So before we go into this, I wanted to just point out that if Google had in its power to white-list certain websites it liked from the deleterious effects of Penguin other algorithms, then doesn’t that mean that Google never needed a Penguin? Couldn’t they have just built an algorithm that gave no value to links and content it felt was bad, instead of using Penguin, for example to destroy your online presence? In other words, couldn’t Google have just let a bad link be neutral?
Many lawyers are still reeling from the pain that was wrought upon them by the Penguin of 2012, and have been looking for a way to get completely away from Google. Some lawyers feel they were strong armed into PPC, with its very high risk to benefit bid per keyword prices, and its next to impossible and time consuming click fraud appeals process. Many attorneys I have spoken with feel that Google now has a penchant for coming up with a new “improvement” that pushes their organic SERPS further into oblivion whenever stock prices start to decline. Many of my lawyer friends are now looking at Bing as a replacement for Google and are even encouraging their clients to get off Google completely, as a form of protest.
How Hyper Local is Killing Google Search
For me personally, I am not impressed with the hyper local strategy being driven by sites like Yelp! that bury consumer reviews unless the consumer is a “regular Yelper,” for example. I much preferred the old organic results that favored lawyers who were able to build relationships with webmasters, business owners and others in the industry, and maybe get a backlink out of it. Now the top non paid results are limited to three businesses in a “City Center,” and based to a large degree on zip code, and a review based system that is probably easier to abuse than the old system of getting links. Both from the perspective of the review site and the reviewer, one good or bad review could be worth thousands in extortion money. This means a less popular or less qualified lawyer is going to get the call, just because of their location and reviews within that “Center.”
- The Limousine Accident Attorney Example
No longer can a great limousine accident attorney in San Diego be located if searched from a Los Angeles IP, and instead the guy who never even handled many cases, if any, but with a lot of Yelp! reviews and little substance, now gets that case, and the consumer pays the price. And with courts giving sites like Yelp! carte blanche to decide what reviews can be displayed or buried, it leaves businesses in a position of being forced to pay what they feel is “protection” money, just so reviews that drive the Google Local 3 packs will stay live. Obviously someone who went to law school sees the inequity in a system like that, and would not want to support it, unless they figured out a way to manipulate it right?
- Genuine Organic is Dead?
Well, you say, there is always organic right? The problem there is that every lawyer and other business in town is promoting Yelp! over their own sites, with a badge that drives PageRank and traffic to Yelp!. So when you search organic to find a local “personal injury attorney,” for example, all you seem to find are directory sites like AVVO and Yelp! or Wikipedia right? So much for net neutrality. The attorney with the great page about limousine accidents is less likely to even be found on Google. BUT he is still there on Bing for now, thank God. If only FaceBook was a search engine that brought back legitimate search!
- Lawyers are Freaked and What is Happening?
The bottom line is that lawyers in particular are running scared, and simply cannot afford to advance costs on cases, pay overhead and court fees, and bring on Google, Yahoo! and now Yelp!, as business partners that can potentially go on rank altering binges when stock prices fall. One thing I started to use recently out of curiosity and out of desperation, was Facebook, and I have actually been able to drum up some business just by answering legal questions there.
- Marked Differences in Personality Between Google Plus and FB
Whereas Google Plus seems to be a repository of the very die hard, young, politically progressive minded SEO developer types, that probably mirror the staff at Google, Facebook seems to represent a better sampling of the public at large. Of course you are always going to have a half painted canvas of population sampling on social media. This is because business owners, homeowners and other more conservative types are busy working, while OWS and college types have plenty of free time and WiFi to socialize online. But one thing about Facebook, is that the traditional working Americans do tend to come play on the weekends at least. Most adults have heard of FB, while typically the younger unemployed software developer types are the ones more familiar with Google Plus. At least that is what my research shows.
- The Real Reasons for Lawyers Using Google Plus Ended?
Most of us lawyers I know started using Google Plus to try and figure out how to recover from Penguin, and really had no other use for it beyond that need. Many recovered from their manual penalties, are still in penalty, or trying to figure out how to fix their sites to be Google compliant. But less and less seem to be flocking to Google Plus.
- Time to Move to FB?
After losing faith in Google as a reliable search results provider, I too have been looking at Facebook and other companies that understand I am not a piggy bank. Recently, Facebook had another upgrade, this time to the search engine feature of the social media website. It is becoming clear that Facebook may have the goal of becoming the go to search place for their 1.5 billion active users. The search feature of Facebook is no longer something to be used to search for an old friend or past boyfriend, now the search will show content from 2 trillion Facebook posts that exist. So, realistically it now has similar capabilities to Google search engine. The one difference right now is that Facebook search only searches within the websites own content only. But while it is in a way its own internet type search analysts believe this might be an attempt for Facebook to behave more like the open Internet.
SVP for space 150 digital agency Craig Key, says the update he believes is an attempt by Facebook to consolidate digital identity on a platform and it may be a way for the social media site to be a source of “our singular digital identity.” Key said that by taking these steps Facebook could be attempting to be the “most relevant information source in your life” and goes on to say that search changes are heading in that direction.
What Does this Mean for Content Marketers?
Content according to content marketers is king, so what do the changes in Facebook search features mean? It could mean a lot, since now rather than run a search on Twitter for some breaking news or going to Google for a video clip? No need to do it now, because Facebook search can find the same information without going to two different places to type in a search query.
This is what they are attempting with the upgrade, but there could be a downfall when it involves Twitter like information. Many Facebook users keep their information private, and currently they might be wise to check their security settings and could be getting notices, since on the surface this search will be looking for relevant real time conversations. Something that Twitter does not have problems with because users want their Tweets seen but when it involves content it might be a different story, people looking for breaking news could be satisfied with the findings on Facebook over Twitter. The one advantage that Facebook has with this search upgrade is since it can be used more like Twitter now it finding celebrities and other things looked for on Twitter is easy and even find out what is Trending on Facebook.
Marketing director of venture building firm sFBI Facebook, Natalie Edwards said Facebook users are now able to identify with others similar to Twitter and on a large scale using hashtags. Experts currently agree that Facebook isn’t ready to replace Google, and doesn’t offer some of the searches Google does with Yelp and other sites to find restaurants and other things of that nature, but Facebook can be a faster way to find something if friends on your list have mentioned the information recently you are trying to find. The other place where Google can be hit is search ad revenue, which it is currently dominate to the tune of over $81. Billion globally, so far Facebook hasn’t introduced new ad features.
Facebook Search for Marketing
Facebook search can be used as another marketing tool for content marketers for data gathering with access to the overwhelming amount of social media users on the website and the ability to see their posts.
Edwards believes there will be a rise in social media monitoring platforms and the new Facebook tool could be very big for marketers to develop and load content. She feels this could even rival Google Keyword Planner and other SEO tools, though it will take time for monitoring platforms to develop. Edwards said marketers might find other ways to mine for meaningful data from the updated search tool and can then fit their content to trends.
This could be exciting for content marketers though it will depend on how people use it and users updating their privacy settings. Many Facebook users find posting publicly is more valuable and more like Twitter.
One other thing that is possible, if people don’t look to the social media site for breaking news then content marketers might not get as much power, but it could also change the whole content marketing game.
Social Media and SEO
Content marketers have seen in the past how changes affect their organic reach and with the Facebook search changes now is the time to take advantage. The updated search features is a change that will take content marketers into the SEO arena for social content. This means making your Facebook content searchable, according to Blue Corona marketing specialist Besty McLeod. The one thing that changes with this content will be keywords, rather than clickable titles, because it might do well in the short term on social media, but it is not positioned for the search functions.
The meeting content marketing and SEO should have marketers thinking strategy and if they aren’t now it is time to start, said Key. He says because at this moment Facebook extended search is similar to how the Internet works to deliver content. McLeod warns not to abandon clicks completely, because when Facebook search results provides content results it will still be competition for the click and a potentially larger audience. I think it is time for lawyers to look at FB as an alternative and eventual replacement for many Google properties, just based upon the not placing all eggs in one basket approach. What say you? Sound off.
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