Instagram is the latest social network to announce that users in the United States will begin seeing ads in their feeds. Instagram says ads will become a part of the normal user experience.  They will start slow with ads from brands that are already using the marketing platform. Nike, Target and Footlocker are currently among the most popular companies using Instagram.

Unlike other networks, Instagram says it will also allow users to filter out ads they don’t like. “We’ll also make sure you have control. If you see an ad you don’t like, you’ll be able to hide it and provide feedback about what didn’t feel right,” the company said in its blog announcement. “We’re relying on your input to help us continually improve the Instagram experience.”

Instagram celebrated it third birthday this week since it launched October 6, 2010.  The photo sharing network has more than doubled in size since it was acquired by Facebook in September 2012 reaching 150 million monthly active users in September.

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Google has unveiled several updates to its search to mark the company’s 15th year anniversary.

Most prominent among the new features is Google’s new search algorithm called “Hummingbird.” It is designed to sort through all the information it has when you search and come back with answers returning better results. In general, Hummingbird Google says — “is a new engine built on both existing and new parts, organized in a way to especially serve the search demands of today, rather than one created for the needs of ten years ago, with the technologies back then.”

What type of “new” search activity does Hummingbird help? ‘Conversational Search’ is one of the biggest examples Google gave. People, when speaking searches, may find it more useful to have a conversation. 

For example: “What’s the closest place to buy an apple computer near my home?” A traditional search engine might focus on finding matches for words — finding a page that says “buy” and “apple compute”.  Hummingbird might focus on the meaning behind the words. It might understand that the word “place” means you want a brick-and-mortar store. It might know that “apple computer” is a particular type of computer carried only by certain stores. Knowing all these meanings may help Google go beyond only finding pages with words that match. The whole sentence or meaning — is taken into account. The end goal is to find the pages that correspond to the meaning in its entirety.

Google has been doing conversational search, but it had only been doing it really within its Knowledge Graph answers. Hummingbird is designed to apply the meaning technology to billions of pages from across the web, in addition to Knowledge Graph facts, which may yield better results.

The new algorithm doesn’t mean page rank or SEO is dead. Page rank is one of over 200 major factors that figure into the Hummingbird mix. Guidance remains the same, it says: “have original, high-quality content.”  Signals that have been important in the past remain important. Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.

Hummingbird was implemented about a month ago, but Google announced the change late last week.

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You’ve just finished writing an article and can’t wait to publish it.  You really want to share what you have written. Should you publish your blog right away or should you wait for a specific time? Blogs can help you increase traffic for your business and time spent on your site. But will publishing at any time help you capitalize on this? There has been lots of research and comments on when blogs will generate the most traffic. So what is the best time to publish your blog or send out newsletters?

There are studies that show audiences are much more likely to read and comment on blogs at different points depending on the time and day of the week. KISSmetrics, with data collected by social media scientist Dan Zarella and Search Engine Land, says posting content during high traffic hours (day time) can lead to more visitors, comments and engagement but it’s more likely your post will be buried in the competition with other articles. When posting during low activity times (night time) you can expect more prominence within user feeds with less noise, but fewer visitors during off hours. The data also shows that most users read blogs throughout the day, with the highest percentage in the morning between 8am to 11am (peak blog views by hour). The average blog gets the most traffic on Monday but more comments on a Saturday when people aren’t generally working.

They also found: A higher percentage of men than women read blogs in the evening and at night. The average blog receives the most inbound links on Monday and Thursday.
The average blog receives most inbound links at 7am Eastern Time.

Data from Shareaholic study shows that posting between 9am to 10am increases the likelihood of both more page views and social shares.

Of course, don’t forget to take into consideration your own unique business and business sector.  It is important that you analyze your site traffic to determine what the best schedule for you is. Certain times might work best for some businesses and not others.  In order to capitalize on the benefits of blogging, use these studies as a starting point.  Combine them with your own analytics to capture the full potential of your audience!

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