Blogging has won! It wasn’t killed but emboldened, by social media. The latter is alive, well and here to stay as are SEO and search engines: Not a simpler landscape to deal with. So what are businesses looking to use the web for growth to do? Three things: Create even better engaging content, feed it through social networks to engage their communities on it and… make sure that content loads super extra fast on their screen.
The Blog Is Alive! Long Live The Blog
Last week, AOL bought the technology blog TechCrunch for an undisclosed sum (estimated to be at least $25 million) – a blog. The acquisition is a clear example of the once avant-garde company trying to “restore lost relevance” as a Bloomberg article reports.
In a recent WebProNews article, Chris Crum | @CCrum237 elegantly demonstrates the critical importance of blogging along 3 main axis, the first of which even seemingly pointing to the opposite:
- Per a Forrester Research report: social content creation is on the decline
- Still, content sharing on Facebook and Twitter is not letting up and the number one source of this content: Blogs
- Analysis of 1.2 billion tweets revealed that retweets and replies were only occurring for 3 tweets out 10; i.e. over 70% of Twitter content falls on deaf ears
This all points to the death of the still young theory arguing that social media was killing blogging. This theory actually spawned from a low hanging fruit: with the mountains of available content out there, why would anyone continue to blog when sharing any content with thousands now consists of a couple of clicks?
But with the rise of social media, the exact opposite happened. The ever increasing noise levels, far from driving users away, have in effect pent up audiences’ appetite for fresh and relevant content and its main source is — and will remain for the foreseeable future — blogs. It has reestablished the rightful standing of these mines of ideas and creativity.
The demise of the blog’s death has not been an “there can only be one” outcome. Instead, blogging rebirth has participated in better defining the function of social media as a distribution channel, at its most basic level, and as a must have channel for engagement; the life-breathing entity of the very fresh and relevant content that makes up any good blog.
Do we now agree that the blog is alive? Good, now that we all agree, what’s a blog to do to succeed?
Search Is Alive, Well And Social Is The New Back Link
Before the advent of social networks, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was the primary mean by which bloggers could get to and build communities of subscribers. Search is alive, well and here to stay. Its battle is to stay relevant to its users and one way to do so is by incorporating the ever expanding social output. Search engines have already taken a jump on the issue. In early 2010 all three majors, Google, Yahoo and Bing each cut a $25 million check to Twitter for the right to have direct access to their “firehose”. Now, Google is turning to Facebook and its wealth of “like” data. In its search for business relevance as a revenue-generating entity, Facebook does see Google as competition. Google CEO Eric Schidmt recently declaring that, like or not, they will suck Facebook data into their voracious index.
This brings us a few conclusions about Lady Search:
- It’s still the life blood online
- It’s no longer only about keywords and back links, it also needs to be social to be relevant and thus rank
- It’s now incoporating an element often overlooked: speed, web pages loading time type of speed
Why speed? The likes of Google are constantly refining their algorithms not only to make them faster, more comprehensive and relevant to users but also to squash the smarty pants looking to play their system via black hat tricks. This is all the more crucial that we are headed towards the “Internet of Things” — Speed (real-time data); scale (“unprecedented processing power”) and Sensors (“new kinds of data”) — where the volume of available online data is exploding every passing moment. Google VP Marissa Mayer | @marissamayer made a presentation last August at Xerox PARC entitled “The physics of data” and where she reported that in 2002 there were 5 exabytes — that’s 5 billion Gigabytes — of data online, which had risen in 2009 to 281 exabytes or 281 billion Gigabytes. The more data there exists and the more people consume it, the more there will be of it (noise levels notwithstanding) and the faster the means of consumption will need to be.
Tales From “The Coming Data Explosion“
In the real-time web era if everyone can upload anything anywhere anytime and social networks already allow for that content to be super SEO friendly, then there has to be other criteria by which search engines sift through and prioritize mountains of content. This means that now, a site’s position in Google is not only judged by the keywords it contains, the fancy URL it is titled with, the number of back links its home blog boasts or how often it is updated or even how much content it has; it is now also judged by the speed it loads on users screen. This may seem obvious to many but Google only actually officially added speed to their algorithm this past April and if the latest Google enhancement dubbed “Instant” doesn’t convince you, I’m not sure what will.
Many web properties now offer to tell you how fast is your site. Some will boast a unique way to measure, for you to only start suspecting they’re trying to sell you their ‘optimization’ services (WebSiteOptimization) . Other offer scant details that are really of no use in bettering performance. Good resources are mentioned in Google’s official announcement, note the Firefox add-on PageSpeed in particular it provides great details as to how to improve a site (requires Firebug). A couple other have caught my attention that provide as much details as PageSpeed but don’t require messing with add-ons bloating a browser: WebPageTest and Pingdom.To get a quick sense as to your site’s performance run it a few of these tools and several times, it seems results are “moment-dependent”.
Either way it does seem for now that speed optimization is still subject to different “cuisines” with each tool giving slightly different recommendations: Yahoo’s YSlow for example differs from PageSpeed. Still, there are several easy wins most can handle, web-optimizing images is one and just being aware of the change is another.
Which speed measuring tools have you used and found useful?
So How Techie Should Businesses Be?
To the excellent Shannon Paul’s | @ShannonPaul question: “How Techie Should We Be?“, well not as much as necessary to build a whole website but definitely more than before. I believe there’s more “to developing a sustainable social media strategy” than just letting “technology take care of itself”. In the coming “Internet of Things”, devices and features are integral part of the way the communities, from whom we seek engagement, consume content and can sometimes make or break that content’s relevance: Flipboard on an iPhone is irrelevant but is very much à propos on an iPad. Gone are the days when a marketer only needs to remember channels: print, radio, signage and the big — for now still — one way tube, television.