Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to I’ve Heard That, the podcast from Hurrdat Marketing that discusses digital marketing trends, tips and more.
All right. Welcome back. I’m so excited to have a new guest today. Chris, welcome.
Hey, how are you?
And welcome back, Dan.
What’s up? Thanks for having me back, Meghan.
Yes, we are covering live events at Hurrdat, and I’m so excited for you guys to share. So there’s a lot that goes into it. I mean, break it down for us, Chris. What happens before anything happens?
Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, event days are my favorite day. Dan and I have been in this industry quite a while and there’s just nothing like being at a live event for 14 hours, trying to tell a coherent story. And we talk to college students or high school students about what we do, we always try to set realistic expectations because-
Right. They think it’s so sexy, like, “Hey, we’re going to be at like front center row of…”
And I always ask, I’m like, “Hey, why do you want to be in sports marketing?” Or, “Why do you want to be in entertainment?” And they’re like, “Oh, I love going to concerts with my friends.” I’m like, “Cool, you’re going to hate this.” I didn’t-
You’re not going to be watching.
No. I mean, Maha… Dan and I aren’t sitting and able to enjoy any of the bands because we were thinking about 30 other things. Sweetstock this last week. I mean, I didn’t see a single song from a single artist the entire day, just because we were running all day and have all these different responsibilities. So you really have to have a passion for telling a great story during an event. And I think that’s where it starts is just being in that mentality.
Like, hey, I’m not, I’m not here to enjoy this game or this event or this concert or whatever we’re doing. You’re there to do the marketing and be support for the owners of the events or whoever hired you to do so. And I think it goes way back. I mean, my first job, 22 years old at the time, I get flown out to New York and was doing tour managing for bands. The side of that, which we didn’t really know was the job at the time, was doing social media marketing. And it was all about being on MySpace and connecting with the kids in the next city to get them to come out to your show because if you didn’t do that, you weren’t eating. So, I mean, this is almost 20 years ago that we’re talking about doing social media marketing for bands and it’s really just evolved over that time.
And I’ve always had a passion for it. And mainly because I was always the first one to get the computer. This was back in the day of like computer labs or somebody had a computer at their parents’ house. I didn’t have a cell phone at the time. We weren’t able to just upload things via iPhone. So I always loved having the first priority on getting the computers. But I mean, that’s really where it starts is, hey, having a passion for telling a great story about the event that we’re working.
And what do we do to help plan for the event or rally the team?
[crosstalk 00:02:57] Oh, go ahead, Dan.
Well, yeah, dude. I mean, I start in a really different place. I mean, where it starts for me, like a lot of things, is desired outcome from the client or the film or some of those things ring true. And sometimes where we start depends on whether we’re in year one or we’re in year zero. Because what happens a lot of times is client needs to promote coming event. They want to release a video asset in one form or another, broadcast spot, social spot, whatever, whatever, and then are like, “Oh wait, this is year zero. We don’t have any assets. What are we going to go? How are we going to do that?”
So then you, you go into it and then we have done so many different types of event work. And I’m much like Chris, I came way, way back in the day. I did two stints on the Vans Warped tour. A lot of my work previous to this was doing action sports events. But every client potentially is a little bit different of where are we starting to create assets for the library for the next year? Or are we starting with how do we buzz now, buzz now, promote what’s going on? And then a lot of times it’s both of those and it’s just, you change the faders on how maybe from year to year or from client to client…
Like this summer was interesting. It was probably our most events in one time period. We did two music festivals and the final stop of the Korn Ferry Tour, which is the PGA feeder system through the Pinnacle Bank Championship. And all three of those started at totally different places and had totally different agendas from one another. So probably like a lot of Hurrdat things, it’s not, “Hey, let me go to the shelf and get you event coverage. Oh, do you want the supersize fries with your event coverage?” It doesn’t work like that. Everybody’s got some different needs and they’re kind of all over the place. Which is fun. It keeps it exciting.
My philosophy on event coverage is we should always be doing three things. One, selling tickets, two, engaging fans and three, showing sponsor loves. Pretty much every activity that we have fits into one of those three categories.
Yeah. Whether it’s pre-planning or day of.
Yeah, for sure. So tell me a little bit more about what happens. It’s game day or go time or concert time. I know you guys are up bright and early, no matter what time the event starts. So walk me through a day in the life.
So yeah, it usually starts the night before where we’re kind of game planning about what we’re doing. Obviously it starts well beyond, but actually getting ready for game day. We always want a cooler filled with Red Bulls and snacks.
You always want cooler filled with Red Bull. [crosstalk 00:06:24]
Dan told me early in our career, he’s got a rule that I still live by and it’s feed yourself, feed the team. So making sure that you have things for the team members throughout the day. But really just game planning about what the entire day needs to look like. And generally when you’re working with a client, they’ll hand you a sheet of here’s your must haves, here’s nice to haves, and then here’s, if you get bored, here’s some things that you can do. So understanding what the client goal is.
Because on those days, it rarely feels like we’re a hired hand or a contracted vendor. It very much feels like, and we’ve built these relationships over the years, where it feels like we’re part of the team. And that’s how we prefer to exist in these relationships where it’s like, hey, you can count on us for pretty much anything. Here’s our job, but if you need help, we’re going to be there to help you out. And so identifying what those goals are, and then figuring out the timeframes.
And like Dan will probably tell you is you work backwards from desired result. Like, hey, we need to pop these five sponsors. They’re brand new to the event. We want to make them feel really happy about their investment. And here’s what they’ve been promised too by the salespeople. You co-sign that, Dan?
Yeah. I think you make a really important point about sort of popping sponsors and it is really understanding and I think… so you also see freelance folks jump in sometimes. And it’s really interesting to see the difference in how some of that works. And I totally get it. Because sometimes they’re almost from a fan perspective.
The idea that, dude, oh my God, Dave Grohl on stage right now is the most important thing that I need to be covering. And what you can lose in that, like Chris just mentioned, is you’re a partner of the event, you’re a surrogate to provide them, and in my area, cinematic storytelling and cinematic assets, they have sponsors and partners of their own who have invested a lot of dollars to make these events happen. You need to be cognizant of trying to help take care of those things like you become… And what’s been really interesting and really fun as we’ve worked with some of these events year after year, you can see the build, again, at least on the video and films end, of honestly, we create inventory assets. We’re not an expense. We’re actually something for them to sell. Because they can now either…
This goes back to something we were doing prior to Hurrdat. It’s just sometimes mentality is just really interesting the way… It’s marketing, right? If I tell you you’re a platinum sponsor of an action sports event and that costs 60K a year, but then for our five events, I want to charge you $3,000 for commercials to run on the webcast, a brand might feel nickeled and dimed. Like what the, come on, I’m paying you this… But if at the beginning of the year you tell them, oh, it’s 75 grand and you get all of this. And part of what you get is also these spots that run on their webcast. Brands far less like, oh, okay, that seems fair.
And then as a partner, we fall in the role of executing those kinds of things like that. And then it becomes even like the next level almost after year three, four or five, we start collaborating on what those opportunities are. That potentially is another part of, to jump back to the lead in, that informs the day of. And then of that, okay, well, we could produce this. And then they’re like, oh my gosh, that would be awesome. Because like Chris mentioned earlier, we have a new sponsor XYZ and we’re not sure exactly where they fit in on some of the other elements. So that stuff…
Other game day stuff for us in the films division, but actually it’s the same Chris overseeing social, which I know seems super basic, but it’s really important and gets super messed up, batteries are charged. [crosstalk 00:11:01] available. Media’s clean. Batteries are charged. Because it will a million percent happen where, and we speak from experience, where like, yeah, whatever, it’s no big deal. I’m hardly shooting. Oops, forgot to charge batteries. Event director comes over on the last day and is like, hey, still photographer, actually, okay, here’s your day. We need like 90 shots. Here you go. And it’s like, oh, I’m out of battery. So yeah, it’s just making sure that taking care of those basics.
We also try to get a lay of the land if we haven’t been there before. We try to get there early and kind of take a buzz around so we can kind of even understand the function. So we just did nineties kind of music, legacy artists festival, and you would think, oh, we’re media partner, we should enter where the VIP is. That’ll be easy for us. Well, actually the way that this venue ended up laid out, if we had done that, that would have absolutely been the farthest place possible from where we needed to go in. So just kind of figuring out some of that kind of stuff.
And then, like Chris mentioned earlier, working backwards is super important in sort of a very practical sense where you’re like, okay, if the DJ walks on stage at two and we need camera people in the photo pit and then they need social people at the door as people are clicking and coming in, okay, you retro engineer that. All right. How long to get our passes? Okay, okay. If we get our passes the night before… You back out of that instead of just thinking about, oh, well doors open at 11. Okay. But if you need to actually be covering that, you need to be in position at 11. So what does it take you to get there?
Yeah. And I know sometimes you’ve just mentioned a lot of people that are actually on site, but we also have offsite team members sometimes that are helping, because there’s so much, like wifi, for example, that you have to account for. Will we be able to drop that? Will we have mobile service or is somebody physically going to have to run this from point A to point B? How are we going to get this? How’s the team going to work and flex together throughout the day?
Yeah. From a social perspective, it’s super handy to have somebody that is in a controlled environment, consistent wifi, they have a keyboard in front of them, they aren’t trying to do things on the fly and log in to different accounts and everything. So from event perspective for social, love having somebody off site. Because then we can take assets, photos, videos, whatever, and then move those over to the person off site and they aren’t… Because especially when we walk a site early, we’re like, oh my gosh, wifi is awesome. And then you jam 6,000 people into the area and be like our wifi is really not as good as we thought it was going to be. And most events and venues, they’ll even set up, this last one, that festival that we did, we had a private wifi server that we were connecting to. Still wasn’t strong enough. It was easier to do it over a cell phone.
And we’re just in a lot of different environments too. What’s really nice about the remote person on that social side, and sometimes they’ll drop video assets to them too. Again, every festival, or every event I should, because it’s not just music we do, is different. Sometimes you’re not in a really secured place. So there’s not a good space for somebody to pop up with their laptop, have power, have wifi and be uninhibited, not having people around. Also it helps not having their faces melt with sweat dripping onto their laptop. Because most of these are outdoors. Most of them are the summertime.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). [crosstalk 00:15:08] I mean, you think about being around the cage for a fight that we’re doing and those lights are so bright and you’re just melting there. Your computers are melting.
Someone’s dripping sweat on you and-
Yeah, and other stuff. [crosstalk 00:15:22].
Yeah, it drops down there. So day of obviously is a blur and then a lot of work to still be done after the event. So what happens after an event?
So for social, we always have a few days after the event that we’re kind of controlling things too. And it’s really helpful from, in any of the events that we work with, they’ll tell you the same thing, having dedicated social people is a huge blessing. Because a lot of times a lot of these events they’ve relied on themselves or an intern or whatever that has 40 other jobs to be doing to be working on social. So having dedicated people that are only thinking about social has been super helpful. And generally that leaks a few days after the event so we can post any thank you assets, things that need to go out, do a little bit of community management afterwards. And then go into reporting to see how the event did. Especially these multi-year events, it’s really good to see, okay, hey, we’ve been improving every year with our engagement, which what it should do on social.
Yeah. If you see a dip usually it means something’s wrong. But going into reporting things like that. And then just preparing for the next year. Figuring out what we can do and doing a little internal Monday morning quarterbacking for our team to say, okay, this went well, this is what we need to improve on, here’s the changes that we make for next year. But Dan obviously has a quite bigger workload post events.
I think it’s interesting when you look at the videos set up when we’re working with an event and then how it matches also with socials. It’s like a bell curve where in the middle… So for films and video, I’d say it’s typically like a four or five on the run up. It’s maybe like a six or seven for covering the event, but then it’s also like another six or seven post. Sorry, on a scale of 10 of how intense we’re going. Where social is usually pretty low on the run-up, they’re super maximized, doing tons of stuff during the event and then they kind of pod down.
But the thing you got to remember, we now need to create something out of what we’ve shot. And that’s also changed a little bit over the year. It’s a really interesting symbiotic relationship with social and video. So there was a time period, even in the trajectory of Hurrdat, where most of the social content coming out during the event was produced by the films division. We’re doing same day edits. I know we did a really fun thing one year on Twitter for a MMA fight where we basically told a story throughout the day. We got each fighter as they arrived and dot, dot, dot. But as equipment, i.e. phones, and then also social platforms have gotten better and limitations have changed and this kind of stuff like that, the things that social can handle in the moment have kind of moved over to them.
And then we are taxed a lot with, I like to refer to it as long lasting assets. Both video footage and then we’re typically creating a really high quality, wrap-up video. So we also have this after process, both in the whole event, but also by the day. And anybody in production knows, I mean, it’s called dumping media. Social gets to go home or the event gets to go home. Well, we have six cards that we need to back up, double backup, make our redundancies, clean our cards so we can come back the next day. And then ultimately, when the whole event is done…
And we’re so stoked. We just expanded our team. We’ve got an assistant editor on board now. A really good guy named Sam Brennan. And this is part of what assistant editors do is like, cool, time to log this. You need to transcode all that footage and then you need to log it so that you can find it of like, whatever, what was day one, where’s all the 98 Degrees stuff, where’s this fight, where’s that fight. And then catalog that because we’re producing this wrap-up video, it goes away, but like Chris was saying, when we started prepping for the next year and you cycle to the time that event wants to advertise event X in 2021 wants to advertise for 2022, we’re getting a call back in March of it’s like, okay, we need to maybe start thinking about our broadcast commercial. And we need to be able to access in a fast, concise manner, the stuff that we shot the previous year.
So it’s really kind of an interesting… We coincide with social in the middle of the event, but they’re probably a little bit more… Because they have to get stuff in the moment because it’s like, hey, you have to show that gate’s open. You have to show that like the merch stand is going off or that this venue… And we get to be a little bit more cinematic and because we’re doing post-work where like, mm, I don’t know, the light’s kind of not great here right now, we’ll come back or we’ll do it at like a different time. So there’s just some interesting little differences, but yeah, our post event out is much heavier than the social teams.
Well, and then do you go back through and fill with B roll stuff too? So to your point, social is collecting and using assets basically as they’re coming in and you’re cataloging it all out so you can go back and say, oh, well we liked the story, but we didn’t get that shot shot so we’re going to handpick it. Maybe it was your story at night, but you’re handpicking a shot from the morning. Just a little cheat [crosstalk 00:21:27].
Yeah, absolutely. You’re you’re doing the whole, like you shoot both magic hours and magic hour is magic hour. You don’t really know on film whether it’s night or day as you get into some of that stuff. And again, you just sort of think about that. And our coverage has really evolved over time. I know Chris had a really great thing that he said earlier about selling tickets, which nine times out of 10 is on the agenda for the event. Again, we try really hard not to lose sight of that, even in some of the Monday morning quarterback-esque stuff. We’ve done some stuff where we look at client and it’s really cool and it’s really neat and rewarding when we’re like, oh my God, did you see how much… We produced a dozen, amazing 30 or 60 second high quality, cinematic, well produced video clips throughout the tournament. Oh, that’s great.
But then when we’re patting ourselves on the back, we don’t do it for too long because if you look at it and you go, oh, wait a minute. So nine of those came out Sunday between 11 in the morning and 1:30, the last day of a four day event. So Chris and I would kind of joke. We’d be like, oh, we just did garbage dump theater. That’s not good. Because you’re not helping your client anymore. You’re not helping the event. Because at that point, how many people are, they’ve already made up their minds by 11:00 on the Sunday of an event that’s day four of four and ends at 5:00, your tool can’t help them.
But yeah. So again, that’s part of our post-game process too. Of it’s like, hey, okay, we made some great stuff, but maybe we did it in a way that wasn’t as helpful as it could be. How do we take what we’re doing and for next year, let’s move it around. Hey, what if we produce more of those things in advance for you? Would that help, whatever, sell more tickets, get more sponsors so that you can continue our events? So that’s kind of part of the aftermath as well.
Yeah. Awesome. No, I think I’m back to selling tickets, it’s telling that story to either create nostalgia for, hey, we went to this last year. I’m so excited for it this year. Or it’s that FOMO, like I can’t believe we missed out on that. Look at how awesome this was. I’m pumped to go this year. So yeah, you guys do an awesome job. Two different worlds, but they come together on game day.
Yeah, they sure do.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us guys. I really appreciate your expertise again. Be sure to like, rate and subscribe. We have new episodes coming out every other Wednesday. So thanks again, guys.
Thanks Megan. Thanks Dan. Later, guys.
Speaker 1 (24:19):
I’ve Heard That is a part of the Hurrdat Media Network. For more information follow Hurrdat on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram, or visit hurrdatmarketing.com.
Speaker 5 (24:28):
A Hurrdat Media production.
Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster
Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.
Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update
On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.
Our December 2021 product reviews update is now rolling out for English-language pages. It will take about three weeks to complete. We have also extended our advice for product review creators: https://t.co/N4rjJWoaqE
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 1, 2021
The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.
A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:
“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.
Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.
Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”
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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.
The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.
The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.
The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.
Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update
Product Review Update Targets More Languages?
The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.
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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.
This is his question:
“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.
So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.
…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”
John Mueller answered:
“I don’t know… like other languages?
My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.
But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.
But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.
I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.
But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.
And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.
So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.
But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”
Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?
While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.
Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.
One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.
It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.
Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update
Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines
John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global
Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark
Survey says: Amazon, Google more trusted with your personal data than Apple is
MacRumors reveals that more people feel better with their personal data in the hands of Amazon and Google than Apple’s. Companies that the public really doesn’t trust when it comes to their personal data include Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.
The survey asked over 1,000 internet users in the U.S. how much they trusted certain companies such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon to handle their user data and browsing activity responsibly.
Amazon and Google are considered by survey respondents to be more trustworthy than Apple
Those surveyed were asked whether they trusted these firms with their personal data “a great deal,” “a good amount,” “not much,” or “not at all.” Respondents could also answer that they had no opinion about a particular company. 18% of those polled said that they trust Apple “a great deal” which topped the 14% received by Google and Amazon.
Amazon and Google are more trusted than Apple is with consumer’s personal data according to a survey
However, 39% said that they trust Amazon by “a good amount” with Google picking up 34% of the votes in that same category. Only 26% of those answering said that they trust Apple by “a good amount.” The first two responses, “a great deal” and “a good amount,” are considered positive replies for a company. “Not much” and “not at all” are considered negative responses.
By adding up the scores in the positive categories,
Apple tallied a score of 44% (18% said it trusted Apple with its personal data “a great deal” while 26% said it trusted Apple “a good amount”). But that placed the tech giant third after Amazon’s 53% and Google’s 48%. After Apple, Microsoft finished fourth with 43%, YouTube (which is owned by Google) was fifth with 35%, and Facebook was sixth at 20%.
Rounding out the remainder of the nine firms in the survey, Instagram placed seventh with a positive score of 19%, WhatsApp was eighth with a score of 15%, and TikTok was last at 12%.
Looking at the scoring for the two negative responses (“not much,” or “not at all”), Facebook had a combined negative score of 72% making it the least trusted company in the survey. TikTok was next at 63% with Instagram following at 60%. WhatsApp and YouTube were both in the middle of the pact at 53% followed next by Google and Microsoft at 47% and 42% respectively. Apple and Amazon each had the lowest combined negative scores at 40% each.
74% of those surveyed called targeted online ads invasive
The survey also found that a whopping 82% of respondents found targeted online ads annoying and 74% called them invasive. Just 27% found such ads helpful. This response doesn’t exactly track the 62% of iOS users who have used Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature to opt-out of being tracked while browsing websites and using apps. The tracking allows third-party firms to send users targeted ads online which is something that they cannot do to users who have opted out.
The 38% of iOS users who decided not to opt out of being tracked might have done so because they find it convenient to receive targeted ads about a certain product that they looked up online. But is ATT actually doing anything?
Marketing strategy consultant Eric Seufert said last summer, “Anyone opting out of tracking right now is basically having the same level of data collected as they were before. Apple hasn’t actually deterred the behavior that they have called out as being so reprehensible, so they are kind of complicit in it happening.”
The Financial Times says that iPhone users are being lumped together by certain behaviors instead of unique ID numbers in order to send targeted ads. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg says that the company is working to rebuild its ad infrastructure “using more aggregate or anonymized data.”
Aggregated data is a collection of individual data that is used to create high-level data. Anonymized data is data that removes any information that can be used to identify the people in a group.
When consumers were asked how often do they think that their phones or other tech devices are listening in to them in ways that they didn’t agree to, 72% answered “very often” or “somewhat often.” 28% responded by saying “rarely” or “never.”
Entireweb Articles – Read the latest Articles and News in Search Engine related world!
Google’s John Mueller on Brand Mentions via @sejournal, @martinibuster
What’s A Brand Mention?
A brand mention is when one website mentions another website. There is an idea in the SEO community that when a website mentions another website’s domain name or URL that Google will see this and count it the same as a link.
Brand Mentions are also known as an implied link. Much was written about this ten years ago after a Google patent that mentions “implied links” surfaced.
There has never been a solid review of why the idea of “brand mentions” has nothing to do with this patent, but I’ll provide a shortened version later in this article.
John Mueller Discussing Brand Mentions
Do Brand Mentions Help With Rankings?
The person asking the question wanted to know about brand mentions for the purpose of ranking. The person asking the question has good reason to ask it because the idea of “brand mentions” has never been definitively reviewed.
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The person asked the question:
“Do brand mentions without a link help with SEO rankings?”
Google Does Not Use Brand Mentions
Google’s John Mueller answered that Google does not use the “brand mentions” for any link related purpose.
“From my point of view, I don’t think we use those at all for things like PageRank or understanding the link graph of a website.
And just a plain mention is sometimes kind of tricky to figure out anyway.”
That part about it being tricky is interesting.
He didn’t elaborate on why it’s tricky until later in the video where he says it’s hard to understand the subjective context of a website mentioning another website.
Brand Mentions Are Useful For Building Awareness
Mueller next says that brand mentions may be useful for helping to get the word out about a site, which is about building popularity.
“But it can be something that makes people aware of your brand, and from that point of view, could be something where indirectly you might have some kind of an effect from that in that they search for your brand and then …obviously, if they’re searching for your brand then hopefully they find you right away and then they can go to your website.
And if they like what they see there, then again, they can go off and recommend that to other people as well.”
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“Brand Mentions” Are Problematic
Later on at the 58 minute mark another person brings the topic back up and asks how Google could handle spam sites that are mentioning a brand in a negative way.
The person said that one can disavow links but one cannot disavow a “brand mention.”
Mueller agreed and said that’s one of things that makes brand mentions difficult to use for ranking purposes.
John Mueller explained:
“Kind of understanding the almost the subjective context of the mention is really hard.
Is it like a positive mention or a negative mention?
Is it a sarcastic positive mention or a sarcastic negative mention? How can you even tell?
And all of that, together with the fact that there are lots of spammy sites out there and sometimes they just spin content, sometimes they’re malicious with regards to the content that they create…
All of that, I think, makes it really hard to say we can just use that as the same as a link.
…It’s just, I think, too confusing to use as a clear signal.”
Where “Brand Mentions” Come From
The idea of “brand mentions” has bounced around for over ten years.
There were no research papers or patents to support it. “Brand mentions” is literally an idea that someone invented out of thin air.
However the “brand mention” idea took off in 2012 when a patent surfaced that seemed to confirm the idea of brand mentions.
There’s a whole long story to this so I’m just going to condense it.
There’s a patent from 2012 that was misinterpreted in several different ways because most people at the time, myself included, did not read the entire patent from beginning to end.
The patent itself is about ranking web pages.
The structure of most Google patents consist of introductory paragraphs that discuss what the patent is about and those paragraphs are followed by pages of in-depth description of the details.
The introductory paragraphs that explain what it’s about states:
“Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs… for ranking search results.”
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Pretty much nobody read that beginning part of the patent.
Everyone focused on a single paragraph in the middle of the patent (page 9 out of 16 pages).
In that paragraph there is a mention of something called “implied links.”
The word “implied” is only mentioned four times in the entire patent and all four times are contained within that single paragraph.
So when this patent was discovered, the SEO industry focused on that single paragraph as proof that Google uses brand mentions.
In order to understand what an “implied link” is, you have to scroll all the way back up to the opening paragraphs where the Google patent authors describe something called a “reference query” that is not a link but is nevertheless used for ranking purposes just like a link.
What Is A Reference Query?
A reference query is a search query that contains a reference to a URL or a domain name.
The patent states:
“A reference query for a particular group of resources can be a previously submitted search query that has been categorized as referring to a resource in the particular group of resources.”
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Elsewhere the patent provides a more specific explanation:
“A query can be classified as referring to a particular resource if the query includes a term that is recognized by the system as referring to the particular resource.
…search queries including the term “example.com” can be classified as referring to that home page.”
The summary of the patent, which comes at the beginning of the document, states that it’s about establishing which links to a website are independent and also counting reference queries and with that information creating a “modification factor” which is used to rank web pages.
“…determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective count of reference queries; determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective group-specific modification factor, wherein the group-specific modification factor for each group is based on the count of independent links and the count of reference queries for the group;”
The entire patent largely rests on those two very important factors, a count of independent inbound links and the count of reference queries. The phrases reference query and reference queries are used 39 times in the patent.
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As noted above, the reference query is used for ranking purposes like a link, but it’s not a link.
The patent states:
“An implied link is a reference to a target resource…”
It’s clear that in this patent, when it mentions the implied link, it’s talking about reference queries, which as explained above simply means when people search using keywords and the domain name of a website.
Idea of Brand Mentions Is False
The whole idea of “brand mentions” became a part of SEO belief systems because of how that patent was misinterpreted.
But now you have the facts and know why “brand mentions” is not real thing.
Plus John Mueller confirmed it.
“Brand mentions” is something completely random that someone in the SEO community invented out of thin air.
Watch John Mueller discuss “brand mentions” at 44:10 Minute Mark and the brand Mentions second part begins at the 58:12 minute mark
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