I loathe the word “engagement” as it is used in the social media world. As I said at both SMX and PubCon earlier this year, “engagement is the new ‘synergy’.” It’s obnoxious. It’s a buzzword. It’s annoying to hear. It’s even more annoying to say. The other thing about engagement? It’s likely affecting your social media strategy and you don’t even know it.
The last two times I’ve been a part of the SMX conferences, I’ve spoken about this very thing and the response has been incredible. The point I am trying to make is that getting your audience to interact with your brand is a wonderful thing – if you do it right. But many brands are getting it very, very, wrong and in doing so, are tainting the valuable (free) data they receive about their audience from Facebook.
Facebook marketing is a relevant tactic in social media marketing campaigns when it provides value to the consumer as well as the brand. Take a second, re-read that sentence, and then proceed. The brands that play in the Facebook space well are the ones who understand this core concept. They realize that by creating content that elicits interaction from one of the most qualified samples of their audience available (and free!), they can make powerful decisions with regard to whether or not a product should go to market, A/B testing on marketing said product, crowdsource ideas for future products or promotions, et al.
So many brands, however, throw anything up on the wall to get comments or feedback without even thinking about how they are tainting their own data pool. Some of my favorite and most beloved brands as a consumer have fallen into this trap and it breaks my social media-loving heart. I’ve recently discovered the most awesome Facebook page known to man. Sift through some of the examples below and see if you’re making any of the same mistakes.
I was just reading an article on Search Engine Land yesterday about a study regarding drops from Google Image referrer traffic since Google changed its Image results design. So, I decided to take a look at a couple of our clients to see what affect Google’s design change had on their traffic.
As a brief overview, prior to Google’s design change for Image search, clicking on a thumbnail in the image search results would load the source page in the background, behind a larger image of the image result clicked at Google. The loading of pages in the background, only for users to go back to the image results or close the page is referred to as a “phantom visit”. In the new design, Google still displays thumbnails on the results page, but clicking an image now enlarges it into a preview window. While the source page no longer loads in the background, the preview window does include four different links to the source page. I’ve pointed these links out in the example below where I performed a Google Image search for my name:
I chose to examine a couple of our clients from completely separate industries, and since the design change occurred in late January, I decided to take a look at referrer traffic from November through March. This gave me a chance to see two complete months both before and after the change, along with January when the change occurred. The chart below displays the steep decline in referrer traffic from Google Images for Client A:
If we average the referrer traffic from November through December, and again for February through March, we see an 85% decrease in referrer traffic from Google Images after the design change. Further, I checked year-over-year February-March Google Image referrer traffic to account for any seasonal search pattern changes, and this resulted in a 65% decrease. The 85% decrease is higher than the 63% average cited by Define Media Group, but the 65% year-over-year decrease is obviously very close to average.
The chart below for Client B displays a very similar decline compared to that of Client A:
In doing the same for Client B that we did for Client A, the post-design change drop comes to an 84% decrease in February and March compared to November and December. However, unlike Client A, Client B’s year-over-year drop is a staggering 91% decrease in referral traffic from Google Images.
The major question this design change begs from an SEO standpoint is whether you should still place any effort or strategy behind optimizing your images for search. If most sites are generating less than half the traffic to their sites from image search compared to just a few months ago, what’s the point? First off, optimizing your images for search does still benefit your site’s overall SEO, even if you’re not seeing that traffic directly from image search referrals. Engines are still crawling image text information, and using those keywords in their ranking algorithms. Further, optimizing images so that they perform well in image results is still going to positively affect your site’s traffic, but more likely through indirect, rather than direct, means. For instance, staying at the top of image search results can help keep your brand in the forefront of users’ minds, and hosting quality, engaging images on your site can promote engagement, share-ability, and potentially higher CTRs.
As an SEO, am I disappointed I’m not seeing as much traffic to clients’ sites as before? Sure. Do I think slightly less time and/or effort should be spent considering image SEO strategy because of Google’s design change? Again, sure. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like this change as a user. I may be in the minority of SEOs on this, but personally, I prefer the new design, and do believe it truly improves the user experience. Many times when I’m performing an image search, it’s because I’m looking for an image (weird, right?), not necessarily a web page with content. Of course, that isn’t always the case, and if I find an interesting image or just what I’m looking for, I’m more likely to click through to the site.
Ultimately, this means those of us in SEO are likely going to have to work smarter (not harder) optimizing images and ensuring clients’ sites have engaging images, but when has Google ever made things easy on us?
About a week ago, Schema.org rolled out some new data types and properties, most notably within the CreativeWork and Intangible data types. This correlates with an announcement that Schema “is approaching a full 1.0 release but that we still have a few additions to make before we declare we’re at a full 1.0.” (I recommend reading through this entire thread for further context on my post.)
Following are a few screen shots that show the new types and properties highlighted in yellow. The first show shows several changes within CreativeWork:
The next shot shows changes made to child types within Intangible:
Here is the global list of types that are new or have new child types or properties:
- CreativeWork shows changes made to the following:
- Product (now includes “audience” as a property)
We obviously haven’t seen usage in the wild yet, but we’ll certainly let you know if we do. We watch the Schema.org hierarchy pretty closely, and we’ll continue to post updates.