Digital account executive Tom Williams is back with another week’s worth of SEO news and views.

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Facebook Working on Social Network to Rival LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is the undisputed queen of ‘career’ social networks, and has proven to be an invaluable marketing and outreach tool for many brands.

However, there may soon be another career-focussed social platform that maybe, just maybe, could be in with a chance of challenging LinkedIn’s crown.

Crown.

Source: Dennis Jarvis at Flickr.

‘Facebook at Work’ could offer Facebook’s 1.35 billion active users the chance to create an ‘at-work’ identity, separate from their main profile, according to a report by The Independent today.

The paper also says the in-development platform will allow users to collaborate on documents and communicate with work contacts.

If the reports are accurate, then Facebook is clearly flexing its muscles in LinkedIn’s direction. However, it seems Facebook is less interested in crushing the current dominator in career social networks, and more interested in keeping users engaged whilst they work. As The Independent wrote: “The company is said to be building the network in the hope that employers will allow ‘Facebook at Work’ […] as many block or discourage workers from accessing the original site during business hours.”

The network will initially be free and will be funded by advertising revenue, reports the paper.

Google is Testing and Improving Knowledge Graph Direct Answers

Google’s ‘answer box’ has been around for a while now. The feature, which draws on Knowledge Graph data to provide direct answers to search queries, has met with a mixed response from search marketers, with some concerned that it could reduce their share of search traffic.

Answer box result for 'how old is Justin Bieber?'.

Answer box result for ‘how old is Justin Bieber?’.

And so the worries shall continue. According to Search Engine Land’s Eric Enge, Google is testing new ways to answer user’s queries

And where there are tests, there are usually improvements. And improvements to the answer box could mean it appears in more search results than ever before.

In his report, published last Monday, Enge wrote:

The TL;DR is that Google appears to be testing various possible direct answers to search queries. If the results are not to its liking, it is trying a different answer source, until user data tells them they have one that works.”

…And Here’s How to Work With the Answer Box, Not Against it

As the last news summary demonstrated, Google seems pretty well convinced of the viability of the answer box. So it makes sense for SEOs to work with it, not fight against it. Or worse, sit there and grumble without doing anything at all.

A man, grumbling.

Source: bark at Flickr.

But how can we optimise for these knowledge graph results? As Barbara Starr pointed out over at Search Engine Land, the answer lies in understanding the emphasis on search-over-data, rather than search-over-documents.

Starr goes into lots of detail, so we’ll summarise. Search engines have moved on from simply providing ten blue links to website documents. They now make use of all kinds of meta data to provide better results based on context. So, as Starr writes, brand should “ensure [they] can provide consistent high-precision data in as many ways as are appropriate.”

And you can do this through structured markup like those collated at schema.org, or through Google’s Structured Snippets.

We’ve been thinking about this an awful lot too. For our take on the issue, read our post Google Authorship is Dead – But Schema Markup is a Big Deal for SEO.

Twitter Does SEO, Sees Ten Times More Visitors

Social and SEO are big, interconnected beasts – a fact aptly demonstrated by Twitter when it search engine optimised some of its hashtag pages, and saw logged-out visits increase by a factor of ten.

Twitter bird, looking happy and free.

Source: marek.sotak at Flickr.

According to Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land, this apparently means a jump from 7.5 million logged-out monthly visits to a whopping 75 million. Phenomenal.

The social platform shared the results at the Twitter Analyst Day event on Wednesday, where director of product management Trevor O’Brien said the firm wanted to ensure search engine users could better access 50,000 hashtag pages.

How Might Local Search Work on Smartwatches?

Smartwatches – a niche new toy for nerds, or the flag-carriers of an ‘always-on’ revolution?

Apple Watch.

Apple Watch.

We just don’t know. Which is why it’s important to consider how these new devices might impact local search marketing, as Search Engine Journal pointed out in an article published November 8.

Writer Bernadette Coleman shared four predictions for the fledgling smart devices. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Opt-in messaging will be the norm: Coleman argues that brands will have to bend to an increased demand for concise, relevant content. This means giving users say in whether or not they receive marketing messages. She also makes the case that customised search platforms, like Google Now, may be the favoured model for smartwatch search.
  • Proximity-triggered messaging is a huge opportunity: Smartwatches are perfectly placed to deliver relevant messaging to users, since all they have to do to absorb information is look at their wrists. Coleman identifies this as a big opportunity, writing: “If it can be that much easier to gain a user’s attention, then local businesses would be wise to start implementing some sort of location or proximity-triggered interactions now.”
  • Location-specific keywords are going to be more important than ever: Coleman describes this as a ‘no-brainer’. If users are accessing information while they’re out and about, on a small screen that doesn’t allow for ambiguity, it’s going to be increasingly important for businesses to provide location-specific content and optimise for local search keywords.
  • Apps are where it’s at: Again, the small screen presents a challenge for marketers. Coleman reckons users will be more comfortable using a specially-designed app than scrolling through a website on their wrist. As Coleman writes, businesses should “consider creating apps that give concise, streamlined content and tools, rather that it mimic their website.”

Hungry for more wearable tech predictions? Back in September, we shared our own thoughts on the Apple Watch and local PPC over at the BidCops blog.

Google Axes Local Carousel Results for Certain Industries

We’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing Google’s local carousel, as the feature was never launched in Europe.

However, our friends in the United States have seen local results in carousel form since June 2013.

An example of Google's local carousel results.

Local carousel results. Source: Search Engine Land.

Now it seems Google has lukewarm feelings about the feature, as according to Search Engine Land, it’s axing it entirely for results related to restaurants, hotels, nightlife and entertainment.

The carousel results are being replaced with a ‘three-pack’ of local results.

There’s no official explanation as yet. But Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land was never too keen on the feature, writing: “I have always found the Carousel to be limiting and awkwardly disconnected from the rest of the page.”

Perhaps Google shares his sentiment.

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About the author:

Tom joined ClickThrough in 2011. Since then, he has developed an expertise in the technical side of search engine optimisation. He’s Google Analytics-qualified, and in his current role as digital and technical Executive, carries out monthly SEO activities and provides technical consultancy for several of the company’s largest accounts.