In other news Emojis appear to be taking over our means of communication supporting that old adage – a picture is worth a thousand words. How many words can be attributed to a smiley face, the ever popular crying with joy face or the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil monkey faces? A shortcode for modern life perhaps in that we either like, love, hate or are baffled by the events that occupy our working days.

Facebook never fail to feature in our weekly roundup so this week we take a look at videos getting bigger and louder. We cannot move on without sending a nod to Mark Zuckerberg who posted a 5,800-word essay on his social media site this week that outlined his plan for the future. Here is a clip of the inclusive rhetoric he used which many media outlets have championed as in direct opposition to the isolationist stance made by Trump’s administration:

-How do we help people build supportive communities that strengthen traditional institutions in a world where membership in these institutions is declining?

-How do we help people build a safe community that prevents harm, helps during crises and rebuilds afterwards in a world where anyone across the world can affect us?

-How do we help people build an informed community that exposes us to new ideas and builds common understanding in a world where every person has a voice?

-How do we help people build a civically-engaged community in a world where participation in voting sometimes includes less than half our population?

-How do we help people build an inclusive community that reflects our collective values and common humanity from local to global levels, spanning cultures, nations and regions in a world with few examples of global communities? (Source)

It is certainly an ambitious and global strategy but you wouldn’t count against Facebook pulling it off and uniting an estranged global community right now. Anyway, that is enough of politics – quick pass me the emojis for a little light relief!

Digital News This Week

It Looks Like Emojis are Back!

So, as you know emoji’s play a BIG part in most people’s social lives these days, here in the Lab we love to use emojis, on our twitter and in our own day to day lives. Back in 2015 Google made a promise that they would drop emojis from the search results, they followed through with their plan… until now! It seems that emojis are now showing up again in the search result snippets, and have even made it onto desktop results! There is a range of opinions on whether emojis should be visible in Google search results, so we are going to have to wait and see what Google decide to do next. It is an interesting addition to SERPs and they are undoubtedly part of our culture now.

Facebook Updates

Facebook videos are getting bigger and louder. In December 2013 when Facebook began playing videos automatically in people’s news feeds. Now Facebook has announced that their mobile app will play the videos automatically and with the sound on by default. You will start hearing the videos as you scroll through your news feed and the sound fades in and out as you pass through each video. Facebook have said that they have been testing the videos with the sound on in some countries and have claimed that 70% of the time those viewers leave the sound on, this includes when ads are playing. For some people, this might sound very appealing and useful, but for others, this might not be a feature that they want adding. If this is the case then you can stop the sound playing by keeping your phone on silent and there is also a setting on Facebook that allows you to disable videos from playing with the sound. Below you can see a demonstration of how this new feature works.

New Ways to Watch Facebook Video

Posted by Facebook on Monday, February 13, 2017

Industry News

Top 3 Predictions for Local SEO in 2017

In the world of digital marketing, it is guaranteed that not everything is going to stay the same! Do not get too content with Adwords, SERP ranking factors, or local SEO structures because someone somewhere is already working on the next innovative way to present them differently. The team at Moz have predicted what they think will happen to Local SEO throughout 2017. Here are the three top takeaways from that article so you can focus your attention on staying ahead of the developments…hopefully!

  1. The first one comes from the founder of Moz, Rand Fishkin. He thinks that the local SEO ranking factors are going to have a major shakeup, which will possibly devalue some of the long-held elements around listing consistency from hard-to-control third parties. He believes that Google will do this because even though they recognise the quality of these third-party local data aggregators to be good, they don’t want to have to force smaller business owners into maintaining these relationships that control so much of their ranking fate. Rand believes that if this doesn’t happen in 2017 it will definitely happen in the next few years.
  2. The second one comes from Britney Muller, the SEO & content architect at Moz. Britney predicts that we will see Google acquiring more in-depth details about local businesses. She thinks that Google is going to obtain details from your customers that will provide unbiased feedback regarding your business. Doing this will allow Google to provide searchers with a much better user experience. However, we have already started seeing this happen with the “Popular Times” and “Live” features allowing you to see if your current traffic is under or over the normal amount for that specific location.
  3. The final one from Moz is from Miriam Ellis, who is Moz’s associate. She thinks that local marketers need to stress voice search optimisation to business owners. Voice search is the latest incentive that perfects the voice of your content allowing it to match the voice your customers are using when they are searching. Near-me searches and micro-moment events tie in great with the growth of voice search.

 

So, there you go, the top 3 predictions from the fantastic team at Moz. We also have our own prediction for local SEO in 2017. We believe that sites such as Facebook and Amazon are going to start throwing their weight about -even more! Is this the year that Google gets toppled or equalled in SERP enquiries made on shopping and social media apps. In some ways, it feels a long way off but Bing’s interface is slicker than Google’s, Facebook’s numbers can certainly rival Google’s and Amazon has the money and the innovation to move into any area it wishes. Change is definitely coming – the question is from which direction?

#LabInsights

3 Simple Steps to gain higher results in local SEO

So while we are talking about local SEO let’s have a look at how you can vamp up your local presence. The stats now demonstrate that people are increasingly searching locally for stores, restaurants and leisure companies on their phones:

  • 4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.
  • 50% of consumers who typed in a local search on a mobile device visited a store within that day, and the same happened with the 34% who searched on a computer or tablet.

So modern search means that not only do you bring traffic to your website, you also bring customers straight to your door! So how can you make the most of how people use their phones to interact with your business? Think about the immediacy of this interaction. They are local to you and are looking for what you sell. Here are two tips to help you reach out to them

  1. Focus your content locally

Make sure that the keywords that you use have local elements. The content should talk about the local area and give them directions, as well as information on other places to visit. You can talk passionately about your home town, city, or village and really own the content that people want to digest.

You will find that a lot of your inspiration, can come from your customers. Once you have an understanding of what they would like, what they want to see and what their expectations are, it’ll be much easier to write content that will interest them. It may also be an idea to interview your customers, share stories with them about the interactions you’ve had, and anything else you think might draw them in! If you’re looking for that personal connection between a business and your customers, localised content is the way forward. (Also, a bonus could be that it gives other local sites a reason so link and connect with you!)

2. Local directories, maps and citations

If you’re running a local business, make sure your business is present and optimised on Google Maps. Make sure you verify and fill out your My Business Page. Lots of imagery, local content and precise details. Adding the correct categories, social profiles, website URL and a good description and that will set you off in the right direction.

As well as Google, start to look at signing up to Yelp, Yahoo Business, Bing, MapQuest, Super Pages, Yellow Pages and Facebook and other directory and map sites. Select some of the most powerful national directories and mix them in with relevant local directories for the best local SEO presence. It really is quality over quantity.

The main goal is to claim and update your business listing in as many relevant, legitimate business directories and map services possible and optimising those listings with the correct business information. Be sure to have your name, address and contact details consistently spread across the web and ensure it matches the details on your website. Fresh content is key here – don’t just copy and paste the same directory in every paragraph.

In Conclusion

Local companies need to focus on their local clientele. I imagine most of you feel that you are doing that already. There are always national developments and digital marketing innovations that impact grass root level businesses but they can only transform so much. The fact remains that if your digital marketing talks about local events, embraces local business and reaches out to the audience you know your stock or service attracts then you are always going to align nicely with algorithm tweaks and local SEO changes.

Local SEO feels very much like a volatile science but what it really predates the internet itself! It is word of mouth, you showcasing your best qualities and you telling stories. Get the message right and the way it is delivered, analysed or presented by robots crawling your site will only ever go in your favour. Don’t look for a shortcut or a scientific solution – just be you, be honest and be proud of your roots – that’s what people connect with whether they are online or actually stood in your bricks and mortar store.