I’ve been looking at websites for over 8 years, and have developed quite a keen sense of what constitutes a real or a fake blog.
One thing I’ve noticed is, it is getting harder to tell the difference because it is very easy to fake things like social proof, by simply buying cheap fans and engagement.
And, it is easier to set up a good looking site or blog as well because there are just so many great free templates and great, free website builders.
What is a fake blog?
A fake blog is one that has been set up along with around 200 more fake blogs for the purpose of pumping out low quality content and profiting from it.
One webmaster and several hundred blogs does not lead to high quality editorial standards and fully researched and accurate information. Fake blogs are not the types of places you want to go to in order to research what is the best holistic health diet to follow, or what herbal medicine is available for your toddler.
There is no integrity on these blogs. The owners don’t care if you get the right information, just that you click a link and buy something. Or, if you are a company that you pay to be featured on the site for SEO purposes.
Why should you avoid working with fake blogs?
Its obvious why you wouldn’t want to take health advice from these blogs, but what about guest posting?
With the recent announcement of Rank Brain, a system which Google can use to look at the quality metrics of websites - including time on page. It has become even more important for webmasters not to be associated with these kinds of low quality sites.
If Google takes a look at your backlink profile and can tell that you’ve been associating with these types of blogs then it is a definite indicator that you have been link building against Google’s guidelines. If you are not penalised then at best these links will be discounted and with it your hard earned rankings will drop and no-one wants that.. not even this lady.
So, do not work with fake blogs. They don’t provide any additional benefit further than a link and purely guest posting for links is a risky, risky business.
To help you build up you fakedar let’s go through the subtle signs of a fake blog now.
5 Subtle Signs Of A Spammy Or Fake Blog
If you land on a blog and the template is one that you’ve seen literally everywhere then it is very likely to be a fake blog. Webmasters that create these blogs need to create a lot of them cheaply and quickly.
They won’t put very much effort into the look of the website but instead just buy a free template and upload a ton of low quality content to make it seem like this is a blog that has been around for a while.
Often, the design is one that has a lot of categories set up, so it seems like there is a wide variety of content which makes it feel more aged. But, on closer inspection you’ll notice that one post will be in multiple different categories. You might also notice that the last post was uploaded several months, or even years ago.
Be wary of blogs which use generic templates!
2. Too much social proof everywhere
Have you ever been to a networking event or a party and there’s that one guy that can’t stop going on about how amazing he is and all of the great stuff he has been up to? He’ll be name dropping and talking about all of his latest achievements, you just can’t get a word in. How do you feel listening to that?
It doesn’t feel natural does it. It feels forced, like he’s trying to prove something. It’s the same on a blog. We’ve all heard that social proof is a good way to show you are an expert, and it is. Having social media numbers and shares visible on your blog is a good way to make visitors feel like they are not alone in coming to you for advice.
However, be wary of the unknown blogger who has been featured in every single top publication, who has several thousand homepage shares and displays all of their social media follower counts (which by the way are all huge).
3. Social media icons which redirect to the homepage
Another subtle sign of a fake blog is if the social media profile buttons don’t link anywhere. Very often the site appears on face value to be legit but when you click on the social media icons they redirect back to the homepage.
This shows that the webmaster has set up a generic template, imported content and not even bothered to make sure the links work properly. Make sure you click through and check that the blog does in fact have some kind of a social media presence.
4. No visibility of the owner
I’m pretty proud of Ginger Marketing, and I’m proud to put my name to this company and this blog. Of course, I’m not yet at the level that I want to be, there is always room for improvement and growth and I try to improve with every single client, placement, blog post & interaction. But, what I produce is to the best of my ability in this moment. That should be the case of the types of people you want to associate with for Digital Marketing purposes.
There are many, many nameless blogs out there with owners who are not proud of the work they are doing and so don’t want to be associated with it. If you land on a blog which does not have any description of who runs it then be wary! This could be a fake blog.
5. Traffic but no engagement
It’s gotten quite easy now to fake traffic. Yep, that’s right, it is possible to actually fake traffic now! With sites like Traffic Junkie and others bloggers can game the system and just drive traffic to their site. Looking at pure traffic metrics is no longer an indication of a high quality blog or website.
This is the reason I talk so much about engagement metrics and how important they are. It is vitally important that you work with blogs and websites who have a real audience. Even if this audience is small, it is still an audience and that is what counts.
Growing traffic takes time, especially with so much competition. So, be wary of any site that has managed to build high traffic in a short period of time - especially if no-one engages with their content.
We hope you've enjoyed this post! As usual let us know in the comments below.
Rankbrain helps Google solve a very important problem. How to interpret and understand the intent behind the person making a Google Search. This is a very important distinction to make.
The internet is not a collection of words, it’s a collection of questions and answers.
In order to provide the correct answer, it is important to fully understand the question.
This is what Rankbrain helps Google to do. It does this by using Machine learning in order to process huge amounts of qualitative data (words) into quantitative data (numbers) so that the machine can understand what is being written.
Rankbrain is just one part of Google’s Algorithm
Rankbrain isn’t a new algorithm, it is a new section of the algorithm which is helping Google’s results become more accurate and useful for the user.
The human body is made up of lots of parts which work together, right? Imagine Hummingbird, which is the latest Google Algorithm is the body whilst it is made up of lots of different parts which the make the whole work. Rankbrain is one of those parts.
Rankbrain and Quality Metrics
The bit I am most excited about when it comes to Rankbrain is its link with Quality metrics. Google has always stated that there goal is to improve the quality of the results we get.
They are not in the control of the quality of the content on the websites that they rank. BUT they are in control of what they rank and what they don’t. If quality is key to Google, then it makes sense that they would reward content that is higher quality and more useful for the user.
This is one of the areas Rankbrain helps in.
How does Rankbrain decide what is quality content and what isn’t?
Click through rate is a big factor here.
Google has stated;
'Searching users are often the best judges of relevance, so that if they select a particular search result, it is likely to be relevant, or at least more relevant than the presented alternatives.'
This is the reason click through optimisation is so important. As Larry King speaks about in this article, which by the way is well worth a read. It is incredibly difficult to optimise the click through rates for organic search results. The main reason - there just isn’t enough data for us to go on at a keyword level these days.
Google has done a really good job of taking away a lot of our data. Optimising without data can lead to a lot of going round in circles.
What can we optimise for easily?
There is one thing you can do very, very easily. That is LOOK at the search results BEFORE you start optimising for a keyword.
You may have an assumption that a keyword has one intent behind it, only to discover Google (and therefore most people online), have an entirely different opinion.
So, the first thing to do when you discover a longtail keyword that has a good amount of search volume and is relevant to the topic you want to cover - type it into Google!
It’s such a small step, but one that can very easily be missed. And if missed can result in a lot of hard work going down the drain.
Dwell time could be another big factor
This is the amount of time a user spends on your page after clicking through, another great indicator of quality. There is still a lot of controversy around this, some SEO’s think it matters, some don’t. My view is, its an important metric to look at either way.
It immediately places our focus on to quality which is where Google wants us to be. So, whether this is the specific metric they are looking at or not it doesn’t matter. Take the long term view, optimise your content for quality and you safeguard your site now, and in the future.
To give you an idea about what dwell time could mean. A little bit tongue and cheek but this graphic from Hrefs backs up my point. The only risk for optimising for dwell time is overdoing it.
I do see a strong trend in the online community whereby everyone is just trying to outdo each other on length of content.
It’s getting kind of ridiculous.
I love how Digital Marketers love to jump on trains.
One person notices how one metric - in this case, semantic keywords and covering a topic full and then dwell time as well impacts ranks. Then there are some studies, experts look at the theory, decide yes this looks like there is a correlation.
Then they come up with a simple tactic.
Let’s make the content longer.
And then, it becomes THE THING.
So now, blog posts are like manuals.
Beware of following any tactic blindly. Do what is right for your audience and what is right for the topic you are covering.
If the content is good quality then your dwell time is going to be high anyway. Readers will be engaged, reading through what you’ve written, maybe going back, double checking another point.
The thing we want to avoid is extremely low engagement metrics.
If your pages have an average dwell time of 1 minute or less then very likely readers are just skimming your content, realising it’s not relevant or of high quality and leaving.
This is a signal that
Hopefully you have an understanding now on what this additional to the Google Algorithm does. And even more, have come away with some solid ways you can optimise for it. Here is a quick run down of the types of things your content strategy needs to focus on.
The winners will focus on these things >>
Track time on page
Use LSI Keywords to cover a topic fully
Make sure you use Google related search
Write more in depth content (but don’t go crazy if its not needed!)
We hope you enjoyed this post! As usual let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
As the end of the year draws closer you (like me), might find yourself taking stock of your business.
Not necessarily slowing down, but stepping back.
Stepping back and looking at what has and hasn’t been working and thinking about new ways to improve for next year.
If you aren’t stepping back yet, then I really encourage you to do that. Whether you are an Agency owner, consultant or you run your own blog - reflection is really important.
As I step back in my business, one area I’d really love to improve on next year at Ginger Marketing is our customer experience.
How do we bring on clients, work with them and continue to delight them and grow the relationship.
And the same for the micro influencers we work with. How do we engage them, communicate with them and continue to grow that relationship.
To get some inspiration going I visited one of my local nail salons. A place I’ve always found to be run very professionally, with a friendly, laid back (but not too much) atmosphere.
As soon as I walk in the door I feel at ease.
That’s exactly the kind of feeling I’d like everyone to have who deals with Ginger Marketing. It's important to identify; how do you want your customers / readers to feel when dealing with your brand?
What is this Nail Salon's secret sauce? What creates that sense of ease from the beginning of the experience to the end? And what keeps me going back?
Let’s break it down + see what lessons we can learn about customer experience from a living, breathing and successful local business.
First stop, visit the nail salon. Phft, can’t a girl work, learn and get her nails done too?
This is a picture from the outside of the nail salon. What can we say about the outside. Well, one thing is for certain, it looks like a nail salon. As soon as you look at the outside you know exactly what it is.
But why - what specifically indicates this is a nail salon?
It seems very obvious to you, but there are some specific elements that have been brought together to ensure that you know exactly what it is that they do. Let’s break them down now.
1. The Sign
Big bold letters 'Nail' its very clear what they do! 'Dance In Finger', a little less obvious, but its still clear this is pointing at a nail salon.
2. The Branding
Pink & gold, girly and also stands out on the highstreet against the other white, grey and brown buildings.
They not only add a cosy feel from the outside but also make it cosy on the inside as no-one can look in the window.
Again, friendly, and makes the shop front stand out.
3. The Price List
They have the whole price list pasted on the door making it really easy to understand what services they offer and the general cost.
With all of these elements in place I am able to make a clear decision about whether
I can get all of this information by the impression that I’ve formed from the front of their shop. This immediately puts me at ease before I’ve even stepped in their front door because I’m unlikely to find any surprises on the other side.
What happens at the enquiry stage?
Once I’ve stepped through the front door, the first thing I see are attentive and smiley people. I don’t have to go and find someone, or ring a bell, or stand in a queue. Every time I’ve gone there, it’s just immediately a nice friendly person asking you if they can help.
It also feels like the natural next step once you get in.
It’s not pink & friendly on the outside and then once you step through the door it’s all black and white marble.
The branding is consistent.
Mostly white interior with pink flowers on the walls, quotes saying “love” and fairy lights. A girly, flowery vibe, consistent with the outside and what I expected before I walked through the door.
There are lots of visual cues that this is indeed a nail salon.
There are nail varnishes lined up on the wall in a huge range of colours.
There are chairs and a table with manicure equipment laid out on the table and behind.
It’s neat and tidy and clean.
There are also visual cues telling you immediately what you have to do next.
Partly this is down to the fact that I’ve been to nail salons before. And this is an important note. Have your clients used a similar service to yours or read a similar blog before?
If it is a popular service there may already be an established routine and system that they are used too.
We may sometimes wrongly assume that innovation is best. When sometimes, it’s a lot easier for someone to just follow a process they have already been using, but with you instead.
If, for example the nail salon asked me to pay upfront, this would be a step out of my usual routine and I might second guess whether to stay & get the service.
This nail salon follow the same routine, smiley, friendly people, chair at a table with lots of manicure tools on it to sit at. I already know where to go before they tell me.
How can you guide your website visitor or reader? How can you make sure they already know where to go next without you even needing to utter a word?
I ask for a manicure and take a seat
The chair is comfortable but practical. Everything about the service is also practical. The right tool for the right job. And this also places the customer immediately at ease. Everything is taken care of, there is a clear formula, process and path - and there is a tool for each section.
There are a lot of tools.
And this also is a reason for me to come back. I’m sitting there having my nails done thinking, wow, I could never do this at home. I could never have so many tools and be able to complete this at the same speed with the same quality - and this is only costing me 13 euros. I’m definitely coming back.
This is important.
Customers need to feel as if they are getting value for money + that they can not easily replicate the same level of service by themselves, or repeat business will never be won.
Having a new tool for each stage makes it feel like I’m getting really great value for money. It also improves the quality of the finished result.
One other element I’d like to mention is the personalisation. The manicure only offers x 3 variations, other than those variations the system is the same for every customer.
You are able to choose whether to have your nails cut or not, whether they are filed rounded or straight & the colour. This makes it feel like the service is personal, in the elements that are most important - the visual appearance I as a customer want. But, the other elements are fixed.
It’s amazing how much we can learn from the businesses all around us! We don’t always need to be looking at online businesses, and sometimes it’s actually easier to see the elements working together in an offline business.
That easeful feeling that this nail salon creates is down to the consistency. From the beginning to the end as a customer you know what to expect & without fail that is delivered.
This is accomplished with a mix of >
Clear & Consistent Process
The Correct Tools
Small Amount of Personalisation (too much and its overwhelming)
Hope you like this post! As usual let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Have I inspired you to go to a local business & see what you can learn?
Written by Cheryl A Clarke Chief Happiness Officer & Content Marketing Freelancer @ Ginger Marketing (unless stated otherwise)
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