International SEO – Google Offers a Helping Hand

Out of Beta and into the real world, international real world that is! Google has just announced adding a new section to Google Webmaster Tools, labeled “International Targeting”. If you operate a website that targets visitors from more than one country, and in more than one language then this may be of serious interest to you.

Webmaster Tools Dashboard

Dashboard in WMT showing the International Targeting Option

In an effort to respond to the public out-cry for help identifying issues with hreflang annotations (the markup that enables search engines to serve the correct language or regional variation of a page in order to provide more targeted results for searchers), Google offers webmasters a tool that makes note of two of the most common problems associated with language targeting and hreflang annotations:

Missing Return Links

The first issue Google helps identify is related to missing return links; if an annotation is not confirmed from the page it is pointing to, there will be an error. For example, if page A links to page B, then in-turn page B must link back to page A, otherwise the hreflang may not be properly interpreted by search engines. For each of these errors, Google identifies where and when detection took place as well as where the expected return link should be.

See the Example Provided by Google:

Example from Google Webmaster Tools of Missing Return Links

Identifying missing Return Tags

Incorrect Hreflang Values

The value of the hreflang attribute must either be a language code in ISO 639-1 format such as “es”, or a combination of language and country code such as “es-AR”, where the country code is in ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format. If the language or country codes are not in these formats then Google reports the issue and provides an example URL to assist with fixing the problem.

Unknown Language Code Report from WMT

Example of Unknown Language Codes in WMT Reporting

For more information on getting hreflang right checkout this recent article from David Scottimano detailing examples & insights for those who need and use international SEO for their website.

Attention All WordPress Users: Update Your All In One SEO Pack

Wordpress Secuirty

The All in One SEO plugin’s security has been exploited. Hackers have found a new entry method into your website via the All in One SEO WordPress Plugin. Specifically, hackers can now use privilege escalation and cross site (XSS) attacks on your website. If you update your plugin you will be, at least temporarily, immune to these attacks that hackers are currently exploiting. If you’re looking to make a switch, Blizzard recommends WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, which is a similar SEO plugin with more functionality that has not been exploited

Do I really need to update my plugin? Yes. With this exploit, hackers can edit your meta title and description, which in turn could decrease your SERP rankings. Not only can this exploit hurt rankings, hackers can maliciously attack your website by executing JavaScript code on the administrator control panel.

You have three options; delete the All in One SEO plugin, update the plugin to the latest version or install the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. Please take action immediately to avoid any attacks on your website. If you have any questions regarding taking action on this, please contact us.

Virus Alert: Caution Using Internet Explorer

Beware of IE Virus

The latest cyber attack is leaving over 55% of PC users at risk. Hackers have created a bug that will utilize Adobe Flash Player and viciously attack your computer’s memory. The hackers have deemed their creation “Operational Clandestine Fox.”

 

The security flaw was found on Saturday by FireEye Research Labs, who are located in Milpitas, California.

 

For the time being, there are three methods for preventing a possible attack. The first method, which is the recommended, is to use a different internet browser such as Firefox or Google Chrome. If you insist on using Internet Explorer it is important to turn off Adobe Flash. A third, less viable option, is to turn on IE’s Enhanced Protected Mode.

 

Microsoft is working hard on a fix for this bug, though as of Monday morning there hasn’t been a fix. If you are currently using Windows XP, you will not receive an update patch from Microsoft. Microsoft announced that on April 8th 2014 they would stop supporting Windows XP. It may be time to upgrade from Windows XP, because from here on out there will only be more bugs and viruses accumulating and making it riskier and riskier to use a Windows XP machine.

Twitter’s New Layout is Here!

We all heard it was coming but it’s finally here! Twitter’s new layout has finally arrived and is available for everyone. All you have to do is log in to your Twitter account,  and there it is, the option to update now or later, it’s your choice. I would advise updating now!

Within your account, the ‘Home’ option will give you much the same look as before, the same goes for the ‘Notifications’ and ‘Discover’ options. However, the ‘Me’ option will give you a whole new view, with a larger profile image and a header that stretches across the entire screen. The profile image size has grew a bit, now with a 400 x 400 pixel ratio, but don’t worry this should resize automatically. The header has also grew tremendously! It’s not hidden behind your profile image anymore, it’s an in-your-face statement now with a 1500 x 500 pixel ratio. As with Facebook this is a great place to add promotional material, last minute deals and seasonal images. This is one area that I would recommend updating as soon as you’re able, if this was an area ignored in the previous layout version, which from personal experience was.

The new layout gives a much clearer visual of all your tweets, with an option to ‘Pin a Tweet’, along with listing the number of followers and following set beside the number of favorites and photos you have posted throughout your time on Twitter.
Twitter-new-layout2014

Twitter’s new layout release runs aside its recent purchase of Gnip, a Boulder, CO based social data network, which will, I’m sure, lead to even more value based use and information to be released in the near future. Twitter may seem behind in the times compared to some other social networks, but it’s clearly taking time to plan and respond to user demand in a much more thought out way than any other social beast, and this is just the beginning.

 

 

Twitter’s New Layout: It’s Here!

This was just too good not to share!

You may have heard a little something back in February about Twitter’s upcoming layout overhaul…well those weren’t just rumors. Twitter is finally getting ready to launch its new layout to a small group of users and within a few weeks you might have it too. In this blog post from Hubspot.com they give us a little insight into what to expect from the new look. You’ll notice it looks a lot, and I mean a lot like Facebook. If you ask me it’s a much more user friendly and attractive structure than its predecessor. What do you think?

Photo Courtesy of Hubspot.com

Facebook Introduces – Website Custom Audiences

It seems every time I open my email in the morning I have a newsletter about more Facebook updates. Sometimes these types of news updates are mundane and practices which I have already integrated into my daily best practices, but today, however, today was different. If any of you follow Facebook updates or are super into Facebook Advertising then you know who Jon Loomer is. He is by far, in my opinion, one of the most knowledgeable people on Facebook Advertising and the Facebook Power Editor. If you don’t know who he is I would recommend checking him out, he provides training, weekly webinars and best of all, daily postings of all he knows and finds new with Facebook. As I mentioned above, today I opened up my email, noticed an email from him with the subject line, “Huge Facebook Ads Update [Read]“. Of course anything I see coming from him I immediately click into because I know it’s going to be interesting and with this title, it certainly promised to be.

Introducing - Facebook Website Custom AudiencesI wasn’t disappointed. Facebook is now in the midst of rolling out Website Custom Audiences. It’s a slow roll-out, some have it and some, not quite yet. What this is going to allow Facebook advertisers to do is target visitors to your website, those that have visited a specific page and for some reason or another left. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have been wanting this for quite some time. I always heard talk about how this is available within Google Adwords through the Display Network and wished Facebook had something like this. Now it does and I couldn’t be more excited! Sure it will take time to perfect the system, but this time is well spent if a reach to those visiting specific pages of your website can be targeted through your Facebook Ads strategy.

Thank you Facebook.

You can read Jon’s entire article, Facebook Website Custom Audiences online here. And with the almost daily Facebook updates, among the million other social platform updates, I would suggest getting registered as a subscriber to his newsletters and weekly webinars, that is, if you want to be on top of the Facebook ad game. Happy adveritising!

Facebook Contests – Are 3rd Party Applications Still Important?

Facebook announced last week, some major changes on how businesses can run contests and promotions. No longer requiring 3rd party apps to be used, Facebook wants to make it easier for those without the proper knowledge, budget or capabilities to be able to enter the FB promotions rat race.  Businesses are now allowed to run a contest through a simple timeline status update and use the ‘Like’ and ‘Comment’ options to acquire entrants and responses.Facebook Updates Contest Guidelines

Initially, I wasn’t too sure how this was going to work. Being a marketer, one of the biggest reasons to run a Facebook contest is to gather fan and consumer information, establishing a database for long term customer relations. Yes, Facebook contests are important to increase page engagement and potential website visits, but they are also there to create important relationships between you and your target market. The thought of how businesses were losing a way to gather consumer information was bothering me. It seems I spoke too soon.

Leave it to ShortStack.com to come up with an app that actually allows you to import the ‘Comments’ and ‘Likes’ from any post on your page. It’s absolutely brilliant and called the Comment/Like Importer. If I didn’t support the on page contest before I am all in now and am comfortable telling our clients about it.

Obviously third party apps can’t be cut out completely. The amount of time to create a contest has decreased drastically which makes my job much easier, however, with the ease of creating a contest established, there also needs to be an easy way to include the rules.  Rules? Oh yeah… As with all Facebook contests you need to include ALL rules and regulations that go along with your promotion. I could not imagine including all this information in a status update. That would be quite a lengthy post, so linking out to a 3rd party app is perfect to not exhaust hopeful entrants with boring, yet important, information. I would suggest researching online for custom facebook app builders that you can use to create your rules and regulations page. Most lend to any level user and are fairly simple to install on your Facebook page.

With your contest goals and ideas in place, don’t forget about advertising it! Promoting your post to those outside your current Facebook fan base will increase page engagement and if your fans aren’t the most active FB users, advertising is a great way to gain social interaction and brand recognition. Posting the information on your Blog, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest pages is also a huge factor in gaining cross channel engagement and branding. Find more information on how to advertise on Facebook by visiting their Facebook for Business center.

In the end, Facebook has simplified the contest creation process for those not so savvy business owners who know they need to be involved in this type of online marketing, who previously didn’t know where to start. Freeing up valuable time for us Social Media Marketers to put toward other areas of our client social media marketing plan is another great benefit of this recent update. Like I said before, if I didn’t support it at first, the Comment/Like Importer has changed my mind.

What do you think about the recent Facebook changes and continued use of 3rd party applications?