Penguin 3.0’s Action and Reaction Guide

As you know, the digital marketing world is a big, fast-moving place. It seems that every channel evolves every day. So one of the biggest parts of any digital marketer’s job is to keep up with headlines in their area.

At North Studio, a number of people work on SEO, but it is mostly my specialized area of knowledge, so it’s my job to keep up with trends, best practices and updates by Google.

Recently, Google has released major updates to their antispam algorithms. However, the biggest headline was the update to the Penguin algorithm.

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Eye-Tracking Study: How Searchers View SERPs on Google

The SERP (or "search engine results page") is the Holy Grail of all SEO and SEM professionals. (Well, the first page is.) And deciphering how ordinary people read and analyze these pages is golden information for anyone who's concerned about his or her business' rank on the Google results page.

I really like eye-tracking studies; they've informed a lot about how I write my content–and how I teach others to write content as well. So whenever a new one's out, I take a close look, because it could potentially change the way I do my job. (more…)

Confused By CASL? Know Your Next Steps

Note: This article was written in 2014 to respond to Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) that came into effect July 1, 2014 and the difficulty small businesses were having complying.

According to a recent CFIB survey, 62% of small businesses have yet to take any steps to comply to CASL. Although this is concerning (we've done a bit of CASL advocacy with our clients, of course), we would like to make it easy for you to figure out whether or not you comply and, if you don't, know what steps to follow to implement CASL in your business.

With the help of this workflow, you can see what elements of CASL you need to implement for your business.

CASL checklist workflow

Disclaimer: this workflow do not constitute legal advice on CASL compliance. Your lawyer is always your best resource when it comes to compliance to legislation.

5 Smart Ways To Build Social Proof For Marketing

Testimonials are a tried-and-true marketing technique that can help overcome objections and convince people to buy your product or service. They’re used everywhere: on TV, in advertorials, even on the web. (We have ours too!) They’re especially useful for more expensive products or services, where the investment is significant and potential customers need some reassurance that it will perform as expected. However, testimonials can be tricky; especially on the internet, they can be made up or paid, and it’s really difficult to verify their truthfulness. (more…)

6 Must-Haves Of Successful Blogs

While blogs are the cornerstone of content marketing, when you compare the number of successful blogs against the total number of blogs that exist on the internet, you’ll notice the ratio is very, very small. Only a fraction of blogs build an audience of more than a few hundred, and only a few rare ones get subscriptions of 100K+. Ever wondered what these top blogs have in common? In this blog, we’ll share 6 must-haves of successful blogs. (more…)

Intriguing Results From 3 Content Idea Generators

I don’t know a blog writer who doesn’t go through writer’s block sometimes. Yet to keep your website fresh and current, you need to keep updating your blog with interesting content that keeps your visitors coming back for more. So what do we do when we’re really, really out of ideas and still need to write blog posts?

Fortunately, there are content generators we can use to get our brains storming. In the three examples I used, you input a noun or two and the generator spits out sentences (blog post titles, mosty) incorporating those nouns. (more…)

4 Social Media Tasks You Should Never Automate

4 social media tasks you should never automate

If you want to do it right, social media management takes a lot of time. So much so that it’s now some peoples’ full-time job. But not everyone has the budget to hire a social media manager or coordinator; enter Social Media Automation Tools. Programs like Buffer, Social Oomph, Hootsuite and many, many more all promise to make your social media management easier, more seamless and less time-consuming. However, it’s vital to not automate everything. In this blog, we’ll break down 4 social media tasks you should never automate and why.

Social media is still social, and nobody likes to talk to a robot when it comes to developing relationships (or talking in general). Some things still need to be done in real time, by a real human. Here are some social media tasks that should be done by humans, not automation. (more…)

How To Make “Post To Page” More Visible On Your Facebook Page

Say your goodbyes: it’s now impossible to make “post by others” show on your Facebook business page timeline. We have a super popular post about how to make that possible, but it dates from a few years, and Facebook business pages have changed a lot since then.

However, we still receive questions and comments about why the advice in that post doesn’t work anymore; it’s because you simply cannot do it anymore. The new Facebook business page has a completely different structure. (more…)

Is Your Business Ready for July 1st? A CASL Primer

 

What is CASL?

On July 1st, 2014, the federal government of Canada will formally launch the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). The CASL is a set of laws designed to protect Canadians from excessive spam,  to determine how predefined online communications practices are to be allowed within Canada, to assign penalties to businesses and individuals who break CASL laws, and to enable Canadians to report spam on the CASL site itself. (more…)

Father’s Week: The Best 2014 Father’s Day Campaigns

Best Father's Day campaigns of 2014

There are Father’s Day campaigns of every style: funny, serious, thankful, touching. Although most of them are about getting Dad a gift, some of them go a bit further. 2014 has plenty of interesting Father’s Day campaigns, so let’s have a look at those we liked the best. (more…)

Father’s Week: Our Favourite Dad Blogs

It's Father's Week at Stikky Media!

Since Father's Day is coming up this weekend, this week the Stikky Media blog is going to celebrate dads on the internet. For our first post of the week, we're going to (you guessed it) share with you some of our favourite daddy bloggers.

Why do dads blog?

Well, why does anybody? But it's interesting to see dad bloggers taking their space in the parenting blogosphere, which is generally skewed towards moms. Parenting is often the work of two, so the other half of the equation should also have a voice.

Dads blog because they also have parenting insights and experiences to share. They may be different from moms', but they are no less important or relevant.

Without further ado, here are our favourite dads on the web.

Our favourite daddy bloggers

Canadian Dad

Chris Read, the Canadian Dad, blogs about the touching moments of his dad life. There's so much to learn from him about how to grow and improve as a parent. He does so with quite a bit of humour (join his grown men scooter gang!) and an obvious glee for everything that brings him back to his own childhood. My favourite thing? His Kids Reviewing Stuff posts. They're just too adorable 🙂

The Daddy Blogger

I met Rick Shetty, the Daddy Blogger, at Social Media Camp last May. This Vancouver-based dad has a widely varied blog with everything from the usual parenting posts to reviews, giveaways and events. Not everything is about parenting, so it's also a nice blog for people interesting in living on the Lower Mainland too.

Life of Dad

Life of Dad isn't a dad blog per se, but rather an online magazine for dad bloggers. There's a community built around it and a variety of content for dads and dad bloggers. I like the variety of voices on this website and how some of the stuff (like recipes) is really useful for everyone, not just dads.

Dadding Full Time

Brian Sorrell writes Dadding Full Time, a blog about emigrating to New Zealand from the US, being a full-time at-home parent, and travel. The tone of the blog is often nostalgic, but always touching. There's some funny stuff too. He's a great storyteller.

Bacon and Juice Boxes

Jerry Turning is a police officer with an autistic son who writes about his experiences on Bacon and Juice Boxes. He doesn't blog very often, but when he does, it's always interesting. I'm glad people are more open about raising autistic children.

Are We Still Cool?

That's the question many parents ask themselves after they've had children. Eric and Laura Corpus co-author this parenting and lifestyle blog from New York City. Their kids are definitely cool, and so are they.

Tales From the Poop Deck

What happens when a Star Trek fan starts a dad blog? Tales From the Poop Deck, authored by Creed Anthony. Read his Captain's Log and laugh along this geeky dad's adventures in parenting.

Did we miss anyone?

There's only so many people we can feature, but if you think we missed anyone important, feel free to share your favourite daddy bloggers in the comments!

Victoria’s Best Social Businesses–What They Do Right And What You Can Learn

As a digital marketing professional, I’m lucky to live in one of the most social (media) cities in Canada. Many of our social media influencers were among the first to take up Twitter as a community-building tool, and we have some of the foremost social media professionals this side of the Rockies doing their work in our beautiful city. It might be because social media work is rather flexible and can be done from anywhere; where else but in Victoria would you want to live if you had the chance? (more…)

4 Facebook Lessons From Victoria’s Latest Community Pages

We live in a pretty awesome place. There is the ocean a stone’s throw away, a beach at every corner, the mildest weather in Canada, mountains all around us, the best hiking trails in the world, some of the best food on the West Coast, and many, many other perks. But one thing that only locals know is Victoria’s highly engaged social media crowd.

Our dinner choices are fueled from blogs and UrbanSpoon reviews; our events are plastered all over Facebook and Twitter and are always full; our people use Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and direct messages on Twitter to meet each other for coffee or dinner. Hey, we’ve been named the Canadian Capital of Selfies for a reason! (more…)

Your 7-Step Guide to Excellent Content

Content this, content that, content here, content there: content is everywhere. I’ve made my argument elsewhere that it’s an important part of your digital strategy, no matter your business size or type. And in order to reach your marketing and sales objectives, your content must be excellent. But I realized something lately: that lots of people don’t really understand what excellent content means, or how to reach that level of quality. The web is clogged with sub-par, badly written, uninteresting, plagiarized and useless content. (more…)

PayDay 2.0 and Panda 4.0–What Changed on Google?

It’s always an interesting time in the digital marketing and SEO industries when Google rolls out algorithm updates. Professionals get all abuzz on social media and blogs, everyone begins to search for information on the update, and then we check our own metrics and our client metrics. Sometimes Google tells us when they are rolling out these updates, but more often we are kept in the dark.

This week, Google has confirmed that they have rolled out two webspam algorithm updates: Pay Day 2.0, and Panda 4.0.

"Do you know what today is [spammy websites]? Payday.” Okay, that might not be the thought behind the naming of the algorithm update (I’ll explain the reason below), but it actually works. Google is essentially giving a little payback to spammy areas of the web.

Payday 2.0

Search Engine Land was among the first to post an update confirming that Google had indeed rolled out an update to their Pay Day 2.0 algorithm update. They stated a Google spokesperson told them: 

Over the weekend we began rolling out a new algorithmic update. The update was neither Panda nor Penguin — it was the next generation of an algorithm that originally rolled out last summer for very spammy queries.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team confirmed on Twitter:

 

The first Payday Loan update started to roll out around June 11th 2013. Both Pay Day updates target niche spammy areas of the web. Google specifically mentioned that the keywords around payday loans and porn-related keywords would be targeted. It should only affect a small percentage of websites, but we will keep our eyes peeled for more affected keywords.

Panda 4.0

 

The Panda algorithm update first rolled out in February 2011. Since then, there have been dozens of updates to it. This algorithm targets on-page issues such as thin content, content farms, and other content quality metrics. More than ever, Google emphasizes clear, relevant and original content written by experts; this is the time to rethink your approach to content production to ensure that you follow Google's guidelines and produce the type of content that attracts good rankings.

Some previous updates have been on 10-day roll outs, so we'll keep an eye for any changes in our metrics and our clients'.

Are you curious about more algorithm updates? Moz has a good record of Googles Algorithm change history

How To Get Free Followers To Your Small Business Twitter Account

You have a new business Twitter profile and you’d like to get more followers. You want followers who will actually pay attention to your tweets and who are part of a relevant audience, be that locally or within a certain sphere of industry. You’d like more followers, and for free…

Free Followers – Without Spamming or Cheating?

Yes.

Free Followers – That aren’t in distant regions or irrelevant as a target market?

Yes. (more…)

Pinterest Is Testing Paid Ads–What We Know So Far

Since its meteoric rise to popularity in 2011, Pinterest has garnered a lot of attention from marketers and social media professionals. We know that visual marketing is a very effective way to reach your target market–after all, “a picture is worth a thousand words” isn’t a cliché for no reason. Pinterest, with its focus on beautiful visuals, easy sharing and an intuitive user interface, has everything marketers need to get their products known and shared. (more…)

Let Your Blog Bloom By Answering These 5 Questions

Having a blog is now pretty much standard fare for business content marketing. Most companies and organizations have blogs. But only some of them update it. And then only a portion of those actually does it well.

As a professional blogger, I’ve seen it all: the ultra-serious finance blog, the light-hearted lifestyle blog, humour blogs, review blogs, health blogs, news blogs… pretty much anything you can imagine. If you can imagine it, there’s a blog out there about it. But because there are so many of them, a majority of the blogs that exist don’t have much of a readership. There’s only so much human attention to spare between millions of different blogs! (more…)

The Social Media Channels – Post What, To Who, To Where, and Why?

facebook-logo_0.jpg

Everyone tells you your small or medium sized business MUST be on the social media channels. There are a growing numbers of channels, each of them becoming increasingly important in its own way.

So you’ve signed up for the four best-known social media channels:

  • Facebook.
  • Twitter.
  • Google+.
  • LinkedIn.

You’ve written (or had someone else write) a blog post, and now it should be posted on all four channels. There! Done. Right? (more…)

Google’s Long History of Forcing You To Use G+

When Google+ was launched with much fanfare in 2011, the social media world was abuzz with praise and high expectations. Tech Crunch called it "social, bold, fun and looking good". Early reviews praised the functions and circle features, but had issues with the lack of activity (which was probably just because Google rolled out Google+ only to a select few at first). Most reviewers thought it was a good network, but that it wouldn't be enough to break Facebook's hold on social media; Business Insider concluded that "At the end of the day, Google+ is a solid product on its own. But it's not rich or new enough to get people to make the switch."

Not discouraged on its mission to dominate the web, Google+ has not only maintained its mildly (on Internet terms) popular service (with about 300 million active users) but has also attached numerous services and features to Google+ functionalities. For example, a +1 on a piece of content raises your search ranking position much more than a Facebook or Twitter share, and so does a share on G+'s feed. But these were only the first steps of Google+'s user acquisition strategy, which Dave Llorens of Fast Company has called "the carrot and not the stick". What other carrots are there, and how does the new Gmail/G+ messaging scheme enter into that strategy? Let's take a look.

Google Authorship–Get the writers!

The next step of Google's strategy was to help content producers (mostly writers) to claim their content and help publicize their writing online. By adding a Google authorship tag (attached to a Google+ profile, of course), both the writer and the publication received an SEO bonus. 

Google Authorship promises a boost in SEO rankings for verified writers of high-quality content on respectable websites. However, it REQUIRES a Google+ profile to work. If your author doesn't have a G+ profile, Authorship can't happen, and you would lose the nice ranking boost. So, here's one way to force all respectable web writers to get a Google+ account.

Happily, Google Authorship has positive consequences for respectable content writers around the world: it is slowly smothering the low-quality, link-baiting guest post industry, as explained by Rohit Palit in Search Engine Journal. So, someone like me who cares about useful content and good writing is willing to humour G+ with an account if it helps kill the industry that's hurting our reputation and keeping our wages artificially low.

Google Places–Business does G+

The next step was to get at the business listing industry. We usually suggest to Stikky clients who have a brick-and-mortar store or office to claim and populate their Google Places listing… which becomes a Google+ page for the business at the same time. And with automatic integration to Google Maps, Google made it very hard to resist getting a Google Places account.

As claiming your Google Place automatically claims your Google Plus page for the business, Google strongly suggests that you use your G+ page to connect with other users. And using Google+ on a regular basis also improves your SEO.

More importantly, Google Places business listings now integrates information from a bunch of other business listing and review sites such as Zagat and ratings left on Google Plus. By using everything it knows about you and the people you interact with on Google Plus, Google is able to give you the information that's most likely to be relevant to you through its own ratings and reviews system. It's basically like Yelp, but better.

Google Apps–Communicate at work

Instead of using a number of communication and collaborating tools like Yammer and Skype, many businesses have made a complete switch to Google-based communications. They use G+ circles for chatting among teams and the company, Hangout for video and voice calls, Google Docs for collaborative writing and document management, and of course Gmail for email. When everything's in the same place with the same accounts, everything's just easier… and Google makes it easy to do just that.

Adding the circle functionality of Google Plus to manage work teams in a company, especially if workers are remote, is an especially strong way to use G+ once companies switch to Google-only communications. 

Gmail integration–Talk to strangers

After all these integrations between all Google tools, it should come as no surprise that Google came up with yet another way to "interest" people in Google Plus: the ability to send an email to any Google Plus user through Gmail. Although no email addresses are exchanged in the process, it still gives total strangers the ability to send you an email that you will get in your Gmail inbox.

Like most of Google's features, this will happen automatically to anyone with a G+ account–and thus by extension anyone with a Gmail account. When the feature is rolled out, you will be able to opt out of it through your settings. However, automatically enrolling everyone in the feature raises privacy problems. As Dante D'Orazio notes, "it turns a private space — your inbox — into a social one." 

Personally, I'm not quite sure I'm ready to let random strangers email me. I already get enough strange events that randomly appear on my Google Calendar through G+. I would feel better about it if it went into a different folder of my email so it doesn't clog my inbox. Not that I think I will get emails from strangers, because I don't really have that kind of clout on Google Plus (or elsewhere) and I don't really spend time on it either.

I imagine that this will mostly affect major influencers, thought leaders and other "social-media-important" people who have tons of followers. The ability to email your favourite blogger or writer directly instead of leaving a comment in an already busy timeline seems attractive, for sure. But maybe they will be the ones to push back against this new feature, since they are probably the ones who will see their inboxes filled with emails from their fans. Or maybe they'll just turn the feature off and forget about it.

What do you think? Should Google turn back on this feature or is the ability to opt out enough for you? What do you think is the next step to Google's internet domination?

Google Places for Business Changes

Has your Google places dashboard changed recently? Google constantly introduces new ‘products’, but tends to remove and change them just as fast. If you're a local business and don't know about Google Places, we have some useful information for you as well.

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Video: The New Tool of Web Marketing

As internet marketers, the main problem we try to solve is: "how do we cut through the noise and make your voice heard?" With so many websites out there, it's easy to feel like our little spot of the web is ignored by everyone who could enjoy our product or service.

If you're a regular visitor to the Stikky website, you may have noticed a new service: video production. Video is the latest tool in our digital marketing toolbox to help your website become more visible in search engines, more attractive to visitors and more engaging for potential and current clients.

The popularity of video on the web

With the rise of smartphones and digital cameras, video is literally everywhere. Go to any major event, important tourist spot or popular hanging place and you'll see someone filming something. You can guess that the video will soon be uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo or other video hosting site.

On YouTube alone, 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute. In the US, more than 80% of internet users watch online videos on any given month. People like video. It's easy, it's simple and it's fun to watch. Our long relationship with television makes us prone to engage with online video in a way that text alone can't quite do.

But I'm sure you don't need a list of stats to convince you that video is an effective marketing tool on the web. Just look at the sites you enjoy and the messages that stick with you, and you'll quickly realize that video is often a part of them.

Video for SEO

But enough about generalities. You want to know if video works for you in your SEO efforts!

According to Forrester, a page with video is 53 times more likely to make it to the top spot of search engine results pages.

When Zappos, a major online apparel retailer introduced video on its website, sales increased by 30%.

When it used video to inform employees about their healthcare benefits and enrollment period, Flimp Video Solutions calculated a 77% engagement rate and a 108% response rate.

There are a lot more stats about video out there, but these few tidbits show how useful and influential video can be to attract visitors to your website, to inform them and to convince them to take action.

Why video works

Video works well for several reasons:

  • Non-verbal language conveys information otherwise inaccessible through writing alone
  • Humans have an innate tendency to judge others through their facial expression
  • Video conveys emotion more easily than text
  • Something that moves attracts our attention and keeps it

In short, video humanizes your business or website. It provides a warm human connection that's impossible to convey through text and images. A visitor who sees your face, hears your voice and can watch as you interact with your environment is much more likely to trust you and your business.

What kind of video can you do?

Now that you know how and why video works for your internet marketing strategy, let's take a look at what kind of content works well.

Company profiles. Think of it as a video version of your "About Us" page (the most important page of your website after your home page!). You can tell the story of your business or your product and share the heart of your company with visitors.

Product demos. One thing we love about product videos is how to it presents the product in context. There's only so much a photo can tell. How big is it really? How does it work? What does it do? Showing your product at work in a video can answer all those questions in a few seconds.

Testimonials. Let your customers share their own story with potential customers. Testimonials are a tried-and-true technique to increase trust in a product or service.

News releases. Catch the attention of editors and journalists around the world with a video news release. Tell them why your news is important in your own words!

Employee profiles. A companion to the company profile and the testimonial, employee profiles present your qualified and dedicated team to the world. Help potential clients put faces to the people they contact in your company!

These are the typical business videos available on websites, but you can have fun and be creative. Think great characters, entertaining stories and a human connection!

Announcing our partnership with SoMedia Networks

Stikky Media now has a video production partner: SoMedia Networks. This Vancouver-based company is the world leader in video-on-demand production for the web. With their help, we can provide you with professionally scripted, filmed and edited videos for your website. By integrating video in your digital marketing strategy, you can improve your SEO results, increase your sales and develop an engaged and attentive audience that would be hard to catch through text alone.

We're super excited about the new possibilities of this partnership, and we hope you'll join us by integrating video to your website!

Photo by jsawkins

Are You Putting Your Internet Marketing Efforts In the Right Place?

Every year, Mary Meeker of KPCB publishes a report about trends in the internet world. Not only is it always a highly anticipated event, but the resulting presentation is usually chock-full of really useful information for those who use the internet to market their products and services.

With a hefty 117 slides, it would take a long time to go over everything in detail, and not all of it is useful to marketers. However, we found some very useful tidbits that we think will be useful for future internet marketing planning. Here's what we found:

1. Mobile attention is growing–but not mobile advertising

According to this graph, despite getting 12% of people's attention, mobile devices only get 3% of the advertising money.

On the other end, look at what's happening in print. Advertisers are still spending 23% of their budget on print advertising, while the amount of time spent on print media is very low indeed. 

As this graph shows, Internet and mobile are still developing areas for advertisers. Mobile is especially fertile ground, since advertising noise is quite minimal for now.

2. Facebook is in decline

They'd like you to think that it's not, but in global numbers, Facebook is actually in decline. Not by much, but it definitely shows a trend, which is possibly caused by consumer fatigue (or young people flocking away from Facebook because their parents are on it more and more.)

As you can see, it's not a very big drop–more than 90% of users are still on Facebook. But YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and Tumblr show interesting potential, especially for marketers. It's time to diversify your strategies!

3. People feel good about mobile

There's one thing that marketers wish they could do every day: know how consumers feel about their products. This kind of information is difficult to quantify, but Meeker's report provides us with interesting insights:

Smartphones make people feel connected, excited, curious and productive. Depending on your product or service, using one of these attitudes to build your message can be the element that makes your campaign a success.

4. The rise of tablets is astounding

In just three years, tablets have become more popular than both desktop and notebook PCs. Just look.

Think you can get away with a website that doesn't quite work with tablets? Think again. Soon enough, people will use their tablets more than other non-phone devices (if that's not already happening). Responsive design is a great solution, but so are apps, depending on your needs. 

Give the report a look and let us know what you found interesting or useful! What kind of strategies are you looking for when it comes to your digital and mobile future?

 

Google’s Penguin 2.0 Update: What You Need to Know

There's been a bit of panic in Internet marketing circles lately. SEO experts around the world have been blogging about changes they noticed in search ranking patterns, and some of them have been somewhat panicking.

Although some worry is normal when something as important as Google changes drastically, the best response is never panic. As professional SEO experts and internet marketers, we can stay ahead of these changes and help our clients adjust to them.

This update is being nicknamed "Penguin 2.0", which means that it's a major update. Here's a bit more information about what we know of the update for the moment.

What will change? An overview

Well, according to Search Engine Journal, there will be several major changes

In a nutshell, most of these changes have to do with unscrupulous techniques that shady internet marketers have developed to get around Google's guidelines. Some techniques like

  • Paid links
  • Advertorial pages
  • Spam of all kinds
  • Keyword stuffing (a personal nemesis of mine)

will be more severely penalized. 

On the positive side, Google will reward

  • Organic, natural links
  • Secure, non-spammy sites
  • Authority and expertise

The goal, as it always is with Google, is to provide the most relevant and informative pages for any search term. Being relevant and informative is hard work, but it's not rocket science.

What you can (and should always) do

As a website owner, the one thing you should focus on is, and has always been, interesting, relevant, informative and factual content. Google rewards this work every time. Outstanding content gets more links. More links improve your ranking and increase your authority.

Unfortunately, the work of producing that kind of content can't be done once and then left to its own devices. Constant updating through blogs or news, participating in social media (watch for things shared on Google+ gaining more importance in search rankings) and working every day to be helpful and informative is still the most prudent and effective strategy.

The Internet changes constantly, and so we must change with it. If you feel like your search rankings may be hurt by this update, it's not too late to make the necessary changes to control the damage. 

Photo by xrayspx

Google Apparently Penalizes Exact Match Keywords in Links

Exact Match Keyword Penalty - Stikky Media BlogPart of the work we do at Stikky Media is monitoring our clients’ analytics patterns and SEO results. We check for keywords, organic or referred visits, and many other factors including monitoring when pages get penalized to determine why and fix it fast.

Lately, though, we’ve noticed that something has changed in Google rankings and referrals. It seems that the technique of using exact keywords in incoming links is getting penalized by Google. We haven’t found any official news on that matter from Google, but we think we’ve caught on to something here.

What exactly does this mean, though? Here’s an overview explaining what an exact match keyword penalty is and some easy steps you can take to avoid it.

What are exact keywords in incoming links?

One of the big parts of SEO is developing incoming links from reputable websites. This is why we have link-building strategies. One SEO technique is to have the incoming link use keywords related to your product or website, i.e. keywords you want to rank for on Google.

So, before we noticed the change, it was desirable to have your incoming links use your keywords as anchor text. It told Google that your website was relevant to that keyword.

So, what changed?

For the past few weeks, it seems that Google doesn’t quite like those exact anchor text keywords anymore. In fact, we’ve seen some of our websites penalized for them.

Why did this happen? Our basic theory is that exact match keyword anchor text is a sign of a paid (therefore “unnatural”) link. And paid links are a big no-no. As Google realized that companies offered links for a price, they looked at what these links looked like most of the time, and discovered that they almost always use exact keywords.

In the world of natural and organic linking, when websites link to other websites, they almost never use keywords that exactly match those the website wants to rank for. Instead, they insert the link in a series of words or a phrase that describes the content or the relevance of the link to the content around it. Google considers these kinds of links more “natural”, therefore more desirable. These links are less likely to be sponsored or paid for, hence also avoiding an exact match keyword penalty.

What can you do to avoid an exact match keyword penalty?

For links coming from external websites, there isn’t much you can do, since you don’t control the content. However, when dealing with internal links, you want to start using more natural sentences instead of trying to fit the keyword in your text.

For example, imagine I’m writing content about Victoria attractions for a local bed and breakfast’s blog. Instead of writing “There are many attractions at a walking distance from our Victoria bed and breakfast“, which feels stilted and a bit salesy, I can now write something like “Because Victoria is so compact, most downtown attractions can easily be accessed from your accommodations.” Basically, your keywords should not define your links anymore. Simply write your content, find a logical and relevant place for your link, and add it there.

Do you have any questions about the effect of this apparent change in Google’s algorithm? Contact us to discuss with one of our SEO experts.

Image by Xanthi Syrakou

Why You Need a Digital Strategy

The "old" wisdom (as old as Internet wisdom can be) that Google is where people find information is slowly becoming an old wive's tale.

You don't believe us? Check this Business Insider article about the decline in search volume last year.

But don't panic! Even though search volume has decreased, new ways of finding information are available. Social media, blog linking, apps–all of these are effective ways to reach your audience, without using Google.

Now, this doesn't mean that you should throw up your hands and give up on all that SEO hard work. That SEO is still making you more visible to the millions of people who still do use Google everyday. But there are now new factors to take into consideration. These factors are all interconnected (and also connect with SEO), and a digital strategy can help you make sense of them.

          

Digital Strategies Ensure Your Visibility

Companies are now hiring "community managers" and "social web specialists" in droves. The social media world–Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn–is now where information circulates and news break. And businesses want in. The difference between Google and the new social media channels is that social media channels are active: you can discuss with your audience, learn about them and pitch directly to inviduals. Google is a more passive means of attracting visitors.

 

A complete and integrated digital strategy, such as what we do here at Stikky Media, will give all the tools and information you need to start thinking about a digital presence, not just a Google presence. These days, if you're not everywhere, then you are nowhere at all.

It's a Brave New World

In the web 1.0 of search, people used search engines to find specific information. Now, in the social web 2.0, people expect information to come to them. They won't bother to check your website for updates; they'll wait for you to announce them on Twitter or Facebook. Time is precious, information is overwhelming, and relevance is the only criterion that matters. There is too much noise to pay attention to any one thing for very long.

If you still live in the old world of static websites and keyword stuffing, you're already way behind. But if you are willing to embrace this new social, interconnected world, the rewards can be amazing.

Let me tell you a story.

I once had a potential employer who, during the interview, asked me: "And how will you find readers for your content?" I answered, without hesitation: "social media". I'd been working in social media for long enough to know that it was the best channel for online content. But he answered: "Socia media is a fad. It'll go away." Obviously, I didn't get the job. But the fact remains that this particular company's website will not see an increase in visits until the managers understand that social media is the new search. But this time around, the search happens through connections, not keywords.

It's Work

Twitter and Facebook can be incredible time sucks. It's like jumping in the ocean to try to catch fish with your hands and hoping to catch enough to sell at the market. At least, that's what happens when you come to it unprepared.

A digital strategy helps you focus your social media efforts, along with other digital tools like advertisements and content, with an audience and a goal in mind. In other words, we'll give you a boat and a fishing rod. Now all you have to do is sit down and fish.

It's not easy–hey, even we struggle with it every day. But when you hear clients say "I heard about you on Twitter!" or "I follow you on Facebook!", isn't it an amazing reward?

5 Bad Social Media Habits You Should Give Up for Lent–And Forever

Lent is a 40-day period during which practicing Catholics give up something–usally a bad habit like smoking or drinking–to commemorate Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the desert.

But it's not just good for individuals. As business owners doing internet marketing, we can also develop bad social media habits. Want to give up something for Lent? Start by these less than desirable things we do on Facebook and Twitter.                                                                                                                                                                                           

1. Stop shilling on Facebook​

Facebook may seem like a great place to promote or sell your services, but doing so insistently (or "shilling") will only drive followers away.    Remember the social media mantra "People connect with people" and start behaving like a person instead of a business. Share  employees' good news. Post pictures of your office. Ask interesting questions. You can even find ways to present a new product or service  without making it look like an advertisement.

 

2. Stop Retweeting

Although retweeting can help spread a piece of content, a timeline that is filled with only retweets is not very attractive to new followers. Again, "people connect with people", and followers want to connect with a real person who has thoughts and emotions. Use Twitter to spread your brand's personality around, not other people's. And if you absolutely must retweet that piece, add a personal comment to it.

3. Move one-on-one conversations away from Facebook comments

This happens more often than you think, especially in customer relations. People are not interested in reading about how you're going to solve a client's problem. Whenever a Facebook comment risks pulling you into a long conversation, provide a contact email to move it to a more private space. Fans will thank you for it.

4. Stop using so many hashtags

Sure, hastags are useful to put a tweet in context, especially during major events. However, hashtagging every word from your tweet not only makes it unreadable, but it also makes you look like you can't formulate a coherent thought. Also, it's totally unethical to use popular hashtags that are unrelated to your business for promotion purposes. People pick up on it… and then pick on you.

5. Stop pre-programming your social media updates

Sure, it might seem useful to program Facebook and Twitter updates ahead of time, but you end up looking really insensitive if something major happens. On the other hand, taking advantage of timely events (as long as they're not tragic) to promote your products or services can work really well! Follow Oreo's example and tweet appropriately!

So, which of these bad habits are you willing to give up for Lent? Share your thoughts with us!

New Social Network: Vine

No, we’re not talking about a new wine-related social network (although that would be awesome), but rather a new video-based app now owned by Twitter called Vine. It’s all the rage these days, with celebrities like Tyra Banks and Emmy Rossum posting Vines on their Twitter feeds.

Here’s a quick Vine I made especially for this occasion:

 

 

1. What does it do?

Vine is super simple: you take a 6-second video that the app posts as a video loop on Twitter and on Vine feeds. The video is looped automatically.

2. How does it work?

You start by downloading the app on your iPhone. There’s a simple tutorial in the app to show you how to make a video–it works by the touch of your finger.

After making your video, you can share it with your social networks.

3. Where can I share the videos?

The Twitter integration makes it easy to share the videos directly with your followers on Twitter. The app also connects to Facebook so you care share it with your fans as well. If you embed your Twitter feed on your website, you’ll also be able to share your videos that way.

4. How can I use it?

Vine can be useful for your internet marketing in a variety of ways. It gives you an opportunity to be creative and show your business from a fun, creative angle. You can take a funny video of the staff or show how your product works.

6 seconds doesn’t seem like much, but if you watch other people’s videos, you’ll see that you can fit in a lot of content in these few seconds. The advantage: you can make an impact before your audience’s attention span fades. And the best videos? People will watch them over and over again.

Think of Vine as a video version of Twitter: conciseness and originality are key. As with any new social network, it’ll take a while to unlock its full potential, but Vine’s popularity is growing so quickly that it can’t be ignored for very long.

4 Social Media Resolutions Every Business Owner Should Make

A new year is upon us, and with it comes those pesky resolutions. Join a gym. Quit smoking. Eat less cheese. Eat more cheese. Whatever your intentions, it’s time to make them a reality and start the year off right.

That said, most New Year’s resolutions fail miserably. So why not choose a resolution that’s actually doable? One that will increase credibility and visibility and ultimately boost sales?

Here are 4 social media resolutions you’ll actually want to keep:

1. I will write more high quality, original content. And then I will share it.

Google loves fresh content. Loves it. And so do your readers! Compelling, unique content is the foundation for a solid online presence. It’s what makes the internet tick.

That said, make it your goal this year to sit down and produce. Write better blogs. Write more blogs. Write website content. Make videos. Create visuals. Create interviews. Write things people actually want to read, so when you share them on social networks they’ll be shared and re-shared, increasing your SEO, your traffic and ultimately your sales.

2. I will learn to love Google+.

Despite the hype, businesses have been slow to embrace Google+. Whether they deem it too complicated, too unnecessary or too different (from Facebook, natch), they’re missing out on one of the most valuable social platforms around.

The truth is, Google+ affects your business whether you’re signed up or not. When your customers search on Google, your page, along with your profile image and recent posts, may show up on the right-hand side of the results when relevant to a customer’s search. Relevant posts, photos and videos can also show up within search results for your page’s followers. And if you’re not signed up? Well, you won't have all of this tasty exposure. Sign up immediately and reap the benefits of this SEO bonanza.

3. I will network with the social media community, both online and off

Here in Victoria, we’re lucky to have an incredibly active social media community. Not only do we interact online, but we also hang out at countless real-world events, from Social Media Workshops and Camps to Tweetups and Twestivals. Heck, mayor Dean Fortin even signed an official document proclaiming June 30th as “Social Media Day.”

When you take the time to cultivate meaningful offline relationships with social media movers and shakers—relationships that consist of more than just retweets and likes—you’ll take your online presence to the next level. In addition to learning tips and tricks from the best of the best, you'll increase your business exposure, boost your credibility and maybe even transform followers into customers. You’ll have the chance to help and be helped, and solidify your brand as a dynamic, informed and engaged member of the community.

4. I will respond to all comments in a timely manner (even if they’re negative)

Treat comments as a good thing, even if they’re not what you want to hear. After all, comments are evidence of community, and community is what will propel your business forward.

Take the time to individually respond to each person, spending extra time turning the negative experiences into positive ones. Just don’t forget that some commenters are trolls for the sake of being trolls, so don’t take it personally if you can’t turn around 100% of the negativity. Even if you’re unsuccessful, other users will appreciate your efforts and remember your good faith.

What are your social media marketing resolutions for 2013?

The New LinkedIn Profile: Visual, Graphic and Easier to Share

I don't know about you, but I am a visual person—especially when it comes to connecting with people. So, the fact that LinkedIn has edited the layout of the personal profile to create a more visual design is definitely a plus in my books. The announcement, made by LinkedIn in mid-October, will also see more graphic visuals that will make them easier to understand and see where possible connections exist. For instance, you will be able to see a visual presentation showing which companies your connections work for (perhaps one of them is your dream company!).

Status updates will also have more prominent real estate on the page, which will encourage us to share more (which is, after all, the power of LinkedIn). The experience section will also display in a more interactive way to make it easier for connections to read and for us to edit. P.S. The mobile app for iPhone and Android has been updated (13 Nov) to include the ability to add a new headline, recent skills or a new position.

Here's an example of the new profile layout from LinkedIn's blog:

LinkedIn Profile

So, just as we are navigating our way around the new company pages that were rolled out in September 2012, we now get to switch (or divide) our focus onto our personal page as well. The good news, as I understand it, is that the personal page changes will be introduced more gradually over the next few months. If you are eager, you can request an invitation to have your page updated to the new layout by visiting the LinkedIn sample profile page.

Let us know what you think about the new profile layout and how you will use it to tell your professional story, share more with your connections and discover new people and opportunities.

3 Must-Have Social Search Tools (That Aren’t Google)

Want to know what the world is talking about right now? Looking for a juicy search term? Need to kill a few hours? Then check out these powerful social search engines:

Bottlenose

Bottlenose Social Search Engine

A real-time social intelligence engine that analyzes activity across all the major social networks. Bottlenose’s fancy algorithm, called “StreamSense,” uses in-house natural-language processing, personalization and semantic techniques to figure out trending topics and trending content.

Their never ending sea of updates is called a “stream,” and gives users a comprehensive overview of top links (including newspaper articles), recent posts, trending topics, trending images and recent comments for any given search term. You can even check out trending people, which is great for connecting similarly-minded folks.

Bottlenose launched its public beta form in May 2012. Since then, it has fielded 3 acquisition offers (including one suspected offer from Twitter) and scored nearly $1 million in financing from ff Venture Capital and Prosper Capital.

Topsy

Topsy Social Search Engine

A conversation search engine that lets you explore top links, tweets, photos, videos and “experts.” You can instantly see the number of mentions—by the minute, hour or day—for any term, phrase, username link or hashtag. Topsy also features a special influence algorithm that displays the most pertinent and popular social results, but the real gem is the social analytics tool that lets you visually compare up to 3 queries.

As a testament to their powerful social analytics, Topsy expects to index and measure approximately 250 billion items by the end of 2012, with over 16 trillion pre-computed metrics.

 

Social Mention

Social Mention Social Search Engine

A simple, easy-to-use tool that measures over 100 social media properties directly, including Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google etc. View top keywords, top users, top hashtags, sources, reach and even sentiment (positive, neutral, negative).

Social Mention is pretty basic, but it does dive into some deeper measurements:

Strength: The likelihood that your brand is being discussed in social media
Sentiment: The ratio of mentions that are generally positive to those that are generally negative
Passion: A measure of the likelihood that individuals talking about your brand will do so repeatedly
Reach: A measure of the range of influence

What is Growth Hacking?

Simply put, growth hacking is a passion to grow. Grow users, grow subscriptions, grow community. One part marketing and one part technology, it’s a new way for startups to take their business from zero to success with little or no traditional marketing.

Sound too good to be true? Take a look at Hotmail.

When it launched in 1996, Hotmail was just a fledgling email service with awkward capitalization. But when investor Timothy Draper had the brainwave to add “PS: I love you. Get your free e-mail at Hotmail” to the bottom of each email, the service finally took off.

This simple growth hack led to a viral adoption of Hotmail, with an average of 3000 new users a day. Within 6 months Hotmail was up to 1 million users, and 5 weeks later they officially hit the 2 million user mark.

At one point during this phenomenal growth, co-founder Sabeer Bhatia sent a single email to India. Within 3 weeks, Hotmail had 300,000 users there.

No advertising, no cash. Just a sneaky two-liner thrown in at an opportune moment.
 

Other famous growth hacks:

Dropbox: Used an incentive-based referral program (tell a friend, receive a 500MB increase) to increase signups by 60%.

Airbnb: Finagled their way through Craigslist's closed API and built an automatic “post to Craigslist” function, tapping into a worldwide channel with millions of users.

Wall Street Journal: Offered free Wi-Fi in high-traffic areas of New York, and sent users to a special landing page that captured email addresses and job titles—perfect for future targeted email marketing—followed by an email containing a free 4-week subscription offer.

As you can see, growth hacking isn’t a set-in-stone strategy. It’s a mindset, not a toolset, that requires flexibility, creativity and opportunism. Because each product is unique, growth hackers must find equally unique solutions to achieve the desired growth. It could be as simple as improving your site’s load times, or as complex as engineering content sharing widgets.

And because all growth hacking articles end with a disclaimer that goes something like “Growth hacking is nothing without a great product,” I’ll throw that in as well. Because it’s true.

Hack all you want, but if your product or service isn't awesome, you won't succeed.
 

Even More Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Automate Social Media Posts

Lack of engagement. Robotic presence. Potentially awkward timing. We all know your business can suffer due to excessive auto-posting, but what about your personal life? Ever thought about the consequences of spamming your friends with intimate details that may harm your reputation—both online and off?

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4 Easy Ways to Improve Your Google+ Business Page

If you haven’t yet created a Google+ page for your business or brand, now is the time to hop on board. With over 250 million users and counting, Google+ is another great way for your company to connect with customers and the fans who love you.

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Infographic: Social Travel vs. Traditional Travel

Back in the olden days (circa 2008), travel used to require a Lonely Planet, a detailed itinerary and a packed tour bus. You might have jumped online once a week to let your family know you’re still alive, but other than that, you had to rely on your trusty guidebook to get you from point A to point B. It was great at the time, but thankfully the travel world has moved on to something bigger and better. Now, all you need to see the world is a sense of adventure and an internet connection.

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4 Sneaky Facebook Settings You Need to Fix Right Now

As you’ve probably heard by now, Facebook quietly pulled an email switcheroo. They disabled your primary email address and replaced it with an @facebook.com address, which you probably never even knew you had.

The world is outraged at this unforeseen (and unannounced event), but it’s really the least of your worries. Facebook is full of unwanted default settings that threaten your privacy and your peace of mind.

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Facebook SEO: 6 Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Page

Wondering why your Facebook page isn’t performing well? The answer may lie in an unexpected place: search engine optimization. Read on to learn how to optimize your Facebook page.

Facebook pages are a great way to promote your business online, but only if you can be found. Luckily for you, Facebook, in partnership with UK-based marketing agency Distilled, just released a neat video that shows you exactly how to boost your Facebook page ranking in search engines. Aimed at business owners, not SEO masters, the video gives an overview of what search engine optimization actually is, and lays the groundwork for more traffic, more likes and more online success.

The video is a little long, so here’s a breakdown of the key points:

1. Include keywords.

Search engines rank websites on extremely complicated algorithms, but one thing’s for sure: The top-ranked websites contain the key search phrases people are looking for. This principle also applies to Facebook pages, so make sure your page contains the appropriate search terms. The best place to put them? The ‘About’ section. Fill that space with keyword-rich info about your business, such as your services and location.

2. Choose an effective user name.

Usernames are all about balance. If you choose an obscure name, nobody will be able to find you. And if you choose a name that is too specific, users will be less likely to ‘like’ your page.

The actual name of your business is typically your best bet because that’s how most people will search for you. Don’t forget to claim your username for your Facebook web address!

3. Generate likes and links.

Because so many websites want to rank for the same keywords, search engines take another metric into account: the number and quality of links pointing back to the site. The better the links, the more the “trustworthy” the website is considered to be and the higher it will rank in search results.

Every time a user likes your page, a link will appear on their profile. And because most profiles are public, search engines will pick up on these links and push your page higher up in the search results. All the more reason to build an exceptional page that people will want to engage with.

4. Purchase Facebook ads.

Already have great content? Facebook ads are another way to gain more visitors and more likes.

5. Set up your business as a Facebook Place.

If you’re a local, physical business, make sure you’re set up as a Facebook Place, which allows users to check in at your location. When they check in, they will immediately be presented with a like button. You can also offer discounts or special promotions as additional incentives to like your page.

6. Link your Facebook page to your website, and vice versa.

Facebook provides a variety of plug-ins to allow your website visitors to easily like and comment on your content. But not all plugins have links to your Facebook page that the search engines can read, so be sure to add a direct link to your Facebook page from your website.

Click to launch video:

 

Victoria Tall Ships Society 2012: An Afternoon with Mallory Todd

The Mallory Todd is no ordinary ship. Sure, the 65-foot schooner has all the intricacies of a ship—the masts, the sails, the delicious woodsy smell—but her unexpected touches tell you she is much more. There are books housed behind antique stained glass, a hand-cast porcelain fireplace that pays homage to the ship builder’s nephew, and all sorts of hidey-holes for food, flashlights and stories.

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6 Ways to Find Great Social Media Content

There’s no doubt that social media is a valuable marketing tool. It’s free. It’s fun. It has incredible reach. But it also has to be maintained. It’s not enough to sign up for a few social media accounts and call it a day—you have to regularly update them with interesting news, photos and tidbits. It can be tough to keep up the conversation, but there are plenty of easy ways to keep the social media content flowing.

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2012 & 2013 Social Media and Tourism Industry Statistics

2012 Tourism Statistics

In response to the overwhelming desire for up-to-date social media and tourism statistics, here are some new numbers for 2012.
(UPDATE: We have now updated this post to include new and additional statistics from 2013. These are indicated in blue text. Note that in most cases we have not completely replaced the 2012 statistics, but added new metrics we felt were relevant to the information.)

In response to the overwhelming desire for up-to-date social media and tourism statistics, here are some new numbers for 2012. (Please note: Stikky Media did not create these statistics. For a list of primary sources, see below).

The world is expected to witness 1 billion arrivals by the end of 2012, according to the World Travel Market. And as a result, the relationship between travel and technology is closer than ever, with businesses continuing to turn to social media to promote their services and reach customers in a more intimate and personal way.

Mobile

By 2015, 9 out of 10 consumers will have a mobile subscription.

  • 29% of travelers have used mobile apps to find flight deals
  • 30% have used mobile apps to find hotel deals
  • 15% have downloaded mobile apps specific to upcoming vacations
  • 85% of leisure travelers use their smartphone while abroad
  • 72% post vacation photos on a social network while still on vacation
  • 46% check in to a location (eg Facebook and FourSquare) while on vacation
  • 70% update their Facebook status while on vacation
  • 61% of US travelers report using social media while on vacation
  • 85% of travelers use smartphones while on vacation, and 46% use tablets
  • The most popular use of smartphones while traveling is for finding restaurants (36% for smartphones, 21% for tablets) and accessing social media (32% for smartphones, 19% on tablets)
  • In 2012, 57% of business travelers used a mobile device to book travel
  • More than 40% of online traffic related to travel comes from mobile devices
  • 44% of travelers use their phones to research travel while they’re actually traveling

Top five uses of smartphones while traveling:

  • Take photos
  • Use map features
  • Search restaurants
  • Search activities and attractions
  • Check in prior to flight

Consumer Trust

  • 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising
    • an increase of 18% since 2007
  • 70% of global consumers say online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising
    • an increase of 15 percent in four years
  • Only 47% of consumers around the world say they trust paid television, magazine and newspaper ads
    • confidence has declined by 24%, 20% and 25% respectively since 2009

Despite these numbers, the majority of ad dollars are still spent on traditional or paid media.

Results of the Nielsen 2013 survey:

  • 84% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations, or earned media, above all other forms of advertising.
  • 69% trust owned advertising, in the form of content of branded websites—up 9 percentage points from 2007
  • 68% trust consumer opinions posted online
  • Traditional ads still strong: 62% trust TV ads, and 60% trust magazines. Only newspaper ads showed a decline, from 63 to 61%.

Increased trust in online and mobile ads:

  • 56% of respondents trust consumer-oriented email messages
  • 48% trust ads in search engine results, online videos, or on social networks
  • 42% trust banner ads, up from 26% in 2007
  • 45% trust display ads on mobile devices
  • word-of-mouth formats—earned media and consumer reviews online—prompt the highest levels of consumer action—84% of people will take action thanks to the former and 70% to the latter.
  • Roughly 2/3rds of respondents take action some of the time based on ads in traditional media, and half are willing to engage based on social network and mobile display ads.

 

Reviews

Post-vacation, 46% of travelers post hotel reviews.

  • 40% post activity/attraction reviews
  • 40% post restaurant reviews
  • 76% post vacation photos to a social network
  • 55% “liked” Facebook pages specific to a vacation

Influence

Social media has a huge influence on travel bookings. Of those who used social media to research travel plans, only 48% stuck with their original travel plans.

  • 33% changed their hotel
  • 10% switched resorts
  • 10% changed agent/operator/website
  • 7% holidayed in a different country
  • 5% switched airlines

TripAdvisor

  • 69 million monthly visitors
  • More than 60 million travel reviews and opinions from travelers around the world
  • More than 90 percent of topics posted in the TripAdvisor forums are replied to within 24 hours
  • 82 million people have downloaded a TripAdvisor app
  • 2800 new topics are posted every day to the TripAdvisor forums
  • More than 150 million reviews from over 60 million members worldwide

Facebook

  • 900 million monthly users at the end of March 2012
  • 488 million monthly active mobile users
  • Approximately 80% of monthly active users are outside the US and Canada
  • More than 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook per day
  • An average of 3.2 billion Likes and Comments generated by Facebook users per day
  • More than 42 million Pages with ten or more Likes
  • Facebook is available in more than 70 languages

2013 Stats:

  • 1.23 billion monthly active users as of December 2013
  • 945 million monthly users of Facebook mobile products
  • Approximately 81% of daily active users are outside the US and Canada
  • Photo uploads total 300 million per day

Twitter

  • Twitter search is one of the most heavily-trafficked search engines in the world, serving over one billion queries per day
  • 500 million registered users
  • 175 million tweets per day

 

Sources:

The World Travel Market (WTM) Industry Report and Global Trends Report
Nielsen: Global Consumers’ Trust in ‘Earned’ Advertising Grows in Importance
Lab42: Techie Traveler
Facebook Key Facts
TripAdvisor Fact Sheet

Nielsen: Earned Advertising Remains Most Credible Among Consumers
T
op 15 Valuable Facebook Statistics
TrustYou Travel Marketing Statistics

8 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Blog

Not completely convinced that your business should have a blog? Remember this: Content is king. And with the abundance of both free and inexpensive blogging platforms floating around the web (WordPress being one of the most popular), there’s no reason why your business can’t set up a blog and start connecting with customers in a matter of minutes.

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8 Silly Grammar Mistakes That Are Killing Your Blog

The worst piece of writing advice I ever received? Write like you talk.

If you’ve ever eavesdropped on a conversation, you know that our verbal culture is an editor’s worst nightmare. Saturated with rotten grammar, half-baked ideas and a disturbing amount of likes, ums and y’knows, human speech isn’t exactly made for readability.

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Infographic: Should Your Business Be On Pinterest?

When the first version of Pinterest launched in early 2010, the creators lost sleep over whether anyone except for a handful of close family and guilt-ridden friends would ever use the site. Well, turns out their fears were unfounded. Not only have they attracted over 16 million users, they’ve also opened up a whole new world of social media marketing.

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Twitter Rolling Out Self-Serve Advertising for Small Businesses

Timeline, Premium Ads, patent lawsuits, IPO delays, proof-of-ownership emails—it seems like Facebook has had all the fun lately. But while Mark Zuckerberg and friends are busy soaking up all the attention, Twitter has been flying under the radar, cooking up some sweet new advertising tactics for small businesses.

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Timeline for Pages: Creative Marketing Inspiration for Brands

Not all brands are in love with the new Facebook Timeline, but a few early adopters have jumped on board and stepped up their creative game.

As these brands show, Timeline is about more than cool cover photos. It’s about defining your brand, showing off your personality and providing a continuous flow of interesting and engaging content.

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8 Handy Google Search Tips and Tricks

In 1998, Google reported that it handled 10,000 global searches a day. That number jumped to 4 billion searches a day in 2010, according to a report from comScore. That’s 175 million Google searches per hour, or 2.9 million per minute.

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Google Doodle History: It All Began with a Stick Man

The first Google Doodle was born in the summer of 1998, when Larry Page and Sergey Brin took a vacation to the Burning Man Festival. The Doodle they created was simple, with the festival’s iconic stick man loitering behind the ‘O’, but users loved the playful addition to an otherwise simple logo.

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Brands on Pinterest: Who’s Doing it Right

When Pinterest first launched back in March 2010, it was dismissed as a feminine space for brides-to-be, aspiring kitchenistas and crafty, DIY types. While it’s true that Pinterest users are overwhelmingly female (97%, actually), the site is not as niche as it used to be.

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Survey Reveals Scary Truth About Facebook Friends

It’s safe to share with friends of friends, right? I mean, you kinda know them. They’re the people you were introduced to at your girlfriend’s birthday party, or the ones you met in passing at the mall. It’s only 2 degrees of separation, so why not let them see all your photos?

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Superbowl XLVI Gets First-Ever Social Media Command Center

Superbowl XLVI has a Social Media Command Center. Seriously. While you’re tossing back chicken wings and yelling at the television screen, a team of 50 will be monitoring the digital field from the comfort of their 2,300 square foot space in downtown Indianapolis.

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Mapping the World with Twitter and Flickr

Remember those light pollution—err… I mean those Earth at Night—maps that were so popular in the late 1990s? Well, it’s time to move on. Eric Fischer, Google programmer and digital map aficionado, has created something that will delight even the techiest of tech-lovers. Bye bye city lights, hello geotagged tweets and Flickr photos.

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Invitation To This Is My Jam Beta: What Is YOUR Jam?

There’s a glut of online music streaming services battling for your social timeline. Spotify, Grooveshark, Last.fm and Rdio all exist to annoy your Facebook and Twitter friends with the latest tune you listened to and what you think everyone else needs to hear. It’s like cranking tunes in your bedroom as a teenager, except the echo-chamber is the entire online world. What’s better than indiscriminately forcing your musical taste on your drinking buddies, high school aged cousins and accountant uncle?

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Facebook Finally Launches Timeline

After months of wondering if it would ever show its face in public, Facebook timeline has finally arrived! It’s not official—you have to go here to get it—but if you upgrade now you’ll have 7 days to test it out before it goes live on your profile.

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Stikky’s Top Viral Videos of 2011

With the year coming to a close, it’s time to reflect on hopes, dreams, kittens and all you’ve accomplished during the past 12 months. Put down your work, close Facebook, turn off your iPhone and take a moment to truly appreciate the awesomeness that was 2011.

But leave your computer on, because that’s where the awesomeness is.

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The History of Reddit

Reddit is a social news site that allows registered users (called redditors) to create accounts and post content. There are two types of content that users can post: a link to an external website or a text "self" post. Each post is open to the rest of the Reddit community to vote "up" or "down" and post comments. The popularity of a post determines its position on the front page. Users gain "karma" points for the number of "upvotes" their posts or comments receive from the community.
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5 Online College Courses That Teach Life Lessons

Not only do online college courses help bring a person closer to earning one of the many available degrees, but some of them can teach important life lessons in the process. Here are some online college courses that offer more than just credits.

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Kicked off Facebook: Why These 4 People Got the Boot

If British police get their way, rioting hooligans will soon be banned from using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry Messenger. Senior officers met with each individual company following last summer’s riots to learn how perps use the networks to stir up trouble, and to find a way to ban them for violating the networks’ terms and conditions.

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Setting up your Google+ Brand Page

Google’s social network is ready for business. And while Google+ is still getting off the ground, word on the street is that Google+ Pages will soon trump those of the other, more popular social networks. Simply put, Google+ has the most to offer your business. So why not jump the boat and get your presence established on Google’s social network now?

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More Than Barrel Roll: 9 Other Secret Google Tricks

Unless you’ve spent the last few days hanging out in a cave somewhere with nothing but a paperback novel and a stick of beef jerky, you’ve probably been exposed to Google’s “Do a Barrel Roll” gimmick. And you probably know that the amusement only lasts for 4 seconds. So sad.

To help put a smile back on your face, I’ve compiled a list of Google’s other magical tricks. They should keep you entertained for at least 3 minutes, depending on how much time you spend playing YouTube snake. Enjoy!

Askew/Tilt

Search for “tilt” or “askew” and prepare to feel nauseous.
 

ASCII Art

A search for “ASCII art” will reveal a deliciously nerdy Google logo. Savour it.

Once in a Blue Moon

Google "once in a blue moon" and Google will reveal the mathematical value. Also try “number of horns on a unicorn,” “baker’s dozen” and “the loneliest number.” And if you’re a fan of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, type in “the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.”

Anagram

Google “anagram.” That’s all.

Recursion

Google “recursion” and you will be blown away by the cleverness of it all. That, or you will have to look up “recursion” in the dictionary.

Legoland Pegman

When checking out Legoland on Google Street View, the yellow pegman is replaced by a little Lego dude.

Spam

Check out your Gmail spam folder for tasty Spam recipes like fajitas and primavera. I know this is really old news, but it still amuses me on a daily basis. Why? Because sometimes I’m horrified by the obscene nature of spammy subject lines, and sometimes it takes a good ol’ fashioned canned meat recipe to restore my faith in humanity.

Googleplex

The scene outside Google’s corportate headquarters. Check out 1775 Amphitheatre Parkway in Street View to admire their enthusiastic employees.

YouTube Snake

Open up any video on YouTube (Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” is ideal) and hold down the left and up arrow keys while it’s playing. Snake!

Why I Love Twitter’s 140 Character Limit

I believe good things come in 140-character packages. In a single tweet, you can argue your case, share good news or link to something awesome. You can tell the world about your new toothbrush, your new product or your new daughter. You can even spam your friends with inspirational quotes, which they love.

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The Schools That Rule the Web

Recent studies prove it: increased engage,ent between educators and students cia email and social media has a positive effect on learning. Check out this infographic to see the schools that rule the web.

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Google Maps Unveils Its Coolest Feature Yet: Helicopter View

Getting driving directions just got easier, thanks to Google Maps’ latest feature. Helicopter view, known in tech circles as 3D Preview, lets you see your drive from the comfort and safety of a fake chopper. Compared to the 2D, top-down view we’ve become so accustomed to, helicopter view is a more realistic portrayal of how we see the world—horizontally, not vertically.

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4 Ways to Squash Silly Facebook Rumours

Facebook rumours. No, I’m not talking about Microsoft buying Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg’s pregnant girlfriend. I’m talking about those pesky, illogical rumours that spread faster than the truth. The ones that abuse caps lock, exclamation points and common sense.

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Facebook f8: Zuck-Dawg Announces Even Bigger Changes

If you hate the new Facebook changes right now, you’re really going to hate what Mark Zuckerberg announced this morning at the annual f8 conference in San Francisco. The Facebook that you know and love will be gone, and those irritating minor changes will be here to stay—plus many, many before. Basically, Facebook is getting an overhaul that coincides with a shift from user growth to user engagement. The last five years have been focused on signing people up and getting connections in place, and now that Facebook has half a billion users, the only thing left to do is get those users to share more.

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The Internet is Really a Collection of Underwater Tubes

Today I realized the internet actually comes from somewhere. That might sound silly, so think of it in Santa Claus terms. Until I was 9, I never put much thought into the concept of Santa Claus. He appeared when he was supposed to and did was he was supposed to. Then one day, I applied some logic to the Santa situation and realized my presents came from somewhere real.

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Google Flight Search Finally Takes Off

Google has launched its new airfare tool, dubbed Flight Search, that allows users to search for cheap flights in a simple, attractive way. The new service was supposed to be rolled out quietly in true Google fashion, but an unfortunate snafu involving the World Trade Center made for a very bumpy takeoff.

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Your One-Stop Hurricane Irene Tracking Machine

As Hurricane Irene swirls towards the east coast, residents are snapping up bottled water, checking evacuation maps and hunkering down for the first hurricane to hit the United States since Ike slammed the Texas coast in 2008. This week’s earthquake is already old news, except for the weirdo in Brooklyn who got a “Survived the Quake” tattoo and now has a daily reminder of the high profile, yet low intensity, shaking.

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Astroturfing: Fake Reviews Aren’t Always Greener

AstroTurf. Once famous for being the Brady Bunch’s lawn of choice, the term now refers to the endless stream of opinion spam that litters websites around the globe.

You know what I’m talking about—those so-called “consumer reviews” that are stuffed with exclamation points, superlatives and robotic phrases like “Great rooms and service! Highly recommended!”

My fake-o-metre is also set off by:

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How To Lose 17 Tons In One Season: My Orca Spirit Adventure

Having lived in Victoria for 10 years, I sometimes forget how beautiful this city really is. It’s not that I take it for granted, it’s just that it’s easy to get caught up in a daily routine that leaves little time for exploring beyond my local hangouts. And now that I live out in Langford, I only go downtown once a month if I’m lucky, and only when I need something specific, like coconut gelato or a decent haircut.

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7 Best Places to Waste Time on the Web (Other Than Facebook)

It’s common knowledge that Facebook is the internet’s #1 time waster. Thanks to its unlimited opportunities for keeping (and creeping) in touch, the average user spends about seven hours a month on the site. That actually seems like a low estimate given the large number of people who insta-comment and became angry when you refuse to post photos of last night’s social gathering, but seven hours is still impressive.

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Should Teachers Be Allowed to Friend Their Students?

Missouri’s newest law—the “Facebook Law”—has caused an uproar among teachers, students and others who believe it violates their freedom of speech and association.

Why? The law forbids teachers and students from befriending each other on Facebook. That’s not the law’s only concern—it also touches on things like background checks for anyone having contact with a student and reporting alleged sexual misconduct within 24 hours—but the social media aspect is naturally the only thing people are making a fuss about.

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Facebook Has More Pluses Than Google+

Who’s the most popular person on Google+ right now? Mark Zuckerberg. Believe it or not, his numbers beat out Google CEO Larry Page and company co-founder Sergey Brin, probably due to the media circus surrounding his sign up. But as Zuckerberg told tech blogger Robert Scobie, “Why are people so surprised that I’d have a Google account?”

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An Afternoon on the Adventuress – Victoria Tall Ships 2011

Last Friday, Simon and I had the chance to go for an afternoon sail on the Adventuress, a gaff-rigged schooner based out of Port Townsend, Washington. Along with teenagers from all over Vancouver Island, we spent 3 hours sailing near the harbour and participating in environmental activities, which were surprisingly amusing thanks to the awesome crew.

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