Warning: Declaration of Raven\Modules\Nav_Menu\Classes\Walker_Nav_Menu::walk($elements, $max_depth) should be compatible with Walker::walk($elements, $max_depth, ...$args) in /home/brandedp/public_html/yourimprint.net/wp-content/plugins/raven/includes/modules/nav-menu/classes/walker-nav-menu.php on line 0
Culture in the workplace isn’t always intuitive; it is something you must work hard to create. It is representative of who you are and what your philosophy is – the DNA of your company if you will. This is why defining workplace culture is so influential right from the start.
From branding to your company mission, expectations, goals, marketing, and the content you are putting out there – company culture is the heart and soul of any business. And while culture is often challenging to define, doing so could give you a leg up in your niche. Establishing a positive, constructive, and encouraging workplace culture is the first step to not only attracting quality employees and clients but creating a unique brand.
What is Workplace Culture?
No, this isn’t just a buzz term; it’s the real deal. But what does it really mean? In today’s crazy-busy world where the only constant thing is change, it is crucial to hone in on who you are and what your company stands for. Culture in the workplace has evolved over the years, helping organizations implement and promote specific values, beliefs, visions, habits, and more.
Sure, company culture can impact your employee turnover and retention, as well as the overall mood of the workplace, but it’s so much more than that. Through different avenues (think branding, social media, blogging, digital marketing, email campaigns, and more) you can communicate to your audience exactly who you are and what others can expect from you. This is the overall goal of any business.
Why Does Culture in the Workplace Matter?
There are many reasons why understanding what culture in the workplace looks like for your organization matters. It is both a business strategy and a way to advocate for your beliefs and values through personalized tactics and avenues.
A positive workplace culture can do the following:
Attract long-term employees
Promote happiness and satisfaction
Help your business thrive
Let Your Branding Do the Talking
So, where do you start?
Once you’ve established a healthy culture in the workplace, it’s time to get to work. Branding, marketing, and communications are all excellent tools that will help you connect with your audiences, both internal and external. These tools should be used to support your company culture, and, in turn, do the following:
Sell your services and products
Improve internal operations
Attract new customers and retain loyal ones
Broadcast and promote your brand
How do we do this? For starters, the Your Imprint team is here to not only help you create a plan that is tailored to your organization, but also to implement this strategy through a strong brand message that is fully representative of your company culture.
Culture in the workplace matters because it is how others will see you.
If your branding is off or if your marketing doesn’t align with your philosophy, it can cause a ripple of disruption from which it’s hard to recover. We can help you use the various digital marketing tools at our fingertips to share your company culture and make sure you are sending the right message to your audience.
You’re finally running the business of your dreams. You love your products, you love your customers, and you love your job, but there’s one issue: you want to be contentmarketing, but you’re so busy running the business you don’t know where to start.
While deciding on the best practice in this arena is a highly individual process, there are some general guidelines you can follow to help clarify the next step.
When Is Content Marketing A Good Investment?
Before we talk about whether you should keep content production in-house or hire a team, we should consider if it is a smart use of money and time.
Content marketing can be great for businesses that has a solution for a problem of which people aren’t aware. If you have devised a great niche product or service, content marketing can spread the word in a way that doesn’t feel pushy or insistent. Your potential customers will have the opportunity to feel as though purchasing from you is there idea.
This is a fantastic strategy seeing how social media doesn’t seem to radically change people’s minds if used argumentatively. By approaching a situation with a more neutral information-oriented strategy, you can get your customers on board of their own accord.
The final thing to consider when deciding if content marketing makes sense for your company is your goal for the campaign. As stated earlier, content is more of a long-term strategy. It can definitely bring in new customers, but its real strength lies in its ability to help you retain customer loyalty through consistent dialogue.
Traditional ads may be a better move for a brand-new business with little previous exposure. Transitioning to a more integrative strategy may make sense as time passes, but if the goal is to maximize views on a small budget, content marketing may not be the best choice.
When Should You Hire a Content Marketing Team?
If you are a business that has decided to start content marketing, you have a decision to make: do you delegate employees to content creation, or do you hire a marketing team?
One of the most important factors to consider in this decision-making process is the size of your company. Do you have employees to spare? Can you delegate a large amount of time for content research and creation? Good content is not a rush job, and you should prioritize quality over quantity. If this is untenable with your current roster, hiring out may be a good idea.
The second major consideration is your level of expertise in-house. If you have a dedicated marketing department, there is a good chance you already have employees capable of creating high-quality content.
If you’re whole work-force consists of people specializing in production, you should seriously consider hiring someone who excels at content creation. Keep in mind that blogging and content writing are different, and just because someone can write a blog post doesn’t mean they can handle all your content marketing.
Content creation is an investment. You need to decide if this is a good time to invest for your business. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, you are probably going to see better returns if:
Your company is already somewhat established
You are looking for long term customer retainment
You have someone in-house who can dedicate a lot of time to content creation
I am currently writing this article from my bedside. While it might seem like this is a recipe for a productivity disaster, the reality is that remote work can actually be hugely beneficial to your health, creativity, and ability to grind out projects. Sound too good to be true? Don’t take my word for it, let’s explore the reasons why working from home may be the best decision you can make.
Remote work radically reduces stress
It’s no secret that stress is horrible. Not only can stress lead to health problems like cardiovascular disease and cancer, but it also wreaks havoc on your mental health. Being stressed out can make you feel scattered, overwhelmed, and incapable of completing important tasks like organizing your social media, let alone thriving in your business.
As such, it is incredibly helpful if you can find a way to reduce your stress while working. This is where remote work can really help you out. Working from home allows you to be autonomous, control your pace, and surround yourself with a friendly and relaxing environment. These things alone can radically reduce stress levels, allowing you to focus on the work at hand rather than the deadlines or higher-ups waiting on you.
In addition, remote work removes the need to commute. While this may sound like a minor convenience, it has been shown that long commutes negatively affect your health in a number of pretty scary ways. Staying home and working from bed may literally help you live longer, and you’ll probably get more done too. Talk about a win-win.
Remote work allows introverts to thrive
OK, so clearly working from home can be great for your health and stress levels, but the benefits don’t stop there. Remote work can also boost your creativity. The reason for this boost in creativity is simple: when you work remotely, you can manipulate your schedule and environment to ensure that you feel inspired.
Working in an office with a set schedule may be great for some, but for many of us, it can feel suffocating. This is especially true of the introverts.
In Susan Cain’s book Quiet, she explains that we live in a society with an extrovert ideal. This means that many workplaces and companies have adopted the attitude that socialization, group work, and constant interaction will allow everyone to thrive. This simply isn’t the case.
As Cain explains, the difference between introverts and extroverts boils down to differences in sensitivity to stimulus. Extroverts can handle lots of stimulation, while introverts give more attention to each detail, causing them to burn out quicker. Because of this, introverts may have a ton more energy and focus in a familiar and safe environment, where the only new stimulus is the work at hand.
Takes one to know one
This rings true for me. I am an extremely introverted person, and for much of my life, I was conditioned to consider this a negative thing. I tried for years to embrace the work culture of constant interaction, lots of conversation, and socialization during breaks, and I wound up underperforming and feeling stressed all the time. I thought I was just lazy or flawed in some way, but it turns out I just needed a different work environment.
Working remotely changed my life. Now that I have the autonomy to stay at home when I need to, I am able to work on things with more focus and endurance than I ever thought possible. While it may have taken me a while to accept my introversion, now that I have, I can tailor my work schedule to ensure that I feel my most creative and relaxed. Remote work has allowed me to create a schedule that plays to my strengths, and I can’t begin to explain how much my quality of life has improved from this (not to mention my ability to write blog posts, focus on important tasks, manage my time, etc).
If you’re an introvert like me who has been trying to force yourself to be extraverted, you’re not doing anyone any favors. Your stress levels are probably high, and you’re probably not doing your best work while constantly being forced to socialize. Do everyone a favor and try remote work. Your health, your boss, and your brain will thank you.
We’ve talked about search engine optimization quite a bit in the past, and with good reason. SEO is an absolutely indispensable way to reach potential customers, and in the competitive online market, small business SEO can be the difference between a thriving business and a premature bankruptcy. Today, we are going to talk about using SEO as a small business, and how you can make the most of your online presence.
What is SEO?
As stated above, SEO stands for search engine optimization. Optimizing your web pages to fit the algorithms on search engines like Google can boost your ranking when people search for terms related to your product or service. While there are a number of factors that go into this optimization, a few important ones include:
Using relevant keywords
Linking to other pages on your own site
Linking to pages on other sites
Avoiding repetitive links
We’ve talked about SEO in greater depthelsewhere, so we won’t get too deep into it here. But now that we’ve covered the basics of SEO, let’s get into what makes small business SEO different from SEO for bigger companies.
Big vs Small Business SEO
It should be pretty obvious that almost every business can benefit from SEO. That said, not every business benefits from the same strategy. Bigger businesses have far more money to invest, and typically have a wider audience.
A place like McDonald’s doesn’t really need to worry about their customers finding them on Google, as they are widely recognized throughout the world already. When a business like this engages in SEO, they’re probably going to be aiming at the highest level search terms, such as “burgers,” but they’ll also be focused heavily on their locations.
Such broad terms should not be chosen when attempting small business SEO, however. The reason is simple: competition is going to be insane. In order to pop up anywhere near the first page on a search for a broad, generic term, a company must out-compete thousands of other sites. Small businesses are rarely equipped for this.
This is an incredibly common mistake, and it ends up costing these businesses. If a business owner is working with limited resources, spending money on SEO that doesn’t get them any new attention can be a serious loss.
How to Win with SEO as a Small Business
Small business owners need to approach SEO at the local level. It is highly unlikely that a local shop is going to find its way to the first page of Google on a huge, inclusive search, but they can be mighty competitive if they get a bit more specific.
Sticking with the burger joint example, there is a very low chance a burger place in a small town is going to out-compete a corporation like McDonald’s. What they can do, however, is optimize for searches which are too specific for a huge, national corporation.
In practice, this means the local place would simply switch from optimizing for the word “burger,” to the search term “burger place Fort Collins.” Barrowing in will allow the local restaurant to slip through holes in the nets bigger businesses cast and show up higher on search engines.
If you are a small business owner trying to build SEO into your strategy, think about what your customers are likely to search. The more specific you can get, the better, as this will allow you to show up on the screens of those most likely to buy from you.
Don’t forget the people who are easy to reach and already want your product because you’re distracted by all the “maybes” out there. Hone in on your specific area and audience, and cater your content to their searches.
Of course, if you want to skip all the test runs and research, you could always hire a marketing team with tons of small business SEO experience. Who knows, finding a great team might be easier than you think.
Most marketers understand that links to websites count as “votes” on the web. Google — and other search engines — use these votes to rank web pages in search results. The more votes a page accumulates, the better that page’s chances of ranking in search results.
This is the popularity part of Google’s algorithm, described in the original PageRank patent. But Google doesn’t stop at using links for popularity. They’ve invented a number of clever ways to use links to determine relevance and authority — i.e. what is this page about and is it a trusted answer for the user’s search query?
To rank in Google, it’s not simply the number of votes you receive from popular pages, but the relevance and authority of those links as well.
The principals Google may use grow complex quickly, but we’ve included a number of simple ways to leverage these strategies for more relevant rankings at the bottom of the post.
“Thus, even though the text of the document itself may not match the search terms, if the document is cited by documents whose titles or backlink anchor text match the search terms, the document will be considered a match.”
In a nutshell, if a page links to you using the anchor text “hipster pizza,” there’s a good chance your page is about pizza — and maybe hipsters.
If many pages link to you using variations of “pizza”— i.e. pizza restaurant, pizza delivery, Seattle pizza — then Google can see this as a strong ranking signal.
(In fact, so powerful is this effect, that if you search Google for “hipster pizza” here in Seattle, you’ll see our target for the link above ranking on the first page.)
How to leverage Anchor Text for SEO:
Volumes could be written on this topic. Google’s own SEO Starter Guide recommends a number of anchor text best practices, among them:
Use (and seek) descriptive anchor text that describes what your page is about
Over-optimization can signal manipulation to Google, and many SEOs recommend a strategy of anchor text variety for better rankings.
2. Hub and authority pages
In the early days of Google, not long after Larry Page figured out how to rank pages based on popularity, the Hilltop algorithm worked out how to rank pages on authority. It accomplished this by looking for “expert” pages linking to them.
An expert page is a document that links to many other topically relevant pages. If a page is linked to from several expert pages, then it is considered an authority on that topic and may rank higher.
A similar concept using “hub” and “authority” pages was put forth by Jon Kleinberg, a Cornell professor with grants from Google and other search engines. Kleinberg explains:
While we can’t know the degree to which these concepts are used today, Google acquired the Hilltop algorithm in 2003.
How to leverage Authority Pages for SEO:
A common practice of link builders today is to seek links from “Resource Pages.” These are basically Hub/Expert pages that link out to helpful sites around a topic. Scoring links on these pages can often help you a ton.
The idea behind Google’s Reasonable Surfer patent is that certain links on a page are more important than others, and thus assigned increase weight. Examples of more important links include:
Prominent links, higher up in the HTML
Topically relevant links, related to both the source document and the target document.
Conversely, less important links include:
“Terms of Service” and footer links
Links unrelated to the document
Because the important links are more likely to be clicked by a “reasonable surfer,” a topically relevant link can carry more weight than an off-topic one.
“…when a topical cluster associated with the source document is related to a topical cluster associated with the target document, the link has a higher probability of being selected than when the topical cluster associated with the source document is unrelated to the topical cluster associated with the target document.” – United States Patent: 7716225
How to leverage Reasonable Surfer for SEO:
The key with leveraging Reasonable Surfer for SEO is simply: work to obtain links that are more likely to get clicked.
This means that you not only benefit from getting links from prominent areas of high-traffic pages, but the more relevant the link is to the topic of the hosting page, the more benefit it may provide.
Neither page topics/anchor texts have to be an exact match, but it helps if they are in the same general area. For example, if you were writing about “baseball,” links with relevant anchor text from pages about sports, equipment, athletes, training, exercise, tourism, and more could all help boost rankings more than less relevant links.
4. Topic-sensitive PageRank
Despite rumors to the contrary, PageRank is very much alive and well at Google.
PageRank technology can be used to distribute all kinds of different ranking signals throughout a search index. While the most common examples are popularity and trust, another signal is topical relevance, as laid out in this paper by Taher Haveliwala, who went on to become a Google software engineer.
The original concept works by grouping “seed pages” by topic (for example, the Politics section of the New York Times). Every link out from these pages passes on a small amount of Topic-Sensitive PageRank, which is passed on through the next set of links, and so on.
In the example above, 2 identical pages target “Football”. Both have the same number of links, but the first one has more relevant Topic-Sensitive PageRank from a linking sports page. Hence, it ranks higher.
How to leverage topic-sensitive PageRank for SEO:
The concept is simple. When obtaining links, try to get links from pages that are about the same topic you want to rank for. Also, get links from pages that are themselves linked to by authoritative pages on the same topic.
5. Phrase-based indexing
Phrase-based indexing can be a tough concept for SEOs to wrap their heads around.
What’s important to understand is that phrase-based indexing allows search engines to score the relevancy of any link by looking for related phrases in both the source and target pages. The more related phrases, the higher the score.
In the example below, the first page with the anchor text link “US President” may carry more weight because the page also contains several other phrases related to “US President” and “John Adams.”
In addition to ranking documents based on the most relevant links, phrase-based indexing allows search engines to consider less relevant links as well, including:
Discounting spam and off-topic links: For example, an injected spam link to a gambling site from a page about cookie recipes will earn a very low outlink score based on relevancy and would carry less weight.
Fighting “Google Bombing”: For those that remember, Google bombing is the art of ranking a page highly for funny or politically-motivated phrases by “bombing” it with anchor text links, often unrelated to the page itself. Phrase-based indexing can stop Google bombing by scoring the links for relevance against the actual text on the page. This way, irrelevant links can be discounted.
How to leverage phrased-based indexing for SEO:
Beyond anchor text and the general topic/authority of a page, it’s helpful to seek links from pages with related phrases.
This is especially helpful for on-page SEO and internal linking — when you optimize your own pages and link to yourself. Some people use LSI keywords for on-page optimization, though evidence that this helps SEO is disputed.
Solid keyword research typically provides a starting point to identify related keyword phrases. Below are closely related phrases to “best SEO tools” found using Keyword Explorer.
6. Local inter-connectivity
Local inter-connectivity refers to a reranking concept that reorders search results based on measuring how often each page is linked to by all the other pages.
To put it simply, when a page is linked to from a number of high-ranking results, it is likely more relevant than a page with fewer links from the same set of results.
This also provides a strong hint as to the types of links you should be seeking: pages that already rank highly for your target term.
How to leverage local inter-connectivity for SEO:
Quite simply, one of the easiest ways to rank is to obtain topically relevant links from sites that already rank for the term you are targeting.
Oftentimes, links from page 1 results can be quite difficult to obtain, so it’s helpful to look for links that:
Rank for variations of your target terms
Are further down in Google’s results pages
Rank well for different, but still topically-related terms
7. The golden question
If the above concepts seem complex, the good news is you don’t have to actually understand the above concepts when trying to build links to your site.
To understand if a link is topically relevant to your site, simply ask yourself the golden question of link building: Will this link bring engaged, highly qualified visitors to my website?
The result of the golden question is exactly what Google engineers are trying to determine when evaluating links, so you can arrive at a good end result without understanding the actual algorithms.
How to leverage the golden question for SEO:
Above all else, try to build links that bring engaged, high-value visitors to your site.
If you don’t care about the visitors a link may bring, why should Google care highly about the link?
SEO tips for topically relevant links
Consider this advice when thinking about links for SEO:
DO use good, descriptive anchor text for your links. This applies to internal links, outlinks to other sites, and links you seek from non-biased external sites.
DO seek relationships from authoritative, topically relevant sites. These include sites that rank well for your target keyword and “expert” pages that link to many authority sites. (For those interested, Majestic has done some interesting work around Topical Trust Flow.)
DO seek links from relevant pages. This includes examining the title, body, related phrases, and intent of the page to ensure its relevance to your target topic.
DO seek links that people are likely to click. The ideal link is often both topically relevant and placed in a prominent position.
Finally, DO try to earn and attract links to your site with high quality, topically relevant content.
What are your best tips around topically relevant links? Let us know in the comments below!
Note: A version of this post was published previously, and has since been substantially updated. Big thanks to Bill Slawski and his blog SEO by the Sea, which acted as a starting point of research for many of these concepts.
It feels like it’s been a king’s age since we first began our long journey to rewrite and revamp the Beginner’s Guide to SEO. For all the long months of writing and rewriting, of agonizing over details and deleting/replacing sections every so often as Google threw us for a loop, it’s hard to believe it’s finally ready to share:
What makes this new version so darn special and sparkly, anyway?
I’m glad you asked! Our design team would breathe a sigh of relief and tell you it’s because this baby is on-brand and ready to rock your eyeballs to next Tuesday with its use of fancy, scalable SVGs and images complete with alt text descriptions. Our team of SEO experts would blot the sweat from their collective brow and tell you it’s because we’ve retooled and completely updated all our recommendations to ensure we’re giving fledgling learners the most accurate push out of the digital marketing nest that we can. Our developers would tell you it’s because it lives on a brand-spankin’-new CMS and they no longer have to glare silently at my thirteenth Slack message of the day asking them to fix the misplaced period on the fourth paragraph from the top in Chapter 7.
All joking aside, every bit of the above is true, and each perspective pulls together a holistic answer: this version of the Beginner’s Guide represents a new era for the number-one resource for learning SEO, one where we can update it at the drop of a Google algorithm-shaped hat, where it’s easier than ever to access and learn for a greater variety of people, where you can rely on the fact that the information is solid, up-to-date, and molded to best fit the learning journey unique to SEO.
I notice the structure is a little different, what gives?
We can’t escape your eagle eyes! We structured the new guide quite differently from the original. Everything is explained in our introduction, but here’s the gist: taking inspiration from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we built each chapter based on the core foundation of how one ought to go about doing SEO, covering the most integral needs first before leveling up to the next.
We affectionately call this “Mozlow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” Please forgive us.
A small but mighty team
While it may have taken us a full year and a half to get to this point, there was but a small team behind the effort. We owe a huge amount of gratitude to the following folks for balancing their other priorities with the needs of the new Beginner’s Guide and putting their all into making this thing shine:
Britney Muller, our brilliant SEO scientist and the brains behind all the new content. Words cannot do justice to the hours she spent alone and after hours before a whiteboard, Post-Its and dry-erase notes making up the bones and muscles and soul of what would someday become this fully-fleshed-out guide. For all the many, many blog comments answered and incorporated, for all the emails and Twitter messages fielded, for all the love and hard work and extra time she spent pouring into the new content, we have to give a heartfelt and extremely loud and boisterous THANK YOU. This guide wouldn’t exist without her expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to excellence.
Kameron Jenkins, our SEO wordsmith and all-around content superheroine. Her exquisite grasp of the written word and extensive experience as an agency SEO were paramount in pulling together disparate feedback, finessing complicated concepts into simple and understandable terms, and organizing the information in ways most conducive to aiding new learners. Again, this guide wouldn’t be here without her positive attitude and incredible, expert help.
Trevor Klein, editor extraordinaire. His original vision of organizing it according to the SEO hierarchy of needs provided the insight and architecture necessary to structuring the guide in a completely new and utterly helpful way. Many of the words, voice, and tone therein belong to him, and we deeply appreciate the extra polish and shine he lent to this monumental effort.
Skye Stewart, talented designer and UX aficionado. All the delightful images you’ll find within the chapters are compliments of her careful handiwork, from the robo-librarian of Chapter 2 to the meat-grinder-turned-code-renderer of Chapter 5. The new Beginner’s Guide would be an infinitely less whimsical experience without her creativity and vision.
Casey Coates, software engineer and mystical CMS-wizard-come-miracle-maker. I can safely say that there is no way you would be exploring the brand-new Beginner’s Guide in any coherent manner without his help. For all the last-minute additions to CMS deploys, for calmly fielding all the extra questions and asks, for being infinitely responsive and helpful (case in point: adding alt text to the image block less than two minutes after I asked for it) and for much, much more, we are grateful.
There are a great many other folks who helped get this effort underway: Shelly Matsudaira, Aaron Kitney,Jeff Crump, and Cyrus Shepard for their integral assistance moving this thing past the finish line; Rand Fishkin, of course, for creating the original and longest-enduring version of this guide; and to all of you, our dear community, for all the hours you spent reading our first drafts and sharing your honest thoughts, extremely constructive criticisms, and ever-humbling praise. This couldn’t exist without you!
Y’all ready for this?
With tender pride and only a hint of the sort of naturally occurring anxiety that accompanies any big content debut, we’re delighted and excited for you to dive into the brand-new Beginner’s Guide to SEO. The original has been read over ten million times, a mind-boggling and truly humbling number. We can only hope that our newest incarnation is met by a similar number of bright minds eager to dive into the exhilarating, challenging, complex, and lucrative world of SEO.
Whether you’re just starting out, want to jog your memory on the fundamentals, need to clue in colleagues to the complexity of your work, or are just plain curious about what’s changed, we hope from the bottom of our hearts that you get what you need from the new Beginner’s Guide.
Reducing the amount of false news on Facebook is always important, critically so during times of heightened civic discourse, such as the lead-up to major elections. That’s why limiting the spread of misinformation has been a key pillar in our investments around election integrity.
As a company, when it comes to misinformation, we prioritize reducing the harm it causes and often look at its impacts in the aggregate. However, we can learn a lot about trends and nuances by examining specific cases and how they spread. In this second edition of “The Hunt for False News,” we travel to the EU, ahead of May’s parliamentary elections, to take a deeper look at some examples of misinformation that circulated there recently.
What we saw In January, a photo of a letter supposedly written by the headmistress of a Dresden primary school was posted to Facebook. The letter announces that in the following week, four imams would be visiting the school to introduce the children to the Koran and Islam. This “theme week” would include a compulsory visit to a mosque, and parents were encouraged to buy a Koran and avoid giving their children pork for breakfast on the day of the imams’ visit. The letter closed by saying that the school was pleased to be bringing parents and children closer to Islam, as it is an important topic in Germany.
Was it true? No. German fact-checker Correctiv used image editing software to take a closer look at the letterhead, which had been blacked out in the photo. By increasing the contrast and brightness, they show that the blacked-out section was not, in fact, a school address, but a nonsense string of letters. Correctiv also notes that the letter circulated on various social networks, and when a Twitter user asked various German officials for comment on the photo, the Saxon Ministry of Education tweeted back that the letter was a fake.
What to know False news often gains traction when it feeds off of hot-button political and social issues — in this case, the growing population of Muslims in Germany. As we noted in an example about migrants and refugees in the last edition of “The Hunt for False News,” content that disparages or stirs up distrust of distinct groups of people, as this letter does, is another key trend in misinformation.
A few months ago, we expanded our fact-checking efforts to include photos, like this one, and videos. This fake letter falls into the “manipulated or fabricated” category of photo and video misinformation. (The other two major categories are out-of-context media or media with false audio or text claims.) In general, we see that photos and videos make up a greater share of fact-checked posts than article links do. In fact, in the lead-up to the US midterm elections, photos and videos made up two thirds of fact-checker ratings in the U.S.
How we caught it There are two primary ways we find stories that are likely to be false: either we use machine learning to detect potentially false stories on Facebook, or else they’re identified by our third-party fact-checkers themselves. Once a potentially false story has been found — regardless of how it was identified — fact-checkers review the claims in the story, rate their accuracy and provide an explanation as to how they arrived at their rating. This photo was identified via machine learning.
What we saw A video shared on Facebook in February shows a man in a suit walking through what looks like a government assembly hall, shaking hands and dropping small cards at a number of empty seats. The caption claims that the man is using Spanish national ID cards to register absent congresspeople as “present” to collect their per diem payments. Was it true? No. First off, as fact-checker Maldito Bulo notes, the assembly hall shown in the video isn’t that of the Spanish Parliament — it’s the Ukrainian Parliament. In the Ukrainian Parliament, members must use identification cards to vote, but that is not true in the Spanish Parliament.
What to know This is a classic example of an “out of context” video, another major category of misinformation. In the past, this video has circulated with claims that it shows the French or Brazilian parliaments, according to Maldito Bulo.
How we found it The video was identified by Maldito Bulo, who rated it false, leading us to downrank it in News Feed and show Maldito Bulo’s debunking article alongside the video in Related Articles. Our machine learning models picked up additional videos making the same claim and surfaced them to our fact-checkers. Maldito Bulo and another fact-checker, Newtral, rated them false, leading us to take action on them, as well.
These videos were posted in February, before we had expanded our fact-checking partnership to Spain. They were rated soon after the expansion and quickly taken action on, but in the intervening time had been shared tens of thousands of times. This is a strong sign of why it’s important for us to keep developing new methods for fighting misinformation faster and at a larger scale.
What we saw An article from a now defunct Dutch site citing 11 reasons to avoid getting a flu shot — including a claim that the flu shot can cause Alzheimer’s — was shared to Facebook in December 2018. The article cited research by Dr. Hugh Fudenburg supposedly showing that people who regularly have a flu shot are 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The article link was caught early; it had only been shared about 23 times before it was fact-checked.
Was it true? Our fact-checking partner Nu.nl declared that one of the claims in the story — that the flu shot increases the risk of Alzheimer’s — was very unlikely and gave the overall article a “mixture” rating on this basis. Nu.nl noted that there is no published research showing the flu vaccine impacts your chance of getting Alzheimer’s; Fudenberg is reported to have spoken about research linking flu shots and the disease at a 1997 conference, but those findings have never been published and there are no supporting scientific theories that make it plausible the flu shot would affect one’s chance of getting Alzheimer’s. Further, while it has been claimed that aluminum and mercury in flu vaccines lead to the disease, Nu.nl reports that neither substance is found in Dutch flu shots.
How we caught it This one was identified via machine learning. Nu.nl matched the claim about the flu vaccine and Alzheimer’s to an article they’d written on the topic in late October, which led to our downranking this Dutch article in News Feed and showing Nu.nl’s debunking article alongside it in Related Articles.
What we saw In February 2019, a French website published an article claiming that the UN was seeking to legalize pedophilia. The text of the article was copy-and-pasted from an earlier article that has been floating around the internet for several years. The article, which was shared to Facebook the same month, suggests that the UN is demanding sexual rights for children as young as 10 years old, which would protect pedophiles from criminal prosecution and imprisonment.
Was it true? No. The much-copied article seems to refer to a 2008 declaration by the International Planned Parenthood Federation, an advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights that has participated in several UN commissions. The declaration, which has no legal value, according to a 2017 article written by our fact-checking partner 20 Minutes, asserts that “sexual rights are human rights” and proposes a framework of general principles about sexuality as well as 10 “sexual rights.”
The declaration does contain material related to the sexuality of children, such as the principle that “the rights and protections guaranteed to people under age eighteen differ from those of adults, and must take into account the evolving capacities of the individual child to exercise rights on his or her own behalf.” However, as 20 Minutes notes, it contains nothing in favor of the legalization of pedophilia. In fact, it asserts that “all children and adolescents are entitled to enjoy the right to special protection from all forms of exploitation.”
What to know Digging a bit further, it seems that the claims in this copy-and-pasted meme stem from multiple sources, including an interview with the writer Marion Sigaut and a 2012 article from the Center for Family and Human Rights titled “UN May Recognize Sex Rights for Ten-Year Old Children.” As with rumors offline, misinformation can get distorted as it travels across the internet, which is one of the reasons truth can be hard to ascertain online.
How we caught it This article was found via our machine learning model, which detected it based on the similarity of its central claim to a claim that had been previously debunked by 20 Minutes. When we find possible matches like these, we surface them to fact-checkers to confirm that they are in fact the same claim. 20 Minutes reviewed this new French article and connected it to a fact-checking article they’d written in 2017, which led to our downranking the article in News Feed and showing the 20 Minutes debunk in Related Articles.
What we saw In January 2018, a Twitter account purporting to belong to Ebba Busch Thor, leader of the Swedish Christian Democrats or Kristdemokraterna (KD), tweeted disapprovingly of those who criticize the Swedish pension system. The post alluded to people’s concern for poor pensioners, saying that in Sweden people get the pension they deserve and that the undesirable alternative would be socialism. The account, @EbbaBuschThorKD, was revealed to be a fake and shut down, but screenshots of the tweet continued to circulate. The screenshot was shared to Facebook in January 2018 by a Page called Nej till EU-Skatt (“No to EU Tax”) and the post began recirculating in January 2019.
Was it true? No — as our fact-checking partner Viralgranskaren (Viral Examiner) noted in their article debunking the screenshot, @EbbaBuschThorKD was a fake Twitter account that has since been shut down.
What to know False news can have a long shelf life when its subjects remain in the spotlight. Even though this screenshot first surfaced in 2018, it saw another spike a full year later, during a months-long government deadlock following parliamentary elections in September 2018. As we noted above, another major trend in misinformation is content that disparages distinct groups of people — in this case, low-income people.
Though this particular ruse started on Twitter, fake accounts are a major vector of misinformation on Facebook, too. Blocking fake accounts is one of the most impactful steps in our fight to curb false news. In the third quarter of 2018 — the time period covered by our most recent Community Standards Enforcement Report — we disabled 754 million fake accounts, having found 99.6% of them before users reported them.
How we caught it This image was detected via machine learning. Viralgranskaren investigated it and submitted a “false” rating and an explainer article, which led us to reduce its distribution in News Feed and show the Viralgranskaren debunk in Related Articles.
Step 1: Use the URL inspection tool to see if Google can render your content
The URL inspection tool (formerly Google Fetch and Render) is a great free tool that allows you to check if Google can properly render your pages.
The URL inspection tool requires you to have your website connected to Google Search Console. If you don’t have an account yet, check Google’s Help pages.
Step 4: Check if your content has been indexed in Google
It’s not enough to just see if Google can render your website properly. You have to make sure Google has properly indexed your content. The best option for this is to use the site: command.
It’s a very simple and very powerful tool. Its syntax is pretty straightforward: site:[URL of a website] “[fragment to be searched]”. Just take caution that you didn’t put the space between site: and the URL.
Let’s assume you want to check if Google indexed the following text “Develop across all platforms” which is featured on the homepage of Angular.io.
Type the following command in Google: site:angular.io “DEVELOP ACROSS ALL PLATFORMS”
As you can see, Google indexed that content, which is what you want, but that’s not always the case.
Use the site: command whenever possible.
Check different page templates to make sure your entire website works fine. Don’t stop at one page!
If you’re fine, go to the next step. If that’s not the case, there may be a couple of reasons why this is happening:
Google still didn’t render your content. It should happen up to a few days/weeks after Google visited the URL. If the characteristics of your website require your content to be indexed as fast as possible, implement SSR.
While indexing, Google may not fetch some resources if it decides that they don’t contribute to the essential page content.
Step 5: Make sure Google can discover your internal links
There are a few simple rules you should follow:
Google needs proper <a href> links to discover the URLs on your website.
If your links are added to the DOM only when somebody clicks on a button, Google won’t see it.
As simple as that is, plenty of big companies make these mistakes.
Proper link structure
Googlebot, in order to crawl a website, needs to have traditional “href” links. If it’s not provided, many of your webpages will simply be unreachable for Googlebot!
I think it was explained well by Tom Greenway (a Google representative) during the Google I/O conference:
Please note: if you have proper <a href> links, with some additional parameters, like onClick, data-url, ng-href, that’s still fine for Google.
A common mistake made by developers: Googlebot can’t access the second and subsequent pages of pagination
Not letting Googlebot discover pages from the second page of pagination and beyond is a common mistake that developers make.
When you open the mobile versions for Gearbest, Aliexpress and IKEA, you will quickly notice that, in fact, they don’t let Googlebot see the pagination links, which is really weird. When Google enables mobile-first indexing for these websites, these websites will suffer.
How do you check it on your own?
If you haven’t already downloaded Chrome 41, get it from Ele.ph/chrome41.
Then navigate to any page. For the sake of the tutorial, I’m using the mobile version of AliExpress.com. For educational purposes, it’s good if you follow the same example.
TL;DR: using link rel=”next” alone is too weak a signal for Google
Note: it’s common to use “link rel=”next’ to indicate pagination series. However, the discoveries from Kyle Blanchette seem to show that “link rel=”next” alone is too weak a signal for Google and should be strengthened by the traditional <a href> links.
John Mueller discussed this more:
“We can understand which pages belong together with rel next, rel=”previous”, but if there are no links on the page at all, then it’s really hard for us to crawl from page to page. (…) So using the rel=”next” rel=”previous” in the head of a page is a great idea to tell us how these pages are connected, but you really need to have on-page, normal HTML links.
Don’t get me wrong — there is nothing wrong with using <link rel=”next”>. On the contrary, they are beneficial, but it’s good to combine these tags with traditional <a href> links.
Checking if Google can see menu links
For the purpose of the tutorial, we will use the case of Target.com:
To start, open any browser and pick some links from the menu:
Next, open Chrome 41. In the Chrome Developer Tools (click Ctrl + Shift + J), navigate to the elements tab.
The results? Fortunately enough, Google can pick up the menu links of Target.com.
Now, check if Google can pick up the menu links on your website and see if you’re on target too.
Step 6: Checking if Google can discover content hidden under tabs
I have often observed that in the case of many e-commerce stores, Google cannot discover and index their content that is hidden under tabs (product descriptions, opinions, related products, etc). I know it’s weird, but it’s so common.
It’s a crucial part of every SEO audit to make sure Google can see content hidden under tabs.
Open Chrome 41 and navigate to any product on Boohoo.com; for instance, Muscle Fit Vest.
Click on Details & Care to see the product description:
“DETAILS & CARE
94% Cotton 6% Elastane. Muscle Fit Vest. Model is 6’1″ and Wears UK Size M.“
Now, it’s time to check if it’s in the DOM. To do so, go to Chrome Developers Tools (Ctrl + Shift + J) and click on the Network tab.
Make sure the disable cache option is enabled.
Click F5 to refresh the page. Once refreshed, navigate to the Elements tab and search for a product description:
As you can see, in the case of boohoo.com, Google is able to see the product description.
Perfect! Now take the time and check if your website is fine.
If you are still struggling with Google ranking, you might want to think about implementing dynamic rendering or hybrid rendering. And, of course, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter about this or other SEO needs.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman is a physician, nutritional researcher and New York Times best-selling author. Dr. Fuhrman created the nutritarian diet and has authored 20 books, including Eat to Live and Eat for Health. He shares how he built his online brand and uses social media strategy to foster patient engagement with deeply personal experiences.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
How did you decide to build yourself as a brand?
That wasn’t my objective. My objective was to build a successful business, giving people the information they need to control their health, and illustrating that you don’t have to be sick and take drugs for the rest of your life.
When I’m developing a product I want to sell, I think about what’s missing in the marketplace, why this product is important and how it addresses an obstacle or difficulty a person is having. I believe it’s about the message, not the messenger.
You’ve said it’s important to try to help people with something you’re passionate about. Does building a personal brand flow naturally out of that mindset?
Correct. I wanted to motivate people and create a feeling of connection — send the message is that they’re not doing this alone. We’re behind them. We’re supporting them. There are other people involved.
The whole purpose of our social media is to help people feel connected with one another. It’s also a venue for me to build that sense of personal connection with my own family. People tell me, “Oh, I really enjoy seeing your daughters making healthy food.” People love that kind of stuff, and I love to share it. They like to just watch me eat in the kitchen or see what I’m making for lunch. This type of content gives folks a glimpse into my life and what I’m passionate about. It also provides that sense of authenticity that so many brands are trying to achieve with their social media.
What are you doing right now to cultivate that sense of connection?
Right now, I’m doing a detox program with about 300 people. We have a Zoom meeting two or three times a week. So far, the response has been great — they love connecting, learning and sharing. We talk about recipes and discuss what I’ve been eating and what they’re eating. Over time, we’ve discovered that there’s a real demand for this, that people want this and they’re willing to pay for it. Providing that unique opportunity to connect helps them and motivates them — and they really appreciate it.
As you’ve developed your brand, are there any lessons you’ve learned?
Well, radio ads didn’t work, that’s for sure. We did a campaign with a radio station. I think we paid them $50,000. They held a contest where six people would follow my program and the station would check in with them on the air. These six people lost an amazing amount of weight. It was incredible, but from a marketing perspective, it was a total waste of $50,000.
Why do you think that was the case?
I think my message is only effective for a small percentage of our population. If 1% of people might be interested in what I have to say, then I have to go after a broad market and do things for national exposure. Local media advertising doesn’t work for me. I’ve got to do something on a much larger scale to attract people who are more interested in my message, which is why social media has been such an effective channel.
What is your niche?
My niche is not to water down the message to appeal to what people want to hear and want to do. Everybody else is trying to appeal to a broader market and, in doing so, they’re no longer honest.
Managing the complexities of social media across multiple platforms can be a significant challenge for businesses. As companies grow and the number of possible channels expands, it’s increasingly more difficult to scale social media strategy accordingly.
With the right technology and approach to your social media, however, scaling your social strategy while maintaining authenticity is possible.
Social Still Matters
Having a strong social media presence has a significant impact on your brand and its reputation. Here are a few statistics:
Consumers who reach out to brands on social media expect a response within 30-60 minutes.
The Challenges of Scale
Businesses may have hundreds or thousands of locations, each with its own local characteristics. With growth comes several challenges that apply to B2C and B2B companies alike:
Governance: Processes need to be in place that govern workflows, including approvals. Technology solutions often lack the functionality to accommodate large, distributed teams and provide the tools to ensure high-quality, brand-compliant content across channels.
Data Management: Social media is data-rich. Collecting, analyzing and using this information to glean customer insights is the challenge — especially as the volume of data grows.
Resources: Your brand needs the people, processes and technology to listen and respond to an ever-growing number of social media mentions and posts.
Here are a few of the benefits brands gain by using Social Suite:
Multi-Location Management: Scale your social media presence across all locations with streamlined, centrally managed content tools. Automated workflows and approvals ensure best practices and processes while allowing location managers to be active in social media.
Social Listening: Listen and engage with customers on all your social channels for each location using a single dashboard to see comments, likes, mentions and shares.
Content Management: Keep the conversation going with a central library to create, curate and share targeted content and campaigns.
Local Impact:Create content packages for local, regional or shared-interest audiences with post scheduling that maximizes impact across geographies.
Data Insights: Extract information from social media posts and reviews into a single data repository. Combine that data with other information to build a 360-degree view of customer sentiment and online reputation.