Facebook In Big Trouble – What You Need to Know Now

Top 10 things Facebook Doesn’t Want You to Know

There have been some pretty massive stories coming out about Facebook, the 2016 election, and your data. Below are some big reasons why this is trouble for Facebook and why this may spell trouble for your advertising. Let’s start with the top-line information:

  1. Facebook provided detailed data on 50 million users to a company called Cambridge Analytica.
    1. Cambridge Analytica was created by Steve Bannon who was the campaign manager for Trump in 2016.
    2. The harvested the data by using polls and digital surveys for the information and used it in order to impact the 2016 election, send out false news stories, and sway public opinion.
    3. Read more at Vox for a very simplified and detailed version.
      1. There is a LOT more on Cambridge Analytica and you can read additional details at CNBC.
  2. According to multiple reports…Facebook has known about the data issue and the possibility of personal privacy issues for 2 years [at least].
  3. Facebook’s stock has taken a massive hit of over 60 billion over the last few days.
  4. Additionally, it is being reported and acknowledged [by Facebook] that they are tracking phone calls and text messages by users. The massive privacy and data issues are crushing Facebook stocks and users are shutting down accounts over these issues.
  5. Facebook is selling your data for profit and you’ve digitally signed your digital life away so they can do exactly that.
  6. Facebook content isn’t very trustworthy. Less than 6% of surveyed users trust the content created by unknown brands. Excellent article by Marketingweek and the ‘fake news effect‘.
  7. 4 out of 5 ads are ignored on Facebook.
  8. According to Pew, the majority of Facebook users go there to socialize, catch up with family and friends…not to buy or be sold anything.
  9. Social media is the least converting channel of all top primary conversion pathways.
  10. Facebook changed their algorithm [2018] to show content that is more family friendly, friend-friendly and based on YOUR likes and dislikes versus big advertisers.

So what does all of this mean? Well, for those that follow Searchology…not much. We already know how to use social media the right way. We know that a healthy social media mix is important to reaching out and informing our audience. But from a higher perspective, this will force major social platforms to change how they are treating our data and what they do with our information.

This could spell TROUBLE for your brand and company if you rely too heavily on social media to get the word out or achieve peak awareness. A careful mix of content, information, clarity, and honesty are the primary needs of all social media users. Fill that gap…win social media. Yes, nearly 50% of Internet users are getting their news from social…however, we are reaching a point where promoted stories will be ignored, brands will be switched off, and ‘friends’ will be unfollowed as well.

Watch this space, dear readers. Watch closely. No reason for panic…but every reason to use critical thinking moving forward.


Net Neutrality Basics and Overview

What is Net Neutrality?

  • The principles if Net Neutrality:
    • Keep the Internet free for all to use
    • Anyone can access to the Internet and all the contents therein
    • No single person or entity owns or controls the Internet
    • Protects free speech
    • Provides all users with the ability to freely communicate
    • Content cannot be filtered or blocked
    • Apps and websites cannot be blocked
    • Speed throttling is prohibited
    • Paid ‘fast lanes’ are not allowed

What is the status of Net Neutrality?

  • On December 14th, 2017, the FCC voted [3-2] to kill the TITLE II section adopted the Obama Administration in 2015. Anjit Pai is the FCC chairman and was in full opposition to Net Neutrality and the votes were down party lines.
    • Title II was adopted, “by the Federal Communications Commission under former President Barack Obama. Those rules subject broadband providers like AT&T, Charter, Comcast* and Verizon to utility-style regulation, all in a bid to stop them from blocking access to web pages, slowing down connections or prioritizing some content over others.” [source https://www.recode.net/2017/11/28/16711256/fcc-ajit-pai-net-neutrality-cher-twitter]
  • Currently, legal challenges are moving their way through the courts, but more importantly, Congress has enough co-sponsors [40] to hold a vote on the Senate floor. A CRA [congressional review act] is moving forward both in the Senate and House.
  • Anjit Pai mocked Internet users [http://dailycaller.com/2017/12/13/ajit-pai-wants-you-to-know-you-can-still-harlem-shake-after-net-neutrality-video/] by claiming Internet users will still be able to:
    • Instagram your food
    • Take selfies with your pets
    • Shop for Christmas presents
    • Watch your shows
    • Remain a super-fan [online]
    • Use memes to your heart’s content
    • And do the “Harlem Shake”

Why is Net Neutrality important to you and your business?

  • If you count on your website for any of the following;
    • Website Leads
    • Online phone calls
    • Website traffic
    • Website traffic that converts to floor traffic
    • Providing information
    • Providing goods or services to any area
    • It is your primary source of advertising and marketing
    • If you consider your website a key asset in your business model
  • You can expect the following if Net Neutrality remains defeated:
    • ISPs [Internet Service Providers] will/may;
      • Charge you more for access to the Internet
      • Your Internet speed can change based on the package you have chosen
      • Access to your favourite sites may be sold on a package or tiered basis
      • Content will be decided on what the ISPs what you to see not what you CHOOSE to see
        • commerce sites, news outlets all may be restricted based on your content package – thus, curtailing and effectively shutting down free thought, free speech, and much more
      • What this means for your business:
        • If you want your blog or website to be seen online, you may have to pay fees directly to the ISPs
        • Additional costs will be associated with SEO, PPC, and access to visibility and your target markets
        • Your opportunity to have a fair playing field with much bigger companies will greatly diminish
        • Strong possibilities for large companies, new networks, and mega-corporations to rule and control every aspect of the Internet thereby preventing your company from gaining new visibility, chocking off brand awareness, online reviews, social sharing, and more

The Internet was created for all to use and for none to control. The very principle is based on freedom of speech, freedom of communication, and the ability to share knowledge. If our ability to access the Internet is taken away or restricted in any way the result will be billions in lost revenue, lost revenue streams for businesses, lost sales leads, and billions taken or deterred from e-commerce stores.

How to help:

  1. https://www.battleforthenet.com
  2. Call your local members of Congress – https://www.callmycongress.com

Russia used Facebook to Market Fake News

Facebook Sold $100K to Russian Trolls

Multiple news organizations are reporting that Russian operatives and ‘troll farms’ worked together and intentionally targeted specific groups of individuals with fake news stories. This news seems to support multiple investigations, by U.S. intelligence agencies, that Russia interfered with the 2016 US presidential election. Adding to the current political environment, political influence by foreign agents or entities is against federal law.

According to reports from the Washington Post, The Independent, and others, Russian ‘trolls’ used multiple Facebook accounts to circulate fake news stories and promote those profiles by way of $100,000 ad spend. It is apparent, based on U.S. intelligence investigations and recent reporting that Russian operatives did use social media and fake news to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

There is little evidence that directly shows how influential Facebook is with users. However, some simple statistics suggest that social media has a massive impact on the zeitgeist that propelled the results of 2016 electoral process and end-result. The primary goal was to sew confusion, obfuscate the truth, and drive chaos during the election…and after.

According to a report from Pew Research, 62% of U.S. adults get their news from social media sites. As of 2016, there were an estimated 197.7 million users [Source: Sttista.com] and 200 million registered voters in 2016 [Source: Politico.com]. It is very easy to assume that if fake news stories took hold, it would be very difficult to stop the ground swell.

Also consider some of the top fake news headlines swimming around Facebook in 2016:

  • Donald Trump Won The Popular Vote
  • Pope Francis endorses Donald Trump
  • Obama signs executive order banning The Pledge of Allegiance in Schools Nationwide
  • Hilary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS and then confirmed by WikiLeaks
  • The Whopper – Wikileaks drips out hacked emails – this of course is a true story but used to sabotage the democratic candidate

Thus, between the DNC leaks, email leaks, and fake new stories, it is very easy to sway political opinions when some facts are backed by worse false news. Yellow journalism has been around since print but fake news is the new alternate fact machine that people can use to support their unfounded and uneducated positions. Moreover, when the average reading level in the United States is 7th to 8th grade the ability to move public opinion from one candidate to the next may be much easier than one may imagine.

How Did The Russians Target The Facebook Audience?

Again, this is much easier than you may think. Facebook’s advertising platform is very comprehensive. You can target by age, location, city, state, country, likes, interests, and much more. With this type of targeting ability, it is very easy to spread false and negative narratives with very little cost and very little effort.

In addition, the object of these campaigns was not a high bar. Operatives did not need to generate actions, phone calls, or completed contact forms…they only needed likes and shares. That is a much lower bar for a conversion metric. Consider…you only need to spread the word and sell the word. No need to have anyone buy a thing. The notion of a false narrative can be enticing enough especially if you don’t like the subject or party of the article in question. Thus, targeting a voting population that fits your specific requirements is very easy to find and easy to manipulate if they share your world view or have even the slightest disdain for a candidate, party, or individual.

What is Facebook doing about this…more importantly, what is the U.S. Government doing about protecting the United States from fake news, political hacking, and known Russian interference in the 2016 election?

Facebook, according to the Washington Post, has shut down the accounts that were active and plan to remain ‘vigilant’ and ‘keep ahead’ of people who try this in the future. I feel much safer and I am sure you do as well.

More importantly, what are the U.S. intelligence agencies doing to prevent Russian hacking, fake news, and corruption or our political system? From what I can report to you, at this time, nothing. Not a thing. A endeavor of this nature would require congressional movement and a signature by the President of the United States.  There is no disagreement for the ENTIRE U.S. Intelligence community…Russia hacked our elections, spread fake news to sew chaos, and specifically wanted Donald J. Trump to win the 2016 election. Now the biggest question remains…did the Trump collude with the Russians to make all of this happen? We may know sooner than we think.

So, my dear readers, how in the world does this have anything to do with digital marketing and advertising? It has everything to do with it. The trust all of us have in the ‘4th estate’ [the media], the importance of a free press, and our collective reliability on sources that can truly investigate what is true and what is not is paramount to our digital freedom. Donald J. Trump continues to call the press, “fake news” and “is the enemy of the American people.”

With so many of us reliant on social media for our news…what are we to believe? If we cannot trust our press then who can we trust? Our president? Our government agencies? Our Fortune 500 business leaders? Our local business leaders? The second we lose faith in news organizations and media entities that allow [or disallow] news stories…it is the very moment the fabric of our free society begins to shake and crumble.

Thus, we must make sure we review and confirm all our news sources. Check them more than once. Verify what you are sending and from where you are sending it. More importantly, as small and medium sized business owners, what you post online may be more important now than ever before. Truth, authority, and honesty is what all of us need. Sunlight is the best disinfectant as they say…and it will do all of us great justice now and in the long term to consider what happens next.

Your Personal Searches Are Now For Sale

Nothing you do on the Internet will be private…it will be sold.

Imagine, if you will, a world where everything you do through your ISP [Internet Service Provider] is now up for sale and scrutiny. Nothing you watch, post, respond to, research, or buy will be private. Every key-stroke will be up for sale. Your entire digital life and browser history is heading to the auction block. If Congress, POTUS, and the ISPs have their way…this deal could be singed very soon.

In short, this new rule rolls back all of the privacy protections you once had. Previously, ISPs had to have your express permission to sell your private information. Under the new rule…all of your browsing information will be for sale and there will be NOTHING you can do about it.

Moreover, this suggests that if you own a website…now would be the perfect time to move from a unsecured site to a secured site. IE – HTTP to HTTPS. Typically, the move is very cost effective and will help your visitors be protected while they are on your site. In addition, Google regards HTTPS sites as more secure, thus, more trustworthy.

This is a short post and it is intentional. Your big takeaways are this:

  • Unless this is stopped or alternative regulations are proposed…we have entered into uncharted territory and all of us are the lab rats.
  • Big Data is about to get very personal and may begin to haunt all of us no matter where we go.
  • This are ways you can protect yourself. The article below is fantastic and I highly recommend you review it. https://www.letsgetsafe.org/.
  • Searchology is now officially recommending to our readers and to all of our clients to switch from unsecure websites to secured websites. Simply move from HTTP to HTTPS.

We want to stay away from politicizing this event but we cannot ignore the fact that ISPs want YOUR information in order to monetize YOU. Our government in a very partizan vote count, decided that we should NOT be protected when using the Internet. This is a developing story and we will do our best to keep our readers updated as we lurch down a very deep and dark rabbit hole.


Why Does SEO Take So Long To Impact My Website?

Ugh, why is my SEO taking so long?

Over the years, I have been asked this too many times to count. Search engine optimization takes a long time. I’ve been working in the digital space for around 14 years. Several years ago, SEO took less time to take hold and improve rankings. Now…SEO can take several months to a year plus. With this in mind, there are a few questions that may come to mind:

  1. Is search engine optimization worth the effort?
  2. How long is SEO going to take to improve my rankings?
  3. What are the factors that impact search engine results?

These are all very heavy and difficult questions to answer. Stay with me and I will provide you with the insight you need to make the right decision for your business and website.

Is Search Engine Optimization Worth The Effort?

In short, yes. SEO leads tend to close at a much higher rate than paid, email, and [certainly] social media. In fact, according to Outbrain, natural search pounded social media by 300%. Google leads all search engines by a whopping 80% market share. A number one keyword position can be worth up to 33% of the initial keyword search volume. Thus, a keyword producing 1,000 searches per month could bring 330 new visitors per month. With high conversion rates, this can bring massive ROI for your SEO investment.

What are the factors that impact search engine optimization?

The most important components of SEO can be broken down into 4 categories and 5 very important variables.

SEO Ranking Factors

  1. Content and quality content. Your minimum goal for each webpage should be 250 [high quality words]. There are some professionals who believe that website pages should contain over 1,000 for high quality blogs. I agree on both. High quality content will help with SEO rankings.
  2. Inbound links and high quality links. I think this is a little debatable, however,  it has long been known that websites with high quality links are certain to rank higher than websites without quality links.
  3. Functionality and usability. If your website does not function properly, it will not be found. If your site has broken links or pages, it will hurt your chances to rank higher in the SERPS [search engine results pages].

SEO Variables

  1. Findability – Have you created website content and addressed all of the KNOWN SEO factors? For example; have you added your meta tags, created high quality H1 and H2 tags, added sitemaps, etc.?
  2. Shareability – Is your content worth the share? Is it informative? Funny? Logical? Serving a purpose? Speaking to your audience?
  3. Returnability – You need to give your audience and visitors a REALLY REALLY good reason to come back. That always falls on your content, videos, and images.
  4. Linkability – If you have poor quality content, the likelihood of getting links from blogs, websites, social mentions, and other referral traffic is greatly diminished.
  5. Functional – Website structure and functionality are critical for success. If you have a poorly designed website that is hard to navigate or has other issues, variables 1 – 4 won’t matter. It takes users around 2.3 seconds to make the decision to STAY ON YOUR WEBSITE or to LEAVE.

How long is SEO going to take to improve my rankings?

To quote Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

“To be, or not to be- that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them.”

It seems, in word, Hamlet never really answers the question. He certainly does in deed, but it does not end well. For us, it is better ‘to be’ than not. Taking on the SEO challenge is well worth it but the time it takes may make you impatient and may lead you to walk away before you get too far down the righteous path. If done correctly, SEO can take 6 months to over a year. However, measurable success should not be viewed only through keyword rank…but more so…visitor experience and conversion metrics.

Search engine optimization takes a long time for many reasons and there are more factors than I wish to share in this post. Briefly, time your site has been active, quality, usability, links, domain, domain type, hosting, competition, keyword selection, and issues impact how long it will take. I will post more on quality content and the aforementioned at a future date.

There are no short cuts that you can take. There are no silver bullets you can fire. There is no magic wand to wave. SEO takes time, patience, persistence, and high quality work in order for it to be effective. If you want faster results, I recommend you work with pay per click advertising

. Top results will cost you either way. And both are well worth it.

For those of you who made it to the end…it is Yorick captioned above. I’m certain you knew that already.

DigitalBeerCast Initial Launch

Digital BeerCast Is Now Live

September 16, 2016

Searchology is delighted to announce our newest endeavor. Digital BeerCast [DBC]. Digital BeerCast will focus on all things Internet including sales, channel attribution, SEO, and much more. Searchology has teamed up with Mr.Marketology and Jeff Bele in order to provide our clients and website visitors with thought-provoking commentary and  insights all things search. Our weekly videocast will provide unique interviews with business owners in our local communities, experts in SEO, paid search, branding and much more.

Of course, we will be featuring a select beer every week with each videocast. All of our delicious beverages will come from local breweries and brewmasters.  After all, what goes better than search engines and a tasty adult beverage?

Our primary topics of weekly discussion:

  • Digital marketing
  • Internet advertising
  • Social media
  • Online reputation management
  • Website development
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Channel attribution
  • Digital sales and sales funnels
  • E-commerce
  • Mobile advertising
  • Google Ad Words, Google Analytics, Google Search Console
  • Bing and Bing related properties
  • Social media and social media optimization
  • Email marketing
  • Internet privacy and much more

Searchology and Mr. Marketology are dedicated to providing truth, transparency, honesty with a full-bodied approach that will leave your mental thirst quenched and mind invigorated. We love the Search and we know you will too. Please enjoy our very first episode on the house.

If you are a brewery or brewmaster and you would like your beverage featured on our next Beercast  give us a call at 312.316.7202. Our audience is nationwide with a focus on Illinois and Atlanta with serious website traffic and a never ending taste for suds and digital marketing.

Searchology Celebrates 7 Years

Searchology Celebrates 7 Years of Digital A&M Service

We are truly delighted to have made it for seven years working in our chosen field of digital marketing and advertising. I have been in the search engine marketing field prior to 2001. I really got excited about it with my first job in the space cold calling companies from the phone book and offering them top place position on Google and Yahoo. Back in 2002, most of the work was very simple and very easy to drive high-quality website traffic without much of a fuss.

We are forever thankful for our long term clients, past clients, and future clients. Our company cannot claim success without the continued support, trust, and business from our clients, friends, and family. Our unconditional respect and love for all of those that have helped us get to where we are today. Of course, the digital space is not without its highs and lows. My how things have changed over the years.

What Have We Learned About Search Engine Marketing In Seven Years?

  1. In the mid 90’s a writer from Time Magazine claimed the Internet was a fad and wouldn’t last.
  2. 50% of current Internet users can’t tell the difference between paid search and natural listings.
  3. Always bring coffee and morning breakfast baked goods to every meeting you can.
  4. The best clients are Searchology clients.
  5. Don’t try to save a snapping turtle without a little help from local law enforcement.
  6. Search engine optimization is now a field unto itself and should always be treated that way.
  7. We can now fully see and understand channel attribution funnels and metrics.
  8. There are more channels to advertise and market on than there are days of the year…and you only need to focus on the channels where your clients are not where YOU think they are.
  9. Love your data and your data will still not love you back.
  10. There are a lot of promises thrown around by a lot of agencies and marketing outfits…excellent results take hard work, time, and client effort. No Searcholgist is an island.
  11. 25% of all Internet users Google themselves.
  12. Plan your work and work your plan…always.
  13. Continual education and keeping up with “the Search” is damn near a full-time job.
  14. There is always more to know about the digital space.
  15. Social media isn’t what you think it is…ever.
  16. 30 minutes early is ON TIME.
  17. Time is the one thing we can never take back…so use it wisely.
  18. Google continues to be the monster search engine after all these years.
  19. Primary aspects of search engine optimization have NOT changed all that much over the past 16 years. Content was KING in 2000…and it is more important now than every before.
  20. Website visitors DO read your website if your content is WORTH reading.
  21. In order to be successful in this business or any business…you must be willing to give without the expectation of anything in return.
  22. Sometimes you eat social media…and sometimes social media eats you.
  23. Privacy is now a thing of the past.
  24. Once it’s published…you can’t take it back.
  25. There is no silver bullet. All bullets are required.

Hopefully, our little list provided you with some small insight into what we’ve learned over the years. It is much more extensive than what I’ve posted…but I don’t want to keep you reading all day. We are truly thankful for what we have been given, the trust of our clients, referrals, our partners, and for what we’ve become due to all of the support over the years. Thank you, our readers, and our thanks to all of the people that have helped us grow and prosper. Here is to you and here is to several more decades of Searchology.

Kindly ~ Alton J. Duderstadt II

President | Chief Searchologist

To Thine Own Self Be True in SEO

In a recent SEO article by Mark Jackson he discussed the importance of learning the baselines for search engine optimization. I took it to mean be true to yourself by learning before buying SEO services. Search engine optimization is an important aspect to any solid online marketing effort and your basic understanding of how and why SEO is key to your success. I think most business owners know what SEO is but may have a very hard time explaining it.

Search engine optimization is gaining higher rank in the search engines by optimizing your website for keywords. As Mark stated in his article, SEO is not about getting to the top page or number one position for keywords you want to rank well for. SEO is about driving higher quality traffic to your site which converts into sales or new customers. I believe there is a major shift in the way professionals envision SEO. The pendulum has swung from the need for top ten positions to quality traffic.

It is important to understand that keywords you want to rank well for may have significant competition and could range in the millions for search results. This is the real shift I am talking about. Consider the word “pizza” which produces 125,000.000 results on Google. Is it realistic to achieve top ranking for this keyword? No, it is not. The competitive nature of online optimization is just that…extremely competitive. To rank well for just one very popular word is very difficult and it is not realistic to think that high raking can be achieved for such words.

Your education about search engine optimization needs to rooted in one simple reality. Your most important keywords may have too many competitors to rank well for in a short term. The longer your website is living on the web the better chance it will have but it is a long term commitment on your part, as a business owner, and on the part of the individual or firm working to optimize your site.

This does not mean that targeting your primary keywords is out of the question…it simply means extending your keyword search beyond the heavy sought after keywords. Find a middle ground and start from there. You search firm or consultant should be aware of this and set the expectations with you regarding keyword popularity. Which brings me to another point in helping you become educated on SEO…if it sounds too good to be true avoid it.

There are some SEO firms who will promise you the world and charge $10,000 per month or more for SEO. I do not believe [any longer] that SEO is a monthly process. Yes, to some extent SEO is a monthly process for link building, article writing, blogs, etc. These items can be done mostly on the client side and should not be paid for [save the link building]. Many of the aspects of SEO can be done by you [the client] if you are willing to participate in your own success [more on this later].

In closing, SEO can be a very long process which can take several months to attain better quality traffic. Lean as much as you can and there is no such thing as a stupid question. The more you know about natural website ranking the more you will work to help the process and understand why you pay what you pay. The more you know about SEO the more you can base your assumptions in reality and not be taken in by false SEO sales pitches. The closer you will come to the truth about SEO and how it can help change your online business.

Pay Per Click Advertising and the Client Role

When you hire on a searchologist or Internet marketing firm to work on your pay per click campaign…you may never know the true importance of your input. Professional search engine marketers [searchologists] bring their knowledge of how to set up, run, create and track pay per click efforts. The knowledge you bring to the table is just as important to the success of the paid search marketing as the information and knowhow professionals offer.

As a professional in your particular market or industry, you will have more insight into what you are looking for and who you are trying to reach out to with pay per click advertising. You will have great insight regarding keywords, demographics, consumer profiles, and prospect profiles. This information you already have about these variables and more will impact the outcome of all paid search marketing.  

Be sure to share as much as you can about who you are targeting, what the profile of a “typical” audience member may look like [age, household income, male, female, etc.]. Having detailed discussions with your Internet marketing firm or consultant can save time, money, and trouble in the long run.

Google Personalized Search…just got personal

Google has announced the Google personalized search experience. If any of you are keeping tabs out there…universal search, personal search, social search, real time search…this is why search engine optimization can be very difficult. Imagine trying to keep up with Google. I’m still not 100% sold on Google’s “do no evil” message.

I’ve been working on a client project recently and I’ve notices some VERY lame attempts by Google to lure away searching individuals with rather unsavory methods. The same methods that Google frowns on when advertising under competitive brand terms in Ad Words [to a very liberal extent]. Take a test drive for yourself. Type in “circle” for giggles. Take a look at the paid search results on the left side. Do you or do you not see a sponsored ad by Google asking if you are having trouble understanding the word ‘circle’.

So, what does this have to do with search results and all of the up coming iterations of said results? At some point search engine results need to become better at indexing and serving GOOD content. I’ve seen thousands of times now…very poor results based on excellent search terms. I think it could speak to the measure of fairness when dealing with the world’s biggest search engine.

Go on and Google pay per click advertising and tell me you don’t see Google’s ad right up at the top. They are just playing fair right…? Right?