Always on the cutting edge of organizational growth and learning, a handful of #UsDragons recently had the opportunity to attend SMX East. Of the many notable speakers, including our own Ric Dragon and Jason White, one speaker stood out as he shared his insight on Search Engine Optimization: Jonathan Goodman of Halyard Consulting (not to be confused, of course, with actor John Goodman of Roseanne fame). In fact, we enjoyed Jonathan Goodman’s presentation so much that we invited him to be a guest speaker at one of our company Lunch & Learn sessions.
Jonathan spent several hours with us and shared with his wealth of knowledge amassed over years of working in of digital marketing. His presentation covered three key topics: Facebook’s EdgeRank, Schema Markup, and Freebase.
For those of you who have business pages on Facebook (which I suspect is most of you), have you noticed the recent sharp decline in the amount of organic impressions that each post generates? If the answer is “yes” then you are not the only one. Facebook in the past few months has made a dramatic change to the news feed algorithm, which results in Facebook business pages needing to spend money on advertising if they want to ensure their message reaches their audience. When Facebook’s EdgeRank was originally created, there were three original elements that were given weight in the algorithm – affinity, weight, and decay. While these factors still play a part in dictating what is served in the news feed of individuals, Jonathan says that now there are over 100,000 points that go into the news feed ranking.
The Facebook algorithm now is centered on machine learning and attempts to predict what a user would want to see next in their personalized news feed. Jonathan mentioned that now tertiary friends are severely being discounted from this algorithm and users are starting to lose interest in Facebook because of this updated news feed algorithm. Because of this recent loss of interest from Facebook users, Jonathan believes that Facebook will be making a change to this machine learning algorithm to increase the amount of content from tertiary friends.
Jonathan opened our SEO discussion by broaching the topic of technical Schema Markup which provides structure for data to help search engines decipher deeper and understand information on web pages. For example it helps them understand what some images, logos, videos, and other objects are. Take the images below as an example. When a human looks at these images, it is simple for us to decipher the difference between the two. The image on the left is easily identified as the logo for Apple Inc., a consumer electronics company (you may have heard of it), and the image on the right can be easily associated by most people as an apple, which is simply a fruit.
Since search engines are challenged when it comes to viewing pictures, how can we tell these search engines two images represent two completely different objects? That, Jonathan Goodman says, is an example where Schema Markup comes into play. Schema Markup is a collection of HTML tags that can be placed within the code of the website providing richer information when search engine spiders crawl the web page. These on-page markups enable for better search engine results fueled by the search engines having an overall better understanding of the data that is found on each website.
Following our discussion on Schema Markup, Jonathan Goodman introduced the topic of Freebase. (No, not that free base from chemistry). In this case, we are speaking about the free, online database which provides an extensive metadata knowledge base that has been created and shaped mainly by the members of the Freebase community. This collection can be thought of a subsidiary of the Schema Markup, as this information is pulled from schema.org, and ultimately this data will end up inside of the Google Knowledge Graph.
Jonathan believes that Freebase is only just beginning to gain traction and the ultimate potential of the resource has yet to be realized. As more and more companies begin to use the resource, and contribute to the knowledge base, the information and relationships between the information will continue to grow and evolve.
We want to extend a big “Cheers” and thank you to Jonathan for making the trip up to our digital marketing office in New York’s Hudson Valley from his office in New Jersey. His in depth overview of the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm provided great insight for our community managers and his Schema Markup and Freebase presentation flooded our SEO and web development teams with some great takeaways. Having had the pleasure to witness him presenting previously at conferences, it is clear to me that Jonathan Goodman truly is a thought leader in our industry who brings a wealth of knowledge to his presentations. Don’t miss out on seeing him at any conference that you are attending. You can also check him out on his podcast The World of Internet Marketing.
If you have a question for Jonathan, let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to ask him!