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Monthly Archives: August 2020

Rippling nabs $145M at a $1.35B valuation to build out its all-in-one platform for employee data

August 4, 2020 No Comments

Big news today in the world of enterprise IT startups. Rippling, the startup founded by Parker Conrad to take on the ambitious challenge of building a platform to manage all aspects of employee data, from payroll and benefits through to device management, has closed $ 145 million in funding — a monster Series B that catapults the company to a valuation of $ 1.35 billion.

Parker Conrad, the CEO who co-founded the company with Prasanna Sankar (the CTO), said in an interview that the plan will be to use the money to continue its own in-house product development (that is, bringing more tools into the Rippling mix organically, not by way of acquisition) but also to have it just in case, given everything else going on at the moment.

“We will double down on R&D but to be honest we’re trying not to change the formula too much,” Conrad said. “We want to have that discipline. This fundraising was opportunistic amid the larger macroeconomic risk at the moment. I was working at startups in 2008-2009 and the funding markets are strong right now, all things considered, and so we wanted to make sure we had the stockpile we needed in case things went bad.”

This latest round included Greenoaks Capital, Coatue Management, and Bedrock Capital, as well as existing investors including Kleiner Perkins, Initialized Capital, and Y Combinator. Founders Fund partner Napoleon Ta will join Rippling’s board of directors. Founders Fund had also backed Zenefits when Parker was at the helm, and from what we understand this round was oversubscribed — also a big feat in the current market, working against a lot of factors including a wobbling economy.

It is a big leap for the company: it was just a little over a year ago that it raised a Series A of $ 45 million at a valuation of $ 270 million.

This latest round is notable for a few reasons.

First is the business itself. HR and employee management software are two major areas of IT that have faced a lot of fragmentation over the years, with many businesses opting for a cocktail of services covering disparate areas like employee onboarding, payroll, benefits, device management, app provisioning and permissions and more. That’s been even more the case among smaller organizations in the 2-1,000 employee range that Rippling targets.

Rippling is approaching that bigger challenge as one that can be tackled by a single platform — the theory being that managing HR employee data is essentially part and parcel of good management of IT data permissions and device provision. This funding is a signal of how both investors and customers are buying into Rippling and its approach, even if right now the majority of customers don’t onboard with the full suite of services. (Some 75% are usually signing up with HR products, Conrad noted.)

“We like to think of ourselves as a Salesforce for employee data,” Conrad said, “and by that, we think that employee data is more than just HR. We want to manage access to all of your third party business apps, your computer and other devices. It’s when you combine all that that you can manage employees well.”

The company is gradually adding in more tools. Most recently, it’s been launching new tools to help with job costing, helping companies track where employees are spending time when working on different projects, a tool critical for IT, accounting and other companies where employees work across a number of clients.

Second is the founder. You might recall that Conrad was ousted from his previous company, Zenefits (taking on a related, but smaller, challenge in payroll and benefits), over a controversy linked to compliance issues and also misleading investors. But if Zenefits was finished with Conrad, Conrad was not finished with Zenefits — or at least the problem it was tackling. This funding is a testament to how investors are putting a big bet on Conrad himself, who says that a lot of what he has been building at Rippling was what he would have done at Zenefits if he’d stayed there.

“Once you’re lucky, twice you’re good,” said Mamoon Hamid, a partner at Kleiner Perkins, in a separate statement. “Parker is a true product visionary, and he and his team are solving an enormous pain point for businesses everywhere. We’re thrilled to continue partnering with Rippling as demand for their platform dramatically increases in this era of remote work.”

“Rippling is not just a superior payroll company, but something much broader: they’ve built the system of record for all employee data, creating an entirely new software category. Rippling’s massive market opportunity is to streamline the employee lifecycle, from software to payroll to benefits, and fundamentally improve the way businesses hire and manage their employees,” said Ta in a statement.

Third is the context in which this round is coming. We’re in the midst of an economic downturn caused in part by a global health pandemic, and that’s leading to a lot of companies curtailing budgets, reducing headcount, and potentially shutting down altogether. Ironically, that force is also propelling companies like Rippling full steam ahead.

Its SaaS model — priced at a flat $ 8 per person per month — not only fits with how many businesses are being run at the moment (primarily remotely), but Rippling’s purpose is specifically geared to helping businesses both onboard and offboard customers more efficiently, the kind of software that companies need to have in place to fit how they are working right now.

Updated with commentary from an interview with Conrad.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Foolproof guide to optimizing Shopify for SEO

August 4, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Search engine rankings play a huge role in making your online store more visible to shoppers. If you rank higher on the SERPs, there’s a higher chance that you’ll rake in more sales. 
  • Shopify is one of the most recommended ecommerce platforms. Data from BuiltWith shows that usage of the CMS platform has doubled since 2017, and it currently has more than one million active websites. 
  • It offers a great backend administration that can be tailored. More important, it’s packed with SEO-friendly features right out of the box.
  • Growth Rocket’s Lead Outreach Specialist, Stefanie Slclot, walks you through some key steps on how to master SEO for Shopify.

“If you build it, they will come”.  

This nugget of wisdom may have worked for Kevin Costner’s character in ‘Field of Dreams’ when he’s spurned onward by a disembodied voice to pursue his dream of building a baseball field. 

But in reality, this sort of advice can prove disastrous for entrepreneurs. After all, businesses rely on strategy, planning, and development for long-term success. 

In today’s day and age where online shopping is the new normal, it takes more than just building a great store to draw in more customers. 

Search engine rankings play a huge role in making your online store more visible to shoppers. If you rank higher on the SERPs, there’s a higher chance that you’ll rake in more sales. 

Does Shopify have good SEO?

Shopify is one of the most recommended ecommerce platforms. Data from BuiltWith shows that usage of the CMS platform has doubled since 2017, and it currently has more than one million active websites. 

Shopify is a great option for your online store because it offers easy backend administration and can be easily tailored to your specific requirements. More importantly, it’s packed with SEO-friendly features right out of the box.  

Optimizing your Shopify store for success

Keep in mind that boosting organic traffic to your online store is different from optimizing other websites for SEO. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some key steps on how to master SEO for Shopify. 

1. Simplify site structure

The way you organize content on your page is crucial to SEO success. 

If shoppers can quickly find what they’re looking for on your site, they tend to spend more time on your page. Longer dwell times tell Google that your site offers value, which can give you a solid rankings boost.  

To top that off, a logically structured site makes it easier for Google to crawl your website. Ideally, your site architecture should look something like this: 

Shopify for SEO site structure

If you look at the diagram closely, you’ll see that your product pages (third row)  are only a couple of clicks away from the home page (first row). In turn, organized and user-friendly web design makes it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for. 

Poor site structure, on the other hand, makes it harder for search engine spiders to find and index all the pages on your site.  

Shopify for SEO simplify site structure

Meanwhile, if your site architecture is interlinked, spiders can easily follow your links. A simple site architecture also means that link authority flows a lot easier from pages with more backlinks (your home page) to lower-ranking pages (product pages). 

The graphic below shows what the site structure for a baking blog should look like: 

Shopify for SEO site structure example

2. Eliminate duplicate content 

Duplicate content happens when similar content exists on two separate URLs. The page could either be on your site or someone else’s. 

Duplicate content on Shopify can have a negative impact on your search performance. Search engines tend to be tolerant of internal site duplication. But if it appears as if you’ve copied text from another site, you could get hit by a search engine penalty.  

The good news is that once you’ve wiped your site clean of duplicate content, you can improve your search rankings significantly. 

Consider using tools like Copyscape to check for plagiarism and other external duplicate content. You can also conduct site audits to identify pages with similar content to other URLs. 

Or maybe your site is due for a redesign or content update. Break free from duplicate content by writing a new copy. 

3. Conduct keyword research

Keyword research is the foundation of SEO success. Here are a few tips on how to generate relevant keywords for your store: 

  • Export your keywords from Google Ads, and optimize search terms that generate the most revenue and have the highest conversion rate. 
  • Use Google Search Console to identify keywords with the most impressions and clicks. 
  • Conduct SEO competitor analysis on tools like Ahrefs. Generate the “Content Gap” report to single out keywords your competitors are ranking for. 
  • Analyze buyer personas and track search forums related to your products for topic inspirations and keyword ideas.

4. Optimize product pages 

Now that you have a list of keywords and a simplified site structure, you can start optimizing your pages with your chosen search terms. 

Start with your top pages first, such as your home page and main product collections. The first step to optimizing them is by writing title tags and meta descriptions. Here are some general guidelines for you to follow: 

  • Write unique title tags and meta descriptions for each page 
  • Include a keyword when appropriate 
  • Avoid truncating descriptions and follow the prescribed character limit guidelines 
  • Craft copy that will entice visitors to click 
  • Keep your descriptions brief yet descriptive 

It also pays to add alt texts to your images. Since Google Images is the second largest search engine in the world, you can drive more traffic to your site through your images. That’s why it helps to add alt texts that describe what an image is about. 

Once you’ve finished optimizing your titles, meta descriptions, and alt texts you can work on creating unique content to your product pages.  

Keep in mind that your descriptions should be written from a user-focused POV. The best way to boost the relevance of your content is by discussing your product’s features and benefits. 

5. Set up 301 redirect pages

301 redirects tell search engines that a page is no longer available and that it’s moved permanently to a new URL. After all, you don’t want your customers to move to your competitors after they land on a ‘404 Not Found’ page on your site. 

The goal is for you to lead visitors to a new page, which you can do by creating a URL redirect through your Shopify admin portal. Follow these steps to add 301 redirects: 

  • Click Online Store > Navigation > URL Redirects 
  • Select Add URL redirect 
  • Type in the old URL in Redirect from and the new URL in Redirect to 
  • Click add 

Keep in mind that before you can redirect users to the new URL, you’ll need to delete the existing webpage. 

6. Boost page load speed

If your website loads slowly, it could hurt your Google rankings. That’s why you need to put forth the effort to make your site load quickly. 

Check for your store’s site speed through tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix. On Shopify, however, you have limited options when it comes to boosting site speed. Here are a few factors you can work with: 

  • Choose a theme from the Shopify Theme Store that loads quickly 
  • Compress your images before uploading them to Shopify 
  • Install only the apps you need so they don’t slow down site performance 

7. Build high-quality backlinks

Search engines rely on link building and outreach to determine how the community at large values your site. Think of backlinks as the word-of-mouth equivalent of SEO. With better quality backlinks, you can build your credibility and boost the organic traffic your shop receives. 

Below is a list of some backlinks you can obtain for your site: 

  • Supplier/Manufacturer links – If you sell products made or supplied by other companies, they may have a policy that lets them link to your store. Reach out in case you’re missing a backlink opportunity. 
  • Competitor links – Use tools such as Link Intersect from Ahrefs to find out who’s linking to your competitors. You have a high chance of obtaining a backlink for sites that already link to other people in your industry. 
  • Influencer voices – Get in touch with industry leaders for interviews that could help you generate better links and content. 
  • Brand mentions – Find out where your brand is being mentioned through websites like mention.com. It may be possible for you to earn a backlink if they choose to include a link to your site along with the mention. 
  • Broken links – Keep an eye out for broken links or services similar to what you offer. When you find one, you could reach out to the site owner telling them to link to your site instead.  

8. Focus on content marketing

Content is the reason why people visit your site. You may feel tempted to skimp on content marketing for your ecommerce site, but crafting content that delivers value adds to the overall user experience. 

People who are ready to buy the moment they visit your shop make up only a small percentage of the marketing funnel. Publishing informational content like blog posts can help you educate people at different stages of the buyer’s journey. In turn, it can also increase the chances of them buying from you in the future. 

Your content is a way for people to get to know your brand without selling to them directly. With well-written content, you can rank for more keywords and earn backlinks. 

Your Shopify store automatically includes a blog called “News.” If you want to create a new blog, select Blog Posts > Create a new post > Create a new blog. 

These steps will help you create a Shopify site experience that is also SEO-ready. Share your thoughts, tips, or queries in the comments section.

Stefanie Slclot is Lead Outreach Specialist at Growth Rocket.

The post Foolproof guide to optimizing Shopify for SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Five quick and easy ways to make surveys more effective for content marketing

August 3, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • When writing a survey, clarify your objectives before you start writing questions—time spent writing a strategy is well worth it if it means you didn’t forget a vital question (or include an irrelevant one).
  • Don’t get stuck in your old habits when writing surveys—keep trying new things.
  • Phrase questions in a way to get the most specific and clear answers from your survey respondents. Get granular.
  • When writing surveys, draw connections. How might one question relate to other areas of people’s lives?
  • Fractl’s Creative Strategist shares five powerful ways and details on how you can create successful surveys.

In my (sometimes) humble opinion, well-written surveys can be a reliable and effective method of generating newsworthy content.

Surveys allow you to deeply explore personal beliefs and behaviors. They can be tweaked and tailored specifically for your goals, and they appeal to our seemingly universal need to care way too much about what other people think.

I’ve written a lot of surveys in my time at Fractl, and all that experience has taught me plenty of lessons. So, here are five tips that you can employ today to make your next survey a winner.

Tip #1: Embrace the opportunity of survey creation

As content creators, we get paid to be curious, and that’s awesome. Running a survey is a unique opportunity — don’t waste the chance to ask questions worth asking.

We take for granted that our respondents open up about their deep thoughts and personal experiences, maybe even ones they haven’t shared with anybody else. You can write better surveys by simply appreciating that.

Here’s how I like to think of it: Do you want to think up some questions and find out how basically all of society would answer them? If you asked that to just about anybody, I’ll bet they’d take you upon it. 

The point is simple: It’s pretty freaking cool to find out how thousands of people think, feel, and behave.

When you’re engaged, your findings will be more engaging.

Tip #2: Draft a survey brief and actually use it

A well-developed campaign brief is the absolute most important part of any project. A survey brief provides structure and strategic direction for your survey. By immersing yourself in the topic, you’ll yield better, more insightful questions. 

Let’s dive into each one of those elements a little further.

Survey structure

Here’s something I thought I’d never say: All of those English teachers were right. Every essay did need an outline, and so does every survey. 

(I still don’t believe them that the green light over the river was a carefully crafted metaphor for something-or-other, but that’s a discussion for another article.)

Outlining your survey will give you a clear path to follow. This allows you to focus on the more interesting, nuanced aspects of your topic. Having structure, perhaps counterintuitively, actually makes it easier to improvise and take chances.

Strategic direction

Clients aren’t paying us to write surveys because they know we enjoy it, they’re paying us because we achieve their goals.

Drafting a brief will help you clarify your objectives and strategize how to meet them. Referencing that brief throughout the process will keep your survey and your goals aligned.

For example, we often have the goal to build brand awareness for a client. We do this by earning media coverage through the content we create.

When we run surveys that serve as the foundation of our content, we have to consider what journalists (and their audiences) will find interesting. If we don’t keep this in mind, we won’t meet our goals.

Immersion in the topic

A brief isn’t just about planning and outlining; it’s about digging into the topic and sparking curiosity. 

This allows you to get the obvious angles out of the way and tap into what’s really newsworthy: a novel, personal, unexpected, nuanced, and humanistic takes on a topic (no matter how common it may seem).

My writing process for a brief typically follows a simple formula:

  1. Research and contemplate the topic: Think about it while your boss sits next to you wondering why you’ve done nothing but stare at your computer for 10 minutes.
  2. Take as many notes as you can: In fact, takes notes as quickly and as incoherently (in my case) as possible. Brainstorm, ask open-ended questions, get lost in the rabbit hole, and get as many thoughts onto the page as possible.
  3. Go back into your notes and make sense of them: Condense them into a clear and ordered outline of the angles you intend to explore.
  4. Leave it and come back: Tweak a few things, give it a spit shine, and send it over to your boss or client for feedback.

By the time you get to your actual survey, you’ll have immersed yourself in the topic. You’ll also have a clear understanding of what you hope to achieve, and you’ll have a detailed, strategic plan.

Tip #3: Be specific when writing survey questions

Specificity doesn’t just ensure clarity and accuracy. It enables you to ask targeted, insightful questions.

“It’s not what you said, Dad, it’s how you said it.” – me, all the time

Choose your words — and your questions — carefully. Detailed, nuanced perspectives make topics more interesting, more relatable, and more newsworthy. Specificity is how you get that.

There are a lot of areas where you can employ specificity to write better surveys, but I’ll focus on the most important: How to ask your questions and set up potential answers.

Examples

Here’s an example: “How many times per week do you shower?”

If you’re me, the answer is “not enough, according to my wife,” but if you’re most people, that question could be interpreted in more than one way. Are you asking how many total showers a person takes in a week, or how many days out of the week that person showers? Are you asking about this week, last week, or whatever random week they might be thinking of?

Some better ways to ask this would be: “In a typical week, how many total showers do you take?” You could also ask more specific questions like, “What’s the longest amount of days that you’ve gone without a shower?” or “In your opinion, to what extent is it acceptable to skip a daily shower occasionally?”

When it comes to providing answer choices, I often aim for the option that will give me the most actionable, most specific data. You can’t unmix paint, so give yourself a good palette instead of a few pre-mixed colors. You can always bucket, convert, and manipulate your detailed data later.

For example: Don’t ask for age ranges. Ask for ages. Do you plan on using age ranges? Great, it’ll take you 10 seconds to make them later if you have each age. Income brackets? No. Why? Ask for income and create your income brackets later, after you’ve done all the interesting things (average, median, percentiles, and more…) that income brackets wouldn’t have let you do.

By phrasing your questions specifically and thinking about how you’ll use the answers, you’ll avoid confusion and being too vague. You’ll also be able to ask more targeted questions. Have you ever done X? Have you ever considered X (even if you haven’t done it)?  Have a clear idea of why you’re including each question, and what specifically you hope to do with it.

Tip #4: Get personal

A survey is where the personal and the universal break even.

By tapping into the emotional, humanistic potential of your surveys, you can generate takeaways that truly resonate with a greater audience. 

There are plenty of ways to write a newsworthy survey, but to me, surveys are the most interesting when they explore the human condition — when they reveal something about who we really are, why we do things, and how the world affects us.

So how do we do that? By opening up the clock and seeing what makes it tick.

Ask follow-up questions:

Don’t just ask for answers; ask about those answers. People told you that they do X? Great. How does that make them feel? Is there someone in their life who wishes they didn’t do X? How does that affect their relationships? How does X affect their health? Their life satisfaction? How do they feel about people who don’t do X?

Get personal

Surveys are interesting because they tell us about ourselves. Personal takeaways are more unique and are more likely to resonate with the audience on an emotional level. What people do is interesting, but it’s not as interesting as the reasons why they do it, how it impacts their lives or the way that doing it makes them feel. Tip: If you’re getting really personal, you can make the question optional so people don’t feel uncomfortable having to answer.

Embrace nuance and ambivalence

Everything is complicated and (almost) nothing is black and white. Use your surveys to explore the underlying complexity behind people’s beliefs and behaviors. Measure ambivalence by asking respondents if they acknowledge any points that contradict their beliefs or if they ever second-guess or feel guilty about a behavior. Tap into the inherent nuance of most topics by asking questions about its underlying causes or hidden effects.

Let’s take student loan forgiveness, for example. Many people who support loan forgiveness can believe it’s unfair to some people. At the same time, plenty of those who oppose it might acknowledge that it would benefit people, but that other concerns are more important.

By exploring the layers of complexity, we give the topic a fair and detailed perspective, while also uncovering interesting, newsworthy takeaways.

Draw connections

Explore cause and effect. Ask yourself how the topic might impact other areas of people’s lives. Ask yourself how their perspectives on your topic might correlate to other beliefs and behaviors.

Draw connections between people’s perspectives on your topic and their behaviors: Is it making your life better or worse? What are you doing to deal with it? How has it impacted your relationships? What do you think is causing it? Do you think it’s good/bad? Do you think it’s important? 

Ask questions that people haven’t asked yet. It’s really that simple. It’s not easy, but it’s simple.

Tip #5: Try new things

Do we all get stuck in our habits? Absolutely. Do rhetorical questions seem to be one of mine? Clearly. Is it important to break out of them? Not this time for me, apparently, but yes! 

Try new things in your surveys and on your survey platform, and you might be surprised at how much you’re able to pull off.

Some helpful ideas

If you don’t know what to try, here are some ideas:

  • Open a blank template on your survey platform and play around with it. Look at each feature as a tool and ask what you might be able to do with it. Find a question format that you haven’t used yet, and look for settings that you usually just scroll past. 
  • Tweak the settings. For example: Carry responses forward but ask people about the choices they didn’t select. Ask them why they didn’t select them, or how they feel about people who might’ve.
  • Use your answers in a different way. For example: Count the number of selections each respondent made in a select-all question, then create groups based on those counts. Create new demographics using one (or several) of your questions, and break your other results down by those.
  • Strategically divide your sample. For example: Split your respondents into two groups and ask them complementary questions. One group, for example, could report on their habits while the other group reports on their perceptions of those habits.

You may not move forward with every experiment, but it can certainly open your eyes to new ideas.

Conclusion

I do have to add the caveat that self-reported information has its limitations. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t explore fascinating subject matters and gain more insight into public perception and behavior.

Approach survey creation with curiosity, attention to detail, and a sense of experimentation, and your chances of creating compelling content will increase dramatically.

John Bernasconi is a Creative Strategist at Fractl. When he’s not probing anonymous survey respondents about their innermost feelings, you’ll probably find him out in the garage covered in sawdust or in the kitchen (still covered in sawdust).

The post Five quick and easy ways to make surveys more effective for content marketing appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


The impact of Coronavirus on digital marketing and effective solutions

August 3, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Digital marketing is not a quick-fix solution to gain momentum. It does not give you visibility overnight. If you are using digital marketing techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO) or social media marketing (SMM).
  • Consumer behavior has changed drastically. We all see a different consumer today. 
  • The pressing question remains, “What strategies should digital marketers follow?”  
  • Co-founder of Lbswebsoft gives you a quick look at some strategic steps that can help your digital marketing and ecommerce efforts during Coronavirus times.

The outspread of coronavirus disease (COVID 19) has affected everyone on the planet. This is for the first time in the history of mankind when more than 70% of countries – which include developed, developing, and underdeveloped nations  are under lockdown. It has already caused huge unrest in the global economy. 

People have lost their jobs and are left with no or limited sources of income, companies specifically small and medium cap businesses are shutting down. Giants are putting many of their processes on hold. A number of government organizations, too, have been closed down as a preventive measure for coronavirus spreading. 

How the coronavirus is driving new changes in digital marketing 

Coronavirus lockdown has halted many business processes starting from manufacturing, supply chain to logistics, and marketing.  

Some businesses have closed or paused their digital marketing activities temporarily, citing the health concerns of their employees. If you are on that side, what you will have in the end is drastically decreased online traffic, sales, engagement, conversation, and pushed down search ranking. 

Digital marketing is not a quick-fix solution to gain momentum. It does not give you visibility overnight. If you are using digital marketing techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO) or social media marketing (SMM) – I believe you are already aware that your implementations take three to four months’ time to give results. 

So, if you choose to stop working on digital marketing, you would see a severe downfall after a quarter or so.  

The solution

This is a difficult time for us all. You as an employer will need to keep your workers motivated in order to ensure that the work does not gets delayed or stopped. Asking to work from home will be a great support for your employees, as well as for your digital marketing. 

But the most important question here is, what strategies should digital marketers follow?  

Consumer behavior has changed drastically. We all see a different consumer today. As mentioned above, markets are closed, necessities are out of stock or being sold at 30% to 50% increased rates, buyers and their families are staying at home – some of which have lost their jobs and have limited sources of earning.  

This behavioral shift has changed the market scenarios as well. We have a completely different market to serve. 

With that said, we will need a different approach to marketing. 

Develop a short-term strategy and see how the market conditions behave

 A pro tip for digital marketing is – keep it flexible. If there are provisions for alterations in your digital marketing strategy, you would be able to adapt to any situation. 

Which strategy suits your business and which doesn’t – it can only be measured after it is implemented. Your digital marketing strategy should be flexible enough to come out of any situation. 

Moving back to the ongoing corona situation, you will need to develop a different, short-run strategy to implement during the lockdown. You can start by: 

  • Understand the audience 
  • Assess whether your product is in demand 
  • Evaluate the amount of website traffic and its source 
  • Notice how the user behavior on your website 

Prepare a marketing strategy around these factors. If your product is in demand, you can draw in a huge amount of traffic through your local implementations.  

And if it doesn’t fall into that category, you can lure them in by offering discounts and lockdown special offers like Neil Patel did by making many features of his Ubersuggest free and iCustomLabel.com did by offering free shipping during the lockdown. 

More focus on pay-per-click (PPC)

Believe it or not, cost-per-click (CPC) is proving more yielding for marketers during the corona lockdown. Since the supply of goods is limitedthere are fewer ads on leading marketing channels including Google Ads, Twitter Ads, and Facebook Ads. 

The traffic and searches both are highbut the competition and with that, the cost of paid ads have taken a downward trend. It could be great opportunity for your brand to gain exposure and increase traffic and sales. 

You can combine SEO, SMO with PPC in your digital marketing strategies. Here is how to get started on your per-per-click: 

  • Identify your ad and campaign objectives 
  • Discover the best marketing channel 
  • Determine your funnel 
  • Observe the results and refine your implementation 

Organize webinars and webcast

Webinars and webcasts have emerged as a great marketing tool in recent. 

In fact, it is the most engaging content type today. Stats show that more than 80% of users prefer watching brand videos rather than reading their blogs or scanning through their social network text updates.  

You can take this opportunity to engage with your audience anget new sign-ups and sales, eventually. 

If your physical events such as product launch, marketing seminars were canceled or postponed, through which you had plans to gain traction, you could still go that way. 

Just prepare a content strategy, choose the right platform, and assemble the pieces of equipment, and you are ready for your webinar or webcasting. 

Quick tips to help you get started with your webinar and live streaming marketing:

  • Always do a live-run test beforehand 
  • Use the questions asked for your blog topic 
  • Promote the event across social networks in advance 
  • And most importantly, plan the content and context of your webinar well 

The last point will require you to dig the trends and find an expert or two to be present at your event. 

Bottom line

When traffic and sales are down, a large number of marketers forget their customers. What they have their focus on is – sales, sales, and sales. 

But, who gives you sales? Your customers, of course. During the Coronavirus lockdown, people aren’t actually buying much. 

If you forget them, you will lose them. And getting new customers after the lockdown is over is going to be an intricate affair. So, the best practice is to – never actually forget them. 

You can stay connected with them on social networks. Just for a friendly reminder: Social network is a marketing channel – but that does not mean you should always use it to market your brand. Rather, use it to empathize with your followers, listen to their stories and tell them yours, and respond to their comments and mentions. 

Many brands are using social networks to show how they are contributing to the wellness of the communities during the corona crisis. If you are also doing social work, social media is the right place to tell everyone about it. It will help reestablish you as a responsible brand – which without a doubt would be a one up for your marketing success.

Birbahadur Singh Kathayat is an Entrepreneur, internet marketer, and Co-founder of Lbswebsoft. He can be found on Twitter @bskathayat.

The post The impact of Coronavirus on digital marketing and effective solutions appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Google is making autofill on Chrome for mobile more secure

August 3, 2020 No Comments

Google today announced a new autofill experience for Chrome on mobile that will use biometric authentication for credit card transactions, as well as an updated built-in password manager that will make signing in to a site a bit more straightforward.

Image Credits: Google

Chrome already uses the W3C WebAuthn standard for biometric authentication on Windows and Mac. With this update, this feature is now also coming to Android .

If you’ve ever bought something through the browser on your Android phone, you know that Chrome always asks you to enter the CVC code from your credit card to ensure that it’s really you — even if you have the credit card number stored on your phone. That was always a bit of a hassle, especially when your credit card wasn’t close to you.

Now, you can use your phone’s biometric authentication to buy those new sneakers with just your fingerprint — no CVC needed. Or you can opt out, too, as you’re not required to enroll in this new system.

As for the password manager, the update here is the new touch-to-fill feature that shows you your saved accounts for a given site through a standard Android dialog. That’s something you’re probably used to from your desktop-based password manager already, but it’s definitely a major new built-in convenience feature for Chrome — and the more people opt to use password managers, the safer the web will be. This new feature is coming to Chrome on Android in the next few weeks, but Google says that “is only the start.”

Image Credits: Google

 

Mobile – TechCrunch


July 2020 Updates to Paid Media Platforms

August 2, 2020 No Comments

In this monthly post, we bring you the latest news and changes from all of the major ad platforms. Google, Bing, Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn, and more.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Nine mistakes to avoid when contacting websites for backlinks

August 1, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • A backlink is a link that directs visitors from another website to yours.
  • Obtaining backlinks is fundamental to improving your sites search engine ranking, the best ranking sites have thousands of backlinks.
  • While backlinks are important, they are not easy to get and the outreach process can be timely and expensive.
  • There are a common set of guidelines to follow when looking to obtain backlinks. However, these guidelines are often breached, impacting a sites ability to get more backlinks.

Anyone who knows anything about boosting a website’s SEO and earning the praise of the Google Gods knows the importance of backlinks. Not only do backlinks send more traffic to your site, but they help you gain notoriety as an authority in your industry.  

Some backlinks are gained organically, which means one website stumbles upon the amazing content on your web page and links to it without you asking. Others are gained by paying, providing content, or begging and pleading.  

Backlinks are not an easy job 

Let’s be honest, earning backlinks as a newbie or start-up isn’t easy. It sometimes takes years to gain the type of authority and notoriety that makes other websites willingly backlink to you as a resource. So, while you’re gaining traction, building SEO, and working your way to the top, you may need to take a different approach. 

This is where soliciting other websites for backlinks comes into play. With millions of websites crowding the internet, there are plenty in desperate need of quality content. So, what does that mean for you?  

You offer to write a quality, content-driven article (more on this later) free of charge for a website to use on their blog. You might be thinking, “What? Why would I write an article for free?” Well, when you slip a backlink to your website into the article, you’re increasing the chances that you’ll see a boost in traffic and SEO.  

But, as the old saying goes, nothing worth having in life is truly free.  

This is why, in addition to the time it takes you to write the article, you may need to pay a publishing fee. Websites know how valuable backlinks are and they’re not afraid to charge you for them. 

Not sure that jumping through all of these hoops is worth it? Well, it is and we’re about to tell you why.  

What are backlinks? 

Simply put, a backlink is a link that directs visitors from another website to yours. Think of it as a reference. Backlinks are mostly found in informative blog posts. If you’ve ever clicked on blue, highlighted words in an article, and found yourself redirected to another website, you just clicked on a backlink. And chances are, that website owner paid for that link.  

You can get backlinks in a few different ways. The easiest way is to pay the publishing site to place a backlink in an existing article. This method is generally cheaper and requires less work on your part. But, you have less control over the anchor text or the article’s content. If you don’t care, great! But if you want more control over your backlinks, you’ll need to provide the content yourself.  

That means writing a blog post with a link to your website embedded naturally and contextually. Some websites post the content with your backlink on their page free of charge. These are usually websites with low domain authority in need of content to fill their pages.  

While these backlinks aren’t as valuable to your site, a backlink is a backlink and even ones from low ranking sites can help boost your SEO.  

If you’re shooting for more high-profile websites with high domain authority, you’ll need to provide both the content and pay a publishing fee.  

The fees are usually outlined in the publishing site’s guest post criteria and can range anywhere from $ 30 to hundreds, so be prepared to shell out some cold hard cash.   

Why are backlinks important?

So, why do website owners pay money (or provide free content) to receive a backlink? Backlinks are actually a much more cost-effective way to advertise your business or website. By making a single investment, you could gain thousands of visitors that convert to sales.  

Increased traffic on your website also helps boost your SEO and your ranking on the SERPs (search engine results page). But that’s not all. Backlinks are like a glowing recommendation from a well-known professional in your field. When a high-ranking website backlinks to yours it gives you more credibility. In time, this will increase your domain authority.  

The number of referring domains is one of the first things Google considers when ranking your site. The more you have, the higher your site will rank on the SERPs. 

Proof that backlinks work

Still not convinced that backlinks are worth your time or investment? 

Websites with more than 300 referring domains are much more likely to rank in the number one spot than, let’s say, a website with only 50 backlinks.  

The quality of your backlinks is just as important as the quantity. The higher the domain authority of the referring website, the better it is for your SEO and ranking. For example, if you’re someone designing a new sports beverage, you’re much more likely to gain traction with an endorsement from a professional athlete like Shaq than you would be from a high school basketball coach. 

Major mistakes to avoid when contacting websites for backlinks

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what backlinks are and why they’re so important, you’re probably ready to run out and start contacting publishing websites, right? Not so fast.

Publishing sites are inundated every day with websites looking for backlinks. Not only does your article need to stand out from the crowd, but you need to follow some basic guidelines. Some guidelines are common sense etiquette and professionalism while others are specifically outlined by the publisher.  

Do your research before pitching to a website. In addition, avoid these nine mistakes.  

1. Don’t haggle over the price

There’s nothing more insulting to a blogger than having someone try to beat down their posting price. Some blogs advertise a specific price for getting a backlink on their website. Others welcome free content and give you a link as a “thank you”. For those that charge a flat fee, be careful how much haggling you do. If the price is $ 100 to post, don’t offer them $ 50. You won’t get very far and you may burn some bridges along the way. 

That’s not to say that asking for a small discount is always out of line. If it feels appropriate, ask for 5 or 10% off the price – but don’t be surprised if they decline.  

Remember, you aren’t the only person willing to pay for backlinks and you won’t be the last. You’re a dime a dozen. Don’t blow your chances for getting a backlink on a reputable site with a high-domain over a few dollars. If your link successfully posts, the investment will pay for itself ten-fold. 

2. Don’t create over promotional content

There’s no denying that backlinks are a form of self-promotion, but when your content is over-promotional, both the blogger and the readers will pick up on it right away. No one likes to read an article riddled with countless links.  

They’re an eyesore and take away from the content’s value. When creating a post to pitch to a publishing site, focus on the customer experience, not your own agenda. 

What are the customer’s pain points and how does your content address them? Are you providing valuable, credible content that answers your reader’s burning questions? There are countless ways to include your backlink in the article without hitting the reader over the head with it. Publishers want content-driven submissions, not a sales pitch.  

3. Don’t ignore the blogger’s criteria

Rules were made for a reason – and the guidelines bloggers have for guest post submissions have a purpose. If the website you’re pitching to has specific criteria for submitting, follow it.

Similar to a job application, provide all the required information and follow the structured guidelines. It’s hard enough for bloggers to weed through countless emails and pitches – if yours breaks even one rule, it’ll get tossed aside without a second thought. 

The most common guidelines surround the length of the article, what to include in the initial email (bio, headshot, and other details), the format (Google Doc, PDF file), and the submission process.  

Read all of these guidelines before submitting your work. Not doing so will be a waste of time for both you and the blogger you’re pitching to. 

4. Adhere to the word count

Another important guideline that many publishing sites will give you is the word count of the articles. The average length of a blog post is about 2,000.  This isn’t just a number that the bloggers pulled out of thin air.  

Google prefers blog posts over 2,000 pages. New data suggests that 2,100 to 2,400 words is the ideal length for boosting SEO. They often provide the most value to readers. But that’s not to say that posts between 500 and 2,000 words have no place on the Internet. There are plenty of readers who prefer a short, concise, and to-the-point article that’s only 1,000 words or less. 

Trust that the blogger you’re pitching to have done their research and selected a specific length of all submissions for a reason. Don’t disregard their request. Avoid submitting articles that are way over or way under the word count. Also, avoid adding useless information (fluff) just to reach the word count. Publishing websites will see right through this and likely reject your article, costing you a backlink and much-needed exposure. 

5. Stuffing your content with backlinks

One per customer – that’s the theory behind including backlinks in an article. If you successfully pitch your idea or article to a publishing website, most allow one backlink to a page on your site. Not four, five, or ten. Don’t stuff your article with backlinks. Not only does it look sloppy and unprofessional, but it hurts your credibility and the legitimacy of the article. 

Remember, you should be creating content-driven articles that include helpful information. Backlinks should be included in a discrete and meaningful way. When an article is riddled with links, readers are much less likely to read the entire thing and it’s even more unlikely that they’ll click on any of the links. A few links scattered throughout an article are much more attractive and won’t overwhelm the reader (or annoy the blogger you’re pitching to). 

6. Pitching to irrelevant websites

Not staying in your lane is another major mistake to avoid when contacting bloggers for a backlink. When you approach a blogger in an industry that’s not relevant to yours, it shows carelessness. You clearly didn’t research the publishing site. It appears as if you’ve just mass-emailed a list of websites that accept guest posts. And you can guarantee that the publishing website will give you as much time and attention as you gave the research process. Zero. 

If you’re a property management company, you shouldn’t be contacting bloggers in the fashion or beauty industry. Stick with real estate websites or even companies that offer financial or loan advice. Make sure that the relationship makes sense before contacting the websites. 

7. Hounding the blogger

There’s something to be said about following up with a website after pitching your article idea. Follow-up emails show responsibility, eagerness, and a certain level of professionalism. Contacting the blogger more than two times or hounding them for a response, on the other hand, screams desperation.  

Once you initially make contact with the website, wait a few days before sending a follow-up email. When you do, indicate that you just want to confirm that they received your submission or ask if there’s any additional information they’d like. If they don’t answer after this second attempt, give it up and move on. It either means your article idea wasn’t a good fit at this time, the content wasn’t up to snuff, or perhaps they’re not interested in backlinking to your website. 

All of these reasons are legitimate. Don’t take it personally. Accept that it’s a dead-end and start pitching to other websites. 

8. Rambling in the initial email

We get it. You’re excited for the opportunity to post on a blogger’s site. You want that backlink. But it’s important to remain calm, cool, and collected – and that means avoiding overly long emails that ramble on about how honored you’d be if they’d publish your article and backlink. 

The blogger doesn’t need or want your life story. Keep it short, simple, and to the point. 

Not only do overly long emails annoy bloggers but your intended message will get lost in the shuffle. Check the blogger’s criteria once again. What specific details do they ask for? Be sure to include all of these, without going overboard. Most bloggers want a short synopsis of what your business is about, who you are, and what you want (aka a backlink).  

In some cases, you can briefly touch on your budget, but this isn’t always a good approach. If their criteria already outline a price, remember not to haggle too much. If they don’t mention a price, you don’t want to offer more than they normally charge and end up spending too much. When in doubt, avoid talking costs until you get a response.  

9. Submitting unoriginal content

This is SEO no-no number one. Never, ever, ever submit duplicate content to a website for publication. Not only does this teeter on breaking copyright rules and possibly plagiarism, but it hurts the host site’s SEO.  

The last thing you want to do is offend or negatively impact the business that you’re pitching to. Not only will it put a bad taste in their mouth about you and your website, but it’ll downright piss them off. It also shows that you know very little about how backlinking works.  

The content you submit should be unique and written specifically for the publishing site’s target audience. Even if you have the perfect article already written for your niche, avoid pitching it to multiple websites at once. Then, you’ll find yourself in a pickle if more than one blogger accepts it. Instead, try pitching blog post ideas or outlines where you can create original, unique content for each website.  

Backlinks are an important part of the SEO puzzle. As your website climbs the Google ranks to claim a spot at the top, you may need a little boost. Backlinks are one way to get this boost without spending a fortune.  

You won’t get a response from every blogger you pitch to. In fact, you may only hear from a handful out of hundreds. And of that handful, you may only succeed in posting one or two backlinks. So, while you’ll win some and lose some, the most important thing to remember is to always play by the rules.  

The post Nine mistakes to avoid when contacting websites for backlinks appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Twitter survey reveals the subscription options it’s eyeing, including an ‘Undo Send’ button

August 1, 2020 No Comments

Earlier this month, Twitter told investors it’s considering a subscription model as a means of generating additional revenue to support its business. Now we know what sort of value-add features Twitter may be eyeing. In a new survey, the company asks users to evaluate paid features like “undo send” (an alternative to an edit button), as well as other ideas like custom colors, the ability to publish longer and more high-def videos, support for profile badges, auto responses, additional “social listening” analytics and the ability to run brand surveys about ads.

The survey asks users to select the options they felt were most or least important to them.

Details of the survey were first published to none other than Twitter itself by Twitter user @WFBrother. The findings were then amplified by eagle-eyed social media consultant, Matt Navarra, who had also seen the survey.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the questions had come from a survey the company was running to evaluate options for a membership model, as the survey describes.

The company declined to offer any further comment, but noted its Q2 shareholder letter had detailed its plans in this area:

“We are also in the early stages of exploring additional potential revenue product opportunities to compliment [sic] our advertising business,” the letter had said. “These may include subscriptions and other approaches, and although our exploration is very early and we do not expect any revenue attributable to these opportunities in 2020, you may see tests or hear us talk more about them as our work progresses,” it noted.

Specifically, the survey asked users about the following options:

  • Undo Send: A 30-second window for you to recall/withdraw a tweet before anyone can see it. This has been something Twitter has suggested in the past could be a viable alternative to an “Edit” button — something users have demanded for years. Instead of allowing unlimited edits to tweets, and the significant engineering investment that would entail — users could instead quickly fix a typo they spotted shortly after posting.
  • Custom Colors: In addition to “Night Mode,” you could change the fonts and theme color of Twitter on your phone and computer. Background color, links, mentions, hashtags and icons would appear in whatever color you choose.
  • Video Publishing: You could publish videos up to 5x longer than current default, with a much higher maximum resolution (8192×8192)
  • Badges: You get a badge(s) on your profile that links to businesses you own or work for (Example: A journalist can have a badge showing the magazines they write for.)
  • Auto responses: Able to write and set a menu of auto responses to use in replies. This would likely be more useful to brands that wanted to redirect customer inquiries to official channels.
  • Social listening: You can see conversation around your account on Twitter, including total volume, the people and businesses who are talking most often and what they are saying. This, again, would largely appeal to brands.
  • Brand Surveys: You could be able to survey people about the ads you run to better understand if your ad was memorable and if people are likely to buy the products or services featured. Twitter today already runs similar ads, so this feature would be relatively easy for it to implement.

The survey does not represent features Twitter will definitely roll out as part of any future membership model, of course. It’s only the first step to gathering consumer feedback about what people believe is worth paying for.

Not on the survey? A real “edit” button, of course. That one just may never happen!


Social – TechCrunch


How to Cut Your Own Hair at Home (Long, Short, Wavy, Curly, Kids, Bangs)

August 1, 2020 No Comments

If your hair-care professional is still on lockdown, you might be getting desperate for a trim. Let us help you avoid a DIY disaster.
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Podcasts and internet marketing: Are you missing the boat?

August 1, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The drive to be more productive, the thirst to learn something new – these are the primary reasons behind the rising popularity of podcasts.
  • One in every four Americans over the age of 12 listens to podcasts religiously. 
  • Podcasts’ share of the ear is projected to increase by 120% in the next few years, with the total number of listeners exceeding 100 million by 2021.
  • But how exactly can you use podcasts to boost your internet marketing campaign?
  • How can you ensure that creating audio content is a rewarding investment for your particular business? 
  • Internet marketing specialist, Nasirabadi Reza, decode the answers to a lot of these key questions. Hop on!

Not so long ago, commuting was my favorite part of the day. Driving and traffic jams aside, it was the time when I could relax my mind. With music blasting on the car’s audio system (which I had specially upgraded – just so you know), I would zone out and temporarily free myself from thinking about all the workload/household chores waiting for me at the end of the journey.

But then that wave of boosting productivity, managing time, and whatnot hit. And I found myself trading my playlist for podcasts.

Make no mistake, commuting is still my favorite part of the day, but not because the idleness is a welcome change.  

I now love the commute because it’s the most enriching part of my day. Every day is a new learning experience as I tune in to a marketing podcast and get deeper insights into my line of work. If I am not in the mood for that, I just switch to a radio drama or a talk show instead and get entertained on the go. 

People in innumerable quantities all around the world are showing a similar change in preferences.  

And for marketers, this presents the next growth opportunity as podcasting promises to open the door to the future. 

Podcasts paving the path to the future of internet marketing

The drive to be more productive, the thirst to learn something new – these are the primary reasons behind the rising popularity of podcasts. Of course, their convenience and accessibility, and the fact that podcasts present the info in easily digestible pieces, make them all the more crowd-pleasing.  

In the U.S. alone, there were reported to be around 75 million podcast listeners during the last year. One in every four Americans over the age of 12 listens to podcasts religiously. And the trend has only started to pick up pace.  

Based on statistical analysis, podcasts’ share of the ear is projected to increase by 120% in the next few years, with the total number of listeners exceeding 100 million by 2021.

But how exactly can you use podcasts to boost your marketing campaign? How can you leverage these findings in your favor? And how can you ensure that creating audio content is a rewarding investment for your particular business? 

These were the main questions that came up in a discussion with a few of my fellow workers when we sat down to reconsider our branding strategies. One of them held the staunch belief that podcasting works for media brands only.  

When a logical explanation couldn’t convince him, that’s when I had to pull out my phone and show him various non-media brands that have successfully integrated podcast marketing into their internet marketing campaigns. 

If you share a similar viewpoint or are still confused about how podcasting can benefit your brand, consider the following businesses that continue to gain popularity amongst the masses by jumping onto the podcasting bandwagon. 

Examples of brands using podcast marketing

1. General Electric

If you aren’t already aware of ‘The Message’ and ‘Life After’, you must be thinking, “wait, an electric company promoting machines and tech-solutions through podcasts?”

As absurd as it may sound, that’s still happening nonetheless.  

‘The Message’ and ‘Life After’ are two series of a science fiction podcast that follows a journalistic style. The first series follows the work of scientists trying to decode extraterrestrial messages using high-end technology developed by- yes you guessed it – General Electric.

Talk about marketers whose creativity knows no bounds.

The second podcast series has a different storyline, but the same method for bringing GE’s products into the public eye. 

This is an incredible technique to create brand awareness not just among the products’ direct buyers, but way beyond. 

The use of podcasting to promote your business is limited only by your imagination. And these audio dramas created by General Electric are the ultimate proof of this statement. 

2. McDonald’s

McDonald’s podcast marketing serves as a great example for companies that might fall prey to public relations (PR) problems.

Remember the saga of the Szechuan sauce? The special sauce was being sold at McDonald’s outlets for a limited time period when things went out of control. People started fighting with each other to get their share of the popular sauce eventually creating a bad image for the retail chain for poor management and not creating a sufficiently large batch in the first place. 

McDonald’s took an ingenious approach to address the issue and restoring the damage done to its brand image.  

The highly popular yet super-limited Szechuan sauce became the subject of an investigative podcast called ‘The Sauce.’ 

Consisting of just three parts, the series might have been short, but it effectively used the power of audio content to rebuild the brand image in no time. 

Keep in mind this brilliant marketing hack from McDonald’s for times when a seemingly minor customer complaint starts to wreak havoc for your business by going viral. 

3. Sephora collection

Sephora launched a podcast titled #LIPSTORIES in partnership with Girlboss Radio. The main aim was to celebrate the company’s line of lipsticks.  

Each episode of the series revolved around women who either served as an inspiration behind the product or other influential female workers who were inspired by the product itself.  

This is a powerful example for businesses trying to upsell their goods or services while establishing a positive image among their customers at the same time.  

Podcasts that you definitely need to listen

If you are unsure how to get started on podcast marketing, consider tuning in to the following channels to let the tricks of the trade:  

1. IdeaCast by HBR

Who wouldn’t be interested in reading Harvard Business Review? But it can be hard to find the time. If that’s the case, you can explore new ideas and actionable advice on innovation and market leadership by signing up at IdeaCast – HBR’s official podcasting channel. These informative podcasts are based on interviews with renowned entities such as Eric Schmidt and focus on bringing something new in every episode. 

2. Outside In

The Outside In podcast aims to reveal the secrets behind some of the world’s most renowned brands. It discusses their customer-centered approach and gives listeners deep insight into how they can implement those strategies on their own. 

Blogging might still be the favored technique for content marketing. But you cannot simply deny the fact that podcasting is climbing the charts incredibly fast. It is a viable marketing channel that you can easily leverage in your business’s favor.  

Nasirabadi Reza is an internet marketing specialist with a passion for writing and sharing valuable insights gained through years of experience in the industry. He manages the content delivery hub at Zigma and is dedicated to creating smart strategies for clients who want to take their business to the next level. Reza can be found at @MarketingZigma.

The post Podcasts and internet marketing: Are you missing the boat? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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