Monthly Archives: February 2020
Google hasn’t been merely a search engine for some time. These days it has grown into a massive space on the web where businesses and potential customers can meet. In this article, we’ll touch on the aspects of using Google for branding.
Here’s a list of Google’s underused services, and suggested ways you can use them to your advantage.
Analytical tools which help you understand your website and app audience
Google Marketing Platform is a kind of umbrella brand that Google has developed to make its products work together more effectively. It is essentially a merger of Google Analytics 360 and DoubleClick Digital Marketing.
Source: Google support
Google Analytics is a part of the Google Marketing Platform which tracks website traffic and reports information about who is searching for what and where. There are many analytics services available, but Google’s is the most widely used in the world. It can track visitors to your website, and tell you quite a lot about them and how they interact with your site.
When someone visits your site, Google Analytics can keep track of the duration of the visit, the number of pages they viewed, how they got there, and even the bounce rate. It does all this anonymously, of course, you can distinguish between unique users, but you will not have any idea who any particular user is.
Analytics for Mobile Apps is like Google Analytics, the only difference is, it tracks and gathers data for users of any iOS or Android apps you may have. It was designed to give app developers better data on how people use their apps, what people want from them, and how the apps could be making you more money.
Analytics for Mobile apps allows you to keep records of
- What actions your users take
- Track their in-app spending (and your revenue for that customer)
- Check the navigation path they take
- Use that data in conjunction with Google Analytics data to really understand the way your customers (or potential customers) approach your brand
Services that you can use to improve brand visibility in searches
Google My Business is a service that lets business owners verify the data Google holds about them. Google generates its own internal business listings for areas literally all over the world, getting its data from a range of online and offline sources. As the process is mostly automated and done without the human verification, errors sometimes occur.
Google My Business allows business owners to ensure that Google has accurate information about them, after claiming the existing listing business can make all the necessary corrections. Besides, if the company is for some reason still off Google’s radar, by creating a Google listing they can let Google know about them.
Thanks to Google My Business, companies can be certain that their customers will find up-to-date information about their business, and their chances of getting featured in the local pack increase as well.
Google Maps is more than just a navigation tool, as well. Google suggests businesses and events in the areas where people are searching for directions and encourages people to search for services (“Show me restaurants near 35th and Maple”) relevant to the way people use Maps.
Some businesses now try to outsmart Google Maps by adding fake business listings to Google Maps, and so, such fake results sometimes crowd out the real ones. Not let this happen Google is now putting effort into verifying the results it displays in Maps and elsewhere – more on that below.
Cloud-solutions for creating and customizing domains as well as store server
G Suite is a set of software products developed by Google Cloud. It was initially called Google Apps for Your Domain. The current lineup of tools and services includes collaboration tools like Sites, Forms, Slides, Sheets and Docs, cloud storage solutions like Drive, and communication tools like Currents, Calendar, Hangouts, and Gmail. Premium versions of the service often include Jamboard (an interactive whiteboard app) as well as Vault and an Admin Panel to help you manage both users and features.
Google Cloud Platform is a suite of software services offering cloud-based access to the same global data infrastructure that it uses to deliver Google Search and YouTube. It essentially combines all of Google’s “infrastructure as a service”, “serverless computing”, and “platform as a service”. Google Cloud Platform offers cloud-based processing, data storage, analytics, and even some pretty advanced machine learning applications, all under a single set of management tools.
Advertisement platforms to pull in additional traffic from popular web channels
Google Ads, which was until very recently known as Google AdWords, is where Google really makes its money. It is still at its core a pay-per-click advertising service, but it operates across all the Google’s ever more sprawling service landscape. Businesses of all kinds can pay to get highly targeted users from showing them ads, relevant product listings, videos with sales or branding content, or offering users an opportunity to download the business’ app.
Some of the services under Google Ads include AdWords Express, Keyword Planner, Reach Planner, Google Ads Manager Accounts, Google Ads Editor, Google Partners, and IP Address Exclusion tool.
Google for Retail is a service designed to make it easier for retailers to connect with existing customers as well as finding new ones. It gives you tools that you can use to better engage with existing customers and potential customers over Maps, Google Assistant, YouTube, and Search.
Source: Google for Retail
Google for Retail includes individualized solutions for offering inventory to local customers, developing shopping campaigns with partner organizations, and combining Google Ads with Smart Shopping Campaigns.
YouTube Ads is, as you might have guessed, the primary way to get your ads served up on YouTube. YouTube is the second biggest search engine on the planet, only Google processes more searches than YouTube. It is the infrastructure that connects nearly 2 billion active users to more than 50 million content creators, and 10% of US businesses already have a YouTube Business Account.
Ad types include TrueView Ads – demos, testimonials and adverts that users often search for directly, Non-Skippable YouTube Ads – ads which last up to 20 seconds that play either before or in the middle of a video, and Bumper Ads which last up to six seconds at the end of a video.
Universal App Campaigns are a way to advertise your app throughout Google Ads, Google Play, YouTube and the rest of Google’s advertising empire. It is heavily automated and relies on Google’s machine learning expertise to determine which of your ads work best with particular types of audiences (the ones which cause more users to install your app) and then ensures that the right users see the right ads.
The big benefit here is that you are relieved of the burden of manually split testing and tracking ad performance.
The secret key: NAP
NAP in Google terms stands for Name, address, and phone number. Most experts believe that Google relies heavily on your business’ listed NAP to target search results to individual clients. That is why using NAP in SEO is incredibly important. If you aren’t using it consistently and accurately, you could be losing out on a huge number of highly targeted, site visitors every day – those who Google believes are in your area and actively looking for the goods or services you provide.
How do you use it correctly? It’s not difficult. List your business’ name, address and phone number accurately on your website, and on as many other sites as you can manage. Start with the obvious – your GMB listing, the Internet Yellow Pages, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and any local or national business directories which cater to your industry or niche. Most importantly, though, list it consistently. Always use the exact same name, address and phone number, and make sure that all are real.
Why does Google care so much about NAP? It isn’t merely about geo-targeting search results. It is about eliminating false and spam sites from those search results. There are a great many businesses that depend on showing up in as many searches as possible, even those that are not particularly useful to the searcher. Great for them, but it makes Google’s results seem less reliable and relevant to the user, and Google can’t let it happen. It looks for widespread, consistent NAP data for a business or a website to gauge how legitimate your business is. Few false sites have real addresses or phone numbers, and even fewer use them consistently across multiple sites and platforms. Using Name, Address and Phone Number data accurately and consistently help your company look legitimate, as well as bring in geo-targeted searches.
Google has become a vast landscape of user-centric services that are almost completely funded by advertising. It has become incredibly canny about how to get advertising messages out to its users in a way that does not annoy users and brings them something they actually need. They make sure that your sales message reaches people who actually need your service, which truly is a game-changer.
Google now has so many individual services that it can be difficult for non-experts to really get the most from its features. However, failing to gain a certain level of expertise in Google advertising can be disastrous for even a small business these days.
Diana Ford is a digital marketing specialist with writing expertise that spans across online marketing, SEO, social media, and blogging.
The post Google for branding: Getting more from search engine services appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Can you use Creative Sets instead of A/B testing? Read to find out Apple Search Ads best practices & insights for using Creative Sets, pros and cons of this tool.
Read more at PPCHero.com
As that last page of the calendar flips over, we’re always reminded to look back, refocus, and prepare for the year ahead. Take yourself back for a moment to the beginning of 2010 – could you even have imagined how much search would change in the last decade?
At a macro level, the last decade has brought about a transformation from search as a perfunctory information-finding task to a complex journey with many touchpoints across devices, networks, and channels. Simply browsing has given way to desires for the convenience of instant answers. As social media has been plagued by “fake news” and rampant misinformation, search has proven far more effective at crowdsourcing the verification of data, whether it’s business location information, answers to informational questions, claims about products, and more.
In fact, ten years ago marketers were hard-pressed to get their messaging in front of people who actually wanted to hear it. Today, over 60% of people expect brands to give them the information they need when they need it, and less than half of them feel that brands are delivering (Google). The face of search is changing and SEOs, more than anyone, need to track the trajectory of these changes to stay relevant.
How the evolution of the consumer is driving changes in SEO
Voice search is undoubtedly one of the most impactful consumer trends affecting SEOs, and you can expect that to continue over the next decade. Google first introduced Voice Search in 2002, but it’s only in the last several years that consumers have really grown comfortable conversing and engaging with their devices in the way we now do. People are no longer pecking words into the keyboard and hoping Google understands their intent, they’re asking questions and even having ongoing conversations with technology. Longtail is the new norm.
They’re not only asking Google or Alexa, either. Even though Google dominates traditional search engine market share, search is happening on platforms like Amazon, Facebook, and YouTube, too. Getting the answer to a single question might span multiple networks as increasingly savvy searchers compare answers from different sources.
SEOs are having to adapt to a zero-click environment, where Google curates so much information that searchers’ needs are answered without ever leaving the SERP. As a result, SEOs are having to make better use of Featured Snippets and other space available to them throughout the search ecosystem. Schema.org has been around since 2011 but it’s only in the latter part of this last decade that structured data really became one of the core tenets of SEO.
The mobile experience has been an area of focus for many years, but in 2018 it was made mission-critical as Google introduced the mobile-first index and mobile speed updates. Snippets became smaller, page speed became a ranking factor for mobile searches, and video became a far more commonly used content format in the SERPs. SEOs had to move beyond thinking of “mobile-friendly” only in terms of web development and consider how mobile users search for and consume content, as well.
Today, we’ve moved beyond mobile-friendly to mobile-first, where websites need to do a lot more than just work on smartphones. Mobile-first design thinking offers a seamless, intuitive experience with careful thought given to content, navigation and site structure, CTAs in the context of the customer journey, and more.
EAT (Expertise, Authority, Trust)
Many have long assumed that the Quality Rater’s Guidelines were the keys to understanding algorithmic ranking factors, but it wasn’t confirmed by Google until VP of Search, Assistant and News, Ben Gomes told CNBC in 2018,
“You can view the rater guidelines as to where we want the search algorithm to go.”
EAT (expertise, authority, trust) are categorized as “very important” in the Guidelines. This is not new or earth-shattering, but it’s clear that content quality and author/business authority aren’t going anywhere. Crafting authoritative content, citing reputable sources, developing your digital footprint and online profile, and being involved in your niche are all going to be critical in the years to come.
Machine learning, entities, and NLP
“People come to Search for all types of information to help them form a better understanding of the world and the topics they care about most. […] Now, we’re using the latest in machine learning to bring this approach to top stories in Google Search, making it easier for people to dive into the most useful, timely articles available.”
SEOs are being challenged by machine learning on two fronts – the first, in how Google uses it to evaluate and rank content. But secondly, SEOs have a huge opportunity to scale and maximize their own performance with smart automation and tools that incorporate machine learning.
First, the October 2019 NLP-based BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) update, designed to use machine learning to help Google better understand the relationships between queries and content, rolled out affecting 10% of all queries. Google called BERT the “biggest leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of search,” so you can bet this is an area SEOs want to focus in the coming years.
As for how SEOs can use machine learning and smart automation, I’ve written about this in recent columns; check out How AI is powering real-time SEO research: Insights and optimization and Five ways SEOs can utilize data with insights, automation, and personalization for more.
Technical SEO is as important as ever, but SEOs are being forced to think more holistically about searcher experience and the entire journey from discovery to conversion and loyalty.
Data and AI-driven SEO strategy
The IDC predicts that in 2025, 175 zettabytes (175 trillion gigabytes) of new data will be created around the world. As the role of SEO has evolved inside organizations, we increasingly find ourselves as the point resource for interpreting and activating marketing data.
In the coming years, we’ll have even more rich and diverse sources of data to draw from, too. For example, marketers now have access to crowdsourced open-source data via Google’s Dataset Search, just out of beta.
“The majority of governments in the world publish their data and describe it with schema.org. The United States leads in the number of open government datasets available, with more than two million. And the most popular data formats? Tables–you can find more than six million of them on Dataset Search.”
– Natasha Noy, Research Scientist at Google Research
Again, I can’t overstate the importance of smart automation for SEOs given the pace of the flood of data organizations are up against. Embracing automation there’s no possible way to perform in a real-time world without them. AI is enabling marketing to target demand, deliver on consumer expectations for real-time personalization, make smart content optimizations content that speaks directly to consumer needs at each stage of the journey across channels and devices, and more.
Video and visual
Video and visual SEO will be increasingly important elements in a comprehensive SEO strategy going forward. The next generation of search continues to push our understanding of what’s possible and develop particularly around how consumers find and consume multimedia content.
SEOs are now able to optimize for the awareness and consideration stages with voice content. Currently, Google Assistant is on over a billion devices and Google Home makes up 24% of the U.S. installed base (Amazon’s Alexa-enabled Echo accounts for 70%). Amazon uses Alexa as a loss leader to get consumers to spend money elsewhere on Amazon, while Google treats voice search as an extension of the search experience; as a more conversational way to find answers to life’s every need and problem.
Mike Levin, co-founder and partner in Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, said Amazon and Google’s strategies of offering lower-priced devices so people can own more than one in their home seems to be working. “Now, about one-third of both Amazon Echo and Google Home users have multiple units.” The report said 35 percent of owners have more than one device as of the December 2018 quarter, compared with 18 percent the previous year (CNBC).
Knowing that two of the world’s most prolific tech giants are duking it out to ensure there’s a voice search device in every home, car, and pocket, SEOs would be remiss not to make voice search an area of focus.
Don’t forget about your visual content, too, including video. Over two billion logged-in users visit YouTube each month and every day people watch over a billion hours of video and generate billions of views. What’s more, greater than 70% of YouTube watch time comes from mobile devices, according to YouTube. The platform is a massive search engine in its own right. Original content is a great opportunity. But SEOs can also increase the online footprint of their company or clients by creatively repurposing content to capture traffic here and point it back to the next relevant step in the customer journey.
The changing face of search puts SEO front and center at the marketing table
As the various facets of digital marketing continue to collide and converge, SEOs are uniquely positioned to lead. Last year (according to BrightEdge research) organic channel share expanded to 53.3% of website traffic. At some point in recent years, your SEO tasks could have touched on not only technical SEO and data analysis but social media, email marketing, blogging, PR, web design, and more.
The evolution of search is creating the necessity for a sort of Sherpa inside organizations; for hybrid marketers with equal parts analytical and creative thinking. Whether that person is in-house or a contracted extension of the team, the need for this bigger picture conductor who understands the challenges and opportunities of each channel is growing.
In this next phase of SEO, optimizing for search engines and optimizing the consumer experience truly become one. Business leaders will rely more heavily on the insights that SEO provides to make decisions in every department and will look to SEOs for guidance on how organizational data is used. As SEOs continue to bridge the gap between departments and disciplines, we enter a new era where the delivery of dynamic content and SEO is helping to create new experiences across the whole digital journey.
Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform BrightEdge. He can be found on Twitter @jimyu.
The post The changing face of search: Dynamic content and experiences that perform appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Instagram users who miss the reverse chronological feed might get a new way to see the most recent pics and videos from who they follow. Instagram has been spotted internally prototyping a “Latest Posts” feature. It appears as a pop-up over the main feed and brings users to a special area showing the newest content from their network.
For now, this doesn’t look like a full-fledged “Most Recent” reverse-chronological feed option like what Facebook has for the News Feed. But if launched, Latest Posts could help satisfy users who want to make sure they haven’t missed anything or want to know what’s going on right now.
The prototype was discovered by Jane Manchun Wong, the master of reverse engineering who’s provided tips to TechCrunch on scores of new features in development by tech giants. She generated the screenshots above from the code of Instagram’s Android app. “Welcome Back! Get caught up on the posts from [names of people you follow] and 9 more” reads the pop-up that appears over the home screen. If users tap “See Posts” instead of “Not Now”, they’re sent to a separate screen showing recent feed posts.
We’ve reached out to Instagram for a confirmation of the prototype, more details, and clarification on how Latest Posts would work. The company did not respond before press time. However, it has often confirmed the authenticity of Wong’s findings, and some of the features have gone on to officially launch months later.
Back in mid-2016, Instagram switched away from a reverse-chronological feed showing all the posts of people you follow in order of decency. Instead, it forced all users to scroll through a algorithmic feed of what it thinks you’ll like best, ranked based on who and what kind of content you interact with most. That triggered significant backlash. Some users thought they were missing posts or found the jumbled timestamps confusing. But since algorithmic feeds tend to increase engagement by ensuring the first posts you see are usually relevant, Instagram gave users no way to switch back.
Instagram previously tried to help users get assurance that they’d seen all the posts of their network with a “You’re All Caught Up” insert in the feed if you’d scrolled past everything from the past 48 hours. Latest Posts could be another way to let frequent Instagram users know that they’re totally up to date.
That might let people close the app in confidence and resume their lives.
One can easily translate sign reputation management to income management. Your public image directly affects sales, career and financial well-being in any field – whether searching for an investor, overcoming the negativity spread by your rivals, a change of field, or creation of a new public persona.
But what should you do if there are already lots of negative things written about you on the Internet? In this post, we’ll use one of our actual cases as an example to show how we changed a client’s reputation from 48% negative to neutral.
This article has been created by BDCenter Digital. We sign an NDA with all our customers. Therefore, all the data that could infringe on the client’s confidentiality have been changed. This doesn’t affect the mechanism of reputation management in any way.
Our assignment was to make sure that searching for our client’s name on Google in the US would yield zero negative content on the first two search engine results pages (SERPs).
At the time when the client asked us to help improve their reputation, 48% of the top 20 results were negative:
A total of seven BDCenter Digital team members worked on this reputation improving project, including:
Two SEO specialists + an assistant: Their job was to monitor and analyze search results, work out a strategy to eliminate negativity, and publish content on appropriate resources.
PR specialist: Who identified news-worthy content, contacted the media, as well as prepared and published articles.
SMM specialist: Who created social media accounts for the client and filled them with info.
Project Manager: Who allocated tasks, tracked progress, kept in touch with the client and the team, and evaluated the results.
Designer: Who prepared templates for social media and news resources.
Four months and 560 hours of work later, there was NO negativity left in the top two result pages on Google. Reputation improved!
Read on to find out how we did it.
|Igor Erenkov||Artem Shcherbakov||Olga Vodchyts|
1. Identifying resources containing negative content and monitoring changes
Our first step was to study the SERPs (with our client’s name as the search query) and find the sites that published negative content about him. This helped us understand the scope of the job and see which sites we would have to work with to push all negativity out of the top 20 results.
Every week, we would fine-tune our strategy – since Google often changes its ranking algorithm, we would get slightly differing results every day. For instance, a resource that was ranked as no.1 yesterday might not even be on the first page tomorrow.
For this reason, we checked on the situation once a week and recorded the results in a spreadsheet:
The color indicates the tonality of each resource relative to the individual in question. The names of sites were removed for the purposes of confidentiality.
One of the factors impacting how results are placed on a SERP is the age of the content. A new relevant piece of content can easily get a resource in the top 10, but just a week or two later, it can lose around 30 to 50 positions.
2. Posting mentions of the person on various websites
Undesirable information about the client was posted on large resources, one of them with 20 million monthly visitors. One of the obvious solutions was to overcome this negativity by posting positive content on even larger websites.
However, we couldn’t rely on this tool alone for two reasons:
A. High costs: The client would have to pay $ 4000 to $ 5000 per publication, and the actual budget was much lower.
B. Risk of repetitiveness: Google tries to vary its results, filling its SERPs with sites in different formats. Therefore, we decided to post content about our client on the following types of sites:
- News websites
- Blogging platforms
- Profiling sites
- Video hostings
- Podcast sites
- Social networks
- Interview-centered sites
- Client’s corporate pages
- Dropped domains
- Presentation hostings
3. Optimizing the client’s corporate site
Google prioritizes those sites that are most relevant to the search query. What do you see at the top of the list when googling the name of someone? Depending on the popularity, it can be a Wikipedia article, a corporate website, or a social media account.
In our case, the client’s corporate website was among the top results already, but we wanted to strengthen its position. To do this, we optimized the Team page and created an additional page with the client’s bio.
As a result, these two pages ended up in Google’s top three in the US, pushing all the negativity down the list.
4. Using dropped domains
When time is limited and you need a quick result, you can benefit from dropped domains.
A drop is a domain that its owner decided not to pay for any longer and is now for sale. Some of these dropped domains are still indexed by Google, and you can get good results by publishing backlinks there.
After confirming this step with the client, we created a site based on a good dropped domain and published new content on that site. In just a month, the site was ranked among the top five on Google.
5. Pushing negativity out of Google Image Search
The image search also yielded some negative results, so we had to work not only on pushing individual websites out of the top 20 but specific images, too.
Since Google likes unique content, we made sure to use only unique images of the client in our publications and his social media accounts.
If you don’t have any fresh pictures available, you can edit some of the old ones, changing the background, size, or color profile. This will make Google see them as unique, showing them first.
By the way, changing just the size doesn’t work. Google views such pictures as identical, showing only the one with the best resolution.
PR and content
1. Identifying newsworthy materials
The client didn’t have any important news to share, so we had to create it ourselves. In particular, we watched the industry news closely – and as soon as we found something valuable, we confronted the event with our client’s expertise. Thanks to his status and extensive experience, he could provide commentary on the latest research and news for the media.
2. Publishing content
The technique described above provided us with publications on news websites – however, they would allow free coverage only for really important events. Working with niche websites was much easier: we used them to publish expert articles and interviews.
We only chose sites that fit the following three criteria:
- Relevance to the subject – wealth management, finance, and investment.
- The site had to contain a negative article about our client. Publishing fresh content on the same site would get the old article to rank lower.
- Importance – the site’s «weight», or authority, had to be higher or equal to that of the sites that contained negativity, helping to overcome it.
By weight we mean the level of Google’s trust in the resource. This trust is based on the number of visitors, the site’s age and level of optimization.
If you need quick results, you can get a lot of coverage fast by publishing your content on PR Newswire. Read our recent post on how to do this.
Our client’s name had to be mentioned in the title: -this helped articles rank much better for our search query.
However, our title headline didn’t always fit the editing guidelines of individual resources: some preferred to list the author at the very bottom of the piece. Such articles weren’t useful to us since they didn’t rank the way we would’ve liked.
We tested this headline theory many times. Even a publication on the gigantic Yahoo! Finance with one mention in the body of the text works worse than an article on a small website, but with the client’s name mentioned in the title, lead-in, and text body.
1. Creating and filling social media accounts
We created accounts for the client on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, and other platforms. We didn’t use those social networks that weren’t relevant to the client’s business — such as Pinterest, for example.
Linkedin yielded the best result: Our client’s profile on this platform still ranks as no. 1 in the search results, pushing out the old negative content. Xing, Tumblr, and Instagram didn’t produce any result at all: none of them got into the top 20.
We made sure to fill new social media pages with expert content – mostly pieces for the articles we wrote for the media. Naturally, we always adapted the text for social media. The posts were accompanied by photos of the client: we arranged special photoshoots for that purpose.
2. Posting podcasts and videos
Google prefers content to be varied. So it prioritizes not only fresh articles but also video and podcasts.
We started accounts on YouTube and Vimeo for our client and added several videos: some we created specifically to fit recent news, others were chosen among existing content.
We posted those videos not only on the client’s own accounts but also in other users’ profiles. By the way, it was a video posted on the page of another user that ended up in the top 10 of Google.
As for podcasts, they can work well, too – as long as you post them on popular platforms, such as iTunes or audioboom.com, which has over two million monthly users.
Project Manager’s comments
SERM, or search engine reputation management, combines such tools as SEO, PR, and SMM. In order to leverage this combination with maximum benefit, we utilize the following principles:
- Regular strategy updates – since both SERPs and relevant content change all the time, we have to monitor all changes and reassess our action plans when required.
- Analysis of the results – we constantly check what works and what doesn’t. This helps us work faster, better, and without wasting our resources.
- Daily contact with the client – this way we can quickly make strategic decisions and create fresh content.
- Generating relevant content – even though SERM is more about pushing negativity as far down as possible in the SERPs, we are also very serious about what we post – and so are our clients, of course. Content should also be relevant to the objective. In the case, we’ve described that meant niche articles, podcasts, and videos that accentuated the client’s expertise.
By using all these tools, we managed to radically transform the first two Google result pages. 90% of the top 20 were now positive, with the remaining 10% neutral.
Based on our experience with reputation management – and we’ve already worked with a Nobel laureate, several politicians, and CEO’s of financial institutions – your public image can have a tremendous impact on your business and career. By maintaining a good public image on a constant basis is much easier and cheaper than launching major reputation rehaul campaigns once every few years.
To maintain your reputation, make sure to monitor the search results for your name or brand. Select your key search queries and set up alerts: this way you’ll know what Google users see when they look for information about you and will be ready to react to any negativity.
The post Case Study: How BDCenter transformed a reputation from 48% negative on Google to neutral appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
6 things you might not know about Google’s optimization score and how digital marketers should treat this metric.
Read more at PPCHero.com
Fifty percent of families are scared they can’t cover the cost of a funeral. They end up overpaying because no one wants to comparison shop amidst a tragedy. That’s why ex-Googler Alison Johnston’s startup Ever Loved built a free funeral crowdfunding tool. Now it’s addressing one of the most expensive parts of saying goodbye: burial. Today Ever Loved launches its online marketplace for caskets, urns, headstones and memorial jewelry.
By sidestepping the overhead of a physical funeral home, Ever Loved can offer better prices while still earning a 10% margin. Its caskets cost 50% less than the average sold at a mortuary, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.
When I called a local San Francisco funeral home, the high markups came into focus. They quoted me $ 2,795 for a casket sold for $ 1,200 on Ever Loved.
“Most people don’t think to — or don’t want to — plan funerals in advance, which means that when someone passes away, the family is often scrambling,” Johnston tells me. “When this rush to make decisions is paired with extreme grief, many people don’t do anywhere close to the same amount of research as they would with another several-thousand-dollar purchase. When combined with the fact that most funeral homes don’t publish their prices online, it’s easy for families to spend much more than they need to.”
Johnston co-founded Ever Loved in late 2017 after a family member was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She discovered how few resources there were available for helping people plan and pay for funerals. She’d previously worked at Q&A app Aardvark through its acquisition by Google, then started online tutoring startup InstaEDU that eventually sold to Chegg. The consumer website building and e-commerce tools she’d grown used to weren’t available in the funeral industry, so she set out to build them. Ever Loved has raised seed funding from Social Capital and gone through Y Combinator.
“Tech too often merely makes life and work easier for those who already have it good,” she told me last year. “Tech that tempers tragedy is a welcome evolution for Silicon Valley.”
Ever Loved’s first focus was its funeral crowdfunding tool that let families ask the decedent’s loved ones to help contribute to offset the costs. Donors could leave a tip for Ever Loved, but otherwise it charged nothing beyond credit card processing fees. The tool was paired with a memorial website builder that families could use for distributing invites and collecting memories. Now Ever Loved is helping people plan thousands of funerals per month with revenue up nearly 20X year-over-year.
Now that it’s helping families raise money for remembrance services, Ever Loved wants to make sure they don’t get ripped off. The fact that there’s such low pricing transparency at funeral homes should clue you in that they try to pass off steep markups since customers might not have the energy to keep looking. “The average funeral home only helps with a funeral once every three days, meaning that many funeral homes need to charge high prices in order to cover their own fixed costs,” Johnston explains.
Remove the overhead costs and assist customers across geographies and there’s room for a strong business with more affordable prices. For example, a Stanford Blue Casket costs $ 990 on Ever Loved while one LA funeral home charges $ 1,600. The Last Supper Pieta Casket is $ 1,500 on Ever Loved but $ 6,580 from the funeral home. That funeral home had both of these listed under different names, further hindering the ability of customers to find a fair price.
Ever Loved can also more quickly adapt to the diversification of burial options. Between concerns about costs, land use, environmental impact and connection to family and nature, many are looking beyond caskets. Cremation became more popular than burial in the U.S. in 2017. Liquid cremation is now legal in 18 states, and Washington just began allowing body composting.
“We’re seeing a lot of independent providers popping up to do everything from turning your loved one’s ashes into a diamond ring to shooting their ashes into space to planting them under a tree in the forest,” says Johnston. Any single funeral home is unlikely to offer the breadth customers are looking for. “Our goal is to make all of your options available to you in an easily digestible format.”
Ever Loved’s business is protected by the FTC’s Funeral Rule that bars mortuaries from refusing or charging extra to handle a casket or urn purchased elsewhere. That means Ever Loved customers can combine shopping online with in-person memorial services from a local funeral home. Still, it’s a tough business. Startups like HaloLife, Clarity and After I Go have all shut down. Most others merely offer memorial sites, or funeral home search engines.
That means Ever Loved’s biggest competitors, beyond the standard just accepting the local mortuary’s prices, are Google and Amazon. Often they surface the same prices as Ever Loved with comparable shipping, though Google could sometimes find a slight discount by buying straight from the manufacturer, while Amazon was missing some top brands. Costco and Walmart sell funeral products too. But Johnston says “many people don’t feel like generic, mass-market stores are the appropriate place to purchase funeral products.” I agree it might feel disrespectful buying an urn from the same place you get toilet paper.
“We also put a huge focus on customer service, which you don’t get at Walmart, Costco or Amazon,” Johnston tells me. “When you’re grieving and spending thousands of dollars, we’ve found that this is very important.”
As the demographic planning funerals gets more tech-savvy over time and want personalized farewells rather than cookie-cutter conclusions, there’s a chance to change the status quo. Discussing death is becoming less taboo. Being smart about paying for it should too.
As the number of IoT devices proliferate, and machines conduct transactions with machines without humans involved, it becomes increasingly necessary to have a permissionless system that facilitates this kind of communication in a secure way.
Enter the IOTA Foundation, a Berlin-based open source distributed ledger technology (DLT) project, which has hooked up with the Eclipse Foundation to bring IOTA DLT to the enterprise via the Tangle EE project. For starters, this involves forming a working group.
The distributed ledger idea first emerged as a way to distribute digital currency on the blockchain. Since then, there have been multiple ideas, both open source and commercial, to bring this concept to the enterprise to provide a secure, immutable and frictionless way to share data.
One such open source project is IOTA, which saw an issue with DLT as it was being implemented by other entities. “IOTA is the first distributed ledger technology that went beyond blockchain with a completely new architecture that resolves the bottleneck problems of blockchain that has prevented real world adoption,” Dominik Schiener, co-founder of IOTA Foundation told TechCrunch.
The broad vision is to provide a way for machines and devices to communicate securely. “We provide a protocol layer that enables both humans and machines to bulk transact value without fees, as well as ensure data integrity, which is of course, increasingly important in the age of Internet of Things where hundreds of billions of devices are being connected over the next decades,” Schiener said.
Tangle EE is the part of the project aimed at enterprise users — EE stands for Enterprise Edition — that can take this technology and enable larger organizations to build applications on top of the project. For starters the foundation is working with the Eclipse Foundation to bring corporate entities on board who can help better define the requirements of the large business user.
Dell Technologies and STMicroelectronics are the first major companies joining the project, but the hope is that through discussion and dialogue, Tangle EE will begin to gain traction. “The main reason why we created Tangle EE was because of the discussions that we’ve had with corporations. They really understood that we need to have a working group around IOTA to discuss the application layer, to discuss what kind of solutions we can develop broadly across industries, but also really start having more serious discussions about the protocol,” Schiener said.
Much like the Linux Foundation, the Eclipse Foundation will provide a governance framework for the project. “The Eclipse Foundation will provide a vendor-neutral governance framework for open collaboration, with IOTA’s scalable, feeless and permissionless DLT as a base,” Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation explained in a statement.
If it gains traction, more companies will join in the coming months and years, and begin building out Tangle EE, while developing applications based on the protocol.
We’re excited to announce that Hanapin Marketing has combined our superpowers with fellow digital experts Brainlabs as part of their global expansion plan!
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