Eric Barker

I, Image Search. | SEO Updates for Images

Google is well known for breaking barriers in machine learning. The example of programming every single possible driving encounter into their self-driving cars is a testament to their level of expertise in this area. Now, Google is expected to introduce an update to revamp the way it approaches image content in websites.

This might not be a big deal, in the grand scheme of things, but it’s worth knowing about.


The alternative to Alt-Text

Alt-Text, or alternative text is what you see when an image doesn’t load, is what Google currently uses to gauge the relevance of an image in relation to the content of the host website, or for image search queries.

Essentially, Google’s artificial intelligence has evolved to where it can see what the images are without having to be told by the alt text.

1006_cognitiveSEO_03-760x320Screenshot taken from


Consider the above as an example of what will happen in google when you search for those image contents. Detected image elements will link to a keyword, or series of keywords, which will influence rankings.

SEO is about rankings, after all.

How this impacts us as marketers is that if we happen to have a website selling the most amazing red tables in the world, we won’t have to label each image any more. More images of our red tables will mean a greater contribution to rankings for ‘red tables’.


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Black Hat Picture SEO

Unlike keyword oriented SEO, and backlink building, which have both been abused and penalised in the past, it does seem rather hard to stuff your website full of targeted images without detracting from the quality of your website. It also seems hard to pass off a picture as something that it is not. Essentially, Google has gotten better at determining if this content is relevant to what people are searching for.

I’ll keep this short, there’s not much to this. This update, when it rolls out, won’t cause any major ripples, it’s simply something useful to keep in mind when designing content for your website. Fewer stock photos, more intentional image design.

Data Super Powers

Imagine being able to predict the future.

What if you had the power to read people’s minds?

Imagine the power you would have if you could instantly perceive someone’s deepest fears and desires.

What if you held the power to make people do exactly what you wanted them to?


Would these things make it easier to do business for you? Would it make it easier to sell things? It’s all possible.


There are people who can do all of this.  They don’t wear spandex or capes.  They don’t have catchphrases either. They’re usually behind desks, brandishing tools like Crazy Egg or Mail Chimp which you won’t find on any utility belt.

These are the super powers that come with fully leveraging data.


This post links to this one on properly collecting data, and this one on big data, but I intend for this post to fully impress upon you the possibilities which lie in store for you and your business.  Think Amazon, think Facebook, think Google and Kogan. These organisations have methods in place which record everything a user does, and remembers it for next time.  You can do similar things with your users.

Knowing your consumers is no longer speculative.  The way to your consumers’ hearts, minds and pockets is paved with big concrete blocks of data.

Let’s address your potential super powers:


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Predicting the future

Less predicting, more controlling. This comes down to directing observable trends. If you observe groups of individuals en masse, you can be statistically confident that a percentage of them will exhibit a certain behaviour.  Now, if you direct and engage with a group of individuals, you can be reasonably confident that a percentage of them, usually a high percentage if you have done a good job, will follow the path you’ve laid out for them. Not to describe users as sheeple, but the psychology of buying can be fairly predictable at times.  For example, if you drive good quality traffic to a well designed sales funnel, you can reliably control the future of your sales.  You can predict that x% of users will click here, enter information there, buy that, upgrade and so forth.


Mind reading

This usually comes in the form of re-marketing, but it relates to your ability as a marketer and an organisation to know the consumer better than they know themselves. Where this used to be intuition, it is now observable.  You can see what their interests are, what people like them usually search for, where they study, where they work, what they buy, and more importantly, what they don’t buy. If you think about it, it’s akin to sticking a camera on someone’s shoulder for their waking hours, but a little less creepy.  The information available to you is astounding.  All you have to do is capture it and leverage it.  That’s what we do.


What if you held the power to make people do exactly what you wanted them to?

Not by force, not hypnosis, simply direction of human behavioural tendencies.  It is possible for you to gain insights into the minds of your consumers, as mentioned above, and use them to find the triggers that drive people to action. It’s possible to find out why your consumers procrastinate, what misgivings they have, exactly which doubts need assurances and which skepticisms need to be addressed. Through analysis and action, you can be certain that if things are done right, a large percentage of your audience will do exactly what you want them to, because it provides them what they want.


To see what your data holds for you, ask us how today. 


More bang for your buck – Conversion Rate Optimisation

“Traditional marketing is old. It’s dying out, like the mammoths did.  Both weren’t really able to survive in the new environments they found themselves in.”
This is the argument that has become an intense conversation  in 2014, with the opportunity to test conversion optimisation more convenient than ever before with the growth of tech start-ups Optimizely and Eye Quant. Television, radio, billboards, pamphlets, all rely on the principle that you put it out into the ether, to be consumed by the masses, and then hopefully, profits appear. No-one really knows exactly what made the profits happen, only that advertisements were published, and profits went up, so it must be a good thing.
The internet has levelled the playing field between businesses and consumers. It’s possible to directly gauge the impact of your digital marketing spend, as a ratio between how many people view your advertisement, and how many do what you want them to.
This infographic from sums it up nicely. The concept is that at each stage of your sales procedure, people drop out before they reach the end and perform the task you want them to perform. Conversion rate optimisation is essentially reducing the rate at which people drop out of this funnel. Doing so means you spend less marketing money for each person doing what you want them to do.
In 2014, CRO has been a main focus with every analytics update released by Google Analytics, and with every new tool and insight acquired and developed by digital marketers, it becomes easier to see why people drop out and don’t convert. It could be anything to do with content, layout, time taken, functionality of the website, anything that detracts from the experience.
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For example, an offline sales funnel might have the following levels for a presidential fundraising campaign:
  1. Citizen attends a community event, celebrating the candidate
  2. Citizen receives a phone call asking for donations
  3. Citizen receives a reply paid envelope with instructions to send money
  4. Citizen attends voting event
  5. Citizen has a conversation with a party representative
  6. Citizen votes for candidate


At each level, we do not know where they dropped out of the funnel. Did they fill out the envelope and forget to mail it? Did they miss the phone call? In the physical realm, performing an action or failing to becomes more arbitrary and harder to quantify. Online, however, we can see exactly where this candidate lost interest.
In the sense of testing, did more site visitors donate on the one page donation form, or the 5 page donation form? In many cases, the more simple a form, the higher the completion rate.
Test elements of layout, content, functionality, colouring, and others against one another to see which combination produces the best results.
In the not-too-distant future, site content will be personalised and optimise for individual users depending on demographic segments.
If any of this is new to you, find out how to test and optimise your marketing spend properly. Contact us.

Rethink Facebook marketing or lose business in 2015

Traffic cuts?

In January 2015, a lot of brands will be pushed out of the Facebook newsfeed. If your business or your client relies heavily on social media as part of the marketing mix, the latest update announcement from Facebook is something to pay attention to.


What Facebook says it is:

Facebook is continually throwing curveballs, and this is no exception. The advertising platform and arm of Facebook relies on user engagement – likes, shares, comments. The only way this happens is if people feel strongly enough about a particular post to actually respond and give their two cents.

The announcement contained the following quote:

Our goal with News Feed has always been to show people the things they want to see.

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The Unsuitable Characteristics

To give people more of what Facebook thinks they want to see, it has announced three characteristics which it will use to determine the suitability of business posts:

  1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

They’ve also provided an example of these posts which will be penalised come Jan 2015:

These guidelines seem pretty straightforward – anything which provides direct attribution to potential financial gain seems to be out.


What Facebook doesn’t tell us:

Remember the Atlas update which is coming out soon? If you missed that, read about it here.

In brief, Atlas is Facebook’s new advertising platform.

How this relates is that by eliminating any kind of free promotion from businesses and their pages, Facebook will galvanise the segmentation of channels of promotion to:

1. Value based organic content which doesn’t directly contribute sales and online conversions

2. Purchased ads

If you have a page for your business or client, you will essentially be forced to choose between the two. It’s not a terrible choice by any means, and this still leaves room for marketing applications.

Marketers will have no choice with their organic posts but to educate or entertain.

However, by forcing brands and businesses to promote through paid advertising, one could argue that this is a phasing-in of the new Atlas system, and funnelling of all existing Facebook marketing into it.


What could go wrong?

If the value of posts is gauged by user engagement, here are the potential conflicts I see:

– What if the two categories overlap – if the post is both informative and valuable, and provides a call-to-action to buy?

– What if the purpose of a page is solely to give people daily discounts?


If your Facebook marketing strategy relies on organic posts which drive people to perform a a financially valuable action, you do need to rethink your strategy leading up to 2015. These are important updates to be aware of, and it is also important to realise how they fit into the larger scheme of your marketing mix and how it interacts with Facebook.

Contact us to find out how this will impact you specifically. 




Remarketing changes you should know about now

Remarketing has become a bit more special in recent months, with many features that used to be only available to ecommerce sites now being available to all industries. Eric runs through the basics of remarketing and drills down into the new developments in behaviour and demographic targeting and dynamic ad changes.

What is remarketing?

The landscape of advertising has changed. Traditional channels such as TV and radio do not give you the complete feedback loop that is required for accountable marketing. At the same time, untargeted display advertising splashed across the network usually has inferior results compared to other online channels. Remarketing is somewhat of a solution to this issue, only showing ads to those who have already visited your site. Marketers have been excited about remarketing for a few years now, but recent developments have increased the effectiveness even further. Now we have the ability to target only the most valuable segments of past visitors to maximise sales and leads, and we can show ads relevant to what they viewed on your site.

Dynamic Ads

Check out what appeared on my Facebook this morning:


Kogan Facebook Dynamic Remarketing

I know you have probably seen ads on Facebook and maybe even remarketing like this; the cookie in my browser told Facebook that I had been to Kogan recently and therefore showed me this ad. The extra special sauce here is that when I was on Kogan, I was looking at cameras. The cookie told Facebook that I had been looking at cameras and showed me an ad that I was much more likely to respond to. Remarketing at the product level has been rolled out progressively over the past year. What is just as exciting is that as of last month, it is no longer just limited to retail sites like Kogan. You can now target based on any type of product or service; categories include hotels, jobs, real estate, flights, education and more. The data available show that dynamic remarketing works – providing increased relevance of ads to users, reduced cost per impression, better conversion rates and increased ROI.


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This is where it gets really interesting

Recent improvements to Google Analytics in demographic reporting, and improved compatibility of AdWords with Analytics mean that you can get even better results by using custom audiences in your remarketing campaigns. This means that you can target your campaigns not to all past visitors, but instead go after only the users who are most likely to respond well, and buy more. This could be as broad as bidding differently for men and women, or could be as targeted as ‘males over 30 who spent 3 minutes on site and put something in the cart’. As you can imagine, the results we have so far have proven that behaviour and demographic targeting has resulted in some serious improvements.

It is now possible for you to provide the easiest path for users to come back to your site and pick up where they left off. Remarketing will not replace all other elements of your digital marketing mix, but ask your ads manager to allocate some of your testing budget towards exploring the viability of these new features.

If you feel like any of this applies to your business, I encourage you to find out more.