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Aqueous SEO | Professional UK SEO
  Updated Mon, 08 Oct 2018 11:58:11 +0000
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Google is attacking Link Building again and PBN?s are in the firing line
Category Linkbuilding, Google, link building, PBN, Penguin, private blog network
Published:
Description: It’s been a while. The last Google Penguin update was officially in October 2016 and since Google folded the Penguin updates into their main algorithm in 2017 we’ve heard virtually nothing about it. Google’s view is very much that this is now ‘business as usual’ and we shouldn’t make a fuss about it. Wrong. The […]  more...

It’s been a while.

The last Google Penguin update was officially in October 2016 and since Google folded the Penguin updates into their main algorithm in 2017 we’ve heard virtually nothing about it. Google’s view is very much that this is now ‘business as usual’ and we shouldn’t make a fuss about it.

Wrong.

The problem is that Google still uses links to rank a website. Almost every study you read says the same thing, that links are the number one ranking factor. Here are just two examples fromMoz and Search Engine Land.

So, whichever way you look at it, to have a successful website you really do need some links.

But we’ve been saying for quite some time that the issue with link building is that Google is playing ‘whack a mole’. No sooner do they clamp down on link networks something else takes their place. In this case, once the easy link networks were closed down it became content creation and distribution on PBN’s.

PBN’s, or Private Blog Networks, became a quick and easy route to link building and in theory, it wasn’t black hat, only grey hat at best. All you had to do was find a website which was broadly in your niche and ‘reach out’ to see if they would let you place a piece of content on there with a backlink back to your website. The problemwas that a lot of these seemingly independent websites were nothing of the sort.

If you want to know whyPBN’s are a problem, just read some of the articles written about them.

We’ve consistently told our customers not to use PBN’s because, in our opinion, Google would sooner or later start to clamp down on them.

Why? Because Google is clear about what you should do if you want to gain links. And PBN’s are not it.

Today, if you follow the links from Google Search Console you will find they have some lovely clear advice for Webmasters which looks like this;

Google Webmaster Advice

We were particularlyimpressed with 3b, which mirrors one of our own rules “One page, one keyword or topic” but other than that the focus should be point3a. Google says;

Get noticed by other sites:Have your site mentioned in appropriate places online. See if you can get mentioned onyour local news sitesor in any other appropriate resources.

This is crucial. It doesn’t say build links it says “have your site mentioned in the appropriate places online” and then encourages you to get mentioned on your localnews site.

Of course, this misses the fact that since Google penalised most of the news sites in the UK for the Interflora debacle back in 2013 by reducing their Page Rank (this was important at the time!) then getting a link from a local paper is nigh on impossible.

But maybe that’s the point. Maybe the links are now irrelevant?

We all know that Google now uses Rank Brain on a large part of the algorithm, so what if it’s finally got the measure of co-citation and co-occurrence to the point that it can establishthe relevance of a website just by being mentioned ‘on page’ on an authoritative third party website?

If so, then link building as we know it is dead.

And all those who have invested in PBN’s will find that they have waster their money as Authority becomes the biggest ranking signal of them all.

So, although the recent Google updates don’t mention links or PBN’s, from the evidence we’ve seen we are convinced that these are now under attack.

If you want to pursue a true ‘white hat’ policy with your SEO then talk to us. We’ve been here over seven years now, which should tell you a thing or two about the sustainability of our strategies.

 

 

A simple guide to the Google Mobile Index
Category Mobile, mobile index, SEO
Published:
Description: In 2016 Google implemented its mobile first index, a development that strived to make the web more mobile friendly and keep up to date with online user behavioural trends. This release has been a worry to many business owners who often struggle to understand the importance of SEO on their existing desktop sites. To help […]  more...

In 2016 Google implemented its mobile first index, a development that strived to make the web more mobile friendly and keep up to date with online user behavioural trends. This release has been a worry to many business owners who often struggle to understand the importance of SEO on their existing desktop sites.

To help you better understand how this will affect your website and if there are any changes you need to keep you up to date we have compiled a list of FAQ’s.

What is mobile indexing?

Mobile indexing is where the mobile version of your website is used by Google in their index to help determine where it ranks.

This does not mean that it only indexes your mobile site as not everyone has a mobile optimised site. In this instance the desktop site will be included in the index but because it is likely to be a lot less mobile friendly it may negatively impact your ranking. Websites that are more mobile friendly will rank a lot higher and resultantly traffic could be boosted on the desktop site.

What is changing?

Statistically speaking, people are increasingly using their mobile devices to search online and as such Google wants to use its index and search results to reflect these mobile searchers. This means that Google is now using the mobile versions of websites instead of the desktop version as their main search engine index.

What happens if I don?t have a mobile site?

You don?t need to worry just yet if you don?t have a mobile site as Google will continue using your desktop site in their indexing system.

If, however you do have an existing mobile site that is not fully optimised and is simply a version of your desktop site, you may notice that you aren?t ranking as well as mobile friendly sites.

If you choose to leave it without adequate optimisation you may start to notice that your overall ranking for your desktop site and mobile site is decreased as the index will see you site as having a poor user experience.

What do I need to do?

This update isn?t as drastic as you think so there is no need to start panicking.

If your mobile and desktop site are virtually identical you may not have to make any changes, provided you are content where you are currently ranking.

If, however you do have a separate mobile site you will need to consider analysing several areas to ensure you rank competitively. You will need to ensure that your content on your mobile version is relevant and high value – the same as it would be on your desktop site.

Making sure that all your data is consistent on your desktop and mobile sites is vital whether it be titles, descriptions etc. This will also include your social metadata such as your tags, social media data should be the same on both sites.

Do you know how your kids use social media?
Category Social Media, Facebook, instagram, pinterest, snapchat, tumblr, Twitter, whatsapp, youtube
Published:
Description: I thought it would be an interesting exercise to write a piece about how kids use social media as it?s very much in the news at the moment. Barely a day goes by without some headline berating Facebook, Twitter or another online platform for not doing enough to protect kids. The following, therefore, was written […]  more...

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to write a piece about how kids use social media as it?s very much in the news at the moment. Barely a day goes by without some headline berating Facebook, Twitter or another online platform for not doing enough to protect kids.

The following, therefore, was written for us to meet that brief. The twist, however, is that it was written by a 12 year old. Quite literally, a first-hand account.

Any spelling and grammar mistakes, by the way, are entirely ours; his grasp of the English language is far better than ours by a long way!

Do you know how your kids use social media?

Parents often misconceive their child?s actions on social media.

General media tends to sensationalise any transgressions by young children on social media, because it creates a good headline or a catchy word-play that will get them tons of hits. This creates the perception that abusing social media is the norm. Essentially, we are judging the actions of the majority by the behaviour of the few.

Millennials are getting a bad rap.

So, what do your kids really do on social media?

Despite what you may have read, they?re not spending all day looking at inappropriate material and sending strange messages to their friends. They are most likely using social media to connect, to gain popularity or to gain more followers.

You see, social media has, over the years, transformed into a popularity competition for the newest generation. Now, children as young as five or six have their parents allowing them to have phones and use social media. The problem with this is that whenever they get a message, or a call, or a new follower, a chemical called dopamine releases and it is highly addictive.

This doesn?t just affect children though ? it affects everyone. If you engage with your phone it releases this chemical. And this is the same chemical found in smoking, drinking and gambling.

Here are some of the apps that your children are probably using.

Instagram

Photo and video app to share media. Kids use it to usually see what their friends are doing, or what?s popular.

Snapchat

Another photo and video app, but the photos and videos disappear after a while. Kids use it to communicate.

Facebook

Most kids don?t use Facebook, but some do. They?d probably spend less time on it.

Tumblr

Social Networking app. More commonly found within teen?s phones. Most use it for fandoms, and common interests that they share with others.

WhatsApp

A messaging app, used to send pictures and emojis without costing money, like on Messenger.

Pinterest

?Discover possibilities.? Pinterest is a designer/lifestyle app.

Twitter

Social media service. Used to express opinions. Kids can send messages and images.

YouTube

Used to stream videos, can contain inappropriate content. YouTube has restrictions though, so Parental Controls are easy to enable, although you mainly won?t need them.

Whatever your fears are about social media and the way your children are using it, it?s probably not as bad as you think. Always remember that children know wrong from right, and they are sensible in their actions.

Instagram for Business: Why It Should be Part of your Social Strategy
Category Blog
Published:
Description: Instagram?s visual nature and huge base of highly engaged users makes it the social media platform that your business won?t want to miss out on. Facebook-owned, photo-sharing app Instagram is the third most popular social media platform after Facebook and YouTube. According to Social Media Today, Instagram has over 600 million monthly active users and […]  more...

Instagram?s visual nature and huge base of highly engaged users makes it the social media platform that your business won?t want to miss out on.

Facebook-owned, photo-sharing app Instagram is the third most popular social media platform after Facebook and YouTube. According to Social Media Today, Instagram has over 600 million monthly active users and over 400 million daily active users. With these figures in mind, you would be foolish not to exploit the platform for all it?s worth to reach new customers and market your brand to the world.

In this blog, we?ll discover what Instagram is, why you should be getting excited about it and how to get started with using it for business.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a social network mobile phone app that allows users to edit and share photos and videos. Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1bn.

In the early days, Instagram simply allowed users to put filters over their photos before sharing them with followers on their feed. Now the app offers a whole host of features including Instagram ?stories? which allows users to share photos and videos with their following without posting them to their feed (a feature similar to Snapchat) and live video streaming.

Instagram

Businesses can also take advantage of Instagram?s paid advertising services.

Why should your business be excited about Instagram?

It?s free

Signing up for a business account with Instagram is completely free and with its 400 million daily active users spending on average 25 minutesa day browsing Instagram, there is huge potential to reach new customers with your marketing.

Visual content gets a better response than text

It?s scientifically proven that visual content evokes a better response from humans than text content, giving Instagram an edge over other social networking platforms. Not only do we process visuals quicker, but we?re more likely to remember them too.

Higher engagement with brands than other social networking platforms

Because of its visual nature, if you get creative with your posts you?re likely to get a much better response on Instagram than on other social networking platforms.

In fact, according to this Infographic by Social Media Today, engagement rates with brands on Instagram are 10 times higher than on Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest and 84 times higher than Twitter!

Less crowded

Despite the standout figures above, there are still less marketers using Instagram than Facebook so the platform is not yet overcrowded and brands are more likely to reach their followers with their posts on Instagram than they are on Facebook. Now is a great time to start taking advantage of Instagram before everyone else twigs on too!

Highly targeted ads

If you?d like to reach more users with highly targeted sponsored posts you can use Instagram?s paid ad service which offers the same extensive targeting options as Facebook ads.

Improve your performance over time using analytics

Instagram?s business accounts allow you to view analytics and insights into the performance of your posts to help you to work out what your followers like and what they don?t, so that you can learn how to get more back from your activity.

How can my business use it?

When using Instagram for business, don?t forget the reason people love the platform. Users are there not only to share moments from their lives, but also to be inspired by other people and brand?s feeds and lifestyles. Don?t post for the sake of posting, quality imagery is better than quantity on Instagram.

To get started with Instagram for business you will need to already have a Facebook business page to login via as the two are connected.

Here are a few hint, tips and ideas on how to use Instagram for business:

  • Turn customers into ambassadors by encouraging them to share photos that include your products with a unique hashtag
  • Show the human side of your business using behind the scenes and employee posts
  • Take the time to professionally shoot attractive lifestyle photos that include your products and/or service to inspire and encourage people to buy into the image
  • Collaborate with influencers
  • Use paid promotional posts to target new customers and gain more followers

 

Want to find out more about social media for business or need some help getting set up with Instagram? Give us a call on 0800 285 1424 to speak with one of our social media experts.

The True Value of Investing in a Digital Marketing Company
Category Blog
Published:
Description: Getting more clicks through to your website, gaining followers on social media and moving up Google?s ranks are all valuable and measurable digital marketing objectives, but the true value of digital marketing isn?t quite as easy to measure. Theses are the kinds of goals that businesses come to us seeking help with, and whilst each […]  more...

Getting more clicks through to your website, gaining followers on social media and moving up Google?s ranks are all valuable and measurable digital marketing objectives, but the true value of digital marketing isn?t quite as easy to measure.

Theses are the kinds of goals that businesses come to us seeking help with, and whilst each one is a worthy objective, none of them would offer a return on investment if customers didn?t trust your business.

The true value of investing in a digital marketing company is the trust you gain by building your brand?s digital footprint and reputation online.

Many of our customers want to see data that proves their return on investment each month from the services we offer, and whilst we are able to offer this in the form of reports with data gathered from Google Analytics, Adwords or social analytics, it?s important to remember that much of the value gained from digital marketing is not as easy to measure.

How digital marketing nurtures trust and brand reputationAqueous SEO

Whilst click through rates, website traffic and followers are counted and discussed in detail, the arguably more important (but less measurable) matter of trust and brand reputation often goes unmentioned.

So let?s take a look at just a handful of ways that digital marketing efforts garner trust.

Your website

A website that looks the part and performs just as well on mobile and tablet devices as it does on a computer will give customers peace of mind that they are about to purchase from a professional and reputable company.

Your blog

Professionally written company blogs about your business or the industry will not only assure customers of your knowledge and experience, but also offer them extra value for their money.

SEO / Adwords

If your business is up there towards the top of Google?s search results amongst other top dogs then potential customers are more likely to feel assured that you?re an established and popular company.

Social media

Just like your blog, social media is a great way of showing off your business? knowledge and experience to add value and build trust with potential customers. Social media is also an excellent platform for showing off your business? human side, which can really make a brand feel more likeable, transparent and trustworthy to its followers. Social media platforms like Google My Business and Facebook also allow customers to review your business, by encouraging customers to leave positive feedback can give your brand?s reputation a massive boost online.

Overall online presence

Businesses with a strong online presence across a multitude of different platforms including Google?s web search, social media platforms, Google Maps and other local directories and review websites give the appearance of being larger and more established businesses. Providing you and your digital marketing efforts cultivate a positive and professional image for your business online then a strong online presence is a huge trust indicator for customers.

 

Does your brand?s online presence need a boost? Get in touch with our team on 0800 285 1424 to discuss how our digital marketing services can help your business grow online and gain trust.

 

Can Your Website Rank Without Links?
Category Backlinks, Linkbuilding
Published:
Description: Buildings links was once the staple of ranking in search engines but for the past few years, Google has been advising marketers to stop focusing on this area. However, that?s not to say that having external links to your site aren?t important in how Googles algorithms work when ranking. To understand the importance of links […]  more...

Buildings links was once the staple of ranking in search engines but for the past few years, Google has been advising marketers to stop focusing on this area. However, that?s not to say that having external links to your site aren?t important in how Googles algorithms work when ranking.

To understand the importance of links we must first look at the relationship between external links to your site and how Google ranks them. When looking at the data correlating the two, there are several conclusions to be drawn. Firstly, despite what Google may have you believe when searching for anything competitive, external links will always be present in some capacity. It is very rare that you can find a site in a competitive search market that doesn?t have some form of links. In relation to this, statistics also provide evidence that there is a distinct correlation between the number of external links derived from unique websites and the increase in ranking.

Another interesting find has been that despite people thinking that every individual page on their site needs external links, it is, in fact, possible for them to rank without these links. Provided that your website itself has external links to your homepage, all your other pages will also rank. The use of external links for your pages will however only aid in your ranking and often the internal links whilst not as strong will help in this process.

Link Building

With this correlation between external links and ranking in mind we move to the main question of ?When can you rank without external links??. In the majority of cases, it is almost impossible to find any websites that rank competitively without any links but there are rarities. Most websites will naturally be trying to rank using competitive keywords making them much harder to rank. However, in cases where less competitive and usually more specific phrases are being used, websites are more likely to rank. With them having such minimal competition it usually means that there will be next to no traffic for them. The only cases where ranking will be possible is from customers searching directly for your website URL or if you provide a service/product that is incredibly unique to your area.

Undeniably link building can be a great tool when improving your website ranking but as with any SEO tactic, you should proceed with caution. Whilst years ago, to gain higher ranking in search engines people would spam external links it is now much harder to do. Since implementing its Google Penguin algorithm in 2012, Google has crackdown on bad link building, penalising sites for it, forcing them to adhere to strict guidelines. Many links now don?t provide any help in ranking and in some cases can hurt a website ranking. Ultimately, without any links you will find it near impossible for your website to rank, so, if you?re thinking about link building you may want to read up on Googles updated guidelines to ensure that your links are safe and beneficial to your site.

Google My Business: What is it and why you should be using it
Category SEO, GMB, Google, Google My Business, local search
Published:
Description: Google My Business is arguably the most essential piece of business marketing for local businesses in this digital age? and it?s FREE so what are you waiting for? Neglect Google My Business at your business? peril! If your local business isn?t yet set up on Google My Business then you?re likely to miss out on […]  more...

Google My Business is arguably the most essential piece of business marketing for local businesses in this digital age? and it?s FREE so what are you waiting for?

Neglect Google My Business at your business? peril! If your local business isn?t yet set up on Google My Business then you?re likely to miss out on a lot of potential website traffic, enquiries and footfall to your store or business? physical location (if it has one).

The incredible rise of the smartphone has meant that today more people than ever are searching for products, businesses and services as and when they need them whilst on the move using their phones. BrightLocal?s consumer research shows that the majority of consumers search for a local business online on a regular basis, with 53% of people searching at least once per month in 2016.

According to Google data, 76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day and 28% of those searches result in a purchase.

This is excellent news for local businesses as it means there are plenty of opportunities to reach new customers just at the moment when their buying intent is at its highest.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business is like the new yellow pages. Register your local business with Google My Business to receive a free local business listing and profile that will appear above web search results and on Google Maps in both desktop and mobile search results.

Here is an example of how Google My Business listings appear in local search results:

GMB Listing

When viewed on Google Maps, Google My Business listings and profiles appear as shown below:

GMB Maps

When filled out fully your Google My Business profile will provide potential customers with all kinds of useful business information including contact details, photos, a map showing your location, reviews, company information, opening hours and videos.

8 Reasons why Google My Business is invaluable to your business

  1. Easier to appear higher on Google ? Google My Business results appear in the local search results above all normal web results.
  2. Gives you the edge over local competitors who aren?t yet on it.
  3. Appear on Google Maps ? Your Google My Business listing will appear on Google Maps making it easy for people in the area to find you.
  4. Reach people searching with high buying intent ? Your Google My Business listing has the potential to reach a huge number of new customers just at the moment when they?re looking for services like yours.
  5. Potential to get your website ranking higher on Google ? Your business website is likely to also feel the benefit of you claiming your Places listing.
  6. Free online marketing – Google is the new Yellow Pages. Being listed in Google My Business makes your business more accessible to people when they?re looking for products or services like yours.
  7. Build your brand ? Take your time to fill out your Google My Business listing properly using professional imagery and carefully considered content to further build your brand online.
  8. Easy to manage and edit from anywhere.

How to get started

You can claim your free Google My Business listing by signing in using your Google Logins (or registering with Google if you don?t yet have an account) and then creating your business listing with Google My Business here.

Need some help with Google My Business?

Want to find out more about how to set up and optimize your Google My Business listing? Give us a call on 0800 285 1424 to speak with one of our experts.

Is Bing the search engine for the future?
Category SEO, Bing
Published:
Description: With Bing usage reportedly gaining traction, we take a look at how popular Microsoft?s search engine really is, how they?re winning more users and what they?ve got in store for the future. Although Microsoft?s Bing only holds 9% of the worldwide search market share, it appears to be quickly gaining traction in the US and […]  more...

With Bing usage reportedly gaining traction, we take a look at how popular Microsoft?s search engine really is, how they?re winning more users and what they?ve got in store for the future.

Although Microsoft?s Bing only holds 9% of the worldwide search market share, it appears to be quickly gaining traction in the US and the UK. In fact, according to this article by TechRadar 33% of searches in the US and 26% or searches in the UK are now performed on Bing.

Whilst Bing used to sometimes get sneered at when being compared to search giant Google, it seems like it may now be time to take them seriously. But is this surge in Bing usage short-lived or could they become serious competition for Google in years to come?

Why are more people using Bing?

Bing LogoFirst of all, let?s not forget that these stats include searches on both Yahoo and AOL which are both powered by Bing.

Bing are big on partnering with not just other search engines, but big businesses, brands and technology too. Bing themselves say that one of their main aims is to become ?pervasive?. By partnering with many different businesses to make Bing the default search engine on all kinds of different platforms, people are often using Bing without making the choice, or sometimes without even realizing they?re doing so! It?s a smart move on Microsoft?s part.

Just a few of the businesses and devices that Bing are now partnered with include:

  • AOL search
  • Yahoo Search
  • Apple?s Siri
  • Amazon Echo (Alexa)
  • Kindle Fire

And let?s not forget Microsoft?s own offerings including the Xbox games console and the Windows 10 operating system. Windows 10 now features a desktop, voice controlled, virtual assistant called Cortana that answers search queries using Bing.

Bing have even recently launched an initiative in an attempt to win more users to pay people points that can be exchanged for freebies just for searching on Bing.

What could drive a future Bing revolution?

Whilst Google currently look comfortable in search?s top spot, search needs to keep evolving as technology developments are being made on a daily basis. Could a combination of the factors below mean that Bing becomes the search engine for the future?

Mistakes made by Google

Google-LogoGoogle recently received a hefty fine of over $2.4bn for favoring their own shopping services in search results. They were also in the news not so long ago after some embarrassingly questionable search results made their way to the top of the pile. This kind of widely publicized mistake may put doubt in the minds of many about whether their search results should be trusted to be fair, trustworthy and impartial. It is this kind of error that could damage their reputation and see people turning to alternative search engines.

Technology

There is no doubt that Microsoft have their finger on the pulse when it comes to developing innovative new technology. Could their investment in AI and machine-learning give them the head start in a highly intelligent and technology-driven future for search?

Microsoft?s prominent position in the computing and mobile markets also gives them an edge over Google.

Partnerships

Often we aren?t even aware of which search engine features on our devices are being powered by. Could Bing?s many partnerships and objective to become ?pervasive? result in a slow burn takeover without us even being aware that it is happening?

A shift in the way SEO works

Microsoft?s David Pann, general manager for search advertising said during an interview ?We also realize mobile experiences are going to dramatically evolve over the next three to five years to the extent that consumer intent won?t be typed in ? it may be location-based, it may be understanding what?s on your schedule. The notion of search could move to a more passive approach.?

With search moving away from the two dimensional page of clickable search results and becoming more heavily involved with location and voice commands issued from an array of different devices, will Google still be kingpin in this changing landscape, or could Microsoft?s Bing emerge on top?

Want to prepare for the future and find out more about ranking on alternative search engines like Bing? Get in touch with our SEO team here at Aqueous SEO by calling one of our team on 0800 285 1424.

Merry Christmas from Aqueous Digital
Category Miscellaneous
Published:
Description: Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from all the team at Aqueous Digital. We are now closed until 2nd of January, enjoy the break!  more...

christmasMerry Christmas and a happy New Year from all the team at Aqueous Digital. We are now closed until 2nd of January, enjoy the break!

Photobucket: A lesson in how not to treat your customers
Category Digital Marketing, P500, photobucket
Published:
Description: Back in July the internet world woke up to find that the images that should be showing on bulletin boards, blogs, forums and shopping sites such as eBay and Amazon, had disappeared. What they found instead was the Photobucket ‘P500’ error image. Photobucket had, overnight, pivoted their business model to disallow users from sharing images […]  more...

Back in July the internet world woke up to find that the images that should be showing on bulletin boards, blogs, forums and shopping sites such as eBay and Amazon, had disappeared.

What they found instead was the Photobucket ‘P500’ error image.

Photobucket P500

Photobucket had, overnight, pivoted their business model to disallow users from sharing images on any other website unless they paid for a ?premium? plan.

One of the biggest issues, however, was that it came out of the blue. No one knew about it. There were no announcements, no emails warning people that it was about to happen and more importantly, no explanation.

Given that their mission statement appears to be “Your photos are our number one priority. It’s our mission to help you share, store, edit and enjoy them — all in one place” it was a very strange move.

Naturally, the internet was up in arms about it; just search Facebook, Twitter or Reddit to see for yourself. Bulletin boards across the globe were crippled as previously vibrant threads with detailed images disappeared. People who had used Photobucket for hosting these images successfully for over ten years found that they literally had to start again with what for some, amounted to a lifetimes work.

Taking a step back and looking at it from a commercial point of view, there must have been a growing imperative to step away from a model primarily reliant on advertising. With a growth in customer numbers and an increase in bandwidth usage, their cost base must have been spiralling. It’s a by-product of their success.

The solution however surely was not what they have come up with?

Firstly, why make the change with no notice? Why simply change overnight and then dump on your customers?

Secondly, how on earth did they arrive at their pricing point of $399? When so many people use their service specifically for third party hosting and nothing else, why provide this service only at the highest price point you have?

Finally, unless they have deliberately set out to rid themselves forever of customers using ‘free’ accounts then how will they survive the fallout from this?

Their website is currently drowning in crass advertising and is virtually unusable.

One commentator on Reddit summed the problem up nicely;

“you cant even begin to imagine what this will mean to internet forums and blogs. older internet users remember what a dumpster fire the internet was when angelfire, geocities, and tripod stopped offering free hosting, broken links everywhere and it was the exact same cause, they started out to give everyone free hosting, but they reached critical mass as more people signed up for the free than the paid.”

The backlash from this decision was inevitable. Many people closed their accounts, and more, I?m sure, are planning to do so when their annual plan expires. When there are so many other alternatives out there it seems that Photobucket is relying on inertia from their customer base to survive.

I doubt they will be allowed to.

From a Marketing Communications point of view, this was a case study on how not to do it.

Not only did they dump this on their users with zero notice, but they compounded the issue with their communications, or lack of them.

Four months on from the start of this process their Facebook and Twitter ‘Customer Services’ teams are blithely carrying on as if nothing has happened and people are being ignored or stuck into pre-defined responses.

People have stopped complaining on the Photobucket forum as they were being asked to email them, at which point they got a ‘canned’ email which amounted to nothing more than FAQ’s. None of which answered any of the questions their customers had.

Today, most of their customers have taken to Twitter or Facebook to vent their anger and they are not happy. Everything they now do, no matter how positive, is subject to a barrage of abuse and hate.

And their traffic has suffered. According to SimilarWebtheir traffic has halved since they made this change.

This is nothing short of a P.R disaster and has left a very bad taste in the mouth for many people. Given that Photobucket was set up as a photo storage and sharingwebsite, removing the sharing option unless you pay $399 seems bizarre. People are still feeling that they are being held to ransom.

It is highly unlikely that Photobucket will rethink this policy, or even survive as a business. Even if they do then they may end up being remembered as the people who broke the internet.

 

 


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