Google’s war against low quality or thin content: Tips for search engine optimization

Social Beat Google’s war against low quality or thin content

Our never-ending quest of being slim does not always serve the purpose. Especially when we are talking about search engine optimization. More than anything, thin content has proved to be a curse for digital marketers and search engine optimization specialists.

What is thin content?

A thin content page is a page that exists for the sole purpose for building traffic and no other purpose whatsoever.

How do I know if my website has thin content?
Your website has thin or poor content if in case of any of the following issues:

  • Doorway pages – Number of poor quality pages created to funnel visitors to a single destination
  • Huge number of images on one page – Only images & minimal text content on your website
  • Automatically generated content – Automatically generated paragraphs of keywords that contain no sense but stuffed with keywords
  • Article syndication – Pushing your same content for publication across a large number of sites
  • Scraped content – Taking content from other websites and publishing on your website
  • Affiliate stuffing – Having too many affiliate links on the pages to boost traffic

Any of the above factors can be a signal for the existence of thin content pages on your website. And mind it, in 30% of the cases it might not have been intentional yet you can find yourself at the wrong end of the spectrum.

I am still not sure if my website has thin content. Want to re-confirm?

  • Google Webmasters: It is another reason to start using the Google Webmaster tools. You get notifications from the Webmaster if your website suffers from the thin content problem.
  • Google Analytics: Is your website or pages on your website having very high bounce rates – 80% or more? Then, it’s probably time for you to review why the content on these pages is not making the visitor’s stay for a longer time.
  • Review back links: It pays to have a check to confirm the source of the back links coming to your site and the quality of those back links.

Okay I have thin content on my website. So, how do I fix it?

At this stage of the game, you have got two choices to make –

  • You can either close the game – If you are confident that the page is not adding much value to the website, then it’s a better idea to do away with the page rather than keep it and invite trouble.
  • Take a power-booster and play on – If the page can add some value, then it might be a great idea to think through and come up with ideas to spice up the page so that it can engage visitors and make them spend more time to spend on the page. It would be a good idea to try and have more than 250-300 words on the page (obviously good & unique content), combine pages with similar content and last but not the least, avoid having thin or low-quality content in the future.

The answer to how to do search engine optimization is not rocket science obviously. The above tips for search engine optimization will go a long way in helping out. At the end, just a couple of words: Give every webpage a value / role to serve for you. And indeed, this would value to your business in the longer run.

Digital Marketing for Real Estate Companies – Key Takeaways from ET conf.

In a recent report by Assocham, it was reported that Real estate firms throughout India spend about Rs 2,500 crore annually on publicity across different media and digital marketing apparently accounts for about 25 per cent with a share of about Rs 625 crore. In our experience, this percentage is much lower and is in single digit percentages. That being said, it is on the rise. For instance, Tata Housing expects online home sales to make up for 30% of total revenue over the next 3-5 years.

I recently spoke at ET conference on Digital Marketing for Real Estate Companies and below are they key takeaways from the day long conference that was held in Delhi.

Vikas-Chawla-ET-Real-Estate-Digital-Marketing-Conf-Delhi-2014

The Indian home buyer has changed over the year’s – younger, tech-savvy but still carry out extensive research

Jogy Thomas, the CEO of real estate firm ATS Greens was on the panel with me and he had interesting insights on how the consumer has changed over the years. 25 years back when they started, the average buyer’s age was over 50. Of course, the financial markets and availability of loans was not easy then and hence the buyers needed a lifetime of savings to buy a house. Fast forwarding to today, the fastest growing segment of buyers is between the age of 30 to 45 and some even in their mid twenty’s. Easy availability of loans and with the ability to pay over a course of 15 or 20 years has driven consumption.

One thing that has still not changed is the fact that home buying is a family decision and not an individual’s impulse decision. Most buyers carry out a lot of research and consult family and friends before taking the big decision of buying a house. This means, it’s a very social process and real estate companies need to take into the mind of the lifetime value of their previous customers and how their social circle can be impacted by the experience they had.

Digital is being used by more than 50% of home buyers

Guneet Singh, Head of Consumer Marketing for Google India pointed out a recent study by Google and Zinnov which showed that more than half of home buyers are influenced by their online research, so it’s not a segment that can be ignored. Another interesting insight from Jogy from ATS Greens was about their affordable housing projects which range between 7 to 12 lakhs. He pointed that more than 50% of the buyers for this project interact with them over email. So, the question real estate companies need to ask themselves is which medium – digital, OOH, TV or print gives them better ROI .

Manish Vij from SVG Group who was also on the panel with me has had experience in ecommerce and media selling. He pointed that the biggest benefit of going digital is the ability to target the right audience and measure the impact. So, depending on the project, one can identify the right digital channels and target the right demographics to get results. So if it’s a premium project maybe Linkedin and display ads across business news sites (Money control, Economic Times) might be more relevant.

ROI can be in the form of lead generation or brand building

Since real estate companies have always spent on mass media, they have never had a ROI approach to their marketing. On the other hand, digital marketing is driven by ROI. As Sachin Kapur, CMO of Groupon pointed out during another panel discussion, culturally Indians have a trust deficiency compared to the West. This means, that ROI cannot be just about lead generation. While digital can give 2.5x to 3x better ROI (read our previous blog post on this), brand building needs to be an important goal for the digital marketing efforts.

Companies need to build a community on social media to create the trust. For example, project updates to showcase that the timelines are being met can be a great way to build trust with existing customers. A 360 degree walk through of the project on the other hand can be a good way to build trust in prospective customers. While consumers research online, they do see reviews of previous customers and this is when online reputation management becomes important. Another insight from the Google & Zinnov study was that many consumers pointed at the lack of accurate, in depth and updated information on the developers and aggregators. Companies need to use their website and social media to communicate the right information on a regular basis to tackle this.

Analytics can make or break the sales funnel

While digital is more measurable than any other medium, it is important for real estate companies to use the analytics for key actionables. For example, using sales and marketing automation systems, the real estate companies can identify what the top leads that the Pre Sales team can follow up with. Analytics tracked over a few weeks (or months) can throw up data on which source of digital marketing is working better for which projects. This can be then be used to take decisions on marketing spends for future projects. In the absence of analytics and data points, it’s difficult to optimise campaigns. Real time tracking now helps in taking quick decisions which can impact the sales funnel.

Messaging needs to vary depending on purpose of home buying

While there are no readily available stats, but home buyers in India can be split into buyers who want to move into the house after buying and buyers who are using in an investment. The kind of messaging and digital channels required for these two would be very different. While a home buyer might need a more emotional messaging of buying a dream house, an investor mindset requires messaging which showcases that it makes business sense to buy the house.

If you are interested in knowing more about how and social media marketing can help your real estate business, please contact us.

Read our comprehensive guide for digital marketing for real estate for a more in-depth analysis.

Will Hindi as the official language of communication help India?

BJP-led NDA government’s directive asking central government employees to use Hindi while posting tweets or messages on social media channels, has not gone down well with many sections in Chennai.

After DMK Chief, Karunanidhi opposed the move yesterday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure the urgent amendment of an instruction that asks government departments to use Hindi for tweets and other social media posts.

Amidst the unwarranted controversy, BJP spokesperson, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has come out with an explanation that Hindi is the soul of India and this should not be seen as a move to disrespect English or any language; rather as a way to enhance the pride of being an Indian.

Mukhtar Naqvi tweet hindi social beat

In a diverse country like India, it will not be easy to impose any language for official communication across the length and breadth of the country. There is a belief that it would be undemocratic to impose it. This line of thought feels that the government is trying to promote Hindi at the cost of other regional languages though this has been denied by the Ministry of Home Affairs. In this regard, another tweet was sent out yesterday by the Home minister’s tweeter handle: “The Home Ministry is of the view that all Indian languages are important. The Ministry is committed to promote all languages of the country.”

Rajnath singh tweet hindi social beat

The arguments put forth by the other school of thought points out that Hindi is the 5th largest spoken language in the world and the concerns of being undemocratic are misplaced. It is strange that English, a foreign language is acceptable as a means of communication to learn and move ahead but cannot embrace Hindi. Take the example of United Kingdom, which consists of English, Wales, Scottish & Irish but English was accepted as “THE” language of communication.

Earlier this week, a news report had said that the central government has directed its employees and employees of central undertakings and banks to use Hindi or both Hindi and English on their official web pages in social media like Twitter, blogs, YouTube, Facebook and Google. It is a debatable issue and the unwarranted debates are expected to continue.

In the light of above controversy, one thing is sure that regional language content is indeed going to gain prominence online in the coming years and Facebook, Twitter, Google and other sites already having multi-lingual sites for Indians. Indians will continue to use multiple languages and cannot be constrained to only consume content in a single language. It will be interesting to keep a tab on how this entire episode unfolds and what are its’ implications for social media.

Google Maps crosses one billion downloads !!

Social Beat Google Maps

Welcome to the club !! Google Maps for Android has now crossed one billion downloads. Last month, Gmail for Android became the first app to cross this milestone. The listing of the Google Maps app on Play Store currently shows that the app has more than 1 billion downloads and between 1 billion to 5 billion installations. This obviously doesn’t count on the iOS installs.

It will be interesting to see long does it take for the other apps from the Google stable like the Search & Hangouts as well as Facebook, WhatsApp & Twitter to cross the milestone. They current statistics are as shown below:

Android App downloads stats by Social Beat

In 2011, it was Google Maps which was leading the race vis-à-vis Gmail, with the former becoming the first ever Android app to reach 50 million downloads. Although Gmail crossed the cart and catapulted quickly to the 1 billion mark, but it has been quite a journey for Google Maps-one of the oldest and most valuable components of Android. From mapping between two points, it has evolved into a navigation companion showing 3D maps, scaled distances, walking directions, indoor maps and what not. It definitely deserves an applause.

Note: Though there is no official announcement from Google on this, but the Google Play Store listing statistics are a fairly credible number to go with.

FIFA World Cup 2014 Digital Marketing Campaign – for #WorldCup fans to #JoinIn

Fifa World Cup Social Beat

1 day to go. Finally, it’s the FIFA World Cup time. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest sporting extravaganza on earth, it keeps the chatter going every time a Fifa WC is round the corner. But this time, it’s going to be more special. Thanks to the “Global Stadium”, which will allow the billions of soccer fans to stay updated real-time with all the excitement around.

The Global Stadium is an aggregator of all content surrounding the 64 matches in real time; also offering the chance to vote for the man of the match & win the actual kick-off balls used in each match in Brazil.

According to FIFA, the Global Stadium doors will open for each of the 64 matches of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ so that fans can follow the action live, minute-by-minute, and engage with friends, players, coaches and fellow fans across the globe while supporting their favorite teams at the tournament

Apart from a unique hashtag for each game, FIFA will be using the following hashtags: #WorldCup & #JoinIn. The entire site has been redone to give the fans a better user experience, especially the mobile users.

Fifa World Cup Social Beat

The social media presence of FIFA World Cup has racked up over 20 million likes on Facebook & 1 million followers on Twitter. It would be interesting to keep a tab on these figures at the end of the tournament. It would not be surprising to see a multi-fold increase as the tournament unfolds.

When FIFA is going digital, how can the real stars be far behind. The fan base of these superstars have reinforced the “Big-bang theory” or how else do you explain the mind-boggling number of fans on social media, with the Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo leading the pack. Here is a snapshot of how the megastars stack up in the digital world.

Fifa World Cup Social Beat

What does this hold for the marketers? Seeing the amount of engagement generated by the IPL this year, it offers an unprecedented opportunity to tap-in & will be interesting to watch how different brands leverage on this mega opportunity.

Google PageSpeed Insights to make your website mobile & SEO friendly

Mobile responsive design

The Internet Era has now given way to the Mobile Internet Era, with 15% to 35% of traffic coming from mobile devices, and this is only slated to grow. Inspite of the fact that already about 1/4th traffic is from mobile, many top Indian websites are not mobile compatible (read our article on 10 Indian websites that are not mobile responsive). If your website is not optimized for the mobile, you are definitely losing out on leads and customers and also on search engine rankings.

So how do you go about optimizing your website for the mobile? Google PageSpeed Insights is a useful tool that helps you identify issues, rectify them and make your website mobile friendly. Below is a summary of the key recommendations to make your website mobile friendly:

  • Object Scaling

It can be really frustrating to click or tap on a link / button on a phone or tablet and accidently, hitting on the wrong button because your finger pad is larger than a desktop mouse cursor. The tap targets should be scaled such that they are large enough to press / click easily.

  • Viewports

If your webpage does not have a meta-viewport tag, mobile browsers will consider you page to be not mobile friendly and hence, fall back on a desktop viewport. Moreover, it might apply font-boosting which can interfere with your intended page layout. The first step in configuration should be width = device – width. It should be kept in mind that not all mobile devices have the same width. Also, users prefer mobile sites scrolling vertically rather than horizontally.

  • Fonts

Check the font sizes. They should be legible to mobile users across devices. Google PageSpeed Insights checks the font sizes on whether it is enough to be read comfortably by most users.

  • Plugins

If you want to attract users who are using their mobile, avoid plugins, as most smartphones do not support flash and other plugins.

If you have a website already and are thinking of making it mobile friendly, it’s possible. But in many cases, a complete redesign, factoring in user experience and website analytics will help increase your website’s conversion rate and boost web and mobile traffic. If you are using WordPress or a CMS then there are quick fixes to make your site compatible – for example in WordPress there is a mobile solution called WP Touch.

We would love to hear your thoughts on mobile/tablet compatibility and how do you see it evolving.

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