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Monthly Archives: November 2018

Microsoft acquires FSLogix to enhance Office 365 virtual desktop experience

November 20, 2018 No Comments

Back in September, Microsoft announced a virtual desktop solution that lets customers run Office 365 and Windows 10 in the cloud. They mentioned several partners in the announcement that were working on solutions with them. One of those was FSLogix, a Georgia virtual desktop startup. Today, Microsoft announced it has acquired FSLogix. It did not share the purchase price.

“FSLogix is a next-generation app-provisioning platform that reduces the resources, time and labor required to support virtualization,” Brad Anderson, corporate VP for Microsoft Office 365 and Julia White, corporate VP for Microsoft Azure,  href=”https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2018/11/19/microsoft-acquires-fslogix-to-enhance-the-office-365-virtualization-experience/”>wrote in a joint blog post today.

When Microsoft made the virtual desktop announcement in September they named Citrix, CloudJumper, Lakeside Software, Liquidware, People Tech Group, ThinPrint and FSLogix as partners working on solutions. Apparently, the company decided it wanted to own one of those experiences and acquired FSLogix.

Microsoft believes by incorporating the FSLogix solution, it will provide a better virtual desktop experience for its customers by enabling better performance and faster load times, especially for Office 365 ProPlus customers.

Randy Cook, founder and CTO at FSLogix, said the acquisition made sense given how well the two companies have worked together over the years. “From the beginning, in working closely with several teams at Microsoft, we recognized that our missions were completely aligned. Both FSLogix and Microsoft are dedicated to providing the absolute best experience for companies choosing to deploy virtual desktops,” Cook wrote in a blog post announcing the acquisition.

Lots of companies have what are essentially dumb terminals running just the tools each employee needs, rather than a fully functioning standalone PC. Citrix has made a living offering these services. When employees come in to start the day, they sign in with their credentials and they get a virtual desktop with the tools they need to do their jobs. Microsoft’s version of this involves Office 365 and Windows 10 running on Azure.

FSLogix was founded in 2013 and has raised more than $ 10 million, according to data on Crunchbase. Today’s acquisition, which has already closed according to Microsoft, comes on the heels of last week’s announcement that the company was buying Xoxco, an Austin-based developer shop with experience building conversational bots.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


How to optimize your local business for voice search

November 20, 2018 No Comments

Voice search is growing, a statement appearing time and time again throughout the web. It has fundamentally changed the way people search and it’s here to stay.

With a simple command, users can conduct searches for information, products, services and local businesses.

It’s such a hot topic that our Head of Search and Strategy Stuart Shaw spoke at one of the UK’s largest SEO conferences a few weeks ago to talk about the details of voice search and why it’s important for brands.

While voice isn’t likely to surpass traditional search any time soon, it has spurred us to explore how local businesses can optimize, adjust their marketing strategies and understand the potential voice search could have on their bottom lines.

The opportunity for local businesses

To get information about a local service near to us, we pull out our phones and we search for it:

  • ‘Plumbing services near me’
  • ‘Local pizza delivery’
  • ‘What are the opening times for…’
  • ‘Is so and so open today?’ etc.

In fact, a recent study by Brightlocal highlighted that 53% of people owning smart speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa & Google Home are performing searches like these for local businesses every day in the US:

Putting that in context for the UK

A recent YouGov study showed that people in the UK owning a smart speaker had doubled between Q3 2017 and Q1 2018 to 10% of the total population.

A study by radiocentre predicted that this growth could reach as high as 40% by the end of 2018.

Looking a little deeper, we could say that per household there is more than one occupant. In fact on average there’s actually 2.3 people per household, according to the most recent UK gov statistics:

Source: Office of national statistics

So, if the 40% of UK households prediction is correct, that is potentially 11 million households exposing voice search content to 25 million people in the UK.

Who’s leading the smart speaker market?

Three-quarters of the market share in the UK in Q1 2018 was taken up by Amazon’s Alexa. This, of course, will change but right now this is where the biggest opportunity lies for local businesses optimizing for smart speakers in the UK:

 

Source: Office of national statistics

Although voice search is still in a stage of infancy, and we have only talked about smart speakers, it’s clear to see just how relevant this technology is to brick and mortar businesses.

And, it’s constantly evolving…

Here’s a timeline from Stuart’s presentation, highlighting significant changes in voice search, and it’s becoming increasingly accessible for more and more people to conduct a voice search every day:

3 Biggest steps to optimize your local business for voice search

1. Take ownership of your digital footprint

Although voice assistants seem all-knowing, they rely heavily on information they can find around the web about your business.

A big part of optimizing for local SEO is ‘citations’ which are online references to your business name, address and phone number (NAP).

Voice assistants use these citations from trusted sources to provide information to users that are conducting local search queries.

So, where should I cite my business?

Each voice assistant relies on different and sometimes multiple data aggregators for answers to local search queries:

  • Siri
    • Search: Google
    • Business listings: Apple maps
    • Reviews: Yelp
  • Alexa
    • Search: Bing
    • Business listings: Yelp and more recently Yext
    • Reviews: Yelp
  • Google Assistant
    • Search: Google
    • Business listings: Google my Business
    • Reviews: Google my Business
  • Cortana
    • Search: Bing
    • Business listings: Bing
    • Reviews: Yelp

So, these data sources are the most important places to make sure your business is correctly cited, up-to-date and optimised:

2. Utilize schema markup

Schema is a type of on-page data markup that allows webmasters to provide search engines with data about their business in a more structured way.

The structured format allows search engines to understand the contents and context of web pages much easier (less algorithmic interpretation) and, subsequently, the engines can better understand the relevance of pages to particular search queries and present richer results.

Schema is only going to play a bigger part in ranking for rich results and featured snippets which are heavily used in for voice search content.

What does schema markup do?

Search engines experiment with how they display rich results all the time and by having your site marked up, you have the opportunity to be featured in new rich results.

For example, Google experimented with a ‘prominent knowledge panel card’ shown on mobile devices which displays when users conduct a branded search for the business. In the knowledge card you can see ‘place actions’ such as ‘find a table’ or ‘book an appointment’ which would direct searchers into an appropriate webpage to conduct the action.

These rich results went on to influence the structure of Google My Business which is now heavily used by local businesses. The point here is that the business websites shown in the example image below were ‘future proofed’ and optimal which qualified them for this rich result.

In other words, as Gary Illyes – web trends analyst at Google puts it:

“If you want your sites to appear in search features, implement structured data.”

The biggest benefit and ‘thing it does’ is help Google understand relevance much more fluently. Another few quotes from Gary Illyes helps explain this:

“Add structured data to your pages because, during indexing, we will be able to better understand what your site is about.”

“And don’t just think about the structured data that we documented on developers.google.com. Think about any schema.org schema that you could use on your pages. It will help us understand your pages better, and indirectly… it leads to better ranks.”

Why it’s important for local businesses

Schema is a tool which search engines and subsequently voice assistants are using to paint a clearer picture of a business website’s central topic and the services the site can offer users.

With structured data present, it is much more likely that your business (if relevant) will be identified as a good candidate for answering local voice search queries.

Using local business schema will:

  • Future-proof your website for richer search features (which voice search content is heavily influenced by)
  • Reinforce your online digital footprint
  • Bolster relevancy signals & geographic accuracy
  • Help drive more conversions both online and offline
  • Indirectly help your website rank better (important for voice)

So how do you take control?

There are hundreds of schema types which can be utilised for hundreds of business and content types.

There are also multiple ways of marking up schema in your page source code. By far the easiest is using JSON-LD. Using the example from above the marked up code looks something like this:

The best way to get your code ready is to go to SchemaApp.com, follow the instructions or use this tutorial and locate the schema types that are most relevant to you and your business.

Types of local business data that can be marked up:

  • Business name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Main email address
  • Business opening hours
  • Geo-location information (latitude and longitude)
  • Reviews
  • Company logo
  • Business description
  • Social profile links
  • Site name

Bear in mind there are guidelines for usage summarized below:

  • ‘Data must not deceive or mislead experience for search users’
  • ‘Use only the most specific types and property names defined by schema.org’
  • ‘Marked-up content must be visible on the page where the script is added’

See Google’s policies for structured data for more information.

Once you’ve gone through SchemaApp, copy and paste the output code into relevant pages before your closing </head> tag or, if it’s content specific schema (such as the review rating above), paste the code before the closing </body> tag in the HTML of your page.

Finally, check your mark up with this structured data testing tool which will highlight any errors once implemented.

Note: Avoid using Google Tag Manager for this markup, apply the code natively where possible.

3. Produce content relevant to voice search needs

There are great ways of optimizing specifically for voice search using your on-site content.

The simplest is to explore the realm of user intent and uncover the types of questions people may want answering, when it comes to your business.

That doesn’t mean you need to create 1000s of pages that are optimized specifically for voice search terms. Instead, search engines such as Google pulls answers to voice queries directly from page content, even if it is a snippet that makes up a small section of the content.

Work long tail queries into long-form content

Conduct some long tail keyword research and look for questions people ask about your local business and work them into your content, where it is relevant to do so. I highly recommend Answer the Public to scale your efforts here.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

This is a query I searched recently that could be relevant to any local business:

‘Does tesco take american express?’

Here’s what was shown at the top in a featured snippet (the content that will be read out if conducting a voice search with Google Home):

And here’s the content that Google has pulled out from halfway down the page from choose.co.uk:

FAQ pages can be perfect for voice search

Written correctly, an FAQ page can serve voice search queries really effectively and if you struggle to work in your long tail optimisation into relevant pages, an FAQ page is a great way to get around it:

  • People use voice search conversationally, which you can naturally replicate on an FAQ page without the content appearing out of place
  • It appeals to long tail voice & traditional searches which widen your reach
  • Voice search often seeks concise information, under 30 words, which an FAQ page can clearly communicate
  • Creating a dedicated page specifically with this key information in mind could help with higher placement in SERPs for voice searches, which is vital for capturing that first click/interaction

Conclusion

However, you look at SEO, voice is the future and it’s growing exponentially and it’s being integrated into more and more of our everyday tech. Local business marketers should be making specific efforts to capitalize on voice search to maximize their online and offline conversion.

The caveat here is not to let your standard SEO practice fall behind. Having a fully mobile responsive website, fast site speed and good quality local backlinks, among many other optimizations, are still, and will remain, vital for ranking in local search and will greatly impact your voice search efforts.

Get a deeper dive to voice search or get help with your voice search strategy.

The post How to optimize your local business for voice search appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


First ever drone-delivered kidney is no worse for wear

November 20, 2018 No Comments

Drone delivery really only seems practical for two things: take-out and organ transplants. Both are relatively light and also extremely time sensitive. Well, experiments in flying a kidney around Baltimore in a refrigerated box have yielded positive results — which also seems promising for getting your pad thai to you in good kit.

The test flights were conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland there, led by surgeon Joseph Scalea. He has been frustrated in the past with the inflexibility of air delivery systems, and felt that drones represent an obvious solution to the last-mile problem.

Scalea and his colleagues modified a DJI M600 drone to carry a refrigerated box payload, and also designed a wireless biosensor for monitoring the organ while in flight.

After months of waiting, their study was assigned a kidney that was healthy enough for testing but not good enough for transplant. Once it landed in Baltimore, the team loaded it into the container and had it travel 14 separate missions of various distances and profiles. The longest of these was three miles, a realistic distance between hospitals in the area, and the top speed achieved was 67.6 km/h, or about 42 mph.

Biopsies of the kidney were taken before and after the flights, and also after a reference flight on a small aircraft, which is another common way to transport organs medium distances.

Image credit: Joseph Scalea

The results are good: despite the potential threats of wind chill and heat from the motors of the drone (though this was mitigated by choosing a design with a distal motor-rotor setup), the temperature of the box remained at 2.5 degrees Celsius, just above freezing. And no damage appeared to have been done by the drones’ vibrations or maneuvers.

Restrictions on drones and on how organs can be transported make it unlikely that this type of delivery will be taking place any time soon, but it’s studies like this that make it possible to challenge those restrictions. Once the risk has been quantified, then kidneys, livers, blood, and other tissues or important medical supplies may be transported this way — and in many cases, every minute counts.

One can also imagine the usefulness of this type of thing in disaster situations, when not just ordinary aircraft but also land vehicles may have trouble getting around a city. Drones should be able to carry much-needed supplies — but before they do, they should definitely be studied to make sure they aren’t going to curdle the blood or anything.

The specifics of the study are detailed in a paper published in the IEEE Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine.

Gadgets – TechCrunch



Mobile App Targeting and Exclusion – Post Adsenseformobileapps.com Retirement

November 18, 2018 No Comments

Explore how to target and exclude mobile apps in Google Ads post deprecation of adsenseformobileapps.com and G-mob exclusions.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Best Cookbooks (Fall 2018): José Andrés, Anissa Helou, Simone Klabin

November 18, 2018 No Comments

This year’s best food books reflect the importance of community, whether it’s about saving the world or just understanding it a little better.
Feed: All Latest


Former Oracle exec Thomas Kurian to replace Diane Greene as head of Google Cloud

November 17, 2018 No Comments

Diane Greene announced in a blog post today that she would be stepping down as CEO of Google Cloud and will be helping transition former Oracle executive Thomas Kurian to take over early next year.

Greene took over the position almost exactly three years ago when Google bought Bebop, the startup she was running. The thinking at the time was that the company needed someone with a strong enterprise background and Greene, who helped launch VMware, certainly had the enterprise credentials they were looking for.

In the blog post announcing the transition, she trumpeted her accomplishments. “The Google Cloud team has accomplished amazing things over the last three years, and I’m proud to have been a part of this transformative work. We have moved Google Cloud from having only two significant customers and a collection of startups to having major Fortune 1000 enterprises betting their future on Google Cloud, something we should accept as a great compliment as well as a huge responsibility,” she wrote.

The company had a disparate set of cloud services when she took over, and one of the first things Greene did was to put them all under a single Google Cloud umbrella. “We’ve built a strong business together — set up by integrating sales, marketing, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Google Apps/G Suite into what is now called Google Cloud,” she wrote in the blog post.

As for Kurian, he stepped down as president of product development at Oracle at the end of September. He had announced a leave of absence earlier in the month before making the exit permanent. Like Greene before him, he brings a level of enterprise street cred, which the company needs as it continues to try to grow its cloud business.

After three years with Greene at the helm, Google, which has tried to position itself as the more open cloud alternative to Microsoft and Amazon, has still struggled to gain market share against its competitors, remaining under 10 percent consistently throughout Greene’s tenure.

As Synergy’s John Dinsdale told TechCrunch in an article on Google Cloud’s strategy in 2017, the company had not been particularly strong in the enterprise to that point. “The issues of course are around it being late to market and the perception that Google isn’t strong in the enterprise. Until recently Google never gave the impression (through words or deeds) that cloud services were really important to it. It is now trying to make up for lost ground, but AWS and Microsoft are streets ahead,” Dinsdale explained at the time. Greene was trying hard to change that perception.

Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research says Greene was able to shift the focus to enterprise more, but he likes what Kurian brings to the table, even if it will take a bit of a cultural shift from his many years at Oracle. “What Greene did not address has been how to tie the product portfolio of Google’s autonomous and disparate development teams together. Kurian is a great fit for that job, having lead 35k+ developers at Oracle, ending the trench warfare between product teams and divisions that has plagued Oracle a decade ago,” Mueller explained.

Google has not released many revenue numbers related to the cloud, but in February it indicated they were earning a billion dollars a quarter, a number that Greene felt put Google in elite company. Amazon and Google were reporting numbers like that for a quarter at the time. Google stopped reporting cloud revenue after that report.

Regardless, the company will turn to Kurian to continue growing those numbers now. “I will continue as CEO through January, working with Thomas to ensure a smooth transition. I will remain a Director on the Alphabet board,” Greene wrote in her blog post.

Interestingly enough, Oracle has struggled with its own transition to the cloud. Kurian gets a company that was born in the cloud, rather than one that has made a transition from on-prem software and hardware to one solely in the cloud. It will be up to him to steer Google Cloud moving forward.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Surfing the Waves of Creative Destruction

November 17, 2018 No Comments

This post is shared with you from Anders Hjorth, Digital Marketing Strategist at Innovell & speaker at Hero Conf London. AI is disrupting the Search Industry It is only fair that I start with a confession: Facebook thinks I am German. So they serve me German language advertising. I am many things, Danish national, French […]

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Pinterest on visual search: key takeaways

November 17, 2018 No Comments

We invited Michael Akkerman, Global Head of Partners Program at Pinterest, to our NY office yesterday evening to speak on visual search.

He talked about discovery over search, audience engagement over audience size, less time more well-spent over more total time spent, and social communities over social networks. It was an insightful, instructive, and *obviously* visual-heavy session.

Here were some of the key takeaways / highlights.

Pinterest is a visual discovery engine — discovery over search

When people come to our platform, they’re trying to discover new pieces of information.

Our Pinners are not looking to connect with friends or post at parties. They’re doing home renovations. They’re in the market for something. They want to go and actually discover something.

Google is great for when I know what I want, but it’s really crappy when I don’t know how to articulate it. How do I describe a style I’ve only seen, a city I don’t know, a specific color?

Like this:

Or this:

I know them when I see them.

Pinterest is visual-first. We wanted it to be able to take images instead of words.

Pinterest = possibilities

What do I want to eat? What do I want to wear? How should I decorate my house? What’s my style? We help people understand their taste.

Total numbers of pins: 23 billion food and drink. 18 billion home and garden. 8 billion beauty. 23 billion style. 4 billion travel.

Are you in one of these categories? Your customers are on Pinterest.

“Even if you think your brand’s content isn’t on Pinterest, your customers are probably already bringing it there. Seems like those are people you might want to go and chat with.”

What keeps people from buying? They’re still trying to figure out what they want — they’re still discovering.

For us, the camera is the new keyboard.

Let the image be the SERP.

Shop the look. Discover products inside an image.

Personalization not as a feature, but rather the underpinning of the platform

On Pinterest, we understand that every single person has different interests. We don’t want personalization as just a feature. We want it as the underpinnings of the entire platform.

The way we’re doing it is we’re bringing what’s called the taste graph. The hipster guy from Williamsburg? His garden board doesn’t look like everyone else’s. My travel board? I want to go to Morocco. Not everyone does.

When you interact on Pinterest, it feels like it knows you.

What storytelling was on search versus what storytelling is on Pinterest. Driving people closer to an engaging experience.

Audience engagement over audience size

Content at scale:

  • 250 million monthly active users
  • 170 billion pins — 5x the library of congress every single day
  • 3 billion boards

We have the largest human focus group in the world, curating content into boards.

“We’re 250 million people, not 2 billion. It’s really looking at the intent. You’ll find platforms with much larger audiences, but they’re not there to engage. We’re a smaller audience size, but people are there with intent.”

More time well-spent over total time spent

The visual revolution. 50% of the brain is dedicated to understanding visual information.

People retain 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, and 80% of what they see and do.

At Pinterest, that “do” part is very interesting. We’re about time well-spent. We want you off the platform as soon as possible — we want you to solve your problem as quickly as possible.

“When people use Pinterest, they feel positive. It’s about what you can build and achieve. Go make that recipe. Go build that birdhouse. Go nuts. Get off our platform as quickly as possible.”

Purposeful communities over social networks

We’re not a social network — but communities are naturally springing up all the time around given topics, images, ideas, and brands.

Most people call Pinterest “my time.” Not about my social network.

Ads within the context of purpose-based community versus in a social network

1. Annoyance: “People use social media to share things about their lives with each other. And let’s face it, ads are annoying in that context.”

2. Value: “With Google, you know the intent but not the person. With Facebook, you know everything about the person but less about the intent. I was drawn to Pinterest because it combines both.”

Ads often don’t add value, and they feel disruptive, disjointed.

Why not make them additive? If you’re searching for a certain type of shoes, we’ll show you ads for those shoes.

“If the content is valuable, I don’t mind that it comes from a brand. It solves my problem.”

How people shop: convenience and need over loyalty, bundles over individual items

Example of REI: They saw that normal human beings shop in bundles. If they’re going camping, they don’t need ten jackets and ten tents. They need a bundle of assorted things. Thus, they started highlighting and bundling trending Pinterest products on their own site.

Loyalty is elusive in today’s market

Most purchases are driven by shopping, not by loyalty to a brand. People who switch from brand A to brand B do so because brand B was present the second they were looking for a product.

Marketers like Pinterest because you can reach customers so early on in their buying journey

Pinners start the Black Friday hunt in August.

Most people start pinning, searching, saving 12 weeks before an event. That’s great for a marketer. You can drive interest incrementally over time.

When someone is designing their perfect home, looking for the perfect bag, planning their next vacation — you should be there. They’re discovering your product.

Agnostic cross-channel insight

Last-touch vs multi-touch attribution, in pictures:

“Last-touch attribution is like a shopkeeper looking out the door and seeing a bunch of customers lined up outside and saying “oh, if I had two more front doors, I’d have three times as many customers.” It doesn’t work that way.”

You need to do multi-touch attribution. You’re trying to engage customers, build brand, drive sales. But that looks different in every channel.

Kenshoo found that Facebook was undervalued by as much as 30%. We see the exact same thing on Pinterest right now.

The full livestream is available on our @Sewatch twitter here as well as online here.

The post Pinterest on visual search: key takeaways appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Facebook Messenger is building a ‘Watch Videos Together’ feature

November 17, 2018 No Comments

Netflix and chill from afar? Facebook Messenger is now internally testing simultaneous co-viewing of videos. That means you and your favorite people could watch a synchronized video over group chat on your respective devices while discussing or joking about it. This “Watch Videos Together” feature could make you spend more time on Facebook Messenger while creating shared experiences that are more meaningful and positive for well-being than passively zombie-viewing videos solo. This new approach to Facebook’s Watch Party feature might feel more natural as part of messaging than through a feed, Groups or Events post.

The feature was first spotted in Messenger’s codebase by Ananay Arora, the founder of deadline management app Timebound as well as a mobile investigator in the style of frequent TechCrunch tipster Jane Manchun Wong. The code he discovered describes Messenger allowing you to “tap to watch together now” and “chat about the same videos at the same time” with chat thread members receiving a notification that a co-viewing is starting. “Everyone in this chat can control the video and see who’s watching,” the code explains.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that this is an “internal test” and that it doesn’t have any more to share right now. But other features originally discovered in Messenger’s code, like contact syncing with Instagram, have eventually received official launches.

Watch Party exists on Facebook, but could be more popular as a chat feature

A fascinating question this co-viewing feature brings up is where users will find videos to watch. It might just let you punch in a URL from Facebook or share a video from there to Messenger. The app could put a new video browsing option into the message composer or Discover tab. Or, if it really wanted to get serious about chat-based co-viewing, Facebook could allow the feature to work with video partners, ideally YouTube.

Co-viewing of videos could also introduce a new revenue opportunity for Messenger. It might suggest sponsored videos, such as recent movie trailers. Or it could simply serve video ads between a queue of videos lined up for co-viewing. Facebook has recently been putting more pressure on its subsidiaries like Messenger and Instagram to monetize as News Feed ad revenue growth slows due to plateauing user growth and limited News Feed ad space.

Other apps like YouTube’s Uptime (since shut down) and Facebook’s first president Sean Parker’s Airtime (never took off) have tried and failed to make co-watching a popular habit. The problem is that coordinating these synced-up experiences with friends can be troublesome. By baking simultaneous video viewing directing into Messenger, Facebook could make it as seamless as sharing a link.


Social – TechCrunch