Google’s Hawk Update: Who Benefits and Who Doesn’t

Although Google does not publicize its updates, the latest algorithm update is a big boost to businesses that had been crowded out by stronger competitors in near proximity. Google calls the new update Hawk, and it might as well be poetic because hawks prey on Possum(s) – Google’s previous algorithm update.

The Hawk update changes the way Google’s local filters work. Here’s a rundown of what’s changing, what’s not and who actually comes out of this one as winners.
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2016’s Top Mobile Rank Tracking Tools

The 2015 Comcast report revealed that the number of worldwide mobile internet users has surpassed those of desktops i.e. 1900 million, as compared to the latter’s 1700 million users. This gulf is only set to widen with increased adoption of mobile devices as a primary source of accessing the web. Marketers, therefore, need to pay close attention to this traffic channel as it is bound to drive a large amount of traffic to websites in the near future.
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How to make Facebook tabs work on mobile!


You have created a fantastic Facebook Application for your campaign. Great!

You have created the tab for the app on your page and are expecting a lot of engagement on it. But did you know that Facebook tabs have a limitation that they work only on desktops and not on mobile devices?

Here’s a workaround to get your Facebook page tab to work on mobile and reach out to a wider set of audience across platforms.

You can achieve this is 3 simple steps:

Step 1:
Create a mobile friendly facebook application i.e. the design should be responsive.
Keep the original URL of the application handy. This is not the Facebook app URL but the the URL of where the application is originally hosted.

Step 2:
Create a user agent checker URL. Based on the user agent, any LAMP programmer can easily write a code and re-direct it to either the Facebook tab app or directly to the mobile friendly URL of the application.

Step 3:
Use a URL shortener- like for sharing the link on your Facebook page or other places. This also helps you hide the new URL.

Here’s an example of how we built a cross platform compatible Facebook app:

Step 1:
We created a Facebook Application called “Dealfie”.
The URL takes you to the app. Once you are there, it requires you to accept the Facebook application terms.


Now, try opening the same URL on your mobile.
You will see that Facebook displays Error 404 “Page not found” as illustrated below.


Step 2:
We created a URL which can check the browser on which the application is being called on and redirect it to either Facebook or a different destination.
On opening this URL on a desktop, it will open as
Now try opening this URL on mobile.
It would open:
This is same as the url that Facebook calls as an IFRAME on the tab.

Step 3:
Using a standard URL shortener, we created a new URL and hid the landing URL.
This new URL can be used to share on Facebook and other social platforms
Now try opening this url. It will open something like below once you have accepted Facebook app terms.


If you found this hack useful or if it worked for you, share your experience in the comments.

Real Estate SEO: How To Generate More Leads

Nowadays when researching for homes, the internet is the first touch point of reference for most buyers. This is why proper SEO practices in place is crucial for real estate companies.

Here are few of the basic pointers you should follow when starting of your SEO campaigns

1. Carry Out Basic Optimization Practices

Ensure that you have the basic optimization practices in place – add the proper meta tags, robots and sitemap files.

2. Select the Right Keywords

Let’s say your property/home is located in Albion, New York. Your website is perfectly relevant for searches “homes in Albion” and “homes in New York”.

However there would have a greater likelihood of conversion happening for the keyword “homes in Albion” than “homes in New York”. This is because the former is super specific while the latter is a much broader term.

Again competition for “Homes in Albion” is likely to be lower than “Homes in New York”. However the obvious drawback is that keyword searches for “Homes in Albion” might be lower than “Homes in New York” but this approach should see you getting more qualified leads.

3. Get Local Citations   

Google and other search engine like Bing and Yahoo place a great emphasis on citation.  A citation is an online reference to your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP). You should try to get as many relevant local citations for your real estate location as possible. White Spark CA had a comprehensive list of local citations where you can list your website. You can check them out here.

4. Enhance Your Listings

Buying a home is different to buy a hairdryer or phone. If you can give users an actual experience of the feel of the home, then you would have greater chances of conversion.

So here is what you should do –

–          Use high resolutions images of both the house and its surrounding areas. The more, the better.

–          Even better would be to create videos for better user experience

–          Get genuine reviews of existing/past customers to increase trust of future buyers.

This practice should be followed on both the website and the citations that you create.

5. Lead Generation Forms

Make sure to have lead generation forms on your website. Include chat boxes to capture potential leads.

6. Tie Up With Aggregator Portals

Aggregator portals are basically search engines for properties. Get your site listed in quality aggregator portals to increase reach. Few of these portals also allow you to link back to your website which.

Mobile Marketing Cannot Be Ignored: Rajat Gupta, Digital Head LINE India

Mobile Marketing is the new buzz word. With the smartphone penetration increasing rapidly in India, the users are spending more time on the small screen than on the desktops.

Advertisers are responding fast and mobile marketing is becoming more important than ever. Though the size of the pie might be small as of now, brands and advertisers are taking note of the potential of Mobile Marketing.

Rajat Gupta, Digital Head Of LINE India

In this chat, Rajat Gupta, Head of Digital Marketing at LINE India gives an insight on how one of the most popular messaging apps in the world uses mobile marketing and advertising in their marketing mix. He also discusses if brands and advertisers can afford to ignore the mobile as a medium.

How has the mobile advertising ecosystem matured over the last few years?

I think the mobile advertising industry is in its initial stages and what we are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg. The brands are becoming more aware of the changing dynamics in digital marketing and now understand the importance of mobile advertising.

Though the spends on mobile are very small as compared to traditional and digital media, there has been a significant increase in the same. We will see a surge in that in the near future. Currently, not many marketers are aware about the mobile ad inventory options. Once that improves, we will see an explosion in this industry. At LINE, a significant portion of our advertising spends goes to mobile advertising.

What are the creative ways in which LINE is advertising to mobile users?

We do not use conventional targeting options such as location targeting because it is not important where our user is. Users might be chatting on LINE from wherever they are. But what is important to us is that the user must own a good quality smartphone that runs apps and must have a data plan.

We don’t advertise on mobile sites. We try to advertise on banners inside apps. We do not do advertising for branding because it will be difficult for us to measure the efficacy of that. Our advertising is performance driven.

By performance we mean app downloads. By performance we mean that the user downloads the app and registers on it. Install to registration ratio is a metric we chase religiously. Our priority for now is to get new users and increase the stickiness of the app.

How is the average click-through rate and conversion rate on mobile different than other forms of media?

The average click-through rate and conversion rate is higher on mobile than on desktop. One of the reasons could be that mobile advertising is new and people are attracted towards a new medium. A lot of customization can be done for a customer on mobile because we can know a lot about the user. That works because a desktop might be shared between multiple people but a mobile phone is personal.

Another reason for a higher CTR and conversion rate is that the mobile having a smaller screen has lesser distractions than the desktop where the user’s attention moves from one element to other very quickly.

Any innovative mobile advertising campaign that caught your attention?

I will answer this question taking something we do at LINE into account. For us, the task doesn’t end at the user just downloading the LINE app. We have to make sure the user registered after downloading the app and then starts using it repeatedly. We design our campaigns in a way that the communication is different for different users depending on the stage they are at on the user life-cycle.

Let’s say a user downloaded the app but didn’t complete the registration; we will show him ad banners reminding him to complete the registration to start enjoying conversations on LINE. In another example, if there is a user who downloaded the app and registered too but isn’t using it, we design special campaigns so that they start using the app more frequently.

What goes into planning a mobile media campaign? What is the division between targeting behaviours and understanding spending metrics?

It completely depends on the advertiser’s objectives. There can be different objectives like to acquire new customers or to reach out to people who have dropped from the funnel. For someone the objective can be brand building or just brand recall. Based on the objectives, we go for the data and design the campaign accordingly. We then choose the platform that will be relevant for that particular campaign.

Since LINE itself is a platform, we use it to reach out too. We give a high importance to the spending metrics because the cost for every line item in the campaign has to be justified. On the other hand, behavioural targeting is a prerequisite for any kind of campaign, be it for customer acquisition or branding.

What kind of data can an advertiser get about mobile users. Is this data being fully utilized to understand customers?

We can get almost all kinds of usage data about a mobile user. Some parameters that can be obtained are – service operator, the make and model of the phone he is carrying, data plan, area circle etc. Also, we can get data for the usage patterns of the user which tells us how much time he spends on voice calls, how much time is spent on the apps and how much time is spent on mobile internet.

Answering your second question, we use different data during different phases of the campaign. We start off with a wider target initially and the target gets leaner as we move along the campaign. This industry is very dynamic and we have to react to changes in real-time. Hence, the data, though not everything at once, is definitely useful in different situations.

How is mobile advertising helping LINE India to reach out to its existing and potential users? Is there something new you are planning for reaching out your users on mobile?

Mobile advertising is extremely important for us. It forms an integral part of our campaign planning. We are looking forward to try out new techniques and options in the future to make our advertising more effective.

Coming to the second part of your question, frankly, we don’t follow the industry; we sit down with tech architects of top mobile companies to figure out how we can sharpen our targeting.

We have real-time problem statements and our job is to create solutions for them. We are not following a trend; we are setting a trend here. We keep on slicing, dicing and targeting people to make our marketing more effective. The user behaviour keeps changing and we have to make informed experiments based on the limited past data we have to adapt to the change.

So if something doesn’t work, you go back to the drawing board to rework?

In this industry, we are always on the drawing board. Everything is real-time.

With this, he signs off.

David Bell and CMOs on retail and e-tail marketing

The interaction was on the latest trends in retail and e-tail marketing. Prof Bell discussed some interesting case studies and findings from his research

David Bell and CMOs on retail and e-tail marketing

SocioSquare (part of AKG Technologies), a Mumbai-based Social Media marketing company organised an interactive session for CMOs with Prof David Bell, Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) in Mumbai recently. Prof Bell is also an angel investor in SocioSquare and previous angel investments included, which was acquired by Amazon. The interaction was on the latest trends in retail and e-tail marketing. Prof Bell discussed some interesting case studies and findings from his research.

Senior Industry Professionals present for the sessions were Vivek Biyani and Sandip Tarkas (Future Group), Nishant Nayak (eGitanjali), Ashish Mehra (Mahindra Holidays), Sheetal Choksi (TRRAIN – Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India), Mukesh Jagwani (TOPPS), Damodar Mall (Reliance Retail), Deepak Jayaram (Group M) and Ms Nearose Suares (Vodafone).

The excited Gaurav Mendiratta, Founder & CEO, SocioSquare said, “The conclave was a great opportunity not only to learn from Prof. Bell’s research but also a great platform for attendees to ask questions based on their experiences in India. I believe the questions which came up were all real problems retailers face here and Prof. Bell did a stupendous job addressing each one of them.”

This post had first appeared on Samachar and has been re-published here.

Online Retailers Should Aggregate Customers Rather Than Splitting Them: David R Bell

Online retailers should think of clever ways to aggregate customers and deliveries rather than splitting them, David R Bell tells Masoom Gupte

David R Bell
David R Bell

In your article ‘What matters most in online retail’, you have said, “For internet retailers, the best market opportunities are with customers in locations where offline retail shopping is limited and costs (including sales tax) are high.” But isn’t there an immediate concern about distribution costs as the reach goes deeper in the country. How can online retailers deal with this dichotomy?

This audience (where offline is not as well developed) is the most receptive to e-commerce considering our need for e-commerce is lesser in Mumbai where you can go down to the Phoenix Mills mall, right? Even in other countries like China, this observation holds true that growth and demand for online retail comes from Tier-II and Tier-III cities. What needs to be figured out on the supply side is how you can deliver profitably into these cities, whether it is by charging for shipment or having different price points or simply choosing wisely what services can be given away free.

Consumers like to touch and feel the products they are buying. In one of your papers you’ve called this an ‘experience attribute’ and that uncertainty about it decreases the frequency of purchase or dollars spent. How can online retailers change this consumer mindset?

When Jeff Bezos started Amazon, the number one category that was selling in catalogues in 1994 was apparel. Instead he went to the 25th popular category in catalogues – books. He realised that books are the easiest to sell online as there are no surprises there.

There are three things that e-commerce players can do to address this experience attribute concern. One, they can remove this uncertainty by providing free two-way shipping. So if you want to buy a pair of shoes and want to know which size fits, let the consumer order three pairs and return the ones that don’t fit.

Two, use technological solutions. For instance, a consumer could upload a simile of her body and the clothes can be tried on this model. There should be some feedback on that basis as well to make the purchase choice easier. Three, have some offline footprint. Many US companies like Warby Parker and Bonobos that started as pure play online companies have partnered with retailers or got a section in a store focusing on their products.

You spoke of brands that started off as pure online players but who went offline, even if in a limited way. The corollary to that is offline players increasingly making an online play. Is it then less about an online-plus-offline presence, and more about offering an omni-channel retail experience?

Absolutely. In a few years time, people will see shopping as one seamless experience. There will not be this distinction between online and offline. While offline gives a sense of legitimacy to the business, online gives much broader access to customers. Both mediums have their strengths and weaknesses. Pure online players are going to realise that some offline presence is critical for their growth and offline guys will realise that there is a lot of untapped opportunity available online.

In the current retail environment though, offline trade is worried about showrooming (where consumers check products in stores but buy online for cheaper prices) as a growing trend. How real is the problem?

Showrooming is proving to be a tremendous problem in certain categories like consumer electronics. People go to shops that are known for their expertise, spend about half an hour getting a lowdown on which stereo to buy and then probably log on to and make the purchase. This is a nightmare for offline trade which provides a service in the market that someone just free rides and takes away. That’s why we’ve probably seen Circuit City go bankrupt, Best Buy is under tremendous pressure. I don’t think the problem has been figured out completely yet. But, people are thinking about using the store’s real estate creatively. There has been one move in the US. It’s called BOPS: Buy online, pick up in store. It is a little way in which retailers are fighting back. Such innovations are being experimented with.

When you look at online retail in developed markets and observe the space in the Indian market, are there innovations in terms of service or business model that stands out?

Provide insurance for the transaction and clean up the payment process. Next, minimise the two-way distribution, particularly in crowded cities. One of the innovations which we are seeing in the US is pertaining to the last mile distribution. Therefore, you see that all the deliveries in a particular area are sent to the local CVS Pharmacy (the largest pharmacy chain in the US) outlet that is open 24 hours, instead of individual deliveries being made. Think of clever ways to aggregate customers and deliveries rather than splitting them.

Is online retail unsuitable for products with higher price points?

I saw a presentation in February 2012 by the CEO of She said that when the internet first started people thought it was about three things: standardisation, speed and low price. But, she said, it is exactly the opposite: really slow, really expensive and everything I sell is really exclusive. So she was selling $60,000 handbags, $10,000 dresses and taking four months to deliver them.

She recognised that even the fashion market at that very high end is broken. For example, when a fashion designer showcases his work, out of the 10 dresses displayed, the top two sell but the other eight don’t. But there may customers in another country who would probably have bought one of those eight dresses. wanted to fix this ecosystem.

She said the internet is ultimately about access or experience, and not about standardisation, speed and prices.

The e-marketeer

* David Bell teaches marketing management in the Wharton MBA and MBA for Executives Programmes and empirical modelling in the PhD programme. He also teaches an elective course in digital marketing and e-commerce on both the Wharton, Philadelphia and Wharton, San Francisco campuses

* He specialises in the study of consumer shopping behaviour and his interest areas in research cover digital marketing, e-commerce and retail. Bell’s research has been published in several academic marketing journals. Till date he has published over 37 papers, such as What Matters Most in Internet Retailing (MIT Sloan Management Review), From Point-of-Purchase to Path-to-Purchase: How PreShopping Factors Drive Unplanned Buying, (Journal of Marketing) etc.

* Outside his academic career, Bell has advised and invested in e-commerce start-ups such as, (which later got acquired by Amazon) and He has even invested in an Indian social media marketing agency called, SocioSquare.

This post had first appeared on Business Standard and has been re-published here.

I Saw An Opportunity In Social Media Marketing: Gaurav Mendiratta, Founder, SocioSquare

“I saw opportunity in social media marketing rather than in creating content people are still not ready to pay for.” – Gaurav Mendiratta, Founder, SocioSquare

SocioSquare is a social media marketing firm founded two years ago by Gaurav Mendiratta, the entrepreneur famous for his earlier creation NyooTV, a social Bollywood entertainment portal which offered paid content in 2009. Mendiratta started NyooTV in Philadelphia, US, while working with American entertainment firm Comcast.

While NyooTV was still in the beta stage, Mendiratta felt the need to capitalise on his social marketing skills and shifted focus to SocioSquare in 2011. The company focuses on social media marketing products and services about 20 clients, including the Zee Group, the Times Group and The Mobile Store. SocioSquare host of services include social media optimisation, search engine optimisation, Twitter advertising, Web site development, customised social media tool creation, Web and social app development, digital media planning and buying, and email marketing. It has developed two products that solve common problems for brand marketers in the realm of social advertising and social content creation.

“I saw opportunity in social media marketing rather than just creating content for which people were still not ready to pay for,” says Mendiratta, who started SocioSquare in India. In the last two years the company has raised two rounds of angel funding and is present in Mumbai, where it is headquartered, San Francisco and Delhi. The plan is to enter more cities in the US and the Asia-Pacific in six months. Menditratta joined Comcast after a Masters in Telecom and Computer Networks from the University of Pennsylvania.


“I loved my job but always wanted to do something of my own. Ever since graduating, I kept meeting my thesis advisor and mentor Kartik Hosanagar every three to six months to brainstorm new ideas with him. Kartik is an advisor, investor and a director with the company,” Mendiratta said.

On his entrepreneurial journey, Mendiratta said that the initial days were full of struggle. He had started NyooTV in Philadelphia and recruited two developers in his home town Bhopal.

“I rented a 300-sq-ft room. During the day, I used to work with Comcast and at night I worked with my developers in India. It was a painful eight months till I raised the first angel round of $250,000 in September 2009. I quit my full-time job and moved to India in March 2010. When we pivoted to SocioSquare in 2011, we were a team of 10 people, which has now grown to 35,” he said.

Gaurav Mendiratta, Founder, SocioSquare 


However, switching from to SocioSquare was a difficult and painful task as Mendiratta had to let go of several team members, who had been there from the beginning, as the company was unable to pay their salaries. But the switch was required for the company’s sustenance as NyooTV was not generating revenues. The Indian market had not evolved to the extent then where people would pay for content.

SocioSquare, which is a profitable company now, now wants to transform into a SaaS (software as a service) company and develop product that will help clients do real-time online advertising bidding. It is launching two products in the next three months, in Asia Pacific and the US. The company is targeting revenue of $5 million by December 2014.

Mendiratta feels that the Indian start-up ecosystem has come a long way since he first started. India is a very different market than the US. In the US, you can still raise angel funding on a great idea or a demo product, you can raise venture capital funding if you show a great product and early customers, but in India a solid revenue stream is a must or at least a few paying customers are required to a raise even angel money, he says.

Advising young start-ups, he said that they should invest in good talent no matter what cost that comes at. Besides, a revenue stream which can get going within the first six months of launch is critical as it will help pay 70 per cent of the total cost.

This post had first appeared on The Hindu Business Line and has been re-published here.