LinkedIn New Ad Platform Touts Connections

 

 

linkedin IN logo

photo credit: Mario Sundar

LinkedIn has started to roll out a new ad platform that targets you not to dissimilar to Facebook and now also Google with social signals impact on search results. The new platform is a combination of both of sorts as depending upon what your interests are, ie if you are a job seeker or just looking for recommendations for products or services. The new ad platform seeks to provide the most relevant and useful ads that are timely (in other words you type a word in like you do on Facebook and poof there is the ad).

Ad Targeting

Targeting with ads is not new and for many is welcomed to free us from the clutter and over stimulation of ads that we are subjected to just about everything that we do. We cannot escape ads these days and the more we are exposed to, the more we do all we can to ignore. Targeted ads are no different. It is starting to remind me of pop-ups as we type in a word and before we are able to blink, there is an ad connected to that word. Ad targeting is not met without flaws as despite being quite annoying verbose for my love of the METS and JETS, if I type in any other team name, I am hit with ads or a Facebook page to like. This, in time, as the platforms perfect the technology, we will be excluded from ads such as these based upon what we are really interested in.

LinkedIn New Ad Platform

LinkedIn’s new ad platform is broken down into two formats. Job seekers and behavior/search queries. As mentioned above, the platform is quite similar to Facebook and also social search signals in search results on Google. It is clear that our connections and behaviors online matter and are only intensifying as it relates to how we are being “watched.”  LinkedIn is only advancing their ads presumably to remain competitive and provide advertisers with what they believe to be an opportunity to effectively reach their target audience.

1. Job Seekers/Recruitment Ads. As a job seekers platform/business person’s platform, it only makes sense for LinkedIn to advertise jobs directly to those looking. The daunting process of looking for  job listings that match your skill set is exhausting.  Filtering searches can only go so far as the description may contain the terms that match your skills and this seems like a great match, however once you delve in, you realize that this is not a position for you. LinkedIn already does showcase (still in Beta) “Jobs You May be Interested In” but the new platform expands upon this and features YOU in the ad. So Facebook however, LinkedIn takes it a step further with displaying people in your Google network that can refer  you for the position. Yes, you have to be connected with them on Google.

LinkedIn Recruiter Ads

photo credit: LinkedIn Blog

 

2. Connections/LinkedIn Ads. LinkedIn ads have been around for a while but, with the new platform, the ads are not only targeting you, they tout your connections activity. These personalized ads are displayed depending upon the recommendations and number of followers for the advertiser. Numbers. This is a bit disappointing as we see here where there is a popularity contest in a number of ways. If you, as a user, do not have a large amount of connections on LinkedIn the sample size for which the ads would be pooled from is lower and on the advertiser side, if they are new or have not garnered a lot of followers for their company page they may not be reaching a potential buyer/client. I agree that the companies that have really worked hard to build their company page on LinkedIn should be rewarded however, a big part of why companies advertise on LinkedIn is awareness. The targeting was useful for them but now it can be excluding them.

LinkedIn Ads

photo credit: LinkedIn Blog

 

Opting Out of  LinkedIn New Ad Platform

As always, there is an opt out. You can opt out of the ads simply by clicking the link, then clicking “Turn on/off enhanced advertising” and unchecking the box if it is checked.

opt out of advanced advertising on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Privacy Changes

LinkedIn reported on their blog that there are some new privacy changes on how information is shared with others that would be summarized. To date, this has not been posted and while there is the opt-out above, the article on June 10, 2011. indicated:

Moving forward, you’ll be able to opt-out of being mentioned in any of these ads. Most importantly, we do not provide your name or image back to any advertiser when that ad is served.

Presuming that we have hit the moving forward part, it is not very clear that by opting out above is all that is needed to be done as in their June 22, 2011 article, the ads have not even been completely rolled out. So, are we opting out of something that has not happened yet?

We’ll be rolling out these personalized ads in phases over the next few weeks and hope that they add valuable and actionable insights to your LinkedIn experience.

 

LinkedIn is remaining competitive with the new ad platform. It would be almost impossible for them to continue with advertising had they not implemented the connections and recommendations. We have to wonder if we are becoming overly connected and being pushed to have certain active profiles (insert Google). Are we getting to where we have to have a Google profile, Gmail and connect with everyone and anyone? We know that our search results are becoming dependent upon our connections, now LinkedIn and well Facebook is still not playing nice with Google except for Pages (which as a business you want indexed and Google wants to rank them).

Are we becoming overly connected and is this skewing our results?

Is Google +1 Destined To Fail?

 

 

google logo

Google has entered the social sharing game arena with their newly launched +1. Judging from the pages and pages of “how to install the Google +1 button” in the search results, I would say it has been warmly received (I suppose it is always beneficial to write about the big guy).But, we know that warmly received in the blogosphere does not always equate to conversations and mass amounts of Google users being eager to +1 an article/search result. Not everyone really knows what it is, how it will be used and, really wants to share their hat tips with the search giant. Sure, Google has explained it but for many they cannot get past that it is a copy cat to Facebook likes.

Google +1 in Search Results

Back in March, Google touted the + 1 ” … as the right recommendations right when you want them – in your search results.” Google goes on to say that the +1 is:

enabling you to share recommendations with the world right in Google’s search results. It’s called +1—the digital shorthand for “this is pretty cool.” To recommend something, all you have to do is click +1 on a webpage or ad you find useful. These +1’s will then start appearing in Google’s search results.

Appearing in Google search results. Hmh. This raises some eyebrows for sure as already social signals were being pulled and displayed from our social circle so now we would have a +1 button that does what? Appears in search results. How?

How Google +1 Displays in Search Results

The +1 appears next to each result to your query when you have a Google profile and only when you are logged in.  Seems like some  pertinent criteria those not as engrossed in social networking and not using Gmail as their email provider, may not necessarily have and if they did, would they really press the button? There is no real incentive to do so as there is no interaction like we see on Facebook, no new page to look at and enter a contest or receive a coupon; in other words no tangible rewards. So, for the casual or even heavy user, what is the incentive to press the button to give props for a search result? Oh the social sharing where  your +1 is seen by your social circle. This is if you have created a social circle (if you are not a heavy gmail user or your friends are not on gmail, the answer to this is probably No). This now attracts our need to belong or for the attention to show our friends that we know things which has NOTHING to do with search results.

Is Google +1 Destined to Fail?

Maybe. The products before have and being that there is not really a niche like a Yelp, a Facebook where there is an entire interactive platform behind the Like we have to really think about the success of this. Sure, there is the blogging community but while there are millions of blogs, I am not so sure that we will all rush to +1 our competitors to push them ahead of us in the rankings. Which bring me to some other aspects to consider:

1. Adoption. It is a shiny new tool. Within days there was a WordPress Plugin available and numerous articles on how to add it to your site. Despite having some heavy hitters that had added the button early on and encouraged users to test it out, this does not automatically mean that users were just not taking it for a test ride and clicked it and moved on. Also, when we are searching, are we paying attention to the social sharing or the results themselves? Well, we would be paying attention to the result itself and would have to use the back button to return to the search to +1 as we probably would not just +1 from a preview in the right sidebar (or click it on the site if it was installed). Also, as it is translucent, does everyone see/is  paying attention to it?

2. Credibility. The credibility of the search results can be compromised and diminished. If our search queries are yielding mediocre content or content that has us searching for more, then we will not be as trusting of results. The more +1 an article/website receives, the higher the rankings. Google had to tie this to rankings or it would already have failed. Of course there are other factors considered within the algorithms but we would be naive to think that +1’s do not have some considerable weight. The flip side is that we may go deeper in the pages to find those golden nuggets that were not heavily promoted with +1’s but satisfy our search queries. Google already seems to give Likes from Fan page (as they cannot search the personal pages) rankings as we saw recently in an experiment with Rand Fishkin as explained in depth by Danny Sullivan.

3. Google Profiles Privacy. This is where we may see a lot of people not be so keen on clicking the +1 button. When we +1, it is stored in our Google Profile and we can keep it private so that only we can see each article/website/page that we have +1 or we can make it public.

google profile +1 tab private

However, even if we have it private, our social circle will always see what we have +1 if it matches their search query/result. The public setting appears to mean anyone on the web.

google profile +1 tab public 4. Abuse. With anything we will more than likely see this is as the new black hat SEO. There will be those that game the system as the more +1, presumably the higher the ranking. We all want #1 rankings and lots of them so what will stop some sleazy companies from promising and guaranteeing rankings though a proprietary means that is being offered exclusively to only 10 companies? Or a strong group that comes together that reciprocates +1 to push one another’s rankings? We know it will happen and this reverts us back to credibility. If the search results suck and there are a lot of complaints or we see Bing bridging the gap, +1 will fade away like the other Google mishaps before it.

Google as a Search Engine

Google is a search engine and a damn good one. I never use any other site for search. It does not always yield the results I would like (it is not a miracle worker) for this site or my queries when I am eyeball deep in research however I trust the results and would never stray. However, Google is trying to tread into some murky waters. They are trying to be a social site and a competitor of Facebook. Now, we can argue that Facebook is trying to be a search engine and is “learning” with Bing and eventually will overtake Google. People like to be social on social platforms but on search engines? Do we really want everyone to know all about us? Is that the purpose of a search engine or is it to provide comprehensive results? Does this matter anymore or are we just only trusting of our friends and instead of calling, texting or even FB’ing them we would perform a search and see that they +1’d it and immediately trust and run to buy? What if it is someone that we dislike will this dissuade us not to buy? Plus this is saying that we as consumers are much more simple than once thought as we rely upon review sites that have actual reviews and not a +1 that does not have any negativity with a -1 and some commentary.

It just seems that the +1 is catering to the SEO conscious audience and not to the searching audience. Begs the question again of what is in it for the user to click +1? Makes them cool or influential to their friends when they are searching for the same thing? Having no -1 already puts this at a disadvantage as with review sites users can express dissatisfaction. To differentiate Facebook and get people on board to use this, a -1 really would have set it apart and excited users and kept us talking.

Add this all together and this could be a recipe for failure and +1 may end up in the toilet.

Have you installed it on your site? I quickly installed it here with the plug in so it is floating front and center and will monitor its use to decide if the sharing buttons up top will be reconfigured.

What do you think, is Google +1 destined to fail?

Google Lego photo credit: Gayle Laakmann McDowell

 

Google Confirms Use of Social Signals in Search Algorithms

google ridding twitter of spam botsGoogle has recently confirmed that yes indeed they are using social signals in search algorithms/results. While at this time it is limited, they are considering Facebook and Twitter as viable resources to match search queries and provide users with the most relevant search results. It was bound to happen with the popularity of social media platforms. But, with the popularity and increased usage, an open invitation appears to have been sent to the spammers, especially on Twitter. Facebook while not completely devoid of spammers, it has through their privacy and permission based connections been able to keep more of a watchful eye on spammers.

Google Using Social Signals in Search Algorithms

In early December, Danny Sullivan, in a very detailed article discussed the impact of the social signals data has had in search. The article went straight to the search sources, Google and Bing, with 6 questions to not only confirm or deny if social signals are used but how much weight is given to them.

In his quick video from Matt Cutts, he explains how Google uses the social signals:

Google has been relying upon Twitter for some real time search results which has been met with some controversy as if you are not one with a lot of quality followers and very active in tweeting, then your tweets were not displayed when a search for your name was performed. However, when you searched Mashable, the real time twitter results were moving so quickly that it was impossible to see if your retweet was even included. Now, generally with an account like Mashable, the results are flooded with retweets and not much interaction due to the sheer volume of their retweets.

Google and Twitter Spam Bots

At the end of the video, Matt Cutts is very clear that follower quality outweighs follower quantity. Therefore, having a lot of followers that are spam bots is not going to give a boost to your rankings. This is not to dissimilar than how Google views links where some are viewed more trustworthy and authoritative than others. In building your online community it is important to consider who you are following and following back as that annoying spam bot that snuck its way in, could hurt you. To what degree, we are unsure however, we know that some sites have been penalized greatly for black hat SEO. If Google came out and said that for each spam bot that you are following you lose X as it relates to your ranking, I am pretty sure that there would be a lot of people looking at their followers and ensure that they are only following people and people of interest/influence.

Twitter Authority and Influence

Twitter authority and influence is also not built solely upon the follower count. I have been quite vocal on this topic and influence is not about the numbers. Yes, there are many that are popular and their followers are influenced by them through the information being provided to them and not by the mere act of following them. Sure, we can see where people are retweeting items that someone they rely upon has shared and their followers may retweet them and so on. However, they are influenced by what they have learned from them and want to share it so that others learn (or sometimes because it is a popular article, people want to be sure they are in the cool kids club and shared it).

Twitter authority and influence have always meant something as how often do you see the spam bots getting retweeted? People get retweeted and that builds their authority and influence. Who builds yours? Those that follow you. If you have a lot of spam bots, you are not going to be retweeted. For the most part, if you have followers that you are not paying much attention to, you are not going to be retweeted. Being consistent in your articles, retweets of articles you have found useful and valuable but also having a strong presence and appearance to engage your audience helps to earn authority but also improves your influence. Improving your influence as Chris Brogan writes is starting with a solid platform and getting seen. Getting seen encapsulates being there by being real and genuine which is achieved by starting conversations, discussions, dialogue and engagement with those in your community.

In order to become influential and earn authority, you have to create conversations, dialogue and a strong connection. If you are getting new followers but not having any interaction with them outside of retweeting, you look like a robot. This is not referring to scheduled tweets. The users that have earned authority and are influential but do schedule tweets, definitely did not get there by scheduled tweets alone. You must interact and engage to show that you are not only real but are a valuable member to the Twitter and also your followers community.

We all want the to be ranked in the coveted top 10 on Google. Bing still has a lot of work to do but should not necessarily be ignored and optimizing for Bing should not be overlooked. Your social signals are starting to have some more weight despite Twitter links being no follow. That then shows that who you are and how you are perceived by the community as a whole matters to the search engines. If you are not paying attention to your followers, it will not only have an affect upon your authority and influence, it will also affect the way that you are ranked.

Is the confirmation that Google is looking at the social signals as part of the ranking algorithms going to change how you build your community and interact on Twitter?

photo credit: smemon87