs of leadership.”
Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

The Secret to Real-Time Storytelling Revealed at #SXSW

What’s the secret sauce for real-time storytelling? Telling a story as it unfolds requires significant planning.  At SXSW today, I got a look behind the scenes at the making of the Melbourne Remote Control Tourist campaign, an extraordinary piece of work masterfully produced by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, Tool and Exit Films for Tourism Victoria. Our guides were:

Dustin Callif, managing partner of digital, Tool North America

Jason Nickel, interactive director & technologist, Tool North America

Jason Zada, director, Tool North America

Together, the three told the story of creating the Remote Control Tourist (“RCT”) an example of what they call real-time storytelling, which they describe as the merging of social media and live action, and having the audience impact what’s happening with a narrative.

The project started with the task of “curating the city,” which involved finding the best and most interesting things in Melbourne, but doing so with an eye toward the logistics of filming.

“You have to start from the standpoint that this will be something good that people will want to watch,” noted Zada. “The second you started being boring, people start leaving. When you are doing  a show like this, every single second needs to be as interesting as it can be.”

The user interface also required an extraordinary amount of work. There were a lot of moving parts, starting with an interactive map, into which the team built a lot of functionality including realtime updates on the RTC’s status as well as background  information and context for each location.  All of this was framed around the live video, and overlayed with near real-time social interactions.

The campaign exposed the fun and positive messages about Melbourne to more than 100MM people worldwide, and resulted in the world’s first crowd-sourced city guide.    Thousands of people made requests of the tourists during the live window, and the wide-ranging RTCs garnered some surprising celebrity cameos, too.  Despite the visibility generated, at the end of the session, Callif noted the value of high quality owned media and recognized that even more could have been done.

“There’s a PR hook in this stuff that needs to be capitalized on,” he said, noting that in the next project, he’d want to more emphasis on  leveraging the content to earn more attention.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

#SXSW Interactive 2014 : First Look At Trends & Themes

sxlogoWe’re in Austin this week for South By Southwest Interactive, which kicks off later today.

This event is one of my favorite of the year – for me, it’s a one-week crash course in what the future holds for anyone involved in the digital space.

A 360 degree look at privacy

Despite the fact that SXSWi is now firmly in the mainstream, and is no longer a funky little nerdfest, a look at emerging themes from this year show the event hasn’t strayed far from its roots.   The big story this year is our notion of privacy, and (more specifically) where privacy intersects with things like national security and digital marketing.

Edward Snowden and Julian Assange will both be addressing the digital faithful, via satellite.  (The Texas Tribune will be livestreaming Snowden’s address here: http://www.texastribune.org on Monday, March 10 at 11 CT.)

My partner in crime at SXSW - PR Newswire's VP of audience development, Vicky Harres.

My partner in crime at SXSW – PR Newswire’s VP of audience development, Vicky Harres.

Underpinning the focus on privacy is an emerging theme of “how to do what is right” with respect to user data and individual privacy.  On the one hand, organizations can use our individual data to provide us with customized experiences, relevant information and advertising that actually reflects things we care about.  On the other hand, some of these measures are designed specifically to separate us from our dollars, and let’s face it – some of it is creepy.  The panels and keynotes around privacy promise to make us think and, true to the SXSW spirit, some promise to stand conventional wisdom on its head.

The digital user experience

Web design evolves incredibly quickly, keeping pace with emergence of new platforms and devices we use to live our lives online, and I remain convinced that content creators (PR people, I’m talking to you too!) can learn a lot from the wizards of UXD (user experience design) – after all, they are creating the environment in which our content will be consumed.    This year it looks like personalization will be a consistent theme in the UX sessions.

Do it all differently, and better

Fostering innovation, continuous learning and recalibrating our organizations to absorb and captitalize upon the changes the digital revolution continues to bring are the focus of a large set of panels and keynotes.    After all, SXSW is first and foremost about change, but for change to happen, organzations and people need to be ready to embrace it.

How we’re covering SXSW:

Keep your eye on the Beyond PR blog – we’ll be posting updates over the weekend, and re-blogging posts from Beyond Bylines, our new media blog.

Vicky and I will be live-tweeting sessions via @PRNewswire and our own handles, @sarahskerik and @victoriaharres.

Additionally, we’ll be sharing pictures on the PR Newswire Tumblr too.

If you’re here, tweet us, we’d love to say hi in person.  And if you’re not, join us in spirit digtially as we dive into SXSWi!

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

The Effects of Hummingbird on Search and Social

We’ve had a few months to digest and absorb the changes Google wrought with the launch of the Hummingbird search algorithm, which significantly chanted how the search giant ranks content.  

So what effect has Hummingbird had on search and social?  Earlier this year, the Social Media Club NYC hosted an event that assessed the impact the new algorithm has had for internet users users and brands. The meeting was moderated by SMCNYC board memberDanielle Simon, and the three panelists included:

Landsman put together the following PowerPoint to introduce the topic of Hummingbird. You can download it here: db.tt/rFVSLL2W.

Key points Landsman made include:

  • Google Senior VP of Search Amit Singhal explained this new change by saying, “Hummingbird is focused more on ranking information based on a more intelligent understanding of search requests, unlike its predecessor, Caffeine, which was targeted at better indexing of websites.”
  • With this new change to Google Search, content is still the most important thing. You need to be able to share content with context.
  • The change brings to bear Semantic Web, as Google seeks to deliver the results of semantic search.
  • Google really wants to understand what your search query means.
  • Google keeps a database of all things that were searched and then they look at your personal search history when you sign into your Google account, as well as your context and the context of you and your content. They call this Personalized Search.
  • Human language is getting more play at Google, especially with Siri and Android hearing what you’re saying.
  • Hummingbird leverages Google’s vast Knowledge Graph, which contains information about 570 million concepts. It then uses this equation thought of by Landsman: Words + Context + Knowledge Graph = SERPS (aka “hits”)
  • Google tells you keywords are not provided unless you’re an advertiser. The explanation behind this is when SSL (Secure Sockets Layered) is employed, keywords are not provided.
  • Google moved to SSL for all Personalized Search. As a security measure, this would secure the user’s identity.
  • Here are some things you can do since Google is not telling you the keywords: start listening; look at your referrer logs; look at time spent per page; look at what else shows up in search; write great copy on all of your pages; and be sure to use all the meta data tools.
  • It is more important to drive traffic to your site that is interested in what you have to say versus getting tons of hits.

Here are some of the questions that were asked by Simon and attendees, and their responses:

As a searcher, what type of change would we have seen that reflects this algorithm change?

Batista: When searchers need to type to search for something, they don’t want to type a lot. However, when you need to speak to search, you will be more verbose. It is easier for us to speak than type. From Google’s perspective, they are looking at two perspectives. These are the challenges that Hummingbird is enabling Google to solve.

What are the practical things you can do as a business, and how can you serve your customers better by coming up in certain queries?

Batista: Google started an initiative in 2009 called rich snippets to encourage more webmasters to annotate their pages and identify whether the page is about a place, review, recipe, etc. In return, this helped Google enrich their knowledge graph, which makes your search more compelling. If I have client where we implement these rich snippets, they have at least a 30 percent increase in click-through rate.

Another free tool you can use is Webmaster Tools. It is an SEO tool that Google provides you, and you have full access to the phrases that people are searching. With the query data that is typed, you will not have conjunctions, but with spoken words you will have prepositions. This is how you will be able to filter the query list provided by Google. You can also filter by searching for the type of device that was used to search. Once you identify the type of search, you look to see whether your page is serving the need of the user, and users are looking for.

Are your search results different when you search on your phone versus on your desktop?

Landsman: The most likely difference will be geographic. When a search is mobile, they take into account location. For example, if you type in “Chinese restaurant” on your mobile phone versus your office desktop, it will tell you more about what’s nearby and it will come up a bit quicker.

How is social starting to influence search?

Bernard: If you’re a local business, you need to make sure your content is optimized for mobile. This can be social posts, tweets, thumbnail sizes on images, or your website. The second thing is Google+, which is connecting a lot of the pieces of the Web together, i.e., email addresses, authorship tags. From a social perspective, don’t forget about Google+, because somewhere down the line this may become even more important than people think. It isn’t just about the content being there, but it is also about the social signals from Google+. We have done certain experiments in AOL with social signals that are coming off of Google+ posts, and we have definitely seen these more with engaging posts.

How Can You Pull Images into Google Search?

Landsman: Google is fascinated by Pinterest. Pinterest is more important to Google than a lot of other stuff, such as Flickr. For one client, whenever they put a visual on their site I would pin it, and Google would then show it immediately. Pictures on Google+ aren’t as loved as on Pinterest, but it is still close.

What Are Something Things That Can Be Done to Help Search?

Bernard: Write better headlines. The impact of writing better headlines from a search and social perspective is enormous. You almost have to get into the minds of people searching for when you’re doing your headlines. Your headlines need to be more conversational.

Landsman: You need to use the language of the searcher and visitor. What are they interested in, and how are they going to react to you? You also need to understand user experience, and with search becoming more semantic, it is becoming arguably that much more important.

What is future of Hummingbird for users and marketers?

Batista: Google wants to build a computer where you can ask any type of question and it will be able to answer. Being able to give you whatever answer you can think of — that is where things are heading.

Landsman: And the real dream is that they want to be able to anticipate what you want.

Written by Polina Opelbaum, editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.