Welcome to the belated Episode 46 of This Week Online Today, where I will be talking to you about the big online news that has been happening this week today to make sure that you are ahead of the game when it comes to running your online brand successfully.
And at the end of the show, I will also be giving you a bonus tip of the week to help you further.
In this episode of This Week Online Today, we discuss the following:
- the surprising story of Google showing zero results for search queries
- Anchor Video designed to help you share creative posts on social media
- the interesting results on the 2017 email benchmark report
- Spotify for Brands released, but a demonstration of my listening behaviour on Spotify might mean I will receive indifferent adverts
- Google experimenting showing zero results (with more examples in the transcripts below)
- Anchor Videos now available on desktop
- Email Benchmark report for 2017
- Spotify for Brands
- Your Spotify Listening Behaviour
Welcome to This Week Online Today podcast with your host, Ahmed Khalifa, where I’ll be talking to you about the big online news that has been happening this week today to make sure that you’re ahead of the game when it comes to running your online brand successfully. And at the end of the show I’ll also be giving you a bonus tip of the week to help you further.
So let’s get straight on to the show.
And I’m back in town, back in Edinburgh. Thank you, everyone, for joining and for those who are wondering why I’m talking about Edinburgh, well, for those who have listened to the last episode, I was recording the episode of This Week Online Today in my hotel room in San Diego, and it was a little bit late.
So this time I managed to get it in time, back in Edinburgh, back in style, and this is episode 46 of This Week Online Today.
Google Showing Zero Results on Search Result Page
Let’s get going, because this is big news in terms of- in the world search. Again, there’s always something going on, and Google has been presenting a search result which is blank, like, no search result.
So let me clarify. There’ve been specific searches, when you search, for example, “What time is it in London” if you are abroad and you want to find what time is it in London on Google, most of the time you see the answer straight away on your search result page without even clicking on the links below it. And that makes sense, you get the answer right there and that’s it. You’ve got your answer.
But now apparently they are testing over…Everyone is seeing it. They are testing actually removing the search result completely and just showing their answer in terms of just showing the result immediately. So, for example, “What time is it in London“, “What time is it in New York,” the result’s right there on the result page but there’s no blue links and there’s no advert, nothing appearing below it at all. Everything’s gone. And what they’re claiming is, and I’ll put the link in the show notes of the reason behind it, but they’re experimenting with having like a condensed view to speed up the load time. And this is mainly focused on finding out the local time in a particular situation, the unit converters, so for example, “How many millilitres in X number of litres” and calculator, as well.
For calculator, unit converter & local time, we’re experimenting with a condensed view to further speed up load time. People who search for these tools rarely use full search results, but the results will remain available for those who want them via the “Show all results” button.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) March 14, 2018
So they want to kind of speed up the load time, and also they found that people who search for that, they don’t really use the results, the blue links, below it. So they thought, “Why not just have it condensed quicker and if they want to see the remaining results, there is like a “Show all result” button, and that’s there if you want.”
There are mixed opinions from different people across different areas. So the idea makes sense. You can understand for a general person who’s just looking for information, not a person who is kind of in the SEO industry, not a person who is in the online and website industry, just an average user, they might find that useful, maybe it’s a quick answer and that is it. So from a user experience perspective, maybe it’s good for them. Maybe it’s actually better for them.
And is it quicker? Well, I question that, because it seems to be quite marginal, according to some people who’ve researched, very marginal. So I’m not sure that’s a relevant reason for it. But anyway, that’s what they’re saying.
So that’s on the one hand, people saying it’s quick, it’s easy, it makes sense, how often do you click on the blue links below the result of, you know, “What is the time in location,” or a unit converter.
It seems to be not a lot, according to Google, and I guess from my own experience it’s true. I don’t really click on it a lot unless I want kind of more and more details, so I go to other sites.
But on the other hand, there are people kind of being critical about it, and then there are people kind of fearing for the worst, and it’s like thinking about what’s to come. So there’s a big thing about people thinking about Google taking over a lot of information, they’re using data from other sources and claiming it as their own and, you know, you can see when you search for any kind of similar question-based queries on Google, and you see the result immediately on Google, and you can see there without needing to go to any website, so Google’s kind of taking that data from someone else.
Maybe they have some data of their own, fine, but they do actually take data from other sites, so, you know, “People also search for” or the featured snippet, as they call it, as well. People are getting kind of annoyed that this is another way for Google to kind of take data from other people and claim it as their own and just focus on them and nothing else.
I get that. I see where they’re coming from with that, and there’s another way of looking at it, is the fact that, what does that mean in … What other search result would be affected? Right now we’re talking about the local time, unit converter, and calculator. What’s next? Are we going to be expecting more of what’s happened? Are we going to see organic traffic dropping?
I don’t think it will. It’s not going to happen, but anyway, what other industry is going to affected? Because there will be something affected along the line, like, for example, will the travel industry- will be affected for … Maybe Google might not want to present them with the departure time and arrival time of your local airport?
Maybe they don’t need to show anybody else anymore. They just show it themselves, and that’s something that people be afraid of if you are in that industry.
So there’s a bit of a fear factor around that, and of course when it comes to talking about local businesses and these kind of small businesses that put a lot of energy on their website and they get their visibility completely removed because of this, then people are saying that it is unfair to them.
You can argue Google can do whatever they can want, this is their kind of playground, they can do whatever they want, which is kind of true, but in terms of the law, there is kind of like competition law, and you can’t abuse your competition
You can’t have a monopoly and take over everything, kind of thing. It’s a bit more complex than that, I’m not saying that I know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m not a lawyer. You can look up about that information if you want to, but there is such a thing about competition, competitive law kind of thing. So there’s a lot of worry about that.
One thing that Google are taking into account are the feedbacks. Are we seeing feedback about what people think about this result, because there is a bit of a slippery slope which they accept because, again, I’ve mentioned about local airport and the departure and arrival time. Is that the next stage or the weather, you know, the weather is another popular one that if you search for “weather in location,” you can see the result immediately on Google.
So is that the next place going to be removed? Imagine all the big names in the weather industry like the BBC and, I think, AccuWeather, or what do you call it. And they will be affected as well, so there is a bit of a slippery slope, but they kind of acknowledge that people are concerned about that, especially the SEO people and people who are in that industry.
So they are taking feedbacks, but on the other hand, there are some funny sides to what we have seen as well. So for example, and I will put the links in the show notes, some people are presenting results of what could go wrong with this. So for example there’s a tweet about time, so when you think of time some people think of, “Yes, what time is it,” but then also don’t forget TIME Magazine as well, so, you know, how are they going to be affected about the time?
So people are looking for the immediate time, I don’t know why they would want to do that, and TIME Magazine is removed, then is that going to be a problem for them? Who knows?
Google have updated what they show when you search for anything ‘time’ related. I bet Time Magazine love this. pic.twitter.com/Zheu0yWdPc
— dan barker (@danbarker) March 14, 2018
And the other thing, there is a bit of a flaw in the search result, is that if you look for, for example, “Date in London,” so let’s just say if you are in one part of the world, you don’t know what date it is in another part of the world. Is it before or after you? Who knows.
So for example, someone is searching “Date in London,” and they show ads for dating agencies in London but no other result kind of around it as well. So it’s kind of amusing, that one as well.
If you’re looking for a ‘date in london’, Google now shows ads for dating agencies but zero non-paid results. pic.twitter.com/NmUPW80xGj
— dan barker (@danbarker) March 14, 2018
And even another one someone had demonstrated, he was looking for a restaurant called “Five,” the number five, and it’s located in Edmonds, so the person searched for “Five Edmonds” and the result on Google was no search result apart from “What time is it in Edmonds” and it’s like, 5 a.m. in Edmonds, in that area, kind of thing.
works even if you want something completely different…looking for a restaurant called five located in Edmonds pic.twitter.com/iXZfzzACsG
— Shawn Huber (@ShawnLHuber) March 15, 2018
I’ll put the link in the show notes, again. You can check it out, and it’s a funny one, because it just shows that it’s not perfect. They need to tidy it up, they need to clean it up, and I think Google may have fixed the TIME Magazine version, but you can see that there are going to be issues further down the line.
And I guess for now maybe you shouldn’t think about naming your brand anything to do with, kind of, mathematics, or equations, or conversions of kind of whether it’s units or currency or even time, because it might be a bit difficult for you to appear on Google because you might not appear at all on Google
So if you have named your business called, I don’t know, “Equations,” I’m just trying to think of a random one right now off the top of my head, but maybe Google will present a calculator with- where you can do your equations, and they’re not going to show your brand name, just like TIME Magazine.
Who knows? But it’s something for you to be aware of, just this is happening right now. There’s nothing for us to be worried about in terms of, are they going to remove organic results? No, they’re not going to do that. And I don’t they would ever do that, really, to be fair, but you know what, you never know what might happen. Nothing you can do right now but just be aware, for example, don’t name your brand after a unit conversion and just see it works for you.
I mean, if you are in that kind of industry, if that’s going to be affecting you, then maybe you can look at how else could you get kind of traffic. Maybe it’s not about your brand name, maybe it’s about more of a long-term keywords or search queries or related.
So I find it interesting. I find it very interesting.
Anchor Videos for Web Now Available
If you remember in the past I’ve talked about Anchor, and they are kind of pushing the whole podcasting thing, and they make it easier if you want to start and create your own podcast, so Anchor’s been pushing it and they’re trying to be creative and innovative, and they’re doing it again now, because they have now got Anchor Videos, which is now available on desktop on the web.
And the idea of Anchor Videos is that you can share your podcast on social media, and it looks really creative and beautiful because it has like a transcribed video that will appear on social media. And it’s really, really cool, actually.
I mean, if you see the show notes and you see what I mean, because they have demonstrated what you can do with it, but the idea is, if you have a podcast and you’ve got your transcriptions, and say you want to kind of like highlight a specific sentence, it has to be quite short, I’m not sure how much.
You asked, we’ve delivered! Introducing Anchor Videos for Web, the easiest way to share a highlight from your podcast on social media. Learn more and try it out! ?✨ – https://t.co/c2vbMGpkZ2 pic.twitter.com/s0KV7xiqYN
— Anchor (@anchor) March 15, 2018
But you highlight a sentence and you tidy up, kind of thing, and then you can choose the colour that you want to kind of have on the background so that when you speak then the transcription will appear on this coloured background and then it kinds of makes it a creative tweet or creative Facebook post or whatever it is. And it’s another cool way to kind of promote your podcast.
And I think it’s a great idea. I think it’s great, because most of the time people just maybe share a sentence, maybe a quote, or maybe they just share an image of the podcast or just share the link, and say, “This is where you can go.” Which is fine, it kind of works, but this is another way you can encourage people to listen to your Anchor podcast. And I think this is really, really cool. So give that a shot.
Give that a shot. See if that maybe- if you use Anchor, if you haven’t started using Anchor, you should give it a shot. It’s really cool for podcasting, and if you are using it and you want to kind of encourage people to visit your link and listen to your podcast, give that a shot.
It’s a pretty cool way to encourage more people to listen to your show.
Interesting Data from the Email Benchmark Report of 2017
For many years people have been talking about email and email marketing, you’re thinking, like, whether you should bother with it, whether you should even think about doing it, because maybe it will disappear one day. Maybe things will move on, and there have been attempts in the past to kind of, maybe, I quote, “revolutionise” the ways emails are done, and it never works. It’s one of these things that people just get accustomed to, and they never give it up, they just keep on doing it.
And email marketing is still a big, big thing. People question it, but it’s still important, you know, having your own email list and stuff like that. It’s still important.
So based on, I’ve been reading kind of like a report that’s been put together by Yes Lifecycle Marketing, and they’ve been looking at the email industry and analysing the data, and they’ve been analysing 30 billion emails in 2017, and apparently there was 9 billion alone in the fourth quarter. And there’s a number of interesting data they have picked up. For example, the email volume goes up 18 percent year over year in 2017. So 18 percent, when you compare 2016 to 2017, it has gone up by 18 percent. That’s quite big. That’s pretty big.
But here’s where it gets interesting, then, because according to their data, the number of new subscribers has actually dropped a little bit over the year of 2017. So in the beginning, like first quarter of 2017, they’re saying the number of subscribers was at, like, 6.1 percent, and it kind of dropped down to 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, so it kind of went down, which is pretty interesting.
And there have been also data in terms of the number of people who have kind of received the email but haven’t opened it. That also increased as well, the number of inactive subscribers, and year on year it seems to be a 22.5 percent jump in inactive subscribers, which is pretty big. However, the open rates did show some growth, and that has been kind of 8.4 percent year on year.
So it’s up and down, up and down. It’s kind of interesting, but it makes it seem like … There is a bit of competition there in terms of email marketing, because it’s getting busy now. People’s inbox are getting quite busy, and it just shows that even though people want to receive your email, there’s no guarantee they’ll open it, obviously, and this is where things may get tough for you.
And then we move on to the mobile email marketing. That’s kind of a separate story, as well, and the big one is that the mobile email conversion rate actually caught up with desktop. So that shows obviously you have to have your emails kind of adapt to mobile, and it has to be kind of responsive, or just even mobile-specific, but try and be responsive as well. So apparently the average conversion rate in terms of whether it’s mobile desktop is an average 3.3 percent, in 2017, anyway. And mobile has reached that stage, so it’s pretty cool.
There’s so many numbers that I can go through, but I’m just going to go and highlight a few more specific ones, and a few more advice that you should think about doing as well, and it’s all … It’s about the responsive design, the impact that it can have on email marketing, and it’s quite big. It’s something that you should be aware of not just in websites, which I’ve talked about in the past, but also in your emails.
And there’s a quote by Yes Lifecycle Marketing, and they have claimed that “marketers who are yet to optimise their messages only capture 75 percent of the engagement generated by their responsive counterparts, thus missing out on a significant opportunity for conversion.”
So it kind of makes sense, I mean, it’s just like websites, isn’t it. If your website is not adapted to mobile, then you’re going to miss out on a heck of a lot of opportunity for conversion, engagement, and subscribers and so on. It’s just common sense, really.
So instead of going through even more numbers, I’m going to put the link in the show notes. You can read about the other numbers to see if you can make an improvement in your own email marketing campaign. It’s a very good read, really interesting to have a look at it. You can either download it or you can just read it on the website that I will share in the show notes.
Spotify for Brand…and My Spotify Listening Behaviour
The final news I will talk about is this thing Spotify is doing called Spotify For Brands, and it’s kind of an advertising thing that they’re doing, and basically what Spotify is saying is that “people don’t just listen to Spotify. They live it.”
That’s their quote, by the way, not my quote. And what they’re trying to do is that they have all this data, and they call it streaming intelligence, and it gives them insight about the people who are listening to Spotify. And what they’re saying as well is that, “Our fans put Spotify at the centre of their lives.”
Which is not true in my case, but okay. I see where they’re coming from. And basically what they’re trying to do, and what they’re trying to offer advertisers, is that they have a lot of data about their listeners and they can kind of have targeted adverts towards them. So I said, okay. Let’s see what kind of adverts I would receive.
And I saw a test that I- because if you go to Spotify.me, assuming that you use Spotify a lot, and you go to Spotify.me, m-e, and you log in, and you get to look at what is your kind of listening behaviour.
So I thought, I’m going to check it out, because my listening behaviour on Spotify does not exactly tell me who I am, because most of the time, and I will put the link in the show notes about it. I listen to focus music when I listen to Spotify. I sit at my desk, I put on focus music which allows me to kind of concentrate and just make sure I can get my work done, because if I listen to upbeat music, some kind of crazy highly energetic music, I can’t focus. I’m just too distracted.
So I listen to either movie soundtracks or ambience music or chillout music or even video game soundtracks. That’s the kind of stuff I listen to on Spotify, most of the time, but that doesn’t mean that I listen to it all day when I go out or I walk around or whatever. That’s just me when I work.
So, based on that, I thought, what does Spotify say about me? Because if I receive adverts, then let’s just see what they know about me. And apparently one thing that they say is about 52 percent of my tracks are acoustic. I’m like, okay, well, I do like acoustic music, and maybe that’s kind of true. And they even have information about beats per minute, but anyway, that’s another story.
One thing that they say is that my diversity is all over the place, in a good way, apparently. It’s in the good way. And I don’t know if that’s a good thing, because isn’t it bad to be kind of focused on one genre? I don’t know. But what does that mean? If I’m going to be diverse in music, does that mean that different kinds of people thought, advertise me with different kinds of things? Who knows. And the other thing that Spotify is saying about me is that I am more into coffeehouse than house. All I need is a guitar, a mic, and maybe a latte.
Well, that just shows, because I listen to focus music, and that’s where I get that from. And it’s true, I’m not really a fan of house, but that doesn’t mean that I’m crazy about coffeehouse either. It doesn’t mean that I obsessively listen to that.
But the weird one that Spotify is saying about me is that, “You stream like a partier. You like to party.” Or at least, “You like party playlists.” Hell no. That is so not true about me. For those who know me, I’m not really much of a party person at all.
Overall they are saying that, you know, these are some early guesses, and it’s based on listening to a sample of who I am and what I listen to, and they probably are going to improve that. Maybe they’ll get more deeper inside and see what they can learn more about me. But it just shows that, you know, why- what not good at receive them.
Because if people use the Spotify For Brands and they’re going to, you know, use either their sponsored playlist, that’s actually one option you can do, or you can have like a branded Moments, it’s called, where you can see, advertise a particular product, even like an audio kind of advert, you’ve heard them before, you know, I’m not the right customer for a lot of things if they think that I’m a partier. You know, if they’re going to start advertising, like, alcohol to me, I don’t even drink. So I just find that funny.
So Spotify product For Brands, that’s a newish thing that’s going on, but I find it interesting that what they know about me is not really, really about me at all. Check it out. Check out what is Spotify saying about you.
Go to Spotify.me and find out yourself, because you might find out that they think that they know you a lot, and they might find out that actually they got you all wrong.
It would be interesting to see.
Bonus Tip of the Week
Because I’ve talked about email marketing earlier, I thought, you know what, let’s just chat about maybe a email-related tip, and that is to personalise, which is, you know, you can personalise your email, but don’t over-personalize the email too much. And what I mean by that is don’t repeat someone’s name over and over again, because then it just sounds creepy and it will end up sounding like a script.
So when you create your email newsletter and you send that to your crowd, your audience, your people, and you have this thing, you know, your short code, and you may be familiar with it. It says you can add, like, “[First name],” and then you write your message, and then when you send it, anyone who has filled in their first name, they will be mentioned.
So most people do that, they say, like, “Hello, [First name],” and that will automatically change to that person’s name. But some people, what they also like to do is put “Hello, [First name],” and then just put the short code “[First name]” a few times in the actual paragraph or sentences just to kind of, like, as if they are talking to you, you know, you’re talking to them, kind of thing.
So for example, it says, “Hi, John, I have been going out recently, going to this restaurant, but you see, John, what I like to do is I like to have a good time with my friend. So what I did, John, is I called up my friend and then I said, ‘Do you want to go out tonight?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ So then, John…”. Do you see where I’m coming from? If you say that person’s name too much, and you think you’re being very personal, you’re not. You’re being kind of a bit creepy, and it really does sound like a script.
So don’t overdo it. You know, you do not have to even personalise at all. If you want to keep it kind of generic, that’s fine as well. Maybe it works for you. It’s up to you to test that out. But if you keep saying that person’s name over and over and over again, then you’re kind of putting them off, and kind of making them aware that you’re not being personal. You actually sound like a robot and that’s not what you want.
So that would be my tip for you this week, is to personalise but don’t overdo it, please. That just gets annoying.
Thank you for listening to this episode of This Week Online Today. I really do appreciate it, and I hope you find it useful. If you have enjoyed this show, please do leave a review on iTunes. It would mean the world to me. I really would appreciate that. Thanks again, you rock, and one more thing. I just want to remind you to do your thing, because that matters, and I’ll see you next week.
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